The Middle Path of Renewal


Thus, today we can look with gratitude at the Second Vatican Council: If we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church.

Benedict’s talk is good. Go read the whole thing here. My only quibble is his assumption that everyone was on board with implementation. In the pope’s view people were either pro- or anti-continuity, forgetting the hermeneutic of apathy championed by the many who simply wanted the Council to go away. I appreciate more Benedict’s concerns about 1968–that date is mentioned explicitly in his talk.

To restate, I’d say there were and are three hermeneutics:

Apathy: Resist the Council and its call to reform
Disruption: Resist tradition and implement good pieces irrespective of their greater impact
Reform: Apply the Council teachings in continuity with Church tradition.

There are progressive Catholics who fit into either of Benedict’s groupings. I’d consider myself a reformist and I’m not alone, but I’ve known colleagues who definitely possessed the hermeneutic of disruption. Many of the people we encounter in parishes are in the apathy camp. Today that means the council is over and done with and has nothing to teach us we haven’t already learned. Or that a faith level has yet to be engaged in which renewal is even a known quantity. Or simple refusal to change.

Unlike most Catholics (of any of the three hermeneutics) I have no fear of the Vatican II documents. Nor should anyone else be fearful either. The topics are often complex or irrelevant, the texts occasionally dense, but the matter is well worth a fruitful discussion and elaboration.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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