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The ‘rupture’ school responds – UPDATED! June 21, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, disaster, Ecumenism, episcopate, General Catholic, Latin Mass, North Deanery, sadness, scandals.

I posted yesterday about the debate ongoing in L’ Osservatore Romano and other Italian publications concerning Vatican II, and whether it – and it’s corresponding ‘spirit’ – should be viewed a natural outgrowth in line with Tradition, or as a ‘rupture’ with the Doctrine of the Faith.  Yesterday I presented what I consider a very strong argument from those who feel it must be interpreted in the light of Tradition, and that certain portions of the Council must necessarily be clarified or perhaps even expunged.  Today, one of the supporters of ‘rupture,’ those who feel the Council did everything just about right and that radical departures from Tradition are A-OK. 

I wonder what my friend Steve B thinks of the below, from historian Enrico Morini of the hyper-progressive ‘Bologna’ school, with a few very mild, very moderate comments from me in red:

Having said this, I am ready to express to you my reflections in regard to the hermeneutic of the Council. So then, rupture or continuity? With respect to what – perhaps the Catholic tradition? I wonder whether tradition, even within the Church itself, is a univocal reality or if it is not instead a plurality of traditions in its more than millennial history. Now, in my personal but convinced hermeneutic of Vatican II, the Council was at the same time, intentionally, both continuity and rupture[This cannot be!]

Above all, this was founded, in my view, in the intent of both its blessed promoter John XXIII and the Fathers who constituted the “conciliar majority,” on the perspective of the most absolute continuity with the tradition of the first millennium, according to a periodization that is not purely mathematical but essential, the first millennium of Church history being that of the as yet undivided Church of the seven Councils. The desired aggiornamento was aimed precisely at this recovery, at this return to an age that was certainly turbulent, but happy, because it was nourished by reciprocal communion among the Churches. Note carefully that this does not mean the recovery – as, unfortunately, many have understood it – of an “ecclesiae primitivae forma,” which is a pure abstraction, an historiographical myth of extremely nebulous outlines that is thus unsuited to found, or refound, an ecclesial praxis, and perhaps precisely because of this has become a tenuous model for many heresies and, still today, for various ecclesiological heterodoxies.  [I believe that as this argument develops, what the author is calling for is completely artificial and ignores continuing Revelation.  It places some notion of ecumenism, a sort of ‘let’s pretend its AD1000 again and we’re all happy friends!, as the highest end of the Church.  But you cannot uninvent the last 1000 years, and trying to impose, from out of the blue, things out of practice for 1500 years, leads to an artificiality]. 

The ecclesial theory and praxis of the first millennium are, instead, anything but an abstraction and a myth, documented as they are by the writings of the Fathers and by the deliberations of the first Councils. [For many of these Councils, in fact, nearly all, the historical record is very spotty and much of what went on at them is highly speculative] It is very significant that the announcement of Vatican II was perceived in the beginning, in some sectors – including no less than the great Athenagoras, who also fell into what has been called an “ecumenical misunderstanding” – as expressly intended for the recomposition of unity among Christians: in essence, a Council of union. More significant still – even beyond the highly symbolic value of the gesture – is that the Council concluded its work, on December 7, 1965, with the epochal removal “from the memory and from the midst of the Church” of the reciprocal excommunications issued in 1054 between the patriarch of Constantinople and the Roman legates (the extraordinary ecclesiological value of this event was presented masterfully by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in an article in the magazine “Istina” in 1975).

This recovery, on the part of the Catholic Church, of the tradition of the first millennium implicitly involved a de facto rupture – I apologize for the excessive schematization – with the Catholic tradition of the second millennium. It is not true, in my view, that there are no ruptures in the tradition of the Church. There was one interruption, precisely at the passage from the first to the second millennium, with the transition imparted by the “Lorraine-Alsace” reformers (like Pope Leo IX, as also two of the three legates in Constantinople in the aforementioned 1054, Cardinal Umberto and Stefano di Lorena, a future pope) and by the “Gregorian” reform, and then by an eminently philosophical approach to theological truths and by the overwhelming interest in canon law (already lamented by Dante Alighieri), at the expense of Scripture and the Fathers, at the height of the Middle Ages. Not to mention the Tridentine reform, with the rigid dogmatization – even going beyond the presuppositions of the medieval Church – as well as the “confiscation” of Scripture from the ordinary faithful, up to the apotheosis of the pontifical “monarchy” in Vatican I, relegating even further to the background the profile of the undivided Church of the first millennium. This should not come as a surprise: precisely because the Church is a living organism, its tradition is subject to evolution, but also to involutions. [The sort of mini-history just presented is one that is ordered to produce a visceral reaction against the Church since Trent.  It is highly biased and I would argue inaccurate.  I think Dr. Carroll would just shake his head.  One thing it isn’t, is orthodox Catholic history.  Once again, we see a fetishizing of the first millenium Church at the expense of the 2nd millenium.  This ignores organic development and continuing Revelation.  It produces a construct.  Now, there could be many good practices to recover from the 1st millenium that could make sense as private devotions or to inform the Faith of many folks, or even to reflect in gradual reabsorption into the Liturgy.  It’s the artificiality and top-down imposition that causes the most problem]

That this return was truly the deepest intention of Vatican II can be grasped from a couple of examples. The most immediate is situated in the ecclesiological field, where the teaching of the Council in regard to episcopal collegiality is unmistakable. Now precisely the collegiality of bishops is a feature proper to the ecclesiology of the first millennium, also in the West, where it was perfectly conjoined with Roman primacy. It is indicative how in the first millennium, all the Roman dogmatic pronouncements that the papal legates brought to the ecumenical Councils in the East – relative to the questions debated in them – were preceded by a synodal pronouncement of all the bishops leading to the super-episcopal jurisdiction of Rome. Now if it is true that the greatest enemy of the Council was the post-council – with the rushing forward of some pastors of souls and groups of faithful who in the name of the “spirit of the Council” have introduced some subversive practices precisely in regard to the tradition of the undivided Church, or at least are insistently calling for their introduction – it seems that I can affirm that precisely the opposite has happened in ecclesiology: the applicative norms have been gravely reductive with respect to the conciliar deliberation, in that the purely consultative character attributed to the synod of bishops does not fully draw the appropriate consequences from the teaching of Vatican II on episcopal collegiality. And then – staying in the area of Church structure – was not the restoration of the diaconate as a permanent level of sacred orders also a recovery of the tradition of the first millennium?  [I would argue that this view of ‘episcopal collegiality’ was a bug, not a feature, of the 1st millenium Church.  Certainly, in the east, an exaggerated sense of ‘collegiality’ led to many heresies and led to the eventual split from Rome, which was blamed on the tyrannical Primacy of Rome but in reality was done for internal political motives in Constantinople.  Roman tyranny was nothing but a chimera at the times, communications were so bad that Rome rarely had a view as to what was going on on Constantinople, in the first place.  What ‘episcopal collegiality’ in practice has meant since the Council is lack of discipline and many dioceses being run as miniature churches, with varying degrees of adherence to that fuddy duddy institution in Rome.  Some like it this way, but it seems to ignore the organic development of a gradually more centralized and organized Church, culminating, as the author points out, in the First Vatican Council and the decree of Papal infallibility.]

The second area, in which the continuity of conciliar reform with the first millennium is even more evident – in that it is perceptible to all – is that of the liturgy, even if paradoxically this is a favorite subject used by the critics of Vatican II to accuse the Council of rupture with tradition. The hermeneutic criterion that I accept permits me to affirm exactly the contrary, always on the basis of the postulate of a diachronic [?? – two time periods?]  plurality of traditions. In this case as well, there has been an evident rupture with the pre-conciliar liturgy – which is commonly known to have been, in a series of interventions, a Tridentine creation – but precisely for the sake of recovering the grand tradition of the first millennium, that of the undivided Church. [This is hilarious.  The Eastern Orthodox  have greatly criticized the Novus Ordo and applaud the return of the Traditional Latin Mass.  So we’re going to ignore the last 1000 years of organic development and impose an artificial Liturgy imposed from above, all for the sake of ecumenism?  In practice, how has that worked out?  Ecumenism with the Orthodox made some gains after VII, but the greatest strides have come since Pope Benedict XVI Summorum Pontificum.  This author seems to put unity ahead of Truth.  We do want unity, but that Unity must mean Union with the See of Peter, and all that doctrinally implies, and not surrender to schismatic sects]  Perhaps we are not fully aware that the incriminated new missal contains the fantastic recuperation of prayers taken from the most ancient sacramentaries – dating back precisely to the first millennium – the Leonine, the Gelasian, and the Gregorian, as well as, for Advent, from the eucological patrimony of the ancient Scroll of Ravenna, treasures that for the most part remained outside of the Tridentine missal. The same goes for the recovery, in the context of an appropriate plurality of Eucharistic prayers, of the ancient anaphora of Hippolytus and of others taken from the Hispanic tradition. In this sense, the “conciliar” missal is much more “traditional” than the previous one. [Fans of the TLM are not fans because it is older than the NO, they are fans because it was the organic outgrowth of 2000 years of development, not something arbitrarily imposed of a sudden on a Church that wasn’t clamoring for it.  They are also fans because it is very reverent and focuses on the proper four ends of the Mass.  What the Council said regarding changes to the Liturgy, furthermore, is very different from what has resulted in practice.  Communion in the hand, facing the people….none of this was in the Council.  And I thought the Council was just pastoral, anyways…..]

I write this, posing to you as a corollary two observations which perhaps will not be shared by the “progressives.” The first is that, if we look at the current state of the “ordinary” rite of the Roman Church, precisely this continuity with the tradition of the first millennium, implicit in the conciliar reform, was partially obfuscated by quite different developments in the post-council: on the one hand, at the foundation level, the misunderstanding was produced that the Council promoted a disordered liturgical spontaneity, and on the other, it was preceded, on the part of the competent authority, by the promulgation of texts created for the occasion – relative to new anaphoras and new collects – that were visibly foreign, in a disastrously present-day language of modern existentialism, to the eucological style of the first millennium, profoundly inspired by the thought and terminology of the Fathers. [Translation – the translations into the vernacular were very badly done, resulting in uninspiring Liturgy – hopefully being addressed shortly, at least in English.  But why was this particular Council, so open to misinterpretation?  People did not have difficulty understanding Trent or Vatican I.]

The second observation is that the motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum” – which, as is known, authorizes the practice of the Tridentine missal as an “extraordinary” rite – a document considered by many as involutive with respect to the Council, instead has for me the unquestioned value of reestablishing in the Latin Church the liturgical pluralism proper, once again, to the first millennium. Even if this is a ritual plurality distinguished by the variable of time, and not by that of geographical space, it has the value of introducing into the Catholic Church as well – in a peaceful and painless way – that “old-ritualistic” presence which is a patrimony, although acquired in a violent and traumatic way, of the Orthodox tradition.

I feel instead that I share, with the “Bolognese school,” the possibility, or rather the fittingness, of an “accretive” interpretation of the council, consistent with its inspiring principles (the expression is from Alberto Melloni), which permits, or rather suggests, that the supreme magisterium now make decisions that Vatican II, in the historical climate of the moment, could not take into consideration. This inspiring principle – in what I maintain to be the correct hermeneutic of the council – is precisely the resumption of the tradition of the first millennium, as Cardinal Ratzinger implicitly emphasized when he wrote – in a passage that the current pontiff has never explicitly contradicted – that the Orthodox, in the physiognomy of a Church finally reunified, must not be required to believe anything more than they did during the first millennium of communion.

So it is absolutely not in the “spirit of the Council” to introduce into the Church reckless innovations, in doctrine and in the area of theology, like female priesthood or aberrant developments in ethics and bioethics. It would instead be perfectly in the “spirit of the Council” – again for the sake of example – to eliminate from the “Credo” the unilateral, unjustified, and offensive addition of the “Filioque” (without thereby implying a negation of the traditional doctrine of the Latin Fathers – who were also of the first millennium – on the procession of the Holy Spirit also from the Son, as from a single principle with the Father). [This is the crux of the argument, and it’s a disaster, in my view.  Virtually everything, perhaps totally everything, is subordinated to ecumenism.   There is profound theological basis for the Filioque.  It has been philosophically and theologically established as a core part of Catholic theology.  That it is offensive to the stagnant, antiquated? theology of the many separated Eastern Churches does not reflect an artificial imposition of a false doctrine inherited from the Franco-Germanic barbarians (nice cultural snobbery there, BTW), but the very stagnation of the Eastern Churches.  I have a great deal of respect for much of Eastern ‘Orthodoxy,’ especially their liturgy, but this is just silly – this guy is literally drawing a line in the sand at AD1000 and saying……anything beyond this should be scrapped.  Why?  Because it’s not Roman classical enough? ]This ill-fated addition represents the most evident fruit, highly pregnant with symbolism, of that process of theological and cultural Franco-Germanization of the Roman Church – begun by the Francophile popes of the end of the first millennium and by the Germanic ones of the beginning of the second – denounced in terms that were certainly exaggerated, but not entirely unfounded, by the deceased conservative Greek theologian Ioannis Romanidis. [So what if it was denounced by this guy?  He’s the official expert on Christianity, even more so than the Popes?  What about continuing Revelation?] And instead not only does the addition remain, but it has been reiterated even in texts of “postconciliar” composition, and on top of that – it seems to me – it is still shamefully imposed on a beautiful and flourishing Eastern Church united with Rome, the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.

In short, to conclude with a summary formula these personal observations of mine, in promoting the renewal of the Church the Council did not intend to introduce something new – as progressives and conservatives respectively desire and fear – but to return to what had been lost. [And so, in order to return to what has been lost, much, much more must be dumped overboard?  For, our records of the ‘first millenium’ of the Church are spotty, at best.  There is very much we don’t know.  And this artificial return to some notion of how the Church was in the first millenium (as if it were possible to transmit, from 1500 years ago, some faithful representation of the Church into today’s Church) completely ignores organic development, the gradual accretion of Divine Revelation, and the steady guidance of the Holy Spirit.  It is, in short, a construct, a totally artificial construct imposed from above that chooses to ignore or, more so, intentionally disregard 1000 years of Church history and Tradition in favor of a different time period.  That is nonsensical, and the result has been chaos.  The 1st millenium Church was not necessarily more pure, more holy, and I will say it was not what Christ intended – not for now, not for today, with the intervention of centuries of Revelation.  Let’s throw out all the Saints and all the spiritual works that have come since AD 1000, while we’re at it!  No Acquinas – he’s too medieval, too philosophical, not classical enough!  Forget Carmelite Spirituality, it’s too severe, not sophisticated enough!  Bah!]

Apparently, the author needs to be reminded that the first millenium Church was not the pure creature of Light and Truth he makes it out to be.  Of all the major heresies, almost all came from that period.  Almost all came from his apparent heroes, the church in Constantinople, primarily as a result of imperial power plays and the general intrigues of a capitol city. 

If I could make one more point – many of the arguments about what the Council tried to achieve – the retention of notable first millenium prayers, for instance, were noble and fine.  But, the problem is with the implementation and the wording.  Since this was a ‘pastoral’ council, it didn’t define dogma or error.  But it has been viewed by many as having great dogmatic force.  It was also in many areas vaguely worded, which has allowed those who really want a rupture, who want to upend the Church, great latitude for their nefarious work.  This has opened the door for a whole panoply of abuse, with some even being given the appearance of ‘doctrine,’ like the USCCB issuing norms for ‘Communion in the hand’ that have no meaning whatsoever.  This is why many call for a clarification, a syllabus, precisely because the wording of the Council was so vague and, we are told, has been so abused.

I could write a book, but must go.  I pray this debate is settled, and soon, and in the right way.  I don’t think there is any question which side is rhetorically ascendent.

UPDATE:!!  I always wanted to write a book!  One more thought that I didn’t express yesterday, as I was pressed for time and huffin and puffin away as it was.  The author argues that the Council does represent a rupture with past Doctrine, but is also somehow in continuity.  That is in itself a very hard position to justify, but be that as it may, given that the Council represents rupture, to his mind, and given that he admits to ignoring organic development and imposing 1st millenial prayers and other aspects ‘back’ to the Mass (as meritorious as they may be, it is still an imposition separate from organic development) and argues for dumping large areas of Catholic Doctrine developed in the last 1000+ years (for the Filioque dates from back near the Council of Chalcedon in the 5th century), how can he arbitrarily argue that things like women’s ordination and collapsing moral standards are somehow verboten in his view of the Council?  If you’re going to have rupture, if you’re going to be arbitrary in your view of Tradition, elevating long forgotten prayers, for instance, as wonderful as they may be, over  others developed more recently, then why not scrap all the Tradition from before the Council?  That is the very problem with the rupture view – you either have rupture, or you don’t.  If you do, it will be total, there is no way to have just a bit of rupture, because the people who want to reduce the Faith to a cult of man will see the rupture as an opening with which to get all their crazy pet views incorporated into the Church.  That has been, in practice, what has happened to a great extent in the ‘progressive’ portions of the Church, with the ‘Bologna school’ leading the way.  Again, that is why there are many very smart Bishops, Cardinals, priests, theologians, historians, etc., arguing for a re-examination of the Council in light of Tradition, in order to clarify those areas where abuse has been most rampant due to the perceptions of ‘rupture.’  But, the good Pope Benedict XVI has made it plain that he sees no need to clarify or elaborate on the Conciliar documents.  But, the debate continues……perhaps laying the ground work for Cardinal Burke to consider such a re-examination when he becomes Pope.  OK….so I’m praying out loud……


1. Steve B - June 22, 2011


All of your comments are spot-on. This guy Morini is deluded to the extreme in almost every way. His saying that Vatican II “was at the same time, intentionally, both continuity and rupture” is logically utter nonsense.

I have a few “brief” specific comments to what you and Enrico Morini had to say:

Tantamergo: “But why was this particular Council, so open to misinterpretation? People did not have difficulty understanding Trent or Vatican I.”

Answer: b/c the documents of Vatican II were written in a VERY non-traditional way – i.e. they were ambiguously written (those who advocate the “time bombs” theory have asserted as intentionally so), as opposed to the crystal clear and precise language used in prior Magisterial documents. That “discontinuity” alone is enough to put Vatican II in a bad light, and which SHOULD drive the Church to generate a “syllabus” to rectify the interpretational mayhem which has plagued the Church ever since 1965.

That “syllabus” is what has been strongly advocated explicitly by Archbishop Schneider, and what I do believe is the intent of the SSPX in their doctrinal discussions with the Vatican regarding the proper interpretation of the Conciliar documents.

Morini: “the incriminated new missal contains the fantastic recuperation of prayers taken from the most ancient sacramentaries – dating back precisely to the first millennium – the Leonine, the Gelasian, and the Gregorian, as well as, for Advent…. The same goes for the recovery, in the context of an appropriate plurality of Eucharistic prayers, of the ancient anaphora of Hippolytus….”

Response: the wonderful “recovery” of these ancient prayers is baloney. Eucharistic Prayer II (which resulted from the supposed re-use of the ancient anaphora of Hippolytus) was artificially constructed, not merely recovered or recuperated. And, there are many liturgical historians which have grave doubts as to the historical and theological reliability of Hippolytus’ anaphora to begin with. EPII has “universal salvation” overtones (“… have mercy on these, and all the departed….”) even in the official Latin text; so, for that reason alone, it is of dubious distinction.

Dr. Lauren Pristas casts significant doubts upon the supposed “benefits” of the Advent Collect prayers in the reformed Liturgy which stemmed from “the most ancient sacramentaries”. She deems them as objectively “semi-pelagian”, and I subscribe to her conclusion. Check out her insightful article from the following link:

Click to access novaetveteraweb.pdf

I could go on and on wrt the delusional commentary by Mr. Morini. But, suffice it to say, I would be merely reiterating the comments you inserted, Tantamergo, in your blog post….

Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

Steve B
Plano, TX

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