Was Vatican II a “rupture” with tradition?

As we approach fifty years from the opening of the Second Vatican Council, theologians continue to debate the best way to characterize the dramatic renewal in Roman Catholic life, liturgy, and teachings to which the council led.  But was this renewal – or transformation, or change – so great as to cause a “rupture” with the tradition of the Roman Catholic church?  Ironically, there are “progressives” and “traditionalists” who would agree that there was in fact a rupture.

On his blog, Chiesa, journalist Sandro Magister provides an overview of three views of the council:

1. Vatican II was a rupture with Tradition – and a wonderful thing. Vatican II was a new beginning, which led to a complete transformation of the church. According to this view, there is no problem in saying that there is a break with tradition – because there is a more important continuity with the true teachings of Jesus.

Among the proponents of this view is the American ecclesiologist Joseph Komonchak. Many like-minded scholars are affiliated with or published through the Institute for Religious Studies in Bologna (and hence are often dubbed “The School of Bologna.”) Some of them even claim Pope Benedict’s interpretation are in line with their beliefs (although the pope himself would not agree.)

For more on this line of thought, see “The Council was an ‘Historic Transition.'”

2. Vatican II was a rupture with Tradition – and a grave error. While theologians who hold this view usually accept the authority of the council, they do not see the council’s teaching as infallible – bur rather, as a source of errors. As one example, the document Dignitatis Humanae allows for freedom of religion – something explicitly condemned by past popes (as recently as 1864).

Among the proponents of this this view is Roberto de Mattei. He notes that the council was a pastoral council, not a dogmatic one.  It must be evaluated by how its documents are in accord with Tradition, which, following Mattei, is not “a part” but rather “the whole” of the Church. And, in his opinion, the documents of Vatican II did not follow the official magisterium of the church, and thus are in error.

Pope Benedict XVI has called some who hold this view “anti-conciliarist.”

For more on this line of thought, see “The Church is Infallible, but Not Vatican II.”

3. Vatican II is not a rupture with tradition.

Taking a middle view, Pope Benedict XVI would deny that here has been any rupture in the church. He describes the proper reception of Vatican II as a “hermeneutic of renewal within continuity.”  He notes that there is an “apparent” discontinuity between historical decisions and Vatican II, but insists that it is one and the same church.

Much has been written on Benedict’s 2005 Christmas address to the Roman curia when he reflected on the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council and its interpretation. In a Wednesday address last year, Benedict praised Paul VI and John Paul II, who “on the one hand defended the newness of the Council, and on the other, defended the oneness and continuity of the Church, which is always a Church of sinners and always a place of grace.”

For more on the debate on how to interpret Benedict’s words, see “Benedict XVI the ‘Reformist.'”


  1. I agree with the third option. Vatican II, in my opinion, was not a rupture nor the creation of a new church. Pope Benedict’s words quoted above sum up a healthy approach to the matter.

  2. Hear the words of Pope Benedict delivered less than a month ago at the Pontifical Athenaeum of Sant’ Anselmo:

    “The Liturgy, a privileged witness of the living Tradition of the Church, faithful to its original duty to reveal and to make present in the hodie of human vicissitudes the opus Redemptionis, lives on a correct and constant relationship between healthy traditio and legitima progressio, which the conciliar Constitution has made lucidly explicit in n. 23.

    In their programme of reform, the Council Fathers wished to maintain an equilibrium between both terms, a balance between the great liturgical tradition of the past and that of the future. Tradition and progress are often clumsily opposed. Actually, the two concepts merge: tradition is a living reality, which therefore includes in itself the principle of development, of progress. It is as if to say that the river of tradition also carries its source in itself and flows towards the outlet.”

    It seems to me that Pope Benedict’s own understanding of tradition is developing – is that a development of tradition?

  3. I certainly have not read everything by Komonchack, but I must say that I don’t see him as an advocate of “rupture.” I suspect what is really at play here is a clash between those who tend to see less continuity in history in general and those who subscribe to a more “idealized” view of the history of the Church. Thus I imagine that the Bologna school doesn’t see Vatican II as representing any more of a rupture than did the Gregorian Reform or Trent; they are simply inclined to focus on contrasts, presuming continuities. In other words, I think this might be a conflict more of general historiographical approach than it is of theology.

    That being said, I do encounter on a fairly regular basis those who treat Vatican II as a rupture. These people, however, are typically not scholars but parish priests and regular parishioners who will speak of this or that practice, teaching or attitude as “pre-Vatican II,” usually as a way of dismissing it. I have in the past had to grit my teeth during RCIA sessions when someone making a presentation would say, “Well, that was how we thought before Vatican II, but now. . . ” Yet this clearly reflects an on-the-ground reality, the perception of rupture, and this reality has come from somewhere. But I don’t think it is because these people have been reading the tomes produced by the Bologna school.

    1. I suspect that RCIA leaders and others reference things as pre- or post- Vatican II because they, too, have heard it all their lives. Clearly, a candidate or catechumen in 2011 has little interest in how things were before 1965, and these references are just so much noise.

  4. Rupture is not a bad thing, if at the service of the Gospel. Why not check with Saint Paul about the rupture of being blinded and thrown off his horse? What Vatican II should be for these pundits is a conversion experience. If it’s not, then we can rightly ask why it’s not.

    1. Conversion, growing deeper into one’s relationship with Christ, isn’t a necessity, but rupture with Tradition, the connection we have with Christ from person to person, is detrimental to this conversion.

      You bring up St. Paul. Firstly, there was no horse. Secondly, Paul himself is a living example of tradition – he did not give up being a Jew or even following the Law, though he advocated that non-Jews had no need of taking up the Law. Paul was an advocate for remaining and holding on to your tradition, but to place it at the feet of Christ who would dismiss that which was bad and augment that which was good. Thus Western and Eastern Greco-Roman culture was both dismantled and augmented in various ways by the witness of Christ through the early Church Fathers.

      Rupture with tradition is basically inimical to a conversion experience, for it says that the faith is different from what came before. This is not to deny proper development – one cannot look at the history of the Church without seeing doctrinal and liturgical development (every Ecumenical Council strove toward a more refined development on certain points of doctrine). Never, though, were practices and beliefs deemed good and holy for the Tradition (not certain individuals, but the whole of the Tradition), deemed not good or even unholy. From what I can tell, such an attitude, proclaiming that rupture is good, has crept into the Church in the wake of Vatican II, thus calling many to look for its source.

      Thus I sympathize with group 2, but they commit the fallacy of post hoc ergo propter hoc. I sit firmly in group 3, and deny with all my being group 1.

      1. “Conversion, growing deeper into one’s relationship with Christ, isn’t a necessity …”

        Did I read this right? Lumen Gentium 35 presents something different, a view that the prophetic office of Christ calls believers to a “continual conversion,” an approach to faith that puts us always at a readiness to engage the challenges of the faith.

        I think people attach to peripherals, and elevate their subjective and affective connections, especially with the liturgy, to a higher pedestal than is sometimes worthy.

        Pastorally, I’m sympathetic to people who suffer loss. But I lose patience with ideologues who lose a grip on Mark 2:27.

        I think we also need to remind ourselves that every council experienced a hermeneutic of obstruction, and Vatican II was no exception. We can’t just pick a value like “rupture” and analyze it like it were totally independent of something like obstruction.

        Also necessary is a reading of the whole corpus of Vatican II. Look for the primary themes of the bishops. See how it stacks up against the principle of organic development. By my reckoning, active participation out-references organic development several to one, and that’s even before you starting finding it in the documents on clergy or evangelization.

      2. Wow, yeah, my bad. IS NECESSARY. Wow. I was editing that part and apparently edited wrongly. Very, very wrongly. IS NECESSARY.

  5. Time is on the side of tradition. After all, Jesus Christ came before V-2. So, if everything of import has been recast by V-2 the new theology would have who as the basis of Christian faith?

    The Holy Father is an astute synthesizer of opposing views of the council. In this effort he is acting as the unifier of warring factions to keep Peter’s bark afloat until such time as it can be returned to the right course by a future Pope.

    That time is coming. The most extreme advocates of rupture are passing and the future Church in the 3rd world has no argument with theology passed down from the Church fathers. You may like this trend or not, it is what it is. Benedict XVI is in great health yet. A future conclave may very well look to Card. Ranjith or some one like him to chart a more orthodox course. After all, the promise “to be with you till the end of time was not made in jest.”

  6. This is, of course, an attempt to marginalize the Bologna school, which has produced the authoritative multi-authored history of Vatican II. To label Joseph Komonchak a rupturist is close to libel. In fact Magister has no answer to the charge that Benedict XVI represents the rollback of the Council, even contradicting its letter, as we see in the hijacking of episcopal authority over the vernacular liturgy.

  7. Theobald, the best French theologian, Ruggieri, the best Italian theologian (and friend of the Pope), and Huenermann, the best German Catholic theologian – Magister believes he knows better than them!

  8. I have never seen Vatican II as a rupture, but it was certainly an event, and like every great Council a novum. Ecumenism, religious freedom, dialogue with Judaism and non-Christian religions, the opening up of more creative liturgy and broader scriptural culture, the impetus toward collegiality, and above all the opening to the modern world in the name of the Kingdom of justice and peace – all of this was experienced as new, and the Vatican since then has fallen away from this high challenge to a scandalous degree.

    1. I am asking in all seriousness, what do you mean by “the opening up of more creative liturgy” and where can this be found in the Vatican II documents? I agree with you that everything else resulting from Vatican II has been a step in the right direction. However, for those disgruntled with the current OF, the only thing Vatican II means to them is a dismantle of the sacred liturgy, going way beyond what was intended. They can’t get past that in order to see what good did come from VII in terms of ecumenism, etc.

      And it’s good for the Church to speak to the modern world, but it becomes a tight-rope walk. The Church is tasked to remain relevant but cannot bend on her moral teachings to appease society. If anything, the Church’s role should be to inspire the modern world, and not the other way around. Just how that can be accomplished remains the question.

      1. “The Church is tasked to remain relevant but cannot bend on her moral teachings to appease society.”

        So the earth’s still flat, the sun goes round it, and slavery’s part of God’s design for us, for starters.

      2. Chris,
        Is this the first time you have worn your new hat?
        I’m sorry if I had not noticed it before.
        It does so much for you!
        Is the outfit available in other colors?
        I think the solid hat would look better with a print, don’t you?
        Is such a big hat very heavy? Does it make it harder to think clearly?

      3. Yes, Chris…because the earth being flat and the sun going around it has everything to do with morals…

      4. Chris, that looks suspiciously like an ex- La Crosse dresser!

        Or is it Renée, dowager Countess of St Louis?

        I believe the hat is called a galero, whose use was terminated in 1969.

      5. Yes, Brad, there were moral consequences for anyone who challenged those beliefs. Fatal in some cases.

      6. there were moral consequences for anyone who challenged those beliefs. Fatal in some cases.

        Really? Name one person for each, one who was executed by order of the Church for arguing that the earth wasn’t flat and one who was executed by order of the Church for arguing that the Earth revolved around the Sun.

      7. Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake and Galileo Galilei died under house arrest. Both rather fatal consequences.

        Heresy was considered a crime in the Papal States and most of Italy, so heretics were handed over to the civil authorities. In 1616 the papal consultants judged heliocentrism to be ‘formally heretical.’

      8. The doesn’t agree with you:

        When Giordano Bruno (1548–1600) was burned at the stake as a heretic, it had nothing to do with his writings in support of Copernican cosmology, and this is clearly shown in Finocchiaro’s reconstruction of the accusations against Bruno (see also Blumenberg’s part 3, chapter 5, titled “Not a Martyr for Copernicanism: Giordano Bruno”). [My bolding]

        And dying at 77 in the 17th century is hardly evidence of fatal persecution.

        I also note that neither of these cases has to do with the flat earth.

  9. One person’s rupture is another’s return to the sources.
    One church’s development is another’s unfaithfullness to the Fathers.

    The continuity of V2 was its fidelity to Scripture and ancient tradition, faithfully living in the present times.

    This disagreement has been going on for more than 100 years, and it’s not over yet.

    Real convergence with the Orthodox, real learning from the Orthodox, would help a great deal, don’t you think? I don’t mean just a hard headed “conservatism,” but a dialogue that is open to the possibility that the western church is not, *by itself,* the rule or standard of all Christian theological development.

    Then continuity and “rupture” within 16-19th Cent. western Catholicism will been seen in perspective.

    Mark MIller

  10. I don’t have sufficient knowledge to say whether it was rupture or return to beginnings. I do think it was a strong swerve for a Church going dangerously off the path. I base this on reading what is posted at the site for the society of Pius X and various self identified traditionalist bloggers. I assume that the Church they describe is what would have happened without Vatican II. I hesitate to say what I think of that possibility, because I know no way to express myself that will not cause unnecessary offense.

  11. Academics are vital to any conversation which is seeking an answer to the question “how do we follow Christ faithfully”. However, they need to be far more modest about how their contributions impact on the day to day lives of ordinary Catholics. I submit that how people–bishops, priests, and laity–actually received the teachings of the Vatican II needs to be taken just as seriously as what the academics proffer. In this category I include Pope Ratzinger. He has a brilliant mind, but because of that it is difficult for ordinary Catholics to even consider let alone digest his analysis of the council.
    Parish priests and the people they serve live the Christian life in a context that is vastly different than that of those who gather at Seattle or the Vatican to ponder what we should or shouldn’t do or think as faithful Catholics. I’m among relatively few who make an honest effort to take in what I can through extensive reading; but I have to give the highest priority to seeking with the folks I serve the narrow road that leads to everlasting life. As anyone who has ever preached a funeral knows we cut people a lot of slack in view of God’s infinite mercy. We need to offer the living the same consideration.

    Biblical and theological facts are in nearly endless supply and they can be marshaled to support whatever convictions and beliefs we already have. Ordinary people include those who want to know the reason for my hope, but there are far fewer who have any interest in what popes and academics have to say about what they ought to be doing and believing. I don’t infer any disrespect in that disinterest. It’s just the way it is.

  12. Thoughts from Fr. McBrien: http://ncronline.org/blogs/essays-theology/pope-benedict-vatican-ii

    – Komonchak notes that some undoubtedly expected the pope to call the position he favors the “hermeneutics of continuity,” in contrast to the “hermeneutics of discontinuity.” Instead, he called it the “hermeneutics of reform” and devoted the greater part of his address to explaining what he meant by that phrase.

    He did not mean that the council changed nothing. “After all,” Komonchak writes, “if there is no discontinuity, one can hardly speak of reform.”

    On the eve of the council, Pope Benedict pointed out, three “circles of questions” had formed, all of which challenged the church to a new way of thinking and acting: about the relationships between faith and modern science, the church and the modern state, and the church and other religions.

    In each area, the pope insisted, “some kind of discontinuity might emerge and in fact did emerge,” but it was “a discontinuity that did not require the abandonment of traditional princi-ples.”

    Many on this blog have tried to say this – borrowed these words: “On the other hand, growth in Christ means that we don’t simply march in place. Without necessarily rejecting the articulations and formulations of the past, eternal truths are understood with greater clarity and with renewed vigor and meaning in varying historical and cultural contexts. Truth doesn’t change, but our finite minds grow in ever greater appreciation of the same Truth. In II Peter 3:18 we read: “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” In the very life of the disciples, those closest to him grew in their understanding of Christ, Christ’s nature, and Christ’s mission on this earth. They went from followers hoping in the overthrow of Rome to fishers of men.”


  13. One additional comment building on Mr. Miller – given some of the recent liturgical posts; B16’s UE declaration; etc. it would seem that whatever camp you find yourself in (1,2, or 3) actual Roman/curial decisions seem to impact where the church hierarchy leans in terms of the hermeneutical model followed.

    Some of the last 18 month decisions by B16 appear to confuse this hermeneutical approach. Examples:
    – UE (declares that we have two forms of one Western rite – this seems more like a rupture?)
    – Kasper and Ecumenism (numerous curial/papal statements that seem to go back on the original VII direction (realize that one of the overwhelming foci of VII in all of its documents is ecumenism – feels like we have moved backwards on that)
    – Collegiality (would agree with a recent Gaillerdetz presentation that tracks/interprets US Church history since 1965 into two camps – followers of VII and followers of JPII) – there is definitely a turn back to centralization
    – Subsidiarity (contradictions abound – latest sexual abuse document looks to each bishop/conference to respond but then you look at the new liturgy translation and all authority lies with Rome or the statement by Cardinal Koch)

    Could go on but you should get my questions and concerns.

  14. How did Vatican II urge creative liturgy? Well, one thing it said is that the arts of our time should have a place in the Church. The OF is dead because we have refused to be creative with it. In places like Africa things seems quite different:

      1. No, the context of the Vatican quote is real art, not pop music. Creativity is found in special liturgies, such as those of the Pope on World Youth Days, with liturgical dancing etc. and high quality musical performances. But we do not have a real liturgical culture, such as one finds in Africa or in Anglicanism. See http://www.afrikaworld.net/afrel/shorter.htm

      2. It’s a shame that one must “try harder” to say prayers during mass. Maybe that speaks volumes about the liturgical culture we are living in, huh Chris?

    1. Joe, don’t bite so easily. It doesn’t have to have been “urged” by Vatican II to be right. Vatican II certainly didn’t urge, for instance, “Liturgiam Authenticam” or Vox Clara or any of their resulting disasters!!! If Vatican II was the last word on everything, the current Pope would have to rethink a whole lot of the stuff he’s said and written which turns his back on what he said and wrote during the Council! And, as we know, popes don’t rethink anything, well not at least since about 1980.

      1. Joe specifically attributed Vatican II with creative liturgy. So in your mind, Chris, what makes something “right” if it isn’t based on tradition, a product of organic development, or the result of ecumenical councils? Seems to me like it becomes a matter of taste alone, and that can be tricky to defend if you don’t want to use tradition, organic development, or councils to back it up. Or is this what is considered “creative liturgy?”

  15. The best language of our time should also be found in the liturgy, within the bounds of a noble simplicity.

    Poets are needed for this.

  16. Brad Wilson :
    Joe specifically attributed Vatican II with creative liturgy. So in your mind, Chris, what makes something “right” if it isn’t based on tradition, a product of organic development, or the result of ecumenical councils? Seems to me like it becomes a matter of taste alone, and that can be tricky to defend if you don’t want to use tradition, organic development, or councils to back it up. Or is this what is considered “creative liturgy?”

    How about a Consilium established by a Council for the purpose.

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  18. The concilliar Church is simply trying to save face and stem the bleeding. There was clearly a rupture. The Roman Rite as a unique historical and cultural artifact was basically abolished over night- surviving only amongst a handful of hold outs. Dramatically, the sacrificial dimension of the holy Mass, so long a distinguishing and much cherished characteristic of the Catholic Faith, was suddenly down played, forgotten, hidden or even denied by the silence afforded by the new missal’s many options.

    There was nothing organic or natural about this.

    The ritual practice of the Catholic world, representing the aggregation of centuries of Catholic worship and adoration of the divine mystery, was suddenly swallowed up by the secular. The Church adopted nearly everything its critics had urged on it for centuries—leaving the clear symbolic implication it would adopt yet more.

    Who, undertaking a serious study of the Catholic religion, could not conclude there has been a colossal rupture, a tear, a roundabout, at the deepest symbolic level? Who could not be confused and perplexed as to what this religion really is?

    Walking into (say) the breathtaking church of Saint Stephen in Budapest and, when the eye has finished taking in the sight of its high altar reaching toward a nave glittering with texts of Eucharistic praise, turns to see this masterful work to God’s glory replaced by a small table—–who could not conclude that something quite dramatic and contradictory has occurred?

    Put down the text books, the obfuscating speeches of popes and theologians and LOOK. The post-concilliar vandalism in the sanctuaries was no accident. It was the material expression of eidetic fact. “He who has ears to hear…” or eyes to see…

    1. Sacrifice is strongly emphasized in the 1st, 3rd and 4th EPs; “See the Victim whose death has reconciled us to yourself”; “those for whom we offer this sacrifice” etc. The 2nd prayer is actually older than the Roman Canon; what was good enough for the early Church cannot be faulted as unorthodox. In any case it sufficiently stresses the sacrificial character of the eucharist in the words: “we offer you, Father, this life-giving bread, this saving cup.”

    2. # 42…Well said and I could not agree with you more. Indeed there was rupture. It was not the natural course of change over a few generations but the wholesale destruction of many Catholic practices and rituals, (whether you like or disliked them) that happened within a very short period of time that indicates such rupture. How can anyone argue that more time is needed for a new translation of the Missal (Advent this year) because they do not like how it was translated and state that people are not ready yet, and at the same time say there was no rupture when we got new translation, abandonment of Chant and Latin, new ritual structures, re-written sacraments, new phraseology to accompany sacraments, communion in the hand, standing, prohibition of previous modes, Benediction or Eucharistic Adoration banned, Vigils and Octaves suppressed, (which Paul VI is said to haved weeped over the loss of the Octave of Pentecost), new Sanctuaries, new abstract and unclear arts and visual aids, Altar Rails removed, and Altars turned around all within a period of 5 years after the close of the Council ? Is this the careful revision of Rites that the Council demanded ? Care being taken that forms grow organically from previous forms ? And nothing that would cause harm to the Faithful ? Now, what else would rupture look like ? If it is all the same why has Summorum Pontificum so infuriated so many individuals ?

      1. I don’t think people are arguing that we have had not time to assimilate the new translation; rather they are rejecting the new translation as a dud. The 1998 texts would have been quickly and joyfully accepted. As to rupture, the liturgical changes after Vatican II were only the beginning of a renewal of our worship; we need to go much further in the direction of creativity and inculturation. All movements of renewal in the arts or in thought imply a rupture of the pre-existent models, hallowed and ancient as these may be.

  19. I don’t think Magister’s breakdown is helpful. To characterize Joe Komonchak’s view as “Vatican II was a rupture with tradition and it was a wonderful thing” is a serious misrepresentation of his views.

    More to the point, many of the liturgical reforms of the 20th century were efforts to recover certain aspects of the liturgical tradition that had been lost (e.g. active participation by the congregation; use of languages in common use, etc.). All too often, when we talk about the “liturgical tradition,” we’re talking about the liturgical tradition post-Trent, which covers only a quarter of Christianity’s history.

  20. For all the talk of rupture vs. continuity one hears coming from Rome I can’t say that anything I have read from Benedict & Co. goes beyond the liturgy concerning this. Now maybe one could make an argument that at least in practice there is a repudiation of an ecclesiology – Ratzinger vs. Kaspar – the priority of universal over particular churches (but this was the case with JPII). But, the tag “continuity” seems only to be attached (so far) to what the church wears and sings which I think is the most shallow and pedantic framing of what the reform of the council represents and how to characterize it from either view. To simply dress is Baroque tat as if to wear a billboard reading nothing really changed is a rather uninformed understanding of history, culture, the arts and the liturgy. I’ll stick with Paul VI’s view of the church: We will love all, but especially those, who need help…. We will love our time, our technology, our art, our sports, our world.

  21. It was not a rupture. The important point, however, is that it felt like a rupture because it followed 400 years of quasi-stagnation during which there had been no discernible change or development (although there had in fact been both of those).

    The same thing happened when the countries behind the Iron Curtain blew apart. Because they had been held down for a period of time, the result was a pressure cooker. Gradual change was impossible because the people were oppressed. In the case of the Church, a much longer period of 400 years of being held down simply exploded, resulting in a radical swing of the pendulum. The pioneering efforts, along with mistakes such as clown Masses, etc, have been vilified by some as being typical when in fact they were just part of the initial explosion, only to be expected after such a long time of not seeming to move.

    The problem for us is precisely that the pioneering efforts have been lumped in with the excesses instead of being discerned for what they were: real attempts at organic development, catching up with where the Church had not arrived because of four centuries of an imposed and artificial stasis. If some among us were able to stand back and discern the differences between the off-the-wall rejoicings at a new-found freedom and other more serious initial moves to get the Church back into “gradual development mode”, we would all be a lot happier and many of the arguments on this and other blogs would be rendered superfluous.

    But the problem remains. Because the pressure cooker exploded so violently in the wake of Vatican II, some people have taken refuge in the safety of the preconciliar bunker, and they will not countenance anything outside it. They cannot see that, after the initial turmoil, everything settled back into the gradual evolution that would have taken place if only Trent had not put up the drawbridge in the face of the Reformation.

    1. We had become God’s Frozen People, and now we have been microwaved.

      But the answer is not the wringing of hands at the perceived awfulnesses that followed the reheating, but rather to find out just what a tasty dish we have waiting for us, if only we would take the trouble to find out how to season it properly.

      I say again, no rupture, though it may well have felt like one to some because of the long period of non-evolution which preceded it.

    2. I think your iron curtain analogy could also be applied to the supposed division and confusion caused in the wake of SP and the emergence of the Reform of the Reform Movement. Those who still found relevance in traditional liturgy were oppressed rather harshly in the wake of Vatican II. Now that they have some degree of freedom and influence, it is naturally causing some problems since many in the Church felt they could simply dismiss and ignore such people before.

      Vatican II may have been a needed “thaw out” period for the Church’s liturgy, but I think it created a real imbalance by trying to undo 400 years of non-evolution in a span of five years.

  22. There was an intentional “discontinuity” but no “rupture”. The Council and the Consilium which followed called for and carefully initiated a reform of the Roman Rite. If there had been a rupture, the bishops had ample time to speak out against the direction of things. Some did that (LeFebvre, etc) but they were a tiny minority. In those heady days closer to the council, individual bishops and the reinvigorated conferences of bishops were clearly in a position to exercise their newly refurbished sense of collegiality. They used their voices to support and embrace the liturgical reforms. The idea that a few people like Bugnini somehow hijacked SC and steered the church over a cliff is absurd. These are comments offered by people who prefer the unreformed rites and wish to see them fully restored. To do so they disparage the NO by endless talk about abuses. Of course there were abuses, just as there had been with the former rite. Course corrections have been made. Tragically, the restorationists have been persistent to the point of risking the division of the Church through the so-called two forms of the one rite.

    Perhaps there might have been another path taken with the reform, but that is a condition contrary to fact. Shall we imagine that the Holy Spirit took a vacation at some point before, during, or after the council and only re-emerged in the 80’s to turn the bark of Peter around?

  23. Brad Wilson :
    It’s a shame that one must “try harder” to say prayers during mass. Maybe that speaks volumes about the liturgical culture we are living in, huh Chris?

    No, Brad, I would’ve said it speaks more about you, and people like you, going to Mass to judge and find fault, rather than just adore and praise God – but I’m really only working on what you tell us.

  24. The problem of accepting change/development and even revolutionary or epochal shifts in Church life over time, it seems to me — all polemics aside — can be traced to an inadequate theology of the Holy Spirit.

    What I mean by this is an over-reliance on Luke-Acts, with its representation of the Spirit as providing consistent support and consolation, at the expense of the more fearful eschatological texts of the New Testament, particularly in Mark, and also the prophetic literature of the Old Testament, which allow no one to rest on the laurels of the past.

    Continuity and discontinuity are both critical concepts for Christian pneumatology; you can’t go anywhere with one and not the other. An adequate theology of the Holy Spirit requires both of these insights — in good measure. While the proper balance between continuity and discontinuity will be a subject of some question, this discussion is also is approached via the question of spiritual discernment. Spiritual discernment again points us back to the Holy Spirit guiding the Church into the future. The activity of the Spirit is essential to understanding God as a living God, whose call requires trust because change — the way into the future to which God calls us — always entails uncertainty along the way.

  25. Agreeing wholeheartedly with Rita – I think the flabby pneumatology of the West (RC in particular) is a culprit here. How can anyone who truly believes the Council worked through the Holy Spirit think that there was rupture?

  26. #53–
    Yes! What I was saying about real dialogue and convergence with the Orthodox, who have long seen a problem with western understanding of the Holy Spirit.
    Simply put- the Holy Spirit is not bringing about a “rupture”–
    but the Spirit is *not in our control* and is not only working “according” to canon law. Or so say the Easterners. The final word is “I make all things new.” The Holy Spirit as “the eschaton.” See Pentecost 1st reading, at least in RCL– it goes there.

    Mark Miller

    1. What great diversity the Orthodox bring to complement the Western perspective!

      And what a blessing they haven’t succumbed to papal supremacy!

    1. I enjoyed that article – if you were to take away the first few questions, it would read like something written by a traditionalist (the liturgy should be the same week after week, less poorly-done creativity, the comment about the kiss of peace, etc).

      The part about traditionalists seemed out of touch, though. Fr Taft seemed to frame the argument as mostly a vernacular vs. Latin debate, which tends not to be how most advocates of the Latin Mass view things.

      1. Jack,
        What exactly is a tradionalist? Fr. Taft does not use that term. I think he sees the argument much more than latin vs. vernacular. His point of the assembly praying the mass rather than praying at the mass is a major success of the reform. Of course use of the vernacular facilitates this prayer.

      2. Mike, while the vernacular does facilitate the praying of the Mass by the congregation, some use of Latin does not utterly hinder it. Since I know what the Agnus Dei means in English, it is not too much a stretch for me to pray it in Latin.

      3. Mike, he specifically talks about breakaway traditionalist groups, which is why I used the term.

        Praying the Mass and active participation may be a fruit of the reform, but it isn’t really one that depends on the actual Missal used.

      4. Why would you want to pray the Lamb of God in Latin? Why not Greek, or Aramaic?

      5. In Latin because it’s the liturgical language of the Roman Rite. That said, I’d gladly sing the Kyrie in Greek, because that’s how the Roman Rite has it. And I can try harder to pronounce “Amen” in a more authentically Semitic accent. But that’s not your point, is it?

  27. The Spirit in Luke-Acts is not a conservative force – it is the agent that pushes the Church beyond its frontiers – recall for instance the scene of Pentecost, the mission of Stephen, and of Philip, the scene of the Gentiles full of the Spirit at Joppa, the Spirit’s guidance at the Council of Jerusalem.

    1. Thanks, Joe. No, not a conservative force, but depicted in a way that is different from how the Spirit appears in Mark. In Mark, the Spirit “drives” Jesus into the desert; in Luke, the Spirit “fills” him so that he goes on his own. In Acts the Spirit confirms the young Church, sustains it by signs and wonders, and gives the charism of authority to its leaders. In Mark the Spirit is associated much more with the end times and judgment. One is confronted much more in Mark with the “otherness” of the Spirit.

  28. Rita, yes, the Spirit is quite a violent force in Mark. Just now I was preparing my class on Luke for this afternoon and was surprised to note that (in one of the “minor agreements” that cause trouble for Markan priority) it is Luke that has “if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons” while Matthew has “if it is by the Spirit of God” – Luke usually multiplies references to the Spirit, but maybe the idea of the Spirit casting out demons clashed with his more gentle view of the Spirit as leading rather than driving?

    1. Yes, I think so, Joe. Even by comparison with Matthew, Luke’s account of the preaching of John the Baptist interpolates some practical moral teaching, whereas Matthew drives straightaway from fierce warning into the eschatological image of the Messiah as the man of the Spirit, baptizing with fire, clearing the threshing floor, and sending the chaffe to burn in the unquenchable flames. Both Matthew and Luke use the eschatological image of the thresher, but Luke frames this so differently that it creates a gentler effect. Luke very beautifully has already told of the Spirit inspiring to joy and giving rise to song.

  29. Luke’s temptation narrative has “hegeto en to pneumato” which Jerome translates “agebatur a Spiritu” – full of the Spirit he is “led by the Spirit” or perhaps something stronger than “led”. Matthew has anechthe, ductus est. Mark notoriously has ekballei, expulit, the same word used for casting out demons.

  30. Luke relocates (at 12.10) the logion about the unforgivable blasphemy against the Holy Spirit – again civilizing his sources.

    1. I have even sometimes wondered whether the Johannine texts pertaining to being born of water and the Spirit are not drawing an image of the Spirit as an agent of rupture. No one is born without rupture.

  31. #63 Jack Wayne
    Mike, he specifically talks about breakaway traditionalist groups, which is why I used the term.

    Praying the Mass and active participation may be a fruit of the reform, but it isn’t really one that depends on the actual Missal used.

    Do you mean to suggest that the 1962 missal is built on the reform principle of “full, conscious, and active particpation”-it does not depend on the missal used-so the 1570 missal of Trent would also be okay?

    1. There is an element of “FCAP” which is directed towards the dispositions of the person, independent of the liturgy. While SC does call for the liturgy itself to be reformed so as to better facilitate FCAP, liturgical instruction was also called for, and this of the as-yet unreformed liturgy:

      In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit; and therefore pastors of souls must zealously strive to achieve it, by means of the necessary instruction, in all their pastoral work. Yet it would be futile to entertain any hopes of realizing this unless the pastors themselves, in the first place, become thoroughly imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy, and undertake to give instruction about it. A prime need, therefore, is that attention be directed, first of all, to the liturgical instruction of the clergy. (SC 14)

      18. Priests, both secular and religious, who are already working in the Lord’s vineyard are to be helped by every suitable means to understand ever more fully what it is that they are doing when they perform sacred rites; they are to be aided to live the liturgical life and to share it with the faithful entrusted to their care. (SC 18)

      With zeal and patience, pastors of souls must promote the liturgical instruction of the faithful, and also their active participation in the liturgy both internally and externally, taking into account their age and condition, their way of life, and standard of religious culture. (SC 19)

    2. Why wouldn’t the 1570 missal be okay (aside, of course, for it not having an updated calendar)? Have the people sing or say the parts that pertain to them, and voila, you’ve covered most of the FCAP found in the OF.

      What is specially built into the texts of the 1970 Missal, other than allowance for vernacular, that allows for more “FCAP” than the 1962 does? If you changed nothing about the 1962 Missal save for allowing it in English, with an audible canon, and allowing some lay ministers, you would pretty much have something just as participatory without changing hardly any of the texts and few of the rubrics.

      1. SC envisioned more than that. For example, the expanded course of lections over a course of years (that is explicitly called for). Moreover, as has been noted again and again, Paul VI was not limited to what SC called for, and the reforms he did undertake were largely received with enthusiasm and alacrity (as has been discussed in other threads).

      2. That may be so, but I was speaking specifically about participation by the laity, not about the relationship between the 1962 Missal and all the reforms called for by SC.

        Participation seemed to come about primarily from the shift to vernacular liturgies and an overall change in mentality about how one should act at Mass.

  32. You speak as if participation and vernacular are late-comers to liturgy, almost as unwelcome effects of the Second Vatican Council.

    The first centuries knew nothing else.

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