Saturday, November 15, 2014

What Went On at Vatican II?

As I recount in my book, a school of thought exists which interprets Vatican II as an “event,” i.e., that the Council canonized an overriding and ongoing dynamic process of change—overriding, that is, the specific provisions of conciliar constitutions and the contexts in which they were formulated, and ongoing in that this view mandates that conciliar texts must be re-interpreted today in the light of this dynamic: “What would the Council have said now,” etc. This elevation of process into a hyper-hermeneutic, however is foreign to the historical reality of Council itself. This following of a so-called “spirit of the Council” rather than its “letter” is a way of reading into the Council documents whatever one wishes regardless of what they in fact say. 


There remains at present a very widespread attitude in the life of the Church―not only in respect to the Sacred Liturgy―that “Vatican II changed all that.” This is the popular slogan that summaries what Benedict XVI called “a hermeneutic of rupture.” This is what the “spirit of the Council” meant at grass-roots level. My recommendation? There is no substitute for reading the Vatican II documents for themselves. I did, which inspired me to pen The Smoke of Satan in the Temple of God: The Church in the United States Since the Second Vatican Council.