Monday, May 08, 2006

Dulles on Ratzinger on Vatican II

See this article: From Ratzinger to Benedict by Cardinal Dulles. it is definitely worth a read.
In his many publications Ratzinger continued to debate questions that arose during the council and in some cases expressed dissatisfaction with the council’s documents. In this respect he differs from Pope John Paul, who consistently praised the council and never (to my knowledge) criticized it.
Both John Paul and Benedict made significant contributions at the Second Vatican Council.
At discussions of Gaudium et Spes in September 1965, Ratzinger voiced many of the criticisms that would later appear in his books and articles: The schema was too naturalistic and unhistorical, took insufficient notice of sin and its consequences, and was too optimistic about human progress.
Later theologians would grab onto this document, leading to the heresies of "AmChurch", "GayChurch", activist Lesbian nuns, and New Age pantheism, as well as too much emphasis of making money and running the Church like a profit-oriented business.
In 1975 Ratzinger wrote an article, on the tenth anniversary of the close of Vatican II, in which he differed from the progressives who wanted to go beyond the council and from the conservatives who wanted to retreat behind the council. The only viable course, he contended, was to interpret Vatican II in strictest continuity with previous councils such as Trent and Vatican I, since all three councils are upheld by the same authority: that of the pope and the college of bishops in communion with him.
This is the bright, shining, dividing line within the Church. Liberals who see the Council as "discontinuity and rupture" embrace every heresy, practice every vice, and attempt to corrupt the young and alienate the rest. Traditionalists who think the same give only minimal respect to the Pope, or end up in schism, some to the point of electing their own antipope. Some attempt to split the difference, leading to indifference. Alternatively, we can look for the authentic interpretation of the Council.
[Ratzinger] denied that Vatican II was responsible for causing the confusion of the post-conciliar period. The damage, he said, was due to the unleashing of polemical and centrifugal forces within the Church and the prevalence, outside the Church, of a liberal-radical ideology that was individualistic, rationalistic, and hedonistic. He renewed his call for fidelity to the actual teaching of the council without reservations that would truncate its teaching or elaborations that would deform it.

The misinterpretations, according to Ratzinger, must be overcome before an authentic reception can begin. Traditionalists and progressives, he said, fell into the same error: They failed to see that Vatican II stood in fundamental continuity with the past... Particularly harmful was the tendency of progressives to contrast the letter of the council’s texts with the spirit. The spirit is to be found in the letter itself.
Regarding the liturgy:
He applauds its efforts to overcome the isolation of the priest celebrant and to foster active participation by the congregation. He agrees with the constitution on the need to attach greater importance to the word of God in Scripture and in proclamation. He is pleased by the constitution’s provision for Holy Communion to be distributed under both species and its encouragement of regional adaptations regulated by episcopal conferences, including the use of the vernacular.
There should have been no revolution.
They intended to introduce a moderate use of the vernacular alongside of the Latin, but had no thought of eliminating Latin, which remains the official language of the Roman rite. In calling for active participation, the council did not mean incessant commotion of speaking, singing, reading, and shaking hands; prayerful silence could be an especially deep manner of personal participation. He particularly regrets the disappearance of traditional sacred music, contrary to the intention of the council. Nor did the council wish to initiate a period of feverish liturgical experimentation and creativity. It strictly forbade both priests and laity to change the rubrics on their own authority.

Ratzinger in several places laments the abruptness with which the Missal of Paul VI was imposed after the council, with its summary suppression of the so-called Tridentine Mass. This action contributed to the impression, all too widespread, that the council was a breach rather than a new stage in a continuous process of development. For his part, Ratzinger seems to have nothing against the celebration of Mass according to the missal that was in use before the council.
More modern errors:
The neglect of living tradition...was one of the most serious errors of post-conciliar exegesis. The other was the reduction of exegesis to the historical-critical method.
The result was Marxist Bible translations and Protestant-looking churches.
But there is a solution:
[T]he council teaches that historical-critical method is only the first stage of exegesis. It helps to illuminate the text on the human and historical level, but to find the word of God the exegete must go further, drawing on the Bible as a whole, on tradition, and on the whole system of Catholic dogma.
Regarding ecumenism,
Lumen Gentium gives positive ecclesial status to Protestant and Orthodox communities. For Ratzinger, the Church is Catholic, but it is possible for particular churches or ecclesial communities to exist irregularly outside her borders. Some, such as the Eastern Orthodox communities, deserve to be called churches in the theological sense of the word.
But regarding particular Churches:
Since 1992, however, he has contended that the universal Church has ontological and historical priority over the particular churches. It was not originally made up of local or regional churches. Those who speak of the priority of the particular church over the universal, he says, misinterpret the council documents.
The inclusion of a chapter on Mary as the culmination of the constitution on the Church, he believes, should have given rise to new research rather than to neglect of the mystery of Mary. He himself has overcome certain reservations about Marian titles that he had expressed at the time of the council. It is imperative to turn to Mary, he believes, in order to learn the truth about Jesus Christ that is to be proclaimed.
Gaudium et Spes,
In opting for the language of modernity the text inevitably places itself outside the world of the Bible... [it] links Christian hope too closely to the modern idea of progress... The Cross teaches us that the world is not redeemed by technological advances but by sacrificial love.
He continues his criticism of that document:
The treatment of conscience in article 16, in his view, raises many unsolved questions about how conscience can err and about the right to follow an erroneous conscience. The treatment of free will in article 17 is in his judgment “downright Pelagian.”
And Pelagianism is a heresy, lest we forget. Benedict,
As a personalist in philosophy and as a theologian in the Augustinian tradition, he expects the Church to maintain a posture of prayer and worship. He is suspicious of technology, of social activism, and of human claims to be building the Kingdom of God.
Ultimately, Vatican II
..needs to be understood in conformity with the constant teaching of the Church. The true spirit of the council is to be found in, and not apart from, the letter.

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