Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Notes on a council

An acquaintance writes on a book I've not read, Roberto de Mattei's The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story:
It was an exhaustive chronicle, occasionally dry, which admirably avoided tempting digressions. Some thoughts:
  • 1. If you're looking to point fingers at a single group for "hijacking" the Council, look no further than the German hierarchy. Seriously. Especially Julius Cardinal Döpfner.
  • 2. The conservatives at the Council should have been more organized; Pius XII had decided against convoking a council precisely because of the likelihood that a Modernist phalanx would form. The conservatives, especially in the Curia, should have known better. By the time the Coetus Internationalem Patrum got itself up and running their victories were too little, too late. But there were relative victories; do not be mistaken about that.
  • 3. The unsung heroes of the conservative resistance were Ernesto Cardinal Ruffini, Archbishop Geraldo de Proença Sigaud, Bishop Luigi Maria Carli, and Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Without them the conservatives would have had no organization and less intellectual focus.
  • 4. Pope Paul VI is often depicted as having a dithering "Hamlet complex," but if anything this applies more accurately to Cardinal Siri; between his abstention from membership — let alone leadership — in the Coetus and his lack of resolution in the papal conclaves, the regret His Eminence felt late in life is little wonder.
  • 5. Who would have thought the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, Maximos Saïgh, would prove to be one of the most consistent liberals at the Council?
  • 6. Charles de Gaulle connived to get a liberal elected at the 1958 conclave, specifically Cardinal Roncalli, rather than a Pacellian "reactionary" such as cardinals Ottaviani and Siri, while Konrad Adenauer privately preferred a conservative to be elected.
  • 7. With the exception of the drafting of Dignitatis Humanae, the American bishops were surprisingly conservative. What was less surprising perhaps was that they spearheaded the opposition to a debated resolution condemning the use of nuclear weapons.
  • 8. For a brief, shining moment Leo Cardinal Suenens broke from the Modernists to criticize a schema perceived as diminishing the role of Mary in redemption.
Who would have thought the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, Maximos Saïgh, would prove to be one of the most consistent liberals at the Council?
Exactly. "Inspiring" the "Orthodox in communion with Rome" a**holes on the Internet (rare in real life) 50 years on, or as I call them, the National Catholic Reporter disguised by a cool liturgy. "See how cool and spiritual we are, unlike those dumb traddies who dare to use our churches as a refuge." Got to give the Byzantines credit; they turned me against them.

The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber, trying to protestantize the church for the space age (the actual spirit of the council, the mode of progressivism at the time):
Why are the Germans such bad theologians?
Because they were never fully Christianized? The Orthodox use that as an excuse for being in schism: the Frankish Pope was no longer part of their Christian empire. But there is a point here. Why the northern Germanic countries left the church in the 1500s.

By the way, Vatican II didn't define any doctrine and our doctrine's unchangeable anyway.
The temptation towards Arianism has never died in the Anglo-Saxon West. It continuously reappears in new guises, always appearing (like most fads do) as the sophisticated option, before landing back on history's ash heap.
The wise teacher, more than man but less than God; the Anglosphere sophisticates' Jesus.
The problem with theologians is that, as intellectuals, they're tempted to gravitate to this stuff even more deeply than your average bear.
Right. Vatican II wasn't a revolution from the people in the pews. It was sophisticated European churchmen.
The post-war "space age" aspect must have been pervasive. You find it even in the writings of the so-called traditionalists. Ottaviani's Eleanor Roosevelt-like fawning over the UN as the source of world peace, to name just one example that comes to mind.

In the end, we are men of our age, whether we like it or not. That's why the term Modernism is a bad one, very confusing. Apt to turn its heresy hunters into hapless reactionaries.
I did not know that about the traditionalists. The space age in many ways was neat: unprecedented prosperity and upward mobility, and decreasing inequality, in America while at the same time the old values and norms still were in force. You have innovation in design, "populuxe," the American '50s look. But we see now that its assumptions could be dangerous; a continuation of the "Enlightenment," they begat the Sixties.

Photo: Pope Paul VI and Msgr. Meliton of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. If the libcaths really cared about the Christian East, they wouldn't have rewritten the Roman Rite, although ecumenical types go on about how Eastern the new services really are, just that we traddies are too dumb or ignorant to see it.

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