Shortly after the Second Vatican Council and subsequent papal and Vatican documents revising the 1962 Roman Missal of Pope John XXIII, what was called the "spirit of Vatican II" overwhelmed almost every aspect of Church life from the Vatican on down. The Spirit of Vatican II had very little to do with what the Documents of Vatican II actually taught. A simple reading of those documents would clearly show my position. However, like Pandora's Box, once the lid was opened on change and experimentation, it caught on and spread like the swine flu.
I won't go into all of the effects that the spirit of Vatican II, which was really a virus and not a spirit, inflicted upon the clergy and laity. Suffice it to say that before the "spirit" of Vatican II, Mass attendance in that clunky, outdated pre-Vatican II Church and Mass was close to 90% in this country. Seminaries were full and religious life prospered with schools, hospitals and other social agencies providing much needed services for God's people. This was accomplished under that terrible weight of oppression that the pre-Vatican II Church was, which the spirit of Vatican II lifted and ameliorated.
Today, thanks to the spirit of Vatican II, and we should all be thoroughly grateful, Mass attendance in this country is about 25% of the Catholics, but much to their relief, they can sing, speak, hold hands and all go to Holy Communion. Shortages of priests have led to closing of churches. Seminaries are struggling to stay open due to the decline in vocations, religious life is on the verge of extinction and the wonderful institutions of hospitals, schools and social agencies once staffed by religious are disappearing. Thanks spirit of Vatican II, today's church which is more egalitarian, less oppressive, more participative has borne such visible fruit.
Now we have a pope who asks us to actually read the documents of Vatican II which really frightens the hell out of the spirit of Vatican II co-conspirators. Pope Benedict is saying that the Church prior to Vatican II and the Church after Vatican II are actually the same Church if one actually read and implements the documents of Vatican II. He tells us that Vatican II was a council in continuity with what had preceded it, not a dramatic rupture. He's seeking a "reform of the reform" as it concerns the Mass, priesthood, seminaries, religious life and so on.
But the members of the spirit of Vatican II Church of rupture with the past think that poor old Pope Benedict is bringing us back to that clunky, outdated, oppressive pre-Vatican II Church where Mass attendance was at 90%, priests knew their moral and spiritual identity, convents and monasteries were full and the laity knew there place as it regarded the faith and morals of the Church. That horrible time when the laity prayed, payed and obeyed is like the camel sticking its nose into the spirit of Vatican II tent and bringing about all these horrible possibilities. Tigers, lions and bears, o my!