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Vatican II, 50 Years Later : The council brought great controversy, but eventually, a greater gift.
National Review ^ | 10/11/2012 | George Weigel

Posted on 10/11/2012 6:50:34 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

The modern history of the Catholic Church has rarely followed the historical arc imagined for it.

In the early 19th century, the Church in France was awash in Jacobin-drawn blood, and the Church throughout Europe was reeling from two papal kidnappings by Napoleon. No one imagined that, in the decades just ahead, Catholicism would flourish in the new United States and that the Church’s mission to sub-Saharan Africa would begin in earnest, led by new religious orders founded in the aftermath of the French Revolution.

In 1870, when Piux IX retreated behind the Leonine Wall and became the “prisoner of the Vatican,” Europe’s great and good thought the papacy a spent force in world affairs. Eight years later, Leo XIII, Pius IX’s successor, elected as an elderly placeholder, redefined the papacy as an office of moral persuasion and gave it new salience during the third-longest reign in recorded history.

When Pius XII died on October 9, 1958, the character and practice of Catholicism seemed fixed, permanent, even immutable. Less than three months later, Pius’s successor, John XXIII, announced his intention to summon a new ecumenical council. That council would, among other things, unleash decades of instability in Catholic life unimaginable in the mid-1950s.

In 1962, as Pope John’s council began its work, the Swiss theologian Hans Küng was riding high; his international bestseller, The Council: Reform and Reunion, seemed poised to define much of Vatican II’s agenda, and the previously obscure Tübingen theology professor was an international media star. Fifty years later, no serious observer of the Catholic scene imagines Hans Küng to be a serious theologian; meanwhile, Küng rants on in the world press, denouncing the world’s bishops as “almost as extreme” as those German generals who swore “an oath of allegiance to Hitler,” comparing St. Peter’s Square and the millions of pilgrims who flock there to a “Potemkin village” replete with “fanatical people,” and telling that nuanced theological organ, Britain’s Guardian, that “the Vatican is no different from the Kremlin,” for “just as Putin as a secret service agent became the head of Russia, so Ratzinger, as head of the Catholic Church’s secret services, became head of the Vatican.” (One may safely assume that the quondam Wunderkind of theological dissent never imagined this outcome when he engineered Joseph Ratzinger’s appointment to the Tübingen faculty shortly after Vatican II concluded.)

At the council’s opening, hopes for a new era of ecumenical comity ran high, and the healing of the breach between the Church of Rome and the Church of England, created by Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth I, seemed close at hand. Fifty years later, the Episcopal bishop of California, Marc Andrus, wrote a letter to the people of his diocese denouncing the new Catholic archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, for Cordileone’s support of California Proposition 8 and his defense of marriage rightly understood. The Episcopal Church, Andrus bleated, would “make no peace with oppression,” for the “recognition of the . . . rights . . . of lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgendered people . . . [is] as core to our proclamation of the Gospel as our solidarity with . . . the Earth.” (One may safely assume that the archbishop of Canterbury in 1962, Arthur Michael Ramsey, an Anglo-Catholic, could not have imagined a churchman remotely resembling Marc Andrus, a neo-gnostic.)

At the council’s conclusion, the Catholic Church looked forward to a new dialogue with modernity, exemplified by the open, if secular, humanism of an Albert Camus or a Roger Garaudy. Three years later, the upheavals of 1968 ushered in the era of what the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor dubbed “exclusive humanism,” and over the next four decades, much of Western high culture declared itself interested, not in dialogue with Catholicism, but in driving the Catholic Church (and its allegedly oppressive teachings on the nature and ethics of human love) out of public life entirely.

All of which will remind the biblically alert that the first (and revealed) history of the Church, the Acts of the Apostles, ends with an unexpected shipwreck — which becomes, in turn, a surprising opening to a new phase of the Church’s mission.

Things rarely turn out as one might expect in the Una Sancta.

Every ecumenical council in the history of the Catholic Church has been preceded by controversy, conducted in controversy, and followed by controversy. That perhaps helps to explain why there have been just 21 such exercises over two millennia. Thus, in a sense, that controversy would follow Vatican II ought to have been expected. But Vatican II was different in a unique way, and that difference explains something of the character of the discord that followed.

Every other ecumenical council had provided the Church with keys to its authentic interpretation: doctrinal definitions, creeds, legislation, or the anathematizing of heresies. If you want to know what the Nicene Creed taught about the Trinity, you read the Nicene Creed (or recite it, as Catholics do every Sunday). If you want to know what the Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon taught about the Incarnation, you ponder Ephesus’s definition of the Virgin Mary as the Theotokos (God-bearer) and Chalcedon’s definition of the two natures in the one divine Person of Christ, who is homoousios (consubstantial) with the Father. If you want to know what Trent taught about the Reformation and about authentic Catholic reform, you study its condemnations and the Catechism it authorized. If you want to know what Vatican I taught about the way the Holy Spirit continues to teach the Church through the teaching office of the papacy, you reflect on its definition of the character (and limits) of papal infallibility.

Vatican II did none of this: It defined no doctrine, condemned no heresies, legislated no new canons for the Church’s law. What Vatican II did do was write 16 documents of divergent doctrinal weight, the interpretation of which set off an ungodly row that lasted for the better part of four decades. That row frequently centered on “Who’s in charge?” issues, which, intersecting with a much-advertised (although rarely defined) “spirit of Vatican II,” produced forms of do-it-yourself Catholicism that would have stunned John XXIII. For while it is true that “Good Pope John” wanted his council to offer the world what he called, in his opening address, the “medicine of mercy, rather than that of severity,” it is also true that, in formally convening the council 50 years ago, on October 11, 1962, Blessed John XXIII also said that “the greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously.” And while the pope’s allocution 50 years ago noted that “the substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another,” it is also true that the pope lifted up “the Church’s solicitude to promote and defend the truth,” a notion that seems quaint to many (and dangerous to others) in a post-modern cultural environment in which there may be your truth and my truth, but nothing properly describable as the truth.

Thus the truths that Vatican II taught remained bitterly contested in the 15 years immediately following the Council. Then, in yet another unexpected twist in the story-line, two men of genius, both men of the Council, arose to provide the Church with authoritative keys for properly interpreting the documents of Vatican II. That, history will likely show, was the great task taken on by the unexpected Polish pope, John Paul II (who as a hitherto-obscure young bishop helped develop several council documents), and the even more unexpected Bavarian pope, Benedict XVI (who as a theologian in his mid-30s played a major role in articulating several of the council’s most important teachings on the nature of the Church as centered on the Gospel).

Although neither Hans Küng nor Marc Andrus (nor the Nuns on the Bus) seems to have gotten the message, both these scholar-popes have taught, correctly, that what was innovative in the teaching of Vatican II must be understood in continuity with, and as a development of, the tradition of the Church. The Catholic Church did not begin on October 11, 1962. And what happened in the four sessions of the council that followed must be pondered and understood in terms of that secure “deposit of faith” of which John XXIII spoke a half-century ago. Thus, what was truly innovative at Vatican II — its repositioning of the Gospel at the center of the Church, understood as a “communion” of disciples; its reform of the Church’s worship; its insistence on the baptismal dignity and vocational responsibility of all Catholics, lay as well as ordained; its openness to new methods in theology; its teaching on religious freedom, on church-and-state, and on the Church’s ongoing debt to Judaism — has to be understood as securely grounded in the Church’s tradition. For without that grounding and that continuity, those welcome innovations would be so much flotsam and jetsam, adrift in the cultural whitewater of post-modernity.

In the retrospect of today’s golden jubilee, however, perhaps we can now see that the council was one dramatic event in a much longer “moment” in Catholic history: a moment that stretches over more than a century and a quarter; a moment in which the Church underwent a deep and difficult process of reform; a moment in which the curtain slowly fell on the form of Catholicism that was born in the 16th-century Counter-Reformation, and the curtain slowly rose on the Catholicism of the Third Millennium — the Catholicism of what John Paul II and Benedict XVI have called the “New Evangelization.”

This Evangelical Catholicism, which you can see and touch wherever the Catholic Church is vibrant and growing today, has nothing to do with the low-church Protestantism of Hans Küng’s revolution-that-never-was; nor does it have anything to do with Marc Andrus’s gnostic Church of Lifestyle Libertinism, or with the Nuns on the Bus and their Church of Obama. Rather, as Vatican II taught in its central theological document, the Constitution on Divine Revelation, the Church is formed by the Gospel and the Church exists for the proclamation of the Gospel. Every Catholic is baptized into a missionary vocation, and every Catholic enters mission territory every day. That sense of evangelical possibility and responsibility, which is the indispensable foundation of the Church’s work for justice and the Church’s works of charity, is the true “spirit of Vatican II” — and a faithful response to perhaps the most important challenge that Blessed John XXIII laid before the Church and the world 50 years ago today:

The great problem confronting the world today after almost 2,000 years remains unchanged. Christ is ever resplendent at the center of history and of life. Men are either with Him and His Church, and then they enjoy light, goodness, order, and peace. Or else they are without Him, or against Him, and deliberately opposed to His Church, and then they give rise to confusion, to bitterness in human relations, and to the constant danger of fratricidal wars. . . .

To mankind, oppressed by so many difficulties, the Church says, as Peter said to the poor who begged for alms from him: “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise and walk” (Acts 3.6). . . . [The] Church does not offer to the men of today riches that pass, nor does she promise them merely earthly happiness. But she distributes to them the goods of divine grace which, raising men to the dignity of sons of God, are the most efficacious safeguards and aids toward a more human life. She opens the fountain of her life-giving doctrine, which allows men, enlightened by the light of Christ, to understand well what they really are, what their lofty dignity and their purpose are, and finally, through her children, she spreads everywhere the fullness of Christian charity, than which nothing is more effective in eradicating the seeds of discord, nothing more efficacious in promoting concord, just peace, and brotherly unity of all.

John XXIII concluded his opening address at Vatican II by evoking the image of a council that “rises in the Church like daybreak, a forerunner of most splendid light.” It was, the Pope concluded, “now only dawn.” What would come, after no little travail and darkness, was something unexpected and unimagined by most Catholics 50 years ago: the end of the Counter-Reformation and the emergence of Evangelical Catholicism — a culture-forming counterculture that offers the world friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the deepest aspirations of the human heart; a Church that is the world’s premier institutional defender of the dignity of the human person and of fundamental human rights.

— George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center. His forthcoming book, Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church, will be published by Basic Books in February 2013.


TOPICS: Catholic; History; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: popejohnxxiii; vaticanii


1 posted on 10/11/2012 6:50:45 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Ping for later reading

2 posted on 10/11/2012 6:55:39 AM PDT by Rich21IE
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To: SeekAndFind
The council brought great controversy, but eventually, a greater gift.

I'm too young to have known the pre-conciliar church, but it seems to me that veetoo has mostly wrought disaster.

I won't be celebrating this week.

3 posted on 10/11/2012 6:58:25 AM PDT by jtal (Runnin' a World in Need with White Folks' Greed - since 1492)
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To: jtal

Just wondering... what kind of Mass do you attend?

Do you attend the traditional Latin mass? Or the modern one in English?

4 posted on 10/11/2012 7:11:10 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: jtal

The only GREATER GIFT it brought was the complete destruction of the church.

Vatican II let the camel’s nose under the tent, and there she went.

5 posted on 10/11/2012 7:14:06 AM PDT by ConradofMontferrat (According to mudslimz, my handle is a Hate Crime. And I just Hope they don't like it!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Vatican II was clearly a major disaster in the Catholic Church. Long-held traditions and beliefs were shattered and replaced by the damnest things.

Gone were the habits of the nuns . . . now you couldn’t tell if a nun were a nun or anybody else.

Now you could slap good old Father Bill on the back instead of giving him the utmost respect.

Gone were the Latin Masses where the priest had this most magical and mystical language that he used to talk to God.

Gone were the restrictions of fasting before Communion, so you could have the smell of a Big Mac on your breath as you received Christ. Gone was the supreme holiness of the Host . . . so now you could pick up the good old Host with your hands or have it handed to you by a lay person (before, each particle . . . each crumb was captured on a paten that was put below each recipient’s chin)..

Gone was the holy Sabbath’s restriction to Sunday Mass . . . now you could go on Saturday because of some lame reasoning that Saturday evening equaled Sunday morning.

Gone was the special nature of each priest and nun, special enough that it was an honor to go into the vocations. Now, since virtually the mystery was weakened so much, most anyone could go into the ministry . . . and that they did . . . the seminaries in their eagerness to capture their previous populations of students, started accepting most anybody . . . and that they did.

Enough of the holy orders were devastated that many nuns and priests were now on the side of the abortion slaughter that covers our nation. AND NOT ONE OF THEM WAS EVER PUBLICLY EXCOMMUNICATED. Enough of the holy orders were devastated that no one took the counseling and advice of their priests and nuns seriously.

Fools and jackasses like Karin Johnson (Whoopie Goldberg) starred in series of movies where a crack addict and whore hid in a convent and wound up saving the nuns by teaching them how to sing and add “soul” to their convents . . . almost blasphemous in nature. As if the nuns that I knew would ever need the advice of a filthy crack addict and prostitute to learn how to sing. You never would have had that kind of portrayal in any movie with a priest or nun before . . . witness the Bing Crosby movies in the 40s of the Catholic Church.

Now, the priests and nuns of old were seen as crazy, senile, perhaps roller skating in commercials, or acting stupid in some other capacity, or being made fools of in comedy skits, etc.

Vatican II appeared to be a huge massive marketing campaign to increase the participation on all levels in the Catholic church, and instead wound up demeaning and trashing all that was held as holy.

6 posted on 10/11/2012 7:39:29 AM PDT by laweeks
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To: SeekAndFind
Do you attend the traditional Latin mass? Or the modern one in English?

I attend the TLM. I used to attend the Novus Ordo.

Among the flood of feelings I felt after attending my first TLM was palpable anger at the church hierarchy for denying access to this mass for forty years.

7 posted on 10/11/2012 7:50:16 AM PDT by jtal (Runnin' a World in Need with White Folks' Greed - since 1492)
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To: SeekAndFind

Excellent, excellent article.

The Church stands today as the last great institution in this world that cogently and unambiguously defends the dignity and sanctity of the human person, at all stages of life: conception, birth, development, aging, and death.

This is the genius, I believe, of JPII and his successor Benedict. In the chaos of Vatican II, they found the delicate threads of the Great Tradition and began stitching them back together. That tradition is the message of Jesus: “I have come that you might have LIFE, and have it more abundandly.”

It is not perfect...not by a long shot...but it is

8 posted on 10/11/2012 7:52:03 AM PDT by vonkayel
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To: ConradofMontferrat

Don’t be silly. There has not been, nor will there ever be a “complete destruction of the church.”

Not even the Gates of Hell will prevail against the Church. It is promised.

9 posted on 10/11/2012 7:52:14 AM PDT by vonkayel
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To: laweeks
the seminaries in their eagerness to capture their previous populations of students, started accepting most anybody . . . and that they did.

Oh I think it was much more sinister than that.

In many cases, orthodox young men were turned away by the gatekeepers at seminaries as part of an organized effort to infiltrate the priesthood with homosexuals.

Yes, I am serious.

10 posted on 10/11/2012 7:56:20 AM PDT by jtal (Runnin' a World in Need with White Folks' Greed - since 1492)
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To: jtal
In many cases, orthodox young men were turned away by the gatekeepers at seminaries as part of an organized effort to infiltrate the priesthood with homosexuals. Yes, I am serious.

I am right there with you...that's how they operate, and the military is about to find that out.

11 posted on 10/11/2012 8:00:00 AM PDT by dfwgator (I'm voting for Ryan and that other guy.)
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To: jtal
In many cases, orthodox young men were turned away by the gatekeepers at seminaries as part of an organized effort to infiltrate the priesthood with homosexuals.
Yes, I am serious.

Oh, I agree most heartily . . . I just didn't want to bring it up . . . I've known about a homosexual who couldn't wait to get into the seminaries for his playground . . . much easier to get into since Vatican II since they were looking for quantity rather than quality.

12 posted on 10/11/2012 8:05:13 AM PDT by laweeks
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To: SeekAndFind
When Pius XII died on October 9, 1958, the character and practice of Catholicism seemed fixed, permanent, even immutable.

Isn't that what truth is supposed to be?

13 posted on 10/11/2012 8:20:55 AM PDT by Zionist Conspirator (Ki-hagoy vehamamlakhah 'asher lo'-ya`avdukh yove'du; vehagoyim charov yecheravu!)
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To: SeekAndFind
Rather, as Vatican II taught in its central theological document, the Constitution on Divine Revelation, the Church is formed by the Gospel and the Church exists for the proclamation of the Gospel.

I've read many comments by Protestants shaming Catholics for not "knowing" their Bible. Since Vatican II, we Catholics, better learning our Bible, have gone through the chaos caused by "interpreting" that Bible.

Once the VII Council opened the book, they forgot to emphasize that "the book" was NOT open to interpretation, but like the Church itself, contained truths which were absolute.

This process gives insight into the reason hundreds of Christian "churches" exist, and why the Roman Catholic church has had such difficulty since Vatican II.

We also have been privy to experiencing the tug between process and substance.

14 posted on 10/11/2012 8:50:12 AM PDT by MSSC6644 (Defeat Satan: pray the Rosary.)
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To: vonkayel

Your mouth to God’s ear.

15 posted on 10/11/2012 1:31:23 PM PDT by ConradofMontferrat (According to mudslimz, my handle is a Hate Crime. And I just Hope they don't like it!)
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To: jtal
Vultus Christi

Giovanni XXIII Sedia.jpg

The Council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient. (Pope Benedict XVI)

Here is the text of the homily given by the Holy Father this morning on the occasion o the inauguration of The Year of Faith, and the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The headings are my own.

Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear brothers and sisters!

Today, fifty years from the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, we begin with great joy the Year of Faith. I am delighted to greet all of you, particularly His Holiness Bartholomaeus I, Patriarch of Constantinople, and His Grace Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. A special greeting goes to the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches, and to the Presidents of the Bishops' Conferences.

Prominence Given to the Catechism

In order to evoke the Council, which some present had the grace to experience for themselves - and I greet them with particular affection - this celebration has been enriched by several special signs: the opening procession, intended to recall the memorable one of the Council Fathers when they entered this Basilica; the enthronement of a copy of the Book of the Gospels used at the Council; the consignment of the seven final Messages of the Council, and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I will do before the final blessing. These signs help us not only to remember, they also offer us the possibility of going beyond commemorating. They invite us to enter more deeply into the spiritual movement which characterized Vatican II, to make it ours and to develop it according to its true meaning. And its true meaning was and remains faith in Christ, the apostolic faith, animated by the inner desire to communicate Christ to individuals and all people, in the Church's pilgrimage along the pathways of history.

The Face of God Revealed in Jesus Christ

The Year of Faith which we launch today is linked harmoniously with the Church's whole path over the last fifty years: from the Council, through the Magisterium of the Servant of God Paul VI, who proclaimed a Year of Faith in 1967, up to the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, with which Blessed John Paul II re-proposed to all humanity Jesus Christ as the one Saviour, yesterday, today and forever. Between these two Popes, Paul VI and John Paul II, there was a deep and profound convergence, precisely upon Christ as the centre of the cosmos and of history, and upon the apostolic eagerness to announce him to the world. Jesus is the centre of the Christian faith. The Christian believes in God whose face was revealed by Jesus Christ. He is the fulfilment of the Scriptures and their definitive interpreter. Jesus Christ is not only the object of the faith but, as it says in the Letter to the Hebrews, he is "the pioneer and the perfecter of our faith" (12:2).


Today's Gospel tells us that Jesus Christ, consecrated by the Father in the Holy Spirit, is the true and perennial subject of evangelization. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor" (Lk 4:18). This mission of Christ, this movement of his continues in space and time, over centuries and continents. It is a movement which starts with the Father and, in the power of the Spirit, goes forth to bring the good news to the poor, in both a material and a spiritual sense. The Church is the first and necessary instrument of this work of Christ because it is united to him as a body to its head. "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (Jn 20:21), says the Risen One to his disciples, and breathing upon them, adds, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (v.22). Through Christ, God is the principal subject of evangelization in the world; but Christ himself wished to pass on his own mission to the Church; he did so, and continues to do so, until the end of time pouring out his Spirit upon the disciples, the same Spirit who came upon him and remained in him during all his earthly life, giving him the strength "to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed" and "to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord" (Lk 4:18-19).


The Second Vatican Council did not wish to deal with the theme of faith in one specific document. It was, however, animated by a desire, as it were, to immerse itself anew in the Christian mystery so as to re-propose it fruitfully to contemporary man. The Servant of God Paul VI, two years after the end of the Council session, expressed it in this way: "Even if the Council does not deal expressly with the faith, it talks about it on every page, it recognizes its vital and supernatural character, it assumes it to be whole and strong, and it builds upon its teachings. We need only recall some of the Council's statements in order to realize the essential importance that the Council, consistent with the doctrinal tradition of the Church, attributes to the faith, the true faith, which has Christ for its source and the Church's Magisterium for its channel" (General Audience, 8 March 1967). Thus said Paul VI.

Certain and Immutable Doctrine Safeguarded and Taught

We now turn to the one who convoked the Second Vatican Council and inaugurated it: Blessed John XXIII. In his opening speech, he presented the principal purpose of the Council in this way: "What above all concerns the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be safeguarded and taught more effectively [...] Therefore, the principal purpose of this Council is not the discussion of this or that doctrinal theme... a Council is not required for that... [but] this certain and immutable doctrine, which is to be faithfully respected, needs to be explored and presented in a way which responds to the needs of our time" (AAS 54 [1962], 790,791-792).

The "Letter" of the Council

In the light of these words, we can understand what I myself felt at the time: during the Council there was an emotional tension as we faced the common task of making the truth and beauty of the faith shine out in our time, without sacrificing it to the demands of the present or leaving it tied to the past: the eternal presence of God resounds in the faith, transcending time, yet it can only be welcomed by us in our own unrepeatable today. Therefore I believe that the most important thing, especially on such a significant occasion as this, is to revive in the whole Church that positive tension, that yearning to announce Christ again to contemporary man. But, so that this interior thrust towards the new evangelization neither remain just an idea nor be lost in confusion, it needs to be built on a concrete and precise basis, and this basis is the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the place where it found expression. This is why I have often insisted on the need to return, as it were, to the "letter" of the Council - that is to its texts - also to draw from them its authentic spirit, and why I have repeated that the true legacy of Vatican II is to be found in them. Reference to the documents saves us from extremes of anachronistic nostalgia and running too far ahead, and allows what is new to be welcomed in a context of continuity. The Council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient. Rather, it concerned itself with seeing that the same faith might continue to be lived in the present day, that it might remain a living faith in a world of change.

Il Concilio non ha escogitato nulla di nuovo come materia di fede, né ha voluto sostituire quanto è antico.

Post-Conciliar Crisis

If we place ourselves in harmony with the authentic approach which Blessed John XXIII wished to give to Vatican II, we will be able to realize it during this Year of Faith, following the same path of the Church as she continuously endeavours to deepen the deposit of faith entrusted to her by Christ. The Council Fathers wished to present the faith in a meaningful way; and if they opened themselves trustingly to dialogue with the modern world it is because they were certain of their faith, of the solid rock on which they stood. In the years following, however, many embraced uncritically the dominant mentality, placing in doubt the very foundations of the deposit of faith, which they sadly no longer felt able to accept as truths.

Spiritual Desertification

If today the Church proposes a new Year of Faith and a new evangelization, it is not to honour an anniversary, but because there is more need of it, even more than there was fifty years ago! And the reply to be given to this need is the one desired by the Popes, by the Council Fathers and contained in its documents. Even the initiative to create a Pontifical Council for the promotion of the new evangelization, which I thank for its special effort for the Year of Faith, is to be understood in this context. Recent decades have seen the advance of a spiritual "desertification". In the Council's time it was already possible from a few tragic pages of history to know what a life or a world without God looked like, but now we see it every day around us. This void has spread. But it is in starting from the experience of this desert, from this void, that we can again discover the joy of believing, its vital importance for us, men and women.

Journey Through the Desert

In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today's world there are innumerable signs, often expressed implicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life. And in the desert people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive. Living faith opens the heart to the grace of God which frees us from pessimism. Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path. The first reading spoke to us of the wisdom of the wayfarer (cf. Sir 34:9-13): the journey is a metaphor for life, and the wise wayfarer is one who has learned the art of living, and can share it with his brethren - as happens to pilgrims along the Way of Saint James or similar routes which, not by chance, have again become popular in recent years. How come so many people today feel the need to make these journeys? Is it not because they find there, or at least intuit, the meaning of our existence in the world? This, then, is how we can picture the Year of Faith: a pilgrimage in the deserts of today's world, taking with us only what is necessary: neither staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money, nor two tunics - as the Lord said to those he was sending out on mission (cf. Lk 9:3), but the Gospel and the faith of the Church, of which the Council documents are a luminous expression, as is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published twenty years ago.

Mary Most Holy, Mother of God

Venerable and dear Brothers, 11 October 1962 was the Feast of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. Let us entrust to her the Year of Faith, as I did last week when I went on pilgrimage to Loreto. May the Virgin Mary always shine out as a star along the way of the new evangelization. May she help us to put into practice the Apostle Paul's exhortation, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom [...] And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Col 3:16-17). Amen.

16 posted on 10/13/2012 9:44:51 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: jtal

The seminaries have completely turned around. They are bulging with straight Catholic boys who want to be priests.

Check it out.

Don’t you remember the visitations from the Pope’s emissaries back about ten years? Like they are doing to the liberal nuns now?

17 posted on 10/13/2012 9:49:27 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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