Thursday, 11 October 2012

General Audience: Pope Benedict XVI reflects on Vatican II

The Vatican Information Services report of this Wednesday's general audience, including a full translation of the Holy Father's address can be found here: Audience: Pope's personal memories of Vatican II.

Once again Pope Benedict cited John Paul II:
Blessed John Paul II, on the threshold of the third millennium, wrote: "I feel more than ever in duty bound to point to the Council as the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century: there we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning" (Apostolic Letter. NMI, 57). I think this is telling. The documents of the Second Vatican Council, to which we must return freeing them from a mass of publications that often instead of making them known, have hidden them, are, for our time, a compass that allows the ship of the Church to set sail, in midst of storms or calm and quiet waters, to navigate safely and reach port.
No-one, be they traditionalist or liberal, should be in any doubt Pope Benedict's commitment in favour of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. The added italics in the citation above are mine, and the words emphasised are in my view a rather diplomatic way of saying that not everything that claims to speak for the Council actually does so! And the analogy of the ship quite clearly sees the documents of the Council, not just as a point of departure that can now be disregarded as some would have us believe, but as the guide to which we must still refer in order that the Church can reach her destination.

Pope Benedict also cites Pope Paul VI's homily at the final session of the Council. Pope Paul
 .. affirmed that in order to properly asses this event, and I quote, "it is necessary to remember the time in which it was realized. In fact, the Pope says, it took place at a time in which, everyone admits man is orientated toward the conquest of the kingdom of earth rather than of that of heaven; a time in which forgetfulness of God has become habitual, and seems, quite wrongly, to be prompted by the progress of science; a time in which the fundamental act of the human person, more conscious now of himself and of his liberty, tends to pronounce in favor of his own absolute autonomy, in emancipation from every transcendent law; a time in which secularism seems the legitimate consequence of modern thought and the highest wisdom in the temporal ordering of society;... it was at such a time as this that our council was held to the honor of God, in the name of Christ and under the impulse of the Spirit". Thus said Paul VI. He concluded by indicating in the question of God the central focus of the Council, that God, I quote again, that " He is real, He lives, a personal, provident God, infinitely good; and not only good in Himself, but also immeasurably good to us. He will be recognized as Our Creator, our truth, our happiness; so much so that the effort to look on Him, and to center our heart in Him which we call contemplation, is the highest, the most perfect act of the spirit, the act which even today can and must be at the apex of all human activity".
This last sentence gives a clear indication of the theme of Archbishop Rowan Williams address to the Synod of Bishops, an address that is very well worth reading and I think will become one of the Synod highlights.

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