PopeWatch: Vatican II-A Half Century Later

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 

 

Pope Francis has indicated that he wishes to complete the work of Vatican II.  This is an opportune moment to look at Vatican II which 50 years ago was close to its half way point.

 

As a practical matter, PopeWatch believes the Church as an earthly institution  has been in decline by most measurements, mass attendance, ordinations, numbers of nuns, sisters and brothers,  since 1965.    The decline is undeniable, but is it fair to blame Vatican II?  Would the Church have experienced the same turbulence, or even worse, without Vatican II?  PopeWatch doubts it.  The Church had thriven in the hostile environment of the first half of the Twentieth Century, when malevolent atheist ideologies, such as Nazism and Communism, had launched unceasing assaults on the Church.   Odd that the Church could so well weather this storm and then encounter such difficulties in the relatively calm seas of the latter Twentieth Century.  Plus, the collapse came on so rapidly after the Council that it is hard to resist the temptation to believe that there has to be some link.  It also didn’t help that Paul VI was a very good man, but also a very weak pope.

Of course much, although not all, of the difficulties of Vatican II are caused by misinterpretations of what the Council did and what the Council actually stated.  The “spirit of Vatican II” is often responsible for idiocies within the contemporary Church that most of the participants in Vatican II never, in their wildest nightmares, intended.  This misinterpretation of the Council started even while it was in progress:

PopeWatch would direct your attention to Time January 4, 1963 in the issue where Pope John XXIII was declared Man of the Year:

“By launching a reform whose goal is to make the Catholic Church sine macula et ruga (without spot or wrinkle), John set out to adapt his church’s whole life and stance to the revolutionary changes in science, economics, morals and politics that have swept the modern world: to make it, in short, more Catholic and less Roman.”

This statement PopeWatch finds truly hilarious from the Time article, in light of the experience of the last 50 years:  “The great majority of Protestant and Catholic clergymen and theologians—as well as many non-Christians—agree that Christianity is much stronger today than it was when World War II ended. Their reason is not the postwar “religious revival” (which many of them distrust as superficial) or the numerical strength of Christianity. It is that the Christian Church has finally recognized and faced the problems that have cut off much of its communication with the modern world. Says Notre Dame’s President Theodore Hesburgh: “We better understand the job that is before us. The challenge is to make religion relevant to relevant to real life.”’

Those of course who decry Vatican II as a false Council and/or Blessed Pope John as a false pope are completely wrong.  Also wrong are those who believe the Church truly started only in 1965 at the end of the Council.  The Church is an earthly and a sacred institution with an eventful history of 2000 years during which the Church, as an earthly institution, has had its ups and its downs.  Recently the Church, at least in the Western world, has been very much in a down period.  Pope Francis’ call to complete the work of Vatican II is a good opportunity for Catholics to ponder why this has been the case and what each one of us can do to reverse this.  Perhaps a starting point might be to answer two questions:  What has the Church, if anything, gained by Vatican II that was lacking in the Church prior to Vatican II?  What, if anything, is the Church post Vatican II lacking that the Church prior to Vatican II possessed?

34 Responses to PopeWatch: Vatican II-A Half Century Later

  • What has the Church, if anything, gained by Vatican II that was lacking in the Church prior to Vatican II? What, if anything, is the Church post Vatican II lacking that the Church prior to Vatican II possessed?

    I think Dom Bettinelli offered that the financial arrangements of parishes in effect prior to 1966 (parishes as personal benefices) were invitations to corruption. There was also prior to 1983 or thereabouts a pretty thorough refusal to report sexual misconduct by clergy, a consequence of a hypertrophy or corruption of deference to authority. I have also heard the complaint that Friday sacrifices prior to 1966 were often spurious (though this problem was not remedied by the change in discipline). The seminary system of the time seems to have left many young priests rather embittered. You can see that in Andrew Greeley’s memoirs, though he never does offer an explanation for his change in attitude toward the Church. Between the lines, you can see it happened when he was in major seminary, but his discussion of major seminary was very spare. We can surmise that American seminaries were turning out larger and larger cohorts of troublesome homosexuals from about 1925 to about 1970 and turning out such people in appreciable numbers for the succeeding 15 or 20 years. If any discrete policy repaired that, it was the visitation ordered by JP ii in 1981, not the Council.

    By and large, it was a scarcely mitigated institutional disaster. If you complete the work of Vatican II, religious observance among nominal Catholics in this country will be as vigorous as that among nominal Lutherans in Sweden.

  • Vatican II has the same place in the mindset of a certain strata of Catholic clerics that Woodstock has for baby boomers.

    And both have gotten really, really tedious.

  • To suggest the Church in the first half of the 20th century was not riven with discord is false in fact.

    Consider the remarks of Maurice Blondel in 1904, “With every day that passes, the conflict between tendencies that set Catholic against Catholic in every order–social, political, philosophical–is revealed as sharper and more general. One could almost say that there are now two quite incompatible “Catholic mentalities,” particularly in France. And that is manifestly abnormal, since there cannot be two Catholicisms.” Again, in 1907, we find him writing, “[U]nprecedented perhaps in depth and extent–for it is at the same time scientific, metaphysical, moral, social and political–[the crisis] is not a “dissolution” [for the spirit of faith does not die], nor even an “evolution” [for the spirit of faith does not change], it is a purification of the religious sense, and an integration of Catholic truth.”

    Consider the obstacles put in the way by Church authorities to the greatest theologians of the 20th century, Henri Bremond (1865-1933) Joseph Maréchal SJ (1878-1944) Marie-Dominique Chenu O.P (1895-1990), Cardinal Henri de Lubac SJ (1896-1991) Cardinal Yves Congar O.P, (1904-1995), Cardinal Jean Daniélou SJ (1905-1974) Louis Bouyer, (1913-2004) Oratorian. I am old enough remember when their works circulated in mimeographed sheets.

    I remember when we lived under the pall of what Blondel called, “the scholastic ideology, which still exclusively dominates, includes the study neither of religious psychology nor of the subjective facts that convey to the conscience the action of the objective realities whose presence in us Revelation indicates; this ideology only considers as legitimate the examination of what objectively informs us about these realities as designated and defined. Moreover, and especially, everything is instinctively resisted that would limit the authoritarianism born of an exclusive extrinsicism. And, without formulating it, the conception is entertained according to which everything in religious life comes from on high and from without. Only the priesthood is active before a purely passive and receptive flock.”

    The tragedy is, not that VII created divisions, but that it failed to heal them.

  • “To suggest the Church in the first half of the 20th century was not riven with discord is false in fact.”

    Too bad I wasn’t making that argument MPS. The argument that I am making is that the Church confronted a very stormy first half of the twentieth century and came out stronger than she went in. Compare and contrast with the history of the Church in the second half of the last century.

  • I remember when we lived under the pall of what Blondel called, “the scholastic ideology, which still exclusively dominates, includes the study neither of religious psychology nor of the subjective facts that convey to the conscience the action of the objective realities whose presence in us Revelation indicates; this ideology only considers as legitimate the examination of what objectively informs us about these realities as designated and defined. Moreover, and especially, everything is instinctively resisted that would limit the authoritarianism born of an exclusive extrinsicism. And, without formulating it, the conception is entertained according to which everything in religious life comes from on high and from without. Only the priesthood is active before a purely passive and receptive flock.”

    Whatever merit that description has (and there is some) dissolves in its wildly-imbalanced exaggeration, turning it into a vicious caricature. Yes, that is the history written by the victors after the council, who pretended nothing good came from the “establishment” in the years before it, and who consigned the defeated to the dustbin. Goodbye, “Sacred Monster;” to the fires with manualism!

    What the era needs is the perspective of those who are not vested in certain feuding narratives and can assess the participants and the results with objectivity.

  • Dale Price

    The quotation was written 50 years before the Council

    Let me add Blondel’s assessment of the aspirations of the Catholic conservatives who flocked to the ranks of l’ Action Française and, too often, Alas, to Vichy

    ““A Catholicism without Christianity, submissiveness without thought, an authority without love, a Church that would rejoice at the insulting tributes paid to the virtuosity of her interpretative and repressive system… To accept all from God except God, all from Christ except His Spirit, to preserve in Catholicism only a residue that is aristocratic and soothing for the privileged and beguiling or threatening for the lower classes—is not all this, under the pretext perhaps of thinking only about religion, really a matter of pursuing only politics?”

    Such a parody of the Faith is still alive and well and, I believe the Holy Father recognises it.

  • Donald M McClarey

    In the second half of the 20th century, the most original and prominent thinkers seem to function within Catholic horizons: the philosophers René Girard, Pierre Manent, Jean-Luc Marion, Rémy Brague, Chantal Delsol, along with the writers Michel Tournier, Jean Raspail, Jean D’Ormesson, Max Gallo and Denis Tillinac to name a few.

    It was , in some respects, a golden age

  • “It was , in some respects, a golden age”

    Only if Golden Ages are made of Fools’ Gold MPS. By their fruits ye shall know them and French Catholicism is on life support compared to where it was in the first half of the last century.
    http://www.ibtimes.com/church-decline-frances-vanishing-catholics-1125241

  • Most of us are familiar with the slur that Catholic conservatives in France were crypto-Nazi’s (“the aspirations of the Catholic conservatives who flocked to the ranks of l’ Action Française and, too often, Alas, to Vichy..”–Michael PS), a lie of Blondels which dovetails nicely with the KGB’s eventually successful effort to paint Pius XII as a Nazi-collaborator. So, Catholic conservatives in France (and presumably everywhere else) were deniers of God, Christ, and “soothingly” self-congratulatory aristocrats. Really? Obviously Michael PS agrees with that view point and isnt troubled by its straw-man-esque fabulousness.

  • The quotation was written 50 years before the Council

    OK, my bad. But it’s utterly indistinguishable from the triumphalist “goodbye to all that” mentality that arose in its wake, the manichean penchant for making the preconciliar Church into something irredemably evil, stifling and autocratic, and portraying those who opposed it as the Sons of Light. It grates, and quickly.

    the Catholic conservatives who flocked to the ranks of l’ Action Française and, too often, Alas, to Vichy
    ““A Catholicism without Christianity, submissiveness without thought, an authority without love, a Church that would rejoice at the insulting tributes paid to the virtuosity of her interpretative and repressive system… To accept all from God except God, all from Christ except His Spirit, to preserve in Catholicism only a residue that is aristocratic and soothing for the privileged and beguiling or threatening for the lower classes—is not all this, under the pretext perhaps of thinking only about religion, really a matter of pursuing only politics?”

    Such a parody of the Faith is still alive and well and, I believe the Holy Father recognises it

    I also have no doubt there are a few such left. The mistake is in assuming they only exist on the right. After all, the field is bereft of states hospitable for integralism. There is no Vichy to join. Not even Franco’s Spain. But there are plenty who prostitute themselves to the secular liberal states of the West, acting as a Patriotic Association married to progressive statism.

    However, I am afraid you are correct, and Pope Francis is, in fact, bent on refighting the last war, or the last couple of them, and rooting out enemies and problems that have almost entirely faded into the past, and is not particularly interested in the new forms Catholic collaborationism takes.

  • I certainly understand the argument/narrative: that since Vatican II ‘everything seems to have gone downhill’, but I am wondering if that is like blaming the sacrament of confirmation for the lack of active participation of so many Catholics after they received confirmation. Their perception is: no more religious education, no more church attendance, I am now an ‘adult Catholic” Isn’t there something similar going on among many many Catholics? Yes, indeed there are all sorts of perceptions running around out there-so many that I believe Vatican II has hardly been ‘heard’ never mind ‘received’ [implemented]

    Real study of the actual texts of the Second Vatican Council are only beginning now-after fifty years! Up until this point we had a great deal of various members of elites declaring what the Council said, maybe quoting one sentence out of context etc and then running with it: aka: ‘the spirit of Vatican II” crowd. In the meantime these inaccuracies and misleading statements and judgments took on a life of their getting into the craw of many local clergy, religious and people in the pew. However, is this Vatican II? No.

    History will look back at th ministries of JPII and Benedict as the time in which they fought, and they had to fight for the correct interpetation of VII. We summarize it with the facile phrase, “Hermeneutic of continuity and renewal” but it is filled with meaning. The course correction began with the publication of the New Code of Canon Law in 1983 and the Extraordinary Synod of 1985 and was finalized with the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its companion: Compendium of Catholic Social Doctrine.

    Now some who are not familiar with history will say but we never had to do this with other Councils-the fact is in one way or another we in fact did have to do so. The Second Ecumenical Council [Constantinople I, in 381 had to augment and complete the Nicaean Council of 325. All hell broke loose after the Council of Ephesus in 431 and had to be complemented (completed) by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. I could give many more examples. If nothing else, Vatican II was needed to close Vatican I [it was never closed in 1870 because revolutionary forces had invaded Rome in the unification of Italy], of course I would give far more to it than that

    While I know what I am about to say might shock some and get others upset, I believe Vatican II unmasked both a declining actual faith in the Church (believing is not the same as conforming-Pope Paul was alarmed by 1967 about the crisis of faith and called for a Year of Faith [Vatican II could not even begin to disrupt things that fast. 1967 was before Humanae Vitae (1968) and the 1970 Roman Missal. I also believe that it was perhaps 10 years or so too early. What we now know as the vast cultural revolution (including the sexual revolution) was not yet cresting. If it had crested, I believe some of what was presented within the Council would have been a bit more nuanced and less optimistic about the way things were going in the world. It is important to remember that a great deal of what we are dealing with right now is actually the cultural revolution wreckage.

    Finally, in America (USA) I believe we cannot underestimate the election of President Kennedy (no matter one's poltical stripes or ideology). With his election Catholics had finally fully become Americans. With that accomplished what was next-what did it mean to be Catholic except where we happen to go to church on Sunday? [I believe of course it means much more but I am speaking of the common Catholic] With the demise of ‘conformist form Catholicism’ Sunday Mass went out the window.

    George Weigel, certainly no radical nor ‘spirit of VII type” has well documented the gradual end of the Tridentine era of the Church. The ‘way” in which She spoke etc within the Tridentine era was no longer working, what She was speaking: the eternal truths of the Catholic faith are enduring. In order for those truths to be communicated etc She needed to find a new way of speaking. That was Vatican II. The fact that people like even Fr Hesburgh thought she needed to be ‘more relevant’ simply is a shallow interpretation-whether said in agreement or those disagreeing but thinking that was the MO of the Church

    As an aside I am in the midst of studying both Trent and VII and finding how the second builds on the first and complements it. I actually now believe that Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II form a group of Councils (there are others) that work closely with each other, complement one another and need to be kept in balance. I know that goes against the perceptions of many but the facts are there, nonetheless

  • I think Christianity is stronger now because it’s undergone something like a disestablishment. In the first two decades or so following the war, Christianity was a civic religion. Such a watered-down version was sufficient to tie the coutnry together. It lacked zeal and relevancy to people’s lives, however, as was pointed out by the professor at Notre Dame. Now it is a question of commitment. One would no longer find the American religion, but rather an authentic call to salvation and all that that entails.

  • Rubbish Jon. How anyone in their right mind could view Christianity now as stronger than from 1945-1965 is a mystery to me. Your citation of Hesburgh is a hoot. He was a leader within the Church of those who sought to make Catholic universities into carbon copies of their secular counterparts. He helped found People for the American Way, Norman Lear’s anti-conservative group. He called pro-lifers “mindless zealots”. Rather than making religion more relevant in people’s lives, Hesburgh helped make certain that a radical secularization occurred within the Catholic Church in America that weakened her in the face of the enemies of Christ.

    http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/2387/the_problematic_legacy_of_fr_hesburgh.aspx#.UrTsMvGA1ok

  • Well, I don’t know much about Notre Dame. I only know it has some top professors and academic authors, but that doesn’t say anything about its commitments to Christian morality. Anyway, I was making a point that’s sort of basic knowledge in many circles: that civic Christianity of the fifties and sixties has been gradually replaced by a mroe authentic faith (Billy Graham is the one exception to this either/or approach I know of). I think there’s enough truth to it to go on repeating it. Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller–this brand of practical and shallow Christianity is not terribly popular anymore. People tend to choose between robust Christianity or none at all these days. You might say the non-committed have been weeded out. That’s worthwhile to the existentially concerned.
    Perhaps from the perspective of Roman Catholicism the church has in some instances undergone serious changes for the worst. You may be comparing pre and post-Vatican II situations.
    What I get from the ardent adherents of post-vatican–those who read much more change into it than was planned–is that they welcome it as a liberating breath of fresh air. They want to make room for some changes that conflict with Christian morality, which is deeply disturbing, for sure. By the same token, the space created for alternative expressions of worship and styles of outreach is I think rather welcome.

  • George Weigel, certainly no radical nor ‘spirit of VII type” has well documented the gradual end of the Tridentine era of the Church. The ‘way” in which She spoke etc within the Tridentine era was no longer working, what She was speaking: the eternal truths of the Catholic faith are enduring. In order for those truths to be communicated etc She needed to find a new way of speaking. That was Vatican II.

    I had a conversation in 2001 with a sister of the Congregation of St. Joseph. She told me that 60 women had entered the novitiate in her order 1961 and 1962. She said that about 30 had entered since 1970. She said the median age in her order was as we were speaking 70. The new way of speaking worked out real well for everyone dependent on their services.

  • What doesn’t kill you makes stronger. Not right away, and the numbers are down. The secular culture is seductive, appealing, but I think time is on our side. B16 said something to the effect that the Church might have to be smaller for a while. The Catholics I know are studying the Faith very seriously, even learning to be apologists. I think in the end Vatican 2 makes stronger; smaller but stronger and able to grow again. Yes I think it has knocked us back a bit, but all will be well and all will be well.

  • People tend to choose between robust Christianity or none at all these days. You might say the non-committed have been weeded out. That’s worthwhile to the existentially concerned.

    Have you seen some of the social statistics re the contemporary population of Catholics? Somehow, I think when two-thirds of those who shuffle in for Mass cannot be bothered to enter the confessional even once a year, I think the non-committed have yet to be weeded out.

  • the most original and prominent thinkers seem to function within Catholic horizons: the philosophers René Girard, Pierre Manent, Jean-Luc Marion, Rémy Brague, Chantal Delsol, along with the writers Michel Tournier, Jean Raspail, Jean D’Ormesson, Max Gallo and Denis Tillinac to name a few.

    These original and prominent sages failed to persuade about 60% of those attending Mass weekly ca 1960 to continue to do so.

    While we are at it, does Marty Haugen qualify as original and prominent?

  • “What doesn’t kill you makes stronger.”

    Like most of Nietzsche’s musings, that was nuts. Most things that severely damage you but do not kill you often inflict permanent debilitating injuries. I hope that Vatican II is not a permanent debilitating injury for Mother Church.

  • I’ve always seen it this way: bad things can either make or break you. We can grow stronger with God’s help or we can allow those situations to paralyze us. We can allow them to ruin us, in fact. Everyone reacts differentlyt to crises. Of course Neitzchean thought is absurd. He was not too stable because he snapped near the end of his life. So no wonder his philosophy is crazy.

  • Botolph

    To continue your theme of one council explaining the last, perhaps the most striking instance is the 5th ecumenical council’s clarification of Chalcedon

    In the 8th canon, those are anathematized who say “one Nature incarnate of God the Word,” [Μία φυσις του θεου λογου σεσαρκωμενε] unless they “accept it as the Fathers taught, that by a hypostatic union of the Divine nature and the human, one Christ was effected.” Now, Mia Phusis was the very watchword of the Monophysites, as the name suggests, but the Council recognises that some used it in an orthodox sense, the sense of St Athanasius and St Cyril of Alexandria.

    In the same way, we can see Lumen Gentium complementing Pastor Aeternus of Vatican I

  • Nietzsche!! That guy!! I didn’t know he said that. Oh well even a blind sow may find an acorn once in a awhile!

  • Would the Church have experienced the same turbulence, or even worse, without Vatican II? PopeWatch doubts it. –
    I believe that PoweWatch has this one wrong, but I thank Botolph and a few others for saving me my words, they said much of it. Long before Vatican II the root system for the weeds that were to explosively sprout in the 1960′s were firmly in place. Much of it, if not most, pushed by a wealthy class that wanted easy divorce, contraception, sexual license and condescending intellectual perfidy that was resisted by the “common” classes. A review of how Hollywood promoted painless divorce is but one example. Please forgive me the following analogy, but as others have hit the more intellectual arguments, I will present a more vulgar understanding that struck me with sad humor and truth.
    Think of the wholesome 1940′s Bing Crosby IMAGE – the family man, everyman’s singer, simple, moral, conservative, religious, someone you could take home to mom and pop so on. By the 1960′s we were on to Sinatra and the Rat Pack image – amoral womanizers, hip,cool, foul spoken, dangerous, lewd, bullies, substance abusers, hedonists….you get the picture – oh, and Sinatra (and Martin) was a well known as Catholic. The point here is our culture had been transformed and we Catholics were now fully a part of it. We no longer stood apart and the Catholic ghetto with its values was going, going…gone. Enter Vatican II into a crop strewn with healthy weeds. Back then I am not sure if we asked, how to pluck them out or how to outgrow them, but we may be doing so now.
    Continuing with my vulgar analogy, anyone who thinks we, families and faith, are better off with the predominant Sinatra image over the Crosby one is denying reality. The average 1940 family may not have fully understood it, but they knew what wholesome was and wanted it. So, too, with the average Catholic. They weren’t forced to go to mass, my parents generation loved their Catholic faith as wholesome and good. They knew basic Catholic teaching and believed it. Vat II came into a world that increasingly did not care about wholesome, good or true. We are in a world where most Catholics do not know their faith. Now that some do, like at this site, know it very well and sincerely, that is a wonderful produce, but we’ve lost most of the crop.
    God does give his faithful what they need, and I’m thinking that despite the abuses in promulgating Vat II, it is what the Church needs to eventually overcome the weeds. In which case we would be much worse off without Vatican II.
    (And this is not meant to stir up a Crosby/Sinatra debate. LOL)

  • Think of the wholesome 1940′s Bing Crosby IMAGE – the family man, everyman’s singer, simple, moral, conservative, religious, someone you could take home to mom and pop so on. By the 1960′s we were on to Sinatra and the Rat Pack image – amoral womanizers, hip,cool, foul spoken, dangerous, lewd, bullies, substance abusers, hedonists….you get the picture – oh, and Sinatra (and Martin) was a well known as Catholic.

    James Cagney played gangsters. The midpoint of his career was around about 1940. He was also Catholic.

  • Yes, Cagey is a favorite. But perhaps you miss the point. There were lots of people who played creeps and various other villains on celluloid, but their villainy was not admired – just their ability to portray it. Cagney’s personal image, btw, was of a “square, good guy” and liked by the regular chums. Whether or not he was, Crosby was admired for the wholesome image I described regardless of his acting and singing talent. Sinatra and gang were admired for the negative bad boy images, regardless of their singing and acting talent. It became hip to be a morally bad boy. America had been moving in this direction for some time, where we glorified the naughty things, and now we don’t believe anything is naughty. No need to be nice for Santa anymore. Vat II did not bring this about.

  • Art Deco

    You rightly point out the issue of the radical decline of women religious since 1960 however you have overlooked several important issues which prevent you from arriving at the right diagnosis.

    You are correct that there were far more vocations to the active women’s religious orders in 1960. I differentiate the active ones from the cloistured ones. I believe that there has been little change in their numbers. However, in 1960 our schools were filled with women religious from orders who had education of girls, boys and both boys and girls as their mission. Our hospitals too had many women religious {although nowhere near the totality that our schools did) women who dedicated their lives to nursing and health care.

    Several things happened however in the early sixties. Women, freed from the more mundane aspects of homemaking [with washing machines, gas and electric stove/ovens, vacuum cleaners, even dishwashers] less tedious and time consuming. Some had worked while the men were away during the war. With more time on their hands they had more time to think, imagine and yes yearn for ‘other’ ways of living. Doors were opening up, slowly at first, for the ongoing presence of women in the workplace. More and more women were going to school post HS. Wile earlier womens’ movements had gained them the right to vote etc. now they were yearning to be come more and more part of the mainstream [and in many cases failing to recognize how important their own work at home was esp with the formation of children]. The women’s liberation movement was born-with its strengths and weaknesses. In short, women has other options than marriage, being single and in the Catholic world, the religious life. Womens’ options and vocations were ‘liberated’.

    In America, Sargent Shriver in Pres Kennedy’s administration had formed a totally new movement based on really a religious concept: service. The Peace Corps was born. It caught the imagination of a young generation just growing into maturity (and those right behind them still in secondary school), Instead of their idealism, in the case of Catholics, leading them into religious and priestly vocations, their idealism was secularized and led them into the Peace Corps and then countless other variations of the same movement. In short, they didn’t need the Church in order to serve.

    Now turning to the Second Vatican Council itself, the Council called for the renewal of all vocations. First and foremost, every baptized person is called to holiness of life. While this was not a new idea-it had always been present in some form or another, especially with St Francis De Sales Introduction to the Devout Life, but no other Council of the Church ever enshrined it, canonized it. All are called to be holy, not just the consecrated religious and the ordained. Dare I use this term? Holiness was ‘liberated’; it was no longer for a relatively few. However if this be the case, what is the role of consecrated religious life?

    Further, the Council gave far more weight and time, so to speak, to the vocation of the laity. Baptism-Confirmation-Eucharist became fundamental to the Church’s self-understanding, which shifted the Church away from seeing those in religious life and holy orders as the Church, with the laity in the pews not really part of the Church [Besides the media technology, a blog such as this would most likely not have existed in 1960: the laity were not fully part of the Church in the older view of things]. With the Sacraments of Inititation as the key, what happens to the consecrated religious? [Part of the desire of women religious to be ordained is to actually find their place in the Church-misguided as this is]

    Now, the Council also promulgated a declaration on the consecrated religious. It called for each religious order to go back to its founder’s original intentions and charism. It called for, a certain modernization of habits [not their total rejection and absence] [Think that one religious order of women did in fact have head gear like Sally Field's 'Flying Nun'--the wings could go, but not the veil]. It was like an explosion. I wonder how many actually read the VII document. Suddenly the history of religious orders were being rewritten: one teaching order rediscovered that their original calling was to treat ‘street women’–that is one massive jump. With this explosion, the veils all but completely disappeared-for most women religious. If consecrated women religious are no longer living in community, no longer in specifically religious missions-how many became social workers, lawyers etc? if they looked and acted just like Catholic lay women {earrings and all] then what does it mean to be consecrated women religious?

    Now it is easy to point to VII. However, nothing really changed for the cloistered orders. And those active women religious orders that maintained a certain discipline, identity, common purpose and common life, are not doing poorly in vocations. Its those orders that completely lost their identity that are literally dying [BTW the history of the Church teaches that most religious charisms die out in time, unless they adapt and or change their mission; i.e. The Trinitarian men's order were formed to ransom Christians sold into slavery to Moslem sultans etc. I could quip that they might need to return to this, but in fact they continue on with a changed mission]

    I understand seeing things today are very different than things were in say 1950 or 1960. It is true. There is no doubt about it. However the cause is not Vatican II. [FYI I do believe there are weaknesses in VII so I am not saying VII is 100% all the way]

  • JImmy Cagney really is one of my favorites…and his movies had a moral to the story. I take your point about the changing culture and I agree.
    The changes in our culture are hard to resist. Even for parents and parishes who are doing their best to protect and pass on the Faith, that omnipresent cultural pressure makes it difficult.
    I think John XX!!! was right to call the Council then because there was kind of a crisis of culture that was foaming up mid century. And you know the other side has noted that a good crisis should not be let go to waste. Just as the Church made an effort, the spiritual warfare increased.
    Perhaps we learned some lessons we didn’t expect, but we do know Who is the Victor.

  • Botolph

    Another change for women was that many orders even if not exclusively missionary, served foreign missions.

    Now, in the 1960s, the rôle of these orders was questioned; many felt that they had identified themselves too closely with the « mission civilisatrice » of the colonial powers. This was a caricature, of course, but caricature works by isolating and exaggerating real features of the subject.

    In any event, their former work in Algeria, Lebanon, Syria and West and Central Africa became impossible in the post-colonial period.

    PS The “wings” were part of the habit of the Sisters of Charity, established by St Vincent de Paul.. Ironically, it is simply a stylised version of the head-dress of the 17th century French peasant woman’s hat, designed to make them look unlike nuns, whom the Council of Trent had bound to strict enclosure.

  • i am not convinced that the modern world (since VII) that we experience today developed its anti-christian, relativistic gestalt because of VII.

    john XXII’s vision certainly was motivated by his assessment of the current (at his time) state of the Church and how it was relating to the changes in society.

    VII occurred at a time when, for example in the usa, society was transforming from an agrarian based enviroment where large numbers of people lived on farms or in small communities into a society whose foundations were to be found in the megalopolises that currently confront our evangelization efforts. creating vibrant faith communities in the megalopolises remains, in my opinion, the greatest evangelical challenge going forward.

    of course, that was not the ONLY trend that influenced john’s vision. there were others that he, being a child of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, would have experienced far more acutely than we who were born in the middle of the twentieth century.

    a historian friend of mine, a RC priest, once told me that it took the Church 100 years after every major council to fully reap the benefits of the council. he added that not unlike a pendulum, the council would push the church in one direction vigorously for approximately fifty years and then gradually the Church would start to reap the full benefits of the council as the pendulum reversed its course.

    i would question anyone who believes that the human gestalt, the human experience and the human thought processes that were predominant in 1963 are the same as today.

    the human mind cannot comprehend what is beyond its structure. this structure is not easily definable, but it certainly is influenced by the environment in which it is developed. thus education, as well as current events, can assist a human being in developing one’s ability to comprehend reality.

    in general, our bishops and theologians, because of their education, training, spirituality and intelligence are best prepared to understand what we face as a world going forward.

    at VII, there were bishops and theologians some of whom did not possess the comprehension to fully engage john’s vision. at the same time, there were others who did comprehend what john was seeing and where john was pointing. the numbers are not important, but in the end, there was a consensus that VII was creating a foundation for the Church to interact with the new gestalt that was forming.

    it is a useful exercise, for some maybe most people, to contemplate the fruits of VII so long as they recognize that those fruits are still ripening and will continue to ripen for years to come.

  • It is true that while the worldview has grown increasingly secular, the lines are more clearly drawn in the sand. Those who are truly committed to Christianity are more likely to stand out at a time like this. The ones who merely acquaiesed to civil religion are no longer that visible. Whose side you are on is much more likely to be apparent now.

  • Vatican II was and is a good thing and the right thing at the right time. Vatican II formulated the faith in terms that are accessible to the post-WWII world and reality.

    We must resist the urge to fault the Church with our own -though very real- frustrations.

    If I could give one thing to a random passer-by that I thought might change their minds about the Church or Catholicism, it would probably be a document from Vatican II.

    Vatican II is a powerful resource for Catholics and Catholicism – for defending the faith and for sharing it. If you look at Vatican II as a resource for our times you will find it to be abundantly fruitful. There is a good reason why so many bishops and priests point to Vatican II as a guiding light for these present times. In many respects Vatican II saw ahead or seemed to see ahead and provide for us what we would need, as we expect from a work of the Holy Ghost the ever loving, faithful and abundantly good God.

    God has not and did not abandon us. But as ever, we are free to access Him and make use of His gifts or to refuse Him or them and try it on our home. The latter option has a mixed history; the first God has never failed to reward with spiritual gifts in abundance.

  • Why is there so much corruption and moral dissolution with members of the Church? Why has Vat II been used to issue in years of confusion and revolt? Where else would Satan go to corrupt and deceive other than to the Good and Faithful?
    I am never surprised about individuals failings of our Church members – in an ironic way it assures me of the Truth Satan wants to point us away from. That is why I agree with Tim and others above.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Follow TAC by Clicking on the Buttons Below
Bookmark and Share
Subscribe by eMail

Enter your email:

Recent Comments
Archives
Our Visitors. . .
Our Subscribers. . .