21Apr Vatican II is a “beautiful work of the Spirit” – Pope Francis

Pope Francis has called the Second Vatican Council a “beautiful work of the Holy Spirit” from which only the foolish and those lacking belief would want to retreat. He made his comments days after taking a decisive step to implement a key teaching of Vatican II – episcopal collegiality – by selecting eight cardinal-advisers from around the world to help him govern the Universal Church and reform its much-criticised central bureaucracy, the Roman Curia.

“After 50 years, have we done everything the Spirit told us in the council?” he asked during a brief homily at Mass on Tuesday morning. “No. We celebrate this anniversary by practically erecting a monument to the council, but we are more concerned that it doesn’t cause us any bother. We don’t want to change,” he told a small group of Vatican employees inside the chapel at his Santa Marta residence.

“But there’s even more – there are those who want to go back,” he said. “This is called ‘being stiff-necked’; this is called wanting to ‘tame the Holy Spirit’; this is called becoming ‘fools and slow of heart’,” he said in his unscripted remarks, which were part of a reflection on the temptation to resist the often unsettling promptings of the Holy Spirit.

It was the first time in a little over a month since he was elected Bishop of Rome that Pope Francis had spoken specifically about Vatican II.

11 Responses

  1. Seáinín

    Vatican II was the greatest tragedy that ever befell the Church. Ever since the council the Church has been rent by division, liturgical abuse, a watering down of doctrine and a general weakening of the Church. It is quite obvious that the council did not bring about the ‘new springtime’ but plunged the Church into a freezing winter that has withered it away into obscurity. I find it remarkable that clerics still consider Vatican II a blessing for the church when it has done nothing but damage.It achieved none of its aims, look at Mass for example, in an ordinary Mass the congregation rather than play an active role in the sacrifice just sit there, the vast majority don’t even pray. Yet when someone attends the Latin Mass, the congregation is devoutly engaged in prayer throughout, a fact that led my atheist father to return to the Church. I would advise the readers of this to attend a traditional Mass once and they will see a huge difference between the effects of the old and new Masses on a congregation. I am not saying that Vatican II was heretical, but it was far too vague on its interpretation and was too far reaching in its reforms, it plunged the Church into a sea of controversy and that is why I believe that it was the worst disaster to befall the Church ever, and to those who think I’m an old fuddy duddy nostalgic, I’m 22 for your information and study Theology in Trinity.

  2. Mark

    I hope that you will keep going with the Theology, it is a lifetime’s search for God and for meaning.
    If you are fortunate, your life will be a process of continuous learning; of finding that you need to unlearn some of what you were taught; of discovering that you know only a little about some things; and of inching nearer to God.
    However, if you are unfortunate, you will believe – now or soon – that you know it all already; this will be a delusion on your part.
    As for the liturgy of the Mass:- Consider the possibility that the Church may be right, on the flexibility which it allows, and that you may be wrong?
    It is dangerous (I mean it is dangerous for you, for anyone) to think that we can see inside the hearts of other people, for example those whom we see in Church.

  3. Eddie Finnegan

    “and to those who think I’m an old fuddy duddy nostalgic, I’m 22 for your information and study Theology in Trinity.”
    A Sheáinín,
    As an old fuddy duddy nostalgic myself, I am amazed that you haven’t chosen to call yourself ‘Johannellus’, a form of the endearing diminutive so much more fitting for so devout a traditionalist as yourself, and a Theologellus to boot of the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity.
    You say that you’re not anathematizing Vatican II as heretical (for this mercy much thanks!) but in describing it as “the greatest tragedy that ever befell the Church” and “the worst disaster to befall the Church ever” you seem to be at least mildly dissenting from Pope Francis’s foolish description of it as “a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit”. Is Francis a heretic? Or just one of those silly “clerics (who)still consider Vatican II a blessing for the Church”?
    And are you just an admirer of the Latin Mass in the Extraordinary Form, a devotee of the Latin Mass Society – or a Lefebvreist of the SSPX? But no, I’d never have thought you an old fuddy duddy nostalgic (a badge I wear with pride and the T-shirt to go with it). A young fogey undergrad was always a safer bet.

  4. Nuala O'Driscoll

    Seainin @1..Did you not know that being ‘rent by division’ is part and parcel of the Christian tradition? The very first followers of Jesus of Nazareth were still Jews when Paul decided it was time to stand up to Peter and the other disciples and introduce the anathema idea of (1) admitting pagans into the new Christian sect and (2) abolishing imposed circumcision. There is no growth without division, eg. the very first cells from which we develop. Division corrects and energises and weeds out the dead from the new growth. As Pope Francis points out Vatican 11 is a work in progress and I think he will be wary of pulling out the weeds for fear of damaging the new growth in the process. Don’t put a limit on the Spirit…Paul didn’t and Jesus of Nazareth was scathing of the tradition he grew up in!

  5. Peter Shore

    Seáinín — I fear your argument is a non sequitur. From the fact that the Church has been riven and beset by division since Vatican II, it does not follow that the council itself was at fault. As a student of theology you have no doubt read some or all of the conciliar documents. Surely you cannot be oblivious to their depth and wisdom? I don’t think you will find any mandate for the liturgical abuses that have occurred since then in the words of the council itself.
    Nuala — I don’t know if I agree with you. Paul and Barnabas were appointed to go up from Antioch to Jerusalem to present the issue (Acts 15). The apostles and elders held a council during which reasoned discussion took place and a decision was made by the leaders of the Church. Peter had already baptised non-Jews (Acts 10). Nowhere is there any suggestion that the authority to resolve disputes lies anywhere other than with the apostles and their successors. There are issues which divide the Church today on which the successor of Peter has already spoken. There is no way that can be characterised as healthy dispute.
    I also have to disagree that Jesus was scathing about his tradition. He was scathing about superficial religiosity and about hypocrites.

  6. Seáinín

    With regards to your first point, I do not refer to myself as ‘Johannellus Theologellus’ as it is unfortunately not my name, or am I to be considered a theologian. The contemptuous tone with which you have chosen to address a fellow Christian says a lot about the vision of Catholicism you espouse.
    As to your second point; whilst I do not consider Vatican II as heretical, I do believe that it did untold damage to the Church, It’s not an opinion unique to me, Diarmaid MacCulloch, professor of Church History at Oxford blames Vatican II for the large scale decline in Catholicism(I must also point out that he is a gay deacon in the Church of England well known for his liberal views on Christian belief, hardly a supporter of Tridentine Catholicism) Eamon Duffy, professor of Christian History at Cambridge, said that Vatican II represented the triumph of the Reformation in Catholicism. Whatever you say, Vatican II most certainly represented a break with the Churches past to a large extant and did it prosper as a result? No.
    With regard to my opinions on Pope Francis, Vatican II was a pastoral council, not a dogmatic one and therefore we have no obligation to embrace its reforms, even if the Supreme Pontiff should believe we should. That does not make me heretical, I simply believe what the Church has always believed and I will not embrace reforms that evidently have been bad for the Church ( as declared by Pope St Pius X and Pope Pius XII to mention a couple of Popes that have declared many of the same reforms of the council the great errors of our age.)
    And finally to answer your question as to whether I am a devotee of the SSPX ( Who are Catholics and good ones to boot) I am a Catholic, simple as that, the maxims of which you would do well to study and embrace.

  7. Nuala O'Driscoll

    Peter @5. You are right to the extent that the end result was that Paul’s belief that gentiles should not have to be circumcised was upheld. But there was much antagonism, politicking and bitter disputes between Paul and the ‘troika’ James, Cephas and John on the abolition of the Law. Also Paul was under the impression that he was in partnership with the three (Gal:2.9-10) while Peter considered Paul to be his enemy (the epistle of Peter to James (2. 3-5).

    You are also right in theory that Jesus was scathing about superficial religiosity and hypocrites and not about his tradition. But the hypocrites were the religious authorities who wielded the power over the people and made themselves synonymous with the tradition. Much like today and the way the powers that be in the Vatican have made themselves infallible to the extent that many married couples are living outside the tradition of the Catholic Church because of its infallible law on contraception.

  8. Seáinín

    I cannot agree whatsoever with your comment that division is part and parcel of the Christian tradition. Christ prayed that his followers may be one. That unity is fundamental to the Church and division should at all costs be divided. I believe that you are a good soul and remain enthusiastic for the reforms of the council, hoping that it will yet bear good fruit. That I cannot foresee because the reforms represent an unnatural break with the organic growth of the church’s tradition and brought into question core Catholic beliefs and practices, not to mention questioning the traditions of the Church that preceded Vatican II. Such an environment cannot be the ground on which the renewal of Catholicism could rise from. We need to reexamine the reforms of the council in the light of tradition and examine the fruits therof

  9. Nuala O'Driscoll

    ‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword. For I have come to set son against father, daughter against mother, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law; a person’s enemies will be the members of his own household’

  10. Nuala O'Driscoll

    I do not agree with my last comment @9. Not the content but using scripture to prove my point. Using scripture to support an argument is a two-edged sword, there is always anther quote from scripture to support an opposing argument. Scripture is for pondering on. Scripture reflects the divisiveness that is intrinsic in human nature. This is not good v. evil. We are made of the same stuff as the stars which were created from the chaos of the big bang. We carry this confusion deep in our DNA. “We are the product of our evolution: we cannot be held responsible for that. We inhabit all its stages. We have only slowly crept out of its larval forms. We inherit the confusion, the warp, the imbalance which taints the situation into which we are born: We carry within us also and have to deal with the ancestral failures and distortions of our race and culture” (from New Life for Old: on desire and becoming human, written by Vincent MacNamara).

  11. Eddie Finnegan

    Thanks Nuala for your rethink. More of us should do that from time to time. Only good reason for having a mind is the pleasure of changing it now and again.

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