Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pre-Vatican II

"We don't do that. It's pre-Vatican II!"

This sort of comment makes me stop. Look in disbelief. We are not still beating that old horse, are we?

For those who don't know the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, or Vatican II, was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October, 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI on 21 November, 1965. Four future pontiffs took part in the council's opening session: Giovanni Battista Cardinal Montini, who on succeeding Pope John XXIII took the name of Paul VI; Bishop Albino Luciani, the future Pope John Paul I; Bishop Karol Wojtyła, who became Pope John Paul II; and Father Joseph Ratzinger, present as a theological consultant, who became Pope Benedict XVI. Our current Pope.

What was the result of the Council? I could go on forever and refer you to many documents and websites but, quite frankly, I won't. This is not a long, discoursive blog. Or blog post.

Instead, I will point out that Pope Benedict XVI, himself, reflected on the fruits of the Council...

The question arises: Why has the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult?
Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or - as we would say today - on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarreled with each other. ....

On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. ...
The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which, to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are now pointless. However, the true spirit of the Council is not to be found in these compromises ....

In a word: it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim....
Speech, 2005

This is where that statement 'Oh, it's so pre-Vatican II' often comes into play. To justify a whim, an individual belief, a personal view of the spirit and not the text of the Second Vatican Council.

This statement is used, in particular, when it concerns the liturgy, the public worship of the Church.

I have written before about liturgy, the spirit of the liturgy, the importance of beauty in our liturgical worship, how to pray the Mass.

None of these posts rely solely on my personal interpretation of any Church document or any one document or statement in isolation but instead trust in the clear teachings of the Church, on liturgy, on public worship, on rubrics.

What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful. It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place. Pope Benedict XVI, Letter to the Bishops that accompanied the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum

It is a fallacy of logic to fall back on a generalised statement ( pre-Vatican II) or to talk about 'spirit and not law' ( personal interpretation). Post hoc, ergo propter hoc ("after this, therefore because of this") .

A logical fallacy is, in loose terms, an error of reasoning. When someone adopts a position, or tries to persuade someone else to adopt a position, based on a bad piece of reasoning, they commit a fallacy.

So, the statement 'pre-Vatican II', used to discontinue a liturgical practice, can be seen to be a fallacy of an appeal to authority. An appeal to authority is an argument from the fact that a person judged to be an authority affirms a claim that a proposition is true.

The person in authority refers, supposedly, loosely, generally, to un-named documents of Vatican II , or worse, to his personal belief in the spirit of Vatican II as authority, and we are intended to believe that the practice (et al) under discussion is no longer allowed.

Yet, as the Pope says,What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.

And one can see that the generalised 'pre-Vatican II' term means, in fact, nothing. Has no appeal to authority. Does not quote Church documents. That it is, in fact, fallacious.

I thought that tired old horse of an argument, of pre and post Vatican II, had died.

But, as Belloc pointed out with regard to heresies, that old heresies appear again and again, so fallacies and false arguments reappear.

Sometimes, it is up to us, yes, you and me, to point out these point out that the Emporer is wearing no clothes.


molly said...


Ladybug Mommy Maria said...

Well said!!!!

Leonie said...

Thanks guys...I worry that I am preaching to the converted ..but sometimes one has to say something! lol!

Erin said...

Nope, that old horse is still kicking. sigh. At least one sermon per bi-month we hear a tirade on pre-Vatican hangups, the Fire and brimstone woes. I so want to jump up and shout "move on, before our time" trouble is for 98% of the congregation (and priest) it is not. sigh.

Leonie said...

:-( Erin.

Anonymous said...

Quite right, Leonie. Nicely done.

What was the specific incident? Were you wearing a mantilla at an OF Mass?

Really interesting, now that I think about it, how the more revolutionary or dissenting Catholics rejected Church authority and yet use the "appeal to authority" so much in their rhetoric! Fascinating.

Leonie said...

LOl Louise re mantilla. Actually, the incident that sparked my post was nothing to do with me but happened to someone else.

And you are right..there is an appeal to authority when it pleases certain people and an ignoring or denigrating pf authority at other times.

Fr. Benedict said...

Leonie, brilliant post as per usual!! I'm always edified how the laity can have such a better concept of the status quo (in this case the importance of the hermeneutic of continuity) than most clergy!!! Keep up the blessed work!

Fr. Benedict said...

ps: If I had a dollar for every time someone threw the old "that's pre-Vatican" at me... well let's just say it would have a great effect on my vow of poverty!!! LOL

Leonie said...

LOL Fr...I understand! :-) And thank you for the kind words/encouragement!

Paula said...

WoW!!! Interesting post.I've never had anyone say this to me regarding vatican II... yet, it does pose the question of vatican II, and its destruction and rupture of the visible Church. Particularly the teaching that there is no salvation outside of the Catholic Church, what happened to this infallibly defined Dogma, why is it suddenly okay to deny infallibly defined dogmas???? Everyone who calls themselves Catholic, tends to fall for the lie that all are saved, even if they do not call on the Catholic God.. Do you agree with this?

Thank you for your post!