Vatican II met for the first time in 1962. It set out to address the 'issues', 'concerns', of 1962. It did not ... pray forgive me for stating something so obvious ... get to work on what had been the needs of fifty years before: the year, say, of 1912.
So it did not deal with the Modernist Crisis or the question of the Papal States. Of course not. Vatican II is situated in the aftermath of two major wars which happened after 1912; in the period when Europe was just recovering its self-confidence after the disasters, (plural) holocausts, privations, of the period 1914-1945. It attempted to deal with the agenda of its own period: whatever else could it have done? Had it attempted to revisit and relive the controversies and talking-points, the problems and anguishes, of 1912, it would have been laughed out of court before it even began its deliberations. Both those who welcomed its convocation with exuberant joy, and most of those whose reaction was more guarded, would have combined in 1962 to describe the agenda of 1912 as a time-wasting irrelevance.
I again venture to test your patience with another statement of the obvious: I have pointed out that the world of 1962 was a very different world from that of 1912; that the Church of 1962 was a very different Church from that of 50 years before. And, in 2012, we shall be 50 years later than 1962. And I do not think that the changes, both in the World and in the Church, will have been any less significant in these fifty years than they were in the fifty years between 1912 and 1962.
Quite apart from minor details such as resurgent Islam, the Church now faces, at least in "the West", an aggressively secularised World. And this secularism is much more inimical than the secularism of the century after the French Revolution. That earlier secularism left largely intact certain ethical and social assumptions inherited from the Judaeo-Christian past. It has been well - and often - said that Western Society was living off the moral capital of its past. But the world of 1962 was a world which was on the cusp of passing from this sub-Christian culture to an aggressively Anti-Christian ideology. And Vatican II seems to have been totally unaware of this significant fact. Moreover, we were on the very edge of a precipice in matters of sexual ethics. The Pill was posing its questions; was presenting itself as a modest advance which, without even corrupting the structure of the sexual act in itself, would enable nice and responsible married people to Plan their Families in a convenient way. Of course we cannot blame the Council Fathers for not realising that in fact this was the beginning of an era in which the entire structure of sexual morality, as shared by Christians, adherents of most other major religions, and even the great bulk of the post-Christian citizens of Western Europe and North America, was about to become the victim of a lethal and very successful onslaught. The Fathers did not come to Rome equipped with crystal balls; I am not in the blame-game. But it remains a fact of history that they did not, in any of their teaching or any of their enactments, prepare the Church for the cultural onslaught which it was about to face. The Pill itself was relegated to a footnote explaining that this question was being left to the Holy See. Whether this happened because the Fathers lacked the courage to face the problem, or because the Roman Pontiff did not trust them to do so (I think each of those narratives could be made to stand up and run), the fact is that the Council gave no guidance.
And the Fathers had no inkling of the Paedophile Priest crisis. If one takes "Spirit of Vatican II" in its usual sense of something which, neither mandated nor envisaged by the Council, resulted from the fashions of the conciliar milieu (Benedict XVI has pointed out the plausibility of connecting it with the systems of relative and situational 'non-absolute' ethics taught at the time), then that crisis is very much actually a part of the Spirit of Vatican II.
And, as we know only too well, the next item on the Enemy's agenda was to be the confusion of the whole subject of gender. Questions of 'same-sex unions', and of the 'ordination' of women, are among the most obvious symptoms of this revolution. Again - and it is fact, not blame, that concerns me - the Second Vatican Council did absolutely nothing to prepare and to arm the Church for what lay ahead of her.