Sunday, April 29, 2012


At another blog, a sociologist made the following observation:

"By and large Vatican II was successful. Both the Liturgy and the Bible have become more accessible to the laity. Ecumenically and interfaith wise, Catholics are understanding other groups and collaborating better with them. More Catholics experience their families, work and communities as places where they are called to holiness.

What has not worked well has been collegiality: collegiality among bishops with the pope, collegiality among priests with their bishop; collegiality among people with their pastor. In all cases persons in charge have tended to be dissatisfied with “democracy.” While having formal processes of “consultation,” these do not influence decision making..."

We can say that Vatican II was successful, but we cannot say that it is successful if we look at the attrition rate of Catholics practicing their faith since the Second Vatican Council as only 20% are attending the successful and accessible liturgy of the Church. And of those 20% there is not always agreement on what is successful and accessible, in fact there is downright division and each person thinks their opinion is valid and all opinions are valid even if the opinion is opposed to what the Church actually teaches about this, that or the other.

What has not worked well: "Collegiality" is probably true as so often collegiality proposes false expectations of a democratic dynamic not only in administration where it could work well and be valid, but in Church teaching where the "voice of the people" including the voices of the clergy can be downright wrong, heterodox or even heretical. Ultimately the pope, the bishop in his diocese or the pastor of the parish after consulting has the canonical right to make a decision and sometimes in the areas of faith and morals no real consultation is needed or required except for pastoral reasons and the input that helps highlight what needs to be done and more importantly explained.

But even if the observation that collegiality is a sore point with Catholics, just how many Catholics of the 20% that attend Mass? 1%? 2%, 10%???? And of the 80% who no longer attend Mass, just how important is collegiality amongst them 1%? 2% or 100%? That would be an interesting sociological survey. My personal feeling from merely anecdotal evidence is that the vast majority of Catholics, 99.9% of them, practicing or not, don't give a flip about institutional collegiality in the Church, only Catholics involved in decision making in the Church seem to obsess on this.

Vatican II is not God; Collegiality is not God; Ecclesiology is not God; Lay participation in the Mass is not God! God is God and if God is not believed as the Church teaches and celebrates His action within Salvation History from start to finish, then, Houston, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

Your humble thoughts on this?


ytc said...

I would say that, by and large, the liturgical reform, while perhaps good in principle, has in practice utterly failed. See the comments on your previous post. :D

And I agree, by and large, most Catholics do not give a flip about collegiality. The only ones you hear throwing that word around anymore are Haugen-listening, liturgical-dancing readers of the National Catholic Fishwrap (Reporter (Distorter))!

By the way, why doesn't Fr. Kwiatkowski comment on your blog? You should encourage him to make his own blog. I'd like to get his young priestly opinion and outlook on issues.

Anonymous said...

You're right, that 99.9% of Catholics don't give a flip about the things those liberal bloggers obsess over. The more interesting question might be, How many care about the central and crucial issues discussed at blogs like this one?

Anonymous said...

Collegiality, if that means that we have some democratic element that ensures a voice to all, then I'm against it. I have become disenchanted with Democracy and it's inevitable decline into fascism. Organisations should stand on their own merits, people who like them will stay in them. I think the plethora of people who are striving to defeat the Church from within would feel empowered to move out or start their own. It would be better for everyone, if they did.


Templar said...

By and large V2 has been a train wreck. The person who makes the statement that V2 has been successful and they puts up some limited goals and visions is missing the point. All Councils must be judged in how the further the Mission of the Church, and by that criteria it must be said V2 has damaged the Church, even if you can point to some narrow goal having been achieved.

ytc: I will not say I am speaking authoritatively on this subject, but I imagine it would be quite awkward to have a Priest commenting on his Pastor's Blog. It would not do well for a person in a position of obedience to be "debating" things with his Superior in a public forum.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I would have to emphatically state that Vatican II itself wasn't a train wreck, it's implementation was especially when the "spirit" of Vatican II hippies took over and dumbed down what Vatican II really wanted to maintain. Pope Benedict who as a theologian was at Vatican II knows that Vatican II has to be interpreted in the context of continuity with what preceded it and within the context of the practice of the faith of most of the bishops attending. Post Vatican II politics hijacked a perfectly good Council. But that is changing and the true fruits of Vatican II will emerge. I do not share the view that we must return to the EF Mass exclusively, but that the OF Mass must look and feel like the EF Mass even if entirely in the vernacular. That's not to hard to do!

Bill said...

The intention of the Vatican II documents does not seem to me to have been a train wreck. The implementation, on the other hand, seems to have followed those documents about as well as our current politicians follow the constraints of the Constitution. Which is to say, not at all.

Can anyone point me to the most reliable available translation of V2 docs? Those on the Vatican site are riddled with errors from scanning, at best, and I have my doubts about some areas in the translations.

Templar said...

I will amend my statement to agree with you Father, V2 itself is not the train wreck, the implementation of same was, however, from a layman's perspective, that's not much difference.

Anonymous said...

Every time I visit this Blog I seem to read about Vatican II and am exposed to a range of differing opinions about it, ranging from spirited attacks to spirited defences, and sometimes distinguishing between Vatican II itself and post-Vatican II interpretations of Vatican II. This is not especially conducive to dispelling the considerable confusion that must reign in the minds of many regarding the validity, significance, and proper interpretation of Vatican II. So, I have a practical suggestion. Would it not be helpful for parishes to organize an in-depth course of study to educate parishioners about Vatican II to supplement, and perhaps correct, whatever they might be reading or hearing about it elsewhere? This could perhaps involve some study of the documents themselves. Does anyone have any experience with such a program?

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:38 PM - The 'New Translation' was relatively simple compared to understanding Vat II and our parish actually seemed intent on misrepresenting it. Put another way, the Bishops have squabbled over it for 50 years now, I don't know who would stand forth to instruct on it that has not already done so.


Rood Screen said...

An Anonymous advocates "...dispelling the considerable confusion that must reign in the minds of many regarding the validity, significance, and proper interpretation of Vatican II".
I suppose it would be good to read the decrees of the Council of Trent first, and then read the constitutions and decrees of Vatican II very soon afterwards, reading the latter in the light of the former, but with a clear awareness of the state of the world in the years immediately following the Second World War. Vatican II certainly should not be read primarily from the perspective of the late Sixties, however.

Gene said...

Fr. Shelton, You can say that again...nothing should be read from the perspective of the late sixties.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

One of the small things that has helped me to see the continuity between Vatican II and what came before is using the Baltimore Catechism to teach our elementary ps bool kids. There are only a few adjustments thAt need take place in teaching it and emphazing post Vatican II sensibilities, very minor though.

ytc said...

Honestly, I think what we're doing right now is only natural. After any sort of cataclysmic event--and I daresay Vatican II, when analyzed not only as the documents themselves but also the context, can be dubbed such--it takes decades and decades to understand it. That is just natural and is part of the human condition.

I also must say, the style of prose in the Council documents clearly adds to this mess. The decrees of the Council read more like extended essays than juridical edicts. That is because, well, they are extended essays and not juridical edicts. I think this is key to understanding Vatican II. I often wonder to myself, "What the hell does Vatican II really say?" I dig and scrape the marrow of the documents and I usually come away with nothing more than a slightly warm feeling about "the modern world."

If the Council of Trent, for example, was held in the Sixties rather than Vatican II, it would have been abundantly clear only perhaps a year or two after its end what, exactly, the overall outcome would be. That is because, as opposed to Vatican II, the documents of the Council of Trent are CRYSTAL clear. They are juridical edicts.

Documents from the first 20 Councils, for the most part, rely on precision and terseness in grammar and word choice. Documents from Vatican II, however, rely far more on theme than clarity. Vatican II, of course, was held at the end of a long period of magnificent Catholic triumphalism. It was not held at a time of crisis, and the Council Fathers had no way of understanding the crisis that would summarily rape the Church shortly after the Council's end. I view Vatican II as a tragic event. Would our triumphalism had lasted perhaps a few more decades after the Council's end, we probably would have implemented it in a far more rational and cautious way. However, that has not been the case as yet, and so we must take it upon ourselves to do so starting now and into the future, regardless of what the National Catholic Fishwrap, PrayTell blog and the libs want.

Anonymous said...

"Would it not be helpful for parishes to organize an in-depth course of study to educate parishioners about Vatican II ...."

Such is the pathetic state of knowledge among both clergy and laity, that in several parishes I've seen such programs spread more dis-information than information, contributing more to the problem than to its solution. Despite the fact that available are excellent programs such as

Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for the link, Henry. Those look like very helpful resources. As to the potential risk of disinformation, my thought was that such a study program could be constructive and helpful if it was presented and received in a prayerful manner with proper humility (which includes leaving pre-conceived ideological agendas at the door)and was led by a knowledgeable study leader using quality resources (including some of the documents themselves in a good translation). Then the Truth should readily manifest. My hope is that this would result in a much better, more widely shared, and more accurate understanding of Vatican II. And by all means extend and contextualize the study by examining earlier Councils as well. Am I being too naive or idealistic?

Anonymous said...

One cannot judge an ecumenical council like VATICAN II based on the results in just one nation or once bloc of nations; one needs to pull back and look at the entire context in order to not miss the forest because of that ugly dead tree in the foreground.

So...since 1963 what's been happening in Asia, Africa, Latin and south America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East? A boom to the degree Northern American and Northern European ideas have not hijacked the Council's thunder.

The whole story of Catholicism includes the whole world, not just our little corner of it. Most Catholics on earth live as persecuted minorities or on the margins of massive regimes or blocs...and yet the faith has grown along with the number of faithful. Only in the proud (and mostly stupid) West have documents like Gaudium Et Spes led people to jettison the faith rather than courageously go out to minister to and win over the atheists. Only in the West (among mostly proud and stupid theologians) has the document Lumen Gentium led to rebellion of faith and reason rather than a boom in both.

Thus has the devil always worked mischief: twist and distract people "in the name of" something good and noble. Ape some noble initiative of God and perhaps fool just enough souls into taking the conterfeit for the real deal. This works mostly when people live in times of peace and plenty and not so much in times of war and want, which is probably why Post-Vatican II Western Catholicism suffered decay while Post-Vatican II global Catholicism of the catacombs has grown exponentially.

Bottom line: Vatican II is the blue print not for live and let live detente with the USSR and fascism, it was the blue print for unprecedented missionary growth. Don't think in terms of us vs. them as immovable blocs, but in terms of a growing 'us' and shrinking 'them' as they become us through the power of God.

I don't know about any of you, but I don't plan on being a remnant hiding in some secret bunker. I'm planning on being part of the Kingdom of Christ into which all the nations ought to belong.

Vatican II presumes a well formed and holy laity who take the 'sentire cum ecclesiae' to heart and in common cause with our clergy and religious, bring the light of the Gospel (doctrine and morals) to bear on all secular realities. Vatican II failed to the degree it did in the West due to clergy/religious stubbornly standing in the way/throwing sand in the gears to confuse/blow smoke so that this sea-change among laity didn't happen orderly.

But it's happened nevertheless and now with a new generation of clergy and religious who have survived the white martyrdom, not even red martyrdom of open bloody persecution will stop the revolution coming. Heresy and schism will always be threats, but Vatican II is a blue print for fidelity if we but read it.

If we don't, I'll be coming to your parishes soon to read you some paragraphs myself so you guys can take up the cross.

Gene said...

Anonymous, Did you just say something?

Gene said...

Anonymous, It is not clear what you are saying. My impression is that you are a globalist/socialist Catholic who likes Liberation Theology and clown Masses. The reason I have that impression is that what you said is vague and much can be read between the lines. It sounds a little like a political speech from a member of the USCCB...or the Democratic Party, the two being nearly synonomous.

You decry the "stupid West" and its "stupid theologians, yet Western European and American Catholicicsm are what have supported the Church intellectually and financially for centuries. All this Third World Catholicism is largely a superstitious rabble with a thin veneer of catechesis and a heavy burden of Left Wing political theology. Be careful what you wish for. We should be concerned that European strongholds of Catholicism like France and Ireland have pretty much thrown over the Faith for socialist/collectivist political ephemera. With the intellectual and historical base for Catholicism gone, all that will be left is the grasping, restless wave of the mythic "Third World." Have fun...

Anonymous said...

Anon, I suggest the nom de cyber J.Conrad.