Friday, June 16, 2006

Vatican II Redux

When Vatican II concluded their proceedings in 1968 it could be safely said that of all the Church councils, Vatican II was distinctly different from all others because the documents produced didn't have an interpretive authority. I believe this was the catalyst that bore the fruit of discontent in the West, especially here in the United States. This discontent was the result of hasty 'reforms' implemented, incorrectly, in the 'spirit of Vatican II' by progressives within the Catholic Church; Subsequently allowing for traditional Catholics to feel marginalized and subsequently a fast moving protestantization followed. Without this interpretive authority, the documents procured in Vatican II created confusion for the rest of the Church. These unintended consequences caused an exodus from religious vocations and a drop in morale among the laity; especially when these documents coming from said council were often misinterpreted from the outset by high-minded Church progressives. The goals of Vatican II in my humble opinion were to energize the laity in bringing the message of Christ to humanity, ie, the world. Vatican II laid the foundations for the laity to evangelize the world through their continual pursuit of holiness that were once thought of the domain of religious and saints. Unfortunately many progressives grossly misinterpreted Vatican II as a break from tradition. Thus 'reforms' were implemented such as increasing the roles of the laity in traditional priestly activities such as the celebration of Mass. Another example of this misinterpretation is the army of extraordinary ministers being highly visible during Sunday Mass. The results from implementing the goals of Vatican II have been mixed at best and devastating at worst. These resulted in a drop in the quality of catechesis, the protestantization of the Church where the Tabernacle has been marginalized and the Mass desacramentalized. The liturgy, lectionary, and the Bible have been watered down through creative interpretations by Church progressives. In addition, progressive American bishops went ahead to completely eliminate spoken and written Latin, which the goals of Vatican II did not require or intend to do. The resulting consequences have been that Mass is reduced to something less than holy and our Catholic faith has been almost indistinguishable from mainstream Protestantism. Thusly being a Catholic has been reduced to a Sunday activity of ritual and process rendering our faith meaningless in light of secular society. The problems of understanding and implementing Vatican II were recognized by then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger in 1985. In an interview that was released in book form called The Ratzinger Report, which acknowledged the misinterpretations of Vatican II. These misinterpretations were addressed by Pope John Paul II's holding of Extraordinary Synods. These Extraordinary Synods became the interpretive authority that Vatican II required. These Synods came in succession in 1987, 1990, and 1994. The themes of each Synod respectfully were On the Laity, Formation of Priests, and The Consecrated Religious Life. Only now in some parts of the West, particularly the United States, have these problems been identified and in some cases been rectified. The main problem having been that Gaudium et Spes has not been implemented correctly. Gaudium et Spes needs to be implemented through the document Lumen Gentium as Pope John Paul II had wanted and Pope Benedict XVI does now. Many Catholics, mostly progressives, interpreted Vatican II as a 'break from the past', while other Catholics, mostly traditionalists, felt marginalized and subsequently excluded without consultation on fatuous and misguided interpretations. With these Synods adding interpretive authority these incorrect changes can be reversed and the correct implementation of Vatican II documents can begin to bear more abundant fruit through the witness of Christ. The Novus Ordo Mass can be celebrated partly in Latin and in some cases completely. The laity is more involved as witnesses to Christ through the pursuit of holiness once thought of the domain of saints and religious; not through the laicization of Mass. The New American Bible (NAB) will eventually be discarded and the official Vatican translation will revert to the Revised Standard Edition, thusly eliminating the pseudo-neuterized and watered-down passages of the NAB. The lectionary will be updated correctly with the correct teachings of the Church and the liturgy will be returned to the correct translation of the Roman Missal. These are just a fraction of the 'visible' changes that will and are occurring now in our Church, not withstanding the invisible changes such as the pursuit of holiness that ALL Catholics are called to pursue. The Holy Spirit will prevail in guiding our Bishops, priests, and lay authority in the new springtime of our Church. Those of us that were born after Vatican II experienced the unintended consequences of a secularized Church. In the light of these experiences we should not judge those that have caused harm, whether intentional or not. We should bear witness to the love of Christ and be the catalyst for change in the proper implementation of Vatican II. With the interpretive authority still relatively fresh and new in these Extraordinary Synods, it will take a while for these correct changes to occur and work themselves through. We as religious and laity should be constructive in our criticisms and faithful in our sincerity for change. We should work wholeheartedly in educating others and implementing the documents of Vatican II with joy. In due time will the fruits of Vatican II begin to flourish. It all begins with each individual Catholic by being this catalyst of change. And when I mention this I mean being actively involved at the parish level to bear witness to Christ to our Catholic brothers and sisters. Let us all pray to our Lord and Savior in expressing ourselves through positive actions to bring these changes to completion so that others may see the Light of Christ and enter His Church.


Anonymous said...

I have read some of your material and find it fascinating. Here are a few questions I would appreciate your opinion on:

In regards to Dei Verbum, Lumen Gentium, Gadium et Spes, and Sacrosanctum Concilium, What is/are the most important common ideas? Why are they important? How do we know that they are important?

Thanks for your help.

Matt said...

I'm sorry John, what you're asking for couldn't be done in less than 20 pages. You're talking about documents that are hundreds of pages long, with numerous footnotes. Further, the documents have all had a number of authoritiative implementation documents that would need to be reviewed to provide any reasoned answer.

Perhaps you have more specific question?


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