Making common cause: A contribution to the Chapp-Minerd dialogue

In truth, Communio and Thomist theologians and philosophers alike—despite past animosities—have common enemies today: progressives and radical traditionalists.

(Image: Alisa Anton/

Over the past couple of years, I have been privileged to have numerous conversations and written exchanges with Dr. Larry Chapp and Dr. Matthew Minerd. I have benefited greatly from these interactions, and I consider both to be among my most favored interlocutors. In their recent exchanges here on The Catholic World Report, the issue of past and present relations between ressourcement and Communio theologians, on the one hand, and Thomist scholars, on the other, was raised. [Editor’s note: The essays by Dr. Chapp and Dr. Minerd are listed with links at the end of this essay.]

That topic is something I have spoken about with both of these admirable Churchmen. I would now like to offer some of my own reflections on this theme in the hopes of furthering the discussion towards a fruitful collaboration between Communio and Thomist thinkers over against the progressivist and radical traditionalist projects.

I recently encouraged such a rapprochement at the American Maritain Association Conference in Dallas. There, I noted how ressourcement-minded theologians such as Henri de Lubac and Joseph Ratzinger were dissatisfied with what they saw as the regnant neo-Scholasticism. Accordingly, they found themselves at odds with prevalent scholars of the Thomist tradition, including members of the Roman Curia. In response, the ressourcement crowd allied with other figures during the Council who could at least now be described as progressives.

In the wake of the Council, however, the Communio theologians became dismayed by misappropriations of the Council precisely by the progressives they had collaborated with during the Council. The allies became adversaries.

For the younger generation of Communio-minded thinkers, such as myself, this history is lamentable. Perhaps because we were not embroiled in personal conflicts with the Thomists of the day the way that earlier ressourcement scholars were, we do not carry the same overarching vitriol towards the (neo-)Scholastic tradition. In fact, there is a growing recognition that the state of theology following the Council has largely—although not universally—been much worse than the displaced Scholasticism. As Fr. Romanus Cessario has written, “the critics of the Thomist commentatorial tradition, who, no matter how well-intentioned they may have been, contributed to the destabilization of Catholic theology.”i

That assertion might be a bit hyperbolic, since the real blame for such destabilization belongs on the side of the progressives first and foremost. Nevertheless, while maintaining sympathies with the ressourcement school’s (if it can be so called) intentions, one ought to take seriously the accuracy of Fr. Cessario’s words with respect to the concrete results in higher education following the Council. Accordingly, there are a growing number of Communio-friendly scholars who wish that the ressourcement theologians would have collaborated with the Scholastics over against the progressives rather than the other way around.

The past cannot be undone, but this impulse can be harnessed for the future of the Communio, ressourcement movement. Such a project would require Communio theologians to reconsider the concerns—and in some cases prescient warnings—of the early to mid-twentieth century Scholastics and incorporate their works among the sources to be retrieved. Dr. Matthew Levering’s push for Ressourcement Thomismii is a welcome contribution to such a project.

Here, I would like to take seriously Dr. Minerd’s appeal to Communio thinkers to not over-simplistically present a narrative insisting that ressourcement won at the Council over-against the Scholastics. Certainly, the ressourcement periti made important and concrete contributions to the documents of the Second Vatican Council. In particular, they helped tremendously in generating the literary style of the texts, avoiding an overly Scholastic tone, which was not deemed appropriate for the Council’s intentions.

But style and doctrinal content are not interchangeable. It is one thing to say that the documents avoided a Scholastic style. It would be quite another to assert that the Council rejected Scholastic positions as such. Yes, there were certain assertions made by some Scholastics in preparatory documents that were removed (such as the desire in De fontibus revelationis to settle the disputed question over whether Tradition added any content to revealed truth in addition to Scripture). But that is not to say that the Council taught against Scholastic theology per se. In that sense, it would be misleading to hold that the Scholastics lost at the Council, and it would be grossly mistaken to say they offered no positive contributions to the final documents. Dr. Minerd rightly pointed to Sebastian Tromp, SJ’s contribution to Mystici Corporis. There is strong evidence that he was also the one who suggested the important ‘subsistit in’ terminology of Lumen Gentium. That was a profound contribution to one of the Council’s central doctrines.

Ratzinger thought it would be inappropriate for any one theological school—in this case Scholasticism—to use the Council as a means of eradicating another—presumably his own school of thought—from academia.iii Ought we not admit that the reverse would also be inappropriate?

Indeed, the ressourcement theologians achieved the goal of pushing for greater emphasis on biblical and Patristic scholarship in Catholic higher education. However, the Council nowhere called for Scholasticism to be ubiquitously dismantled. Quite the contrary, it called precisely for the sort of complementarity that I am advocating for here. The Decree on Priestly Training, Optatam Totius, specifically insists that: “Dogmatic theology should be so arranged that these biblical themes are proposed first of all. Next there should be opened up to the students what the Fathers of the Eastern and Western Church have contributed to the faithful transmission and development of the individual truths of revelation. The further history of dogma should also be presented, account being taken of its relation to the general history of the Church,” thus supporting the ressourcement project, but then immediately adding that “in order that they may illumine the mysteries of salvation as completely as possible, the students should learn to penetrate them more deeply with the help of speculation, under the guidance of St. Thomas, and to perceive their interconnections.”iv Yes, the Second Vatican Council explicitly called for seminaries to teach Thomistic speculative theology. When talking about failures to implement the Council, ought not this be on the list?

Furthermore, the Communio school frequently appeals to the distinction between doctrine and theology to justify its own position as a valid and licit approach to theology that remains faithful to the magisterium. That is appropriate and correct. It must be said, however, that the Scholastics of the day were equally—and in some cases even more—faithful to the magisterium and hence have an equal right to persist, even if as a “rival” school. While it was lamentable that certain Scholastics may have been overly authoritarian in trying to get other theologians’ works censured prematurely, they cannot themselves be accused of heterodoxy. Thus, their voices are equally valid and have a rightful place in Catholic theology.

To that end, I am grateful for Dr. Minerd’s painstaking work to translate and re-present the works of great twentieth century Thomists. I have myself already benefited from this effort. I was likewise pleased to see Dr. Minerd’s defense of the Council over against tendencies of radical traditionalists. I, for one, would like to see more Thomists arguing against the radical traditionalists (who style themselves as Thomists) and their rejection of Vatican II.

In truth, Communio and Thomist theologians and philosophers alike—despite past animosities—have common enemies today: progressives and radical traditionalists. Thomists and Communio theologians are both committed to orthodoxy and lament the ways the Church’s teaching is being distorted by both of those other camps. It is imperative that they join forces against such falsifications of the faith. Additionally, the academy can only benefit from both approaches to theology being widely presented in the classroom.

Sadly, in my experience, it seems as though Thomism is either hardly presented at all or is the sole form of instruction. I studied theology at three different Catholic institutions (one undergraduate and two graduate). In none of them did St. Thomas Aquinas figure prominently, except in one doctoral seminar elective. (I have reason to believe things are different now at two of the institutions, of which I am proud to be an alum.) Other schools proudly proclaim that they teach according to the Thomist tradition, which is preferable to the alternative, but could be equally unbalanced.

It seems to me that, in a holistic Catholic theological education, St. Thomas and his commentators should be accorded a significant—though not exclusive—role. I believe that it is precisely the intention of the Second Vatican Council that ressourcement and Thomist approaches to theology complement one another. In that sense, neither camp won to the exclusion of the other, at least not as far as the Council is concerned regarding the future of Catholic theology, in distinction from the style of the documents.

I concur with Dr. Chapp’s diagnosis of the dangerous emergence of both progressive and radical traditionalist tendencies. I also concur with him that the pontificates of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI are guiding lights for the appropriate interpretation of the Council. To this extent, the ressourcement school has a great deal to contribute to the cause. I also concur with Dr. Minerd that the Thomists need to be afforded more credit for their own contributions to the Council and to theology as a whole. In the current Catholic culture, it is imperative that the two camps ally with one another to combat erroneous progressivism and radical traditionalism alike. It is time to make common cause.

“The progressive revolution’s continued control of the ecclesial narrative” (May 18, 2023) by Dr. Larry Chapp
“Catholic theology yesterday and today: A Thomist’s response to Dr. Larry Chapp” (May 25, 2023) by Dr. Matthew Minerd
“Catholic alliances today and tomorrow: A response to Dr. Matthew Minerd” (May 30, 2023) by Dr. Larry Chapp


i Romanus Cessario, OP, “Neo-Neo-Thomism,” First Things (May 2007), online edition; review of Praeambula Fidei: Thomism and the God of the Philosophers (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2006).

ii As one example, see Reinhard Hütter and Matthew Levering eds., Ressourcement Thomism: Sacred Doctrine, the Sacraments, and the Moral Life: Essays in Honor of Romanus Cessario, O.P. (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2010).

iii See Joseph Ratzinger, “Observations on the Schema,” in Jared Wicks, “Six Texts by Prof. Joseph Ratzinger as Peritus before and during Vatican Council II,” Gregorianum 89:2 (2008): 284.

iv Second Vatican Council, Optatam Totius, §16, October 28, 1965 (emphasis added). It is worth noting that some Scholastics also recognized the need for better historical theology, including Fr. Reginald Schultes, Fr. Michel Labourdette, and Cardinal Charles Journet.

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About Dr. Richard DeClue 1 Article
Dr. Richard DeClue is the Cardinal Henri de Lubac Fellow of Theology at the Word on Fire Institute. He earned degrees in theology at Belmont Abbey College (B.A.) and the Catholic University of America (S.T.B., S.T.L., and S.Th.D.), specializing in systematic theology. He has published in Communio, Nova et Vetera, and Evangelization & Culture and has a forthcoming book on the thought of Pope Benedict XVI with Word on Fire.


  1. Many thanks, dear Dr. Richard DeClue.

    I learned much from your clear style about the schools of thought that influenced VII and are still with us today.

    As a life-long Catholic, who has come to live in love with The New Testament & who has high qualifications & global experience in Science & Theology, I applaud your appeal for unity among all those who perceive the dangers manifest in both of the broad roads: of extreme ‘traditionalism’ and of radical revisionist ‘progressivism’.

    Matthew 7:14: “It’s a narrow gate & a hard road that leads to Life, & only a few find it.”

    The loving, patient, persistent witness of those few provides a salutary invitation for the diversity of broad-roaders, if they, by grace will open their eyes!

    Let’s all keep praying.

    Ever in the love of The Lamb; blessings from marty

    • Dear Dr. Rice,

      I appreciate your kind comments. It is a venture that I am deeply passionate about.

      As an aside, I have a bit of a science background myself, including certification to teach General Science. My main areas were Biology & Chemistry. I was one of the weirdos who actually liked Organic Chemistry.

      Through the grace of Our Lord, may we stick to the narrow path that leads to eternal life!

    • Ditto from me. Thank you very much, Dr. DeClue, for sharing your deep knowledge and insightful analysis. And thank you, Dr. Rice, for your characteristically helpful and positive commentary.

  2. There’s a fire raging in the House of God that’s quickly consuming its very structure and some are debating whether to paint the living room walls blue or pink.

    • With all due respect, Sir, I believe you have misunderstood the premise, which is to join forces to put out that fire. It has nothing to do with superficial things at all, but the very structure presently at risk.

      • And so the challenge I’ll pose is this, M’am: Let’s revisit this noble vision in 3-5 years and assess how things have demonstrably changed. We’ll see whether the fire is out, the damage has been repaired and the structure is reasonably habilitated. If so, the dialogue was well worth it and I am chastened. If not, we’re likely to be in even worse shape. Until then, I’m convinced that talk, and books, and Synods and programs and all the rest are mostly about words.

        • Dear Deacon Edward Peitler,

          I would never presume that this one set of exchanges will somehow turn the ship around. That would foolish. It would also be foolish to think that 3-5 years is sufficient time, given Church History. Just read St. Basil’s depiction of the Church following Nicaea (and he was born after that Council); it’s rather grim. The Christological debates raged for a very long time on one of the most central doctrines of the faith, requiring numerous Ecumenical Councils to address, without immediate, complete success in the wake.

          At the same time, I think it is fairly obvious that the academy has a trickle down effect on the wider culture and Church. People often breath in bad philosophies that they are not even aware of because of how it shapes their education and society at large. To that extent, I do think we need to work together to improve Catholic higher education as ‘one’ element in the attempt to put out the fire. And I’m basically arguing that we need to re-incorporate Scholastic speculative theology into the curriculum alongside sound biblical and Patristic courses.

          As small of a contribution as this is, it is something. I’d rather try than just watch the edifice burn. And there are some signs of hope, but there has never been an era of the Church that was not wrought with internal trials.

          If you have any plans for how to put the fire out, then feel free to elaborate.

          • I appreciate what you’re trying to effect and in no way intend to demean your efforts. I simply wish to sound the alarm that the Church is in dire need of reform and for prophetic voices to speak aloud regarding the perils the Church is facing. I truly believe that Christ will never abandon his Church but that does not mean that the Faithful ought to remain quiescent in the face of serious assaults on Her. In this regard, I applaud recent actions of Bishops Strickland and Cordileone. I am reminded too of Christ’s throwing the money changers out of the temple while telling them that they’ve made God’s house a den of thieves. Are we not all configured to Christ and ought we not be responding to the threats facing our Church daily? There is a passivity about Catholics that’s unbecoming.

  3. This might be a good time to combine minds to discuss what happens when “science” and the government/s decide that extra-terrestrial life exists and that God is passé . . . which means that all those Rights that are based on the existence of God, the dignity imbued in the human being as a result of having been crafted in God’s image NO LONGER APPLIES. We lose our Rights, we lose our dignity, we lose the truth as we have always ever understood it. It’s time for all good theologians/philosophers to give intense reflection to this problem NOW.

  4. The author seems oblivious to willful evil intentions in this great debate. The distinguishing characteristic of any alleged desire to expand the sources of understanding Catholic doctrine is subject to the corrupting influence of pride and intentional undermining disinformation. Just look at how female ordination is now being supported by flat out lying about the role of “female deacons” of the early Church. And let’s not even begin to talk about the crimes against humanity a rejection of rational precision for the “new pastoralism” means for moral reasoning.
    No, radical traditionalism, sometines falsely trivialized as a type of Catholic Calvinism, is not equally vulnerable to bad faith as “resourcement”.

    • Dear Mr. Baker,

      I’m not sure how, through a 1,500 word essay on a very specific topic, which largely defends Thomism, you can divine my lack of awareness of bad actors. The very thing you describe, to my mind, is precisely the sort of thing pushed by the progressives that I’m calling to be fought against. I don’t know of a single Communio theologian who supports the ordination of deaconesses, let alone women priests. With respect to moral theology, the Communio school and Thomists alike are rather adamant about metaphysical realism in the moral domain. In fact, I’m working on something to that effect right now, largely drawn from my studies under a Thomist Moral Theologian along with my studies of Ratzinger. The idea that “pastoral” is to trump doctrine is something that Communio and Thomists both reject. Doctrinal truth is pastoral; and there is no authentic “pastorality” apart from true doctrine. Moral laxity is one of the biggest threats of our day, and I do believe it is largely due to the loss of metaphysics in the modern consciousness. And the best resource to combat that is moral ontology, rooted in the Catholic Tradition, especially that of St. Thomas.

      • Happily finding agreement with part of dear Edward’s comment & also with part of dear Richard’s response.

        Yet, there’s also need to understand the corrupting impact of the heretical speculations of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ. His aim was laudable: integration of biological evolution, especially anthropology, with Catholic theology.

        Of course, Teilhard’s biology & anthropology has long been surpassed; his theology was aways way off the Apostles’ teachings that sustained St Thomas [& sustain all Catholics, as in over 3,500 Apostolic citations in The Catechism of the Catholic Church].

        Most particularly: Teilhard’s sanctification of physicality, his unitarianism, & his universalism are frankly anti-Apostolic. There has still to be a scholarly critique tracing the devastating influences of Teilhard’s heretical synthesis on the thinking of major decision-makers in Rome. This is a much needed fire-hose!

        A baby step towards an alternative that’s scientifically sound & fully Apostolic can be found free on the web: ‘Ethical Ontology Harmonizes Science, Revelation, & Human Lives’. One sincerely hopes beloved Saint Thomas Aquinas is approving of this attempt to re-situate today’s theology under Apostolic discipline.

        Always in the love of The Lamb; blessings from marty

  5. This trialogue between Chapp, Minerd, and DeClue perpetuates this inadequate reception of the Second Vatican Council that they in the first place lament. This lack stems from the marked blindspot they keep by their view that the Council be received, interpreted, and implemented solely with the theology of ressourcement as articulated by the Communio theologians with their emphasis on retrieval of the more ancient resources for the sake of continuity. They do not mention and fail to consider the other side of the aim of Vatican II declared by Pope John XXIII and that is of aggiornamento as expounded by the Concilium theologians with their emphasis on changes in continuity for the sake of updating. To keep away the Vatican II narrative and action from the extremist poles of the progressives and radical traditionalists, the only way is to maintain a balance of these two streams of the Council’s theological and practical projects in its proper reception and implementation. Pope Benedict XVI outlined this clearly in his first Christmas address to Roman Curia about how to properly understand and apply the aims of Vatican II. He underlined that the Council be correctly viewed and enacted as one of “reform” containing elements of both “continuity” (ressourcement, Communio) and “change” (aggiornamento, Concilium).

    • Dear Deacon Dom,

      I am a bit perplexed by your comment. I explicitly state that the pontificates of Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI are guiding lights for a proper hermeneutic of the Council. Most of my academic work has focused on the thought of Pope Benedict XVI. Yet, you quote him against me? I’m not sure how you could possibly presume to know my entire understanding of the Council and its history through one, 1,500 word essay on a very specific theme: making common cause.

      At the same time, I also do not accept that what Pope St. John XXIII meant by “aggiornamento” is what the progressives have coopted the term to mean. I also don’t see how you can quote Benedict XVI’s hermeutic of reform as a means of somehow lending legitimacy to the progressive/Concilium side, when he was precisely speaking against their interpretation of what authentic reform is. The continuity and discontinity (reform) are on different levels, as he says. The Concilium side was notorious for wanting to move “beyond” the Council in what they took to be the “spirit” of the Council, something Benedict XVI also explicitly rejects. In short, it is precisely the Concilium hermeneutic that he rejects in his address. And Pope St. John XXIII was much more ‘conservative’ than people seem to presume. Just reading his own comments about the aims of the Council makes it clear that he’s not arguing for a progressivist agenda.

  6. The problem with this proposed alliance is that ressourcement conservatives fundamentally agree more with progressives on ecclesiology, ecumenism, religious liberty, predestination, the historical-critical method, and, whether they admit it or not, on liturgy (see Father Weinandy calling the return of the Latin Mass “doctrinally unacceptable”). The progressives were not an alien group the ressourcement movement reluctantly made common cause with at the Council – the progressives were the thought leaders of this alliance, the ones coordinating the manipulation of the Council’s procedures (Suenens, Alfrink, Dopfner; Ratzinger worked under the supervision and lead of Rahner). The break only came about because the conservatives, while wanting to overturn every last brick of traditionalism, nevertheless want to continue imposing a traditional morality on the rest of the Church, as if the two are not mystically connected.

    Eventually, our conversations are going to move beyond drag queen story hour, and I think the Thomists going to have to admit that ressourcement includes a lot of novelties they cannot sign onto.

    • Dear Mike,

      I don’t agree with the assumption that Communio theologians agree more with progressives than Thomists on ecclesiology, ecumenism, religious liberty, predestination, the historical-critical method, or the liturgy. De Lubac and Ratzinger would be much closer to Cardinal Journet than the progressives on ecclesiology, for instance. I would also be misguided to presume that Thomists disagree with Vatican II on these issues, which seems to be the presupposition here (unless I’m misreading you).

      Thomism is not radical traditionalism. I’ve spoken to actual Thomist scholars about this. One very Thomist theologian thought it was ‘sad’ that radical traditionalists claim to reject the Council as if they represented Thomism. It seemed patently absurd to him.

      Rahner was not Ratzinger’s boss at the Council. Ratzinger was a peritus assigned to a few different drafting committees as well as the main advisor to Cardinal Frings of Cologne, and Ratzinger independently wrote pretty much all of Frings’s interventions on the Council floor. He gave his own lecture to the German-speaking bishops on the Eve of the Council regarding revelation, quite separate from Rahner. They did venture to combine their own independent drafts into a combined draft, but it actually didn’t get anywhwere, and the French had more influence. Although many of Ratzinger’s proposals on divine revelation were, in fact, implemented, it wasn’t the result of his collaboration with Rahner, which was largely ignored. His other comments on revelation seem to have had a greater effect.

      There are certainly some ‘theological’ (as opposed to de fide) differences between some Thomists and some Communio theologians Although, I don’t think they are as far apart as some on either side presume. As a for instance, I’m reading an essay by Labourdette that bears striking resemblence to the theology of revelation espoused by Ratzinger in his original, unapproved Habilitationsschrift on St. Bonaventure’s understanding of revelation. Furthermore, see my endnote iv: there were big hitter Thomists who were actually quite supportive of the push for better positive theology, including historical and patristic studies along with the ressourcement crowd.

      I, for one, as a largely “Communio” theologian with Thomist (and Bonaventurian) leanings, attended a diocesan Extraodrinary Form about 80-90% of the time before I had to move a few months ago, and I still attend whenever I can. I am not a ‘one off’ in that respect. That being said, I also don’t think one can presume that Thomists agree with the rad trads on the topics you enumerated, and are generally much closer to the Communio school with respect to the Council than they are to the rad trads.

      • Dr. DeClue, thank you for the thoughtful reply, I’ve admired your work for some time.

        On specifics:

        Ecclesiology – Lumen Gentium seems to advance a novelty of “the Apostolic College,” which Ratzinger contemporaneously called “horizontal Catholicity” in his Theological Highlights of Vatican II. Its only practical application at the Council was in Sacrosanctum Concilium’s formalization of the episcopal conferences, designating them liturgical authority historically reserved to each Rite’s patriarch. This has invited many of the problems of Eastern Orthodoxy’s Autocephaly, and the work within and across episcopal conferences exercising LG and SC’s designation of authority has been the main vehicle for the intentional mistranslations, communion in the hand, the uniform sad state of music in almost every suburban parish, and other challenges in the current liturgical situation. There is also LG’s problem of particular Churches and partial communion and while Dominus Iesus denies some of the progressive interpretations of LG (including ones Ratzinger himself earlier made in his Theological Highlights), it still leaves LG’s general ambiguity in place. I believe when the rubber meets the road, a lot of Thomists are going to recognize the historical consequences of these innovations for what they are.

        Ecumenism – I don’t think this warrants deeper examination, Thomism to me implies a perspective on non-Catholics that is incompatible with the modern outlook.

        Religious Liberty – I’ve seen Thomists who defend Dignitatis Humanae propose an interpretation in which the Inquisition passes the test of Vatican II’s declaration. This is utterly irreconcilable with both liberal and conservative interpretations of this document and eventually we will need to accept that it is due to DH being an equivocal and self-contradicting text.

        Predestination – Larry Chapp suggested to Michael Lofton that he is willing to countenance that the evangelists fabricated the words of our Lord concerning hell. I know there are differences between von Balthasar and Rahner, but this is another area where I see Ressourcement being closer to progressivism than Thomism.

        Historical-Critical Method – I can’t do justice to this in a comment reply, but I do see a legitimization of non-Catholic biblical criticism and an unforced hostility to pre-conciliar exegesis in Ressourcement commentators. There is an impending battle over things like Mosaic authorship that is going to explode and, when it does, I don’t see Thomists and Ressourcement commentators breaking towards each pole in in similar numbers.

        Liturgy – I can’t speculate where hearts lie, but some of the loudest voices in conservative Catholicism seem willing to die on the hill of the vernacular, a spoken canon, and external participation. If you read the Church Life Journal “Synoptic Look,” Weinandy et al characterize the old mass as a doctrinally deficient liturgy that that deprives, and can even harm, its attendees. There is an ongoing project to retroactively imbue a doctrinal development into the new mass its own promulgators disclaimed where I, again, see the battle lines being drawn differently within Thomism and Ressourcement.

        I defer to your expertise on Ratzinger, but Father Wiltgen attributed the Rhine group’s united theological front entirely to Rahner, with Ratzinger and Semmelroth working as his assistants. Nevertheless, the progressive bishops and theologians that later challenged Rome and Communio were firmly in control of the Rhine group’s thinking and the Council’s procedural mechanisms (apart from certain crucial interventions from Pope Paul), with their later Communio collaborators fully aware and onboard with what they were doing at the time. All of the progressive talking points about the Council being an “event,” or merely a departure point for those disappointed by it not going far enough, can be found in Ratzinger’s Theological Highlights.

        I get that your average Thomist is not “radical” but I just expect a coming re-evaluation on “Reformed Catholicism” in which some Communio types won’t be willing to leave behind some of the innovations. For what it’s worth, I don’t put you in that group.

      • How would you describe a “radical traditionalist” in his take on Vatican II? It is a label that is often thrown around but, in most deliberately orthodox circles it seems more or less to mean anyone to the right of whomever is speaking.

        Is it possible to have reservations about Vatican II’s formulations of certain things (not just their implementation or the aftermath of the Council) without being a “radical” traditionalist? For example, would Archbishop Vigano (in the current phase of his trajectory) be a radical traditionalist, and Bishop Schneider would be a plain old traditionalist and Cardinal Burke would be maybe a semi-traditionalist? “Progressives” would lump those three prelates together, for example, but they seem to have different views of Vatican II.

        • Nicely reasoned, dear Peter.

          More finely detailed articles in CWR would help us all to discern and productively discuss key distinctives. It might help to have a sort of map of current diverse opinions (free from: “here be dragons”).

          Ever in Beloved Jesus; blessings from marty

  7. “I would now like to offer some of my own reflections on this theme in the hopes of furthering the discussion towards a fruitful collaboration between Communio and Thomist thinkers over against the progressivist and radical traditionalist projects.”

    While progressivism is – AFAIK – heretical, it is doubtful, without clarification, that what the author terms “radical traditionalism” is as well. Heresy/schism is an enemy.

    I didn’t know anything about Communio until this conversation started. However, any person who rejects Vatican II won’t look toward a movement which apparently didn’t exist until 1972. The standard guiding light for such people is the Council of Trent.

    “In fact, there is a growing recognition that the state of theology following the Council has largely—although not universally—been much worse than the displaced Scholasticism.”

    This begs elaboration. How has it been worse?

    “Certainly, the ressourcement periti made important and concrete contributions to the documents of the Second Vatican Council. In particular, they helped tremendously in generating the literary style of the texts, avoiding an overly Scholastic tone, which was not deemed appropriate for the Council’s intentions.”

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. Orthodox Scholasticism is an enemy of modernists.

    “I, for one, would like to see more Thomists arguing against the radical traditionalists (who style themselves as Thomists) and their rejection of Vatican II.”

    I doubt that you ever will see this. Any genuine Thomist should be, at least, suspicious of Vatican II.

    I don’t believe in Thomism (if defined as blind faith in St. Thomas), but that doesn’t mean that St. Thomas shouldn’t be my, or others,’ guide.

    If St. Thomas doesn’t accept the ALLEGED council of Vatican II, then certainly no Thomist ought to. No person has a right to embrace heresy.

    “In the current Catholic culture, it is imperative that the two camps ally with one another to combat erroneous progressivism and radical traditionalism alike. It is time to make common cause.”

    I doubt that this will happen. Methodists don’t make allies with Baptists.

    It is true that Protestants are negatively united in their protest against the Catholic Church, but the only time that they would be at least temporarily united is if Catholics realistically threaten to gain political ascendancy in any state.

    • You admit than you know nothing about Communio (or ressourcement?) theology–and then set out to prove it.

      I’ll simply note, for the sake of other readers, that while the Communio journal was founded in 1972, the ressourcement movement from which it originated had been around for many decades.

      And a key (but not the only) difference between the ressourcement movement and the Modernists (ie, the Concilium movement) was that the former went back to Scripture and to the Church fathers—both Western and Eastern (an important point)—in order (to borrow from Hans Boersma) to return to “the mystery”. And, yes, some of that was over and again various forms of neo-Thomism (but not St. Thomas himself).

      You do get one thing right: “Heresy/schism is an enemy.” But saying or implying that Communio theology is heretical is laughable.

  8. DeClue writes “I also concur with him that the pontificates of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI are guiding lights for the appropriate interpretation of the Council.”

    Indeed, these two popes more than lived up to their sacred duty as each one became the primary teacher of the Faith, and they did this by teaching the Faith with as much clarity as possible in their efforts to present not only timeless Church teaching in general, but also in their numerous efforts to present Vatican II in harmony with Church Tradition and tradition.

    Alas, now we are saddled with a leader who all too often rejects much of the wisdom of his 2 immediate successors in order to undermine a good chunk of Church Tradition and tradition and replace it with his brand of modernism.

    Food for thought question: Did anybody really believe it would turn out as bad as it has when Pope Francis first declared that he intended to make a mess?

    God help the Pope and all of the Faithful.

  9. After reading Doctors Chap, Minerd and De Clue my questions are these: Is the Church we have today a Ressourcement church or a Concilium church and how did the documents and/or the implementation of the documents of the council effect the development of this present church? Was the Church, under the great pontificates of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, ever a thoroughly Ressourcement church (renewed in the sources) at the diocesan and parish level? (It certainly did not seem so at the parishes I grew up in). Is one of the issues with Ressourcement not so much its vibrant and clear theology, but its ability to “oversee” the “updating” or “renewal” it proposes; e.g., does it have the stomach and the spine for it? I can only say that many of the “JP II priests” that I know (who are quite good and faithful priests), still struggle with how to manage their progressive parishioners, while those that lean more traditional (those who will defend the Tridentine Mass even if they still mostly preside over the Novus Ordo) have less difficulty in implementing the best traditional aspects of the council against their (activist) progressive parishioners. The latter priests are also more likely to speak more boldly on the moral teaching of the Church. Please explain why I might be observing this.

    • You’re asking some penetrating questions that ought to prompt ongoing discussion of this topic. It’s far too important to just ‘move on.’

    • On your last question about “implementing the best traditional aspects” or, instead, speaking “more boldly on the moral teaching of the Church”…only a partial response: The problem is knowing how to walk and chew gum at the same time…

      And, transcending false optics, the first group, for example, probably is more clear about the “moral teaching” of Humanae Vitae (1968) and Veritatis Splendor (1993), while the second group sometimes thinks that the Catholic Social Teaching is a distinct breakthrough from the inert traditionalists and even from the “backward” doctrinal preoccupations of “rigid bigots.”

      The Catholic challenge is how members of the sacramental Mystical Body of Christ (!) are to be both grounded in the Eucharistic Real Presence and then (not rather than) also active in the world. The distinct calling of the laity.

      Since Vatican II, flat-earth evangelization has combined with the betrayal by Catholic academia from leavening the so-called social sciences (the 1967 Land O’ Lakes Declaration of autonomy from incarnate Truth). Some might even ask if active homosexual theologians ever even taught integral moral theology to a generation or two of seminarians? Why not evasion—and more “relevant” public policy advocacy instead?

      The Second Vatican Council summarized the riddle of the different common good and personal salvation, both, in a few succinct lines here and there in Gaudium et Spes, for example: “While helping the world [!] and receiving many benefits from it, the Church has a single intention: that God’s kingdom may come, and that the salvation [!] of the whole human race may come to pass” (GS, n. 45).

  10. Given all the ink that has been spilled because of the switch in LG 8 from “est” to “subsistit in”, and the confusion that still endures, maybe in retrospect this decision to shift vocabulary should not necessarily be seen as a “contribution”?

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