|Pope Benedict on the Second Vatican Council|
|Written by Sherry|
|Friday, 27 July 2007 10:32|
Via John Allen from the Pope's July 24 conversation with priests from the northern Italian dioceses of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso. (emphasis mine)
The last question came from a priest who described himself as a member of the Vatican II generation. He said many priests of his era are feeling tired and disheartened; they began, he said, with great dreams of changing the world, many of which have not been realized. What message, he asked, does the pope have for them?
Benedict began by describing Vatican II as a magna carta for the future of the church, which remains "very essential and fundamental." He also noted that historically, councils are always followed by turbulence. St. Basil, he recalled, compared the situation following the Council of Nicea to a naval battle at night, when nobody can recognize who's who and so the fight becomes all against all. St. Gregory Nazianzen, he said, actually refused to participate in the First Council of Constantinople for precisely this reason.
Benedict argued that the post-conciliar period was framed by two great historical turning points. The first was the explosion of revolutionary energies in 1968, which the pope said triggered a cultural crisis. The "new, sane modernity" envisioned by the council found itself facing a Marxist-inspired violent break with the past. Some Catholics, he said, read the council as a warrant for cultural revolution, while others rejected the council for the same reason. Then came 1989 and the implosion of Marxist utopian dreams, which left skepticism and nihilism in its wake. In that context, he said, "the timid, humble search to realize the true spirit of the council" was often overwhelmed.
Yet, Benedict said, while falling trees make noise, growing ones are silent. In just that fashion, he said, it's possible today to see new growth resulting from the council. He pointed to Brazil, saying that when he went in May he knew about the explosion in non-Catholic religious movements in the country, but what he didn't understand was the growth taking place inside Catholicism. He said that almost every day in Brazil, a new religious order or lay movement is born. That growth is not enough to "refill the statistics," he said, but he called that a "false hope," adding that "statistics are not our divinity."
Despite the vicissitudes of recent history, Benedict argued, Vatican II provided "a great roadmap," allowing the church to move forward "joyously and full of hope."