Monday, October 22, 2007

More on post-Vatican II

~from Corriere della Sera via Papa Ratzinger Forum

It's somewhat like Aristotle's mesotes [doctrine of the mean): the 'correct middle' which is not simply 'the way' to go, but also connotes the art of the kybernetes, the steersman who 'governs' the ship and succeeds in keeping it straight and firm during a storm.

It can be a bad experience, especially if the ship is the Church tossed here and there 'in the years around 1968' by the revolutionary enthusiasms that followed the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

Everyone more or less was caught up in that storm and "I myself was, in that context, almost too timorous with regard to what I should have dared," Benedict XVI said in a November 2006 interview with Fr. Johannes Nebel which opens the book Il mondo della fede cattolica by the late Cardinal Leo Sheffczyck.

"Of course, there was a storm," says Prof. Lorenzo Ornaghi, rector of the Catholic University of Milan, "and perhaps, we are still not rid of the confusion."

He notes that the Pope praised the 'clarity' that Sheffczyck knew how to keep then.

That is the point, Ornaghi says. "The Pope's interview contains an important reaffirmation of the identity of the faith, and above all, its comprehensibility. The element of confusion that perhaps we still under-estimate, arose from what, in 1968, was meant to be a cultural revolution [even within the Church], with a break from all preceding ideas - and that was reflected even in the contamination of language: words became opaque, not helpful to understanding, because they were no longer able to go to the essence of problems. Whereas the vitality of faith depends on being able to speak to men of our time and to be understood by them."

In December 2005, on the 40th anniversary of the closing of Vatican-II, Benedict XVI said that in the years following Vatican II, "two opposing hermeneutics fought each other" and it was one of those, the 1968 hermeneutics which interpreted the Council as 'discontinuity and rupture...created confusion."

The other which 'bore fruit and continues to do so' is the hermeneutic of reform, of 'renewal in continuity.'

It is not true, Benedict says, that there was a break between the pre-conciliar church and the post-Conciliar Church, nor is it true that nothing changed. The 'correct middle', therefore.

"But no, if that were so, then there should be three interpretations," says Paolo Prodi, professor of modern history in Bologna, where Giuseppe Alberigo's Institute of Religious Sciences became the center and reference point of the 'progressivists.'...

..."That there was a strong enough tension, yes, and I myself broke away from the Institute, but my way of thinking rejects the idea that there were two interpretations. Reality is more complex than a dilemma. Revolutions in history only scratch the surface, I've never believed in them, so even I see continuity. But I think that the announced reforms, the 'updating' intended by John XXIII, has been diluted over the years."

But Prodi says that is not the point now. "Look, I tend to historicize Vatican-II: the Church faced and settled its accounts with the modern age, well and good. The problem is the modern age has been over for some time now."

In short, he thinks it is time that Vatican-II becomes simply an issue for historians....

...Historian Lucetta Scaraffia would go beyond that. "Today, there is a tendency to think that Vatican-II meant a succession of dogmas. Whereas, the betrayal of the Council was really in seeing new dogmas where there were none. This has been a subject of discussion within the Church."

"The Pope, being an intellectual," she says, "sees clearly that the Church is itself a laboratory for culture, that interpreting tradition means discussing it, and that, and this continuous discussion gives vitality to the Church - honest confrontation, not conflict motivated by power."

"In an age that tends to reject the Catholic vision, the Pope re-proposes it in a cultural context. He does not enunciate dogma but instead places weight on reason. It is a big challenge - one must be able to sustain a rational argument. Outside the Church, it is not understood much, and for Catholics themselves, it is not easy to live up to. But in a world of conflict, when people don't speak to each other, it is our good fortune to have one of the greatest intellects of our time as Pope."

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