Forgetting Vatican II

3 12 2008


From Cosmos-Liturgy-Sex

We may, indeed, as a Church, need to turn again to this ancient council: and to the other Christological, Trinitarian, doctrinal councils of the early Church. We have, as Biffi suggests, lost our way. I would add that the archaizing tendency of many twentieth century Catholic theologians, including some of the heroes of John Paul II and Benedict XVI (Balthasar, Congar, de Lubac, etc.), following in the train of Protestant thought, has left us unsure of our heritage as Christians. The theological archaizers have, quite unintentionally, revived the doctrinal uncertainty of the early Church.

The Body of Christ today, in many minds, seems to be as malleable as it is presumed to have been, perhaps falsely, in the first four centuries. The old, bedrock certainties of modern scholastic theology, which in fact continued the patristic tradition quite faithfully, were cast aside by the post-war, conciliar theologians and popes, and we have been left trying to rebuild the edifice of the Church.

The texts of the Second Vatican Council provide little help in this regard. They do not speak directly and strongly enough to a Church that has become comfortable and accepting of heresy. They oftentimes seem to betray a misreading of modern culture. The task in our day is less one of showing how Vatican II exists in a spirit of continuity with earlier councils than of turning to the earlier councils themselves. We need to be reminded, as a Church, of how the heroes of the faith upheld the truth of Christ in the days of the first councils: at much personal cost and in the face of ostracism, banishment, and even imprisonment and death from within the precincts of the Church itself.