Pope John XXlll opens the Second Vatican Council, 11 October, 1962
The Second Vatican Council (Latin: Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum Secundum or informally known as Vatican II) addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. The council, through the Holy See, formally opened under the pontificate of Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI on 8 December 1965.
There in truth is only one debate–both in the conclave now ongoing and in The Church Herself–was the Second Vatican Council, with its attending modernizations and rapprochements, a mistake or no? That’s the debate–that’s actually the war–in The Church ongoing and ceaseless, since the 1960’s.
Over weekend past, I was very happy to share with readers an excellent interview with Honorable James Nicholson, representing United States to The Holy See. Nicholson as a diplomat, made only very guarded mention of this war, as is likely appropriate for him.
Ambassador’s interviewer, a very young man who appears maybe 30, was a Christian but not a Catholic—this was evident first question out, as a Catholic just wouldn’t put a question in the manner the young man did. This is nothing against the interviewer, he is very young so he can have very little real knowledge of the Council and as a reporter he did a good job, but an additional impediment to his youth was that he is not Catholic. Combined, these impediments sharply limited his capacity to ask truly probing questions.
The interview and my attending comments of weekend past can be seen and read here, courtesy of LIGNET:
The Ambassador did say that one of the main items under discussion in the conclave now ongoing had to be “how to stop the bleeding” of Catholics out of The Church in US and all over the West. I am sure that Ambassador is both a fervent Catholic and is clearly old enough and trained well enough about the Council to realize how tempestuous a cloud that Council put over The Church—a cloud that has never lifted. Ambassador avoided discussing that directly, and perhaps—wisely so. He used coded sorts of words that, given my age and background in the Church, I understood, but I rather much doubt many others would.
The cloud from the Council is as a cat chasing its’ tail ‘round a tree. Does the “bleeding of Church members” in America and the West have its genius in the Church’s having become too conservative or not conservative enough after that Council?
This is one of those “come now to us and disprove a negative,” sort of questions. It would stymie Socrates. That is, did Jack and Jill leave the Church in America or the West because the Church had become too stodgy and old-fashioned or because the Church had become too modern and just like any other place—nothing very special? Who the devil knows? Jack may have left for the first reason and Jill the latter, or both may have left for reasons utterly unrelated to the issue at bar.
That said, despite all that we may hear in the secular, and even some religious press, this debate, this war, is what drives the selection process for our new Pope. This war has been the singular fixation in The Church since the time of the Second Council. It is not resolved, and the current selection process represents yet another battle in that war. And frankly, the conclave is about very little else.
We pray that God guides the hands of the men in the conclave and the hearts of all in The Church to deal forcefully and directly with this central debate, with this war, in His Church.
A new Papa will very soon be chosen. What will his elevation say about the central, singular, debate, about the ceaseless war, in The Church which is: was the Second Vatican Council, with its attending modernizations and rapprochements, a mistake or no?
We will know that very shortly.
John Daniel Begg
Monday, 11th March, Anno Domini Nostri Iesu Christi, 2013