18 October, 2009

Retreat from Vatican II ?

Recent events in the Catholic Church seem to indicate that there is a retreat from the theology and practices of Vatican II. Some of these indications are:

1) The recent permission, gladly given, for the frequent celebration of the Liturgy in the Tredentine Rite.

2) Benedict XVI's minor revision of the invocation regarding the Jews in the Good Friday Liturgy for the Tredintine Rite.

3) The lifting of excommunication of 4 traditionalist bishops who reject a number of major teachings of Vatican II, one of whom is a Holocost Denier.

4) Liturgical changes in the Mass that reduce the roles of laypersons in liturgical ministries and re-ephasizes the separation of the priest-presider from the community.

5) A return to the Pre-Vatican II theology emphasizing that the priest is a different / higher level or kind of being than laypersons.

6) A retreat from emphasis on the Church as "the People of God" and the centrality of Baptism and a return to a model of the church as hierarchical institution.

Most of these changes seem innocuous in themselves and few people see larger implications in any one them , however together they pressage a return to a pre Vatican II Catholic Church of the 1950s or earlier.

Are there any others who have noticed these changes? Will the Church be better off as a result of this revision of Vatican II theology and practice?

15 October, 2009

What's the Church for?

It goes without saying that the Church is the People of God and its purpose is to help bring about the Reign of God.

Bringing about the Reign of God is the essential mission of the People of God; it is much more important than preserving any particular structure of the Institutional Church.  "Being church" for the nurture of the members is necessary but not sufficient. The Church really exists to "do Church" in this world, that is, to reach out to everyone and everything in the world. Its mission is to participate in establishing the Reign of God.

Except for its emphasis on the abortion issue, the Church, in recent years, has spent more time and effort on protecting and preserving current institutional structures and nurturing the People than on its essential mission to the world. Little attention has been given to traditional social justice issues like just wages or newer ecumenical approaches to protecting and nurturing the environment as a call to stewardship of creation.

I wonder if the paedophilia scandal has so disabled the bishops that they are afraid to speak out boldly on anything other than sexual issues. I wonder if concern to maintain existing power relations within the Church require so much attention to internal affairs that the clergy have no time or energy left to foster or support social action in the "world." What do you think?