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A concise statement in defence of teachers, Tasmad, thank you. You must get sick of the smug and unwarranted occupational snobbery you described. A brass shingle does not indicate wisdom. I respect the dedication of teachers like yourself and recognise the breadth or the depth of understanding necessary for your work. What greater resources must be mined and brought to the surface than the spirits and enthusiasms and abilities of children and emerging adults as we all once were? May your campaign succeed.
Interesting, Tasmad. I agree asking whether Vatican II was reformist or brought in earlier traditions can amount to the same thing, for if it’s true that Vatican II caused or fostered or deliberately re-introduced forms derived from the first traditions, then it can rightly be said to be reformist, because that would constitute a reform. The controversy is however not on whether it was reformist or not but whether the changes that followed (by cause or not) were good or bad.
One of the problems is the meaning of words. One person’s reformer (changer) is another’s iconoclast, for everyone evaluates and chooses customs and formulations selectively, from some point of view. At the psycho-emotive heart of the divisions amongst Christians is a personal dislike of what other people are doing or not doing. Someone who believes Christianity should be as close as possible to what the earliest Christians did, and as undeveloped, might be criticised as an antiquarian or a communist; someone who believes that the Church was at its apogee of evolution just before Vatican II (or somewhere prior, perhaps, say, under Pius X, or under Pius IX, or at the Council of Trent, or……..etc) might be criticised as a cafeteria traditionalist.
My early impressions of Pope Francis’ perspective are that he’s inclined to adopt an holistic approach to his faith, rather than dissect things into logical compartments, hence his references to ‘mystery’. Whether I’m right or not, I think this provides a helpful clue to regarding Vatican II and the post-Vatican II church. That is to say, we can accept that what has happened is simply one more manifestation of the quasi-organic evolution of the Catholic religion. The Church has therefore undoubtedly “renewed”, ‘reformed’, ‘evolved’. Even the rise of self-consciously proclaiming progressives and traditionalists in constant and intractable dispute is part of that renewal and the new shape of Catholicism. It will never be the same again, just as it was changed irrevocably by the Counter-Reformation and, earlier, by the Great Schism, and even earlier, by the Arian controversy. Moreover, progressivism today must be different from that immediately before and after the Council, in that it may often now be quite reactionary in character, just as traditionalism today cannot reproduce in any natural sense the religious psychology before the reforms of Pius XII and Vatican II etc. The ‘messiness’ of contemporary Catholic identity may be an example of the ‘mess’ Pope Francis alluded to, or an example of the way the mysterious Holy Spirit works. God seems to work best with chaos: “And the earth was without shape and empty….and the Spirit of God was stirring over the surfaces of the waters” [Gen. 1:2]
And, somewhere in the evaluation of what Vatican II did to the Catholic Church, one can ask whether the most significant change is that it has directly or indirectly brought back to consciousness , not the primacy of being a Catholic with focus on the particular Church culture, but the primacy of what it might mean to be a Christian with focus on the “kingdom not of this world”.
I suspect the Vatican has resisted this step of allowing women into the diaconate, because it is, one step away from receiving “Holy Orders”. It reminds me of the saying….”Give them and inch, and they’ll take a mile”.
I believe our concern should focus on greater empowerment of the laity…….I wonder if Pope Francis would agree as he has serious issues with clericalism and the people being clericalized as well.
Gary Wills, of the U.S. who has written a book entitled “Why Priests”?…which I have not read, is partly correct…..that we need to understand….that “Eucharistic celebrations” might not require, the kind of “priest” we have today……If we understood “Incarnational Theology” better, we would also understand, how the celebration of Eucharist can be done differently, without changing the understanding of “real presence” in the bread and wine…..all that to say….that we may not need to add more “clerics” to the substance of Church membership….and I suspect, Pope Francis does not want to add more clerics, really, male or female….I think, he wants to Church membership, the body of lay believers to assume more responsibility for being Church and for going out to the margins!
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