Deposing the Theologian Kings of Vatican II

Socon or Bust readers will be pleased to know that we have a report on the Den of Dissent Conference that occurred last weeked at SPU, courtesy of Deborah Gyapong. 

Here’s my rebuttal to the content of what was presented in the article….

Boston College theologian Richard Gaillardetz, speaking at the conference at Saint Paul University Sept. 27-29, compared the council to an “unfinished building site.”

Let me guess: we need Dick and his dissenting theologian friends to finish it for us.   For the progressive, nothing is ever finished.  If they could, they’d insist that Jesus’s redemptive work on the Cross wasn’t finished.  We just need to keep on building….like the tower of Babel.

In summing up the contributions of several theologians during the conference before 300 participants, Gaillardetz recalled St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome “was built in the 16th century while the old building was still standing.” The work of the council fathers remains unfinished.

That’s indeed true but not the way that Gaillardetz thinks it is.

Gaillardetz pointed to six pillars of Vatican II teaching.

1. Vatican II brought a more Trinitarian and personalist view of divine revelation, instead of the old propositional model that equated doctrine with revelation, he said. God is inviting us into a personal relationship with the Father, through the Son, Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

You see, folks, right off the bat the theme of discontinuity is proposed:  Vatican II is the be-all and the end-all while what came before is “old and stale”.  The Church needs updating and re-engineering, and who better to do it than the theologian-kings of the Catholic Theological Society of America?  You will understand, gentle reader, that Dick and his theologian friends will use this tactic time and time again to try and support their theological biases by separating Vatican II from traditional Catholic thinking.  Also, notice the statement he makes above about “the old propositional model that equated doctrine with revelation“. Why does he introduce this false dichotomy between doctrine and Revelation?

When Jesus claimed He was the Son of God, that’s a Revelation. But it’s also doctrine! Revelation does indeed become doctrine.

The truth of the matter is that Dick’s program is not what the Church teaches at all.  The Holy Father has consistently called for interpreting Vatican II within a “hermeneutic of continuity” of Catholic tradition. In 1988, addressing the Chilean bishops, then Cardinal Ratzinger affirmed, “The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of ‘superdogma’ which takes away the importance of all the rest.”  

While doctrine guides Catholics towards the truth, it can only point to revelation, he said.

Yeah, so?  Notice the weasel phrase, “only point”.  Doctrine can “only point” to revelation.  Why is that? Because if you can separate doctrine from Revelation (as Gaillardetz wants to do), then doctrine can be wrong, whereas, as Dick well knows, Revelation can never be wrong.  So…if a particular doctrine is wrong, it need not mean that the underlying Revelation is wrong.  We just “misinterpreted” it.   Get it?  Separate the doctrine from the Revelation, then put a new doctrine in its place and leave Revelation alone –  which of course opens the door to questioning an all-male priesthood, contraception, and among many other issues Dick and his Progressive posse would love to unravel. 

2. The council stressed engagement in dialogue, something Saint Paul University theologian Catherine Clifford said “deeply marked” the experience of the council fathers in the 1960s.

“Their experience was one of deepening awareness of the Church as a communion of all the baptized, whose inner vitality and outreach are contingent upon the synergetic cooperation of all as we place our gifts at the service of God’s Spirit. “Without a true dialogue the creative dynamism of that communion is at risk.”

Why is Ms. Clifford so concerned?  What is the “risk” that she is talking about?  We’ve been dialoguing with every major Christian denomination for 50 years, and its been largely bupkis with very few exceptions along the road.   There is no true risk of “communion” being at risk because true communion for all Christians is to be united in one Body, profess one Faith, and submit to the authority of Christ’s Church under the Petrine ministry.  All of the synergetic flailing about has nothing to do with real unity, but it has a lot to do with a spiritual fantasy-land whose sun is setting over the horizon along with the “Spirit of Vatican II”.

Clifford spoke of dialogue in concentric circles: within the Church; with other Christians; with religious believers of other faiths; and with the world.

3. The council stressed baptism as the sacrament through which all the baptized participate in the priesthood of Christ, so that the gifts of the people of God might be released, Gaillardetz said.

How come we never hear these Vatican II luminaries talk about the distinct ministerial priesthood and the necessity of sustaining that?  It’s not like that particular ministry in the Church is getting an easy ride these days – both from the hostile culture and even within the Church from the gerontology graduates of Vatican II – is it?  Instead we hear the same watered-down pap that has been drilled into us these past 50 years.  It has “released” little more than gas….along with dissent, heresy, and schism.   Oh wait!  It’s true that Gaillardetz does talk about the ministerial priesthood.  He says (now remember the separation theme I mentioned earlier ’cause here it is again):

There is little place in such a vision for the seventeenth-century theology of the priest as an alter Christus, another Christ, a man set apart…This sacramental ministry, however, will not develop along a provider/receiver model that sees a sacramental minister as a dispenser of grace and bestower of sacred mysteries.  (The Church in the Making: Lumen Gentium, Christus Dominus, Orientalium Ecclesiarum, p.183)

Meanwhile, this is what the Church really teaches:

As an alter Christus, the priest is profoundly united to the Word of the Father who, in becoming incarnate took the form of a servant, he became a servant (Phil 2: 5-11). The priest is a servant of Christ, in the sense that his existence, configured to Christ ontologically, acquires an essentially relational character: he is in Christ, for Christ and with Christ, at the service of humankind. Because he belongs to Christ, the priest is radically at the service of all people: he is the minister of their salvation, their happiness and their authentic liberation, developing, in this gradual assumption of Christ’s will, in prayer, in “being heart to heart” with him. Therefore this is the indispensable condition for every proclamation, which entails participation in the sacramental offering of the Eucharist and docile obedience to the Church.” – Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 24 June 2009

As you can see above, folks, Tricky Dicky just got corrected by the Pope.  Cue the “But you misunderstand me!” and “You have misread the context” or “You don’t have a theology degree” gibberish from our theologian king. 

Sorry, Dick, you get no quarter or concession from me, given your writings and your hubris. You are not being taken out of context. We’ve got your number and there’s no escaping.  Just where oh where would we be without the authority of St. Peter’s chair?  We’d be left with the CCCB and every Dick and Rembert and Harry theologian-king. 

4. The council placed a new emphasis on the Holy Spirit, Who gives both hierarchic and charismatic gifts. The gifts that bring order and governance to the Church and those that reside in the lay faithful come from the same source, Gaillardetz said. The role of the priest is to test gifts among the faithful, not to extinguish them.

I’ll bite. What are the “gifts” that are being extinguished, Dick?  Surprise us.  LifeSite News is trying to exercise its gifts of truth-getting and promoting transparency, but for some inexplicable reason the CCCB aren’t into those gifts at all and haven’t gotten your message, since your last trip up here.

5. The council stressed ecclesial collegiality while at the same time embracing papal primacy and infallibility. This was a move away from what Gaillardetz described as a monarchical model of the Pope that had developed during the feudal era to an older model of primacy of the Bishop of Rome in unity with the other bishops.

The correct pastoral application of Vatican II’s “ecclesial collegiality” has been bungled badly with the rise of so-called “Episcopal conferences” which have been a disaster and have no theological basis.   Sadly, liberal theologians thrive on this disordered “collegiality” since it means delegation and “expertise” that only they can give to bishops.  Still, Vatican II did indeed correct an imbalance of the past, but it’s not going to play out the way our theologian-kings are hoping for.  As for me, if I had to choose between two disorders, I prefer the monarchial approach to the Papacy more so than I do to presumptive theologians who are clamouring for the influence and power of his Chair.

6. The council called the Catholic Church to “the humility of a pilgrim church.” It’s not only that individually we are pilgrim, Gaillardetz said, “The Church itself is on a journey” until the end of history.

Gaillardetz explained that these six new pillars are set against the old structure of the Church, which he called the “Gregorian edifice.” Pope Gregory VII established a monarchical structure to protect the Church against the interference of the nobility about 1,000 years ago, making him “a quasi-imperial figure.”

Prior to that the model had been collegiality and the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, he said. In the very early Church, there had been less focus on hierarchy and more on discipleship.

“Set against the old structure of the Church”.  “Less focus on hierarchy”. 

Guess what? That fortress is being re-erected because of what is happening around us today in the culture of death.  (By the way, Dick, Obama is getting hammered in the debates right now.  Isn’t your Pseudo Catholic Council for Obama not giving him the right advice?)  Oh, I know, it’s not politically correct to say it, of course.  It’s all about tearing down those nasty walls (and roof as well) so we’re “open to the world” to match our open (read: empty) minds.   But the fortress is necessary for survival just the same.  The Church reacts to the culture around us and makes adjustment for survival.    Gregory VII’s fortress church is going to be back in vogue soon, don’t you worry, Dick.  And, as a bonus, converts are going to start pouring in again….like they use to do before the Spirit of Vatican II spooked them all away. 

The older Church model also had a more static model of the Church as founded by Christ in history rather than being continually renewed and re-founded by the Holy Spirit since then, he said.

You mean “static” like “rock” perhaps?  Gentle reader, what would you prefer to have?  A rock to base your faith on (Cf. Matt. 16:18) or the recycling program that Dick and his theologian queens are pushing?

The older Church model took an “illuminist theory of divine revelation,” in which revelation came “from on high,” illuminating Church leaders, with divine revelation “trickling down to the rest of us,” Gaillardetz said. “The beauty and substance of divine revelation were identified with doctrine.” The duty of the lay people, he noted, was to obey.

Yep. That’s about it. And it was great!  We had fathers to lovingly obey. Now, we’ve got corporate managers who hire PR professionals to avoid the truth and to ban transparency.  And as a bonus, they “consult” with theological “experts” who’ve got a serious problem with self-importance and relevance. 

Hate to break it to them, but the titantic is approaching the ‘berg.  We’ll be happy to send out search parties when impact “surprises” everyone.

The council stressed that the Christian faithful should also be able to discern the truths of the faith.

There we go again with the separation meme.  Note to wannabe-kings:  We discern the truth in the context of our Tradition NOT OUTSIDE OF IT.

The sacral nature of the priesthood separates clergy and people on an ontological basis, he said. We must believe in the Real Presence in the Eucharist to accept that “the Eucharist transforms us into Christ’s Body.”

Clifford pointed out Pope John XXIII made it clear “the council must do more than simply repeat the teachings of the past,” though the Pope carefully distinguished between the “perennial ‘substance’ of the faith’ and ‘the way it was being presented.'”

The council fathers “carried out an important balancing act” between “ressourcement,” a going back to the Gospel and Patristic sources, and “aggiornamento,” or the updating of Church teaching to make it more easily understood by contemporaries, Clifford said. “The Church is called to mediate a timeless truth in a changing social, cultural, and historical context.”

“We have a tendency to answer questions nobody’s asking,” Gaillardetz said. “We have to recognize the new contours of human existence, to allow the newspaper to talk to Scripture.”

Huh?  We have a tendency to answer questions nobody is asking?  Like what?  What Justin Bieber is wearing for tonight’s show, perhaps?

Gaillardetz said the council calls the Church to “holy conversion.” Dialogue is not relativistic, wishy-washy, or weak, he said. “It’s a demanding ecclesial habit” that requires “eschatological humility” and acknowledges “we don’t have answers to every question.”

Sure we do, Dick – at least the ones you need to know about in our time.  The Holy Spirit would not let a central or important question go unanswered by the Church.  Name a topic or issue that impacts your eternal salvation where the Church hasn’t got the answer.  Being on a need-to-know-basis does not mean we don’t have the answers to all of the important, relevant questions.

“Dialogue requires the risk of ongoing conversion, that ever-deepening penetration into the Paschal mystery,” he said.

Here’s a Paschal mystery you can reflect on:  Jesus Christ –  the same yesterday, today, forever. ( Cf. Hebrews 13:8)


P.S.  According to the article, there were 300 participants at the conference.  That means more people signed our little petition to the Nuncio in opposition to this conference than attended the event itself.  Indeed (tongue in cheek), there were almost more people speaking at this event than there were participants!   That tells you all you need to know, dear reader, of the “future” of not only the Spirit of Vatican II but its theologian kings as well.

Also, a source of mine who attended had this to offer:

…the only place where there was outright dissent was in the panel by Gregory Baum, +Remi de Roo and others. Most of the panel was pretty good and even + de Roo said some stuff that I was surprised to find I agreed with. But Gregory Baum said something about how he was surprised this day and age to see no women around the altar in this era of women’s equality. Only a distant paraphrase of his exact words, but you get my drift. There was applause if I recall correctly.

Please pray, gentle reader, that I get some big guns for my upcoming conference on Vatican II.  I have one bishop in mind, but it’s a long shot to secure him.  Hint:  he’s not from North America or Europe.



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