One of the main criticisms raised by speakers at the conference, according to Sandro Magister in a recent post, "A New Syllabus for the 21st Century" (www.chiesa, January 14, 2011), was "above all the 'pastoral' nature of Vatican II and the abuses that have taken place in its name."
Conference speakers included Professor Roberto de Mattei, who just published a history of Vatican II that culminates in a request that Benedict XVI promote "a new examination" of the conciliar documents in order to dispel the suspicion that they broke with traditional Church teaching. Mattei is also among signatories to an appeal to the pope that the proposed meeting in Assisi "not reignite the syncretistic confusion" of the first, the one convened on October 27, 1986, by John Paul II.
Another of the conference speakers was theologian Brunero Gherardini, 85, a canon of the basilica of Saint Peter, professor emeritus of the Pontifical Lateran University, and director of the journal of Thomistic theology "Divinitas." Gherardini, according to Magister, is also author of a volume on Vatican II that concludes with an "Appeal to the Holy Father," asking him to "submit the documents of the Council for reexamination, in order to clarify once and for all 'if, in what sense, and to what extent' Vatican Council II is or is not in continuity with the previous magisterium of the Church." The preface to Gherardini's book was written by Albert Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, archbishop of Colombo and former secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship, who was elevated to a cardinal at the consistory of last November.
Ranjith is one of the two bishops to whom www.chiesa recently dedicated an article with this title: "Ratzinger's Best Pupils Are in Sri Lanka and Kazakhstan" (www.chiesa, October 14, 2010). And the second of these bishops, of course, is Bishop Athanasius Schneider, the principal speaker of the conference under discussion in this post.
Present in the audience of Schneider's lecture, entitled "The Challenge of Opposing Interpretations" (scroll down in linked article), were cardinals, curia officials, and prominent theologians -- as well as a large contingent of Franciscans of the Immaculate, a young religious congregation following in the footsteps of Saint Francis, bursting with vocations and of decidedly orthodox in orientation, the polar opposite of the so-called "spirit of Assisi" and the organizer of the conference itself, according to Magister.
Of particular interest for our readers will be the statements of Bishop Schneider touching on the subject of how post-Vatican II confusions have impacted the liturgical life of Catholics:
This phenomenon can be seen in three liturgical practices that are fairly well known and widespread in almost all the parishes of the Catholic sphere: the almost complete disappearance of the use of the Latin language, the reception of the Eucharistic body of Christ directly in the hand while standing, and the celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice in the modality of a closed circle in which priest and people are constantly looking at each other.But Bishop Schneider is no less incisive in the following observation regarding the status of Vatican II itself, and in his call for a "new Syllabus":
This way of praying – without everyone facing the same direction, which is a more natural corporal and symbolic expression with respect to the truth of everyone being oriented toward God in public worship – contradicts the practice that Jesus himself and his apostles observed in public prayer, both in the temple and in the synagogue. It also contradicts the unanimous testimony of the Fathers and of all the subsequent tradition of the Eastern and Western Church.
These three pastoral and liturgical practices glaringly at odds with the law of prayer maintained by generations of the Catholic faithful for at least one millennium find no support in the conciliar texts, and even contradict both a specific text of the Council (on the Latin language: cf. "Sacrosanctum Concilium," 36 and 54) and the "mens," the true intention of the conciliar Fathers, as can be seen in the proceedings of the Council.
In recent decades there existed, and still exist today, groupings within the Church that are perpetrating an enormous abuse of the pastoral character of the Council and its texts, written according to this pastoral intention, since the Council did not want to present its own definitive or unalterable teachings. From the same pastoral nature of the texts of the Council, it can be seen that its texts are in principle open to supplementation and to further doctrinal clarifications. Keeping in mind the now decades-long experience of interpretations that are doctrinally and pastorally mistaken and contrary to the bimillennial continuity of the doctrine and prayer of the faith, there thus arises the necessity and urgency of a specific and authoritative intervention of the pontifical magisterium for an authentic interpretation of the conciliar texts, with supplementation and doctrinal clarifications; a sort of "Syllabus" of the errors in the interpretation of Vatican Council II.Bishop Schneider continues:
There is the need for a new Syllabus, this time directed not so much against the errors coming from outside of the Church, but against the errors circulated within the Church by supporters of the thesis of discontinuity and rupture, with its doctrinal, liturgical, and pastoral application.
Such a Syllabus should consist of two parts: the part that points out the errors, and the positive part with proposals for clarification, completion, and doctrinal clarification. (emphasis added)
Two groupings stand out for their support of the theory of rupture. One of these groupings tries to "Protestantize" the life of the Church doctrinally, liturgically, and pastorally. On the opposite side are those traditional groups which, in the name of tradition, reject the Council and exempt themselves from submission to the supreme living magisterium of the Church, from the visible head of the Church, the vicar of Christ on earth, submitting meanwhile only to the invisible head of the Church, waiting for better times. [. . .]Related
In essence, there have been two impediments preventing the true intention of the Council and its magisterium from bearing abundant and lasting fruit.
One was found outside of the Church, in the violent process of cultural and social revolution during the 1960's, which like every powerful social phenomenon penetrated inside the Church, infecting with its spirit of rupture vast segments of persons and institutions.
The other impediment was manifested in the lack of wise and at the same time intrepid pastors of the Church who might be quick to defend the purity and integrity of the faith and of liturgical and pastoral life, not allowing themselves to be influenced by flattery or fear.
The Council of Trent had already affirmed in one of its last decrees on the general reform of the Church: "The holy synod, shaken by the many extremely serious evils that afflict the Church, cannot do other than recall that the thing most necessary for the Church of God is to select excellent and suitable pastors; all the more in that our Lord Jesus Christ will ask for an account of the blood of those sheep that should perish because of the bad governance of negligent pastors unmindful of their duty" (Session XXIV, Decree "de reformatione," can. 1).
The Council continued: "As for all those who for any reason have been authorized by the Holy See to intervene in the promotion of future prelates or those who take part in this in another way, the holy Council exhorts and admonishes them to remember above all that they can do nothing more useful for the glory of God and the salvation of the people than to devote themselves to choosing good and suitable pastors to govern the Church."
So there is truly a need for a Syllabus on the Council with doctrinal value, and moreover there is a need for an increase in the number of holy, courageous pastors deeply rooted in the tradition of the Church, free from any sort of mentality of rupture, both in the doctrinal field and in the liturgical field.
These two elements constitute the indispensable condition so that doctrinal, liturgical, and pastoral confusion may diminish significantly, and so that the pastoral work of Vatican Council II may bear much lasting fruit in the spirit of the tradition, which connects us to the spirit that has reigned in every time, everywhere and in all true children of the Catholic Church, which is the only and the true Church of God on earth.
- The complete text of the presentation by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, given in Rome on December 17, 2010: "Il primato del culto di Dio come fondamento di ogni vera teologia pastorale. Proposte per una corretta lettura del Concilio Vaticano II"
- The appeal of last January 11 to Benedict XVI against the doctrinal dangers of a new interreligious meeting in Assisi: "Santo Padre Benedetto XVI, siamo alcuni cattolici gratissimi dell'opera da Lei compiuta..."
- As for the correct interpretation of Vatican II, Benedict XVI clarified his thought in the memorable speech to the curia on December 22, 2005, ruling out the idea that the documents of the Council contain doctrinal errors and points of rupture with the tradition of the Church: "Your Eminences..."