Monday, 4 June 2012

The failure of Vatican II: back to Year Zero?

There was an interesting piece last week over at Eureka Street  this week from Fr Michael Kelly SJ.

Interesting because it contains some frank admissions about the failure of the spirit of Vatican II agenda, in amidst the usual bad Jesuit sacred totems (after all, you won't get two runs in the course of a week on Cath News unless you do actually include the obligatory rant on celibacy, the ordination of women, clericalism and more!).

Still, despite the erroneous admixture, I actually do agree with a lot of Fr Kelly's analysis.

Jesuit formation in the 1970s and 80s...

The piece contains a refreshingly honest admission about the kind of poor formation that prevailed amongst the Jesuits that could see someone become a priest because it was 'part of the package'.

And we are talking 1984 here, not 1954!

But quite the most interesting part of the discussion is the admission that the progressives smashed the vibrant devotional life of the laity - and has utterly failed to replace them with anything that actually sustains the faith.  I'll say more about that tomorrow.

But first a little context on Fr Kelly's perspective.

Back to year zero?

Someone described this article to me in an email as a 'back to Year Zero' proposal, that ignores all of the Church's subsequent tradition.  That's true of course: it does indeed adopt the classic fundamentalist jettisoning of the Church's Tradition and patrimony.

Still, I do actually think there is a certain validity in looking back to the early Church as a model.  As a recent International Theological Commission paper notes:

"The Acts of the Apostles describes the life of the early Christian community in a way that is fundamental for the Church of all times: ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers’ (Acts 2:42; cf. Rev 1:3). This succinct description, at the end of the account of the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit opened the mouths of the apostles to preach and brought many of those who heard them to faith, highlights various essential aspects of the Spirit’s ongoing work in the Church."

What Fr Kelly and friends of course want us to forget is what the paper goes on to say, namely that we are part of a 'living Tradition', recipients of the ever deeper understanding, due to the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church, of the legacy that has been handed down to us:

"There is already an anticipatory outline of the Church’s teaching and sacramental life, of its spirituality and commitment to charity. All of these began in the apostolic community, and the handing on of this integral way of life in the Spirit is Apostolic Tradition. Lex orandi (the rule of prayer), lex credendi (the rule of belief) and lex vivendi (the rule of life) are all essential aspects of this Tradition. Paul refers to the Tradition into which as an apostle he has been incorporated when he speaks of ‘handing on’ what he himself ‘received’ (1Cor 15:1-11, cf. also 1Cor 11:23-26)."

We shouldn't start afresh from Year Zero in other words, but we should ground ourselves in it!

The role of the laity

Fr Kelly's solution though, is actually to start from what is, now. He points out that we are rapidly running out of priests and religious so we need to focus on building on the role of the laity.

There is a certain truth in this of course.

We do have a laity that could and should be doing a lot more.

Yet we must also look to what should be.

We need to look at just what really empowers the laity, and revive it - such as those traditional devotions!

We need to remember that you can't have a liturgical and sacramentally based Church without priests. And do what we need to support vocations.

We need to remember that you won't have a Church that truly thrives without (real) religious, offering us visible (habited) models of sacrifice of self, dedicating their lives to praying and working for the Church.

More anon. 

No comments: