Treasures Old and New: Vatican II is to be Understood and Interpreted within a Hermeneutic of Continuity
taught by the Church from its beginnings? Clearly, on many issues related to this hermeneutic the speaker and I hold very different positions. It was clear as specific" hot button" issues began to be discussed in that forum.
There is one final word which came up in this encounter. This one a French word, ressourcement. It means a return to the sources. I told my colleague that I believed that the Second Vatican Council, as properly understood, should also be seen as a return to the sources - the Scriptures, the Patristic writings and past Councils - in order to update the trajectory of truth.
I offered an opinion that the task of a contemporary Catholic theologian is beautifully explained in a passage from Matthew's Gospel, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old." (Matt. 13:52)
Well, my colleague and I had a punchy discussion. He views himself as a "progressive" and apparently viewed me, his interlocutor, as what he called a "traditionalist". I told him I prefer the noun "Catholic" without any descriptive labels. I am not a "traditionalist" though I do love the Tradition. I added that if he wanted to use adjectives, he could just call me a "dynamically orthodox", happy to be Catholic, Catholic.
I thought of the speaker recently when I read comments given by Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the current Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to this important post, to the chagrin of some "traditionalists" and the disappointment of some "progressivists". His appointment is proving to be one more confirmation of the wisdom of this Pope.
The Archbishop gave some insightful remarks recently upon the presentation of Volume VII of the German edition of Joseph Ratzinger's "Opera Omnia", a systematic theological collection of the works the now Pope Benedict XVI has written on the meaning of the Second Vatican Council. I hope my colleague read this address. The Prefect suggested an interesting connection between some "progressivists" and some "traditionalists".
Rather than give my own interpretation of his remarks, I offer a lengthy quote from Gianna Valente's article on the presentation in the November 30, 2012 edition of La Stampa entitled "The custodian of faith on the "heretical interpretations" of the Council"
The custodian of faith on the "heretical interpretations" of the Council
Those who consider the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II, to be a break from Church Tradition, offer a "heretical interpretation" of this great ecclesiastical event. And this doctrinal error is not made only by modernist innovators: it is also committed by neo-traditionalists who believe that Vatican II supposedly turned its back on the "traditional Church".
The suggestion that the traditionalist position may have "heretical" elements was made yesterday evening by Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, current Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
His remarks came during the presentation of volume VII of the German edition of Joseph Ratzinger's "Opera Omnia", a systematic collection of all the works which the theologian-turned-Pope dedicated to the Council and the documents that came out of it.
The presentation took place in a very evocative place: the Teutonic College of Santa Maria dell'Anima which was expert-theologian Joseph Ratzinger's logistical base during the Council sessions.
During his presentation, the head of the doctrinal dicastery, clearly stated that the only orthodox interpretation of the Second Vatican Council is that which sees it as an opportunity for reform and renewal, in continuity with the one subject-Church which the Lord has given us.
Müller sees this as the only hermeneutic that respects "the indissoluble unity between the Holy Scriptures, the complete and integral Tradition and the Magisterium, which finds its highest expression in the Council, presided over by St. Peter's Successor, as visible head of the Church."
Archbishop Müller contrasted this "singular orthodox interpretation" with a "heretical interpretation" which he identified with "the hermeneutics of a split, both on the progressivist front and the traditionalist front." According to Müller, what they both share in common is a rejection of the Council:
"progressivists want to leave it behind them, as if it were just a phase that should be abandoned in order to move towards a different Church; traditionalists do not want to move towards such a Church, as if it represented the winter of the Catholica."
In his speech, the former bishop of Regensburg described the contribution of Joseph Ratzinger, first as a theologian during the actual Council meetings (as a theological advisor to Cardinal Joseph Frings also) and then during the long and turbulent reception phase of the conciliar teachings. "It was a time of great expectation. Something big had to happen," Benedict XVI wrote in the preface to the German volume presented by Müller.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Vatican II, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, hermeneutic of continuity, hermeneutic of rupture, New Evangelization, missionary, Deacon Keith Fournier
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