Pope Seeks a Hermeneutic of Continuity

With the Holy Father’s visit only hours away, many are looking forward to his message of peace, love and hope. Even more, we await more of his ability to give us a language which helps us identify and face the challenges of our times.

From a recent article in Newsmax, “Perhaps the greatest problem the Pope will confront in America is the one that haunts the Church in Europe, that is, Catholics are sliding into what is known in the U.S. as the phenomenon of ‘cafeteria Catholics’ — the nominal believers who pick and choose from among the Church’s teachings, take ample helpings of whatever they like, and pass over whatever is not to their liking.

Back in 2005, Pope Benedict addressed what he called the ‘central problem of our faith today’ with these remarks: ‘Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of education is the massive presence in our society and culture of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires.’

For many conservatives and traditionalist Catholics, the confusion in the Church is directly attributable to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, but the Pope disagrees. It was not the Council itself, he believes, but misinterpretations of the Council’s many documents that are the problem.”

The following is from a Zenit article on Dec. 22, 2005 …

Vatican II Texts were Misinterpretted, Says Pope

Explains Roots of Crisis That Hit Church in Wake of Council

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 22, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The crisis that arose in the Church after the Second Vatican Council wasn’t due to the conciliar documents, but rather in their interpretation, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made a long analysis of the legacy left by the 1962-1965 gathering of the world’s bishops, when he met today with his aides in the Roman Curia to express his Christmas greetings.

The Holy Father asked rhetorically: “What has been good and what has been insufficient or mistaken?” in the implementation of the Council.

According to Benedict XVI, the reception of the Council’s messages took place according to two interpretations that “confronted each other and have had disputes between them.”

The first interpretation is the one the Pope called “hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture” “between the pre-conciliar and post-conciliar Church.”

According to this view, what is important about the Council is not its texts but the spirit of renewal brought to the Church, the Holy Father said. This view, he observed, “has often been able to make use of the media’s liking, and also of a part of modern theology.”

Of reform

The other interpretation is “the hermeneutics of reform,” which was proposed by the Popes who opened and closed the Council, John XXIII and Paul VI, and which is bearing fruits “in a silent but ever more visible way,” said Benedict XVI.

According to this view, the objective of the Council and of every reform in the Church is “to transmit the doctrine purely and fully, without diminutions or distortions,” conscious that “our duty not only consists in guarding this precious treasure, as though we were concerned only with antiquity, but in dedicating ourselves with a firm will and without fear to the work that our age calls for,” the Pope said.

“One thing is the deposit of faith, that is, the truths contained in our venerated doctrine, and another [is] the way in which they are enunciated, preserving however the same meaning and fullness,” he said, echoing John XXIII.

In this way, the Council presented a “new definition of the relationship between the faith of the Church and some essential elements of modern thought,” Benedict XVI pointed out. He insisted that “the Church, both before as well as after the Council, is the same one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, journeying through time.”

“Today we can look back with gratitude to the Second Vatican Council,” he added. “If we read and receive it, guided by an appropriate hermeneutic, it can be and will be increasingly a great force for the always necessary renewal of the Church.”


One Response to Pope Seeks a Hermeneutic of Continuity

  1. As I read this post I begin to wonder if there should be a Vatican three just to give the correct interpretation of Vatican two! Thanks Be to God for The Catechism Of The Catholic Church !!

    COME, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and en kindle in them the fire of Thy love. Send forth Thy spirit and they shall be created. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth. Let Us Pray. O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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