A Perspective on Vatican II
Quote:Councils have, like popes, have included some rum individuals among themselves. But perhaps I should begin by distinguishing between Dogmatic Councils and those whose dogmatic pretensions have been rather limited. So: as a Latin, I would see something normative about the first Seven Councils, which established orthodox belief with regard to the Blessed Trinity and the Hypostatic Union. But even here, the closer up you bring the microscope, the more some ragged edges tend to appear. Did Nicaea I end in 325 ... or was there another session in 327? Are we sure that its requirement of Standing as the posture for prayer in Eastertide has always been regarded as binding? How edifying were the proceedings of ... e.g. ... the Fifth Ecumenical Council?

Again, as a Latin, I would see the Councils of Trent and Vatican I as similarly dogmatic councils, laudably addressing the errors of their times, defining the truth for their own time in a way that is also definitive for all time. But when you look at some of the earlier Western medieval councils ... well, it can't be denied that they did address the issues of their day. But not all those issues are of lasting value to the Church. Medieval Councils were often, obsessively, concerned with the recovery of the Holy Land. Even if we disregard the mere details of their enactments and fall back on a rather generalising acceptance of [Anglican jargon] "the trajectories" which they suggested, or, to use a different phrase [RC jargon] "the Spirit of the Councils", we are in trouble: who now advocates ... even in theory ... the recovery of the Holy Land from the Jews and the Moslems by the military powers of Christian Europe (whoever they may be)? How important did the Deposition of the Emperor remain to the Church after Lyons I ... at which council, incidentally, there were fewer than 150 bishops, and those mainly from Italy, Spain, and France?

In 1308, the Council of Vienne concerned itself with the Templars. Historians are far from agreed that these gentry were guilty of sodomy and of the other crimes of which they were accused. But even if they were, would even the most doctrinaire supporters of the 'Spirit of the Council (of Vatican II)' give whole-hearted backing to the 'Spirit of the Council (of Vienne)': which would have to include the desireability of burning sodomites at the stake? How genuinely and permanently useful to the Universal Church was the commissioning of Philip IV to go on Crusade - a Crusade which he never discharged, although he did retain the tithe raised for that Crusade, as well as most of the Templars' property?

Perhaps a Council which lurched around Europe in the fifteenth century raises the most interesting questions. Convoked at Basle, how many of its sessions are 'ecumenical'? Theological historians disagree. It is best known for its sessions at Forence which resulted in unity (1439) with Byzantium. But this unity did not survive the Fall of the Great City in 1453 ... so it was a union even briefer than the Union which was 'secured' at Lyons II in 1274. Finally, this Council was transferred to Rome, where little is known of its activities. How rubustly central to the life of the Church is a Council with regard to which the experts cannot agree which of its sessions were authentic, the date of whose conclusion is unrecorded, and whose final decrees, if there were any passed in its later sessions, have been lost?

Those whose conciliarist enthusiasms lead them to an exaggerated regard for Vatican II seem blithely, absurdly, unaware of the preposterous historical conclusions to which their views would lead them ... were they but consistent.

Let me be blunt about this. Councils, except for the strictly dogmatic ones which are punctuated by anathemas, gradually merge into the background and, largely forgotten even by theologians, become simply part of the General Mind of the Church; a process which invoves a degree of weeding-out and corporate forgetting, as what is less valuable in their enactments is quietly, sometimes mercifully, erased from the record.


Yea.  Vatican II will eventually be relegated to a sorry footnote in history, a victim of it's fan's hubris, dead of terminal enui. 
Interesting. I think you should've put a quote block in, at least. If I didn't click on the link, I would've thought it was your writing.
(03-14-2011, 11:57 PM)The_Harlequin_King Wrote: Interesting. I think you should've put a quote block in, at least. If I didn't click on the link, I would've thought it was your writing.

“Not every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis, many of them have been a waste of time.  Despite all the good to be found in the texts it produced, the last word about the historical value of Vatican Council II has yet to be spoken.” –Ratzinger, Joseph.
Principles of Catholic Theology: building Stones for a Fundamental Theology. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987, p. 378.

"To tell the truth, I am convinced that every assembly of bishops is to be avoided, for I have never experienced a happy ending to any council; not even the abolition of abuses..."--St. Gregory Nazienzen

Personally, (and I've said this a few times in other threads) IMO the most comparable post-Concilliar period to our own was after Constance. It was a mess directly due to ambiguities and novel "pastoral" decisions and how they were implemented by the Pope. Interestingly enough, it is generally remembered today in a positive light for ending the great Western Schism and condemning the heresies of Huss and Wycliffe. Its role in fermenting a spirit of sectarianism and independence from the Roman See, which paved the way for the "success" of the Reformation tends to be overlooked.
Very good article. Vatican II may very well be buried in the mists of History.  Other Ecumenical councils will follow after Vatican II.  A Trent II or a Vatican III defining dogmata or doctrines against Heretics and condemning whatever errors ought and need to be condemned.
I remember back in the day, when "dating" someone a way to break up would be to not actually break up but a friend used the term "vagueing away"  in which the person wanting to get away would simply diminish their availability and their communication over a long period of time and simultaneously diminish any romantic "moments" in order to re-establish the "just friends" position and this would make the "breakup" a conflict-free result. 

It seems the Church has always "vagued away" councils, laws, Popes and scandals that haven't worked out too well.  Fr. Martin described it as "Rome never admits to mistakes, they try to live with them." 

But, I don't know if Vatican II is going to be allowed to quietly fade away.  The destruction is so bad, the lines of conflict are becoming more and more demarcated as time goes on.  The conservatives are shrinking in the room they have to play as "orthodox Catholic" and "non-traditional"  As the old traditions and teachings keep getting added, it's going to make it more difficult. 

Back in 2004 Mel Gibson made and released "The Passion of the Christ"  the most interesting part of that whole phenomenon was how it forced people to clearly define where they stood.  I remember that the until- then- wimpy and somewhat pathetic priest of the "God Squad" fame was forced to clearly enunciate that the movie was not antisemitic when his Rabbi partner insisted that it was.  They eventually worked their spin out to keep their schtick going but it was a surprising testament of the movie's power.

This wholesale abandonment of Tradition by the Church in such a short period of time is going to have to be addressed for what it was and the transition back to Tradition is going to have to be addressed ultimately as an abandonment of conciliarism,  they'll search for language to soften the edge but in this information age where news travels so fast and people have access to it,  the "vagueing away" principle will not work..

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