Thursday, August 28, 2008

Always confusion after a Council?

Have you ever been listening to Catholic Answers or a similar sort of show and when the topic of the abuses after Vatican II comes up, the host attempts to smooth over the problems of dissent and abuse by putting the Council in some kind of quasi-historical context with the statement, "Yes, but you must remember, there is always this type of confusion after an Ecumenical Council. It is quite normal." I myself used to use this line a lot, but I will not attempt to explain away the abuses consequent to Vatican II using this line anymore, because it is simply false.

Well, no, it is not completely false, but it is misleading, because there is more than one type of confusion. Yes, many Councils have been followed by periods of confusion and dissent, but the confusion and dissent after Vatican II is substantially different from that which followed the other Councils.

I have been doing a lot of study of the Council of Trent and the period of the Catholic Reformation, both prior to and after Trent and have come to the realization that V2 is unique. Taking Trent as our example (but applying this to any other council pre-V2 council, like Lateran IV or Florence-Ferrara), we see that prior to the Council, morals and discipline were lax. The Council cracked down on these deviations and tightened up discipline. Several reform movements popped up, and monasteries and convents after the Council of Trent were much more faithful to their Rules and to tradition than they had been previously. Thus, the Council was an agent for reform, which meant tightening up discipline and returning to the strictness of the Rule.

Now, if we contrast this with Vatican II, we see that before Vatican II (though not so much leading up to it), discipline was tight. The Council attempted to reform the Church by loosening discipline, and thus deviating from what the Church had always done. The Council was an agent of laxity. Let me ask you this one question: when in the history of the Church had anything ever been reformed by a loosening of discipline? Perhaps when they went to private confession, but that wasn't really a reform as much as a simple pragmatic decision (ie., not meant to redress any abuses, as far as I know). But when have laxity, corruption, infidelity to the rules and canons of the Church ever been redressed by loosening our standards? Never, until Vatican II. People can't keep the Eucharistic fast? Then shorten it. People get more divorces? Then give more annulments. When the Council was called, most bishops wondered why, since everything seemed okay in the Church. The trend of lowering the bar (and eventually of legalizing abuses) was started at Vatican II and has continued throughout the JPII years, so much so that people now act as if it is tyrannical for the Pope to attempt to exert any discipline at all!

And by the way, was there even any real abuses to address before Vatican II? Perhaps creeping modernism, the one thing ignored by the Council. If discipline was too tight before the Council, then are we condemning the praxis of the Church that brought us every saint from Charles Borromeo to Padre Pio? If we assert it was too tight, then we mock the saints. On the other hand, if discipline was too loose before the Council, then how would loosening it make anything better? The onyl solution is to admit that discipline was fine and most people were happy with it, but the Church had to go screwing with it anyway.

So, we have our first reason for why Vatican II was different from all preceeding Councils:

Previous Councils addressed abuses by tightening discipline; Vatican II produced abuses by loosening it.

Now what about this issue of "confusion is normal after a Council?" Was there confusion after previous Councils? You bet! Look at the confusion and strife after some of the early ones, like Nicea, Chalcedon and Ephesus. However, don't be duped into thinking that what we have today is the same type of discord today that we had then. Then, it was heretics and dissenters who rejected the authoritive proclamations of the Councils or rejected their binding discipline. These heretics rejected the teachings of the Councils and went into schism, like the Nestorians. Today, it is confusion and abuse fostered by those claiming to act in the name of the Council that plagues us, and the dissent comes not from people who condemn the Council but from those who love it the most! So, here is our second reason Vatican II is different:

Confusion after previous Councils was the result of dissenters acting against the authority of the Council for the purpose maintaining condemned propositions, while todays confusion stems from the supporters of the Council attempting to implement it, and the greatest dissenters are those who love the Council the most.

Who ever heard of dissent and abuse being caused by trying to implement a Council? The Arians disagreed violently with the rulings of Nicea, but it was their striving against the Church and the Council that caused the ecclesiastical upheavals of the 4th century; it sure wasn't St. Athanasius and St. Gregory of Nyssa doing it! There was must resistance to the Catholic Reformation when St. Teresa of Avila tried to restore order to the Carmelites, but the rage and dissent came from the lax and was directed against the reform. Can you imagine St. Teresa attempting to implement Trent by loosening discipline and allowing all sorts of abuses and experimentations in the name of Trent? Of course not! That would be mad! Yet that is what we have today.

I suppose some might whine about "extreme Traditionalists" causing dissent from the Church, but I must point out two things (1) the "dissent" and confusion caused by trads is infintesimal compared to that brought on by NO related abuses, and (2) when extreme trads do dissent, they at least have the courtesy to go into schism! Seriously! At least Lucian Pulvermacher (Pius XIII) realizes he is out of communion with Rome and admits it, unlike persons like Nancy Pelosi or Fr. Raymond Brown.

So, while we do have confusion after all Councils, we must realize that the nature of the confusion and dissent we see today is much different than that which we experienced in previous centuries. Why does it matter? Because if the confusion is of a different order, then the tactic of just waiting for a few decades until things "settle themselves out" will not work. The problem is internal to the Church itself, not external, like the Arians or the Nestorians. We have to actively promote true reform, which is a tightening of discipline, before things will be solved, and it must start with us. And solved these problems must be, for it is vain to think that time will magically make things smooth themselves out.

Related post: Semantic of Reform (January 2008)


Anonymous said...

Prior to the Council of Trent, there was no Catechism. After Trent, because of the wide dispersal of a type of Cathechism by the Protestants (and others), those of the council assembled the first Catholic Catechism. If you read it (I have a copy) and compare it to the present day Catechism, it is like night and day.

It would seem that today's catechism, much like the results from the recent council(V II) are at best wrong (being nice here). Those who follow this modernist liberal guide are in for a rude awakening. And those who teach it (read James' Epistle about teachers) are not only wrong, but truly wolves.

Get a real education in Catholicism and study the documents from the past. The answers are there, not in a book or paper that has someones modernist or phylosophical spin. Greek philosophy is not the answer nor is it a means to understanding the Faith.

V II has allowed the placement of way to much self interpretation. It has allowed those who desire it to have a means and justification to hold on the the world first. Bishops are a problem. But the real problem is in the priests. There are far more priests than bishops. And the good Bishops can't police everyone. If the people of a parish don't complain then the bishop doesn't know. This allows the priest to do whatever he pleases and the people that think he is such a "holy person" are just as worldly as he.

Confusion? No, there was and is no confusion. It is just a deliberate path to destroy and mislead covertly through worlds and, like dangling a carrot in front of an ass, dangling the world in front of the people.

Not that many will read this, but take a step back and think about it. Then read our history.

Anonymous said...

You bring up some good points. Just found this blog via Cross Reference and I'm going to add it to my blog - reader.

I've only read some of the documents of Vatican II so I'm speaking a little out of ignorance. But don't you think most of the laxity came after the council? For example, I know the council exhorted the Church to employ traditional Gregorian chant music as the norm. Most US parishes explicitly reject this.

I think if the liberals were actually faithful to the words of Vatican II, we wouldn't even have a problem. Don't you think so?

Anonymous said...

Great post! You should do a whole series on all of these false justifications for the blatant apostasy that occurred after Vatican Council II.

Boniface said...

Perhaps, Tim, but the problem is with the documents themselves. There is no clear, irrefutable interpretation of them. Many (though not all) of what the liberals have done is in line with certain interpretations of the council documents. Furthermore, the series of implementation directives that came after the Council directing bishops how to implement it were outright scandalous in themselves, like the 1978 Art and Architecture directives which called for chairs instead of pews, a removal of kneelers and a removal of the tabernacle. What is needed is an authorative interpretation of the Council and a restriction of all these ridiculous options.

Anonymous said...

I think the mass absolution of the documents of Vatican II is certainly not warranted. Sancrosanctum Concilium is a scandalous document upon closer reading. I am not so much scandalized by what it says about the Mass, but more about how it wanted to "clean up" the Office by getting rid of "mythical" acts of the saints. Also, the elimination of the seven offices of the day was completely untraditional. Lumen Gentium is actually a good document, except for the whole "subsitit" thing and the introduction of permanent deacons (just an excuse for the priest not to have to preach a sermon). Gaudium et Spes is something I have never been able to get through, and the documents on ecumenism are complete mush: nothing objectionable strictly speaking, but still uncalled for in the context in which they were written. Dignitatis Humanae is a feat of mental gymnastics, and did cause some real damage especially in Spanish speaking countries.

Actually, even Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre like most of the other documents.

On the broader topic, I think Vatican II was a massive blunder. It was an attempt to stem the tide of secularism by just going with the flow, and the flow just rolled over the Church. The old canard "it would have just happened anyway", or better yet, "Vatican II made it so that it wasn't that bad", is just really hard to believe. In the end, the burden of proof lies in the Council itself, not its hypothetical non-existence. Maybe saying that Vatican II caused the crisis that took place in its aftermath is an example of the "Post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy. But where there is smoke, there's fire. It's hard to believe, as Boniface says, that relaxing discipline would have solved the problem. It's like correcting the behavior of a bratty child with ice cream.