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Sunday, January 23, 2011

DEBATE ON VATICAN II “Neither Left nor Right: why the Council must be seen in the light of tradition ...”

From my buddy John Paul Sonnen over at Orbis Catholicus Secundus

by Alberto Carosa (for “Inside the Vatican", January 2011, pp. 10-11)

One debate intensifying in Rome as Benedict XVI's pontificate nears the end of its sixth year is over the Second Vatican Coúncil (1962-65).
Benedict has stressed that he believes it is of great importance to clarify that Vatican II was not a "rupture" with prior Church tradition. He has made this one of the central principles of his papacy.

But making this "continuity" clear is turning out to be quite a difficult and delicate task, in part because forces on both sides of the "progressive/traditional" divide seem intent on clinging to the idea that the Council represented a "break," for good or for all, with prior Church history and belief.

The "progressives" claim the Council "rightly" broke with "hide-bound" and "out-of-date" beliefs and practices, and they defend the Council's right to do so.
At the same time, the "traditionalists" claim that the Council "wrongly" and "unacceptably" broke with prior teaching — and this leads them to reject the Council's authority and legitimacy.

Thus, the Pope has found himself without allies on the "left" or the "right" as he attempts to build support for a "center" position regarding the Council: that it was not a "rupture" with prior Church teaching, but an organic development of that teaching. This effort is arguably now the key task of this pontificate, in doctrinal terms.

Benedict is seeking to win broad support for his position that Vatican II taught no new doctrines. His desire is to persuade both "left" and "right" to find a way to "reintegrate" the allegedly "new" teaching of Vatican II back into the changeless "tradition" of Church faith and practice derived from the depositum fidei ("deposit of the faith") handed down in the Scriptures and taught unanimously by the apostles.

From December 17 to 19, a symposium entitled "The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council —A Pastoral Council: Historical, Philosophical, Theological Analysis," sponsored by the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate in the Istituto Maria Santissima Bambina just next to St. Peter's Square, addressed these questions. Msgr. Brunero Gherardini was the keynote speaker.

This conference came just after an intense debate, also in December, over a book on the Council by Italian historian Roberto De Mattei, generally thought of as a "traditionalist": Il Concilio Vaticano II: Una storia mai scritta ("The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story"). A review of the book by Catholic author and sociologist Massimo Introvigne appeared in the Italian bishops' conference daily, Avvenire, on December 1.

Introvigne criticized De Mattei's book for promoting the idea that Vatican II must be seen as a rupture with the previous tradition of the Church. De Mattei concludes his book by referring "with reverence" to "His Holiness Benedict XVI, whom I recognize as that successor of Peter to whom I feel inextricably bound".
But Introvigne says De Mattei actually upholds the very "hermeneutics of rupture" Benedict decried as "harmful" to the Church in his famous speech to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2005.

"The Magisterium teaches that its (Vatican II's) documents must be first and foremost read (many who talk about them have in fact never read them), and then allegiance given to their essential teachings," he said.
Introvigne notes that on July 24, 2007, during his vacation in the Italian Alps, the Pope said that a "hermeneutics of rupture" is upheld by both the progressive faction and the opposite end of the religious spectrum, the anti-conciliarists.

Both claim that Vatican II has broken with tradition: the former to rejoice in this rupture, and the latter to deplore it.

The Vatican expert of Italy's conservative daily Il Giornale, Andrea Tornielli, in his review of the De Mattei book (Il Giornale, December 5, 2010) also argued that De Mattei, paradoxically, ends up siding with the liberal-progressive lobby, whose most prominent exponents are Giuseppe Alberigo and his successor Alberto Melloni of the so-called "Bologna School." Alberigo authored Breve storia del concilio Vaticano If' ("Brief History of the Second Vatican Council," 2005) in which he hailed Vatican II as a "historic breakthrough." "The pattern of Christianity still dominant in Europe, and through Europe, in worldwide Catholicism, was superseded on December 8, 1965," he wrote.

In his own review of De Mattei's book in Corriere della Sera (December 12). Mellor, after criticizing alleged errors and shortcomings in the work, suggested that he appreciated the chance to include among his "fellow-travelers" this author, whom he described as "the most subtle intellectual of Italian traditionalism."
Fabio Bernabei, president of Centro Culturale Lepanto, a leading lay organization of traditionalist persuasion, also entered the fray.

"The Professor De Mattei of today," he wrote, "in distancing himself from the pontifical magisterium in his book, seems to be far from the Professor De Mattei of yesterday, when, as editor of Cristianità, he cited Paul VI approvingly when Paul said: `All that is taught by Vatican II is related in full harmony with the preceding Magisterium of the Church, of which it is a just continuation, explanation, and enhancement. In fact, just for this purpose the Council was convened".

Tornielli wrote on Christmas Day: `Being with Peter and the bishops in communion with him means to be Catholic. Otherwise I could say that I consider Pius X a modernist — how many reforms did he introduce? and what if I did not like them, or consider them inappropriate to the times and not in line with the liturgical teachings of Gregory XVI and Leo the Great? — and I want to stop at Vatican I and Pius IX...

This is `Protestant' traditionalism”.

This is a great viewpoint...

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