Vatican II: Renewal within Tradition

Vatican II: Renewal within Tradition

Vatican II: Renewal within Tradition

Vatican II: Renewal within Tradition

Synopsis

From 1962 to 1965, in perhaps the most important religious event of thetwentieth century, the Second Vatican Council met to plot a course for thefuture of the Roman Catholic Church. After thousands of speeches, resolutions,and votes, the Council issued sixteen official documents on topics ranging fromdivine revelation to relations with non-Christians. In many ways, though, thereal challenges began after the council was over and Catholics began to argueover the interpretation of the documents. Many analysts perceived the Council'sfar-reaching changes as breaks with Church tradition, and soon this became thedominant bias in the American and other media, which lacked the theologicalbackground to approach the documents on their own terms. In Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition, an international team of theologians offers a differentreading of the documents from Vatican II. The Council was indeed putting fortha vision for the future of the Church, but that vision was grounded in twomillennia of tradition. Taken together, these essays demonstrate that Vatican II's documents are a development from an established antecedent in the Roman Catholic Church. Each chapter contextualizes Vatican II teachings within thatrich tradition. The resulting book is an indispensable and accessible companionto the Council's developments, one that focuses on theology and transcends themass-media storyline of "liberal" versus "conservative."

Excerpt

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The Second Vatican Council stands out as one of the most important religious and ecclesial events in the twentieth century. It was certainly the most extensively covered by the mass media. Pope Benedict XVI calls attention to the theological difficulties in implementing the reforms of Vatican II. He sees that commentators have distorted the teachings of the Second Vatican Council by means of a “hermeneutics of discontinuity and rupture.” The “spirit” or “style” of the council was often severed from, or set in opposition to, the texts promulgated by the council. The pope mentions that, for some, the texts were wrongly interpreted as “compromises” that contain “many old and ultimately useless things that had to be dragged along” in order to “make room for the new.” This way of interpreting the council, the pope asserts, found “favor among the mass media” and in some sectors of contemporary theology.

Never before was an ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church so extensively covered and reported by the modern news media as Vatican II (1962–1965). The impact of this coverage was pervasive and profound in its portrayal of the council in the ideological categories of “liberal versus conservative.” The council was dramatically reported as a liberal or progressive accommodation to modernity that aimed to overcome Catholicism’s traditional, conservative resistance to modernity.

For foreign correspondents from 1962 to 1965, two news sectors required ongoing coverage: One was Vietnam, the other the council in Rome. Journalists of the print and electronic media flocked to Rome. Few had any expertise in Catholic theology and so were dependent upon the popularized accounts of the council’s deliberations and debates offered by periti and theologians with journalistic skills. An . . .

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