Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

4/30/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

By canonizing the one who convened of the Second Vatican Council and one of its most important contributors, Pope Francis sent a signal of continuity.

A hermeneutic is a lens through which we view or interpret something of importance. In discussing the Second Vatican Council much has been made about the difference between those who view that Council and its teaching through either a hermeneutic of continuity, seeing proper reform in light of that continuity, or a hermeneutic of rupture. In other words, was the Council a break with past teaching, something entirely new, or was it a continuation, a freshening, of the trajectory of the truth as taught by the Church from its beginnings?

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/30/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: canonization, John Paul II, John XXIII, Pope Emeritus Benedict, Pope Francis, Vatican II, hermeneutic of rupture, hermeneutic of continuity, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - On April 27, 2014, an historic event occurred in St Peters Square which has grabbed the attention of the whole world. Two contemporary Popes, John XXIII and John Paul II were canonized. 

The event was profoundly important on so many levels. One of those levels concerns what it affirmed. By canonizing the one who convened of the Second Vatican Council and one of its most important contributors, Pope Francis sent a signal of continuity.

He also affirmed that the gift of the Second Vatican Council, as well as its promise of authentic renewal, have both only just begun to be understood, unpacked and implemented.

Of course, that means the real Second Vatican Council - and not the misinterpretations which often coast along under the guise of phrases, such as the spirit of the Council - used by some with agendas quite at odds with the Council, to confuse the faithful.

We need to be cautious when we hear such phrases. Let me give one example.

In 2012, I attended a forum where a theology Professor gave an address on Vatican II to a group of Deacons. It was meant to be a tribute, in light of the Councils' fiftieth anniversary, to the importance of the Council.

Many of his thoughts were insightful and well presented. However, in the question and answer session which followed his talk, something emerged which points to the serious challenge faced by the Catholic Church as she engages both her mission of the New Evangelization (ad intra) as well as her task of leading a new missionary age (ad extra).

I use the Latin terms for "from within" (ad intra) and "from without" (ad extra) intentionally. Such phrases often accompany theological discourse and debate. The question and answer session following the talk was no exception.  What became clear was that terms - and what one means by them - really do matter.

The term "New Evangelization" was coined by St. John Paul II and embraced as a foundation for the pastoral work of Pope Benedict XVI. Now, under Francis, it has become one of the primary pastoral initiatives of the whole Church.

It refers, among other things, to the evangelistic and catechetical work so desperately needed within the whole Catholic Church.

It acknowledges the fact that many people in the pews need to encounter the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. They then need to hear the fullness of the Gospel as taught authentically and authoritatively by the teaching office (the magisterium) of the Catholic Church. Finally, they need to embrace that teaching in a way which is reflected in a unity of life. 

Sadly, we must acknowledge that there are sacramentalized Catholics who have not been evangelized. Further, there are Catholics who do not really know what their own Church teaches. Much of our catechesis - instruction in the faith- since the Second Vatican Council - has been inadequate.

Thus, the Catholic Church has committed its resources to reawakening the faithful through an encounter with the Risen Jesus Christ. Further, the Church seeks to re-evangelize and re-catechize the faithful so that that they can consciously choose to live their lives as Catholic Christians in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world into which they have been sent on mission.

I regularly use the phrase "New Missionary Age" to refer to the unchangeable task of the Catholic Church, through her members, to bring the whole world into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. That is to lead to incorporation into the Church, which is His Body. 

The Declaration of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued in 2000 and entitled "Dominus Iesus: On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church
stated this with simple clarity. Here is just one sentence:

It must therefore be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith that the universal salvific will of the One and Triune God is offered and accomplished once for all in the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God. 

The Prefect of that Congregation, the author of this document, was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. He is now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. His continual reminders to the faithful of the missionary vocation of the Church "ad extra" was a hallmark of his papal Magisterium. It has continued under the service of his friend and beloved successor, Francis.

The speaker and I had an interesting discussion concerning the importance of that letter and what it really says. We strongly disagreed.I want to zero in on another term he used, this one was an Italian word. 

The speaker enthusiastically used the Italian term "aggiornamento" when referring the Second Vatican Council. The word was used by St. John XXIII as he charged the Council Fathers in their important work.

Loosely translated, the word means to bring something up to date. We would both agree on that as one of the tasks of the Council. .

However, as to what that term means as it relates to the teaching of that Council in the light of the two millennia of the Church history - and its relationship to the teachings of past Councils - now that is where our discussion revealed a strong disagreement. 

It also led to a lively discussion and debate.

This all relates to another theological term, "hermeneutic". A hermeneutic is a lens through which we view or interpret something of importance. In discussing the Second Vatican Council much has been made about the difference between those who view that Council and its teaching through either a hermeneutic of continuity, seeing proper reform in light of that continuity, or a hermeneutic of rupture.

In other words, was the Council a break with past teaching, something entirely new, or was it a continuation, a freshening, of the trajectory of the truth as taught by the Church from its beginnings?

Clearly, on many issues related to this hermeneutic the speaker and I held very different positions. It became even more clear as specific" hot button" issues began to be discussed in that forum.

There is one final word which came up in that encounter. This one a French word, ressourcement. It means a return to the sources. I told my colleague that I believed that the Second Vatican Council, as properly understood, should also be seen as a return to the sources - the Scriptures, the Patristic writings (writings of the early Church fathers) and past Councils - in order to update the trajectory of truth.

I offered an opinion that the task of a contemporary Catholic theologian is beautifully explained in a passage from Matthew's Gospel, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."   (Matt. 13:52)

Well, my colleague and I had a punchy discussion. He views himself as a "progressive" and apparently viewed me, his interlocutor, as what he called a "traditionalist".

I told him I prefer the noun Catholic without any descriptive labels. I am not a traditionalist though I do love the Tradition. I added that if he wanted to use adjectives, he could just call me a dynamically orthodox, happy to be Catholic, Catholic.

I thought of the speaker months later when I read comments given by then Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. 

He was appointed by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to this important post, to the chagrin of some traditionalists and the disappointment of some self styled progressivists. His appointment proved to be one more confirmation of the wisdom of this Pope.

Pope Francis not only continued him in this position but made him a Cardinal in February of 2014.

The Cardinal gave some insightful remarks  upon the presentation of Volume VII of the German edition of Joseph Ratzinger's Opera Omnia, a systematic theological collection of the works the now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has written on the meaning of the Second Vatican Council.

I hope my colleague has read this address. The Prefect suggested an interesting connection between some "progressivists" and some "traditionalists".

Rather than just give my own interpretation of his remarks, I offer a quote from Gianna Valente's article on the presentation in the November 30, 2012 edition of La Stampa entitled "The custodian of faith on the "heretical interpretations" of the Council" to conclude:

During his presentation, the head of the doctrinal dicastery, clearly stated that the only orthodox interpretation of the Second Vatican Council is that which sees it as an opportunity for reform and renewal, in continuity with the one subject-Church which the Lord has given us.

Müller sees this as the only hermeneutics that respects "the indissoluble unity between the Holy Scriptures, the complete and integral Tradition and the Magisterium, which finds its highest expression in the Council, presided over by St. Peter's Successor, as visible head of the Church."

Archbishop Müller contrasted this "singular orthodox interpretation" with a "heretical interpretation" which he identified with "the hermeneutics of a split, both on the progressivist front and the traditionalist front."

According to Müller, what they both share in common is a rejection of the Council: "progressivists want to leave it behind them, as if it were just a phase that should be abandoned in order to move towards a different Church; traditionalists do not want to move towards such a Church, as if it represented the winter of the Catholica."

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for May 2015
Universal:
That, rejecting the culture of indifference, we may care for our neighbours who suffer, especially the sick and the poor.
Evangelization: That Mary's intercession may help Christians in secularized cultures be ready to proclaim Jesus.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More U.S.

Rick Santorum Announces His Candidacy saying - It is Time to Take Back America Watch

Image of Rick and Karen Santorum

By Keith A Fournier

There is something which many in the main stream U.S. media do not know, here it is - not many people are listening to them anymore. However, they will listen to this song. And, they will understand it. The sentiment it captures will encourage the heart of a ... continue reading


Treasure hunters claim to uncover $2 million of missing Confederate gold in Lake Michigan shipwreck Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Treasure hunters claim they discovered $2 million worth of gold, originally stolen from the Confederates after the Civil War, in a Lake Michigan Shipwreck. The hunters, Kevin Dykstra and Frederick J. Monroe said they discovered a 19th Century tug boat off of Frankfort, ... continue reading


Woman finally meets man with her dead brother's transplanted face Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Transplant recipients do not normally meet the families of their donors. An exception was made in the case of Rebekah Aversano, who met the man with the transplanted face of her deceased brother for a strange, touching homecoming. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


President Obama meets with ISIS executed journalist Steven Sotloff's family during Florida trip Watch

Image of Steven Sotloff had reported from across the Middle East and covered events in Libya for Time Magazine.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

United States President, Barack Obama met with the family of slain American journalist Steven Sotloff during his trip to Miami. Islamic State militants beheaded Sotloff last year. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Obama met with Sotloff's parents, Art and ... continue reading


Michael Jackson's 'Neverland Ranch' up for sale for $100 million Watch

Image of Real-estate investment firm Colony Capital bought the note in 2008 for $23 million and put the title into a joint venture it formed with the pop star.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Late pop music superstar, Michael Jackson's famous retreat, Neverland Ranch is now up for grabs at $100 million. The former fantasyland currently lives under the name "Sycamore Valley Ranch." Located 40 miles from Santa Barbara in Los Olivos, the property spans ... continue reading


ANTHRAX IS BACK: U.S. Military accidentally ships live anthrax Watch

Image of Anthrax contaminants taken from building in Trenton, NJ in 2001. (Times staff photo by Jane Therese)

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Some samples negligently sent by the U.S. Military contained live anthrax. Four lab workers from the United States and about 22 overseas, who come in contact with the shipment, are placed into post-exposure treatment, according to a defense official. MUNTINLUPA, ... continue reading


Baltimore bloodshed continues with unbelievable violence over the holiday weekend Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

May has proved to be the most dangerous and deadliest month Baltimore has witnessed in more than 50 years. There were more than two dozen shootings over the Memorial Day weekend alone; city police have never been busier. Community leaders hope the members will come ... continue reading


BACKWASH: California water officials consider repurposing sewage into drinking water Watch

Image of Unlike non-potable reuse, where treated sewage is used to irrigate crops, parks or golf courses - direct potable reuse takes treated sewage effluent and purifies it so it can be used as drinking water.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While it's "doable," few people in California are actually voicing any enthusiasm. Stricken by a crippling drought, water officials are going through some highly popular alternatives - and repurposing sewage water into drinking water is one of them. LOS ... continue reading


Gallup poll shows that one in four Americans not gay Watch

Image of Only 3.8 percent of Americans self-identify as gay, lesbian or transsexual.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As Gay rights movements continue to disrupt society and political life, poll reveals that gay and lesbians are not as common in the United States as previously perceived. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A new Gallup poll conducted in early May has revealed that ... continue reading


World's oldest woman reaches 116-years-old! Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

World's oldest woman, Jeralean Talley has added another year to her life - the world declared she turned 116 last weekend. Talley and her family, friends, the Inkster mayor and Congressman Conyers, delivered a message from President Barack Obama, celebrating her ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 44:1, 9-13
1 Next let us praise illustrious men, our ancestors ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 9
1 Alleluia! Sing a new song to Yahweh: his praise in ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 11:11-26
11 He entered Jerusalem and went into the Temple; and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for May 29th, 2015 Image

St. Maximinus of Trier
May 29: Bishop of Trier, Germany, from 332, and a miracle worker. He was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter