To complete this series on the second Vatican Council I think that we must address the question of what happens now. To an extent of course this is a redundant question because things have already started to happen and as time passes, the ‘reception’ of the Council will change and develop.
We can throw into this mix the hoped for reconciliation with the Society of Saint Pius X which must necessarily change the nature of the Church after the Council. Already with the Extra-ordinary Form the worst excesses of post Vatican II Liturgy can begin to be addressed – and let’s not kid ourselves that the Ordinary Form is going to stay as it is. At best it is a committee Rite, written by liturgists, and at worst… well, even after celebrating it for eight years, for me it has no real liturgical ‘feel’ to it.
And the fact that I feel that I can actually write such a view is an important element to the times that we find ourselves in. Until a few years ago, to say such things would have put me out of the pale, so strong was the monolithic stranglehold of the understanding of the Church after the Council. The straight jacket of liberalism meant that a particular interpretation was all that was allowed – and God help you if you dared to say anything else. You could not criticise this narrow interpretation, nor indeed could you say that the Council was of a limited importance and essentially should not have had the impact on the life of the Church that it did.
All of these things now become possible.
50 years after Vatican II we can begin to breathe a little easier – not because we can now do what we like and there are no moral absolutes (thinly disguised liberal agenda) but because we can dare to be Catholic again. The club of “that’s not Vatican II” can no longer be wielded.
What is Vatican II? A Council of the Church… of the Church… the Catholic Church. And the nonsense that damaged the lives of the faithful and the Priesthood can be put to rest. Well we can begin.
We need to look at the Church and see what she is, what she was and what she will always be. And if you want this in Vatican II speak, then she is ‘The Sacrament of Salvation’. She is the mystical body of Christ who exists to offer fitting praise to God and get us to Heaven. This cannot be changed by a Council. It can be damaged by the results of a Council, but it cannot be changed by one.
The easy answer to the question ‘where now’ is ‘nowhere in particular’. The Ordinary Magisterium will continue slowly to rein in the power that the Bishops think that they have. It will correct error and define teaching where heresy and dangers occur. And hopefully the pendulum will gravitate towards the centre and not swing too far out of kilter after the horrors we have witnessed and lies that we have heard.
But it is not all cut and dried. We know that the Church will triumph because she is the Bride of Christ, but many will be lost on the way. We have a number of Priests around the world crying out to create their own religion (married priests women priests etc.), certain Bishops who still think that they do not have to listen to either the Pope or the Catechism. And a section of the laity who are basically Protestant.
This will all rumble on. But as the Liturgy is corrected, doctrine reinforced, clerical voices of dissent become hoarse and a generation of free love/ free thinking 60s go to sing the Missa de Angelis in the sky we in times to come will look back on this era will a mixture of sadness and bemusement.
And they will ask…