Vatican Declares “Year of Assault”

Under the guise of a “Year of Faith,” the Vatican has launched an all-out assault on any theology or interpretation of Vatican II based on what it calls a “Hermeneutic (Interpretation) of Rupture.” This theological assault is articulated in the document known as Porta fidei written by Benedict XVI and further specified in a document titled “Note on Recommendations for the Implementation of the Year of Faith” which was developed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Both of these documents are cited by Cardinal Levada in his statement on the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). The rationale for that assessment and other punitive moves that have been made in recent months (Caritas International, educational institutes, and the Girl Scouts) must be understood in the broader context of this special “year of assault.”

The real crux of the issue according to the “Note” is a “correct understanding” of Vatican II over against “erroneous interpretations.” Benedict likes to refer to these interpretations as being based on a “hermeneutic of discontinuity” while referring to his own interpretation as being based on a “hermeneutic of renewal.” In truth, better labels for these respectively, are a “hermeneutic of mission” over against Benedict’s “hermeneutic of retrenchment.”

The hermeneutic of mission sees in the documents of Vatican II an attempt by the Church to rediscover in its past the kernels of fresh understandings and ecclesial structures that respond more authentically and relevantly to what the Council called the modern world. This hermeneutic sees the Council Fathers confirming tradition as a foundation upon which faith can continually build and grow as its context changes. It also sees God as continually present in history and culture, graciously offering new perceptions for understanding and interpreting the fullness of revelation.

The hermeneutic of retrenchment, on the other hand, sees in the documents of Vatican II the restatement of ossified doctrines in language that can be understood by the modern world. The hermeneutic of retrenchment regards tradition as a wall which functions to deter erroneous understandings. It also tends to see the modern context of the world negatively, often assigning to it labels such as secularism, relativism or pluralism. As Benedict says, “whereas in the past it was possible to recognize a unitary cultural matrix, broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of the faith and the values inspired by it, today this no longer seems to be the case in large swathes of society, . .” The hermeneutic of retrenchment, hence, longs for the past; for an idealized age of Christendom.

Thus, the action against LCWR and the other actions against loyal voices of faithful Christians open to discerning God’s wisdom in modern culture, should be seen as initial forays of shock and awe to soften the strongest areas of resistance, before the actual onslaught begins. That major assault is scheduled for October of 2012, with the opening of the Synod of Bishops on the “New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.” The first working paper (Lineamenta) for this synod clearly sets forth the target of “New Evangelization.”

The target is plainly modern culture. According to the document the modern world is epitomized by a culture of relativism, which it says has even seeped into Christian life and ecclesial communities. The authors claim that its serious “anthropological implications are a questioning of basic human experiences for example the relation between a man and a woman as well as the meaning of reproduction and death itself.” Associated with this phenomenon, the document states, is the tremendous mixing of cultures resulting in “forms of corruption, the erosion of the fundamental references to life, the undermining of the values for which we exert ourselves and the deterioration of the very human ties we use to identify ourselves and give meaning to our lives.” Benedict in other places has labeled this pluralism; thus completing his trilogy of the demonic: secularism, relativism and pluralism, as he dreams of a reestablished, romanticized culture of Medieval Europe.

In stark contrast, the institutes of women religious dramatically exemplify the hermeneutic of mission: they moved out of “habits” that set them apart from the world; face the challenges of embracing the presence of God in modern culture; and faithfully struggle with being an authentic and clear sign of God’s love for the world. The assessment against them is outrageous for its patronizing arrogance and its patriarchy. But it is also clear that it is about much more: the dramatic fissure within the Roman Catholic church concerning the interpretation of Vatican II and the embracing (or failure to embrace) God’s presence in modern culture.

In this assault what is so pernicious, besides the effects on the lives of those immediately and dramatically targeted, is the appropriation of concepts developed by those operating out of a hermeneutic of mission by those who uphold a hermeneutic of retrenchment, who then redefine and use those concepts to defend and support their assault. Three quick examples of this are found in the Statement of Cardinal Levada on the doctrinal assessment of the LCWR and in the doctrinal assessment itself.

First, Levada claims that the overarching aim of the Assessment is to assist in implementing an “ecclesiology of communion.” The theologians who developed this ecclesiology based their reflections on the Vatican II emphasis on Church as the People of God, Body of Christ or A Pilgrim People. All of these images were employed by Vatican II to broaden the understanding of Church as being more than the hierarchy. None of these paradigms envision unity as fabricated through force or obedience to doctrine. Rather, unity is seen as flowing out of dialogue and common discernment as the People of God struggle together to be faithful and authentic witnesses of self-emptying Love. Who more than these institutes of religious women epitomize communion founded on faith and lived as self-emptying love?

Second, the doctrinal assessment of LCWR defines the sacramental character of the Church almost exclusively as patriarchal hierarchy. Again, the assessment document usurps a Vatican II understanding of Church as sacrament and recasts it. Vatican II on the other hand posits the Church in its entirety as the sacrament of the Reign of God.

Finally, in the post-Vatican II period, many theologians from various parts of the world have developed the image of Church as Prophet. They established this vision on a preferential option for the poor, a belief in salvation as liberation and the need to be critical not just of structures of the world but of the Church itself and its role in support of situations of oppression and human denigration. However the assessment document denies any possibility of prophecy aimed at the Church hierarchy itself or separate from that hierarchy. This abhorrent disregard for the Biblical prophets and their strong stance against the priest, kings and empty rituals of faith somehow is not perceived as a rupture with the past or tradition by those operating out of this hermeneutic of retrenchment.

As modern Catholics celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, we have entered into a new chapter of church history. The Council that was declared to open the windows is now being reinterpreted as closed shutters, protecting the Church from the gale force winds of a world searching for spiritual authenticity. While said to be a time of renewal, the “Year of Faith” is really dedicated to the idolatry of doctrine, power and hierarchy. The sisters in their communal service to the Church and world, who not only take a vow of poverty but actually live that vow without privilege, status or accumulation of wealth are a vivid and prophetic contrast to the inauthenticity of the call to retrenchment masquerading as renewal.


John C. Sivalon, a former Maryknoll superior general who now teaches theology at the University of Scranton. This piece was first posted here.


  1. It won’t be long now, the nightmare will be coming to an end… even the cardinals are grouping and making plans. Dawn is coming!

  2. I’m thinking….again!

    What we are experiencing is a hierarchy that is not vetted for competence. The issue is not whether we govern by processes of authoritarian or democratic style. The intrigues by which some folks float to the top militates against competency to govern with prudence, justice, wisdom and charity. Add to the fiasco over LCWR the overbearing imposition of the new missal, the floundering response to the abuse scandal and we have a ship without an anchor in a storm. We desperately need to be “on the hook” with Christ! Folks who float to the top leave Christ behind and at the bottom of it all.

    Jerome Knies

  3. The most significant comment is to google the phrase “Vatican Declares “Year of Assault”

    There are a lot of people out there reading this and passing it on!

      1. John, it would be good if you would address the issue at hand in your comments. Sometimes you resort to name-calling or cheerleading, neither of which really advance the conversation.

      2. I would like to point out what happened the last time there was a burst of rapid, uncensored communication at a time of unrest in the Church:
        “The printing press also created its share of trouble as far as some people were concerned. It took book copying out of the hands of the Church and made it much harder for the Church to control or censor what was being written. It was hard enough to control what Wycliffe and Hus wrote with just a few hundred copies of their works in circulation. Imagine the problems the Church had when literally thousands of such works could be produced at a fraction of the cost. Each new printing press was just another hole in the dyke to be plugged up, and the Church had only so many fingers with which to do the job. It is no accident that the breakup of Europe’s religious unity during the Protestant Reformation corresponded with the spread of printing. The difference between Martin Luther’s successful Reformation and the Hussites’ much more limited success was that Luther was armed with the printing press and knew how to use it with devastating effect.”

    1. My Google search returns 128 hits for “Vatican Declares Year of Assault”. Here are the stats on them: – 74 hits (this post, 73 incidentals) – 1 hit (repost) – 4 hits (repost, 3 incidentals) – 2 hits (repost, 1 incidental) – 2 hits (repost, 1 incidental) – 5 hits (repost, 4 incidentals) – 11 hits (original post, 10 incidentals) – 2 hits (link, 1 incidental) – 1 hit (translation)

      Purely incidental links (they don’t mention the article, they simply have (or had) a link to the article because it was the title of the most recent from a blog — possibly Pray Tell — on their blogroll):

    2. Of the 120 or so Google results for “Vatican Declares Year of Assault”, more then half of the web pages (74) are from this web site. 8 other web sites either repost or link to the article (23 web pages in total).

      The remaining 20 or so hits are from 10 other web sites, but they’re not really hits: they’re only in Google’s cache because they have a blog on their blogroll (a list of blogs in a sidebar somewhere) that mentioned this post. In other words, 10 blogs were returned as “hits” only because they briefly had an automatically-generated link to an article with this title on them somewhere.

  4. Reflections on the nature of the encounter (positive or negative) between the Church and modernity are largely useless in the abscense of definitions of what is meant by modernity.

    One might see the Maryknoll movement itself (in its pre-Vatican II form) as a reflection of the encounter between the Church and modernity. This encounter doesn’t begin with the Second Vatican Council. Yet, Fr. Sivalon would set up many elements and practices of that pre-Vatican II Maryknoll movement as anti-modern.

    This kind of lack of focus is also reflected in muddled historical theology. The documents of Vatican II don’t come out of nowhere. They represent consolidation of new theological ideas already in circulation as well as prompts for new research. Fr. Sivalon writes:

    First, Levada claims that the overarching aim of the Assessment is to assist in implementing an “ecclesiology of communion.” The theologians who developed this ecclesiology based their reflections on the Vatican II emphasis on Church as the People of God, Body of Christ or A Pilgrim People.

    But the theologians who developed this ecclesiology began their work before the Council happened. Vatican II is based on their work, not ex nihilo. For instance de Lubac’s Corpus Mysticum: The Eucharist and the Church in the Middle Ages or the work on communion by Orthodox theologians, or work by Protestant theologians. (See Cardinal Ratzinger’s 2001 lecture here on the roots of the ecclesiology of Vatican II here for more.)

  5. Thanks, Fr. Ruff. Appreciate this careful analysis. It does create some angst in my thinking. Allow me:
    – have repeatedly posted the analysis and careful research and knowledge of an acknowledged expert on Vatican II and an editorial and writer of the five volume work on VII, Rev. Joe Komonchak. That analysis was directed to the B16 Advent talk which seems to have set off all sorts of interpretations on the “actual” meaning behind B16’s thoughts. Here is the article:
    Simply, Fr. K posits at the end that B16 was addressing “traditionalists” and their roll back of Vatican II under various justifications e.g. “spirit of VII”

    But, that was more than three years ago and events seem to have shifted to this type of analysis e.g. SP, SSPX preable, Irish/Austrian initiatives, walk back on Jewish/Christian openness, US events such as Johnson, LCWR, etc. Do wonder what Fr. K would think about Sivalon’s presentation?

    Wonder – since VII started with liturgy, can one posit that this “re-trenchment” has also started with liturgy via SP, New Translation, VC/ICEL, RT? In most of my comments, try to ground liturgical analysis on the fact that liturgy impacts or draws from ecclesiology. Thus, two forms of the one rite creates tension and confusion in terms of ecclesiology, etc.

    Here is an interesting side by side comparison from liberation theology & Fr. Dean Brackley, SJ’s notes:


    1. Salvation (from hell) = forgiveness of
    sin and sanctifying grace –> immortality
    of the soul.

    1.’ Salvation = Reign of God, which
    signifies new persons and true human
    community, beginning in this world. It is
    already present but not yet fully present.

    Mr. Howard – would suggest that Silavon’s synopsis assumes and includes your very points. When he says – Vatican II documents – he is including the theological development of the early 20th century. Why do you make this distinction? If anything, Silovan is stating that Levada’s statement seems to use “outmoded” definitions and ignore the development that culminated in VII documents.

  6. It’s hard to know how to respond to, or in the voguish term, “dialogue with,” a long stream of opinion like this. I understand that it most embolden the partisans it speaks for, and it is certainly kind to them. If there were any references to figures, or to doctrines, or to consequences, or to results, it could be discussed. Certainly the owners may post whatever they wish on this site, but it makes it hard for them to claim the discursive high ground when criticizing others who speak in terms of likes and dislikes.

  7. On this one I think I will have to echo Julius. This is really simply name-calling from the left. I suppose for some it might be a welcome respite from the more typical name-calling from the right that pervades the Catholic blogosphere, but I find it equally distasteful. But, hey, this is America: as long as it rallies the base, who cares about productive discourse?

  8. OK, I’ll admit it, I felt uneasy about posting this. I share the concerns of Fritz (and Julius, and Paul Ford).
    I posted it because it comes from a former religious superior, and I sense it reflects the concerns of many people in the Catholic Church. I see some of my concerns in Fr. Sivalon’s statement. But I personally wished the concerns were expressed more carefully.
    I hope it wasn’t bad editorial judgment to put this up – let’s hope it helps prod us all on to a productive conversation.

    1. Fr AWR, thanks for posting it.
      It reveals that you consider all sides when striving for the Truth. It shows that you are not a company “yes man” and are willing to examine all areas as many scholars do.
      If it ruffles the feathers of those who are comfortable then so be it.
      Fr.Sivalon reflects what many of us see and experience at the hands of the Vatican er…, well never mind what you call them. (I’m trying to not be “intemperate” and “rally the base”).

    2. Good to hear that you were “uneasy”. As I read this, it occurred to me that publishing this might be PrayTell’s way of declaring a formal separation from the Catholic Church. But now I know it was just a conversation starter, the “Catholic” blogger’s equivalent of walking up to the President at a fundraiser and asking him very loudly, “When did you first know that you wanted to destroy our country?”

      Perhaps Fr. Sivalon’s next piece can explain to the readership why the authentically renewed communities of the LCWR, like Maryknoll itself, have a LOT more empty spaces in the novitiate than the retirement home.

      1. PT declaring a formal separation from the Catholic Church? Hello? Dial down the polemic, please. And the slander. You’re out of bounds.

        I’d be cautious about the numbers game, and about simplistic theories of causality. Remember, the Legionairies had very good numbers in novitiate.


    3. “I felt uneasy about posting this.”

      And yet – with all due respect – you saw fit to post it anyway.

      “I sense it reflects the concerns of many people in the Catholic Church.”

      But how are to know how to even address those concerns as anything more than emotive outbursts without, as Julius rightly notes, reference to actual doctrines or figures?

      There’s a worthwhile discussion to be had about the Hermeneutic of Discontinuity and Renewal. Whatever Fr. Sivalon’s status, however, his essay doesn’t seem like a fruitful place to begin it.

  9. Paul and Deacon Fritz – can you help me understand what you mean by stating ‘ “intemperate” or “name-calling from the left”?

    As I said above, it creates some “angst” in my thinking but have to say that I have experienced and live with some of those who seem to have “run with” the whole “hermeneutic of rupture” meme to the point that it justifies almost anything e.g. Fr. Allan’s blog; my current parish experience where we have a pastor/music director who are gung-ho on implementing anything that comes out of the NLM blog site.

    Here is a presentation found on the Elephants in the Living Room website on “Reforming the Liturgy” by John Baldovin, SJ:

    Go to John Baldovin and review his talk. Money quotes:

    – “One of the problems, I think, of the desire to return to the pre-Vatican II rites today, on the part of a lot of people (I’m not challenging their good will of course) but one of the problems it seems to me is that they don’t recognize that the Church really seriously felt at the time of Vatican II that those elements, a number of elements which distanced us from our liturgy – prime example being Latin – that those elements not only could be, but ought to be changed, because they were preventing us from the fullest way to worship. There’s a kind of a nostalgia involved in this, nostalgia by people who were not born, many of them, at the time of the Council, so kind of a taught nostalgia. I’ve taken to calling it now Amish Catholicism. The Amish are wonderful; they’re beautiful; they’re admirable; but it’s quaint. And that’s how I feel about the Tridentine Mass,. It is beautiful, and there are elements of mystery that we’ve lost, and we need to find ways of recapturing; but to go to Amish Catholicism is not it – not in my opinion, not the way to go. We’re dooming ourselves to irrelevance if we go that way! ”
    – “One of the things that the people, like the present Pope, Benedict the XVI, and Alcuin Reid, an Australian writer, who wrote a book called, The Organic Development of the Liturgy, and Aidan Nichols, a British Dominican, one of the things that they have focused on is, that they think that the reforms did not take place organically, because they were so radical. But it was quite clear in another place in the Constitution, that they realized, as I pointed out, that a serious and radical reform was needed. As with most of the Vatican II documents, if you have studied them carefully, you realize that sometimes they give away with one hand and take back with the other. So there’s a lot of pushing and pulling going on, when you’ve got 2,000 people writing a document.”

    1. Fr. Baldovin: “…the Church really seriously felt at the time of Vatican II that those elements, a number of elements which distanced us from our liturgy – prime example being Latin – that those elements not only could be, but ought to be changed …”

      Problem with this is that V2’s liturgical constitution directed that Latin be retained.

      1. Not quite. Vatican II did decree that it could be and ought to be changed that the liturgy be celebrated exclusivelyin Latin. So the statement of Fr. Baldovin is accurate.

        Keep in mind, Vatican II provided the legal framework for territorial bodies of bishops to decide how much vernacular. The decision to permit an exclusively vernacular liturgy, then, was not contrary to Vatican II. (The Holy See confirmed the decisions of bishops’ conferences in this regard.)


      2. Thanks, Fr. Ruff. This is a significant concern for me in most blogs and comments. What is the actual historical knowledge and experience commenters have?

        Repeatedly, we see comments that state “facts” about SC, other VII documents, Bugnini, Consilium, etc. that have nothing to do with “facts”. They are opinions that have been repeated from other blogs that come out of an ideology to re-write history; to re-interpret based upon their own opinions. But, revisionist history only succeeds if the research is honest, factual, and the commenter has done his homework – not easy tasks that can be done overnite.

        Again, posted the presentation by John Baldovin, SJ so that some of the “usual” liturgical memes could be out in the open. Find, again, that so many of these are not understood but an opinion is formed based upon the end goal e.g. Tridentine liturgy; ad orientem; latin; etc.; then, the opinion borrows from B16’s hermeneutic to give it some type of “blessing and approval”; and finally we are off to the races with condemnations, anathemas, rejections, clown masses, etc.

        Finally, would caution anyone who sets up a framework on liturgy, ecclesiology, etc. based only upon the infrequent statements of one or even two popes. Example – stating that there were 13 years of reform after the end of VII but now we have had 34 years of “restoration of the great discipline of the Church” (whatever that means in his alternative universe?) Those 13 years were built on more than 50 years of liturgical research; upon liturgical decisions made in 1907; 1948; 1953 which significantly changed the Roman Rite. Would suggest that some need to read or re-read Yves Congar’s “True and False Reform of the Church” – 1950 but translated in Collegeville in the 1967 by Philibert, OP. Congar’s criteria for false reform highlights any number of “retrenchment” statements e.g. “To cling to formulas that have become outdated and dry for the sake of preserving the past is one type of fidelity; but it is a flat or superficial fidelity” per Congar. “It is incapable of realistically entering into dialogue with the very areas of culture that the church has a duty to evangelize.”

        Well, guess that I am just “passive-aggressively” or “proactively” dismissing the great Petrine office. (is this obedience or subservience?)

        JP – agree – John XXIII and the fathers of the council based their discussions on a both/and – ressourcement (not exactly retrenchment, JP) and aggiornamento. Sorry, the very definition of retrenchment rejects John XXIII’s ecumenical goals for the last council. Would suggest that what you hear from Sivolan is frustration.

      3. Perhaps Shane is referring to SC 54, in the middle of which is the statement about the faithful knowing how to sing/say certain responses in Latin, despite the introduction of the vernacular.

        That particular paragraph of SC has been debated quite a bit on PTB. I will admit to being quite frustrated at the discussion on March 11-12, 2011, which begins here.

        Jim McKay questioned whether the Council Fathers meant “Latin” or something else, when they wrote “Provideatur tamen ut christifideles etiam lingua latina partes Ordinarii Missae quae ad ipsos spectant possint simul dicere vel cantare.” I stand by my interpretation of SC and the documents that came after it that they did indeed mean “Latin”, and that whatever allowances (however generous) have been made for the vernacular, nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful are able to say/sing certain responses of the Mass in Latin.

      4. Bill: John XXIII and the fathers of the council based their discussions on a both/and – ressourcement (not exactly retrenchment, JP) and aggiornamento.

        Please don’t misunderstand me, I was not accusing John XXIII of retrenchment. I was only juxtaposing Fr. Sivalon’s description of the “herm. of retrenchment” with John XXIII’s words at the opening of the Council, words which are very much (but not exclusively) about restating ancient doctrines in ways modern man can understand. One man’s “ossified doctrine” is another man’s “timeless truth”, I suppose.

        the very definition of retrenchment rejects John XXIII’s ecumenical goals for the last council

        And so I would ask if Fr. Sivalon is projecting retrenchment where it does not exist, or at least exaggerating the opinion he disagrees with. I think the latter, at least, is the case.

        Would suggest that what you hear from Sivolan is frustration.

        I wonder if that does disservice to Fr. Sivalon and his argument, to say it is the product of frustration. I would much rather hear his un-frustrated (dispassionate?) argument.

        And I don’t say that as a slight against you, Bill. I’m only concerned it would allow me (or anyone else) to take Fr. Sivalon’s argument less seriously, if we could write it off as “frustration” or interpret it through a lens aiming to remove what we consider to be “frustration.”

        Imagine if someone looked at Jesus’ harsh words about the Pharisees and said, “Well, Jesus was frustrated.”

      5. Also — SC states that Latin remain the official language of the Roman Rite. And it is. The vernacular texts are translations of the Latin. However, even some vernacular-composed texts have been approved (although the alternative Collects/ opening prayers in English were suppressed w/ the latest translation).
        What is almost never quoted by the “Latin is the official language” people is that OTHER hermeneutical key to understanding SC, that all reform was to be done with an eye toward full and conscious participation of the worshiping assembly. And, as JPII made clear, this is directed at an embodied particpation as the appropriate complement to, and facilitator of, that silent, interior participation which should also never be lacking.

      6. I still hold to my position that Latin is no longer the “lingua franca” and so cannot be inserted into SC indiscriminately. The texts Jeffrey collected make it clear that Latin went from being a common language to being an exception used in uncommon situations.

      7. I think that one has to project an interpretation into Fr. Baldovin’s claim to deem it accurate. After looking at the liturgical constitution his claims about the council on this topic appear too broad. Someone listening to him who never read the council’s documents would walk away thinking the council said and did something it never really said or did.

      8. Thank you Fr. Ruff.
        You have stated it succinctly (5/31@6:15).
        Good antidote for revisionist “Latinphile” armchair historians.

      9. Shane – you are correct. This was a small, well defined group that has a high degree of theological and liturgical education; are leaders in the community in terms of liturgy and pastorally. Baldovin knew this fact and knew some in the group and thus his remarks are tailored to that group and assume a certain level of commonly shared knowledge.

      10. All Shane said @ 6:07pm was that “V2′s liturgical constitution directed that Latin be retained.” I do not see how Fr. Ruff’s response “Not quite” is a fitting response.

        Shane did not question Vatican II’s decision that “it could be and ought to be changed that the liturgy be celebrated exclusively in Latin.”

        I do not think Shane’s post is one of a “revisionist Latinphile armchair historian.”

        I beg pardon for my grumbling about name-calling or pigeon-holing, but I don’t see how it helps to further discussion.

    2. Whenever I read a comment on PTB which disparages Latin, I always remind myself of Pope Paul VI’s audience of 26 November 1969 (EWTN trans.), just four days before the introduction of the reformed rite in Italy (Advent I 1970), Not without coincidence Pope Paul reminds his audience that reform will allow for the greater liturgical participation of the royal priesthood. Despite his lament at the inevitable disappearance of Latin from worship, Pope Paui fails to mention that the lay latinist is as much priest and prophet by baptism as those who do not comprehend the language.

      The almost complete loss of Latin is my cross to bear. Still, there are many wish to tear the cross off the back of latinists and wield it as a σταυρός (stauros, New Testament ‘cross’, but classically ‘a stake’). Disparagement of Latin has not only become the yardstick by which many measure adherence to postconciliar liturgy, but also a rhetorical stick to prod those who aspire to preserve Latin and share their knowledge in charity and not pride.

      For some time, but to no success, I have stated that the fault lines of liturgical and theological differences in postconciliar Catholicism run through issues of culture and liturgical sensibility, and not solely the politics of language. Why then, subvert Pope Paul’s cross of lament as a means to suppress the few who still treasure Latin, rather then let them honestly bear the sacrifice given them alone? Or, will not the fullness of liturgical reform arrive without the obliteration of a collective memory of Latin?

    3. “current parish experience where we have a pastor/music director who are gung-ho on implementing anything that comes out of the NLM blog site”

      Where can a humble piano-and-guitar-country peasant find these parishes???

      In all seriousness, I don’t really understand what criticism of the Amish Fr. Saldovin is making. What Catholic wouldn’t want us to have the dedication, growth, and flourishing of the Amish Mennonites? Perhaps if we began with a definition of “relevance.”

      1. There’s a good point there that I’m surprised no one else has made yet. Since when is it acceptable ’round these parts to use the name of another ecclesial community as a term of abuse?

      2. Fr. Saldovin wasn’t criticizing the Amish. Rather, he was criticizing a popular fascination with the surface aspects of Amish life (quaint clothing, refusal to use electricity) that ignores serious theological underpinnings of the Amish lifestyle. My understanding (which may be incorrect) is that the implication is that some people want a return to the surface aspects of an imagined golden past (nuns in funny outfits, lots of bells and smells, ) minus the challenge of trying to live a life of charity and justice. For example, for some, it is very pleasant to listen to “holy” Latin chants (especially if one does not understand the Latin!) but very uncomfortable to hear some of the Gospels in plain English!

  10. Vatican II has been and continues to be a tremendous success for Catholicism, for Christianity and for the world. Except for one small area where it has been a huge failure, namely the collegiality of the bishops!

    Ad intra, the SC and DV constitutions not only transformed Catholic worship and the way we think about Scripture, it laid a solid foundation for ecumenical progress not only at the denomination level but more importantly at the family, neighborhood and community levels.

    Ad extra, many Catholics have eagerly engaged in the issues of the time, led in no small part by the example of American Women Religious. Even before Vatican II, e.g. the Sister Formation Movement, American Women Religious (as the best educated among those who were not ordained) were setting the example moving into various leadership positions not only in church institutions but also in secular institutions to be followed by droves of well educated Catholics in the sixties, seventies, and eighties.

    The central current problem of Catholicism has been the failure of the bishops to live up to collegiality. By bishops, I mean collectively the college of bishops including the bishop of Rome. The failure began with Paul VI taking over the reform of the Curia, which meant it was not well reformed, and taking over the Synod of Bishops which meant that they never became real Synods. Both bishops and Rome have failed to find a way to make collegiality work well at either the national or universal levels.

    The problems of Catholicism today are all at the level of the bishops: sexual abuse, financial mismanagement, poorly managed Missal reform, mismanagement of relationships with women religious, with politicians, etc. They all stem from an inability to implement collegiality in a practical way that makes bishops responsible to one another.

    While we do have an elephant in the room, the dysfunctionality of the college of bishops, I would not make that practical issue into a broad theoretical or theological issue.

  11. I find the article intemperate becauses he begins by rejecting the Papal position. Occasionally he recognizes that papal positions can help support the causes he cares about, as when he holds the LCWR up as examples of communion and collegiality. Mostly he just seems to sat anything the Vatican says is unacceptable and must be refuted. That polemical stance used to color our relations with other Christians, but we moved past it at V2 to begin considering what we share as well as what separates us. It is hard to see that kind of polemic find a new life.

    1. Jim – posted the link to Fr. K’s article because it provides a framework to begin to look at this argument around “hermeneutic” and to place it in a context. Fr. K tries to avoid a simplistic reading such as – “he begins by rejecting the Papal position”.

      Sivolan lays out a critique of those who have adopted what B16 has said only as a framework and direction and have all but “canonized’ and named this as a new direction in the church both in ecclesiology and in liturgy. Not sure that the current pope would agree with all of that – he himself acknowledged that Vatican II and SC was both/and – needed reform and also continuity (based upon the traditional understanding that the “deposit of faith” does not change but the manner we express it and live it develops and changes). Thus, most experts who weighed in on various papal statements have been more nuanced – papal Advent talk spoke of the “hermeneutic of reform” – later clarifications and footnotes/translations added “hermeneutic of reform in continuity”. He did not reject rupture but explained it in a both/and process rather than either/or.

      Sivolan’s descriptions of “mission” and “retrenchment” echo another religiouos order’s superior general (or master), Timothy Radcliffe. You can find frequent talks by Radcliffe on the theme of “polarization” which he attempts to reject but without real specificity in terms of how we do that e.g. liturgy. His classic – kingdom/communion catholics focuses on kingdom (mission) and communion (identity). Here is an interesting two part response to Radcliffe’s “demoralization” talk (which seems to echo Sivolan’s themes) by Richard McBrien:

      McBrien adds another theme – the inbalance between those who are directing retrenchment and the vast majority of catholics.

    2. Bill, I have no problem with Fr Komonchak’s article. He is temperate and fair even when he supports the same issues as Fr Sivolan. Radcliffe too speaks inclusively.

      Fr Sivolan otoh is intemperate when he declares “Under the guise of a “Year of Faith,” the Vatican has launched an all-out assault…” Hyperbole draws lines in the sand, and keeps us from recovering what is good in the Year of Faith. It is almost as if he accepts that his is a hermeneutic of rupture, and revels in the ruptures.

  12. I agree with the commenters who have characterized Fr. Sivalon’s editorial as strongly opinionated. I agree particularly with Paul Ford’s choice of “intemperate”, as it strikes me as the most charitable.

    Brigid Rauch’s observation about the spread of printing presses and the Reformation is particularly wise. I have read her comment as an implicit commentary on the internet as a vehicle for “a burst of rapid, uncensored communication”.

    The Reformation is complex in so far as both those allied with Rome and reformers clashed with both physical weapons and sharp words from new means of communication such as the printing press. Rome often preferred to hurl anathemata rather than listen. Perhaps it was just easier to slam the gates of Fortress Trent, roll up the drawbridge, and send out the Hapsburgs to physically force back reform movements rather than let in the often cleansing light of changing politics and liturgy.

    Many, including myself, would like to rebuild the Tridentine fortress “brick by brick” (double entendre intended) and then hide within its false security. There is no security when thoughts travel the world in seconds. Every position must be listened to genuinely. This consideration should not take the character of “let a hundred flowers bloom”, as if opinion will serve to expose the “heretics”. True consideration will ensure that the Roman rite need not live another 425 or so years in liturgical and theological agoraphobia.

  13. [Meant to write “founder” instead of “flounder”, but it intimated something “fishy” after all…] Yes, the collegiality of the Bishops is an unknown quantity. It hasn’t worked. Nor will it work as long as leadership is bred out of the system during seminary time under the rubric or posture of some kind of holy obedience. We have subservience instead of obedience, sycophancy instead of loyalty. A vow of obedience presumes a corresponding promise of recognizable leadership! Our prayers need to implore God’s will be done as Jesus prayed in Gethsemane. Where is the passion to know God’s will in the answer to the abuse scandal, the LCWR fiasco, the imposition of the New Missal, the political intrigues emerging with the Vatileaks, and what’s next? I do not believe enduring the cross in ordained obedience justifies crucifying the people we are called to serve.

  14. A few things.

    First, we’re all supposedly adults here, and we can judge intemperance or imprudence when we see it. No need for it to be pointed out or edited away.

    Second, I don’t mind stating for all, even for my traditionalist brothers and sisters to see, that I feel alarmed and discouraged by recent developments, which I see as akin to the type of resistance seen throughout history in reaction to momentous Church councils. I think we can more safely label the movement as the Hermeneutic of Subtraction–the notion that carving away elements of the Body somehow makes us stronger. Maybe that works before the opening game of the season. But it is not God’s modus operandi. He seems to prefer standing things on their ears: losing life means saving it, the poor and lowly are exalted and princes leave in exile, weakness is strength, foolishness is wisdom. Stuff like that.

    Third, I don’t know that it so much the lack of vetting in the arena of competence. I take heart that the Holy Spirit still works in the Church. Leaders are bumbling all over themselves, and the Religious Right is awash in scandals, especially those of sex and money. I have to resist mightily the temptation to take heart in that. But it is a clear sign that traditionalism and a conservative outlook is no guarantee of good moral conduct.

    Fourth, I think that the pope’s positions (as theological positions) may well be read, judged, and even criticized. Hopefully, we can focus on his misdiagnosis of the current situation. Personally, I think that’s what hobbles B16. It’s less that he is a poor theologian, a distant pastor, or an unspiritual man. Far from it. But if you can’t get the diagnosis right, the medicine is likely to cause grave harm, even in the hands of a gifted healer.

  15. We are a church of many opinions and many of us are quite opinionated and I certainly understand myself and much beloved blog here in that category. When Pope John Paul was elected pope in 1978 almost 34 years ago and almost 13 years after Vatican II he stated as one of his goals the “restoration of the great discipline of the Church.” Certainly he understood the challenges that competing and divergent visions of Vatican II was bringing to bear on the Catholic population and the bitter division it was causing. Pope Benedict has continued that great “restoration of the great discipline of the Church.” Yet after 34 years, academics and Catholic professionals in the Church passively-aggressively dismiss it or pro-actively undermine the great Petrine Ministry and those who are in union with Peter and his ministry, every single Catholic bishop in the world who at his ordination or installation pledges fidelity to the Holy Father.
    13 years of unbridled experimentation and dissent from legitimate authority versus 34 years of a hermeneutic of restoring to the Church her great discipline indicates to me that even with some future pope who may have more of a populist appeal like John Paul II and an academic mind like Benedict that we aren’t going back to the first 13 years of the post-Vatican II Church but will remain in continuity with the great restoration that is occurring and the great purification too. And I use “purification” for the many levels of Church life and relating to both clergy, religious and laity and similar to final judgement in ethos. It could well be a dress rehearsal for that final judgement and for us to understand what it will be like.

  16. What I found most problematic about this piece is the way it falls into the same same simple binaries as the traditionalist voices. Is it really the case that there are only white hats and black hats? Are Cardinal Levada and Bishop Williamson really more or less on the same side? If I don’t have any interest in fostering the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Mass does this mean that I have to sign off on everything done by the LCWR?

    I’d like to think about this more before I continue opining, but that is my initial reaction.

    1. While I have a personal disdain for those who break communion with Rome through acts of personal disobedience to the Holy Father, such as the SSPX and its founding and continuation, I have come to the conclusion that SSPX has more in common, extremely more in common with the Full Communion of the Catholic Church than, let says, the Anglican Communion and the Eastern Orthodox Churches, not to mention most Protestant denominations. Yet we have warm feelings about ecumenism with these other communions. And it does seem to me that SSPX, at least from the moral and doctrinal points of view, has more in common with the teachings of the Magisterium than does the LCWR in the various specific areas highlighted in the legitimate critique of the LCWR by the CDF.
      It also seems to me that the debates on post-Vatican II ecclesiology are overly dogmatized by progressives today when in fact the ecclesiological development of the various documents of Vatican II has no real coherence and can only be clarified by the Magisterium, which it seems to me has been occurring ever since the election of Pope John Paul II in 1978 but even prior to his election by Pope Paul VI in the late 1960’s and until his death in 1978.

      Although written in the last century (1999), this commentary by Father Joseph Komonchak is illustrative of my points above concerning the incoherence of ecclesiology in the Vatican II documents (even Lumen Gentium) and the clarification that continues to evolve in theological and magisterial circles, not to mention on the practical level in parishes:

      1. From Fr.K’s article:

        “I am of the view, in other words, that one should not speak of several ecclesiologies in Lumen gentium and in the other conciliar documents. There is no evidence whatever that the Council fathers thought that they were juggling various images, notions, or models of the Church. It was indeed necessary for the Council to free the spiritual and theological dimensions of the Church from the Procrustean constraints of the first draft, and that was the great achievement of Lumen gentium. But once that freedom was won, the bishops proceeded to deal, successively and variously, with essential elements of the rich and deep reality of the one Church. That it is easy to construct a coherent ecclesiology out of all this I am not saying; but that is the task of theologians; it is enough for the Council to have set out the dimensions that need to be integrated.”

        Sorry, his statement is very different from your characterization – “….illustrative of my points above concerning the incoherence of ecclesiology in the Vatican II documents (even Lumen Gentium) and the clarification that continues to evolve in theological and magisterial circles, not to mention on the practical level in parishes.”

        – Fr. K never states or implies “incoherence of ecclesiology in VII” (again, your loose opinion as if it is “fact”) He specifically states that the council fathers were NOT juggling multiple definitions, much less saying that there was “incoherence”. Yes, it said it was not easy but he did not say or use “incoherent”
        – Fr. K specifically states that the first draft had to be “freed” from the “old” approach and mentality (“old” matches fairly closely to your description in your post of May 31st, 3:55PM)
        – Fr. K specifically does lay out that, once freed, VII only laid out directions that he suggests allowed and needed future development – but Fr. K only mentions theologians in terms of this clarification/direction process (not, as you state, Magisterial circles, not to mention on the practical level in parishes)
        Pretty sure that Fr. K would reject your addition – practical level in parishes.

        But, am happy to see you, at least, reading Fr. K. He has his own blog – vast improvement over someone else’s blog.

      2. so, more than 20 years ago. No, not infallible but based upon years of research, professional vetting and publication, and participation with many other experts in refining and arriving at solidly based historical and current interpretations. He also knows and knew many of the major players.

        So, not infallible but, then, neither are you and would trust Fr. K’s work long before your “intemperate” blog comments that only create more polarization.

        So, would you invite him back today?

        One simple comparison test – Fr. K carefully cites primary sources, research, tests out his conclusions with the actual speakers, theologian, biblical expert, etc. Can you say the same? His works have been thoroughly vetted, criticiqued, and shared by colleagues. Can you say the same?

      3. I have assiduously avoided reacting to some of your more “opinionated” statements, but this post strikes me as beyond the pale. To even suggest that SSPX has more in common with the Church in all its fullness borders on blasphemy. They are heretics as well as schismatics. Heretics because they refuse to accept the teachings of Vatican II and the papal magisterium of the most recent Popes, and schismatics because they recognize bishops who have organized “their church” around an opposing altar. The fact that they dress up like Catholics of old, and scold like pastors of old do not make them like us. Whatever excesses may have occurred following the introduction of the Novus Ordo does not justify their outright rejection of the legitimate reforms called for by SC. Our Holy Father is treading dangerous ground in going out of his way to reconcile them. Just saying.

      4. Jack you may be using a bit too much hyperbole which may describe how you feel about the SSPX; but canonically their bishops are no longer excommunicated and their followers never have been, although their clergy are suspended thus making their celebrations of the Mass and other sacraments valid but illicit. Of course I was comparing them to the Orthodox Churches which accept no ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church after the Great Schism. And every Protestant denomination I know accepts very little of any Council of the Church and certainly they do not accept the authority of Vatican II and normally have only two sacraments that are recognized, baptism and Holy Matrimony. So from an ecumenical point of view, I do believe the SSPX has more in common or is more in communion with Roman Catholicism than even the Anglican Communion. I’m speaking from a canonical and doctrinal point of view as well as dogmatic point of view. As well, SSPX accepts some of Vatican II but not all and the two infallible papal teachings on the Immaculate Conception and Assumption.

  17. I do note a pleasant absence of anyone diagnosing the author of the piece as having a mental disorder and recommending medicinal treatment, so that’s good. Good to know that’s not still going on here.

  18. Todd said First, we’re all supposedly adults here, and we can judge intemperance or imprudence when we see it. No need for it to be pointed out or edited away.

    Most people who do not agree with the Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR or Cardinal Dolan’s notion that there is a threat to religious liberty would characterize those ideas as intemperate.

    Jesus was intemperate about the rich, the religious leaders of his time, and his own chosen apostles, especially Peter. And talk about real models of intemperance, that Peter and that Paul!!!

    I find it strange that so many on this blog which so often tolerates the intemperance of the right with patient factual and logical arguments cannot give the same patient critique of this author from the left.

    Personally I have never been impressed with “Hermeneutics” whether of rupture, continuity, reform, and now mission vs. retrenchment. As a social scientist I highly doubt that even one percent of the Catholic population has any concern about any these when it comes to acceptance of Vatican II or any other change.

    Also given the nature of modern society, no matter what hermeneutic Rome might try to push they are not going to be very successful in changing many people’s minds.

    Really the problem is simply poor management in the church, a very common problem in large modern organizations, and a very common problem in the history of the church. Rome and the Bishops are just looking for any excuse (relativism, secularism, religious liberty, women religious, girl scouts) to deflect attention from the management problem. I am sure they would love to spend time talking about hermeneutics rather than clean up their management act.

  19. The hermeneutic of retrenchment, on the other hand, sees in the documents of Vatican II the restatement of ossified doctrines in language that can be understood by the modern world.

    “The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously.”

    “The Church should never depart from the sacred patrimony of truth received from the Fathers. But at the same time she must ever look to the present, to the new conditions and new forms of life introduced into the modern world, which have opened new avenues to the Catholic apostolate.”

    “The Twenty-first Ecumenical Council, which will draw upon the effective and important wealth of juridical, liturgical, apostolic, and administrative experiences, wishes to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion.”

    “The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another.”

    John XXIII, the great retrenchant?

    1. Forgive me if I misunderstand, but I think it is improper to quote John’s words then as if he would have said the same things if he had lived through the last 50 years with us. For example, I don’t expect to see a quote from John XXIII supporting female priests; I doubt it would ever have occurred to him. But, he seems to have been a very loving person willing to change if he saw that as God’s will.
      Even as I write this, it seems to me that many of the disputes within the Church today are not in fact over doctrine, but over teachings that have less authority. To accord these teachings the status of doctrine is a distortion.

      1. Brigid, I am addressing specifically what Fr. Sivalon wrote, which is that the “hermeneutic of retrenchment” sees Vatican II as restating old doctrines in ways the modern world can understand them. John XXIII’s opening speech for the Council said, in no uncertain terms as my four quotes show, that one aim of the Council was to do just that.

        I do not think it is improper to quote his words from 50 years ago, because they express what he believed at the time, and I do not know if he changed his mind about what he stated here. I cannot know what decisions or opinions he would have changed had he lived another 50 years.

        From his words 50 years ago, John XXIII seems to have taken part of the “retrenchment” approach. He also seems to have taken part of the “mission” approach. And that is my beef with Fr. Sivalon’s article. It tries too hard to make things either/or, instead of both/and. I subscribe to both hermeneutics that he describes, though not to the extremes to which one could take them. (E.g. I don’t see female priests as an authentic fruit of the “herm. of mission”, and I don’t think a return to the “old Mass” is an authentic fruit of the other herm.)

    2. No, not retrenchment. It is classical (and somewhat amusing) rhetorical strategy that Roman documents generally begin by praising as eternally laudable what it is about to change. (John Paul’s Fides et Ratio opens by praising Pius X’s defenses against Modernism — and then goes on to promote an idea of faith and reason that roughly follows the contours of a “threshold apologetics” of condemned Modernists Blondell and Laberthoniere.)
      (Or, as my friend and I joke, if the hierarchy ever decides to even consider the question of ordaining women, it will begin its announcement with “As the Church has always taught . . . “, thereby finding a way to justify particular changes within the context of something larger and unchanging.)
      This is not unique to the Vatican, certainly. Those Catholics who dissent from certain authoritative but noninfallible teachings often do so from the perspective of some larger value within Church tradition and the Gospel itself. It happens in government, too, as can be seen from the expansion of civil liberties to groups formerly excluded by the Constitution, either as it is actually written (women and slaves) or as previously understood (separate but equal vs fully integrated, workers’ rights, etc).

  20. The intemperance and biliousness of the essay betray a fixation on Rome that is increasingly not the lived reality of unvowed lay Catholics – that is, I believe the unvowed laity is returning, gradually, to a more traditional and customary (that is, greater) distance from Rome in day-to-day awareness. For clerics and religious, this is less evident. But for an increasing proportion of the rest of us, Rome is less important than it used to be. That’s not schism, but a return to what was historically long normal, as it were.

    1. True to a degree.

      And yet Rome is not without a long reach in some quarters.

      As an outsider, I don’t see the problem with folding up the LCWR tent and sending out the conference brochures as an independent offering. But actions like that take energy, time, and resources.

      Those of us who take pastoral ministry seriously see MR3, the CDF/Rode investigation, and other such episodes as a drain on our time and energy. I’d rather be looking for one or two new Mass settings from a pool of thousands of tried-and-tested, rather than a handful of assembly line products that never saw use before they hit print. I’m sure religious sisters would prefer to be visiting the sick, vetting godparents, and planning for the 2012-13 religious ed year than research Archbishop Sartain in the NCR archives.

      Maybe your congregation and mine are used to untested and possible crappy Mass settings, but I’d like to think that after forty years we can do better.

      If Catholics don’t notice the difference (and I suspect they see hints of it, at the very least) I’d say they’re less engaged than they should be.

      I’m with Jack’s statement about all this being a smokescreen for bad management. I’m disinclined to criticize Fr Sivalon more than Pope Benedict or the bishops simply because his reach is far less. If the clueless mismanagement in curial offices has or should have a long reach, then I suspect that Fr Sivalon will be a whisper.

      I’d rather focus on a temperate way of saying that too many bishops lack the charism of administration, detail the reasons why, then move on with the routine of real ministry.

      1. Yes, but remember you are a full time liturgist and musician (a father, too, among other things…), so these decisions (especially liturgical, but also governance) affect you more directly than many. Many Catholics in the pews are engaged, but elsewhere, shall we say. (Hey, I’d love for them to be more engaged in the issues I’d like to see engaged, but I don’t confuse my preferences for the Spirit’s, which is not to say that all Catholics are engaged where the Spirit wills them to be.)

        Governance and administration, and mostly importantly accountability, in our Church need significant reform. The processes by which prelates, curias (universal and diocesan) and pastors are chosen are not dogmatically fixed, fortunately, and the way bishops are chosen now has been the dominant practice only since the second quarter of the 19th century, and it can change again rather readily.

      2. My phrasing of the issue as one of collegiality, both the bishops with one another as well as with Rome (i.e. the Curia) stems in large part from the evidence, e.g. the Missal, the Nuns, etc.

        The reality is very clear that there are internal debates and factions both here and in Rome about all sorts of issues. What we often see is that bishops here try to get their way by influencing processes in Rome when they cannot get their way among their fellow bishops, and similarly people in Rome that cannot get their way there encourage bishops here to take steps on their own. All of this is the messiness of politics that we encounter in any large government. Right now it has become a large PR disaster for the bishops. Day by day the bishops look more and more like a bunch of politicians out of touch with daily life.

        I think the “collegiality” of Vatican II was the work of the Holy Spirit; by and large the bishops have to work much harder to implement it. We should not underrate how much time it will take in an organization of this magnitude to make such a change.

        Greenleaf in the second chapter of Servant Leadership advocates “collegial (i.e. primus inter pares)” rather than “hierarchical” government in corporations and business. In senior management teams that I have seen or been a part of, those CEOs who foster collegial behavior have much better management teams measured in part by far fewer meetings. Often meetings are merely a disguise for competition among members for the CEO’s approval, rather than collegially solving problems with other members.

        What I object about this article is that it makes what is primarily a social institutional issue, how we structure relationships better, into a cultural issue of “interpretation” of Vatican II. People find it easier to interpret problems in life as being caused by bad people or their bad ideas than to face changing the way they behave toward each other.

    2. a fixation on Rome that is increasingly not the lived reality of unvowed lay Catholics

      Parishes are being closed because of a lack of priests – yet Rome will not even allow discussion of women and/or married priests.
      American bishops are inserting themselves into the election in order to enforce Rome’s ruling on contraception – a ruling that most American Catholics reject.
      American bishops are threatening to close many Catholic institutions and services if they don’t get their way – even as lay Catholics disagree with the bishops and support those institutions with their donations and tax dollars.
      Young Catholics disagree vigorously with Rome’s description of the GLBT community as inherently disordered.
      Parish life is disrupted needlessly time after time as bishops and pastors adopt Rome’s top down style of governance.

      I’d say the lived reality of unvowed lay Catholics is very aware of Rome; which may explain the increasing number of unvowed former lay Catholics!

  21. Anthony Ruff, OSB :
    Not quite. Vatican II did decree that it could be and ought to be changed that the liturgy be celebrated exclusivelyin Latin. So the statement of Fr. Baldovin is accurate.
    Keep in mind, Vatican II provided the legal framework for territorial bodies of bishops to decide how much vernacular. The decision to permit an exclusively vernacular liturgy, then, was not contrary to Vatican II. (The Holy See confirmed the decisions of bishops’ conferences in this regard.)

    So what then of the Apostolic Constitution Veterum Sapientia? Would it be your opinion that it should continue to be ignored? If responding in the affirmative, please note that this is why many lay folk do the same. Pick and choose which to obey and not obey. They often follow example. If that AC is in contrast with any document proceeding it how do you reconcile the Apostolic Constitution? As far as I understand it is completely in force, even if it is being ignored as if it never happened.

    1. Mitch, you’re off topic. The question is what VATICAN II said in the liturgy constitution, and whether Fr. Baldovin’s characterization of the VATICAN II is accurate or not. Veterum sapienta,, which interesting in many ways, is irrelvant to this specific question.

      1. In no way is it irrelevant to that question.

        Fr. Baldovin said this (my emphasis): “One of the problems, I think, of the desire to return to the pre-Vatican II rites today, on the part of a lot of people (I’m not challenging their good will of course) but one of the problems it seems to me is that they don’t recognize that the Church really seriously felt at the time of Vatican II that those elements, a number of elements which distanced us from our liturgy – prime example being Latin – that those elements not only could be, but ought to be changed, because they were preventing us from the fullest way to worship.

        Surely Veterum sapienta cannot be “irrelevant” to interpreting and implementing Sacrosanctum Concilium‘s provisions on the use of Latin in the Liturgy.

        As Archbishop Bugnini writes (also my emphasis): “The conclusion reached in this debate was ultimately set forth in Chapter I of the Constitution on the Liturgy, where the question is answered in a way that reconciles the rights of Latin and the need of the vernaculars in celebrations with the people“.

        In understanding the “rights of Latin” which SC seeks to reconcile, surely an apostolic constitution issued just the year before is not “irrelevant,” but a key source to be examined.

      2. No.
        The question as I understand it was what Vatican II actually said.
        I’m not suprrised you’d want to pull in Veterum sapienta to claim what Vatican II means.
        That’s an interesting but different question.

      3. The question as I understand it was what Vatican II actually said.

        As any lawyer or philosopher will tell you, interpreting the meaning of a text involves looking at the context it was written in and not just the words themselves. Indeed, understanding the words themselves requires an understanding of the context.

        If you think Shane Meyer’s comment means that SC literally directed that Latin be always and everywhere retained and never substituted for, and that you can prove this by pointing to SC you’re reading Meyer with a complete lack of interpretive charity.

      4. It’s an open question whether Veterum Sapientia was a dead letter the day it was issued; my understanding has been that it was something like the Pius X’s notional ban on women in choir – effectively negated rather quickly.

  22. As would be the history of the council of Trent – preparatory papers and notes from actual participants show that there were many bishops who were in favor of allowing “vernacular”. Unfortunately, the impact of the Protestant Reformation, the times, context, etc. influenced these bishops to suspend any effort to propose implementing the vernacular because it might be seen as supporting the Reformation aims rather than supporting Trentan Counter-Reformation reform.

    Let’s see – do you really think that those preparing for VII did not factor in this constitution?

    Does someone have a list of aposotolic constitutions that no longer have anything to say because either their original goal has been proven false; the specific context/times of the constitution are long past; or the actual constitution was never implemented – would suggest that this list would be in the hundreds, if not thousands. Again, would caution the reaction to put papal pronouncements at a level of concilar documents; dogma; etc. This seems to continue the “creeping” papal/curial drive since the 1980’s to make all Vatican statements “definitive” – as if they are infallible.

    1. Let’s see – do you really think that those preparing for VII did not factor in this constitution?

      No, I think that they did factor it in. That’s precisely why it’s relevant to “what VATICAN II said in the liturgy constitution, and whether Fr. Baldovin’s characterization of the VATICAN II is accurate or not.”

      “what VATICAN II said” (assuming we mean the meaning of the words and not the words themselves) can’t be understood outside the context in which it took place.

  23. Mr. Howard – it is an easy task to read the prepatory papers leading up to Vatican II:

    Think you will find both plans and detailed questions from the world’s bishops and the initial schema. Sorry, could not really find any references; much less questions, from bishops that referenced or were concerned with this constitution.

    Here is Komonchak’s CUA lectures on John XXIII’s pronouncement:

    Money quotes:

    – this letter was about the study and use of latin in the education of priests (not sure how you link this to SC?)
    – This document, which was not mentioned in Pope John’s brief notes about the assembly in his diary, required that seminarians acquire a good knowledge of Latin and skill in using it before they began their philosophical and theological studies and that Latin be the language used in lectures and textbooks on those subjects (you seem to give this document more credit than even John did in his personal diary?)
    – Veterum sapientia was met with a good deal of anxiety, not only because its prescriptions dealt in advance with a matter on the conciliar agenda–the education of the clergy–, but also because it appeared also designed to settle the much-anticipated question, also on the agenda, of the use of vernacular languages in the liturgy. Some casuistic efforts were made to interpret the warning; e.g., it was only people “eager for revolutionary changes” who were warned against. In fact, of course, the document, elaborated in the Congregation for Universities and Seminaries, meant that speaking against Latin was itself a sign of “eagerness for revolutionary changes.”
    – As it turned out, Veterum sapientia quickly became a dead letter, and the Council dealt with liturgical languages and with clerical education in complete freedom. Humoroulsy, the fathers and periti in the first session as vernacular/latin was discussed had a saying in the corridors – “Veterum Si! Sapientia No!”

    There is a link in the second article that details VII preparation and this document.

    1. The prepatory papers are interesting but they do not change nor do they in & of themselves direct our interpretation of the promulgated constitutions of the council. It is the final documents, those vetted by the assembled bishops together with the footnotes that make up the council’s teaching. The diaries of the experts, secretaries or even individual bishops are wonderful fodder for historians and researchers but cannot be seen as mitigating clear statements or directives of conciliar teaching. The late Cardinal Dulles had some things to say on this issue.

      1. Your “ideological defense” seems to be rearing its head as you state: “…cannot be seen as mitigating clear statements or directives of conciliar teaching.”

        Clear – meaning what? The purpose of posting these links and historical research was to show that the process leading to the “clear” Vatican II statements was anything but simple, direct, and unanimous. In fact, it “clearly” shows that the final language of documents such as SC were compromises; vetted repeatedly, revised repeatedly. (BTW – those “clear” SC documents were approved overwhelmingly…..and how they were implemented could be an arena for discussion in terms of how things turned out. But, you can’t posit a “clear” statement because what 1400+ bishops thought about SC and voted for “clearly” via these historical documents shows a united approval but the “how to be enacted” also shows no uniformity. The directives from SC as implemented by Paul VI do anything but give us a “clear” statement – rather, you have to study and drill down on Bugninni, Concilium, Paul VI’s on-going decisions, continued resistance from a tiny minority led by Ottaviani.

        Thus, what “clearly” emerges is a both/and approach – latin is seen as having a special place in liturgy but, at the same time, vernacular will be introduced in a “wider” manner and contingent upon episcopal conferences. (some seem to want to delete VII directives about the place/role/responsibility of conferences in terms of liturgical decisions e.g. vernacular and replace a concilar directive with later papal pronouncements).

        Yes, one can say that the development of vernacular has had “unintended consequences” in terms of chant, etc. but not sure that this justifies some type of “leap” to canonizing and re-interpreting and revising history or lived experience over the last 50 years by picking and choosing certain paragraphs and elevating them to some type of “invincible” status?

        This type of ideological revisionism leads to embarrasing local decisions such as those you see on certain blogs – based upon opinions and a defective historical critical approach to the church’s communal liturgy.

        Notice you provided no resource or article from the cardinal – you do realize that his remarks and articles from the very end of his life demonstrated a “significant” change – many have attempted to explain the reasons for this. And the statements of a retired theologian who received an “honorary” cardinalate has what bearing on this discussion?

      2. (some seem to want to delete VII directives about the place/role/responsibility of conferences in terms of liturgical decisions e.g. vernacular and replace a concilar directive with later papal pronouncements).

        Once again. The disciplinary norms of a council are still disciplinary norms and disciplinary norms do not bind the Church perpetually. Otherwise folks quoting Quo Primum to argue that the Novus Ordo is illicit would be correct.

        …you can see that this issue was debated, discussed, and voted on between 1961-1962. It appears that we are trying to “restage” this period of history – why?

        Because we want to and because we’re free to and some of us think that it’s useful for the apostolic mission of the Church. You’re free to disagree.

    2. re: Bill deHaas on June 1, 2012 – 3:22 pm

      Arguments which attempt to defend the importance or significance of conciliar and post-conciliar liturgies on vernacularization alone are moot at this point. Worship in Latin is here to stay. While I do regret the intemperate tone of my earlier post on the way in which some liturgically progressive Catholics goad traditional Catholics about their fidelity to the Latin language, I will not deny that I am angry and frustrated by more progressive Catholics who are convinced that “liturgical renewal” will not be complete until every last Dominus vobiscum is suppressed.

      The path to reconciliation is not through the disparagement of Latin with a view towards a final suppression. Disparagement of Latin will only further drive traditionalists towards further defensive protection of their liturgical language. Rather, shouldn’t we focus on reconciliation through a common examination of conciliar teachings on ecclesiology, eucharistic theology, and social justice? I, and my fellow traditionalists, will follow the Extraordinary Form to the ends of the earth. No person will be able to destroy this allegiance.

      1. Agree – but your choice of the word “disparagement” reveals lots. What some of us here are “disparaging” is not Latin but how some pick and choose; ignore history and development; ignore some serious questions about the church vis a vis latin use – e.g. impact on ecumenism, mission territory, enculturation, etc.

        If you want to hook your ladder to the EF, so be it – but let’s keep in mind that it is an “exception” based upon a “temporary” indult that has had significant impact in terms of polarization, intramural fights which have, in some cases, split parishes.

        I could go on but it is not my desire to “disparage” latin. Disclaimer – studied latin for seven years; had to work with international committtees on a religious community’s “acta” proposing and revising new norms in latin; sang Gregorian chant for years (and still find that it is beautiful and supports my communal prayer when done correctly); taught latin to first year choir members so they could better learn to sing and understand chant, etc.
        But, (as Fr. Ruff says, there is always a but) keep latin in its proper place. If I may echo Cardinal Bea’s statements from the preparatory phase of Vatican II on “languages” – “latin is not a sign of unity but of uniformity” – liturgy, ecclesiology, sacramental theology must go beyond this to grow the catholic mission.

        Yes, you propose a challenge in terms of “traditionalists” – not sure I have either the energy nor the desire to rehash or re-invent the liturgical discussions and developments of most of the 20th century all over again because a group has an “allegiance” to a “form” that appears to mean more to them than the gospel mission; that, in some cases, demands attention that could better be used for social justice, missions, etc.
        How are “traditionalists” (as you have defined them) any different from the “Old” catholics that left because of Vatican I infallibility, etc. Would have to say that I am more sympathetic to their theological understanding of that “dogma” than I am of traditionalists or those who dream of some EF, OF, TLM future. (hope that doesn’t put me in the same class as Fr. Allan’s SSPX sympathies compared to Orthodox or our separated Christian families or the Jewish faith as if SSPX are more loyal?)

        Jordan – think I understand your passion and respect it. But the continued “debate” and “resurrection” of long past liturgical (latin) decisions just makes little sense to me especially when folks manufacture opinions that have little connection to our shared history; respect the “fathers and experts” who made those decisions, etc. IMO, it feels at times as if a small group would confront the Papal Biblical Commission stating that historical critical methods must allow or give way so that a more “literalist” or “fundamentalist” biblical approach can be used?

      2. re: Bill deHaas on June 2, 2012 – 4:18 pm

        One might reify the liturgical decisions of the Concilium just as one might also reify the teachings of Msgr. Marcel Lefebvre. Neither position is intellectually wise or rhetorically sound. Pope Paul VI did not promulgate the writings of the Concilium. He promulgated Missale Romanum 1969. I need only affirm that the bull Missale Romanum is binding on those who are attached to the extraordinary form. Indeed, I attend the OF about as often as I attend the EF.

        I have often mentioned significant issues about the 1962 liturgy on PTB. Some issues require immediate attention, such as the reform of the breviary as well as Passiontide and Holy Week to replace anti-semitic scripture and homilies. Other possible changes, such as the optional vernacularization of lections at low Mass for example, are not morally imperative but nevertheless worth further investigation.

        The ordinary form, given its greater rubrical flexibility and greater openness to vernacular languages, is critical for missioning not only to the newly Catholic but also those in need of re-evangelization. The great value of the ordinary form does not diminish the fact that for some Catholics the EF embodies their religious culture. The EF is already inculturated into the deepest fiber of many Catholic lives. The post-conciliar challenge is not to suppress the EF in order to magnify the perceived missionary potential of the OF. Rather, all Catholics, regardless of liturgical persuasion must work together to interpret and live their traditions through the moral and theological renewal of the Council. This renewal can and must apply to all licit liturgies and all religious cultures of the Universal Church. I ask Bill that you join with traditional Roman Catholics on this journey.

      3. re: Shane Maher on June 2, 2012 – 7:13 am

        I must mention here Shane’s reference to Cdl. Avery Dulles and Cdl. Dulles’s observation that the personal writings of both the bishops of the Second Vatican Council and the periti of the Concilium should not be elevated to the status of promulgated conciliar documents. I sense that my sentiments about reification of peri-conciliar documents (conciliar apocrypha?) align with Cdl. Dulles’s perspective. I would be quite interested in reading Cdl. Dulles’s comments, if they have been published.

      4. Jordan – Cardinal Dulles’ writing on the topic can be found here:

        Bill – we do not need to “…posit … what 1400+ bishops thought about SC and voted for …” because it is only what they inserted into the counciliar documents that constitutes the council. I know the “council as event” school exists You seem to want to focus on the “process” but the 1985 Extraordinary Synod of the world’s bishops (collegiality in action) were pointed in stating that “no opposition may be made between the spirit and the letter of Vatican II.”
        Lastly, SC 54 is “clear” meaning there is no ambiguity there.

      5. The artful blending of majority and minority perspectives in the council documents should have forestalled the unilateral interpretations.


        Do you know of anything that Cardinal Dulles wrote that would justify not consulting the behind the scenes discussions? I would get the opposite from the article you point to. He calls some passages “deliberate ambiguities” and seems to caution against “unilateral interpretations.” On that basis I would be wary of claims to “clear meaning.”

      6. Shane – not sure that the Cardinal’s article is the “final” word; yet he articulates the both/and while asserting that both the literal documents and the context/process are important. (you seem to miss what he is stating?).

        Some opinions that he makes:
        – “they sought to harmonize differing views, without excluding any significant minority. In some cases they adopted deliberate ambiguities.” (that is no different from what some of us are saying here and no different than what Fr. K has summarized)
        – “The council occurred at a unique moment of history, when the Western world was swept up in a wave of optimism typified by Pope John XXIII himself” – not sure many historians, sociologists would agree with this. Keep in mind that the Cuban Missile Crisis was about to happen and the Cold War was at its height; lead up to Vietnam was starting and civil rights issues continued (this is US only – what about the rest of the world?) – “optimism”???
        – “the communications media favored the emphasis on novelty” – which means what – it still does 50 years later – so what?
        – “… international review, Communio, which was widely viewed as an attempt to offset the progressive Dutch-based journal Concilium” (generalization and inaccurate characterization of Concilium) So, are we now going to list who has the more “powerful” team – would suggest that this only supports the both/and and, at the same, time it happened after 1975 when Ottaviani pressured Paul VI into making changes (Bugnini removed and Concilium folded into CDW) and towards the end of Paul’s life. Communio does interject a later interpretation but would suggest that the original historical work of the five volume Alberigo history indicates that Communio’s direction/thesis was not prevalent with the fathers of VII. (Note – Communio is part of a “process” whether you want to acknowledge that or not. You have to study Communio along side of works of John O’Malley,SJ – these are more nuanced about a VII method of reform via language style (which Dulles mentions) and continuity – no one at VII would have said that dogma changed or the deposit of faith.
        – “extraordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops in 1985, the 20th anniversary of the close of the council. This synod in its final report came up with six agreed principles for sound interpretation…..” (VII called for synods – unfortunately, this is one area that has not been implemented as VII intended. Synods were envisioned for conferences of bishops – not a “process” led, directed, and summarized by the curia – which is what 1985 was.

        Look at Dulles’ summary of the six principles for interpretation:
        – “Each passage and document of the council must be interpreted in the context of all the others, so that the integral teaching of the council may be rightly grasped.” (that is exactly what many of us (Brigid’s summary is well stated) have said esp. Fr. K. (you seem to arrive at some type of different meaning for this?)
        – “The pastoral import of the documents ought not to be separated from, or set in opposition to, their doctrinal content” (meaning what? – we have already agreed that VII was continuity in doctrinal content – so, the implementation of SC, Concilium, etc. were all “pastoral”. You and others seem to actually violate this principle – you put Bugnini, Concilium, Paul VI’s decision “in opposition to” SC?
        – “No opposition may be made between the spirit and the letter of Vatican II.” (and yet so many here “attack” the “spirit of VII” as if it gives license for some to do whatever they want. Or is this a chicken/egg question – do you start with “spirit” or do you start with “letter”?) Thus, Dulles is saying that “spirit – process” is not in opposition with “letter-documents”.
        – “must be interpreted in continuity with the great tradition of the church” (no one is contesting this unless you have folks that define “tradition” in their own way inserting various non-essential items.

        His final 12 points are his opinions only – theologians continue to study and debate many of these issues/questions. Sure that some theologians would not agree with all of Dulles’ conclusions. (e.g. subsits in)

        He inserts one paragraph on latin/liturgy:

        “In the following two paragraphs the constitution went on to say that competent local ecclesiastical authorities may determine that certain readings, instructions, prayers and chants be translated into the mother tongue of the people. The council fathers would not have anticipated that in the space of a few years the Latin language would almost totally disappear. It would be well if Catholics could be familiar with the Mass in Latin, the official language of the Roman rite. But since there are sound pastoral reasons for the vernacular, faithful translations of high quality should be provided. We may hope that such translations are in the making.” (if anything, what we have seen since 1997 has been a violation of these SC paragraphs as the curia/papal powers have centralized this “process” over and against what the fathers of VII envisioned. Even Msgr Wadsworth in a recent blog stated that this was necessary so that the liturgy of the Western/Roman Rite could be more uniform. Appears that this is neither the “spirit” nor the “letter” of what SC stated?

        He ends well:

        “The artful blending of majority and minority perspectives in the council documents should have forestalled the unilateral interpretations. There is no reason today why Vatican II should be a bone of contention among Catholics.

        History, of course, does not stop. Just as Vatican II made important changes reflecting new biblical studies, the liturgical movement and the ecumenical movement, we may expect future developments in doctrine and polity. Progress must be made, but progress always depends upon an acceptance of prior achievements so that it is not necessary to begin each time from the beginning.”

        Interesting – but you seem to want to use Dulles’ article as a “unilateral interpretation” and a “bone of contention”? Isn’t that exactly what we are seeing in the ROTR and the “mutual enhancement” process?

        Note – his final words talk about history (context – pre, during, post VII are all important); that history “progresses” (such a dirty word); and that there have been “important changes in biblical, liturgy, ecumenism” (change – another dirty word)

      7. Bill,

        Concilium is an international journal founded by Congar, Kung, Rahner, Schillebeckx, Metz and others. Still active, it can be found at

        The Consilium is the group that revised the liturgy after V2. This is what was merged with the CDW.

      8. Thanks, Jim – i continue to confuse the spelling and the two groups. Frs. Fischer and Persich are probably both turning over in their graves. (two of my best profs in graduate theology school – one was a peritus; the other, a scripture scholar.)

      9. Jim – after posting, thought about the sequence of blog responses and wondered if Shane referenced Dulles to compare/contrast with my reference and posting a link to Baldovin’s presentation?

        Taking into consideration the various levels of discourse – article in America magazine or an in person presentation, guess you could make the case that they are roughly the same. Both are considered scholars in their fields, respected, etc. One minor note – since we are talking about SC, Baldovin is an expert in liturgy; Dulles in ecclesiology.

        So, in that case both give a “general” presentation without footnotes, primary sources, quotes, etc. and instead summarize and provide personal conclusions (opinions) drawn, I suspect, from the scholarly research, publications, etc. Guess you could see Dulles’ article offsetting and clarifying some of Baldovin’s off hand remarks in his presentation.

        Dulles actually has posted a number of articles to America magazine from 2001 through 2009 – this one was in response to one of my points above – an article by John O’Malley,SJ on the style of VII:

        (from the article: “……misunderstanding of what is meant by the “hermeneutics of continuity.” When the Synod of Bishops in 1985 recommended this approach to the council documents, it had no intention of denying change. No serious student of Vatican II would wish to say that it changed nothing—the view that the Rev. Charles Miller, in his letter to the editor, attributes to Cardinal McIntyre. But the council was careful to avoid disruptive change. (Rev. Charles Miller, CM had to work for McIntyre at St. John’s Seminary – would suggest that Fr. Miller knew what he was talking about and that McIntyre was not the “typical” bishop/cardinal at VII)

        One more section in response to many letters to America based upon Dulles’ article: “……Nathan Kollar chides me for not having relied on autobiographies and memoirs for the interpretation of the council documents. I have actually read quite a number of such accounts, but I would be cautious in drawing on them. Where the documents are ambiguous, different fathers presumably had different views. What one or another of them had in mind is of little importance if they did not succeed in getting their views written into the text. The principles of interpretation proposed by the Synod of Bishops in 1985 are on the whole more reliable.” (am pretty sure that many would not agree with Dulles’ opinion as stated here)

        That being said, my remarks cited the works of F. Komonchak, his CUA class notes, and his scholarly presentations/published works which (unlike above) do use primary sources, provides extensive footnotes, and first person interviews. So, his contributions are at a much deeper level that either Dulles or Baldovin.

        Would suggest that summarizing talks/articles have a tendency to draw with broad strokes; make generalizations; etc. – not sure we need to debate those types of “generalized thoughts”?

      10. Dulles’ article makes one thing clear: the intention of the Council Fathers is what is set out in the documents of the Council; in choosing to fudge certain points by introducing ambiguities, the Fathers were permitting a diversity of views to continue on certain points.

        The emphasis that they themselves put on writing of the documents means that we cannot go back to the position papers of the people charged with preparing for the Council to use them as an aide to interpretation: the preparatory documents tell us only what the preparers thought, it is the mind of the Council Fathers that is important and which is expressed in the documents themselves.

  24. Here is the paper on: The Question of Languages in the Preparation of Vatican II by Joseph Komanchak.

    As you read through the debates and backroom manuevers, you can see that this issue was debated, discussed, and voted on between 1961-1962. It appears that we are trying to “restage” this period of history – why?

    Also, Fr. Komonchak’s paper limits itself to prior to the vote on SC. It says nothing about developments, Consilium, conferences of bishops requesting use of vernacular, etc. between 1965-1970.

      1. So, what is your point? All good histories have their critics – that is part of the process. But good histories also are respected by experts who have vetted and studied their hermeneutic and agreed that they are consistent and valid (even tho they may disagree on some points)

  25. I was a student in Rome when Veterem Sapientiam was announced. As I recall John XXIII called all the clerical students in Rome at the time to a conference wherein he, John XXIII, announced Veterem Sapientiam in Italian. We understood it to be his comment on the document in discussion. Does anyone remember this with more detail than I? You had to be there! I feared at the time–before Vatican II–I was called to be ordained as a curator in a museum for religious antiquities, reverently pious but singularly ineffective in advancing the Gospel against Nazi Germany or for healing the racial divide in our USA. How many hundreds of years of Christian/Catholic Europe and the slave trade before Rev. Martin Luther King? Did I mention the Latin of Deus vult and the Crusades? So much chattering on has me thinking we are like Roman soldiers gossiping at the foot of the cross.

  26. If you will go to the link and Komanchak’s paper – he cites the day and event at which John XXIII made this presentation; the impact and effects of this on faculties, students, and later the various commissions doing preparatory work for the schemas for Vatican II.

  27. Brigid, then how is it proper to quote him at all?

    Quotations have to be set into the context of their time. If one refers to a historic quotation relative to current events, then it is incumbent to place that particular quote within the context and spirit of the person’s body of work.

    For example, I have seen elsewhere quotes suggesting that John XXIII advocated a Latin Mass. Maybe so, but I think that he placed more importance on a consensus decision by all members of the Church and on making the Mass meaningful. If that is so, then he would have backed the majority preference for a vernacular Mass regardless of his own preference. Also to the point, John XXIII did not live long enough to see the widespread use of a vernacular Mass.
    Again, my understanding is that John advocated a church-wide study of every aspect of Church life. I doubt he envisioned the changes many of the communities of sisters actually made, and I have no idea what comments he made have ever made about community life. Still, my sense is that he trusted the sisters and would have supported them.

    In a broader sense, my understanding of Vatican II is that there was a consensus that change was needed, and that input as to that change should be local and involve all members of the Church. As such, quotations from documents envisioning this or that specific change should take a back seat to the theory that change would be an ongoing, collaborative process. Vatican II was not a list of specific, finite changes but a blueprint for continual renewal.

  28. Robert Greenleaf, the author of Servant Leadership was a great admirer of Pope John.

    Greenleaf was the equivalent of a vice-president in the largest business organization of his day, AT&T. Greenleaf admired Pope John both for the huge corporation transformation that he had accomplished and for the way that he did it.

    Greenleaf who knew so many corporate leaders understood well the limitations of the CEO model, of one person rule. He understood far better than most people the need to engage the talents of everyone in the organization, not just one person or a few at the top.

    On the day of John’s death, half of Geenleaf’s seminar for young executives under 35 was spent on talking about the accomplishments of this Pope in just a few years at age 80. Geenleaf did not lament John’s death, or that he has served for such few years.

    In his book Greenleaf has a few things to say about the Catholic Church which remain timely.

    The Catholic Church in the United States is a minority religion, but I regard it as, potentially, our largest single force for good. It fails to realize its potential for good in the society for a whole because, I believe, it is seen as a predominantly negative force.

    The issues on which the church is in opposition, such as birth control, euthanasia, divorce and communism are specific and precisely defined, and the actions of the church are vigorous and sustained.

    The issues on which the church is affirmative, such as peace, justice and charity, are broad idealistic generalities, and the actions are sporadic and imprecise

    One must oppose those things that one believes to be wrong, but one cannot lead from a predominately negative posture. One can lead an institution or total society only by strong, specific, sharply aimed affirmative actions.

    As a non Catholic, I was lifted by Pope John’s regime because an affirmative building leadership seemed to be emerging and this gave new hope for the world.

  29. I have been more than somewhat depressed reading a number of the responses in this thread.

    They have put me in mind of the comment of a priest friend of mine regarding those who are preoccupied with the externals of faith and religious observance rather than the deeper questions, and who are afraid of changes in the Church. He referred to the British pop singer P.J. Proby who used to split his trousers on stage with monotonous regularity. (The girls would all scream, of course.) His comment: “These people have carried on worshipping the trousers long after the body which once inhabited them has departed.”

  30. Hello from the Maryknoll Father and Brothers! I am Fr. Kevin Hanlon, a Maryknoll priest now for 23 years, and a missionary for about 30! My fellow Maryknoller Fr. Sivalon does not speak for the majority of us. Most of us are just hard working missionaries in difficult situations who rely on the unity of the Church and the prayers of the Pope, long may he live. If you would like to read a formal response I make to Fr. Sivalon, please visit my blog and view the Saturday June 16 entry. I wrote it with the consultation and review of my Superior General, as we all should try to do. Send me an email for any questions you might have. God bless you!

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