Monday, 24 October 2011

Year of Faith (3): The "Year of Faith" in relation to Vatican II

When he comments in Porta Fidei on Pope Paul VI's "Year of Faith", Pope Benedict XVI observes:
In some respects, my venerable predecessor saw this Year as a "consequence and a necessity of the postconciliar period", fully conscious of the grave difficulties of the time, especially with regard to the profession of the true faith and its correct interpretation.
In a similar way, Benedict XVI presents the "Year of Faith" that will commence in October 2012 in a strong relation to the Second Vatican Council. This relation is established in the choice of date for the commencement of the Year, and Pope Benedict quotes Blessed John Paul II to explain it further in Porta Fidei n.5:
It seemed to me that timing the launch of the Year of Faith to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council would provide a good opportunity to help people understand that the texts bequeathed by the Council Fathers, in the words of Blessed John Paul II, “have lost nothing of their value or brilliance. They need to be read correctly, to be widely known and taken to heart as important and normative texts of the Magisterium, within the Church's Tradition ... 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."
There can be no doubt about Pope Benedict's commitment to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, or to his belief in the value of the teaching of that Council for the life of the Catholic Church in our own times. Traditional Catholics who might want to read into the Papacy of Benedict XVI some form of retreat from or negating re-evaluation of the teaching of that Council need to take note of this.

Pope Benedict immediately continues, though, and with a footnote referencing his Address to the Roman Curia of December 2005, which contained his account of a "hermeneutic of continuity" with regard to the Second Vatican Council:
I would also like to emphasize strongly what I had occasion to say concerning the Council a few months after my election as Successor of Peter: “if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church.”
Can one read the petition coming from a Traditional Catholic background for a "more in-depth examination of the Second Vatican Council" in a way that is compatible with Pope Benedict's vision of the relation between the "Year of Faith" and the Second Vatican Council? As a headline, this petition looks like a challenge to the positive evaluation of that Council expressed in Porta Fidei (though we should note that the petition was published before the announcement of the "Year of Faith"). However, a reading of the text of the petition itself suggests that what it seeks is a detailed point-by-point working out of the "hermeneutic of continuity" and rebuttal of its contrary "hermeneutic of rupture" with regard to the Council. Whilst one might wish to express some caution with regard to the Church politics behind this petition, and to be careful not to promote it as a challenge to a positive evaluation of the teaching of the Council, its substantial content might well provide worthwhile points on which to deepen the Church's understanding of the content of the teaching of the Second Vatican Council during the "Year of Faith".

No comments: