Rose colored glasses in heavy use in Texas Catholic Vatican II pieces January 11, 2013Posted by tantamergo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, Ecumenism, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, North Deanery, scandals, secularism, self-serving, Society.
I don’t know Steve Landregan. I’ve never met him. I am told, by those who have, that he apparently has a voluminous knowledge of the history of the Church and, in particular, the Dallas Diocese. That may be the case, but in the series of articles he has been writing in the Texas Catholic to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, Mr. Landregan appears to ignore much historical evidence in order to present his generation’s view of the Council as an unalloyed good, something beyond critique.
I refer in particular to the most recent article in this series, published in the January 4, 2013 Texas Catholic (as usual, not online), wherein Mr. Landregan discusses some of the differing views of the Council, most particularly, those who reject an “authentic interpretation” of the Council for either a progressive vision which utterly destroys Tradition and assumes the Church began in 1962, or those who see in the Council the framework for that radical, progressive vision and question the Council on those grounds. There are many problems with the basic analysis – for one, equating a tiny traditionalist movement centered around the SSPX with the huge, enormous progressive movement which utterly dominated the Church from the mid-60s until well into the 90s, and is really still in overwhelming control of the Church today. In terms of damage done to the Church, there is no comparison, the radical ecumenists and chunkers of Dogma have wreacked far more catastrophe on the Church than just about any time in its entire 2000 year history, while whatever damage traditionalists have done (if any) has been mitigated by their utter lack of influence and tiny numbers. Not that one could tell this from the article, it is plain where Landregan’s sympathies lie and it’s not with the traditionalists (I gather this not strictly from this article, I’ve read quite a bit from Landregan and he’s always indicated great comfort in the radical changes which occurred in the Church after Vatican II). From this article, it would appear the SSPX poses as grave a threat to the Church as all the radical re-shapers of the Faith of the last 50 years.
One huge distinction Landregan fails to draw in his analysis of the two “extremes” regarding Vatican II (how can one side be an extreme when it dominated even the mainstream of the Church for 3 or more decades?) is that the traditional critiques, questioning, or outright rejection of Vatican II are primarily based on effects – that is to say, on the catastrophies that have afflicted the Church since the Council. Those who take a rose colored view of Vatican II often try to claim that the disasters that have occurred in the Church in the past several decades would have occurred anyways, or would have been much worse, without the Council. Nice try. Vatican II, we are told, ushered in a “new springtime.” As far as the statistical evidence is concerned, and the lives of millions of Catholics, this springtime has all the appearance of the harshest, most deathly winter ever. Landregan ignores the effects-based concerns of traditionalists and implies they simply can’t stand any changen the Church at all, something that I think is ludicrous, since virtually all traditional-type Catholics are actually clamoring for change, simply of a different sort from the progressive side (back to the more traditional practices of the Faith). Seriously, traddy-types are generally fully on board with organic, bottom-up developments in the Faith. What they are opposed to, and what had never occurred before in the history of the Church, was the kind of top-down changes made at Vatican II with regard to, for instance, the Liturgy. Inorganic changes, in short.
I want to spend some time discussing a few select quotes in detail. The first one is this: “For the majority of Catholics the changes emanating from the council [sic] were easily and quicly assimilated and resulted in a deeper understanding of their Faith, enriched experiences of liturgy and enhanced relationships with those of other faiths.”
Can anyone who has even a passing knowledge of the current state of the Church, the nightmarish calamaties of the past 50 years, and the very strong state of the Church prior to the Council, make this claim with a straight face? How much happy gas does one have to consume to hold this viewpoint? Which Catholics is Landregan talking about? The 70-80% who don’t believe in the Real Presence anymore? The tens of millions – amounting to over a 1/3 of the former Body of Christ - who have left the Faith entirely? The further tens of millions of self-described “Catholics” who haven’t been to Mass or Confession in years? I would bet any sum of money that the average Catholic from 1955 could utterly trounce a Catholic from today in knowledge of the Faith. I would also claim that Catholics of a more conservative or traditional bent today tend to have a far greater understanding of the Faith than other Catholics. As far as the “enriched experiences of the liturgy,” if Mr. Landregan is speaking for himself, I pity him for never comprehending the incalculable treasure available in the Traditional Latin Mass.
Landregan also quotes Venerable Pope John XXIII in support of his view that the inorganic changes made at Vatican II were good, very good. What Landregan fails to mention is that after the first session of Vatican II closed in December 1962, Pope John XXIII was actively working to end the Council, even if no documents were approved or promulgated, because John XXIII had seen that the simple, short Council he envisaged had gotten out of control. Cardinal Heenan and others confirmed that John XXIII was working with them to end the Council when the Pope’s final illness struck. Nothing occurred, and Pope John’s replacement, Paul VI, as a devoted humanist, was always supportive of many of the progressive aims of the Council.
One more paragraph particularly annoyed me: “Far from being stolen, the church [sic] of my childhood, renewed by the council [sic], emerged from four centuries of isolation to re-engage the world in the spirit of Pope Gregory the Great whose choice to engage rather than retreat created Christendom.”
Once again, I am almost speechless, except you know me, I can’t be. This is one of the more amazing statements I’ve read, and reveals how preconceived notions can apparently trump even massive knowledge. The Church of Trent is the Church that evangelized four continents, brought tens to hundreds of millions of souls into the light of Faith, combatted the most noxious heresy ever, fighting it to a standstill (and would have crushed it, were it not for perfidious betrayers in its own camp), continued the development of its theology, philosophy, etc, and produced untold Saints, all the while constantly interacting with the world. I just don’t accept this idea of a Church that refused to engage the culture – what it did, is it refused to engage the culture on its own terms! That’s the difference – the Church has always been in the world, it can’t help but be, but after Vatican II the approach changed radically to being engaging the culture on the terms dictated by the modern world. Which is where so many of the wrong ideas about ecumenism, certain aspects of science, salvation potentiality, etc., come from – from the world! The result has been, to put it lightly, far from positive.
It’s a very subtle switch from being in the world but not of it, to sort of allowing some of that “of it” to creep in. It’s a difference Pope St. Gregory the Great understood very well, and the Church at that time remained in the world but constantly determined its own rules of engagement.
As an aside, as far as accepting the changes from the Council, it is true that Catholics had been conditioned by centuries of obeisance to centralized authority to do just that – to obey what came down from above without question. That, as it turns out, was a great mistake, and really marked a very radical change from how the Church operated prior to the protestant revolt. Prior to the revolt, the faithful (laity, clergy, religious) held their superiors to account – in a very respectful way – for adherence to Doctrine. When Pope John XXII apostasized, not only bishops but lower clergy and faithful all challenged him and there was great uproar in the Church. As always, the Holy Ghost preserved the Faith intact, as Pope John’s apostasy was expressed as private opinion, not dogmatic statements. But the point is, the people of the Church would not tolerate this change to the Faith they had inherited from their predecessors. But after the protestant revolt, when a centralized authority was seen as necessary to stop dissent leading to error and apostasy, the Church gradually inculcated a greater and greater obeisance to its Supreme Authority, so that by the 20th Century, the danger existed that a Pope who was not faithful to the prior Magisterium could lead the faithful away due to their unquestioning obedience. It was sort of the Loyola-ization of the Church. Even though very few of the laity and clergy wanted to see the Mass changed, for instance, they accepted the changes with very little question. And all the other changes, as well. This ultra-montanism was probably unhealthy, as people gave away the greatest treasure Western Civilization has ever produced – the Mass – without thinking or questioning.
Another topic wholly glossed over by Mr. Landregan is the nature of the authority of the Council and its numerous documents. As our own Bishop has already indicated, the Council as a whole was “pastoral,” and not Dogmatic, although there are confirmations of Dogma in various documents, especially the Dogmatic Constitutions. But even there, in documents such as Guadium Et Spes, there are numerous statements that are impossible as dogma, as they are simply pastoral guidance about how to do this or that, in often excrutiating detail, and on subject matter that is frequently very mundane. So to claim that even these documents are wholly dogmatic is not only a stretch, its completely unrealistic. Lumen Gentium is probably the closest a single document comes to being dogmatic, and there is debate regarding certain formulations, there.
Suffice it to say, as opposed to simply painting a happy face on the whole lot and proclaiming it all good, these are discussions that should be ongoing in the Church for a long time to come. The Church desperately needs to come to a proper understanding of Vatican II. The Pope has given a very broad guidance (always interpret in the light of preceding Tradition), but that is not enough, as there are statements within the various documents that are very challenging to resolve with that preceding Magisterium, and in fact have not been by any authoritative source. I do not accept that the documents of Vatican II are impossible to reconcile with Tradition, simply that I do not yet understand how they can be, and have not seen them so reconciled. But that also doesn’t mean that I have to just sit down and shut up and pretend it’s all OK. Because as I look around the Church, all is not OK, it’s far from it. We’re in the midst of the worst crisis the Church has ever faced, and most of that crisis stems from either the Council itself, or the radical interpretations and executions thereof.
The last thing the Church needs right now are “canonizations” of the Council, but we’re getting them in spades in this anniversary year. The upcoming canonization of Pope Paul VI will be part and parcel of the process, in spite of many Catholics being utterly bewildered at this seemingly very political move. I’m afraid its unavoidable. Like veterans going back to Normandy Beach in their 70s and 80s, the generation that fought the battles of Vatican II is determined to make one more push to enshrine the Council and their notions of it into final, immutable dominance. I, for one, plan to continue the discussion.
For something completely different, here is the same Mr. Landregan talking about the condition of Lee Harvey Oswald at Parkland Hospital after his shooting by Jack Ruby. Good Lord, Landregan must be well, well into his 80s, since I’m guessing he was at least 35-38 back in 1963.