What the Church desperately needs with regard to the Second Vatican Council is to embrace the Hermeneutic of Forgetfulness. But how to get there? Attitude will be crucial. Let us take one of the bromides of the conciliar era, “pastoral”, and turn it to our use. Vatican II was a pastoral council. Everyone says so. But what does “pastoral” mean? Or, rather, what meaning do we wish to give it?
1) pastoral = “popularized”. Pastoral means effectively reaching people, which means being accessible, which means (so we shall imply) being dumbed down. Vatican II theology is for people who can’t cut it with “manual” Thomism. It’s like popular science books for nonscientists. Scientists will all say that it’s good that such books exist, but they definitely have less authority than the technical work they are meant to distill. If somebody read in a popular science article about spacetime being like a rubber sheet and thought we was then qualified to critique actual general relativity textbooks, we would laugh at him. Similarly, Vatican II, as popularized Catholicism, has no authority to critique the real pre-conciliar theology.
Sly implication: People who talk up VII and quote its texts are stupid.
2) pastoral = “sanitized”. Real Catholicism is shocking and intense, and it can be too much for some people at first. Vatican II is like those edited-for-TV movies where they take out the gore and swearing and nudity. Usually this doesn’t affect the movie much, unless one makes a big point of the lack of such offensive material. So, a theologian claiming that there’s no inconsistency between Catholicism and liberalism based just on Vatican II is like somebody seeing the edited-for-TV version of Die Hard and then writing a term paper about John McClane being a hero who doesn’t swear.
Sly implication: People who talk up VII and quote its texts are sissies. And stupid.
Of course, the trick is to insinuate these things rather than say them outright. It’s more effective that way.
Filed under: The Dark and Terrible Springtime of Vatican II |