31 October 2014


Extracts from a three-part review which I published in August; all three parts now together. It seems to me that our present 'Between the Synods' era makes it very topical.

For those of us who do get a buzz out of history, The Second Vatican Council An Unwritten Story by Roberto de Mattei (Loreto Publications)  provides a read which is as gripping as it is erudite. Professor de Mattei has mastered a vast body of material and he weaves the results of his immense learning into a narrative which, more than any novel, keeps one turning the pages to discover what happens next. The only problem I can discern is that as bedside reading it is likely to make your wrist ache, even if you have acquired the paperback version. 598 pages; but, unlike many books, this one does not have large elegant empty spaces in order to set off its text (the bottom margin is only about eight millimetres); the whole thing is workmanlike and useful. Its usefulness is enhanced by the the fact that Professor Mattei makes no assertion for which he does not point you to the published evidence. For this reason alone ktema es aiei xugkeitai. The introductory matter includes good summaries of the State of the Question, just before the Council began, in matters ranging from Biblical to Liturgical studies. Footnotes give concise descriptions of the actors as they appear on the stage.

Mattei writes, he reminds us, as a historian rather than as a theologian. But, inevitably, history throws up its theological questions. A survey of the vota submitted by the Fathers when, before the Council, their views were sought, reveals preoccupations which failed to influence the Conciliar documents. One is the assumption that the Council would continue the very popular and triumphalist Mariology which, in the grim aftermath of the Second World War, kept up the spirits of bishops and flocks alike. The Definition of the dogma of the Universal Mediation of the Mother of God was confidently expected. Why did it not ....
See below.


Fr PJM said...

After reading it, one of my discoveries: the Council didn't cause *de novo* the current problems, but channeled them. The Church of the 50s, under Pope Pius XII, had its termites, ready to emerge,if given the chance. Which they were abundantly given, in the "medicine of mercy" times inaugurated by Pope John XXIII's opening discourse to the Council.

Woody said...

As always, Father, I eagerly await your thoughts on the conciliar proceedings as Prof. De Mattei recounts them. I came away from reading those parts with the unpleasant feeling that the sudden changes from non placet to placet in the voting evoked memories of the old Soviet Politburo all dutifully raising their hands to vote Da so as not be on the wrong side of the General Secretary. Which I suppose raises the question, which you have touched on before, if memory serves, about the real moral unanimity of the council fathers on certain texts. I await your judicious comments with much anticipation.

Jacobi said...

"anything new"

What about,

"after that short interval of 50 years, we will now resume with the next part, Vat III, in which we will sort out the mess, the confusion, the ambiguity, the liturgical shambles and the implicit, but not of course, explicit heresy, of Vat II".

thera has been ashort

rick allen said...

Father, at the risk of beating a dead horse, I would ask again, where does this idea arise that Vatican II contains no dogmatic teaching?

Of course not everything was so intended. Probably the vast majority of documents. But surely the following from Lumen Gentium states that it is intended to be taught and accepted de fide by all the faithful:

Ut vero Episcopatus ipse unus et indivisus esset, beatum Petrum ceteris Apostolis praeposuit in ipsoque instituit perpetuum ac visibile unitatis fidei et communionis principium et fundamentum. Quam doctrinam de institutione, perpetuitate, vi ac ratione sacri Primatus Romani Pontificis deque eius infallibili Magisterio, Sacra Synodus cunctis fidelibus firmiter credendam rursus proponit, et in eodem incepto pergens, doctrinam de Episcopis, successoribus Apostolorum, qui cum successore Petri, Christi Vicario ac totius Ecclesiae visibili Capite, domum Dei viventis regunt, coram omnibus profiteri et declarare constituit.

Sadie Vacantist said...

It's interesting that the post-war/pre-Council years are deemed "grim". This runs contrary to Prime Minister MacMillan's famous summary of the latter end of the period. A situation not unique to the UK with West Germany, France and Italy all enjoying economic success. Dominating affairs was the mighty dollar whose hegemony had been established at Bretton Woods. With the lone voice of dissent coming from France (plus cela change) who viewed this mechanism as nothing short of a protection racket (which frankly is exactly what it was). Looking closely, there are parallels between the dynamics of the secular World and those of the Council (was it ever thus?) and one day, a clever American will surely write a comparative history of the papacy of Paul VI (the early years) and the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson.