And it made mistakes, maintains traditionalist historian Roberto de Mattei. The dispute continues for and against the popes who guided the Council and put its innovations into practice
bi Sandro Magister
ROME, May 5, 2011 – In the homily for the beatification of Karol Wojtyla, Benedict XVI praised "the great legacy of the Second Vatican Council and of its “helmsman”, the Servant of God Pope Paul VI."
Pointing just after this to John Paul II as the pope who wanted "to entrust this great patrimony to all who are and will be called in the future to put it into practice":
> Karol Wojtyla Beatified. "They Will Look Upon Him Whom They Have Pierced"
The image of the "helmsman" applied to the Council is a recurring one in Joseph Ratzinger. One year ago – in a memorable Wednesday catechesis dedicated to an analysis of the tempest that accompanied and followed Vatican II – he gave "thanks to God" for those "wise helmsmen of the Barque of St Peter," Paul VI and John Paul II, who "on the one hand defended the newness of the Council, and on the other, defended the oneness and continuity of the Church, which is always a Church of sinners and always a place of grace":
> How to Pilot the Church in the Storm. A Lesson
Innovation and continuity in the Church. This is the key to interpreting the Council on which Benedict XVI insists without pause: as the only one that can make sense of the variations introduced by Vatican II.
It is a "hermeneutic of renewal in continuity" – words of pope Ratzinger – that is rejected en bloc by the Lefebvrists, but that also fails to satisfy some thinkers of the traditionalist sphere, increasingly disappointed with the current pope, as www.chiesa has documented recently.
One of the points on which the Council has fallen into error, in the judgment of these thinkers, is the freedom of religion affirmed by the declaration "Dignitatis Humanae."
The most blunt in denouncing the rift is the elderly and respected theologian Brunero Gherardini. In one of his books published a few months ago, entitled "Quæcumque dixero vobis," he writes in no uncertain terms that "Dignitatis Humanae" "renounced" and "reversed" the teaching of previous popes. And not on "historical decisions" of a practical nature, but in matters of faith.
On precisely this point, www.chiesa hosted on April 28 an essay by the philosopher Martin Rhonheimer that instead agrees with the Ratzingerian distinction between the "historical decisions" that the Church has modified, and "her inmost nature and true identity" that the Church has maintained:
> Who's Betraying Tradition. The Grand Dispute
The discussion reignited by the traditionalists is expanding, however, to a wider scope, not only on the issue of religious freedom.
The following are three new contributions, the first and third written expressly for www.chiesa.
1. The first is by Professor Roberto de Mattei, historian, author of a recently published "story never written" of Vatican Council II that reconstructs and highlights its elements of rupture with the previous magisterium of the Church.
A reply to de Mattei was published in "L'Osservatore Roman," with a very critical review, written by Archbishop Agostino Marchetto:
> Ma una storia non ideologica si può scrivere
And here de Mattei reacts, not only to "L'Osservatore Romano," but also to other criticisms from the Catholic side. And it is the first time that he has spoken out in defense of his book in such extensive and articulated form.
2. The second contribution presented further below is from a traditionalist American newspaper, "The Remnant," published on April 18 by one of its columnists, David Werling, in reaction to a commentary by Francesco Arzillo that took up the defense of the "hermeneutic of renewal in continuity" advanced by Benedict XVI, a commentary posted on www.chiesa on April 8, inside this article:
> High Up, Let Down by Pope Benedict
3. The third interview is in reply to "The Remnant" and in support of the arguments of Arzillo, in addition to, indirectly, those of pope Raztinger.
Its author, Giovanni Cavalcoli, a Dominican friar and theologian, teaches at the theological faculty of Bologna.
"A COUNCIL CAN ALSO MAKE MISTAKES"
by Roberto de Mattei
The speech to the Roman curia by Benedict XVI on December 22, 2005, opened a debate on Vatican Council II as exemplified recently by the books of Mons. Brunero Gherardini and the important conference of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, held in Rome between December 16 and 18, 2010, in addition to my study "Il Concilio Vaticano II. Una storia mai scritta [Vatican Council II. A history never written]" (Lindau, Torino 2010).
The pope's call to interpret the documents of Vatican II according to a "hermeneutic of continuity" has in fact offered a decisive stimulus to developing the debate on the Council in a manner different from that of the "school of Bologna," which has presented it in terms of fracture and discontinuity with the bimillennial tradition of the Church.
I would have hoped that our contributions, motivated solely by a sincere desire to respond to the appeal of the Holy Father, should have been accepted, if not with enthusiasm, at least with interest, that they should have been given scholarly consideration and not rejected out of hand. As for my book, for example, I would have expected a serious historical discussion in specialized journals.
In newspapers connected to Catholic institutions I receive replies, instead, from Massimo Introvigne, a partner of the legal offices of Jacobacci Associati, a sociologist of religious minorities, now representing the Italian government at the OECD, and Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, with thirty years as a career diplomat behind him, and then, for almost ten years, in the first line of the defense of immigrants, Romani, clandestines, as secretary for the pastoral care of migrants.
Neither Archbishop Marchetto nor Dr. Introvigne, in spite of their ecclesiastical or professional merits, has probably had time to visit libraries or historical archives; neither of the two is an historian by profession. And both of them, in their articles – published respectively in "Avvenire" on December 1, 2010 and in "L'Osservatore Romano" on April 14, 2011 – reject my book not from an historical point of view, but from an ideological one.
Introvigne calls my book "a true summa of anticonciliarist claims," which "unfortunately proposes once again that hermeneutic of rupture which Benedict XVI denounces as harmful." Marchetto calls it an "ideological" history, "of extremist tendency," "polarized and biased" like the one orchestrated by the school of Bologna, albeit in the opposite direction.
The criticism of Marchetto and Introvigne seems to have a single purpose: to close off preemptively that debate which Benedict XVI has opened with an invitation to develop it. [...]
I believe, on the contrary, that Vatican Council II can be discussed on the historical level in a way no different from how Church historians have always done.
Addressing them in 1889, Leo XIII wrote that "those who study it must never lose sight of the fact that it contains an ensemble of dogmatic elements that are imposed upon faith, and that no one can call into question [...]. Nonetheless, because the Church, which perpetuates among men the life of the Incarnate Word, is composed of a divine element and a human element, the latter of these must be presented by masters and studied by disciples with great probity. As is said in the book of Job: '[Does God perhaps need our falsehood?' (Job 13:7)."
"The historian of the Church," Leo XIII continues, will be all the more effective in revealing its divine origin, above any concept of purely earthly and natural order, the more he is loyal in not dissimulating anything in the sufferings that the errors of its children, and sometimes even of its ministers, have caused over the course of the centuries to this Bride of Christ. Studied in this way, the history of the Church even on its own constitutes a magnificent and convincing demonstration of the truth and uniqueness of Christianity."
The Church is indefectible, and yet, in its human part, it can commit errors and these errors, these sufferings, can be provoked, Leo XIII says, by its children and even by its ministers. But this takes nothing away from the greatness and indefectibilty of the Church. The Church, Leo XIII said, opening the Vatican archives to scholars, is not afraid of the truth.
A truth that the historian seeks on the level of fact, while the theologian seeks it on that of principle: but there does not exist an historical truth that can be contrasted with a theological truth. There is a single truth, which is Christ himself, founder and head of the Mystical Body that is the Church; and the truth about the Church is the truth about Christ and of Christ, in the encounter with him, who is always the same, yesterday, today and forever.
My book is born from a profound love of the Church, of its magisterium and of its institutions, "in primis" of the papacy. And my love for the papacy wants to be so great as not to stop with the current pope, Benedict XVI, to whom I feel deeply bound, but seeks behind the man the institution that he represents. It is a love that wants to embrace with this pope all of the popes in their historical and intellectual continuity, because for a Catholic the pope is not a man, he is a bimillennial institution; it is not that individual pope, but it is the papacy, it is the uninterrupted series of the vicars of Christ, from Saint Peter to the reigning pontiff.
So then, there is no better way to express one's attachment to the pope and to the Church than to serve, in all areas, the truth, because there does not exist any truth, historical, scientific, political, philosophical, that could ever be wielded against the Church.
And so we must not be afraid to tell the truth about Vatican Council II, the twenty-first in the history of the Church...
Read the rest on the page of www.chiesa that hosts the complete text by Roberto de Mattei:
> "A council can also make mistakes"
TRADITIONALIST ATTACKED... AGAIN. A RESPONSE TO FRANCESCO ARZILLO'S ESSAY ON CONTINUITY
by David Werling
Sandro Magister recently posted an essay by Franceseco Arzillo on his blog www.chiesa. Arzillo was writing in response to traditionalist concerns over Pope Benedict XVI’s “hermeneutic of continuity”, particularly from traditionalists such as Roberto de Mattei, Brunero Gherardini, and Enrico Maria Radaelli.
Arzillo states that he is primarily concerned “that the question of the hermeneutic of continuity remains the subject of considerable misunderstanding”, and with the polemics that have emerged, an “ecclesial dialectic” that “tends to take on forms and methods that are more political than theological, and end up reproducing within the Church the right-left dialectic proper to modern politics”. Arzillo styles this right-left dialectic as progressives (those who see Vatican II as a break from the past entirely) versus traditionalists (those who question the whole of Vatican II and are not obedient to the present Magisterium).
Put aside for the moment that this is a gross oversimplification, equally insulting to both progressives and traditionalists alike, if Arzillo were really concerned about this unhealthy dialectic, we could expect an equal degree of criticism for both “camps”. However, Arzillo dismisses the progressives with one sentence:
"Much has been said and written – and rightly so – against those who persist in seeing in Vatican Council II the new beginning that is claimed to put an end to the period characterized by the 'Constantinian form' of the Church."
The rest of his piece is directed at traditionalists, which is really what Arzillo is concerned about. Arzillo gets right to it...
Read the rest on the website of "The Remnant," with the complete text by David Werling:
> Traditionalist Attacked... Again. A Response to Francesco Arzillo’s Essay On Continuity
RESPONSE TO THE TRADITIONALISTS OF "THE REMNANT," IN DEFENSE OF ARZILLO
by Fr. Giovanni Cavalcoli, O.P.
Dear friends of "The Remnant,"
I am a Dominican friar who teaches systematic theology in the theological faculty of Bologna, a scholar of the doctrines of Vatican Council II for forty years.
I have read your criticism of the article by Francesco Arzillo on www.chiesa, and after obtaining his permission, I am happy to come chivalrously to his defense, in a fraternal debate within our shared Catholic faith and desire to obey the magisterium of the Church and the pope.
I will cover only three of the points of your commentary that seem central to me.
First point. I read in "The Remnant":
"What does Arzillo mean by 'Cartesian' as opposed to 'Aristotelian' mentalities? Is he saying that this traditionalism that must be censored is somehow dualistic? That’s not at all clear from what he wrote. Those who understand changes in formula as changes in doctrine really don’t seem to me, at least on the surface of the matter, to be dualistic Cartesians. Nor does it seem dualistic to me, at least on the surface of the matter, to treat theological concepts as if they were clear and distinct ideas. I’m not saying they should be treated as such, but it’s not specifically Cartesian to do so in any case."
By comparing Descartes with Aristotle, Aristotle did not intend to refer to the dualism of Descartes, of whom he does not speak, but to the Cartesian way of thinking, too attached to clarity and distinction, something that can be acceptable in mathematical thinking, but not in theological, which is a form of thought based more on analogy than on univocality. Now, it is precisely the method of analogy that is characteristic of Aristotle, and not of Descartes.
Analogical thought makes it possible to understand how a concept, while still remaining identical to itself, can however at the same time develop, progress, explicate and explain itself. This is typical of all vital phenomena, from the biological level to the spiritual. Because of this, Blessed John Henry Newman compared dogmatic or theological progress to the development of a plant, which grows and develops while still remaining itself. A five-foot oak tree is still itself even when it has reached one hundred feet.
Thus the doctrines of Vatican II must not be viewed as a disowning or rupture with the previous magisterium, but as a confirmation and explication of them. In other words, with Vatican II we know better those same truths of faith that we knew before.
Without a doubt, this thesis must be demonstrated, because in effect it is not always so evident. But as Catholics, supposing that matters of faith are at issue, we can suppose...
Read the rest on the page of www.chiesa that hosts the complete text by Fr. Giovanni Cavalcoli:
> Response to the traditionalists of "The Remnant," in defense of Arzillo