Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Fr. Robert Imbelli on Vatican II

CWR Dispatch: Christ at the center of the Council by George Weigel
Why has the great promise of Vatican II been frustrated so often?

According to Weigel:

In “No Decapitated Body,” a bracing essay published In the current issue of Nova et Vetera, Father Imbelli develops his argument for a more radically Christ-centered Church, sheds light on a host of current Catholic controversies and concerns, and does so with an authorial calm that nonetheless conveys his passion for Christ and the Gospel. Why has the great promise of Vatican II been frustrated so often? In a word, according to Father Imbelli, because of apostasy: a drastic dissolution of the Christ-centeredness that theology sought to recover in the first half of the 20th century and that the Council affirmed. The greatest of Vatican II’s documents, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, begins, Imbelli reminds us, with the ringing affirmation, “Christ is the light of the nations.” And the entire Council, he suggests, must be interpreted through the prism of that confession of faith – “In many ways, the Council’s achievement could be read as a prolonged meditation upon the meaning and implications of Saint’s Paul’s confession – ‘For no other foundation can anyone lay that that which has been laid: Jesus Christ’ (1 Cor. 3:11).”

Is there a problem with such a simplistic explanation of the reasons for the council and what happened afterwards? What of Latin churches were Christ is the focus, even if the message is distorted? Imbelli seems to recognize that there are deeper problems with Latin ecclesial culture and praxis:

Father Imbelli explores how this forgetting of Christ shows up in various ways: in liturgy that does not begin from the premise that “the prime agent of the celebration [is] the Head of the Body,” on whom every sacramental act is totally dependent; in a dissecting room approach to the Bible and to preaching that does not convey the living presence of the one who is “the Word” (John 1:1) in the divinely-inspired Word of God; in attempts to set “doctrine” against “pastoral practice.” Certain voices in the Church incorrectly blame all of this on Vatican II. Yet it was the Council that taught that Jesus Christ is the one who acts in Baptism, the Eucharist, and the other sacraments, and it was the Council that insisted on the reality of God’s self-revelation in Scripture. As for the juxtaposition of the “doctrinal” and the “pastoral,” or “truth and mercy,” well, as Father Imbelli reminds us, the Synod of 1985 taught that “it is not licit to separate the pastoral character [of Vatican II] from the doctrinal vigor of the documents.”

The question remains, what is to be done if even a Latin synod could not reform the patriarchate? How many more years do Latins have to wait for the fruits of the council to appear?

Douglas Farrow on Bishop Schneider's and Archbishop Viganò's Objections Regarding Vatican II

Dethroning Christ? The error at the root of the Viganò controversy (Part I)

Part 2

Farrow seems to admit this much:
Now, surely there is nothing wrong with a document promulgated in a political context being on its way to a political rather than an evangelical end, so long as that end is understood to be proximate rather than ultimate. There’s the rub, however. For the Abu Dhabi Declaration seems to be evangelically deficient in a way no political aim can justify. Its call to “come together in the vast space of spiritual, human and shared social values,” and to do so in such as way as to avoid “unproductive discussions,” might reasonably be taken to rule out the very thing Paul was doing on Mars Hill!

But Farrow cannot get beyond the parameters set by Latin ecclesiology, taken by Latins to be dogma:
When we keep this in mind, we can see more easily that to give the answer we ought to give, the answer we must give if we do not intend to be schismatic – the answer that Vatican II was indeed an authentic ecumenical council, engaged in the work of God and of the magisterium of the Church under God – is not to commit ourselves to the untenable notion that its fathers were uniformly faithful or that its documents, despite the flaws of their authors, were themselves essentially flawless.
As a Latin he must accept the claim by Rome that Vatican II is an ecumenical council. Because he must accept that, he must uphold the hermeneutic of continuity, much as Benedict XVI. Part 2 is better in so far as he responds to certain misconceptions (held by some Latin integralists and Latin traditionalists) regarding nature of the Kingship of Christ.

Historicizing Vatican II by Roberto Pertici

One cannot focus just on those proximate years right before Vatican II, if one is going to examine the historical causes of Vatican II. One must look at how the papacy developed in the second millenium and how it reoriented itself after it loss the papal states, and how it dealt with European polities after the loss of Western Christendom. The weakness of the patriarchate of Rome, as witnessed in the life of its churches and its failures in directing secular European polities, must be understood in lack of proper ordering, for which we can find evidence in Church history, Latin theology or dogma, and Roman canon law. The crisis of the patriarchate of Rome was not a sudden development that happened after Vatican II, and it has a longer history that goes back to before Pope Pius X.

Magister: Historicizing Vatican Council II. Here’s How the World of Those Years Influenced the Church

Essays by Fr. Vincent McNabb


A Dedication to Bessarion