21 September 2015

The Council: Essential Reading

Fact: the question of Vatican II is a more open topic than it had been for decades. That Council was described by pontiffs as a New Pentecost, and as More important than Nicea, but the stranglehold of the 1960s conciliar documents upon historical and theological research has, in the last few years, come to an end. Their hands have been prised away from our windpipes. The significant moment, of course, was when Cardinal Ratzinger (who had spoken in a relaxed way about the limitations of some the Council's Acta and had relativised it by writing about the shortcomings of a number of earlier Ecumenical Councils) became Pope and used his Magisterium to establish the principle of Reform within a Hermeneutic of Continuity. This initiated an era of free study and discourse such as had not existed since the 1960s, except behind the battlements of the SSPX.  

Books followed. A canon of S Peter's Basilica, Professor Mgr Brunero Gherardini, published Concilio Ecumenico Vaticano II: un discorso da fare 2009; it appeared in a rather stilted English translation by the Friars of the Immaculate as The Ecumenical Vatican Council II A much needed discussion (later in the same year, with a Forward by Cardinal Ranjith). The distinguished Church Historian Professor Roberto de Mattei published his magisterial account of the Council the following year: Il Concilio Vaticano II: Una storia mai scritta, which became available in a good English translation in 2012, The Second Vatican Council (an unwritten story). Essential reading for anyone who is serious about the problem of Vatican II! In 2011, a much slenderer, but highly significant, volume was produced by the doyen of English and Anglophone theologians, Dr Aidan Nichols OP. The complaints of supporters of the SSPX were courteously considered by Fr Aidan; and, in his gentle and unhysterical way, he spoke frankly about the Council's shortcomings; he even used the phrase "dereliction of duty" for the conduct of the Hierarchy since the Council (The Council in Question: A dialogue with Catholic Traditionalism).

Meanwhile, in Italy, Dr Serafino M Lanzetta, of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, was responsible for a succession of writings: including, in 2012, Iuxta modum: Il Vaticano II riletto alla luce della tradizione della Chiesa and in 2014 his doctoral thesis Il Vaticano II: un Concilio Pastorale: Ermeneutica delle doctrine Conciliari. Rumours, of course, spread that the persecution of the Friars and the suppression of their publishing house were not unrelated to its list of publications. I was not surprised when that astute fellow the Bishop of Portsmouth secured the services of this distinguished young theologian for his diocese: Fr Serafino, and a group of brothers and sisters, now work in a Gosport parish where, in precisely the style of the old Victorian Anglo-Catholic clergy houses and parish sisterhoods, they are conducting a personal visitation of every home in their parish. Goodness me, how upset everybody is at the Tablet, poor dear poppets. Rumour has it that Dr Lanzetta's books are to appear in English translations. Pronto!!

All this is but a prologos to my warm commendation of an important book I have just received. Mr H J A Sire, a professional historian who works in Rome, has just published (Angelico Press) his Phoenix from the Ashes: the Making, Unmaking, and Restoration of Catholic Tradition. I plan to share with you some of his insights. You will not regret getting a copy!


Mary Kay said...

I look forward to your comments, Father. It's an excellent book; I've been recommending it to friends on this side of the world. It is a history, of course, but it is a compelling read, hard to put down. I'm happy that you will read it.

Mary K. Jones

Marcus Josephus said...

Deo Gratias for the recommendation. Ordering the book now.

William Tighe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dicens said...

Vatican II As I Saw It
Letters, Journal, Diary and Papers of Lawrence Leslie McReavy
By Dom Cuthbert Johnson osb
“The McReavy archive at Ushaw is a precious resource for anyone who wants to know the Council, presenting an eyewitness account just as eye-witnesses are becoming something of an endangered species. It is the Council, literally, as he saw it.”