Benedict XVI censures “the mind of Second Vatican Council”
Christmas Address to the Roman Curia
Some Priests and friends asked us to make a comment on the address of the Pope Benedict XVI to the members of the Roman Curia, in the last December 22nd. Even though we do not have any canonical or theological authority for that, only with the purpose to meet those requests, and like humble faithful Catholics we dare to say some words about that very important address, although not ex-cathedra. We do it in spirit of cooperation, with our readers, in an attempt to help them in the elucidation of a theme so complex and aiming the defense of the faith.
For those who judge, very unduly, that is illicit to comment or make repairs in a pontifical address, we want to remember them herein of some exact words from the theologian Ratzinger that show this. If done with the due respect to the authority of the Successor of Peter and within the due limits is perfectly licit.
Wrote Ratzinger while he was still a Cardinal:
“On the other hand, it is possible and even necessary to criticize addresses from the Pope if they are not sufficiently based on Scriptures and in the Credo, that is, in the Faith of the UniversalChurch. Where there is neither the unanimity of the UniversalChurch nor the clear witness from the sources, also there cannot be a definition that obliges us to believe. Lacking the conditions, it is possible also to suspect from the legitimacy (of an address of the Pope)” (Joseph Ratzinger, Das Neue Volk Gottes - Enwürfe zur Ekkleseologie, Düsseldorf: Patmos-Verlag, 1969, brás. translation. by Clemente Raphael Mahl: “O Novo Povo de Deus , São Paulo: Paulinas, 1974, p. 140. Bold emphasis is mine).
By the way we want to have in mind that this quotation from Ratzinger, when he was only an theologian, authorizes us to formulate the critics we do to the Vatican II.
If we have certain amendments to some arguments from Benedict XVI in the address in focus, we want to emphasize that we do it with the major respect by the authority and the person of Benedict XVI, The Pope of Hope.
Certainly, The Pope of Hope. Of our personal hope, for the seven popes under which we have lived none of them gave us hope greater than the Pope Ratzinger, for what he has said and for what was told by Dom Bosco and Our Lady in Fatima concerning a pope who would accomplish a return. Of course we may be mistaken in our expectations and in our hopefully opinion regarding Benedict XVI. But nowadays too many share this hope. We are not alone.
If we are mistaken, we will have made a mistake concerning the Pope and not concerning the hope. Because it is sure that, after a tragic crisis in which a Pope will be shot, the Church will have a great triumph over the crisis created by the Modernism that has reached its culmination with the Vatican II, crisis that for now displays the major ruins in the history of the Church, exactly on account of the Vatican II and from its many interpretations.
Benedict XVI seems to us to be the Pope of Hope, not only particularly for us but also for the whole Catholic world. Since Pius X there has never been a Pope from whom it was waited with so expectation and hope what he would do.
What will do Benedict XVI to heal the sores of the current Clergy? What will do Benedict XVI to put an end to the liturgical anarchy set in all over? What will do Benedict XVI to correct what so ambiguously said the Vatican II?
Forty years later of the Vatican II, the crisis raised by the pastoral Council still remains and darken even more the horizons of the Church. There had never been a so serious crisis like the one we are living in the history of the church. Neither the Aryanism crisis, nor the Great Schism, nor Protestant Reformation was so serious. Whereas in the Aryanism crisis the whole world waked up and saw itself Arian today very few wake-up and those who wake-up do not realize they are modernist heretic or if so they become happy for being.
Even Paul VI had considered that instead of a beauty springtime so long waited, the Vatican II brought storm and confusion. Paul VI spoke of a mysterious auto-destruction of the Church and of the smoke of the Satan that entered into the Church.
If even the optimistic Paul VI, one of the greatest responsible for the anthropocentric crisis of the CounciliarChurch recognized its disaster, how is it possible there be whom denies the crisis caused by the Council?
They are blind at the noon.
And even today, there are discussions about what said this Council.
It was about this discussion what Benedict XVI treated in his address to the Roman Curia.
After all, the theologian Joseph Ratzinger was one of the experts in the Vatican II, and was the experts, the theologians, and not the Bishops who managedthe Council.
But, after all, what taught this Pastoral Council?
How did it teach?
With which authority did it teach?
Most of the evil from the Vatican II came from its ambiguity that allows many interpretations of its texts. The Church has always condemned the tactics from heretics of seeking to introduce mistakes under the appearance of truth through ambiguous formulas. It was what taught the Pope Pius VI on condemning the Synod of Pistoia.
"They [ the Popes our predecessors, the Bishops, and certain Councils in General ] knew very well the malicious art proper of the innovators, which, fearing to offend the ears of the Catholics, struggle for hiding under fraudulent games of words the loops of their astuteness, with the purpose that the error, hidden between meaning and meaning (Saint Leo the Great Letter 129 of the Baller edition), insinuates more easily into the spirits and happens that - modified the truth of the sentence by means of a shortest addition or deviation - the testimony that was supposed to give the salvation, in consequence of a subtle modification, leads to the death.
If this undesirable and fallacious way to discourse is vicious in rhetoric manifestation, in no way must be practiced in a Synod, whose first merit must consist in adopting in the education an expression in such a way so clear and limpid that does not allow chances to the danger of controversies.
However, if speaking is deceptive, we cannot admit that deceptive defense that is used to lead and for which, when it has been said some excessively hard expression, it finds the very one explained more clearly in another passage, or even corrected, as if this uncontrolled license to affirm and to deny at will, that always was a fraudulent astuteness of the innovators as a coverage for the error, did not have to be valid firstly to denounce the error more than for justifying: as if particularly unprepared people accidentally on confronting this or that part of a Synod displayed to all in vulgar language, the other passages were always present to be confronted, and when comparing them each one counted with such preparation to lead themselves to such a point to prevent any danger of deceit that they mistakenly spread out.
It is pretty harmful this ability to insinuate the error that our Predecessor Celestine (Saint Celestine, Letter 13, n. 2, in Coust) found it out in the letters of the Bishop Nestorian from Constantinople and condemned with severe appeals. The deceiver, discovered, reprehended and attained by such letters, with his incoherent loquacious involved the truth with the obscure and confusing a thing again with another one, confessed what he had denied or he struggled in denying what he had confessed. “Against such insidiousness, nevertheless renewed at all times, it was not placed better work in action than that of displaying the sentences that under the veil of the ambiguity involves a dangerous discrepancy of meanings, designating the perverse meant under which finds the error that the Catholic Doctrine condemns.”(Pius VI, Bula Auctorem Fidei, August 29, 1794).
It was exactly this tactic used by the modernist experts of the Second Vatican Council so that Schillebeecks would have confessed: “The condemnation of the ambiguity especially in Magisterium documents made by Pius VI condemns Vatican II. Because the Vatican II was pretty ambiguous.”
It is under discussion what Vatican II has taught. It is under discussion how it has taught. It is under discussion whether it taught dogmatically or pastorally. And the ambiguous term “pastoral” that characterized the Council was, according to the unsuspicious Rene Laurentin, the trojan horse that introduced inside the fortification of the Church the errors of the Modernism, under the veil of the ambiguity.
Tergiversate about the fruits of the Vatican II, the ten of thousands of apostasies in the Clergy, the spread out of heresies at full hands in the Church, as reminded John Paul II, the liturgical anarchy recorded by then Cardinal Ratzinger, the destruction of the Catholic Teaching, the crisis of vocations etc. Many and very serious etc
And in the middle of the profound moral crisis that shakes the after-Council Clergy, a Priest told us another day that never has been so many saints in the world.
There has never been, in fact, too many confusion.
They are blinds at the noon.
Nevertheless, in the deepest, everybody is dissatisfied with this Council that instead of condemning the world, which continues “placed in the malign”, sought to adapt the Church to it.
That was a capitulation.
Is it to be surprised then that the evil has made its smoke to enter into the Temple of God?
The most radical modernists – those who support the “spirit of the Council” – are so unhappy with the outcome of Vatican II that they now say “Goodbye Vatican II” (According to Father Jose Maria Vigo, By-by Vatican II, in the Vatican II, 40 Years Later, Paulus, São Paulo, 2.005, pp.89-92)
At the other end of the theological arch, the so-called traditionalists blame the Vatican II for having broken with the ancient doctrine of the Church. The supporters of the “letter of the Vatican II” struggle between these two positions, seeking to harmonize, almost dialectically and with no success, the New Theology of the Council with the ancient doctrine. Aiming to prove that the Vatican II did not break with the past but it is a perpetuation of it by adapting the doctrine to the current real circumstances. Few convince themselves of this harmonization defended even by the Pope Benedict XVI. From therethe strong opposition the Clergy, from left wing mainly, in general, present to him.
It was about this deep and complex issue, and how he intends to solve it, that Benedict XVI treated in his address of Christmas greetings to the Roman Curia.
It is a tradition on Christmas Eve, the members of the Roman Curia pay a visit to the Pope in order to greet and whish him the Christmas graces what is reciprocated by the Pope with a protocolar address.
An address from the Pope, even protocolar, always has a great importance and weight, even though it is not an ex-cathedra pronouncement.
This address of Benedict XVI acquired more importance than usual, for the theme treated and for having been like an exposition of the direction the new Pope intends to follow in his pontificate.
In his address, Benedict XVI made a review of the main facts of the year 2005, quoting and commenting briefly the following points:
1- Illness and death of Pope John Paul II
2- World Youth Day celebrated in Cologne
3- Year of the Eucharist and the Synod of Bishops
4- The forty years of the Council Vatican II
5- His election to the Holy Pontificate.
Evidently, the main and most widely treated issue in that address was the Vatican II, the current situation of the Church, how Benedict XVI sees the current problems of the Church and how he intends to solve them. Therefore, in that address, the Pope Benedict XVI expressed somehow his policy.
Let´ see then how Benedict XVI analyses the situation created by the Vatican II, in which he was an expert well known.
The many positions on the Vatican II according to Benedict XVI
Benedict XVI analyses basically two positions on the Vatican II by setting apart the position of the Council opponents – the so-called Traditionalists – that we will join to the picture with the purpose of making it more complete.
Benedict XVI asks:
“Why has the implementation of the Council, in most parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult?”
For now it is an important point the Pope recognize that this pastoral Council, so favored by the marketing, so worshipped by the Clergy, continues being badly accepted. And even more grows the opposition to it, slowly the Catholics become aware that everything goes very badly in the Church on account of that Council.
The Vatican II, with its ambiguity, with its delusional ecumenism of union purely material, that does not join anybody and tear apart everybody, with its optimistic pacifism, with its new Show-Mass with buckets of holy water being silly thrown over the people, or with the sorcery Mass in Bahia; the Vatican II from Fathers or pseudo mystics, or fops, or agitators, left the believers frustrated. And the thirsty of the truth has been growing for it is hardly quenched with the hollow and demagogic lectures. And even less by the Fraternity Campaigns, or by wordy and hollow announcements from Episcopal Conferences, announcement nobody reads and nobody believes.
Benedict XVI considers that the Vatican II is still badly accepted because it is misunderstood.
“The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarreled with each other. One caused confusion, the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit.” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2005)
The bad interpretation given to the text of the Vatican II would be the responsible for all difficulties of understanding of the Vatican II.
If The Vatican II had spoken clearly, it would not need to be interpreted. In it nothing is said clearly for this the confusion.
By this way, the discussion about what said in fact the Vatican II – discussion that up to recently was restricted to theologians and bishops, - has reached this time the mouth of the Pope. The crisis of the Vatican II has reached now not only the internal fights in the Roman Curia but also the Pope’s mind.
After all what did the Vatican II say?
Benedict XVI recognizes that the entire problem with the Vatican II is in its interpretation, in its “hermeneutic”, i.e., because it is subject of being read of many ways. Well, this acknowledge by a Pope is extremely important for so it was admitted that the Vatican II was not clear, once in claris non fit interpretatio.
And what is not clearly taught by the Church cannot claim to itself the infallible character. In what is not clear, there is no obligation of assenting from part of the believers with Divine and Catholic faith. Therefore, the Vatican II was not neither an Infallible nor Dogmatic Council.
And if it has the possibility of being interpreted of many ways, it would be necessary to define which the correct interpretation is.
But then, the interpretation that is supposed to be interpreted?
Or would its interpretation be infallible?
Or we would have several re-interpretations of the interpretation?
It was the harm practiced by the Popes of the Council the one of not willing to speak ex-cathedra.
The harm came from the use of the ambiguous language condemned by Pius VI.
Why did they retain the infallible Word of God?
Verbum Dei not est aligatum.
Benedict XVI said there were two hermeneutics or two interpretations of the Council that came face to face and quarreled one with each other.
1st reading of the Vatican II: “Spirit of the Council”
Benedict XVI calls this way of interpretation of the Vatican II of “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture"
According to Benedict XVI, “The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-counciliarChurch and the post-counciliar Church”. (Benedict XVI, Addess cited)
That is an accusation very serious with possibility of heresy and schism.
The followers of the “hermeneutic of discontinuity” go farther: they defend that there was a split with the doctrine of the past of the Church and many of their leaders want formally the split with the ancient Church.
Would they intend however – and many times they say – to found a new church with a new theology, a new moral and a new liturgy, etc…?
For the followers of the “spirit of the Council”, we say, the Vatican II was the starting point of a great transformation.
Actually, many leader members of this opinion – as in the book already cited signed by Cardinal Aloísio Lorscheider, or in the book Vatican II – Analysis and Perpectives by Father Paulo Sergio Lopes Gonçalves, Sister Vera Ivanice Bombonato et allii,(Paulinas, São Paulo, 2.004) affirm clearly that the Council, in fact, split with the ancient Church. And they express themselves wishful of a definitive split. That was the reading of “a part” of the “modern theology”. (Actually of the heretic modernist theology)
The Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that this position also had the support of the mass media… (And why did the mass media support this position? Should the mass media have theological positions? Or who is behind the mass media is whom that has theological interests? Which is the religion of the mass media?). Will be that the mass media supports the Vatican II because it intended to make the synthesis between the Catholicism and the Masonic illuminism?
Yes, synthesis with Masonic illuminism... therefore the Pope John Paul II himself recognized this when writing on his last book released shortly before his death:
“In the documents of the Vatican II we can find a suggestive synthesis of the relation between Christianity and illuminism”.(John Paul II, Memory and Identity, Edit. Objetiva, Rio de Janeiro, 2.005, pg.126)
How to accept this synthesis of Catholicism with Illuminism?
This synthesis is an acceptance of the Masonic illuminism condemned by Catholic doctrine.
For Benedict XVI it was this hermeneutic of discontinuity what caused the confusion with respect to Vatican II.
Well, when a text is not clear and raises many interpretations, the root cause of the confusion is not provoked by the many wings that debate which is the true reading of the text, and actually by the very ambiguous text that incited these many wings and interpretations.
They should have pointed out the text of the Vatican II itself as the real responsible for the religious confusion nowadays.
In claris, non fit interpretatio!
In claris, non est controversia!
Indirectly then Benedict XVI on admitting in a pontifical address that there were two interpretations of the Vatican II, implicitly he made clear that the fault of all confusion was the text of the Vatican II itself, written on purpose in an ambiguous way as recognized another “expert” of the Council, the modernist Schillebeeckx.
If the followers of the letter of the Vatican II accuse the followers of the spirit of the Vatican II for the current confusion, they should say they were deceived by the writers of the Council, that were deluded by ambiguous texts of the Council and they should refuse these deceiver texts.
We are not the only ones who accuse the text of the Vatican II itself. Abbé Tinotti, commenting this address of Benedict XVI, wrote, he too, showing that the fault of a bad reading comes from the ambiguousity of the text of the Vatican II itself.
“if the bad interpretation that depicts itself as the one of the “spirit” of the Council eventually against the proper official “text”, can appropriate of the texts to the extent of almost disqualify its good reading, it is that these very texts opened seriously the flank to those readings, it is that in part they concealed such ambiguities those readings could take them over with impunity. On the contrary those readings would have been soon abandoned instead of being established” (Abbé Charles Tinotti, issued by Abbé Aulagnier, in Regard sur le Monde, N* 74, Jan 17, 2006).
Benedict XVI reminds us that this reading of the discontinuity brings the danger of causing a real split between the Post-CounciliarChurch and the Pre-CounciliarChurch.
Does this bring the danger of a split?
No, It doesn’t.
The split already exists. In fact this real split has already happened and since long ago.
The first split happened – and it was scandalous – through the texts of the Second Vatican Council. After that came the split of the New Mass in 1969. And there was the split between the ones that followed the spirit and the others of the letter of the Second Vatican Council. Next it was the split of the Lefrevists and so forth…
Everything and all in the Post-Counciliar church are apart. There are not two parishes with the same Mass. Almost there are not two Fathers with the same theology.
It is noticeable today in the Church the multiplication of silent schisms and flagrant heresies. It was the Pope John Paul II himself who said and it is enough to see the disobedience of the papal decrees to realize that. In most of the parishes and dioceses nearly we did not recognize the Church as she always was. It seems like a new religion. In many parishes the Church seems to be disfigured for in her it was established a kind of Pentecostal Protestant Little Church or a cell of the Communist Party with the name of Base Ecclesiastic Community.
Everything is believed in these churches. Except in the Credo.
2nd Reading of the Vatican II: “the letter of the Council” or “the hermeneutic of the reformation”
In his address to the Roman Curia, Benedict XVI considers that this would be the fair and correct reading of the Vatican II, the one that intends to make a “continuous renovation” with respect to the previous doctrine of the Church.
This second hermeneutic does not admit that there is a split between the letter of the Vatican II and the previous doctrine. At most it accepts there is only at first glance an apparent discontinuity but that deeply analyzed the texts it would prove the doctrinal continuity with the ancient Church.
Benedict XVI said:
“These are all subjects of great importance - they were the great themes of the second part of the Council - on which it is not possible to reflect more broadly in this context. Of course that in all these sectors, which all together form a single problem, some kind of discontinuity might emerge. Indeed, a discontinuity had been revealed but in which, after the various distinctions between concrete historical situations and their requirements had been made, the continuity of principles proved not to have been abandoned. It is easy to miss this fact at a first glance. It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists.” (Benedict XVI, Address to Roman Curia on Dec 22, 2005. Bold emphasis is mine)
Benedict XVI admits then that “at a first glance” the letter of the Vatican II gives the wish to judge that in fact there was a split with the doctrine of the ancient Church.
And this acknowledgment is very important
They say that, in the Vatican II, the ancient doctrine would have been expressed in a new language, in accordance with the modern thinking and adapting it to the new historic circumstances, with no split of continuity in the principles.
But Benedict XVI, in this same address, recognizes there was not only an adaptation of the doctrine in its application to the concrete circumstances. He recognizes there was changes in doctrinarian matters, since he speaks of “…relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought”
“The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity.” (Benedict XVI Address to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2005. Bold emphasis is mine)
A “new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought” is a doctrinarian matter and not simply of concrete application of principles.
It happens the modern thinking is imanentist and anthropocentric.
In order to establish his statement above, Benedict XVI cites words of John XXII in the act of opening of the Vatican II saying that the Council "wants to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion". “Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us...” “It is necessary that "adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness..." be presented in "faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another...”, “retaining the same meaning and message” (The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., p. 715).
Well, it is enough to verify the texts of the Council, to analyze its debates and verify its results to certify that the first part of what said John XXIII in that quotation has never been respected: the Vatican II concerned itself in pleasing the world - so that it refused to condemn the communism – in adapt the Catholic Doctrine to the world and never in guarding the deposit of faith.
And the final thesis of the Pope Jonh XXIII´s address was the old proposal of Modernist doctrine, of abandoning the formula of true faith in a scholastic manner, to adopt the terminology adapted to our times, i.e. of the Modern Philosophy, anti-scholastic, anti-metaphysic, evolutionist and immanentist, therefore relativistic. And to make evolve the dogma, thanks to a new modern formulation and that is what wanted the Modernism.
And this is what defends the followers of the “spirit of the Council”
It was the inaccurate terminology, ambiguous from Modern Philosophy, adopted by the Vatican II that caused the different interpretations, inclusive the heretic interpretations, assumed with no shame by the most advanced modernist wing, the one of the “spirit of the Council”. It was the adoption of the so-called Modern Philosophy that allowed the smoke of Satan to enter into the Temple of God. While this modern philosophy and terminology are not banned by the return to the Thomist philosophy and terminology, there will not be peace in the Church but only confusion and heresies.
It opportune to observe that being the Vatican II a Council of the Church, it is usual that many guided by the good faith, try to harmonize it with the ancient doctrine of the Church. But, among these “harmonizers” against the split, it is necessary to distinguish also two groups of people:
a- The harmonizers of good faith – that there might be
b- The defenders of the “half-heresy”, that seek to save what is possible from Modernism in the Vatican II
In the history of the Church, whenever a heresy was defeated, it raised a half-heresy of a more moderate position in an attempt to save what was possible of the wide-openheresy.
It was what did the Half-Aryanism, the Half-Pelagianism, the Christian Cabalism, the Catholic Liberalism, the Christian Socialism etc. But it is evident that this classification of half-heresy is only historical to characterize these tactics moves of the heretics to defend the more moderate heresy.
And to harmonize the two doctrines – the ancient Catholic doctrine with the Counciliar doctrine – the followers of the “letter of the Council” say that is necessary “to read the Council under the light of the Tradition”. And saying that, they confess that the Vatican II is obscure and ambiguous for only what is obscure has need of light and only what is ambiguous allows many interpretations, for “in claris non fit interpretatio”. And concerning what is not clear and is ambiguous there is no obligation of being believed with divine and Catholic faith.
Actually, what do the followers of these second wing, the hermeneutic of the continuity one – which is the one proposed by Benedict XVI in that address – is to try to adapt the ancient doctrine to the letter of the Vatican II.
And Benedict XVI hesitates...
But recently, on receiving the submission of Abbé de Tanoüarn, an egressed from the Saint Pius X Sacerdotal Fraternity, he accepted his proposal of another interpretation of the Vatican II: the one that proposes a “tradi-ecumenism”, trying to create another possible acceptance of the Council (Interview of Abbé de Tanouarn to Jeanne Smits andivier Figueiras in Dieu Premier Servi, Présent, on December 31, 2005).
To harmonize the Vatican II with the ancient doctrine – an impossible task – is what tries, with great effort, Benedict XVI himself with the freedom of creed, freedom that the Catholic Church always condemned and that the Vatican II defended, as well as with the opening to the modernism, condemned by Syllabus but defended and promoted by Gaudium et Spes. So that the Cardinal Ratzinger called the Gaudium et Spes of Anti-Syllabus recognizing then formally the split of that document with the doctrine of the Church before the Vatican II (Cfr. Cardeal Joseph Ratzinger, Teoria de los.Princípios Teológicos, Herder, Barcelona, 1985, p. 454).
Ratzinger, when theologian, in principle had adhered to the line of “spirit of the Council” and had defended the thesis that there had been truly a split between the Vatican II and the doctrine the Church had always taught.
“What is the spirituality line of the Second Vatican Council and what is its situation before the history of the other councils? Will it be that the last Council tends to secularization or to spiritualization of the Church? Will it mean the last Council a split, a revolution or a continuation? If it is confronted with certain tendencies from century XIX and from the first half of the century XX, the Council marks with no doubt a split and an improvement very great” (Father Joseph Ratzinger, Das Neue Volk Gottes – Enwürfe zur Ekkleseologie, Patmos-Verlag, Düsseldorf, 1969, brasilian translation by Clemente Raphael Mahl: “O Novo Povo de Deus” , São Paulo, Paulinas, 1974, p. 278, bold emphasis is mine).
In order to not leave doubts that when Ratzinger told of “certain trends of century XIX and of the first half of century XX”, the reference was clearly to the Syllabus, to the encyclical Pascendi and to the Lamentabili Decree, which respectively condemned the Liberalism and the Modernism. See what wrote Ratzinger, shortly before, on the same book.
“In order to be more objective in the analysis of the disagreements from ancient times, that cast a shadow on the nowadays Church, we should not consider only the facts from antiquity and Middle Age, but it is mister we refer also to other facts now very next to us and that seem to us real disagreements. We could cite, for example, the Christian reaction manifested in the century XIX and beginnings of century XX in the Syllabus of Pius IX and in the pontificate of Pius X” (Joseph Ratzinger, Das Neue Volk Gottes – Enwürfe zur Ekkleseologie, Patmos-Verlag, Düsseldorf, 1969, brasilian translation by Clemente Raphael Mahl: O Novo Povo de Deus, São Paulo, Paulinas, 1974, p. 257. Bold emphasis is mine).
What raises, besides, a great perplexity but if it is licit to accuse the Syllabus and refuse the condemnation of the Modernism by the Pascendi, which many theologians judge infallible documents, accusing these documents of “disagreement” why should not we make the same with the Vatican II that is merely pastoral?
And that there is not be pharisaic scandalous against us for criticize directly the Vatican II but this Council was not infallible and it did not bring in any dogma.
Ratzinger himself recognized that the Vatican II did not bring in any dogma.
In the Council Vatican II, Ratzinger said: “there is no dogma, not even in the proposition about the sacramental character of the episcopate. Remains, therefore, to give a positive explanation, i.e., what level of certainty introduced the texts proclaimed? This question is not answered unequivocally, not even with the words of the theological commission”. (Id. Ibid., p. 190. Bold emphasis is mine)
Therefore, Ratzinger claims that the Vatican II did not introduce any dogma and not even established the level of certainty of what it taught pastorally.
Therefore: in dubiis, libertas!
None of Catholics are obliged to accept the ambiguous doctrine of the Vatican II as being of divine and Catholic faith.
Therefore it is not exact to say that the second hermeneutic cited by Benedict XVI denies completely that there had been the split of the Council with the doctrine of the Church. A certain split it admits that had existed. And Benedict XVI admits that at first glance we can think it might have been a split.
Henceforth, the two hermeneutic sections of thinkers cited by Benedict XVI admit the split: the former more ostensive; the latter less and too much against the will.
The Pope does not refer to the Catholic sections of thinkers – among them the called Traditionalist, mainly the Saint Pius X Sacerdotal Fraternity. But there are others – that always refused the Vatican II, exactly on account of its ambiguous language that allows a heretic interpretation and split with the doctrine always taught by the Catholic Church.
Nevertheless, the theologian Ratzinger himself had written that is necessary to consider and respect those who got scandalized by the Vatican II and reject it.
For the others, the Council Vatican II caused a great scandal on giving way to the perverted world. They regret for the fact of the Council have provoked truly crisis and have discussed things that for them were absolutely right (…) having before themselves this example (the one of Saint Theresa of Avila which conversion repelled her to the opening to the world of her convent “aggiornatto”) – the most conservatives ask themselves: did not the Council followed a path completely opposite and that only could lead to a diversified goal rather than the conversion? “None of these doubts, from any section of thinkers they proceed must be dismissed. It is necessary to be too much comprehension with respect to the critics about the Council”. (Joseph Ratzinger, Das Neue Volk Gottes - Enwürfe zur Ekkleseologie, Düsseldorf: Patmos-Verlag, 1969, transl. br. by Clemente Raphael Mahl: O Novo Povo de Deus , São Paulo: Paulinas, 1974, p. 282. Bold emphasis is mine)
The table below expresses these three positions in face to the Vatican II
1st reading: Followers of “spirit of the Council”
2nd Reading: Followers of the “Letter of the Council”
3rd Reading: Opponents of the Council.
Radical Modernists followers of the hermeneutic of the discontinuity
Moderate Modernists, followers of the hermeneutic of the continuity
Line of the so-called Traditionalists and similar
They affirm that the Vatican II made a split with the ancient Catholic Church and want this split
They affirm that, in fact, at certain points, the Vatican II gives the first impression of a sort of split but only apparently it split with the ancient doctrine. They recognize that it made a new formulation of the relationship between the faith and the modern thinking. It formulated it only in terms of the modern philosophy and due to the new modern historical circumstances
The Vatican II split with the ancient Catholic Church and they want to cancel the Vatican II
The Vatican II was only a starting point to the greater and total split with the Catholic Church. Initial position of the Counciliar expert Cardinal Ratzinger
The Vatican II was an ultimate point of a theological evolution. Current position of the Pope Benedict XVI
The Vatican II split with the ancient Catholic Church and they want to cancel the Vatican II
Through this picture we can clearly see that the three sections of thinkers agree that the position of the “spirit of the Council” either, it split the continuity with the Catholic Church, with the essence of the pré-Counciliar doctrine, or it takes the chance to split.
These two radical sections of thinkers criticize the “hermeneutic of the continuity”, by judging it incoherent and hollow or even dialectic.
And it is opportune to register since now that, taking into account the elements of this picture, while Benedict XVI talks to the traditionalists of FSSPX, he condemns the followers of the “spirit of the Council” as authors of its bad acceptance.
The decision is from Benedict XVI but the attraction pole is the Saint Pius X Fraternity. The attraction pole is the ancient Mass and not the New Mass of Paul VI, expression more known of the Vatican II
The Pope Benedict XVI defending as fair and correct the “hermeneutic of the letter of the Council or of the reformation” admitted that, at least implicitly, in his address in focus:
1- in fact, to harmonize the letter of the Vatican II with the ancient Catholic doctrine it is necessary a hermeneutic. Therefore, at first glance, this is not easy. And he really recognized that at first glance it seems to have been a split with the ancient doctrine.
This harmony between the letter o the Vatican II and the pre-Counciliar doctrine is difficult to see. The evidence of this was the huge work that had recently the Father Becker to reduce the “subsistit in ao est” into the formula “The Church of Christ is the Catholic Church”.
2- Benedict XVI admitted the Pope Paul VI himself, in his address of closing “pointed out a further specific reason why a hermeneutic of discontinuity can seem convincing.” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia Dec 22, 2005). Benedict XVI shows then that the expression “world of today”, used by Paul VI was little precise but it would have been more exact to say of the relationship of the “Church with the Modern Age”.
This way, Benedict XVI admitted that the hermeneutic of the discontinuity had at least some appearance of foundation.
Actually however it is impossible to admit that there is continuity between the condemnation of the Modernism made by Syllabus and the opening of the Vatican II to the Modernism.
The Syllabus condemned the following thesis:
“The Roman Pontiff can and must reconcile himself and compromise with the progress, with the Liberalism and with the modern civilization” (Pius IX, Syllabus, mistake nr. 80)
And the Vatican II accepted the Modernism, i.e., the anthropocentrism, the worship of the Man as confessed Paul VI in his address of closingof the Vatican II.
There is a clear discontinuity between these two positions.
There is contradiction between them.
Because the Modernism is not the computer and the bubble gum, the TV set and the automobile. The modernism is the Anthropocentrism. The Modernism is the Humanism that makes the Man center of everything, beginning and ending of all things, the Alfa and the Omega, placing the Man in the place of Christ. What makes the Man like God to whom it is supposed to worship. The Modernism is the attempt of replacing the City of God with the City of Man.
The Church always worshiped God alone.
But Paul VI following the spirit of the Vatican II declared: “We also have the worship of the Man” (Paul VI, Address of Closing the Council Vatican II on Dec 7, 1965)
It becomes impossible then to deny that there was in fact a discontinuity between the pré-CounciliarChurch – that condemned the Modernism – and the Vatican II, open to the Modernism.
3- Benedict XVI admits still in his address to the Curia, address that we focus on it, that in the century XIX, the church condemned the radical Liberalism. And he said: “The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity.” (Benedict XVI, address cited. Bold emphasis is mine).
Well this “apparent discontinuity” admitted by the Pope Benedict XVI, between the doctrine of the Church promulgated in the century XIX by the Syllabus of Pius IX against the Liberalism and the Modernism was “corrected” by the Vatican II. And we correct only what is wrong or what is not perfectly right. Previously it was said by the Cardinal Ratzinger that the positions of the Syllabus against the Modernism and the one of the Vatican II in face to the Modernism are opposed but as we already have seen he wrote in 1985:
“If one is looking for a global diagnosis of the text [of Gaudium et spes], one could say that it (along with the texts on religious liberty and worldwide religions) is a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of Anti-Syllabus ....”(Cardinal Joseph Ratizinger, Les Principes de la Theologie Catholique - Esquisse et Materiaux, Paris: Tequi, 1982, pp. 426-427)
In 1985 then the Cardinal Ratzinger admitted that there was a discontinuity between the Vatican II and the pre-CounciliarChurch. And now, as Pope Benedict XVI he still admits that the Vatican II corrected the doctrine taught by Pius IX in the century XIX and that it make a new definition of the relationship between Faith of the Church and certain essential elements of the modern thinking.
Therefore, there was some doctrinal discontinuity between the Syllabus and the Vatican II and Benedict XVI admits that.
4- another acknowledgement of change related to the ancient Church is also recognized by Benedict XVI when he speaks of the liturgical reformation, expression of the Vatican II.
“In the period of liturgical reform, Mass and adoration outside it were often seen as in opposition to one another: it was thought that the Eucharistic Bread had not been given to us to be contemplated, but to be eaten, as a widespread objection claimed at that time. The experience of the prayer of the Church has already shown how nonsensical this antithesis was. Augustine had formerly said: No one should eat this flesh without first adoring it;...
we should sin were we not to adore it" (cf. Enarr. in Ps 98: 9 CCL XXXIX 1385).
Next, Benedict XVI shows that the position assumed in the Middle Age about the adoration of Jesus Christ, really present in the consecrated bread was the correct.
In certain moment, hesitantly, repeatedly, almost literally stuttering and as against will, Benedict XVI said in his address to the Curia:
“These are all subjects of great importance - they were the great themes of the second part of the Council - on which it is impossible to reflect more broadly in this context. It is clear that in all these sectors, which all together form a single problem, some kind of discontinuity might emerge. Indeed, a discontinuity had been revealed but in which, after the various distinctions between concrete historical situations and their requirements had been made, the continuity of principles proved not to have been abandoned. It is easy to miss this fact at a first glance. It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists.” (Benedict XVI Address to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2005. Bold emphasis is mine).
Notice the back and forth of the formulation, hesitating in admitting a discontinuity of the doctrine, willing to deny it but having to admit it, even with dislike: ”a certain kind of discontinuity could emerge and that in certain way it had been manifested, in fact, a discontinuity” (…) proved not have been abandoned the continuity in the principles;(…) continuity and discontinuity…
After all, was or wasn’t there a discontinuity?
Of course there was.
All these positions admitted by Benedict XVI about the letter of the Vatican II is the need of a “fair” hermeneutic, like the acknowledgement that there were inaccuracies of expressions and mistaken positions based on the doctrine expressed in the Vatican II, is an indirect prove that the Vatican II was not an infallible Council in which we should believe with Catholic and divine faith. Because when the Church teaches infallibly, she expresses herself always clearly well.
In claris non fit interpretatio.
Even more. Although they do not want to recognize, it is admitted that, in fact, the Vatican II made a split with relation to the Catholic Church and with her ancient doctrine, at least at certain points, as affirmed Benedict XVI.
A Council with taste of heresy
Benedicts XVI recognizes that, at a first understanding, the texts of the Vatican II give the impression of a split with the Catholic Doctrine. But, at a second reading we can find, sometimes with a great effort, a harmonic interpretation with the ancient doctrine. Well, on saying that, although unintentionally, the Pope Benedict XVI classified the Vatican II as having taste of heresy.
The Church does not condemn with the excomungation only the formal and tenacious heresy. She condemns even the thesis that has taste of heresy and the ones that are suspected of heresy.
An statement with taste of heresy (subjected to excomungation for those who utter it tenaciously) is that which nature is such that its first meaning, more easily captivating, is heretic once all in it suggests the heresy, but that, with a great effort of interpretation, of hermeneutic, we can extract from it a Catholic correct meaning. Such statements are condemned with the theological censure as taste of heresy – sapiens heresim.
This is what teaches great theologians like Ad. Thankerey, Synopses Theologiae Dogmaticae, Desclée, Paris, 1959, tome II, p.117; J. M. Hervé, Manuale Theologiae Dogmaticae, Berque, Paris, 1952, Vol. I, p. 504; Iosephus Mors, S.J., InstitutionisTheologiae Fundamentalis,Vozes, Petrópolis, 1943,197; Cardinal Pietro Parente, Dizionario di Teología Dogmática, note Theological Censure; apud Arnaldo Vidigal Xavier da Silveira, article “Not only the Heresy can be condemned by Eclesiastic Authority on the monthly Catholicism, year XVII, N0 203, pp. 4 e 5).
Well, Benedict XVI in the address in summary, demonstrated this clearly, that the texts of the Vatican II are susceptive of a two-fold interpretation: firstly an interpretation more evident – the one of the spirit of the Council, that Benedict XVI condemns as taking the risk of making a split with the Catholic doctrine – and a second interpretation, the one of the letter of the Vatican II, that only would be harmonic with the ancient Catholic doctrine, and that only can be reached – the Pope recognizes – with a deeper and laborious interpretation.
Therefore, the exposition of Benedict XVI itself makes clear that the texts of the Vatican II can be classified as having sapiens heresim, with taste of heresy and therefore they are condemnable.
Therefore, the texts of the Vatican II having taste of heresy, for this reason, cannot be accepted.
This conclusion is inevitable.
We want to emphasize that we wrote this critical analysis not as a refutation, but with the aim only of cooperating for a solution of this tragic problem, that the Pope Benedict XVI affirmed he intends to solve.
And we can notice another split: Benedict XVI with Ratzinger, theologian of Vatican II.
For years, the Father Ratzinger (and even the Cardinal Ratzinger) defended the line of the “Spirit of the Council”, affirming that there had been split between the Vatican II and the ancient Church.
By now, as the Pope Benedict XVI, thanks God he’s changed for he condemned the hermeneutic of the discontinuity of the followers of the “spirit of the Council” as tend to a split with the ancient Church.
Since sometime was happening a process of drawing-back in the manifestations of the Cardinal Ratzinger in face to the Vatican II. Now this process has been accentuated. Benedict XVI has been changing and determining a certain return to doctrinal positions previous to the Council. There are even Modernists that accuse Benedict XVI of intending to suppress the Vatican II.
No doubt there is a certain return to a position pre-Counciliar in Benedict XVI.
It is true that he hesitates and he seeks to reach a harmonization between the Counciliar doctrine and the ancient Church doctrine. He intends to harmonize the letter of the Council with the Catholic Tradition. Impossible task, but that reveals a move backward from his previous position. Will Benedict XVI remain in that ambiguous position concerning the ambiguity of the Vatican II? We do not believe.
What Benedict XVI condemned in fact, although unintentionally, on blaming the “spirit of the Council for its bad acceptance”, was the ambiguity itself of the “letter of the Council”.
Benedict XVI detected there is a heretic cancer dwelling in the so-called “spirit of the Vatican II”. Well, when we want to extirpate really and definitely a cancer, we remove also all the suspected contaminated tissue that embrace it. The condemnation of the “Spirit of the Council” by logic demands the condemnation of the letter of the Vatican II itself, source of this interpretation of heretic split.
The logic demanded by the adoption of a principle and the time lead us to get inevitably to implicit conclusions in the principle stated: what is condemned is the very ambiguity of the Vatican II. To denounce and condemn the mistakes of the Vatican II will be inevitable. A Pope one day will do it.
And more than all of this we have to consider the Grace of God, specially the graces of being of a Pope, likewise the promises of Christ, who promised that the Church will not perish. It is the Grace of God that had made the Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to see, more clearer that the current crisis of the Church resulted from the Vatican II.
It is this comprehension that has approximated the Pope Benedict XVI to the position of the so-called traditionalists from Saint Pius X Sacerdotal Fraternity, particularly in the question of the Mass, condemning and combating the liturgical anarchy established after the Council and seeking to give more and more freedom to the ancient Mass.
By the other hand the section of the Cardinals and theologians followers of the “Spirit of the Council” wants a complete split with the Church, which they call Pre-Counciliar Church, and they show themselves irritated with someone who formerly had their very same positions – the theologian Ratzinger – and they consider the Pope Benedict XVI as a traitor of the Vatican II.
The confront seems to us to be so inevitable between the Holy Father and those whom he called wolves.
The confront of the radical Modernists with Benedict XVI in normal condition will make him to get closer to the theological polo represented by the FSSPX.
In case Benedict XVI remains steady in the condemnation of the hermeneutic of the followers of the “spirit of the Vatican II”, in case the Pope releases the ancient Mass and set the excommunication of Dom Lefebvre and Dom Mayer it would not be surprise if the radical modernists revolt against the Pope Benedict XVI in defense of the Vatican II, declaring themselves set apart of the Pope and trying to lay down a New Church they dream of in the middle of the smoke of Satan.
Saint Paul Said: “For there must be also heresies among you” (1 Cor 11:19) but woe to that man by whom the heresy comes!
By the way, many followers of the “spirit of the Vatican II” have already broken with the Church, for they defend modernist heretic thesis the scariest and follow the path straight to the schism and for the foundation of a NewChurch. They march to the frontal revolt against Benedict XVI, who they accuse of betray the Vatican II and of intending to go back to a Church they call pre-Counciliar. It seems to us that this split is inevitable and that it will have dramatic consequences or even tragic. This is our opinion that is not infallible but on the contrary. But it is based on the prophecy of the third secret of Fatima and in the visions of Dom Bosco. If the confront it is not with this Pope it will be soon with other but this confront is INEVITABLE.
Or Fatima has lied to us. The two first secrets have been accomplished. It lasts the third one that treats of the crisis in the Church and of a Pope that will be killed together with a great number of clerics and the people. It will be the secret for 100 years ahead? Or for the greek calends? Of course that It won’t be so.
And this our hopely opinion about Benedict XVI is shared now also for large sectors of the wing that struggles for the return to the Church as it ever was. Dom Fellay, superior of FSSPX, shown himself too much hopeful and even optimist, with Benedict XVI and his pontificate. Many others show themselves the same optimism and the same hope.
From the opposite side, in the modernist wing, there is the irritation and sabotage against Benedict XVI.
It´s from recent the accusation of the Franciscans of Assisi, that consider themselves detracted by Vatican on account of the ecumenical innovations in play in the city of San Francis. The Prior of Assisi answered, to Benedict XVI, affirming that everything they did in Assisi in matter of ecumenism was wholly determined by the Vatican, in the time of John Paul II, and that now the New Vatican of Benedict XVI intends to make void the progresses of the Vatican II.
It is from these days an article of Sandro Magister, a journalist very tied to the current Pope, commenting the resistance of the modernist sectors to Benedict XVI.
May God Our Lord make that the Pope Benedict XVI finds the true solution of this issue and reconvey the Church, as prophesized Dom Bosco and Our Lady of Fatima, back to the two columns: the one of the Consecrated Bread, for the liberation of the ancient Mass, to the column of Our Lady, for the consecration of the Russia, what would be a re-affirmation of the Bula Unam Sanctum of Boniface VII, and, therefore diametrically opposed to the liberal and modernist douctrine of the Vatican II. So God helps the Saint Pope Benedict XVI to face the modernist wolves that besiege him.
Let´s pray for the Pope Benedict XVI so that God givies him strength to face the wolves of the NewCounciliarChurch. Let´s pray for the Pope Benedict XVI so that God makes him not only the Pope of the Hope, but the Pope of the Return, such as it was written in the prophecies of Saint John Bosco and the third Secret of Fatima, for the triumph of the Church through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
São Paulo, January 19th, 2006.
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO THE ROMAN CURIA
OFFERING THEM HIS CHRISTMAS GREETINGS
Thursday, 22 December 2005
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Presbyterate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
"Expergiscere, homo: quia pro te Deus factus est homo - Wake up, O man! For your sake God became man" (St Augustine, Sermo, 185). With the Christmas celebrations now at hand, I am opening my Meeting with you, dear collaborators of the Roman Curia, with St Augustine's invitation to understand the true meaning of Christ's Birth.
I address to each one my most cordial greeting and I thank you for the sentiments of devotion and affection, effectively conveyed to me by your Cardinal Dean, to whom I address my gratitude.
God became man for our sake: this is the message which, every year, from the silent grotto of Bethlehem spreads even to the most out-of-the-way corners of the earth. Christmas is a feast of light and peace, it is a day of inner wonder and joy that expands throughout the universe, because "God became man". From the humble grotto of Bethlehem, the eternal Son of God, who became a tiny Child, addresses each one of us: he calls us, invites us to be reborn in him so that, with him, we may live eternally in communion with the Most Holy Trinity.
Our hearts brimming with the joy that comes from this knowledge, let us think back to the events of the year that is coming to an end. We have behind us great events which have left a deep mark on the life of the Church. I am thinking first and foremost of the departure of our beloved Holy Father John Paul II, preceded by a long period of suffering and the gradual loss of speech. No Pope has left us such a quantity of texts as he has bequeathed to us; no previous Pope was able to visit the whole world like him and speak directly to people from all the continents.
In the end, however, his lot was a journey of suffering and silence. Unforgettable for us are the images of Palm Sunday when, holding an olive branch and marked by pain, he came to the window and imparted the Lord's Blessing as he himself was about to walk towards the Cross.
Next was the scene in his Private Chapel when, holding the Crucifix, he took part in the Way of the Cross at the Colosseum, where he had so often led the procession carrying the Cross himself.
Lastly came his silent Blessing on Easter Sunday, in which we saw the promise of the Resurrection, of eternal life, shine out through all his suffering. With his words and actions, the Holy Father gave us great things; equally important is the lesson he imparted to us from the chair of suffering and silence.
In his last book "Memory and Identity" (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2005), he has left us an interpretation of suffering that is not a theological or philosophical theory but a fruit that matured on his personal path of suffering which he walked, sustained by faith in the Crucified Lord. This interpretation, which he worked out in faith and which gave meaning to his suffering lived in communion with that of the Lord, spoke through his silent pain, transforming it into an important message.
Both at the beginning and once again at the end of the book mentioned, the Pope shows that he is deeply touched by the spectacle of the power of evil, which we dramatically experienced in the century that has just ended. He says in his text: "The evil... was not a small-scale evil.... It was an evil of gigantic proportions, an evil which availed itself of state structures in order to accomplish its wicked work, an evil built up into a system" (p. 189).
Might evil be invincible? Is it the ultimate power of history? Because of the experience of evil, for Pope Wojty³a the question of redemption became the essential and central question of his life and thought as a Christian. Is there a limit against which the power of evil shatters? "Yes, there is", the Pope replies in this book of his, as well as in his Encyclical on redemption.
The power that imposes a limit on evil is Divine Mercy. Violence, the display of evil, is opposed in history - as "the totally other" of God, God's own power - by Divine Mercy. The Lamb is stronger than the dragon, we could say together with the Book of Revelation.
At the end of the book, in a retrospective review of the attack of 13 May 1981 and on the basis of the experience of his journey with God and with the world, John Paul II further deepened this answer.
What limits the force of evil, the power, in brief, which overcomes it - this is how he says it - is God's suffering, the suffering of the Son of God on the Cross: "The suffering of the Crucified God is not just one form of suffering alongside others.... In sacrificing himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering, opening up a new dimension, a new order: the order of love.... The passion of Christ on the Cross gave a radically new meaning to suffering, transforming it from within.... It is this suffering which burns and consumes evil with the flame of love.... All human suffering, all pain, all infirmity contains within itself a promise of salvation;... evil is present in the world partly so as to awaken our love, our self-gift in generous and disinterested service to those visited by suffering.... Christ has redeemed the world: "By his wounds we are healed' (Is 53: 5)" (p. 189, ff.).
All this is not merely learned theology, but the expression of a faith lived and matured through suffering. Of course, we must do all we can to alleviate suffering and prevent the injustice that causes the suffering of the innocent. However, we must also do the utmost to ensure that people can discover the meaning of suffering and are thus able to accept their own suffering and to unite it with the suffering of Christ.
In this way, it is merged with redemptive love and consequently becomes a force against the evil in the world.
The response across the world to the Pope's death was an overwhelming demonstration of gratitude for the fact that in his ministry he offered himself totally to God for the world; a thanksgiving for the fact that in a world full of hatred and violence he taught anew love and suffering in the service of others; he showed us, so to speak, in the flesh, the Redeemer, redemption, and gave us the certainty that indeed, evil does not have the last word in the world.
I would now like to mention, if briefly, another two events also initiated by Pope John Paul II: they are the World Youth Day celebrated in Cologne and the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, which also ended the Year of the Eucharist inaugurated by Pope John Paul II.
The World Youth Day has lived on as a great gift in the memory of those present. More than a million young people gathered in the City of Cologne on the Rhine River and in the neighbouring towns to listen together to the Word of God, to pray together, to receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, to sing and to celebrate together, to rejoice in life and to worship and receive the Lord in the Eucharist during the great meetings on Saturday evening and Sunday. Joy simply reigned throughout those days.
Apart from keeping order, the police had nothing to do - the Lord had gathered his family, tangibly overcoming every frontier and barrier, and in the great communion between us, he made us experience his presence.
The motto chosen for those days - "We have come to worship him!", contained two great images which encouraged the right approach from the outset. First there was the image of the pilgrimage, the image of the person who, looking beyond his own affairs and daily life, sets out in search of his essential destination, the truth, the right life, God.
This image of the person on his way towards the goal of life contained another two clear indications.
First of all, there was the invitation not to see the world that surrounds us solely as raw material with which we can do something, but to try to discover in it "the Creator's handwriting", the creative reason and the love from which the world was born and of which the universe speaks to us, if we pay attention, if our inner senses awaken and acquire perception of the deepest dimensions of reality.
As a second element there is a further invitation: to listen to the historical revelation which alone can offer us the key to the interpretation of the silent mystery of creation, pointing out to us the practical way towards the true Lord of the world and of history, who conceals himself in the poverty of the stable in Bethlehem.
The other image contained in the World Youth Day motto was the person worshipping: "We have come to worship him". Before any activity, before the world can change there must be worship. Worship alone sets us truly free; worship alone gives us the criteria for our action. Precisely in a world in which guiding criteria are absent and the threat exists that each person will be a law unto himself, it is fundamentally necessary to stress worship.
For all those who were present the intense silence of that million young people remains unforgettable, a silence that united and uplifted us all when the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament was placed on the altar. Let us cherish in our hearts the images of Cologne: they are signs that continue to be valid. Without mentioning individual names, I would like on this occasion to thank everyone who made World Youth Day possible; but especially, let us together thank the Lord, for indeed, he alone could give us those days in the way in which we lived them.
The word "adoration" [worship] brings us to the second great event that I wish to talk about: the Synod of Bishops and the Year of the Eucharist. Pope John Paul II, with the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia and the Apostolic Letter Mane Nobiscum Domine, gave us the essential clues and at the same time, with his personal experience of Eucharistic faith, put the Church's teaching into practice.
Moreover, the Congregation for Divine Worship, in close connection with the Encyclical, published the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum as a practical guide to the correct implementation of the conciliar Constitution on the liturgy and liturgical reform. In addition to all this, was it really possible to say anything new, to develop further the whole of this teaching?
This was exactly the great experience of the Synod, during which a reflection of the riches of the Eucharistic life of the Church today and the inexhaustibility of her Eucharistic faith could be perceived in the Fathers' contributions. What the Fathers thought and expressed must be presented, in close connection with the Propositiones of the Synod, in a Post-Synodal Document.
Here, once again, I only wish to underline that point which a little while ago we already mentioned in the context of World Youth Day: adoration of the Risen Lord, present in the Eucharist with flesh and blood, with body and soul, with divinity and humanity.
It is moving for me to see how everywhere in the Church the joy of Eucharistic adoration is reawakening and being fruitful. In the period of liturgical reform, Mass and adoration outside it were often seen as in opposition to one another: it was thought that the Eucharistic Bread had not been given to us to be contemplated, but to be eaten, as a widespread objection claimed at that time.
The experience of the prayer of the Church has already shown how nonsensical this antithesis was. Augustine had formerly said: "...nemo autem illam carnem manducat, nisi prius adoraverit;... peccemus non adorando - No one should eat this flesh without first adoring it;... we should sin were we not to adore it" (cf. Enarr. in Ps 98: 9 CCL XXXIX 1385).
Indeed, we do not merely receive something in the Eucharist. It is the encounter and unification of persons; the person, however, who comes to meet us and desires to unite himself to us is the Son of God. Such unification can only be brought about by means of adoration.
Receiving the Eucharist means adoring the One whom we receive. Precisely in this way and only in this way do we become one with him. Therefore, the development of Eucharistic adoration, as it took shape during the Middle Ages, was the most consistent consequence of the Eucharistic mystery itself: only in adoration can profound and true acceptance develop. And it is precisely this personal act of encounter with the Lord that develops the social mission which is contained in the Eucharist and desires to break down barriers, not only the barriers between the Lord and us but also and above all those that separate us from one another.
The last event of this year on which I wish to reflect here is the celebration of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago. This memory prompts the question: What has been the result of the Council? Was it well received? What, in the acceptance of the Council, was good and what was inadequate or mistaken? What still remains to be done? No one can deny that in vast areas of the Church the implementation of the Council has been somewhat difficult, even without wishing to apply to what occurred in these years the description that St Basil, the great Doctor of the Church, made of the Church's situation after the Council of Nicea: he compares her situation to a naval battle in the darkness of the storm, saying among other things: "The raucous shouting of those who through disagreement rise up against one another, the incomprehensible chatter, the confused din of uninterrupted clamouring, has now filled almost the whole of the Church, falsifying through excess or failure the right doctrine of the faith..." (De Spiritu Sancto, XXX, 77; PG 32, 213 A; SCh 17 ff., p. 524).
We do not want to apply precisely this dramatic description to the situation of the post-conciliar period, yet something from all that occurred is nevertheless reflected in it. The question arises: Why has the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult?
Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or - as we would say today - on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarrelled with each other. One caused confusion, the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit.
On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call "a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture"; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the "hermeneutic of reform", of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.
The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises but instead in the impulses toward the new that are contained in the texts.
These innovations alone were supposed to represent the true spirit of the Council, and starting from and in conformity with them, it would be possible to move ahead. Precisely because the texts would only imperfectly reflect the true spirit of the Council and its newness, it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the Council's deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague.
In a word: it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.
The nature of a Council as such is therefore basically misunderstood. In this way, it is considered as a sort of constituent that eliminates an old constitution and creates a new one. However, the Constituent Assembly needs a mandator and then confirmation by the mandator, in other words, the people the constitution must serve. The Fathers had no such mandate and no one had ever given them one; nor could anyone have given them one because the essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord and was given to us so that we might attain eternal life and, starting from this perspective, be able to illuminate life in time and time itself.
Through the Sacrament they have received, Bishops are stewards of the Lord's gift. They are "stewards of the mysteries of God" (I Cor 4: 1); as such, they must be found to be "faithful" and "wise" (cf. Lk 12: 41-48). This requires them to administer the Lord's gift in the right way, so that it is not left concealed in some hiding place but bears fruit, and the Lord may end by saying to the administrator: "Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs" (cf. Mt 25: 14-30; Lk 19: 11-27).
These Gospel parables express the dynamic of fidelity required in the Lord's service; and through them it becomes clear that, as in a Council, the dynamic and fidelity must converge.
The hermeneutic of discontinuity is countered by the hermeneutic of reform, as it was presented first by Pope John XXIII in his Speech inaugurating the Council on 11 October 1962 and later by Pope Paul VI in his Discourse for the Council's conclusion on 7 December 1965.
Here I shall cite only John XXIII's well-known words, which unequivocally express this hermeneutic when he says that the Council wishes "to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion". And he continues: "Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us...". It is necessary that "adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness..." be presented in "faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another...", retaining the same meaning and message (The Documents of Vatican II, Walter M. Abbott, S.J., p. 715).
It is clear that this commitment to expressing a specific truth in a new way demands new thinking on this truth and a new and vital relationship with it; it is also clear that new words can only develop if they come from an informed understanding of the truth expressed, and on the other hand, that a reflection on faith also requires that this faith be lived. In this regard, the programme that Pope John XXIII proposed was extremely demanding, indeed, just as the synthesis of fidelity and dynamic is demanding.
However, wherever this interpretation guided the implementation of the Council, new life developed and new fruit ripened. Forty years after the Council, we can show that the positive is far greater and livelier than it appeared to be in the turbulent years around 1968. Today, we see that although the good seed developed slowly, it is nonetheless growing; and our deep gratitude for the work done by the Council is likewise growing.
In his Discourse closing the Council, Paul VI pointed out a further specific reason why a hermeneutic of discontinuity can seem convincing.
In the great dispute about man which marks the modern epoch, the Council had to focus in particular on the theme of anthropology. It had to question the relationship between the Church and her faith on the one hand, and man and the contemporary world on the other (cf. ibid.). The question becomes even clearer if, instead of the generic term "contemporary world", we opt for another that is more precise: the Council had to determine in a new way the relationship between the Church and the modern era.
This relationship had a somewhat stormy beginning with the Galileo case. It was then totally interrupted when Kant described "religion within pure reason" and when, in the radical phase of the French Revolution, an image of the State and the human being that practically no longer wanted to allow the Church any room was disseminated.
In the 19th century under Pius IX, the clash between the Church's faith and a radical liberalism and the natural sciences, which also claimed to embrace with their knowledge the whole of reality to its limit, stubbornly proposing to make the "hypothesis of God" superfluous, had elicited from the Church a bitter and radical condemnation of this spirit of the modern age. Thus, it seemed that there was no longer any milieu open to a positive and fruitful understanding, and the rejection by those who felt they were the representatives of the modern era was also drastic.
In the meantime, however, the modern age had also experienced developments. People came to realize that the American Revolution was offering a model of a modern State that differed from the theoretical model with radical tendencies that had emerged during the second phase of the French Revolution.
The natural sciences were beginning to reflect more and more clearly their own limitations imposed by their own method, which, despite achieving great things, was nevertheless unable to grasp the global nature of reality.
So it was that both parties were gradually beginning to open up to each other. In the period between the two World Wars and especially after the Second World War, Catholic statesmen demonstrated that a modern secular State could exist that was not neutral regarding values but alive, drawing from the great ethical sources opened by Christianity.
Catholic social doctrine, as it gradually developed, became an important model between radical liberalism and the Marxist theory of the State. The natural sciences, which without reservation professed a method of their own to which God was barred access, realized ever more clearly that this method did not include the whole of reality. Hence, they once again opened their doors to God, knowing that reality is greater than the naturalistic method and all that it can encompass.
It might be said that three circles of questions had formed which then, at the time of the Second Vatican Council, were expecting an answer. First of all, the relationship between faith and modern science had to be redefined. Furthermore, this did not only concern the natural sciences but also historical science for, in a certain school, the historical-critical method claimed to have the last word on the interpretation of the Bible and, demanding total exclusivity for its interpretation of Sacred Scripture, was opposed to important points in the interpretation elaborated by the faith of the Church.
Secondly, it was necessary to give a new definition to the relationship between the Church and the modern State that would make room impartially for citizens of various religions and ideologies, merely assuming responsibility for an orderly and tolerant coexistence among them and for the freedom to practise their own religion.
Thirdly, linked more generally to this was the problem of religious tolerance - a question that required a new definition of the relationship between the Christian faith and the world religions. In particular, before the recent crimes of the Nazi regime and, in general, with a retrospective look at a long and difficult history, it was necessary to evaluate and define in a new way the relationship between the Church and the faith of Israel.
These are all subjects of great importance - they were the great themes of the second part of the Council - on which it is impossible to reflect more broadly in this context. It is clear that in all these sectors, which all together form a single problem, some kind of discontinuity might emerge. Indeed, a discontinuity had been revealed but in which, after the various distinctions between concrete historical situations and their requirements had been made, the continuity of principles proved not to have been abandoned. It is easy to miss this fact at a first glance.
It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists. In this process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more practically than before that the Church's decisions on contingent matters - for example, certain practical forms of liberalism or a free interpretation of the Bible - should necessarily be contingent themselves, precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is changeable in itself. It was necessary to learn to recognize that in these decisions it is only the principles that express the permanent aspect, since they remain as an undercurrent, motivating decisions from within.
On the other hand, not so permanent are the practical forms that depend on the historical situation and are therefore subject to change.
Basic decisions, therefore, continue to be well-grounded, whereas the way they are applied to new contexts can change. Thus, for example, if religious freedom were to be considered an expression of the human inability to discover the truth and thus become a canonization of relativism, then this social and historical necessity is raised inappropriately to the metaphysical level and thus stripped of its true meaning. Consequently, it cannot be accepted by those who believe that the human person is capable of knowing the truth about God and, on the basis of the inner dignity of the truth, is bound to this knowledge.
It is quite different, on the other hand, to perceive religious freedom as a need that derives from human coexistence, or indeed, as an intrinsic consequence of the truth that cannot be externally imposed but that the person must adopt only through the process of conviction.
The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time. The ancient Church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. I Tm 2: 2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the State.
The martyrs of the early Church died for their faith in that God who was revealed in Jesus Christ, and for this very reason they also died for freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one's own faith - a profession that no State can impose but which, instead, can only be claimed with God's grace in freedom of conscience. A missionary Church known for proclaiming her message to all peoples must necessarily work for the freedom of the faith. She desires to transmit the gift of the truth that exists for one and all.
At the same time, she assures peoples and their Governments that she does not wish to destroy their identity and culture by doing so, but to give them, on the contrary, a response which, in their innermost depths, they are waiting for - a response with which the multiplicity of cultures is not lost but instead unity between men and women increases and thus also peace between peoples.
The Second Vatican Council, with its new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and certain essential elements of modern thought, has reviewed or even corrected certain historical decisions, but in this apparent discontinuity it has actually preserved and deepened her inmost nature and true identity.
The Church, both before and after the Council, was and is the same Church, one, holy, catholic and apostolic, journeying on through time; she continues "her pilgrimage amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God", proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 8).
Those who expected that with this fundamental "yes" to the modern era all tensions would be dispelled and that the "openness towards the world" accordingly achieved would transform everything into pure harmony, had underestimated the inner tensions as well as the contradictions inherent in the modern epoch.
They had underestimated the perilous frailty of human nature which has been a threat to human progress in all the periods of history and in every historical constellation. These dangers, with the new possibilities and new power of man over matter and over himself, did not disappear but instead acquired new dimensions: a look at the history of the present day shows this clearly.
In our time too, the Church remains a "sign that will be opposed" (Lk 2: 34) - not without reason did Pope John Paul II, then still a Cardinal, give this title to the theme for the Spiritual Exercises he preached in 1976 to Pope Paul VI and the Roman Curia. The Council could not have intended to abolish the Gospel's opposition to human dangers and errors.
On the contrary, it was certainly the Council's intention to overcome erroneous or superfluous contradictions in order to present to our world the requirement of the Gospel in its full greatness and purity.
The steps the Council took towards the modern era which had rather vaguely been presented as "openness to the world", belong in short to the perennial problem of the relationship between faith and reason that is re-emerging in ever new forms. The situation that the Council had to face can certainly be compared to events of previous epochs.
In his First Letter, St Peter urged Christians always to be ready to give an answer (apo-logia) to anyone who asked them for the logos, the reason for their faith (cf. 3: 15).
This meant that biblical faith had to be discussed and come into contact with Greek culture and learn to recognize through interpretation the separating line but also the convergence and the affinity between them in the one reason, given by God.
When, in the 13th century through the Jewish and Arab philosophers, Aristotelian thought came into contact with Medieval Christianity formed in the Platonic tradition and faith and reason risked entering an irreconcilable contradiction, it was above all St Thomas Aquinas who mediated the new encounter between faith and Aristotelian philosophy, thereby setting faith in a positive relationship with the form of reason prevalent in his time. There is no doubt that the wearing dispute between modern reason and the Christian faith, which had begun negatively with the Galileo case, went through many phases, but with the Second Vatican Council the time came when broad new thinking was required.
Its content was certainly only roughly traced in the conciliar texts, but this determined its essential direction, so that the dialogue between reason and faith, particularly important today, found its bearings on the basis of the Second Vatican Council.
This dialogue must now be developed with great openmindedness but also with that clear discernment that the world rightly expects of us in this very moment. Thus, today we can look with gratitude at the Second Vatican Council: 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.
Lastly, should I perhaps recall once again that 19 April this year on which, to my great surprise, the College of Cardinals elected me as the Successor of Pope John Paul II, as a Successor of St Peter on the chair of the Bishop of Rome? Such an office was far beyond anything I could ever have imagined as my vocation. It was, therefore, only with a great act of trust in God that I was able to say in obedience my "yes" to this choice. Now as then, I also ask you all for your prayer, on whose power and support I rely.
At the same time, I would like to warmly thank all those who have welcomed me and still welcome me with great trust, goodness and understanding, accompanying me day after day with their prayers.
Christmas is now at hand. The Lord God did not counter the threats of history with external power, as we human beings would expect according to the prospects of our world. His weapon is goodness. He revealed himself as a child, born in a stable. This is precisely how he counters with his power, completely different from the destructive powers of violence. In this very way he saves us. In this very way he shows us what saves.
In these days of Christmas, let us go to meet him full of trust, like the shepherds, like the Wise Men of the East. Let us ask Mary to lead us to the Lord. Let us ask him himself to make his face shine upon us. Let us ask him also to defeat the violence in the world and to make us experience the power of his goodness. With these sentiments, I warmly impart to you all my Apostolic Blessing.
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