Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Plea to Move On

The NCR has a new article on Vatican II and the various "hermeneutic" camps surrounding it that I have critiqued in earlier posts.

Can't we just get over it?!? I think problem is still caring "what Vatican II intended". As I was saying that's not even a meaningful concept, as a Council doesn't have intent, individual bishops do...and there were many different intents going into those documents, there were 4000 bishops there after all.

But, in the end, it really doesn't matter "what Vatican II wanted," because disciplinary decrees of Councils don't constitute a binding mandate. Paul VI, as Pope, was free to promulgate whatever liturgy he wanted, or none. To interpret, modify, adapt, or discard the disciplinary "suggestions" (and, to a Pope, that's all they are: a Council doesnt bind a Pope on disciplinary questions)...as he saw fit.

And he approved the Novus Ordo, the bishops (who were the same ones as at the Council for the most part) accepted it without complaining or objecting (almost none rose up and said, "That's not what we meant!"), and the Popes and Bishops since have continued to promulgate and accept it.

"What Vatican II meant"...is water under the bridge at this point.

It is now time to stop chasing that rainbow and discuss the fact that what we have now is bad, that many of the suggestions of Sacrosanctum Concilium were imprudent even if they hadn't been exaggerated by Bugnini, and that the Pope is free to go back to any liturgical form he wants; the Council does not constitute some sort of Mandate when it comes to disciplinary questions.

The "hermeneutic of continuity" crowd is intellectually dishonest. The Council did change things. That's manifestly obvious in practice. And...that's what Councils do. That's why Councils are called, to try new tactics in disciplinary matters. Especially when they don't address dogma.

But, at the same time, we're free to debate whether those changes were good or not. There is no need to exonerate "the Council itself" as opposed to its "implementation" as if we must "save" the Council or explain-away its deficiencies. All this mental energy in the Catholic world goes into trying to tortuously interpret the Council to fit everyone's own agenda. In reality, though, you're allowed to have your own opinions whether they were the Council's or not. You don't need to filter everything through that lens.

Couldn't the Pope today just, invoking his own authority as Pope, make the changes he thinks are best for today without any reference to what the agenda of the Council may or may not have been?? Yes. Yes he could.

We can think for ourselves! We can critique the New Liturgy regardless of "what the Council said". Why this need to prooftext everything with reference to "the Council"? It was in the past. We can move towards the future, new decrees can be issued, the Council is over. Done. Why is everyone still harping over it? Let's just move on!

The Pope is free, on his own authority, to implement what he thinks the Church needs today. He isn't bound to what some Council thought the Church needed 50 years ago.

And yet they won't just come out and say that. The "hermeneutic of continuity" crowd is intellectually dishonest or cowardly. There was definitely a change, that's the whole point of Councils (especially when they don't define dogma): to change disciplinary situations, to change prudential administrative policies, etc.

And boy did they ever change things! Some of it was good, a lot of it wasn't. We're free to debate that. And the Pope is free to change it back to the way it was before, to keep the status quo, or even to try a whole new Third Way if he wanted.

Rather than trying to tortuously prooftext all the decisions today with reference to "Vatican II"...the Pope should simply admit, "Yes, we're modifying Vatican II's decision on these points, keeping it on these, and simply overturning or ignoring it on many others". But no. Even when that is what is obviously being done, it is spun as merely the "true implementation" of the Council, even when that requires a lot of suspended disbelief and mental gymnastics.

Just emphasize that the disciplinary decisions of a Council aren't irrevocable by future Popes, and then admit that you are changing some of them!! Stop trying to filter everything through the legitimacy of Vatican II!

The answer to the Liberal accusation "they're overturning Vatican II!" shouldn't be this incredibly ridiculous, "No, we're just 'truly implementing' it" (I don't know how anyone says that with a straight face)...it should be, "Yes, we are overturning it in some points. So what? Situations and needs change; the Pope has that power."

The hermeneutic of continuity crowd can quote "what the Council really said" all they want about Gregorian Chant and Latin maintaining pride of place until the cows come home...but at the end of the day, the authority on that matter is not "the Council"...it is the GIRM, etc...which is the authoritative law currently. Sacrosanctum Concilium was never more than "suggestions" really...but even if it were law...it has been superceded by the liturgical decisions that the Vatican has promulgated since then. So you're invoking dead letter just as much as those rad-trads who keep quoting "Quo Primum" as if it still applied...

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