Friday, May 21, 2010

Rewriting History Doesn't Make it True.

Pope Benedict on his Vatican II throne as he rewrites Vatican II history and it's message. No gold on this throne so he must really get Vatican II.

Vatican II: Benedict rewrites history
Diarmaid MacCulloch, Thursday 20 May 2010

On 12 May Pope Benedict XVI spoke about truth, history and the church.His backdrop was the surreal and voluptuous Gothic of the Portuguese monastery of Belém, overlooking the great river-mouth of the Tagus, from which the first explorers of medieval Europe sailed to circle Africa and India and eventually to encompass the new world they called America.

It was an appropriate setting for this learned and subtle theologian to lay aside vexing stuff about sex scandals and say something about what the Catholic church is today.

That turns out to be just what it always has been: no nonsense about lessons learned from the Enlightenment, still less the 16th-century Reformation.

On the way, we caught a fascinating glimpse of how the pope views Iberian Europe's bloodsoaked ventures into new continents, that global enterprise which massacred Hindus and Muslims in Goa and captured countless millions of Africans for the Catholic slave-markets of Cartagena (as well as for Protestant plantations in the Caribbean and Deep South).

Apparently, what the pope styled "the adventure of the discoveries" was inspired by "the Christian ideal of universality and fraternity". Not by a search for silk or sugar, then. (I had this same take about this statement. It was right up there with Benedict's comment in Brazil about Native Americans secretly desiring their forced and bloody conversion, which of course also included their use as slaves for "Christian Europe.")

But the pope was at his most interesting when he jumped from the 15th to the 20th century at the culmination of his address, because he came out fighting for his own view of that most controversial and ambiguous of ecumenical councils, the second Vatican council of 1962-65 (Vatican II).

For some Catholics, this revolutionised Roman Catholicism, pointing to new decentralisation, actively involving the whole congregation of the faithful in decisions, and jettisoning Tridentine triumphalism, opening the church to new humility in listening to alternative voices in the quest for the divine.

To others, the council did some tinkering, reaffirming old certainties with a little adjustment of language (in more senses than one, since its one absolutely unignorable result was to turn most Catholic liturgy into the vernacular). The latter party would mostly have preferred the council not to have met at all, or at least to have stuck to a script written by Vatican bureaucrats if it did meet. These are two utterly irreconcilable views of an historical event.

What would Pope Benedict say?

This. At Vatican II, "the church, on the basis of a renewed awareness of the Catholic tradition, took seriously and discerned, transformed and overcame the fundamental critiques that gave rise to the modern world, the Reformation and the Enlightenment. In this way the church herself accepted and refashioned the best of the requirements of modernity by transcending them on the one hand, and on the other by avoiding their errors and dead ends."

It's difficult from this to know what the pope might count as "the best" of modernity's requirements, but apparently even those can be transcended, and plenty of errors and dead ends just get avoided – a bit like a sacralised version of Lara Croft dodging through the nasties.
You could hardly get a more defensive vision of the council than this. It sounds for all the world like that most unfortunate and embarrassing of Pope Pius IX's public statements, the Syllabus of Errors of 1864, which famously culminated in the proposition that it was wrong to believe that the pope "can and ought to reconcile himself with progress, liberalism and modern civilisation".

What it does mean that the pope has put himself at the head of the small-earthquake-in-Chile-not-many-dead view of Vatican II? This is entirely to be expected.

Neither he nor his predecessor John Paul II liked the direction which Vatican II took, though a veritable industry of official Catholic historiography has assiduously promoted the view that they were all for it and its results. (This has been as good a product as any propaganda put out by either side during the Cold War.)

The reality is that soon after the Council, leading Catholic theologians like Hans Küng, Edward Schillebeeckx, Karl Rahner and Yves Congar (whose now published journals do not reveal great enthusiasm for the future Pope John Paul II), complained that the Roman curia was putting brakes on reforms envisioned by Vatican II.

That process much accelerated under John Paul.

He worked with the curia consistently to police reforming theologians, dictated agendas for episcopal synods, and refused to allow bishops to discuss such matters as compulsory clerical celibacy.
Küng was one of the theologians disciplined in his second year as pope. John Paul made it known that he did not like communion received in the hand, refused to laicise priests (as his predecessor had done) and marginalised local bishops by his actions on his frequent worldwide journeys. (This constant globe trotting, more than any other act helped cement in people's minds the absolute centrality of the Papacy to Catholicism. It was a brilliant move on John Paul's part.)

He also commissioned a Catholic catechism, which neither the council nor its convenor Pope John XXIII had wanted, and revised the code of canon law (likewise not wanted at the council). The theology expressed in both documents goes in a very different direction to Vatican II. (While JPII had the world focused on him and his globe trotting, the real dismantling of Vatican II went on with little fan fare and little light.)

One crucial principle so prominent in the council's thinking, "collegiality" in making decisions on the future of the church, has been set aside during both John Paul II's and Benedict's pontificates. (Not when it involves them in secular legal systems. Then bishops are free agents.)

All this has happened while the Vatican has consistently spoken of its faithfulness to the principles of Vatican II.

There have been two ways of opposing those principles: one to express opposition openly as some ultra-conservatives have done, the other to rewrite Vatican II's history, as curia officials and their admirers have been doing over the last quarter-century and more.

This is what Our Lady of Belém was treated to last week.

Well, she's full of grace, so I expect she smiled.


I hope Mary smiled because she knows Pope Benedict is only deluding himself and his followers. Catholicism as we now know it is going to change. The center will not hold. It can not resolve the tension between these contrasting views of the Church, of Christology, of clerical service, of Church government. More that that, the center can no longer cover up the corruption that the traditional theology and myth of the priesthood has engendered and enabled.

There are very few enablers of John Vianney's type of the priesthood in the Vatican, but there are plenty of enablers of the Maciel's type of priesthood. It matters not how many times Benedict brings up the mythology of St John Vianney, it won't make the reality of Marcial Maciel go away.

It is no irony that in this Year of the Priest the abuse scandal has blown up in it's true global scope. There's a message in this about the priesthood, and about Mary, under whose protection Benedict entrusted this mission: "Be careful what you pray for. You may not get what you want. Instead you may get what you actually need."

The need at moment is not reaffirming some mythical priestly past. The need is dealing with the ever so real corruption of the priesthood-at all levels- and the sheer incompetentency of the bishops who have been foisted on the Church in the interests of upholding the revisionists view of Vatican II. There are signs that some of our current leadership is getting this true message. Just as there are signs that the laity are not hearing the false messages. After all it took less than 24 hours for Portugal to ratify gay marriage, even though Benedict wanted the Portugese to buy into the very false message about the insidious threat gay marriage represents. I'm sure Mary was smiling that day as well.


In other news of note:

Here's another bit of disinformation propagated by Focus on the Family. I don't doubt the timing of this 'study' is to counter act the 'gay witness' of Reverend George Rekers. Focus on the Family says this study helps prove that lack of stable families and lack of regular church going increases lesbian activity and helps prove the Freudian tradition of the genesis of homosexual activity as a product of dysfunctional parental relationships. Girls need both exposure to fathers, and God the Father, to avoid falling into the sin of lesbianism.

When you really look closely at the numbers, you find girls certainly don't need step fathers. The presence of step fathers in a girls family significantly increase the amount of reported lesbian activity. The presence of step fathers correlates with the presence of other kinds of immoral sexual activity too, like incestuous rape. But even I won't go so far as to say being in a step father relationship is the cause of incestuous rape. It may be correlated, but it is not causative. Focus on the Family researchers must have flunked their basic research classes to so confuse correlation with causation. Of course, they could be engaging in the confusion on purpose. Shock.


  1. Let me take the liberty of providing another caption for that picture, which conveys many messages for those who are awake:

    "Let us prey"

    (to see that as humor in the sense of the macabre is also appropriate:p...)

    Anon Y. Mouse

  2. Benedict, the bridge to love burner, Pope of deceit, is really living in la la land. Since his consciousness is consequently not into God, or in the reality of the present, all one can expect is nothing but irrational behavior from him and his regime in the Vatican, a bloody script from the past, repeated like an old horror movie.

    If I wanted to draw a picture of someone looking sinister and deceptive, preying, he'd be a good pick of a subject to copy.

    His problem is that he is trying to make the world in his image and likeness, not in Christ's. It's the Pope's Will, and nothing about God's Will for His People. Bene's view of "culture" is what? His view is to manipulate and control people, make them feel miserable, not of shepherding a broken and wounded people from wars and rape, abuses of all kinds, senselessness, some of which the RCC is responsible for. His focus on the future, while denying the present and hailing a bloody past "tradition" is just mindlessly and heartlessly so pathetic.

    Very sad and close to torturous to witness this. Mary is not pleased.

  3. A note about Benedict's focus on the future and believing he and the "Church" can mold culture like a sculpture, he is playing god. The dead giveaway is his insistence on controlling and manipulating "the future" and not looking at the present as a result of the past and its many consequences.

    To be not focused in the present is to never really meet God. To be not present is really to not exist.

  4. Butterfly -

    Those are some very sharp observations - I would not change one word!

    His mode - as you describe it- is, literally, a type of mind control/thought control. And it works! How many Catholics do I encounter who not only completely swallow all he says without a second thought? Many. They are literally being conditioned to think as you are indicating.

    As if the Crusades and other random, bloody & horrific Church sanctioned conquest, plunder & pillage are somehow either imaginary or the product of 'anti-Catholic bigotry'. As if the Inquisitions are some product of a fiction writer. I could easily go on with many more examples.....

    They are being taught to erase the past. Whether in the context of known (and well proven) historical facts, or the sex abuse crisis. We saw this in the US when Bishop Wilton-Dearest Gregory told us: "the crisis is over & is now a thing of the past".

    Those were literally marching orders for universal amnesia. If you remember the crisis or speak of it, you are not a loyal Catholic.

    The truth is: He and the Opus related persons & elements which put him on the Throne, enable & support him as a living icon CANNOT remember the past you & I reference. As if they do they would have to admit that they & all they stand for is literally the 'house built upon sand' which Jesus referred to.....

    Anon Y. Mouse

  5. The bottom line is that Benedict's Church is an immoral breeding ground for bullies of all kinds. That is the "culture" in the Church now and the truth is that he needs a serious reality check. It is not from the true God that he gets his view of the world, which he calls "truth" from his thrown sitting in his drag clothes in which he lacks all humility and grace from God. It is from Benedict's very arrogant subjective state of consciousness in which he has deluded, deceived himself into believing in false-truths.

    He said: "This "conflict" between tradition and the present finds expression in the crisis of truth, yet only truth can provide direction and trace the path of a fulfilled existence both for individuals and for a people."

    Fulfilled existence for whom? For Benedict, for right wing extremist absolutist insisting they know the truth and they have to enforce the Truth with bullies. Interesting how he repeats "truth" and that "truth" is to side with evil and not side with Jesus and His teachings, or Pauls either.

    He's letting bully priest investigate and excommunicate women religious on a regular basis now. That is the "culture" he gives to the future Church. The culture of rejection, the culture of bullies. His future is cruel and heartless to the People of God. He is full of lies and deceit. Bull crap he knows the truth. Certainly he's not for a "fulfilled existence" for gays that desire to be in a committed relationship. Certainly not for women in the Church.

    The "conflict" is the tradition of false-truth. Benedict is the one with the "crisis of truth" in which he knows not the Truth and refuses to accept the truth. This is the real crisis. He does not dialogue with people who have real reasons to not trust him or believe in him.

    This would describe the Vatican & the culture of Opus Dei & Benedict: "Indeed, a people no longer conscious of its own truth ends up by being lost in the maze of time and history, deprived of clearly defined values and lacking great and clearly formulated goals."

    Just look at their "values" of hiding pedophile priests, not laicizing or excommunicating priests that sexually molested or raped children, yet allow for excommunication of someone who saved someone's life. The "clearly formulated goals" of Benedict's Church are an absolute disgrace.

    What Ratzinger has written is very revealing of his dark soul and the darkness of a "culture" of bullies he is breeding in the Church.

    I've noticed he never likes to talk about the present. He talks about "the horizon" or "towards infinite Beauty" which is in outer space I guess. Never a mention of God within and how we can all tap into the truth of God within.

    Everything he talks about is about the institution, not the spirit of God, and least of all any thoughts about the Holy Spirit.

  6. "There have been two ways of opposing those principles: one to express opposition openly as some ultra-conservatives have done, the other to rewrite Vatican II's history, as curia officials and their admirers have been doing over the last quarter-century and more."

    The Inquisition of Vatican II has been going on now for the last quarter of a century and more.

    It is this Inquisition that is crisis within the Church today.

    There are no bridges from the Vatican curia to the People of God. They have declared they are gods and everyone needs to be silenced, except for them. Even the past must be silenced, such as the people who know the truth of the past of the the true history of the Catholic Church, for example, Hans Kung.

    The problem is, the truth can not be silenced.

  7. They want you to forget that Hans Kung ever existed.....of that Morris West wrote his works like 'The Shoes of the Fisherman'.....or that white priests, nuns & laity were willing to get beaten up for daring to protest to Civil Rights in the 50s & 60s.....or that there were priests & religions who risked everything to materially & substantially help the poor & marginalized. the great disdain of the Prelates & 'oh-so-pious' laity.

    They want you to remember Dorothy Day - only as she could be made a saint to put a more human face on Opus Dei (which she would have nothing to do with!).

    They want you to forget about books & films such as "Angela's Ashes", which show the sick & pervasively abusive society which was (and is )Ireland. In the humiliating 'charity' system of the St. Vincent de Paul society there, the attitude of clergy & religious to the poor, and the attitude the laity showed to their own poorer bretheren. something to step on to affirm their own status.

    And the thing they (the US bishops) MOST want you to forget is what is in their official policies for dealing with abuse cases:

    They do not want you to go straight to the cops or the local DA. They want you to report it to the Chancery office. So they can do an internal investigation to determine 'credibility' of the abuse claim. To humiliate the victim further. Only if they decide it is 'credible' will they report it to law enforcement.

    NO! If abuse is alleged, go directly to the cops, and/or the DA's office! TELL!!! Make a public record of the allegation by sworn testimony. And then let the law take its course.

    This has long been the official policy in Scouting. If abuse is alleged, the police are automatically called. No 'in house investigation' first. They let the cops sort it out.

    As it should be.

    Anon Y. Mouse