Monday, October 29, 2012

implementation of Vatican II

A few Catholic blogs have taken notice of the fifth paragraph from John Paul II's first Urbi et Orbi address (1978):
However, as the Council is not limited to the documents alone, neither is it completed by the ways [of] applying it which were devised in these post-conciliar years. Therefore we rightly consider that we are bound by the primary duty of most diligently furthering the implementation of the decrees and directive norms of that same Universal Synod. This indeed we shall do in a way that is at once prudent and stimulating. We shall strive, in particular, that first of all an appropriate mentality may flourish. Namely, it is necessary that, above all, outlooks must be at one with the Council so that in practice those things may be done that were ordered by it, and that those things which lie hidden in it or—as is usually said—are "implicit" may become explicit in the light of the experiments made since then and the demands of changing circumstances. Briefly, it is necessary that the fertile seeds which the Fathers of the Ecumenical Synod, nourished by the word of God, sowed in good ground (cf. Mt 13: 8, 23)—that is, the important teachings and pastoral deliberations should be brought to maturity in that way which is characteristic of movement and life.
Rorate Caeli interprets:
In this speech, the then-new Pontiff outlines his understanding of the proper way by which Vatican II should be interpreted and implemented. He speaks, on one hand, of the need to interpret the Council in the light of Tradition, and of the need for fidelity to the authority of the See of Peter. On the other hand he clearly speaks of the Council's proper legacy as something that goes beyond the documents themselves, involving the drawing out of many hidden things in the light of "experiments" and "changing circumstances." His thoughts are of great relevance to the debates of today, when some are insisting on a strict separation between Vatican II and its documents, and the nearly 5 decades of experimentation and radical change that came immediately after it. (emphasis mine)
I don't understand the writer's use of "on the other hand." According to my reading of the whole text, the Council "is not limited to the documents alone," according to John Paul II, in that it requires the "implementation of . . . decrees and directive norms." Far from implying that there are "hidden things" in the text of the Council that can be discovered only via "experimentation" (is there not a negative connotation to both "devised" and "as is usually said"?), John Paul II is pointing out that the proper and constant implementation of the Council is as much a part of the Council itself as are its documents. Furthermore, implementation is a kind of bringing-into-effect that, by the time of his writing, had already been happening (between 1966 and 1978) in a certain insufficient way with respect to those decrees and directive norms. How else to explain that other paragraph from the address quoted at Rorate Caeli:
Fidelity too implies the observance of the liturgical norms laid down by ecclesiastical Authority and therefore has nothing to do with the practice either of introducing innovations of one's own accord and without approval or of obstinately refusing to carry out what has been lawfully laid down and introduced into the sacred rites.
And how else to understand the need for an "appropriate mentality" and "outlook" to go along with the project of implementation? Rorate errs, in my opinion in adding "proper" to "legacy" here:
he clearly speaks of the Council's proper legacy as something that goes beyond the documents themselves, involving the drawing out of many hidden things in the light of "experiments" and "changing circumstances."
What is drawn out in the light of "experiments" and the circumstances that have surrounded their appearance is precisely the question of the propriety of the implementation of the "implicit" without the faithful carrying out of the explicit, that is, "what has been lawfully laid down and introduced into the sacred rites."


Bridgetta said...

Vatican II's Constitution on the Church says this in chapter three:
"Although the individual bishops do not enjoy the prerogative of infallibility, they nevertheless proclaim Christ's doctrine infallibly whenever, even though dispersed through the world, but still maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter, and authentically teaching matters of faith and morals, they are in agreement on one position as
definitively to be held. This is even
more clearly verified when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church, whose definitions must be adhered to with the submission of faith."

The 20 ecumenical councils before it are still infallible, like the ecumenical council of Trent that declared that Catholics with faith can lose salvation from unrepented mortal (grave) sin. And that baptism or the implicit desire of baptism is necessary for salvation.

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