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"Good News" Update

Is the Establishment Waking Up?

by Christopher A. Ferrara

Well, it’s happening. After forty years of the "springtime of Vatican II" even the "mainstream" Catholic press is finally beginning to recognize that the novel "pastoral" teachings of the Council, a Council that expressly disclaimed any intention to teach infallibly, were simply false  —  false because they ventured into areas in which the Council Fathers had no special competence.

I am referring to what is supposedly the "thematic" document of the entire Council: Gaudium et spes (GS), the Council’s "constitution" on the Church in the Modern World. For nearly forty years, so-called Roman Catholic "traditionalists" have been saying that GS was a disaster for the Church: a rambling collection of liberal sociological views, fatuously optimistic statements about the condition of modern civilization, and even calls for world government. Truly, this was a document an ecumenical council of the Catholic Church had no business issuing.

And now it seems that the "establishment" is finally beginning to understand this. On July 24, 2005, Zenit.org ran an interview with theologian Tracey Rowland, who is no less than dean of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family in Melbourne.

As Zenit describes the interview: "Many believe that ‘Gaudium et Spes’ was the key document that shaped the life of the Church in the years immediately following the Second Vatican Council. However, according to theologian Tracey Rowland, 40 years of post-conciliar history and reflection on the 1965 pastoral constitution have led many to conclude that the document had an inadequate understanding of culture, particularly that of the culture of liberal modernity. The result, Rowland reckons, was the unleashing of currents within the Church that gravely harmed the liturgy and offered a false humanism ultimately destructive to the pastoral care of souls."

Note well: the dean of the John Paul II Institute, dedicated to the very "man of the Council," publicly accuses the Council of an inadequate understanding of the culture of liberal modernity and of unleashing a false humanism upon the Church that was destructive to the care of souls.

While Rowland went on to note that "John Paul II argued that the document needs to be read from the perspective of Paragraph 22 [which] says that the human person needs to know Christ in order to have self-understanding," that is not how GS was presented to the Church.

"[T]he popular interpretation of this document" said Rowland, "was that it represented an acknowledgment on the part of the Church that modernity is OK and that it is the will of the Holy Spirit that Catholics accommodate their practices and culture, including liturgical culture, to modernity's spirit as quickly as possible. This had the effect of generating a cultural revolution within the Church such that anything that was characteristically pre-conciliar became suspect. Modes of liturgical dress, forms of prayer, different devotions, hymns that had been a part of the Church's cultural treasury for centuries, were not just dumped, but actively suppressed."

And what did Paul VI and John Paul II do while this "cultural revolution" was happening? They basically approved it in the name of the Council  —  and Gaudium et spes. But now a "mainstream" theologian, interviewed by a "mainstream" Catholic news source, essentially confirms what the adherents of the Fatima Message have known all along: that Vatican II induced what Sister Lucy called "diabolical disorientation" in the Church  —  a disorientation that has affected even the Pope.

This "mainstream" recognition of the bad news about GS is indeed good news for the Church. Perhaps the Church’s leadership is finally beginning to wake from the post-conciliar nightmare, as the end of our forty years of wandering in the post-conciliar desert approaches.