Friday, 5 April 2013

Vatican III: May 2014?!

Is the Pope about to announce Vatican III?  That is certainly what is suggested by a curious tweet that has just popped up claiming to be from the account of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran,  president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Let's hope it is a hoax!

Cardinal Tauran's tweet

Here is what appeared:

Le Pape François I annoncera ce mois la convocation d'un Concile Oecuménique Vatican III en mai 2014

That is,

Pope Francis I will announce this month an Ecumenical Council, Vatican III, for May 2014.

**A commenter has suggested that the account is a fake.  Let's hope so.  Still, many do want to see another Council, and so it is worth considering what the possible costs and  benefits might be.

Another great grace?!

Historically, Councils have been called to solve reasonably specific, clearly defined problems, usually but not exclusively doctrinal ones.

Vatican II was the major exception to this, with most of the rationale for it appearing after the fact rather than before.  Indeed, when the bishops of the world were invited to suggest what the Council should discuss, the agenda items proposed were, in the main, surprisingly banal and certainly bore little indication of what was to come.

What Vatican II did have in common with most other General Councils of the Church, though is the period of confusion and disruption that followed it.  Pope Benedict XVI pointed, back in 2005, by way of comparison, to the devastation of the Church following the Council of Nicaea, which defined the heresy of Arianism:

"The last event of this year on which I wish to reflect here is the celebration of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago. This memory prompts the question: What has been the result of the Council? Was it well received? What, in the acceptance of the Council, was good and what was inadequate or mistaken? What still remains to be done? No one can deny that in vast areas of the Church the implementation of the Council has been somewhat difficult, even without wishing to apply to what occurred in these years the description that St Basil, the great Doctor of the Church, made of the Church's situation after the Council of Nicea:  he compares her situation to a naval battle in the darkness of the storm, saying among other things:  "The raucous shouting of those who through disagreement rise up against one another, the incomprehensible chatter, the confused din of uninterrupted clamouring, has now filled almost the whole of the Church, falsifying through excess or failure the right doctrine of the faith..." (De Spiritu Sancto, XXX, 77; PG 32, 213 A; SCh 17 ff., p. 524)."

Despite the fact that it was primarily a pastoral council, not a doctrinal one, and the continuing evidence of the collapse of the faith in the West in the wake of its implementation, some persist in viewing Vatican II as infallible in every word, and the best thing to happen to the Church, ever (and yes, to read some of the tripe around you would think that includes the Resurrection!).

Indeed, in Australia we are shortly to be treated to a Conference entitled The Great Grace: Receiving Vatican II Today.

Rather than 'receiving' Vatican II today, though, what is surely needed is a rather more critical assessment of it.  Does that mean we need another Council though?  Personally, I think not.

Reassessing twentieth century theology and practice

There clearly is a need to reassess some of the directions modern theology has gone in, and perhaps compile a Syllabus of Errors style document, as has been suggested by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, for example.

The problem is though that to do this requires a clearly articulated critique of the errors that have arisen and constructive articulation of a better approach.

I agree with the view, articulated in several posts by the always interesting Modestinus, that it is a serious indictment of the state of traditionalism that this work remains in a very vestigial state to say the least.

Consider for example the influence of the concept of an empty hell, and the idea that we should emphasize the positives of the faith rather than instill a fear of God as the first stage of growth in faith.

It is not sufficient, in my view, to simply dismiss the work of the twentieth century 'greats' such as von Balthasar  and Rahner, as modernists to be ignored.  The reality is that their ideas have deeply influenced both Church practice, and theology as it is taught in most seminaries and Universities today.  Their work needs to be comprehensively debunked, not just dismissed out of hand.

A few critiques of these ideas have started to emerge.  Ayssa Pitstick's work, Light in Darkness was a great start on this process, and Ralph Martin's Will Many be Saved? looks to be another excellent contribution to this process.

But as Dawn Eden pointed out in a recent post, the debate is being curiously censored, in part it would seem for commercial reasons!

The reality is that, despite the work of Pope Benedict XVI on the correct interpretation of the Council, most of our bishops are yet to accept the link between the Council and the desperate state of the Church today in the West.

And when it comes to theology, where is the anti-Tradition and Traditions for example, the traditionalist counter to Yves Congar's work that has so undermined the importance of Catholic culture?

In short, there is a lot more work necessary before a comprehensive rethink of Vatican II can really occur, and traditionalists need to find a way of working together to do it rather than simply complaining about everything that is wrong...

Let us pray that 'Vatican III' is a very long way away indeed!


A Canberra Observer said...

If this were to happen it would be deeply disturbing.
And if it is true it would cost a squillion dollars, hardly in line with the focus on poverty that has been evident so far. Never mind what the cost/benefit 'narrative' to support such a council would be.

t said...

Guessing its some goofy faker messing around. He signs up today, says a couple ho-hum things (one in English for no apparent reason), then tosses this out there? Weird either way.

jeff dwyer said...

Although not defending misintepretations or misapplications of VII, and agreeing there is no need for a VIII, an interesting comment from Bishop Elliott recently was if the Church was is in such a strong, vigorous shape before V2, how did a little push or (misapplication) cause such a catastrophic effect and so quickly? In effect, it implies things in the Church were nowhere near as sound and stable as some today might have us believe.

Kate Edwards said...

T - Yes you may well be right!

Jeff - I've heard that argument before, but I don't agree with it. Revolutions often succeed in imposing their world view at least for a time, even though they may eventually prove to have been the flawed dictatorship of a minority.

And the hierarchical constitution of the Church makes resistance difficult to impossible, hence the many who simply voted with their feet and left the Church.

The thing about VII is that it wasn't a 'little' push, but gave instant license to 'experiment' with absolutely everything including the most basic of all things to the faith, the liturgy.

How many bishops came back from Rome and tossed the high altars from their cathedrals on the rubbish heap, as happened in my home town of Hobart for example? How many imposed ad hoc changes to the language and liturgy from the mid-1960s onwards? How many decreed that traditional devotions such as the rosary were out?

The reality is that the reformers deliberately set out to destroy the traditional culture and sub-cultures of the Church and impose their own cultural revolution on us. And they had the power to destroy.

There is a fascinating book providing a record of the liturgical reforms adopted by Benedictine monasteries in the mid-1970s, including a before and after documentation, and it is pretty sad reading. So many monasteries stated that they ditched the traditional office and chant either reluctantly, 'out of obedience' or enthusiastically - so few of them still survive!

R J said...

As a saddening, though unsurprising, example of what can befall a once-conservative magazine, I note that the March 2013 issue of AD2000 features a tribute to the "golden mean" espoused by the egregious Yves Congar. This in a periodical which used to publish Alice von Hildebrand and the late Michael Davies.

Kate Edwards said...

Sad indeed given that Dr Kania's commentaries regularly feature over at what one might have thought to be AD 2000's greatest enemy, (a)Catholica (most recently on Les Miserables)!

Orak said...

I am NOT defending the works of either Yves Congar or Hans Urs von Balthasar. I merely point out that Pope John Paul II made Yves Congar a Cardinal in 1994 and would have made Hans Urs von Balthasar a Cardinal in 1988 but for von Balthasar's death 2 days before the ceremony. Then then Cardinal Ratzinger said of von Balthasar's work in general: "What the pope intended to express by this mark of distinction [elevation to the cardinalate], and of honor, remains valid, no longer only private individuals but the Church itself, in its official responsibility, tells us that he is right in what he teaches of the faith." In delivering his eulogy, Cardinal Ratzinger, quoting Cardinal de Lubac, called Balthasar, "perhaps the most cultured man of our time" a tribute to Balthasar's immense erudition. Orak.

Kate Edwards said...

Orak - Some might suggest that Congar's death before he could actually be made a Cardinal was providential.

Whatever the then Cardinal Ratzinger might have said (clearly not speaking magisterially), the truth is that if you don't officially get the red hat you are not a Cardinal.

Several popes in the past have tried to do things that conflict with orthodoxy (the proposed reconciliation of the heretic Arius, prevented only by his sudden death being the most obvious parallel) - and similarly providence has intervened to prevent it.

And yes, I know Pope Benedict is a Balthasar fan. That is one of the reasons why he is not considered a traditionalist, for all his sympathy for and promotion of many aspects of the cause.

Unknown said...

This is a fake post. The real Cardinal Tauran would have referred to the Holy Father as Pope Francis, not Pope Francis I.

Woody said...

For what really happened at VII, read Robert de Mattei's book Vatican Council II: An Unwritten Story. The general story line s that a very organized group of French, German, Dutch, Belgian and Austrian bishops hijacked the proceedings and the majority of bishops went along in a very sheep-like manner. You will have to readi it to get the whole flavor, very well documented. The Council comes across more like a US political convention than a gathering of bishops bent on serious reflection. We certainly do not need another such gathering, apt as it would be to adopt the secularism of the world as the latest new theology.

Angelo Cardinal Fratelli said...

I wouldn't be opposed to a Vatican III if it was to restore the liturgy and bring it more beneath the norms that Vatican II first proscribed or perhaps even to merge it more with the Tridentine. The documents of Vatican II explicitly say Latin, chant and reverence is to be retained in the liturgy. Pope Benedict XVI was trying to restore that. If it takes another council to finish the great work Benedict began, then so be it.