Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Fifty Years After Vatican II - Reassessing Unity in Truth

Vatican II was the great Council of the 20th century. While it sought unity with separated Christians, we still see this unity is not realized yet among Christians. In my opinion, some polarized positions whether in the Liberal/Progressive or Conservative/Traditionalist camps reinterpreted the Council's documents to accommodate their own positions.

Within the Catholic fold there have been many issues related to misinterpretation of the Church's position on numerous issues both doctrinal and moral. Here are a few:

Following Vatican II, a few theological opinions distorted presentation of the Catholic doctrine on the Church. In response, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a declaration approved by the Supreme Pontiff for publication in 1973:

With the outbreak and spread of the Sexual Revolution and its questions around sexual ethics, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a declaration approved by the Supreme Pontiff for publication in 1975:

On questions about the position of the Catholic Church regarding Masonic Associations, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a declaration in 1983 emphasizing the grave status of Catholics who enroll in Masonic Associations. See it here:

With the spread of meditations of Eastern religions and philosophies such as Buddhist meditation, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith warned Catholic bishops of the dangers of confusing a negative outlook or escape from the world as expressed in these philosophies with Christian prayers whose goal is to sanctify the world:

The Vatican also published "A Christian Reflection on the 'New Age'" in 2003:

One of the most known cases was Liberation Theology in Latin America that used Marxist tools to increase Catholics commitment to the poor. See the response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith here:

Another was the radical Feminists attempts to improve women's status in a Western society that is increasingly becoming liberal. After questioning the Church's position on the dignity of women, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith responded with a letter approved for publication by the Holy Father to the bishops of the Catholic Church on the collaboration of men and women in the Church. See it here:
Feminists staunchly demanded and attempted the ordination of women to the sacrament of Orders. The response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith came in its decree approved by the Supreme Pontiff and dated December 21, 2002:

On the Conservative/Traditionalist side, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre caused a schism by ordaining bishops without Rome's approval for which he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church in 1988. Traditionalist continue to demand a restoration of the Church to pre-Vatican II atmosphere where the Roman Curia was in charge of the entire Catholic Church. You can sense the polarization too in the attitudes towards the Holy See whenever the Pope makes statements that support the Jewish faith or the Muslim faith. If the Pope supports Israel, then Arabs scream at him. If he shows a stand with Arab Palestinians then Israelis condemn him.

Yet we still hope that every thing will be well. Reunion is not as easy as we thought 50 years ago. Dialogue with the Orthodox Churches shows that Catholics and Orthodox are in agreement on probably 95% of their common heritage. Much of the perceived differences between Catholics and Orthodox are to a great extent due to memories of events of rivalry or proselytism in the past. Dialogue with some Communions of the Reformation has shown that in essential things they agree with the doctrines of the Catholic Church.  In addressing the World Council of Churches, John Paul II emphasized the faith of Catholics that Jesus Christ alone is the Saviour of all. As for dialogue with major religions, advances have been made in prayers at Assisi and elsewhere. All moderates on all sides seem to agree that the only way to go forward is to work together. This is particularly important as atheism and materialism creep in the global village.

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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