Since I responded elsewhere to a question about Bp. Barron’s recent videos and his view of traditional Catholics, and since every answer he gives seems to circles around Vatican II, it occurred to me that some of you might benefit from a good book.
Here is an essential book which explains what happened during the Second Vatican Council.
The Rhine Flows into the Tiber: A History of Vatican II by Ralph Wiltgern – It was republished under a new title for the 50th anniversary of the Council.
In regard to the Second Vatican Council….
I maintain that in the Church’s long history there have been really important pontificates and not so important, really important councils and not so important. I am of the mind that Vatican II, when lined up with other Councils, does not rank anywhere close to being among the most important. It seems like a big deal to us because it was within living memory. Also, because councils tend to create a period of disruption, and we are in that period, Vatican II seems to us to be more important than it will eventually be seen to be.
“But Father! But Father!”, some of you libs and pseudointellects are mewling as you clutch your pearls, “This is pure traddy fantasy fueled by years of bitter disappointment at not getting your way. Since 1963 a new springtime of vital renewal has been blowing through us – we are church, after all – and the fresh air is driving out the stale old incense and trappings of religion you cling to. You ignore the unquestionable fruits of the Council like… like…. ummmm…. It was greater than the Council of Jerusalem, though it didn’t go nearly far enough and … and… crush all opposition. You… youuuuuuu…. racist climate-change denying homophobic haters! YOU HATE VATICAN II!”
I esteem Vatican II enough not to lie about it.
We still to have a sober consideration of the long-term fruits of the Second Vatican Council. Half a century out, results have varied and they are not entirely in the positive column, to put it mildly.
One might say that Vatican II was hijacked and badly implemented. Thus, it would be unfair to say that the Council caused the massive wounds that were inflicted after the Council. Okay. Let’s grant that that is the case.
If that is the case, the fact that the Council was “hijackable” is itself a problem.
That would point to problems internal to the documents and not just to the force of the world’s current zeitgeist.
While we have to admit that just about anything can be twisted if enough force is exerted on it, it seems to be that the point of conciliar – or papal – documents is to bring greater clarity, to dispel ambiguity.
One way out of this nasty cul de sac is to put Vatican II into perspective.
Vatican II was not the Be All & End All of Ecumenical Councils.
Vatican II must be respected for what it was, but not blown into what it wasn’t… and what it wasn’t intended to be.
Let’s not lose perspective. Compared to Calcedon or to Trent, Vatican II just isn’t that important. We can and should read its documents respectfully and thoughtfully, but without losing our minds in either a hermeneutic of idolatry or of total suspicion.