Republished from a Pastor's Corner of April 2011.
Beatification and continuity
On the eve of the beatification of John Paul II, there is no lack of reservations and critiques, as we see in the book by Professor Heinz-Lothar Barth in Germany and the report in the American magazine The Remnant.
This beatification raises the question about a pontificate that publicly took the Second Vatican Council as its compass: the interreligious meetings in Assisi, kissing the Koran, the invocation, “may St. John the Baptist protect Islam,” participating in pagan worship in a “sacred forest” in Togo, bestowing the pectoral cross on two Anglican “bishops”…, is all that in line with the direction set by Vatican II? And if so, where is the continuity between that Council and all the ones that preceded it?
One understands, then, the logical reasoning of Msgr. Brunero Gherardini, in his final book, Concilio Vaticano II: Il discorso mancato [The Ecumenical Vatican Council II: a failed discussion], the sequel to his Concilio Vaticano II: Un discorso da fare [English edition: The Ecumenical Vatican Council II: A much-needed discussion]. The emeritus professor of the Pontifical Lateran University and editor-in-chief of the Thomist journal Divinitas writes:
If one wishes to continue blaming the post-conciliar period alone, one may indeed do so, because in fact it is not at all blameless. But we should also keep in mind that it is the natural child of the Council, and has drawn from the Council those principles upon which, by exaggerating them, it has then based its most devastating developments."
But as Msgr. Gherardini observes, the dominating factor at the highest levels of the Church is a blind admiration for the Council, which “clips the wings of critical analysis” and “prevents one from looking at Vatican II with a more penetrating, less dazzled eye.” And those mainly responsible for this uncritical admiration are the popes of the conciliar and post-conciliar period, from John XXIII and Paul VI to John Paul II. As for Benedict XVI, “until now he has not yet corrected even one period or one comma of that ‘vulgate’ edition which was favored by his predecessors.” Although
like few others within the Catholic hierarchy he has truly thundered against the distortions of the post-conciliar era, he has never ceased either to sing the praises of the Council or to affirm its continuity with all of the previous Magisterium."
Fr. Alain Lorans