Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I am amused when I read other blogs that are of a more progressive bent and find a creeping infallibility applied not only to Sacrosanctum Concilium as a document, but even more so to a liberal interpretation of it as seen through the eyes of rupture with what preceded it.

Folks, the Second Vatican Council while one of the most authoritative ways that the Pope together with the bishops of the world fulfill their commission to teach, rule and sanctify, is not primarily a dogmatic Ecumenical Council, but rather a pastoral one. Because of that much of what is taught is in reaction to the social trends and changes of the late 1950's and early 1960's in light of the aftermath of World War II, the Holocaust and the liturgical movement of the 20th century.

What also had changed even more gradually was the relationship of the Church to Protestantism, to the Jews and to other religions. The Church at the time of the Council and certainly today saw dialogue with all of these realities as important and the need to find commonality with one another to build a better world.

With all the talk of how Sacrosanctum Concilium reflecting a new ecclesiology of the Church where the laity take their rightful, proactive place in worship by acknowledging their own baptized priesthood, the primary emphasis of Vatican II's ecclesiology powerfully symbolized by the call to holiness of the laity in addition to the clergy and religious was that they would bring their Catholic faith in a more public, less private way, to the public square, such as their home, their places of work and where they recreate. It was hoped that those public Catholics who are in high places of business, politics and government would do so in the most spectacular way of Catholic witness to the truths of the Church, not something they manufacture for themselves.

This is where Vatican II has failed and on a grand scale. Or it might be better for me to say this is where Vatican II has been neglected by liberal, progressive Catholics and even by more conservative pundits.

The priesthood of the baptized is primarily for the world and the witness that the Catholic baptized give to the world by their actions.

How then can we say that Vatican II has been fulfilled when nearly 80% of Roman Catholics do not go to Mass every Sunday, thus diminishing the hope-for participation of Catholics in a conscious, present way at Mass?

How then can we say that Vatican II has been fulfilled with the majority of Catholics who enter public politics appear to accept abortion of demand, the HHS mandate and same sex marriage?

How then can we say that Vatican II has been fulfilled with a great number of Catholics who dissent from Humanae Vitae that emphasizes the three legs of Catholic morality and from that point of view is indeed infallible, Scripture, Tradition and Natural Law?

How then can we say that Vatican II has been fulfilled when we see priests and religious in Austria and other places creating a neo-Protestant reformation that will lead to a break with the Catholic Church and her Faith and Morals?

The progressive, liberal element of the Church since Vatican II has been a miserable failure for the Church, fragmented and lacking in common sense. That truth is especially symbolized by the form and type of liturgy they would like to see for the Church and in fact have foisted upon two to three generations of Catholics since Vatican II, an iconoclastic liturgy and architecture to match it, an empty, sterile liturgy that focuses on the horizontal and leaves the vertical, the God aspect, on the periphery.

Infallibility that is creeping and creepy as it concerns Sacrosanctum Concilium is a liturgy that blurs the distinctions between the ordained and the laity, the holy of holies and the nave, that emphasizes what the symbols of the liturgy look like, taste like, smell like and act like while neglecting Jesus Christ and His clear mandates. Progressivism makes a god out of bread and wine eaten and drunk, standing to receive and liturgical actions and signs that are big and expansive. But it fails to connect the believer to God in any real sense of Mystery, awe, wonder and humility in the Divine Presence.

What really freaks progressives out is that traditionalists for the most part, while not entirely of course, accept Vatican II and the Liturgy it has wrought and appreciate Vatican II when interpreted within continuity with what preceded it. It freaks them out that the theology of Pope Benedict and his followers is on the ascendency while the post-Vatican II "spirit of the Council" is clearly descending into its own manufactured anarchy and decomposition. It is not long for this world or the next.

Traditionalists who love the hermeneutic of reform in continuity love the post Vatican II liturgy celebrated by the book (say the black and do the red) when sacred music is in continuity with sacred chant of the past, when Latin is allowed, kneeling for Holy Communion a clear option and ad orientem more frequent.

We also love the Extraordinary Form of the Mass as Pope Benedict has allowed it! We see it as in continuity with the reform when the reform is celebrated in continuity with it!

I think Pope Benedict's view of things will impact the future of the Church in a way that no one ever imagined in the 1970's, that is those from the 1970's (like me, but at least I've tried to move on) who are still living as though it is still 1970 and can't believe that God has reversed things on them through the Magisterium of the Church and by popular demand. God is good.

Being stuck in the 1970's is tiresome and the 1970's really is over except where it is still practiced by a dying generation.


John Nolan said...

"Creeping infallibility" is a phrase used by disillusioned liberals who have seen their exciting new agenda, which in the 1960s and 1970s seemed unstoppable, questioned in the last two decades and increasingly found wanting.

Henry Edwards said...

One of the very finest of your many fine posts, Fr. McDonald! I trust, pray tell, that it will receive appropriate notice at that progressivist blog which you support so enthusiastically with your frequent posts there

"Traditionalists who love the hermeneutic of reform in continuity love the post Vatican II liturgy celebrated by the book (say the black and do the red) when sacred music is in continuity with sacred chant of the past, when Latin is allowed, kneeling for Holy Communion a clear option and ad orientem more frequent."

Indeed. Although an admitted TLM advocate, I know traditional Catholics (including myself) who will attend instead an OF Mass such as you describe (if only for its relative novelty).

WSquared said...

exciting new agenda

I can't really recall, even as a child, when if ever I found any of it "exciting." For some reason, I always felt that there was something a bit... off with all of it, but because I couldn't put my finger on it, and because very few people told me otherwise, I assumed for the most part that this was the way things were (though I had a sneaking suspicion that they weren't from the fact that my 4th grade teacher in the 80s was a missionary nun in a habit who, despite the multicultural and pluralistic composition of the class, shared the Catholic faith with us all (and indeed catechized everyone through the basics and sharing the lives of the Saints with us each day), anyway. There was just a lot of cultural dissonance going on, and I didn't know how it all fit together.

seemed unstoppable

I read an article linked from the National Catholic Register once that pointed out that heresy "gets things done."

In fact, you can be so busy "getting things done" that you may not even realize that you're about to run yourself off the rails.

Progressivism isn't just blind faith; it's bad faith. And it's probably not an exaggeration that bad faith of any sort becomes hollowed out after a while. At its worst, it becomes nonsense.

Joe Shlabotnick said...

"How then can we say that Vatican II has been fulfilled with the majority of Catholics who enter public politics appear to accept abortion of demand, the HHS mandate and same sex marriage? "


How is it that JFK's daughter Caroline can go on network TV and proclaim her Catholic faith right next to her faith in abortion on demand and not receive so much as a whimper of rebuke from her bishop?

The biggest enemies of the Church, those who do the most damage, are Catholics themselves. The late Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius, Mario Cuomo and his son Andrew, and countless others offer us a national-level bad witness every day. And, as of this writing, still nothing is done about it. They are Catholics in good standing receiving sacrilegious Communions every time they attend Mass, which emboldens their followers in the Church to do the same.

The false facade is crumbling, but to watch these backstabbers in action, you'd think their charade is going to go on forever.

Hammer of Fascists said...

Is this a watershed post? Father McD, you seem to be echoing some of the ideas that I and some others here have been putting forward in recent weeks about the pastoral nature of the council and its response to transient 20th century problems. I approve!

I would, however, add two statements to your "how then" list, or perhaps replace the one about pro-abort politicians.

How then can we say that Vatican II has been fulfilled when the hierarchy refuses to teach the authentic meaning of VII in concert with previous councils in a way that can readily be understood and acted upon?

How then can we say that Vatican II has been fulfilled when the hierarchy refuses to enforce orthodoxy in the face of rampant and scandalous doctrinal dissent and liturgical abuse by suppressing the dissent/abuse and sanctioning dissenters by public excommunication and other means?

Our current state of affairs didn't just happen. It happened because the hierarchy stood by and let it happen, (that is, when the hierarchy wasn't actively encouraging it to happen.

Henry Edwards said...

Anonymous 5: Here, here!

Henry Edwards said...

John Nolan: "Here, here!" is how the unwashed back in the mountains out here in the colonies say "Hear, hear!"

rcg said...

Here is thought: the problem with OF parishes producing acolytes may be because people can be priests in the pews. Why go to all that trouble with seminary? We can hold hands during Pater Noster, raise them during the little doxology, hold our hands out and bless people during Mass, write prayers, songs, modify prayers to be more 'inclusive', define posters during communion, rank order Church teaching to promote social justice ahead of respect for life so we can get abortions. There really is not much left.

Why did the bishops and clergy let that happen?

Православный физик said...

Anon 5, truer words haven't been spoken...

Catholic in Brooklyn said...

I'm a little confused, Father. Are you saying that Vatican II is to blame for the crisis of faith in the Church, that it produced the rebellion against Humanae Vitae, and the pro abortion, anti-Catholic catholic politicians in our era? Are you also saying that unlike other councils, Vatican II is not infallible? Are you saying that we should ignore and discount Sacrosanctum Concilium?

Not to be disrespectful, but your post left me with more questions than it answered.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I think the Second Vatican Council was hijacked by well-intentioned reformers who wanted to take the ball and run with it. I don't think the documents of Vatican II read in a strict, literal sense called for the type of rupture in Catholic identity, either liturgically, ecclesially or otherwise that the "spirit of Vatican II" theologians and bishops thought that it did.

I am very much in agreement that Ecumencial Councils are some of the most authoritative forms of Catholic teaching and promoting pastoral practice, the most authoritative way that the Pope and bishops in union with him excerise their commission to "teach, rule and sanctify."
Thus I very much think we should have followed Sacrosanctum Concilium to the letter in revising the 1962 missal and I think the 1962 missal should have been allowed from the beginning to maintain a place of pride in the liturgical life of the Church and if it had it would have certainly balanced the unbridled experimentation with the Ordinary Form we saw after the Council.

So, I would say that I am a disciple of Pope Benedict and his vision for reform in continuity and accepting all of Vatican II through the lens of continuity. That vision when implemented will bring about the authentic renewal that Vatican II desired and perhaps a reformed liturgy that is actually more in continuity with the 1962 missal. But I still contend that the revised missal as it is today can be in continuity with the 1962 missal if celebrated ad orientem, with some Latin, and kneeling for Holy Communion, not anything that is radical or opposed to Vatican II at all and in fact allowed since the Council, but who really knows and understands that when most Catholics were told all these things were wrong!