Skip to comments.Archbishop Chaput on Vatican II
Posted on 10/13/2005 9:54:06 PM PDT by Petrosius
Archbishop Chaput's Reflections on Vatican II
"Will History Judge It a Success or a Failure?"
December marks the 40th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. So these final months of 2005 are a good time to reflect on the needs of the Church in today's world and our own commitment to Catholic discipleship.
History is a powerful teacher. While all true ecumenical councils are important in the life of the Church, some failed to achieve their goals. The Council of Florence failed in the 15th century because the Western Church was badly divided and the Greek Church could not accept a union. The Fifth Lateran Council failed in the 16th century because it focused on the wrong issues. It did too little too late to change the conditions that led to the Protestant Reformation.
We need to ask ourselves this fall, as we consider the goals that the Second Vatican Council set for itself: Will history judge it a success or a failure? In opening Vatican II, Blessed Pope John XXIII said that, "the council now beginning rises in the Church like daybreak, a forerunner of most splendid light." Pope John Paul II, who attended the council as a bishop, spoke many times about "crossing the threshold of hope" and a rebirth of Christian faith in the new millennium.
So far the evidence is mixed. One in every three new children born in "Christian Europe" today is Muslim. Except for Islam, religious belief and practice are declining across the continent. So are fertility rates. Pope Benedict XVI told a gathering of Italian priests recently that the "so-called traditional Churches look like they're dying." In fact, in Europe's wealth and selfishness and refusal to have children, an entire civilization seems to be choosing to die.
Last month, Pope Benedict urged a group of new bishops to pray for "a humble trust in God and for the apostolic courage born of faith." In 2002, the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said that "a bishop must do as Christ did: precede his flock, being the first to do what he calls others to do and, first of all, being the one who stands against the wolves who come to steal the sheep."
Whether history judges Vatican II as a success or a failure finally depends on us -- bishops, clergy, religious and laypeople alike -- and how zealously we live our faith; how deeply we believe; and how much apostolic courage we show to an unbelieving world that urgently needs Jesus Christ.
We've been here before. Seventeen centuries ago, the great Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) could have failed. In reaffirming God's Trinitarian nature and the reality of the Incarnation, Nicaea deeply influenced not only the faith of the Church but the course of Western civilization. But that council, and all the long history that followed it, could have turned out very differently. It didn't, because of one man -- a young deacon and scholar at Nicaea named Athanasius of Alexandria, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Athanasius fought for the true Catholic faith at Nicaea and throughout his entire career. Hostile bishops excommunicated him. Emperors resented him. His enemies falsely accused him of cruelty, sorcery and even murder. He was exiled five times. And in the face of it all, he became the single most articulate voice defending the orthodox Catholic faith, which is why even today we remember him as "Athanasius contra mundum": "Athanasius against the world."
He never gave up. He had courage. He had the truth. And the truth won. He became one of the best-loved bishops and greatest saints and Doctors of the Church -- and the faith we take for granted today, we owe largely to God's work through him.
Now, that's my idea of a leader. That's my idea of a Catholic believer fully alive in Jesus Christ. And if bishops and their people choose to live that same apostolic courage once again -- beginning here and now -- then John XXIII's hopes for the council as a new dawn for Christian life really will rise in the Church as a light to the nations.
"One in every three new children born in "Christian Europe" today is Muslim. [...] In fact, in Europe's wealth and selfishness and refusal to have children, an entire civilization seems to be choosing to die. [...] In 2002, the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said that "a bishop must do as Christ did: precede his flock, being the first to do what he calls others to do and, first of all, being the one who stands against the wolves who come to steal the sheep."
Wow, from the way the article presents and relates ideas, the Pope would want bishops to raise Europe's birth rate? People should read what they write or others may jump to wrong ideas. And check this webpage (I haven't checked the data, but...):
I think this is the article I read where he said not every council was successful in achieving their goals.
Thanks for the link to an interesting blog. That's an impressive group of contributors to the blog.
well in my humble opinion, Vatican II was a disaster because the documents and decrees that came out where extremely vague not to mention Bishops had their own twisted agendas. The Novous Ordo Mass was not called for by the council and it has hurt the church.
We post-Vatican II brats are at a definite disadvantage in these discussions. Honestly, though, the most beautiful, awe-inspiring Liturgy which I attended in the last few years was Vespers, in Latin, a cappella Gregorian chant by a seminarian scola. It was heavenly, feeling yourself being pulled closer to heaven.
Truthfully, Mass can be in any vernacular, but without the chant, it just doesn't have that heavenly pull - at least for me. I think that's a good part of what Vatican II erradicated, purposefully or not - that pull toward Heaven. Feeling like you were headed there makes people WANT to be good and follow Christ. That's what we need back.
Hmmmmm, was Vatican II a failure?
Being a recent convert, most of my life I observed from the outside, but having seen it both from the outside and from the inside (especially from seeing discussions and comments over the years at various Catholic forums and blogs), I'd have to say that in most ways, yes it was a failure.
I believe the original intent of Pope John XXIII was very good, but after he passed on, the rad-lib-wreckovationist-bolshies hijacked things and forced their agenda through, and things have been a chaotic mess. Personally, I think that in most cases, the true intent and purpose of Vatican II has yet to have been genuinely tried. I also doubt that the original intent was to so totally dumb-down the Mass, Liturgy, and music to the point where in many places, the quality of these things would gag a punk rocker! I see nothing wrong in itself of having the Mass in good, reverent English (provided that the TLM is also freely and widely available in all dioceses)....however; we all have experienced or have heard of "masses" that are beyond scandalous.
Maybe the original intent and purpose was good, and if all the junk could be cleared away and our leaders returned back to the original intent in 1962 and started over, I could be more positive in my views.
Thanks, Bishop. This motivates me to be zealous, to believe deeply thereby helping to move Vatican II over to the ash heap of Church History with Jansenism, Arianism and Protestantism.
Every Rosary prayed is like a bullet fired at the Modernist Trojan Horse: Vatican II.
Vatican II was not a doctrinal council and nothing that came out of it was, technically, binding. In fact, I was never quite sure what the point of the whole thing was, other than sort of eyewash to make the New York Times swoon about how the Church was "modernizing." I was living in New York at the time, and every day there would be another article on this; and of course the very liberal Catholic crowd that hung out at the universities and spent most of its time complaining about the Church's position on birth control was also happy. Everybody else was mystified.
When I look back, I wonder if the birth control issue was not perhaps the crucial thing, that is the one thing that the liberal wing really had set its sights on. Paradoxically, everything else changed, but Paul VI at the last minute held fast on birth control.
There is a saying that all heresies begin below the belt, and during the last 40 years, I have often considered that. The liberals hated the Church's proscription on birth control because they thought it reflected a whole train of thought on sexual matters that was "anti modern." Of course, it did; Freud had completely taken over American thought, and everyone who considered himself an intellectual "knew" that Freud had rightfully identified sex as the center of human life. The Church stood in the way of this, asserting that there were other components to human life and that sex was not a value in itself.
In many ways, the late 60s and early 70s were nothing but the full evil flowering of Freudianism in American thought. The soul disappeared and one's "sexual nature" emerged. You can look at all the subsequent twisting of doctrine and of liturgy as a way to adapt to this and to permit it to happen. Basically, because this view of human nature is incompatible with the God-centered view of the traditional beliefs and liturgical practice of the Church, the latter had to go. In order to accomodate the new, unstated heresy (essentially, acceptance of the Freudian Zeitgeist and the replacement of the Church's view of man with Freud's view), everything had to be changed, because tradition implicitly condemned this view and anything that reminded Catholics of the Church's pre-Freudian teachings had to be purged.
The sooner the Second Vatican Council becomes as important to most Catholics as the Third Lateran Council the better.
We need to address the problems we have today head-on and not get caught up in the debates of the 1960s.
The Church needs a return to discipline, to hard doctrinal preaching and purity of life among clergy and laity.
While I prefer the Tridentine liturgy to all others, what the Church needs is a renewed solemnity and orthodoxy in its rites with the highest possible reverence for the Most Blessed Sacrament, a renewed disciplinary standard among its clergy, and a renewed fervor and missionary spirit among the laity.
Charity, not nicety.
From one recent convert to another: I agree, Vat 2 seemed to toss the baby with the bath water. But I have great hope in the Lord's Good Ship to right herself. Pope Benedict will be front and center in this fight, Archbishop Chaput, too. The Truth is too powerful.
Amen and right on, wideawake! You nailed it!!!!!