NEWS: June 29, 2012
Bird’s Eye View of the News
Atila Sinke Guimarães
THE OFFICIAL HERMENEUTICS OF RUPTURE - III - I continue today with my objective of showing how Benedict XVI’s “hermeneutics of continuity,” pretending the Council was an organic continuation of the past, is a fabrication to try to save Vatican II from a growing public rejection. The Pope can only succeed in this attempt if Catholics completely disregard what the “conciliar revolution” actually was. Therefore, to halt this new maneuver and show what Vatican II actually intended, nothing seems more efficient than to bring to light the statements of the men who made the Council, in which they acknowledge it as a monumental change regarding the past of the Church.
Two previous articles addressed what was affirmed in this respect by the concilar Popes as well as by the most important Prelates who played a decisive role in the direction of the Council. Today, I will bring to my reader some of the most influential theologians who wrote the documents of Vatican II or inspired its main positions.
In Vatican II the Church broke the ties that anchored her to the Middle Ages
Cardinal Yves Congar, O.P., collaborated in 10 of the 16 final documents of Vatican II. (1) Also, at the very beginning of the Council, he influenced many conciliar Fathers to direct a message to the world, which, in a certain sense, set the tonus of the Council. (2) Congar himself affirmed his impact at Vatican II: “Finally, I played a role in the Church that far surpassed my personal value; this is undeniable. I had the opportunity to be involved in this renewal of the life of the Church that culminated in the Council.” (3)
If we add to this that Congar was invited to be part of the Council by John XXIII, was praised by Paul VI and made Cardinal by John Paul II, we can conclude that the man is clearly entitled to speak about the intentions of the Council.
Card. Yves Congar: At Vatican II the Church razed her ramparts and entered the modern world
This is what he affirms on its rupture with the past:
The Church of Vatican II, with her declaration on religious liberty [Dignitatis humanae] and the pastoral constitution Gaudium et spes on the Church in the modern world – a meaningful title! – clearly placed herself in the modern pluralist world and, without denying what she has of the grand, broke the ties that anchored her to the shores of the Middle Ages. One cannot remain bound to one moment of History. (4)
He uses another metaphor to describe the radical change of position the Church took at Vatican II:
During the Council “the besieged City lowered her drawbridges and razed her ramparts. She offered her services. She accepted the idea of receiving, through ecumenism, [the contribution of] ‘others’: Christians, the world, peoples and cultures. She adopted a policy of dialogue, and she equipped her central offices for this.” (5)
The Council exploded the monolithic & self-confident Church of the past
Congar outlines three main fields of changes made at Vatican II:
At the Council: “1. The largely fictitious notion of a monolithic and self-confident Church that has an answer for everything was exploded. 2. The Church opened its doors and windows. Fresh air swept through them ... 3. With its frank and open debates, the Council put an end to everything that could be referred to as the ineluctability of the system.
“What we understand by ‘system’ is a consistent set of codified teachings, of defined rules of behavior established by casuistry; a minutely detailed and very hierarchical organization; tight control and surveillance procedures; and rubrics that regulate worship. All of this was inherited from Scholasticism, the Counter-Reformation and the Catholic restoration of the 19th century and subjected to an efficient Roman regulation.
“Pius XII is reported to have said, ‘I will be the last Pope to keep everything as it is now.’ And, in fact, John XXIII ... conveyed a totally different image of the Papacy. The profound contacts established in the Council, the meetings, the information provided about many issues, the necessary advance of aggiornamento determined the end of what we call the unconditionality of the system.” (6)
Vatican II abandoned the monarchic Church
Congar also reveals why there was so much talk about Church as sacrament: It was to do away with the concept of the monarchic and juridical Church:
The idea of the Church as sacrament at the Council was a means to move away from the predominantly juridical view that the Church, having been founded by Christ, would maintain herself and function on her own. (7)
He goes on to speak of how the Council abandoned Catholic culture:
I will say two things: First, this [Western and Christian] culture no longer relates to contemporary man, who seeks another culture, whose parents are not Athanasius nor Augustine, but Marx, Freud and modern technology. Second, the Catholic Church finds herself on the course of abandoning her ancient culture, this cultural, poetic, legislative and artistic whole that belonged to her from the time of Constantine up to Vatican II. One of the signs of this ecclesial phenomenon is the abandonment of Latin. At Vatican II the Church cast off this past in order to open herself up to a new world.” (8)
Vatican II replaced the Church’s hierarchical regime with a egalitarian one
Fr. Marie-Dominique Chenu, O.P., the mentor of Fr. Congar, was a theologian and a historian. He participated in the Council as a perito. His ideas played a decisive role in the Church’s opening to the world proposed by the Constitution Gaudium et spes, certainly the star-document of Vatican II.
In an interview he granted me in Paris in 1983, he gave this encompassing overview of the Conciliar Revolution:
Fr. Chenu: The Council changed the Church from a hierarchical regime to an egalitarian one
In my study of History, I focused on the time when the Middle Ages was rapidly evolving. It was moving from a feudal period, which lasted four centuries, to a new epoch with transformations in the world and in the Church. It was passing from a feudal regime to a communal, horizontal regime of equality, opposed to a hierarchical regime. Then, from the sociological standpoint, I analyzed this change from a vertical regime of authority to a horizontal regime of fraternity …
I applied the same method to contemporary times: Instead of an authoritarian Church – God, Christ, the Pope, the Bishops – today we have the horizontal people of God, where there are authorities, but the primacy lies in horizontalism.
This is what was recorded at the Council, which defined the Church not as a perfect, hierarchical society (the term that used to be utilized was societas perfecta). It was replaced by populus Dei, the people of God. In the Church this is significant. ... Instead of a societas perfecta, there is the populus Dei, where there are authorities, but the authorities refer to the people of God.
Therefore, this is the new constitution of the Church, which represents a complete change of position. I consider this to be one of the main characteristics of the Council. A vertical-authoritarian regime was replaced ... Since then there has been a horizontal collegiality among the Bishops. (9)
Vatican II accepted the errors of the French Revolution
Chenu also praised the Council for breaking with her past “obscurantism” and accepting the “values” of 1789:
The story of the longstanding obscurantism, in which Christians floundered for more than a century before discerning the values of liberty tumultuously proclaimed by the French Revolution, is a sinister one. Only now has the Council succeeded in moving the Church away from a summary anathema. (10)
Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P., was a theological expert at the Council, one of the Dutch Episcopate led by Card. Bernard Alfrink. He had a marked influence on Lumen gentium and Dei Verbum, two of the three main documents of Vatican II. He also played a very important role in fostering collegiality, which was endorsed by the Council. On the changes Vatican II made in the Church, Schillebeeckx comments:
Fr. Schillebeeckx: Vatican II acccepted the French Revolution and bourgeois tolerance
Certainly Vatican II was also a Council of protest and contradiction, so to speak, a reaction of the liberal Church against the remnants of feudalism and monarchy inside the Church: Hence, the emphasis on collegiality in the government of the Church. Only by means of this Council did the Church officially accept the great conquests of the French Revolution and the liberation of the bourgeoisie: tolerance, liberty of religion and conscience, ecumenical openness, etc. (11)
Vatican II placed democracy in the Church
Schillebeeckx also attributes to Lumen gentium the introduction of the democratic element in the Church:
We can say that the democratic element is appearing ever more clearly in today's Church. We find this, above all, in the foundation of the institutional structure, in different ecclesiastic provinces and local Churches, and in the relations between the Bishops and the faithful. Here, in many places, a more democratic structure is already apparent. This presupposes that the Bishop himself already has a new concept of how his authority functions.
Once the Bishop’s image gradually takes a form within a democratic perspective, the supreme authority in Rome will be able to permit the local Churches, to a large extent, to resolve their own problems. ... In restoring to each Bishop the former title of vicar of Christ, the dogmatic Constitution on the Church [Lumen gentium] in fact laid the foundation for a theology of the local Church, wherein the universal Church is represented.” (12)
The supreme power passed from the Pope to the Bishops
Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J., is normally credited with introducing two notions into Lumen gentium - Church as mystery and people of God. These two concepts are responsible for most of the changes in Catholic ecclesiology. By the way, Rahner played a large part in the writing of Lumen gentium.
Fr. Rahner: the Council declared the supreme power of the Church belongs to the Bishops
On the change made in the mission of the Bishops, Rahner clearly attacks the traditional concept and points out the new one, born at the Council:
The Bishops are subordinate executives of the Holy Father in what refers to daily affairs; in this they submit to the central authority of Rome. The Bishops consider the Nuncio of His Holiness as his representative and their immediate superior. This concept is opposed, however, to Catholic doctrine ...
The supreme power of the Church is exercised through the mediation of the Bishops; this was declared and reiterated with all solemnity at Vatican Council II.
The first Bishops’ Conference was held in Würzburg in 1848 ... Based on this precedent, the Bishops’ Synod became a new form of episcopal collegiality at a national level. The Canon Law of 1917 ignored this institution, but Vatican Council II declared it obligatory and permanent, enjoying all rights.(13)
Vatican II razed the bastions of the Church
Among the important theologians who influence the present day Church, Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar enjoys a privileged place. Indeed, he was considered the mentor of John Paul II and a theologian who had great influence over Joseph Ratzinger, today’s Pope. Von Balthasar did not go to the Council, a punishment for his radical work Razing the Bastions, in which he demanded the destruction of the principal institutions of the Church.
When he was asked after the Council about his opinion of it, he clearly pointed out to the rupture Vatican II made with the past:
Fr. von Balthasar: Vatican II razed the bastions of the Church a little too much...
With the Council came a new Catholicism. I had thought that something like this would happen. I had foreseen and predicted it in my work Schleifung der Bastionen [Razing the Bastions]. And something like this has, in fact, taken place. Afterward, however, they razed a little too much, so that my old friend Karl Rahner said: ‘Before, we were on the left, now we suddenly find ourselves on the right; however, we have not changed.’ And this is true. At least for me, fundamentally I have always maintained the same position. (14).
These theologians are the most authorized persons to speak about Vatican II. Their testimony frontally opposes the pretension of the “hermeneutics of continuity.” They clearly show that the Council demolished the past of the Church as much as it could. It is not possible to disguise it as conservative or traditionalist. In Vatican II the Church became dominated by Progressivism, the heir of Modernism, that had been infiltrating the Church for a long time. This is the sad and simple reality.
I believe that the statements presented in these three articles are decisive and put to rest any pretense of Vatican II’s continuity with the past of the Church. The only thing still missing is a list of the papal initiatives, born from the Council, that transformed the Conciliar Church into a reality quite different from, if not opposed to, the Catholic Church of the past. I will present this list in
my next installment, the last of this series.
1.Informations Catholiques Internationales, May 15, 1969, p. 9;
2.Jean Puyo interroge le Père Congar, Paris: Centurion. 1975, pp. 128-129;
3.Ibid., p. 167;
4. Yves Congar, La crisi nella Chiesa e Mons. Levèbvre, Brescia: Queriniana, 1976, pp. 51-52;
5. Y. Congar, Église Catholique et France moderne, Paris: Hachette, 1978, p. 47;
6. Y. Congar, La crisi nella Chiesa e Mons. Lefebvre, pp. 57-58;
7. Y. Congar, Un peuple messianique, Paris: Cerf, 1975, p. 38;
8. Y. Congar, “Salvación y liberación,” V.A., Teología de la Liberación, Burgos: Aldecoa, 1973, p. 202;
9. Interview by the Author, Paris, February 20, 1983;
10. M. D. Chenu, “Les signes des temps – Réflexion théologique,” V.A., L’Église dans le monde de ce temps, Paris: Cerf, 1967, p. 217;
11. Edward Schillebeeckx, "O Evangelho nao pode estar sujeito a arbitrariedade," Concilium, n. 10, 1983, p. 29;
12. E. Schillebeeckx, “Fundamento da autoridade na Igreja,” in V.A., Cinco problemas que desafiam a Igreja hoje, Sao Paulo: Herder, 1970, pp. 39-40;
13. K. Rahner, “El principio sinodal,” V.A., La reforma que llega de Roma, Barcelona: Plaza & Janes, 1970, pp. 21-22;
14. H. U. von Balthasar, “Cento domande a von Balthasar,” interview by Erwin Koller, 30 Giorni, June 1984, p. 9; L’Osservatore Romano, June 24, 1984, p. 4.
Related Topics of Interest
The Official Hermeneutics of Rupture - I
The Official Hermeneutics of Rupture - II
Yves Congar Rejects the Idea of Vicar of Christ
Congar: Destroy the Pomp and Grandeur of the Church
Congar: At Vatican II the Church Brokeher Ties to the Past
Chenu: The Transcendent God of the Past Is an Idol
Chenu: Traditional Catholic Theology Was Sterile
Schillebeeckx Explains Collegial Authority as a Form of Democracy
Vatican II Was a Reaction against Monarchy in the Church
Von Balthasar: Card. Ratzinger Did Not Change
|Related Works of Interest|
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