In conclusion, as I finish my journey through the conceptual background of the Lake Garda Declaration, I return to a sensible little book on the Council by the Dominican polymath and theologian Fr Aidan Nichols (The Council in Question, 2011). I quoted it in earlier parts of this post; it has a characteristically down-to-earth Foreward by Cardinal Pell ( "When the reforms of Vatican II were imposed, unexpected consequences followed, especially when leaders were naive and optimistic, underestimating the virulence of hostile forces ..." Bull's eye, Eminence). This is what Fr Aidan has to say:
" ...the 'Declaration on Religious Freedom' occasions a genuine difficulty for orthodox Catholics ... it is not immediately apparent how to reconcile its acknowledgement of the traditional teaching about the Christendom State with its development of the teaching about the freedom of the act of faith. If we are unpersuaded of a difficulty here, we have only to look at its aftermath. Except among two groups, the period since the Second Vatican Council has witnessed a withdrawal from 'theo-politics' on the part of the hierarchy. Traditionalists and Liberation theologians, neither group popular with Rome, are the two constituencies that have most vocally supported a continuing appeal to civil society to recognise evangelical and Catholic truth not just in the private lives of individual citizens but also in its public institutions, which include, of course, society's own legal form, the State. Does the Declaration bear some responsibility for this dereliction of duty? I do not think we can wholly exculpate the fathers of the Council ... . ... publicly recognising divine revelation is an entailment of the Kingship of Christ on which, despite its difficulties in a post-Enlightenment society, we must not renege."
I will not dispute with extreme violence Fr Nichols' view that the withdrawal from theo-politics on the part of the hierarchy constituted a dereliction of duty. And even when he concludes with a final suggestion that "a truly excellent statement on this whole topic" by the Holy See and the SSPX could "renew the Christendom aspiration of the whole Church", I will only throw my hands up in moderate and distinctly attenuated shock and horror.