Wednesday, 22 January 2014
Those loyal to Vatican II...et al
Those who celebrate the TLM and speak up for Tradition are frequently accused of being disloyal to Vatican II. The accusers are surely sincere in their belief, but they are decidedly wrong; many people who consider themselves Traditional -myself included- converted and were instructed in Catholic Doctrine as it was understood post-Vatican II; we entered seminaries forming priests in the same post-Vatican II doctrine. How then (or why?) would we be seen as disloyal -or worse, subversive? There are probably three reasons for this. First, we are not afraid of the Church’s liturgical patrimony (the Traditional Form of Holy Mass) but rather honour and revere it; second, we question any reading of Vatican II which puts it into discontinuity with our doctrinal, pastoral and liturgical past; and third, because we read the Council in continuity with the Church’s past –the only legitimate way to read any Council- and interpret ambiguities in the text according to the Tradition we have received.
What is disturbing is not that Traditional folk can be described as disloyal, but the platform from which our detractors make their accusations, because it is a platform which insists that there is a spirit of Vatican II that exists outside of the Council’s texts. The implication of this is clear: that the Council Fathers said one thing but meant another. I for one am not prepared to ascribe such a duplicitous spirit to them, and I am disturbed that purveyors of the so-called “spirit of Vatican II” -even if they are genuine in their efforts to give new life to the Church- can do so.
I am, however, prepared to say that a minority of the Bishops or their theological advisors acted in a duplicitous manner (Edward Shillebeekx is said to have acknowledged this in De Bauzuin, No. 16, 1965). In any case the ambiguities must be admitted; there is no other way of accounting for the divisions that erupted in the Church after the Council. Indeed, if there were no ambiguities in the texts liberals could not claim loyalty to the Council and yet propose that which is contrary to the received Tradition.
Liberals are content to ignore the Tradition so as to promote the ambiguities, but I cannot. I cannot, for example, read Unitatis Redintegratio saying Catholic means of salvation exist outside the Church and can give access to salvation to non-Catholics, without also recalling that the document also states that such means “belong by right to the Catholic Church”; that non-Catholic communities “derive their efficacy [to save] from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church”, and that Our Lord “established one Body of Christ on earth [headed by Peter] to which all should be fully incorporated who belong in any way to the people of God.” There is no reneging on the missionary impetus of the Church there. Nor can I read Dignitatis Humanae without noting that religious freedom, while deemed necessary to fulfil ones duty toward God, “has to do with immunity from coercion in civil society” and thus “leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ”; that in fact “all men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and His Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it.” There is no spiritual right to follow error there; rather a call to seek the truth.
The ambiguities of the Conciliar texts are to be regretted in that they permit the Council to be read in discontinuity with our past by those who seek a new doctrinal, pastoral and liturgical beginning, thus providing for conflict and division within the Church. As Cardinal Kasper stated (L'Osservatore Romano, April 12, 2013):
“In many places (the Council) had to find compromise formulas in which, often, the positions of the majority are located immediately next to those of the minority, designed to delimit them. Thus, the conciliar texts themselves have a huge potential for conflict, open[ing] the door to a selective reception in either direction.” (emphasis added. GD)
The texts of the documents having been described as ambiguous so many times by so many voices, good Bishop Schneider proposed we formulate a kind of Syllabus of Errors regarding the teaching of the Council. I would support that call, and if it came to fruition, be more than happy to see him delegated by the Holy See to draw up such a Syllabus. We might also establish an oath to be attached to the Creed for recitation by those taking up a public role in the Church such as teacher, theologian, Priest, Bishop etc. (Hmm, that idea does not seem new...it has a rather familiar ring...)