Sunday, August 25, 2019

Spin vs. reality about Vatican II

Vatican II is disliked because it asks the Catholic laity to do MORE, not less. We are challenged to actively participate in the Mass rather than offer our own private devotions during the Mass. We are asked to study the Scriptures instead of merely parroting catechism answers. We are asked to pray the Liturgy of the Hours instead of merely reciting the Rosary. It is this challenge to the laity that laity bristle at, while pretending the old way of private devotions is better.

American Catholics were corrupted by living in a Protestant country and had an inferiority complex. Catholic ghetto is Christian community that Protestants and liberals don't like. American Catholics understandably wanted to fit in, so Vatican II let them pretend the church was just another Protestant denomination of vague do-gooders, with no embarrassing customs that stuck out like the Latin Mass or fish on Fridays. To just be one of the fellows. Nothing to do with what Jesus taught. This party line that Catholic understanding, practice, and community before the council were shallow is just internalizing Protestant prejudice.

Vatican II didn't define doctrine, and I accept the church's authority to change rules and write new services; just please don't ban the old ones. There were lively movements before the council that encouraged people to read the Bible, taught people about the traditional Mass and encouraged them to CHANT it, and encouraged lay recitation of the Divine Office. (Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, anyone?) The council's effects killed the latter two. The old Low Mass junked up with sappy hymns won out. At least the old missal was better. It's full of scripture quotations beyond the readings. Today's Catholics DON'T know the Bible better. They don't even go to Mass anymore.

The changes were mistakes that didn't create deeper Catholics but made the church crater.

Take the council back. I don't want it and pretty much live like it doesn't exist. If you think that makes me a bad Catholic, I'm cool with that.


  1. I don't understand. Vatican II wasn't just for American Catholics. American Catholics are a small fraction of worldwide Catholics. Or did the American Catholic experience have disproportionate visibility/influence in the Vatican?

    1. Good point. No, not disproportionate. Just writing about the big national church I know best. And at the time and still, it's the West's leading empire.

    2. I think Bruce has a very valid point, that rather contradicts your main premises. The changes, especially liturgical and cultural, in Europe, especially France, Ireland and Germany were far more extensive than in the United States. Actually, although boring beyond belief, the Mass in many American parishes was at times sometimes even like a real Catholic service. What I often experienced as a young man in France had to be seen to be believed. And France is not a Protestant country.

  2. Interesting – how much of the Vatican II spirit was a Western-church thing – the western rite being the largest and home to the chair – so the American influence in the West and America as the sort of “chair” of 20th Century modernism.


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