Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Thankless Job of the Catholic Conservative Middle - Defending Vatican II

First Thoughts has a good piece on Vatican II I recommend highly. See The Serenity of Vatican II. As he points out:

The progressive left sees the Council as an open-ended innovation whose revolutionary promise has yet to be fulfilled. The traditionalist right views it with deep suspicion and is sometimes heard to say (if not openly, at least sotto voce) that the Church would have been better off had it never occurred. But the vital center of Catholicism—if it can be called that—has always defended the Council as a necessary and faithful extension of the Church’s evangelical mission to the modern world.

Again read it all. I think it puts the Council in a proper viewpoint of history.

Labels are never precise which are their problem. But labels are pretty darn useful and needed in getting points across in a intelligible manner. He uses middle I use the word Catholic "conservatives". If you don't like "conservative" when I use it if middle works better for you use that.

I have often found that the many Catholic "conservatives" have the real, and often sometimes tiring task of defending and still implementing Vatican II. We seem to take it from all sides.

On one side are the extreme traditionalists.  They not only view Vatican II as a big mistake , but perhaps the work of an not so nice spirits. Everything was rosy in Fortress Catholicism of the 1950's , and if we just returned to that Catholicism would go gangbusters. They generally refer to us as NEOCATHS , or some other word that is not meant as a compliment.

We generally are the only ones that deal with these folks in serious way , and engage them. This is because it is pretty clear many  ( not all ) "liberals" find them out of lunch and perhaps wish they would just stay away. If The Society of St Pius the X is reconciled to the Church it will be us "conservatives" in the middle that we have to have the on going dicussion with them I suspect , and  help calm the tensions.

On the other other side is the Spirit of Vatican II liberals. They are most know  by the fact that "Spirit of Vatican II" can and often does contradict the documents of Vatican II . Unlike traditionalists they  cannot say much good about the pre Vatican II Church it seems. Dealing  with Vatican II theological progressives is more tiresome because they have the secular media on their side which often gives them kudos and "job well done" type remarks. Who does not like hearing that?

I sort of encountered this today or at leat elements of it  Teach What You Believe which is a blog run by a Catholic Deacon.

To be very fair I have not done a full review of his blog so I cannot ascertain with any certainty where he might fall on the theological Vatican II spectrum. I read two posting in recent days on the sin of rash judgments which have affected me ( which I will blog on later) so I want to put that CAVEAT out there.

However his  blog posting today Vatican Shuts The Window raises what I call the Spirit of Vatican of II alarm bells. He discusses  Pope John XXIII "  Vatican II 's fresh air opening the windows " in relating to the recent concerns of the Vatican over the leadership of one group of American nuns and sisters. I am not sure what this has to do with Vatican II , but it appears raising concerns about it is very anti Vatican II in some eyes.

We also find a crucial part of Vatican II  progressive mindset  is  though the Bishops can always be questioned the Vatican II "reformers" are above critcism. I am not sure who gave such groups a sort of unofficial Vatican II alternative authority , but they act like they have it. Also people at the Washington Post and NYT tell me they have it so I guess it's settled.

Being in the"middle" of all this never that fun and as one gets older one finds it even more tiresome.

Still I think there are signs of encouragement. Among us conservatives it appears that  herding all these cats is a lot less tense than it used to be. That is there at least appears to be a lot more toleration for different movements. The Charismatic /Steubenville crowd I use as an example. Further the New Evangelization  seems to be taking hold. A movement that I see in such groups as FOCUS in the USA, and Catholic Voices in the UK. Two distinct groups with different mission , but seems to embody what Vatican II was envisioning perhaps. To this we must add Communion and Liberation among many others.

Councils are never easy business , and as had been pointed out sometimes takes a few decades for the real fruits to come out. Hopefully we are in the time period.

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