I have been saying for quite some time that the Church is still in the battle of which interpretation of Vatican II that will be followed. There are two schools of thought from the same generation of aging Catholics many of whom have one foot in the grave. They are symbolized by the schools of thought of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. There is hardly any continuity between those two in any meaningful way. And certainly Pope Francis has done almost everything he could do from day one to distance himself from the papacy of Pope Benedict and to reverse almost everything that the Emeritus Pope and the sainted Pope John Paul II tried to accomplish in wake of Pope Francis’ school of thought developed right after Vatican II and which they heroically tried to reverse.
I never dreamt that a new pope following these two great popes would be able to reverse their trajectory. But has His Holiness Pope Francis actually reversed it?
As I mentioned, these two schools of thought are from the same dying generation and mostly held by septegenerians and octogenarians. I am very much of Pope Benedict’s school of thought. I appreciate much of what Vatican II wanted to accomplish. I despise its spirit of rupture though that is promoted subsequent to the Council and teaches that Vatican II wanted this, that and the other when there is absolutely no indication of it when one looks for it in the Council documents.
A retired archbishop in Argentina captures my sentiments exactly. TJM brings this to our attention:
There is an excellent article at Rorate by Archbishop Emeritus Aguer which I think you would enjoy reading.
Here is a snippet from his article:
The current Pontiff declares that he wishes to pursue even further the constant search for ecclesial communion and to make this purpose effective, he eliminates the work of his predecessors by placing arbitrary limits and obstacles to what they established with intra-ecclesial ecumenical intention and respect for the freedom of priests and faithful! It promotes ecclesial communion in reverse. The new measures are a regrettable step backwards.
My comments: With Pope Francis, I have always experienced a return to the radical days of theology that I experienced at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore of the late 1970’s. I really believed that everything that Pope Francis desires was to be implemented by my generation of priests by the turn of the century, twenty-one years ago. But because of the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict, that did not happen.
I thought it was a new trajectory and would continue, but we’ve hit a road block.
Let me be clear. I do not reject the perennial magisterium of the Church or Vatican II. I have studied all the documents of Vatican II and these seem traditional to me. It’s the spirit of Vatican II that I have difficulty with because you can’t nail it down, it shifts with the blowing winds, just as progressive Catholics do. That’s why there has been no successful attempt at schism because they are all over the place unlike the Eastern Orthodox and the SSPX (yes, I know they are not quite in full schism, but they are organized enough and all the same page to effect one!).
Once this aging group of bishops and clergy are gone (I am in this category) what do you think the younger generation of Catholics, John Paul II Catholics who also loved Benedict will do?
How many younger Catholics, even those well into their 40’s and early 50’s think Pope Francis school of retrograde theology is the way forward?