All Conversations in My Heart
Monday, May 26, 2008
  Second Quote from Cardinal Biffi

The deceptions of Vatican II: "aggiornamento" and "pastoral focus" (pp. 183-184)

Pope Roncalli had assigned to the Council, as its task and objective, the "internal renewal of the Church," an expression more pertinent than the word "aggiornamento" ("updating," also one of John XXIII's words), which, however, met with undeserved success.

This was certainly not the intention of the supreme pontiff, but "aggiornamento" included the idea that the "holy nation" should seek to conform itself more closely, not to the eternal plan of the Father and his desire for salvation (as it had always believed it should do in its attempts at genuine "reform"), but to the "giornata" ("day"; to temporal, worldly history); and it thus gave the impression of indulging in "chronolatry," to use the expression of disdain coined later by Maritain.

John XXIII yearned for a Council that would achieve the renewal of the Church not through condemnations, but using the "medicine of mercy." By abstaining from reproving error, the Council would by this very means avoid formulating definite teachings that would be binding for all. And in fact, it held consistently to this initial direction.

The source and synthesis of these tendencies was the declared purpose of aiming to conduct a "pastoral Council." Everyone, both inside and outside of the Vatican hall, expressed satisfaction and contentment with this definition.

But in my own little corner at the edge of the proceedings, I felt some difficulties rising up within me, against my will. This concept seemed ambiguous to me, and the emphasis with which "pastoral focus" was attributed to the Council was suspicious: was this, perhaps, intended to imply that the previous Councils did not intend to be "pastoral," or that they had not been pastoral enough?

Was there not pastoral relevance in the clear statement that Jesus of Nazareth was God and consubstantial with the Father, as had been defined at Nicea? Was there not pastoral relevance in clarifying the realism of the Eucharistic presence and the sacrificial nature of the Mass, as happened at Trent? Was there not pastoral relevance in presenting the primacy of Peter in all its value and all its implications, as Vatican Council I had taught?

It is clear that the declared intention was that of placing special emphasis on the study of the best ways and the most effective means to reach the heart of man, without thereby diminishing positive consideration for the traditional magisterium of the Church.

But there was the danger of forgetting that the first and irreplaceable form of "mercy" for wayward humanity is, according to the clear teaching of Revelation, the "mercy of truth"; a mercy that cannot be exercised without the explicit, firm, steadfast condemnation of any distortion or alteration of the "deposit" of faith that must be safeguarded.

Some might even have recklessly supposed that the redemption of the children of Adam depended more on our powers of flattery and persuasion than on the soteriological strategy preordained by the Father before all ages, entirely centered on the Paschal event and its proclamation; a proclamation "without persuasive discourses of human wisdom (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:4). In the post-conciliar period, this was not merely a danger.

 




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