Friday, January 26, 2007

Vatican II?

Q - I have been reading some on Vatican II and its consequences. Many writers argue that these changes in the Church are leading to its demise e.g. falling numbers of clergy and a fall in the number of priests. What are your views on Vatican II and how it has impacted the faith? Thanks!

A – Let me provide a disclaimer first. My opinion doesn’t really matter. There are much more educated, intelligent, and authoritative opinions out there. Of course those who know me know I didn't really need to say that. :-)

With that being said, I will give a few very short thoughts and provide you with some other opinions. The fact is that after every ecumenical council there has been significant issues to address; some much bigger than others. Vatican II is no different. But, the difference with Vatican II is twofold: (1) – it is the first council that was more “pastoral” than “doctrinal. This doesn’t mean there wasn't doctrine in the council documents, but the focus was more on implementing the doctrine already taught in today’s world rather than clarifying anything doctrinal. (2) – We are living through the implementation and fallout from this council unlike the other ones.

Now, the unique thing that has happened is that many people (according to Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI) did not interpret and implement the council documents in the manner that was in accord to what the Church intended. Therefore, overcoming these problems has led to some of the problems we see today.

But, Pope John Paul II saw his pontificate primarily as an opportunity to implement Vatican II’s graces into the life of the Church. Also, Benedict XVI has said that his pontificate is a continuation of what JPII did. So, we are still in the process of living out Vatican II.

But, we must be optimistic about the future because there are many signs that the Church has finally started to do a much better job of living out the graces of Vatican II. In fact, the signs are all around us here at St. Mary’s.

I hope that helps. If you want to read anything else, you can find some good commentary here:

What Went Wrong With Vatican II by Ralph McInerny
Pope John Paul II on Vatican II

Benedict XVI and Vatican II
One more article...