16, 2012 Martin Mallon
FIFTY YEARS ON
his Address at the Opening of
the daily exercise of Our pastoral office, it sometimes happens that We hear
certain opinions which disturb Us—opinions expressed by people who, though
fired with a commendable zeal for religion, are lacking in sufficient prudence
and judgment in their evaluation of events. They can see nothing but calamity
and disaster in the present state of the world. They say over and over that this
modern age of ours, in comparison with past ages, is definitely deteriorating.
One would think from their attitude that history, that great teacher of life,
had taught them nothing. They seem to imagine that in the days of the earlier
councils everything was as it should be so far as doctrine and morality and the
Church's rightful liberty were concerned.
feel that We must disagree with these prophets of doom, who are always
forecasting worse disasters, as though the end of the world were at hand.
are many “prophets of doom” voicing their concerns in today’s world. Here
the voice of Pope John is prophetic when he said:
Basis For Optimism
indications are that the human family is on the threshold of a new era. We must
recognize here the hand of God, who, as the years roll by, is ever directing
men's efforts, whether they realize it or not, towards the fulfillment of the
inscrutable designs of His providence, wisely arranging everything, even adverse
human fortune, for the Church's good.
Pope could have been talking specifically about our times because there has
never been a time when the developed world has seen as big a change, in economic
terms, in “human fortune” since the Great Depression. In some parts of
Read Pope John XXIII’s Opening Address here
Friday 12 October 2012 Pope Benedict addressed the surviving bishops who were
present at Vatican II and highlighted how Pope John had used the word
“aggiornamento” meaning updating: “I
would like to recall how one word, launched by Blessed John XXIII almost
programmatically, returned continually in the conciliar works: the word
Optimistically, and in keeping with John XXIII and Vatican II, Benedict has pointed out: “Christianity must not be considered as “something of the past,” and it must not be lived ever looking “back,” because Jesus Christ is yesterday, today and for eternity (cf. Hebrews 13:8).”
statement makes perfect sense “Christianity... must not be lived ever looking
“back,”” however, it does seem to contradict some of the recent actions of
the hierarchical Church, such as the new translation of the Mass and the
attempts to have the documents of Vatican II interpreted in one way only. Yet
the Pope continues in this address as follows:
of this, Christianity is always new. We must never see it as a tree fully
developed from the evangelical mustard seed, which has grown, has given its
fruits, and one day ages and arrives at the waning of its vital energy.
Christianity is a tree which is, so to speak, in constant “dawn,” is always
young. And this actuality, this “aggiornamento” does not mean a break with
tradition, but expresses its constant vitality; it does not mean reducing the
faith, lowering it to the fashion of the times, to the measure of what please
us, to what pleases public opinion, but it is the contrary: exactly as the
Conciliar Fathers did, we must bear the “today” that we live to the measure
of the Christian event, we must bear the “today” of our time in the
“today” of God.
first half of this paragraph rings true, but as at Vatican II “the Conciliar
Fathers” broke with the Church tradition of blaming the Jews for Christ’s
death, for example, it is difficult to imagine what exactly Benedict means in
the second half. The full Address can be found here
hierarchy are encouraging us to read the documents of Vatican II, but say we
must interpret them in a particular way; their way. The reason for this seems to
be that a lot of the documents were contradictory in some areas due to Pope Paul
VI desiring unanimity among the bishops in supporting the documents. This led to
the majority of bishops voting generally for “progressive” teachings and a
minority, very few in fact, voting for the conflicting “conservative”
teachings, but both sets of teachings, to some degree, are incorporated in the
from a few years after Vatican II, when the bishops disbanded, the
“conservative” Roman curia has been running the Church based on the minority
“conservative” teachings. The “right hermeneutic” that Pope Benedict has
requested be used in interpreting Vatican II documents is one where the
“conservative” aspect of every teaching must be chosen. Clearly this is not
what the bishops and the Holy Spirit wanted to be the outcome of Vatican II and,
apparently, this is well documented in the official Council records.
as the Holy Spirit was behind and guided the Council we can be sure that He will
prevail. However, He normally works through us humans so it is up to each of us
to do what we can to ensure the, much demeaned, Spirit of Vatican II wins out.
This means doing what we can on a daily basis in our own life; in our family,
work, social and Church environments. This is how we make Jesus present to the
world, each of us make Him present to our little bit and in a modern fashion as
envisaged by “aggiornamento”. We can also write to our bishops and
newspapers, use the new medias, talk to our local priests and use the other
opportunities that the Holy Spirit gives us.
We must always remember Cardinal Ricard’s advice when he said that communion is the source of truth, be with the sinner, not teaching a lesson to the sinner but welcoming a brother. It is not just a question of teaching others what is right, that is evil, unless teaching with love. It is love which converts.