Saturday, 31 March 2012

Vatican II – It was only a Council!

Last time I said that the Church regularly changes bits of Councils or modifies them or even ignores them. This shouldn’t come a great surprise, but I suspect that it will do because we have fallen into the trap of poring over every line, meaning and nuance of the Documents. They are infinitely important because we have given them an infinite importance.

But even that is not really true. Both sides can quote Councils! On one side “Actual/active participation in the Mass” on the other “retention of Latin and Gregorian Chant having pride of place”.

We bang on about what the Documents say but selectively read them. Who could forget that sweet Document “Inter Mirifica” a Decree of the second Vatican Council. Well, actually almost every one. No one really looks at it any more. Of course it is not a Dogmatic Constitution so is not up there with the big four – but it has the same authority as the one which changed our relations with the Jewish people, Nostra Aetate, or the Decree Christus Dominus the reading and interpretation of which rewrote the theology of being a Bishop.

Now all I want to say is that before we start trading texts and Documents, we have to realise that these are to a large extent dependent on the authority we give them and are not set in stone. Certain things within them will be, but a lot will not. Already we ignore parts of them and we selectively read others.

They are not the be all and end all. Nor should they be. Nor will they be.

But this is not to say that their effects have not been extraordinarily important. But that is different from the Documents themselves. It is the effects that I’m interested in.

So let us look at the period before the Council, again being very aware of the dangers of reading into history what we want or expect to find.
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