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Vatican II as “chosen trauma” and “chosen glory”

The past—any past—is not some halcyon age when all liturgies were sung beautifully, all priests behaved impeccably, and all popes taught perfectly. The present is not some lesser age, some detour of destruction that has landed us in a ditch.

History’s View of Vatican II
Pope John XXIII leads the opening session of the Second Vatican Council in St. Peter's Basilica Oct. 11, 1962. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Four years ago at this time, I was beavering away on an essay on Orientalium Ecclesiarum, the document of the Second Vatican Council treating the Eastern Churches. I had been asked to contribute the essay to a collection edited by the late priest-scholar Fr. Matthew Lamb and by the dear and prolific Dr. Matthew Levering. My essay—alongside many others—was published under their editorship by Oxford University Press in early 2017 as The Reception of Vatican II.

In that essay, I felt under no constraint to do anything other than assess strengths and weaknesses fairly and openly. My approach then, and even more so today, seems increasingly rare. Official churchmen assert with adamantine certainty that Vatican II was a great and flawless good. Other commentators have recently re-emerged to issue condemnations of the entire council, while still others, plainly holding their noses, want to rubbish select bits while downgrading or dismissing the rest. These are not new tactics or claims, of course, and their more virulent repetition this year does nothing to mitigate their tiresomeness.

Why write of them at all? I do so not to defend Vatican II—or any council, none of which need my superfluous efforts.

Rather, I write because it affords an opportunity to think once more about the uses and abuses of Catholic history and tradition, to which I gave some thought almost exactly a year ago on CWR. I want to develop what was said there and consider the methods and the psychology found in just about any historical controversy today—whether it be the statutes of Confederate generals, the authority of past popes and canonical texts, or the status of Hagia Sophia.

Last year I quoted the great Byzantine historian Fr. Robert Taft of the Society of Jesus. He came to mind again recently, providing—as was his wont—a much blunter statement of what I will presently say at length. We were together on a panel in 2011 at the Orientale Lumen conference in Washington, D.C., at which I recall how Taft exclaimed with enormous exasperation that nobody (except Taft, of course—there was no false modesty in the man!) ever reads history, least of all church history, on its own terms. Instead, he groaned, people “plunder it for present felt purposes.”

On certain issues about which we feel passionately, Taft was correct: we too often cherry-pick the good or bad bits to feed our prejudices. Why do we do that?

Here is where, in teaching and in lecturing on historiographical issues (especially about religious conflicts such as the Crusades or between Catholics and Orthodox in Ukraine, about which I have a book coming out late this year), I have found the works of the University of Virginia scholar and clinician Vamik Volkan (whom I recently interviewed) invaluable. Volkan has spent most of his fascinating and productive life studying historical conflict—between Turkish Muslims and Greek Christians, between Arabs and Jews, and in many other venues.

Volkan has provided singular insights into the underlying psychological mechanisms in ethnic, religious, and cultural conflicts and their histories out of which wars and genocides may erupt. From his many books going back decades, he has discerned three phenomena that I think Catholics fighting about Vatican II (or anything historical) are engaged in: “time collapse,” “chosen trauma,” and “chosen glory.”

There are so many examples that we could spend days cataloging them. Every nation’s founding mythology is wantonly embroidered with chosen traumas and glories. Military history, ancient and modern, abounds with them. Christian history is no different. For brevity’s sake, let me offer an example that illustrates all three phenomena at once.

At a conference at the University of Vienna in 2016, designed to bring leading Russian Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic scholars and hierarchs together to discuss the pseudo-sobor of Lviv of 1946, I listened to the low-ranking Russian official sent to defend his Church claim that the events of 1946 were the direct result of, and really justification for the supposed crime of, 1595-96, the Union of Brest. In other words, he did three things: first, he collapsed four centuries of history so that there was a straight, causal line between 1596 and 1946; second, it was clear that the Russian Church had chosen for present political purposes to regard Brest as a trauma blame for which was solely to be laid on Catholic shoulders even today; and third it was noted that 1946 was chosen (and regularly, publicly, and liturgically celebrated in an official capacity by Russian hierarchs well into the 1980s) as a glorious moment at which we saw the “return of the uniates” to “holy Orthodoxy” and their “mother church” of Moscow, finally binding up the traumatic wound of 1596.

Needless to say, the history of Brest is considerably more complex than this, but so too (and I write as a Ukrainian Catholic) the history of the aftermath of 1946 is more complex than has often been realized—as the forthcoming book I have edited with Daniel Galadza will show. In neither case are we looking only at a monochromatic and monolithic case of one group of Christians attacking and seizing another, making “martyrs” of them thereby. There are multiple overlapping actors with multiple motives and many complicating details resisting overly tidy summary. There is little glory in either Brest or Lviv, and enough trauma to go round, including that experienced by some Catholics still alive today after the events of 1946. If you are not prepared to do the work necessary to discover and understand all these motives and actors and events, and to assess them with ascetic judiciousness, then you have no business commenting on them.

The same holds for today’s fights around Vatican II. For those who look at new life and developments in the Church in the last six decades, Vatican II must get the glory. For those who choose to espy only collapse and degradation in the Church, Vatican II can only be regarded as a traumatic wound we must overcome. In either case, the tendency is to move from 2020 to the early 1960s, tracing a direct causal link. No serious historian, scientist, or social scientist would do this. No logician would, either: post hoc ergo propter hoc remains a logical fallacy whether you like it or not!

Rather than choosing, selectively and almost always tendentiously, to regard some periods, personages, and events as either glorious or traumatic, the Catholic imaginary, carefully shaped (not least by by regular spells in the confessional), knows that human and historical causation is rarely simple, and hamfisted attempts to make it so deliberately obscure the messiness and complexity where real human beings—and not the grotesques we conjure up—are to be found.

Once we find those real human beings of our past—their practices, teachings, and ideas—what do we do? Are we bound to follow what we discover? If the fact that something was standard before Vatican II is now rare, must we recover the pre-conciliar practice without further ado? Must history and tradition dictate the future?

Formidable historian that he was, Taft nonetheless (as I heard from some of his students after his death) hid beneath his gruff exterior a warm pastor’s heart that well understood the foibles of the human condition. In that capacity he also insisted that as much as he valued real history, and as scornful as he was of those who fondly invented images of a past that never existed, nonetheless nobody was bound to regard the discoveries of historians as a kind of ukase. In other words, as he put it, “history is instructive but not normative.”

That, it seems to me, is exactly the balance Catholics must maintain: to know history, based on primary sources in original languages, proffered by competent scholars—but in nowise to be inexorably bound by it, as though gripped by rigor mortis. We are not prisoners of a past that is dead, but members of a living body. As Pope Benedict XVI insisted in his inaugural homily in 2005: “The Church is alive – she is alive because Christ is alive, because he is truly risen.”

As living, the Church can and must draw on (but is never imprisoned by) her past, which does not dictate what we are to do now. The balance was nicely described by Hans Urs von Balthasar in two passages from his essay “The Fathers, the Scholastics, and Ourselves”. That essay was written—nota bene—in 1939. He begins by denouncing the declinists and doom-mongers of his own day, long before Vatican II was even a flicker of a thought in the future Pope John XXIII’s imagination, saying that “no Catholic who knows something of the promise of the Spirit to stand by as Advocate through all times and epochs will look on the history of the Roman Catholic Church as that of a progressive going astray, from which only today we are now finding our way back.”

The past—any past—is not some halcyon age when all liturgies were sung beautifully, all priests behaved impeccably, and all popes taught perfectly. The present is not some lesser age, some detour of destruction that has landed us in a ditch. We remain alive and therefore free to chart our course. In the aftermath of Vatican II, as in the aftermath of every single council, we sometimes have chosen wisely, sometimes poorly, and usually both, and that is exactly as it should be. As the Swiss theologian puts it later in the same essay:

No time is completely like another, and the Church is always standing before a new situation, and, therefore before a new decision in which she can let herself receive advice and admonition from her past experiences but in which, however, the decision itself must be faced directly: The past can never lighten, let alone dispense from, the decision itself.

If nothing else, the decision to be faced by Catholics today is whether we will allow ourselves to manifest the maturity necessary to stop treating Vatican II as either a trauma or a glory and instead to see it as all councils from our past: an event where some of the crooked lines of human history were used by God to write straight the salvation of the world. If He is content to leave some lines askew on the page, some tares and wheat in the fields of the Church until the end of the age (cf. Matt. 13: 24-30), why can we not grant ourselves the same freedom to stop clinging to pseudo-intellectual genealogies helpful to nobody and instead get to work healing today’s myriad crises in Church and world alike?


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About Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille 85 Articles
Dr. Adam A. J. DeVille is associate professor and chairman of the Department of Theology-Philosophy, University of Saint Francis (Fort Wayne, IN) and author of Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy (University of Notre Dame, 2011).

31 Comments

  1. I heartily agree.

    Our Church is to be assessed through the lens of Jesus, and all Councils, including V2, are to be interpreted through the lens of Jesus The Word Made Flesh.

    We are not baptized into “the Church of Vatican II.” We are baptized into the Catholic Church, as members of Thw Body of Christ, of which Jesus is the head.

    All Councils, whatever their merits and flaws amount to, are imperfect pursuits of The Way.

    Obviously, there are very good fruits of the Second Vatican Council, among the foremost I believe is the the declaration against coercion of people to join or leave any religion, which elevated the principle of free will expressed by St. Gregory of Nyssa.

    Obviously, there are problems with some V2 products.

    And quite obviously, there were a lot of dishonest and unscrupulous characters who intended to use the V2 Council as a wedge to break the Church from its received faith and traditions.

    Jesus is always infallible. Councils, which are collective and conflicted efforts, and like the judgments of The Lord about each individual, can be measured by their fruits, and can be assessed as to whether the Church “is listening,” even while The Holy Spirit is eternally speaking.

  2. A very fair and reasonable review and analysis of the extremism from both sides of the pendulum (something which is evident in many issues tearing the world apart nationally and internationally at the given moment) along with the wise, if obvious, advice to steer between these polarities. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen that the ‘fig tree’ that sprang from Vatican II has not yielded the kind of fruit for which the council was assembled to cultivate within the Church. The Gospels treat the barren fig tree with some initial forbearance with respect to its lack of fecundity, but it also sets a limit for the tree to bear fruit after which it should be cut down to make room for more promising and productive plants. The Holy Spirit been invoked too often to excuse, or preserve, the lack of fruit Vatican II has borne, when a careful examination of the history of the council reveals a process replete with flawed human beings, seemingly at times, doing their best elbow out the Spirit to make room for their own egos, political maneuverings, and machinations. To harsh? Perhaps, but is the Church attempting to salvage ‘one tree’ (Vatcan II) when it might be more fruitful to cut it down to make room for another tree more inclined to bear fruit?

  3. But was Vatican II like “all councils of our past”? In some important ways it was not (pastoral, non-infallible, non-dogmatic, issuing no anathemas), as openly proclaimed by its participants and demonstrated by its documents. I think the author of this article undermines his arguments by ignoring the uniqueness of Vatican II. Game, set, and match to Bishop Schneider and Archbishop Vigano!

    • Why in the world would you hold that Vatican II was non-dogmatic? No one who has actually read the documents and studied their coming-to-be could maintain that the council was non-dogmatic. Sheeesh! The nonsense that some people come up with!

      • Vatican II is dogmatic in the sense that it re-affirmed previous doctrine and dogmae. But the reality is it does not define, declare, or authoritatively teach anything. It is very much a pastoral council rather than a “dogmatic” or authoritative council. All the other Ecumenical Councils have Canons. Vatican II has none.

      • Somewhere on these pages of Catholic World Report, Fr. Morello (I think) has remarked that out of all the 16 documents of Vat II, only two are dogmatic and consequently binding: Lumen Gentium [nature of the Church] and Dei verbum [revelation]. As for the rest (and like papal encyclicals) they can be non-dogmatic in themselves but still include within themselves matters which–standing by themselves–are already dogmatic.

        • Correct Peter. I argued also bishops as defenders of the faith since they were not bound had the right even obligation to resist liturgical error or changes they were convinced were detrimental to the faith. In addition it also speaks in favor of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, and to the unfortunate outcome of that affair, and how it might have been better managed.

      • You might think the council was non-dogmatic because Paul said it was: here are those who ask what authority, what theological qualification the Council intended to give to its teachings, knowing that it avoided issuing solemn dogmatic definitions engaging the infallibility of the ecclesiastical Magisterium. The answer is known by whoever remembers the conciliar declaration of March 6, 1964, repeated on November 16, 1964: given the Council’s pastoral character, it avoided pronouncing, in an extraordinary manner, dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility.

  4. The fundamental ideas in this article are spot on. The article would have been much shorter without all the name dropping, and much clearer and easier to read with a little less pretension.

    • Sorry, poor word choice. But Pope John XXIII did kick off the Council with these words, “The salient point of this Council is not, therefore, a discussion of one article or another of the fundamental doctrine of the Church which has repeatedly been taught by the Fathers and by ancient and modern theologians, and which is presumed to be well known and familiar to all.

      For this a Council was not necessary.“

      • Yes, he did employ those words. But you stopped too quickly: “But from the renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council, the Christian, Catholic, and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character.”

        And so the Council was necessary from another point of view. More importantly, a number of minority positions at Vatican I became majority positions at Vatican II. That’s what was so significant. Vatican II illustrates quite well that many aspects of Church teaching really do change, not just organically, but also by discarding opinions that are eventually discovered to be wrong. For this, a Council was necessary, as John XXIII clearly saw.

  5. Prof. DeVille makes a very good point, I think. History, as it actually happened, could not have been as simple as it seems in our very limited imaginations or memories.

    We are not infinite beings. We can never know every relationship, every effect, every thought or every motivation behind every action involved in even the simplest of human interactions.

    For example, I know of a young man who stumbled across the documents of Vatican II a decade or so after they were written. Beset with rebelliousness and antagonistic toward his parents, he was doing his best to think his way out of the Catholic Church.

    To him, those documents were a godsend.They revealed truths that strongly resonated in the deepest part of his being. The relationships they described between God and man, between the wealthy and the poor, between nations and between family members — all of it made eminent sense. Reading those documents exhilarated him. He’d been searching for a set of truths to base his life on; the decrees and declarations of Vatican II provided it.

    It is not an exaggeration to say that Vatican II saved that young man’s faith.

    Whatever point you might wish to make about the council itself — or about the Church during or after Vatican II (and we can all agree that the ensuing decades have not been ideal) — no understanding of Vatican II can be complete unless it includes the story of that young man, along with countless other effects, defects, revelations and perturbations that are almost by definition hidden from even the least agendized, most well-intentioned historian.

    Even as we strive to construct our narratives about the past, we need always recognize our profound — indeed, insurmountable — limitations.

  6. Excellent as always. I’ll just add that there’s a reason Vatican II is presented as a watershed, as a defining event – it was presented that way. To those of us who grew up and were formed by the Church of the 60’s and 70’s, we were taught very, very clearly and consistently that the interpretations of the Council that were being brought into being at the pastoral level at that time *were* definitive, *were* the work of the Spirit, were (and this is important) an essential corrective, retrieving the “pure” apostolic/early Church from accretions, and that all of that was *gone* and good riddance. So, it’s not just an accident of time or place that the Council plays this central, defining role in even the personal history of Catholics. For those formed during the period and right afterwards, it was presented, with no negotiation or nuance, as a necessary, Spirit-led change.

    • Right you are, Amy.
      I grew up in the Catholic world of the 1950s, and I remember being submitted during the 1960s to an unremitting barrage. from Catholic high school and university teachers. of acid criticism of the entire Catholic faith and tradition. It was a huge Vatican/episcopal-sponsored disinformation campaign. You almost had to be there to understand its profound demoralizing lifelong impact on young people (at the time, Boomer Catholics).
      After fighting it all through my teens and early twenties (part of that time, as an editor of Triumph magazine) I “retired” from the fight, and became what I liked to call the “anonymous Catholic” — went to Mass, confession, but gave up on argumentation and polemics.
      Then, in the 1990s, I discovered Ratzinger. I read all of his works that Ignatius published. I decided his “hermeneutic of continuity” offered a “way out” — and forward. My resolution was strengthened by the circumstance that my son was born during that period, and I wanted to hand onto him a true Catholic faith and practice. When Ratzinger was elected Pope in 2005, it was almost like a dream — and Benedict XVI made many of my dreams come true (most notably Summorum Pontificum).
      What we have seen in the years after his pontificate is the return in a virulent form of the modernism that was latent in the Vatican II project from its inception. The continuity project of JP2 and B16 appears to have merely deflected its advance.
      The “validity” of Vatican 2 as a council may be a useful question for further study and discussion, but what is needed most urgently now and for the future is a new authoritative Syllabus of Errors that will condemn all of the errors in doctrine and practice that have grown up over the last 60 years.
      But how can we expect this from a Rome that won’t acknowledge, let alone answer, the Dubia?

  7. DeVille trots out the fallacy “post hoc ergo propter hoc” as if with a magic wand to relieve Vatican II of the blame for what followed.

    Nevertheless, let’s consider this in the realm of liturgy. To borrow some observations from a friend:

    If the liturgical reformers were trying to empty the pews, what would they have done differently? A concomitant question would be: if they sincerely thought they were doing something good, what level of institutional disintegration would we have to reach for them to be able to say, “Gosh, that didn’t work at all, what can we do to fix this?” And yet, as you may remember, the Holy Father pronounced (ultra vires) that the liturgical reform is irreversible, so clearly, we aren’t there yet…

    “Post hoc, ergo propter hoc” is a fallacy in logic. That doesn’t change the fact that causality moves forward in time. While we are on the subject of logical fallacies, you might want to look up the type known as “false comparison.” It is prima facie absurd to posit a causal connection between spaghetti consumption and earthquakes; it is not prima facie absurd to posit a causal connection between the radical overhaul of Catholic religious practice on all levels, not just the liturgical level, and the abandonment of Catholic religious practice by the very millions whom the fantastically successful and well-loved liturgical reform was supposed to keep in the Church, bringing milions more in behind them.

    Yes, secularism was indeed aggressively on the rise all over the world in the 60’s. And well before that, in point of fact. And Catholics were solemnly assured that the liturgical reform (and other massive reforms introduced after the Council) were exactly what was needed to answer the challenge of secularism, and bring the world back to Christ. And when nervous Catholics replied that not only had the world rejected the overture, but that Catholics themselves were abandoning the practice of the Faith in droves, they were solemnly assured that that was most certainly not happening. And when it became impossible to deny that it was happening, the party line was changed to say that this was quite inevitable and there was nothing that could really be done about it, because of aggressive secularism.

    • Moreover, a small group were gathered in an upper room and went on to create Christendom: the cultures were utterly opposed to them as well, but it didn’t matter.

      They were faithful to Christ approach as well as teachings. Christ did not PRAISE sects and other religions: Samaritans, yes; Samaritanism, no. So they did not either. Christ spoke of hell on a regular basis as a very real possibility and concern: so they did as well.

      We decided that we knew better…

      Of course, post hoc ergo propter hoc is Latin for “I refuse to learn from experience.” (Admittedly, the is a translation using the discredited ICEL principles of dynamic equivalence–which is to say, it is wildly inaccurate.)

    • There’s no comparison between what the Council actually wrote in the (brief) document on the Liturgy and what actually followed.

      Some hold that the top-dog for implementation, Bugnini, was a well-placed Freemason. Others, instead, quote him as saying that–when he was told that under the guise of outreach all flat-earth hell had broken loose–“Oh, I never thought of that.” At the ground level, any innovations were to be approved, or not, by Rome (meaning Bugnini) but the bishop-conference management structures also took a break at the water cooler.

      I have long thought the former, that Bugnini was a programmed Freemason, yet knowing the roll that stupidity plays in human affairs (certainly not excluding the limited management skills of many clerics) I do not rule out the latter. I do recall reading in 1967 that Pope Paul VI felt the need to make a formal statement that the Mass was still valid if the ambiguous wording was interpreted in the orthodox manner. I also recall agonizing over the uncertainty whether the Mass was still invalid, not really knowing whether the particular celebrant (presider!) still minimally intended to “do what the Church does.”

      German Chancellor Conrad Adenauer offered a general perspective: “I have often felt it unfair that God limited man’s intelligence without also limiting his stupidity.”

    • DeVille was right to point to the post hoc fallacy. Your reply only adds to the fallacy: “If the liturgical reformers were trying to empty the pews, what would they have done differently?” I can think of a number of things. How does this question shed any light on the issue at hand? There are a large number of factors and combinations of factors (inside and outside the Church) that might account for the changes that took place after 1964. For all we know, things might have turned out worse had Vatican II not implemented the liturgical reforms it did. Your next question (what level of institutional disintegration would we have to reach…) is only an instance of “assuming the point you are trying to prove”. The rest of your objection is rationally incoherent. No need to bring up “false comparison”, for no false comparison was made, and no one ever said that it is absurd to posit a causal connection between liturgical practice and religious decline. It is not absurd, just simple minded. Not even a rigorously designed ANOVA test could determine the cause with any sort of logical necessity; history is just too complicated. And I’d like to know who it was who “solemnly assured” us that liturgical reforms were exactly what was needed to answer the challenge of secularism and bring the world back to Christ. I’ve never heard of such a claim, and anyone who would make such a claim would be foolish indeed–it is about as foolish as those who today maintain that bringing back the Latin Mass, large golden altar candles, incense and elaborate vestments are all that is needed to bring people back to the faith.

  8. The sub-heading to the article revealed that this would be a straw-man argument: <> No traditionalist says the former, and the latter sentence is too confused to make sense: what’s a “lesser age”? How does one arrive in what’s obviously a ditch, then?

    DeVille, whom I’ve met several times, is an intelligent man, as was Fr. Taft, at whose liturgies I stood in awe. He was a man who loved his adopted Russian-Byzantine Liturgy; but, he wasn’t born there. He left a liturgically crumbling Latin Catholicism to go there…and that crumbling had begun with Bugnini and Pius XII, as Fr. Taft himself admitted in more candid moments; he then saw whither the winds of the pre-Council were blowing.

    Still, all that is extraneous: was Vatican II really so similar to past councils? Did people at the time say that, Bishops or Periti? If not, what was different and why? Most importantly, can any reader in his or her right mind say that Nostra Aetate or Dignitatis Humanae just picked up where previous Church teaching AND action had left off? Equally important, why were Dei Verbum and Sacrosanctum Concilium mostly dead-letters upon arrival (save the “all other things being equal…”) in seminary biblical classes and in seminary and monastic masses?

    It’s a shame: Dr. DeVille could carry on a fruitful dialogue with someone like Dr. Kwasniewski. Someone might choose a historian from either “camp” to aid the disputatio and much ground could be covered. This is all feasible. Instead, Adam has continued the caricature, while pretending that his is the only reasonable “middle ground” between similarly caricatured extremes. Opportunity missed.

  9. Exercise No. 1 – Please mention ONE fruit, ONE positive development, or ONE concrete example of how the Church and Catholic life and culture are better today than before Vatican II. For this assignment, you may not use the words “participation,” “deeper,” or “sincerity.” You have 50 years to complete this exercise. Good luck!

    • “Please mention ONE fruit, ONE positive development, or ONE concrete example of how the Church and Catholic life and culture are better today than before Vatican II.”

      The arrogance of this post is astounding. You must be under 58 years of age.

      In some ways, you are like a mother who asks for one positive development that has resulted as a result of her son’s move into adolescence. Life was so good when he was 6, 7, 8, etc. We got along so well, he was obedient and sweet. Then suddenly he’s a teenager, and life becomes so difficult. This stage of development was unnecessary.

      I’m not a big fan of Fr. [Weinandy], but this article is not that bad, and it should answer your silly challenge:

      https://insidethevatican.com/news/newsflash/letter-14-july-27-2020-dossier-vatican-ii/

      • So pre-Vatican II Catholics are like 6, 7 and 8 year olds – unlike us mature adult Catholics – but I am the arrogant one? Got it.

        • You were a toddler during Vatican II. You are way too young to understand the pre-conciliar period “through a lived experience”. And no, you misunderstood the analogy. The terms of the analogy refer to the Church as a whole, not individuals, and the analogy highlights something about the nature of change, and is not a reference to the pre-Vatican Church as a 6, 7, 8 year old. Vatican II was a genuine development, but with every new stage of development, there are undesirable and, most importantly, unforeseeable side effects, as we know through the move into adolescence. We would like for our kids to stay at the grade 6 level of likeability, but that is unrealistic. There’s a great deal of good ahead, and the price we pay to get them there is adolescence, which has its charms, but is overall a pretty obnoxious stage. Any parent that insists on returning the child to pre-adolescence is immature.

          There was a great deal about the pre-conciliar period that needed reform, and it goes without saying that there is a great deal about the post-conciliar period that needed and needs reform. But it belongs to the nature of the Church to continue to reform itself. The Church as a whole will achieve that, as she always has, through a dialectical process that is too large for any single individual or group to understand and articulate in all its detail. That’s what makes history so interesting. And it is not a single individual or group that is going to dictate these reforms, but the Church as a whole, as we witnessed at Vatican II.

          • Blah blah blah… I was an altar boy in training when the Mass was destroyed. To talk about anything post-Vatican II as a “reform” is either stubborn self-deception or simple mendacity. I read the article you referenced. It is shallow and meritless. My challenge remains. Please mention ONE fruit, ONE positive development, or ONE concrete example of how the Church and Catholic life and culture are better today than before Vatican II.

  10. I for once would love to see specifically address the problematic passages in the various VII documents by someone like Dr. deVille or Fr.Weinandy. On a different note, I joined a Ukrainian Catholic parish now some 20 tears ago. I simply could not stomach the NO rite of mass anymore. But what I found in many priests and fellow Catholics there, a almost complete unawareness of the problems of the post VII episode, which I contribute to the fact that the mass in the Eastern rite was not butchered as the Roman rite was.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Vatican II as “chosen trauma” and “chosen glory” - Catholic Mass Search
  2. Why Vatican II cannot simply be forgotten, but must be remembered with shame and repentance - National Association of Catholic Families

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