Rest In Peace!
(Vatican Radio) – On Wednesday, the eve of celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the Pope’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, published a special edition dedicated to Vatican II. It opens with an article written by Pope Benedict XVI on his personal memories of the great ecumenical gathering. Penned this past summer in Castel Gandolfo, the article is in fact the preface to a collection of writings by the young Prof. Joseph Ratzinger at the time of the Council, which, however, have never been published. Edited by Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, [current Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – ed], the complete collection is due to be published in Germany , by Herder.
Below we publish the full text of the preface:
It was a splendid day on 11 October 1962 when the Second Vatican Council opened with the solemn procession into St Peter’s Basilica in Rome of more than two thousand Council Fathers. In 1931 Pius XI had dedicated this day to the feast of the Divine Motherhood of Mary, mindful that 1,500 years earlier, in 431, the Council of Ephesus had solemnly recognized this title for Mary in order to express God’s indissoluble union with man in Christ. Pope John XXIII had chosen this day for the beginning of the Council so as to entrust the great ecclesial assembly, which he had convoked, to the motherly goodness of Mary and to anchor the Council’s work firmly in the mystery of Jesus Christ. It was impressive to see in the entrance procession bishops from all over the world, from all peoples and all races: an image of the Church of Jesus Christ which embraces the whole world, in which the peoples of the earth know they are united in his peace.
It was a moment of extraordinary expectation. Great things were about to happen. The previous Councils had almost always been convoked for a precise question to which they were to provide an answer. This time there was no specific problem to resolve. But precisely because of this, a general sense of expectation hovered in the air: Christianity, which had built and formed the Western world, seemed more and more to be losing its power to shape society. It appeared weary and it looked as if the future would be determined by other spiritual forces. The sense of this loss of the present on the part of Christianity, and of the task following on from that, was well summed up in the word “aggiornamento” (updating). Christianity must be in the present if it is to be able to form the future. So that it might once again be a force to shape the future, John XXIII had convoked the Council without indicating to it any specific problems or programmes. This was the greatness and at the same time the difficulty of the task that was set before the ecclesial assembly.
The various episcopates undoubtedly approached the great event with different ideas. Some of them arrived rather with an attitude of expectation regarding the programme that was to be developed. It was the episcopates of Central Europe – Belgium, France and Germany – that came with the clearest ideas. In matters of detail, they stressed completely different aspects, yet they had common priorities. A fundamental theme was ecclesiology, that needed to be studied in greater depth from a Trinitarian and sacramental viewpoint and in connection with salvation history; then there was a need to amplify the doctrine of primacy from the First Vatican Council by giving greater weight to the episcopal ministry. An important theme for the episcopates of Central Europe was liturgical renewal, which Pius XII had already started to implement. Another central aspect, especially for the German episcopate, was ecumenism: the shared experience of Nazi persecution had brought Protestant and Catholic Christians closer together; this now had to happen at the level of the whole Church, and to be developed further. Then there was also the group of themes: Revelation – Scripture – Tradition – Magisterium. For the French, the subject of the relationship between the Church and the modern world came increasingly to the fore – in other words the work of the so-called “Schema XIII”, from which the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World later emerged. This point touches on the real expectations of the Council. The Church, which during the Baroque era was still, in a broad sense, shaping the world, had from the nineteenth century onwards visibly entered into a negative relationship with the modern era, which had only then properly begun. Did it have to remain so? Could the Church not take a positive step into the new era? Behind the vague expression “today’s world” lies the question of the relationship with the modern era. To clarify this, it would have been necessary to define more clearly the essential features that constitute the modern era. “Schema XIII” did not succeed in doing this. Although the Pastoral Constitution expressed many important elements for an understanding of the “world” and made significant contributions to the question of Christian ethics, it failed to offer substantial clarification on this point.
Unexpectedly, the encounter with the great themes of the modern epoch did not happen in the great Pastoral Constitution, but instead in two minor documents, whose importance has only gradually come to light in the context of the reception of the Council. First, there is the Declaration on Religious Liberty, which was urgently requested, and also drafted, by the American Bishops in particular. With developments in philosophical thought and in ways of understanding the modern State, the doctrine of tolerance, as worked out in detail by Pius XII, no longer seemed sufficient. At stake was the freedom to choose and practise religion and the freedom to change it, as fundamental human rights and freedoms. Given its inner foundation, such a concept could not be foreign to the Christian faith, which had come into being claiming that the State could neither decide on the truth nor prescribe any kind of worship. The Christian faith demanded freedom of religious belief and freedom of religious practice in worship, without thereby violating the law of the State in its internal ordering; Christians prayed for the emperor, but did not worship him. To this extent, it can be said that Christianity, at its birth, brought the principle of religious freedom into the world. Yet the interpretation of this right to freedom in the context of modern thought was not easy, since it could seem as if the modern version of religious freedom presupposed the inaccessibility of the truth to man and so, perforce, shifted religion into the sphere of the subjective. It was certainly providential that thirteen years after the conclusion of the Council, Pope John Paul II arrived from a country in which freedom of religion had been denied by Marxism, in other words by a particular form of modern philosophy of the State. The Pope had come, as it were, from a situation resembling that of the early Church, so that the inner orientation of the faith towards the theme of freedom, and especially freedom of religion and worship, became visible once more.
The second document that was to prove important for the Church’s encounter with the modern age came into being almost by chance and it developed in various phases. I am referring to the Declaration “Nostra Aetate” on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions. At the outset the intention was to draft a declaration on relations between the Church and Judaism, a text that had become intrinsically necessary after the horrors of the Shoah. The Council Fathers from Arab countries were not opposed to such a text, but they explained that if there were an intention to speak of Judaism, then there should also be some words on Islam. How right they were, we in the West have only gradually come to understand. Lastly the realization grew that it was also right to speak of two other great religions – Hinduism and Buddhism – as well as the theme of religion in general. Then, following naturally, came a brief indication regarding dialogue and collaboration with the religions, whose spiritual, moral, and socio-cultural values were to be respected, protected and encouraged (ibid., 2). Thus, in a precise and extraordinarily dense document, a theme is opened up whose importance could not be foreseen at the time. The task that it involves and the efforts that are still necessary in order to distinguish, clarify and understand, are appearing ever more clearly. In the process of active reception, a weakness of this otherwise extraordinary text has gradually emerged: it speaks of religion solely in a positive way and it disregards the sick and distorted forms of religion which, from the historical and theological viewpoints, are of far-reaching importance; for this reason the Christian faith, from the outset, adopted a critical stance towards religion, both internally and externally.
If at the beginning of the Council the dominant groups were the Central European Episcopates with their theologians, during the Council sessions the scope of the common endeavour and responsibility constantly broadened. The bishops considered themselves apprentices at the school of the Holy Spirit and at the school of reciprocal collaboration, but at the same time servants of the word of God who were living and working in faith. The Council Fathers neither could nor wished to create a new or different Church. They had neither the authority nor the mandate to do so. It was only in their capacity as bishops that they were now Council Fathers with a vote and decision-making powers, that is to say, on the basis of the Sacrament and in the Church of the Sacrament. For this reason they neither could nor wished to create a different faith or a new Church, but rather to understand these more deeply and hence truly to “renew them”. This is why a hermeneutic of rupture is absurd and is contrary to the spirit and the will of the Council Fathers.
In Cardinal Frings I had a “father” who lived this spirit of the Council in an exemplary way. He was a man of great openness and breadth, but he also knew that faith alone leads us out into the open, into that space which remains barred to the positivist spirit. This is the faith that he wished to serve with the authority he had received through the sacrament of Episcopal Ordination. I cannot but be ever grateful to him for having brought me – the youngest professor of the Catholic theology faculty of the University of Bonn – as his consultant to the great Church assembly, thereby enabling me, alongside the others, to attend that school and to walk the path of the Council from within. The present volume contains a collection of the various writings that I presented at that school. They are thoroughly fragmentary offerings, which also reveal the learning process that the Council and its reception meant and still means for me. I hope that despite all their limitations, these various offerings, combined, will help to make the Council better understood and to implement it in a healthy ecclesial life. I warmly thank Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller and his collaborators at the Pope Benedict XVI Institute for the extraordinary commitment they have taken on in order to produce this volume.
Castel Gandolfo, on the Feast of Saint Eusebius, Bishop of Vercelli
2 August 2012
Benedictus PP. XVI
(Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI has met parish priests and clergy of the Diocese of Rome in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican. Led by Cardinal Vicar Agostino Vallini and auxiliary bishops, they greeted Benedict XVI with great affection and prolonged applause. Emer McCarthy reports:
The reform of the liturgy, the question of ecclesiology left wide open since Vatican I, Revelation and how we communicate it to the modern word, ecumenism and our relations with other religions but most importantly what it was really like being at the heart of the Second Vatican Council.
Despite beginning with an apology for his age and how he was unable to prepare a ‘great’ discourse, Pope Benedict held the priests of Rome captive for 46 minutes on Thursday in an unscripted speech – or chat as he termed it – on the Great Ecumenical council which he attended first as a special advisor to Cardinal Frings of Cologne, and then in his own right as a theological expert.
It was a sort of master class by a renowned professor and perhaps one of the last great witnesses of the Council. Pope Benedict’s voice was clear and strong as spoke of the great Constitutions that emerged from years of work by the Council Fathers.
He spoke of the hope and enthusiasm of those attending that the Vatican Council, that it would lead to a reform and renewal in the Church. He spoke of the many heated discussions over the liturgy, Paul VI’s intervention in the debate over Revelation and the hermeneutic of Scriptural tradition of how he gave Council father’s 14 formulas from which to choose to complete their document.
Read full article or listen to the audio of the Pope’s last Great Master Class: Pope Benedict’s last great master class: Vatican II, as I saw it [full text]
JOHN PAUL II
UNIVERSI DOMINICI GREGIS
ON THE VACANCY
OF THE APOSTOLIC SEE
AND THE ELECTION
OF THE ROMAN PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL, BISHOP
SERVANT OF THE SERVANTS OF GOD
FOR PERPETUAL REMEMBRANCE
The Shepherd of the Lord’s whole flock is the Bishop of the Church of Rome, where the Blessed Apostle Peter, by sovereign disposition of divine Providence, offered to Christ the supreme witness of martyrdom by the shedding of his blood. It is therefore understandable that the lawful apostolic succession in this See, with which “because of its great pre-eminence every Church must agree”,1 has always been the object of particular attention.
Precisely for this reason, down the centuries the Supreme Pontiffs have deemed it their special duty, as well as their specific right, to establish fitting norms to regulate the orderly election of their Successor. Thus, also in more recent times, my Predecessors Saint Pius X,2 Pius XI,3 Pius XII,4 John XXIII 5 and lastly Paul VI,6 each with the intention of responding to the needs of the particular historical moment, issued wise and appropriate regulations in order to ensure the suitable preparation and orderly gathering of the electors charged, at the vacancy of the Apostolic See, with the important and weighty duty of electing the Roman Pontiff.
Read this Vatican Document here: The Lord’s Whole Flock – Blessed Pope John Paul II
I will re-study the Vatican II Documents, via this aid.
BASIC (Beginning Apologetics in Catholicism) The Fruit of Vatican II Session 1: Council Purpose and Divine Revelation Presented by Fr. Kevin Vogel Associate Pastor St. Columbkille Parish, Papillion, NE October 12, 2012 sites.google.com “Live intensely the Year of Faith … 50 years after the close of Vatican Council II. The Council documents contain an enormous wealth for the formation of new Christian generations, for the formation of our conscience. So, read them, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in this way rediscover the beauty of being Christians, of being Church.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Homily in Frascati) What has been the result of the Council? What, in the acceptance of the Council, was good and what was inadequate or mistaken? Have you wondered what Vatican II taught, but been intimidated by the thought of trying to read the documents themselves? Find assistance in discovering the abundance of fruit that has come from this latest Council of the Church through this BASIC series. Eight sessions will be held by Fr. Vogel on Fridays from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm in the St. Columbkille Steinhausen Center, over the course of several months: Oct 12 Session One Council Purpose & Divine Revelation (John XXIII & Dei Verbum) Nov 2 Session Two The Church (Lumen Gentium) Nov 30 Session Three Vocation of the Laity & Mission Activity (Apostolicam Actuositatem & Ad Gentes) Jan 4 Session Four Bishops, Priests, and Religious (Christus Dominus, Optatam Totius, Presbyterorum.)
Blessed Pope John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan
Pope Benedict offered an open-air Mass in the piazza outside his cathedral, the Basilica of St. John Lateran. The Feast of Corpus Christi commemorates the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist and has been celebrated universally since 1264.
The Pope told the large outdoor congregation that the way Eucharistic adoration was de-emphasized in the Church was “influenced by a certain secularizing mentality of the 1960s and ‘70s” and this had “repercussions for the spiritual life of the faithful.”
He proposed that limiting one’s relationship with the “Eucharistic Jesus” solely to the moment of the Mass risked “emptying his presence in the rest of existential time and space,” including in our daily lives.
“In order to truly communicate with another person, I have to know him, I need to know how to remain in silence near him, to listen to him, to look upon him with love,” he said.
“True love and true friendship,” he continued, “lives always in this reciprocity of gazes, of intense eloquent silences, full of respect and of veneration, so that the encounter is lived profoundly, in a personal and not superficial way.”
“In the moment of adoration, we are all on the same level, on bended knee before the Sacrament of Love,” he said.
My Two Cents Worth
I needed Jesus growing up. I even road my bike to church, to be close to Him, several times, when I was a teenager.