29 May 2014

COUNCILS: a Missed Opportunity

Not every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis many of them have been just a waste of time. Joseph Ratzinger, 1987.

The missed opportunity to which I refer in my heading was the 700th anniversary, in 2011, of the Convocation of the Holy Ecumenical Council of Vienne. (Oh dear, what is the proper term for a 700th anniversary?)

This great event could have been celebrated throughout the Church; and, particularly, in her educational life. Pushy young clerics aiming to advance their careers by the acquisition of a JCD could have written dissertations on The Magisterial significance of the lost Decrees of the Council of Vienne. Seminarians could have been set essays on The Spirit of the Council of Vienne: a sure guide for the Church in her Third Millennium. Sixth Forms would have been enlightened by examination modules (taught by a collaboration between the Theology and Economics Departments) on Embezzlement: its theological basis and its practical implementation. In the Church's Primary Schools, where the education is less conceptual and more vivid, teaching materials from the Bishops' Conference education offices would have concentrated on How to burn your own Templar.

I feel an urge coming on to devote a few posts to Ecumenical Councils. They may probably be in the spirit of Joseph Ratzinger's wise words. Or of Gregory Dix? Or of John Henry Newman? No; of all three.


Little Black Sambo said...


Little Black Sambo said...


Patruus said...

OED spells it "septcentenary" and declines to recognize "septencentenary".

Likewise Wiktionary - http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/septcentenary

motuproprio said...

Surely, Father, the following decree of the Council of Vienne remains to be of great significance, not least in the field of bioethics. 'Moreover, with the approval of the said council, we reject as erroneous and contrary to the truth of the catholic faith every doctrine or proposition rashly asserting that the substance of the rational or intellectual soul is not of itself and essentially the form of the human body, or casting doubt on this matter. In order that all may know the truth of the faith in its purity and all error may be excluded, we define that anyone who presumes henceforth to assert defend or hold stubbornly that the rational or intellectual soul is not the form of the human body of itself and essentially, is to be considered a heretic.'
Also its insistence on the efficacy of infant baptism is surely of sme worth and significance?

Doodler said...


Jacobi said...

Yes, Councils have been often ineffective, a good example being the 5th Lateran Council which failed to deal with the growing dissent in the Church which led to the Protestant Reformation. That required another Council Trent, to sort it out.

Vatican 11 was an unnecessary Council called at the wrong time for the wrong reasons and provided the ideal opportunity for the present crisis in the Church which could probably be described as the Modernist Reformation. As with the last Reformation, it will require another Council, called this time for a specific reason, to sort things out.

rick allen said...

Just as bishops have both a power of governing and a power of teaching, so also councils of bishops sometimes address governance and sometimes address doctrine. So much of what many councils do is outside the realm of teaching, beginning as early as some of the canons of Nicea I.