Only a day after the Pope's grounding reflection on the 50th anniversary of the Council we find him also saying that just because a document from Rome is authoritative and a product of the ecumenical council does not mean it could not have been written better. This was a message last night when the Holy Father spoke about Nostra Aetate (The document which has been the main stumbling block for SSPX), which speaks of the Church's relation with Non-Christian Religions.
Many have championed this document as revising the Church's position toward non-Christian religions which are now to be viewed only favorably and Catholics are to only focus on building good will with other religions, not condemning their errors and trying to convert their adherents. (as summarized by USC)
“Thus, in a precise and extraordinarily dense document, a theme is opened up whose importance could not be foreseen at the time. The task that it involves and the efforts that are still necessary in order to distinguish, clarify and understand, are appearing ever more clearly. In the process of active reception, a weakness of this otherwise extraordinary text has gradually emerged: it speaks of religion solely in a positive way and it disregards the sick and distorted forms of religion which, from the historical and theological viewpoints, are of far-reaching importance; [because] for this reason the Christian faith, from the outset, adopted a critical stance towards religion, both internally and externally.”
“The Council Fathers neither could nor wished to create a new or different Church. They had neither the authority nor the mandate to do so. [This is huge. Even if they wanted to change the deposit of the faith, if they wanted to contradict doctrine of previous councils, they would not have the authority to do so.] It was only in their capacity as bishops that they were now Council Fathers with a vote and decision-making powers, that is to say, on the basis of the Sacrament and in the Church of the Sacrament. For this reason they neither could nor wished to create a different faith or a new Church, but rather to understand these more deeply [and present a different side, unfortunately excluding the previous side] and hence truly to “renew them”. This is why a hermeneutic of rupture is absurd and is contrary to the spirit and the will of the Council Fathers.”
If we place ourselves in harmony with the authentic approach which Blessed John XXIII wished to give to Vatican II, we will be able to realize it during this Year of Faith, following the same path of the Church as she continuously endeavours to deepen the deposit of faith entrusted to her by Christ. The Council Fathers wished to present the faith in a meaningful way; and if they opened themselves trustingly to dialogue with the modern world it is because they were certain of their faith, of the solid rock on which they stood. In the years following, however, many embraced uncritically the dominant mentality, placing in doubt the very foundations of the deposit of faith, which they sadly no longer felt able to accept as truths.
We now turn to the one who convoked the Second Vatican Council and inaugurated it: Blessed John XXIII. In his opening speech, he presented the principal purpose of the Council in this way: “What above all concerns the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be safeguarded and taught more effectively […] Therefore, the principal purpose of this Council is not the discussion of this or that doctrinal theme… a Council is not required for that… [but] this certain and immutable doctrine, which is to be faithfully respected, needs to be explored and presented in a way which responds to the needs of our time” (AAS 54 , 790,791-792).
“Fifty years ago tonight, I, too, was in this square, with my eyes turned toward this window, as the Good Pope, Pope John, spoke to us those unforgettable words – full of poetry, of goodness, words from his heart. We were all happy that night and full of enthusiasm – the great ecumenical council had begun, and we were sure of a new springtime for the church, a new Pentecost with a new presence of the liberating grace of the Gospel.
We're happy today, too – we should carry joy in our hearts. I would say, however, that our joy is a more sober one, something more humble. Over these fifty years, we have learned and experienced that original sin exists, and that it translates itself into personal sins which can become structures of sin. We have seen that even in the Lord's field there is discord, that even in the netof Peter we find bad fish, that human weakness is present even in the church, that the ship of the church journeys in the face of an opposing wind, amid storms that threaten the ship. And sometimes we have thought that 'the Lord is asleep and has forgotten us.' But this is only one partof the experience of these fifty years. We've also been made to experience the presence of the Lord, the gifts of his goodness and strength.”
Our joy is more sober indeed. Mass attendance has gone from 90% to 25% in the United States and 90% to 3% in France. We should look into that…
I believe this is the deeper reason Pope Benedict has called the year of faith. Here is the official reason: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/motu_proprio/documents/hf_ben-xvi_motu-proprio_20111011_porta-fidei_en.html
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