Wednesday, March 10, 2010

60s' "New Church" = B16's "Anarchy"

Currently amid a long series of Wednesday talks on the church's great spiritual lights through history, five years into his pontificate it's become pretty clear that, while they're rich spiritual texts, the topics of B16's General Audiences find their greatest news-value not in their chosen topics, but the tangential zingers he'll throw out there from time to time, with little to no warning whatsoever.

Having recently covered the founders of the Franciscan and Dominican families, today saw the Pope return for a second week of reflection on St Bonaventure -- the 13th century minister-general of the Franciscans, later a cardinal -- who a young Fr Joseph Ratzinger once studied extensively, recalling the time with "a certain nostalgia" in introducing his first catechesis on the saint last week.

That said, along the way at this morning's session, Benedict lobbed another of the aforementioned zingers -- this time dealing with the perception and legacy of no less than the Second Vatican Council....

Here it is in full, in a house translation of the Vatican's released text:
"At this point maybe it's useful to say that even today exist visions by which the history of the church in the second millennium was one of permanent decline; some see this decline beginning shortly after the New Testament. In reality, "Opera Christi non deficiunt, sed proficiunt," the work of Christ never recedes, but progresses. What would the church be without the new spirituality of the Cistercians, the Franciscans and Dominicans, the spirituality of St Teresa of Avila and St John of the Cross, and so forth? Even today merits this affirmation: "Opera Christi non deficiunt, sed proficiunt," they work continues. St Bonaventure teaches us both a necessary, even severe, discernment in sober realism and an opening to the new charisms given by Christ, in the Holy Spirit, to his church. And while this idea of decline repeats itself, there's also the opposite idea, this "spiritualistic utopianism," that is likewise repeated. Indeed, we know that after the Second Vatican Council some were convinced that all would be made new, that another church was being made, that the pre-conciliar church was finished and we would have another, totally "other" [church]. An anarchic utopianism! Thanks be to God the wise helmsmen of the barque of Peter, Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II, from one side defended the novelties of the Council, and from the other, at the same time, defended the uniqueness and the continuity of the church, which is always the same church of sinners and always a place of grace."
Beyond the obvious, a key piece of context here is the ongoing Vatican reconciliation talks with the Society of St Pius X, the Swiss-based traditionalist group which has long rejected the council's teachings on, among other things, the liturgy, ecumenism, religious freedom and, of course, the church's stance toward Judaism.

Tip to Tornielli.