The Tablet Blog
A subtle difference in emphasis: the dioceses choosing between Vatican II and the Year of FaithChristopher Lamb
5 October 2012, 9:00
The dioceses of England and Wales are united in a flurry of activity. They have all announced plans for the start of the Year of Faith and the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council on Thursday. What is interesting, however, is that some are emphasising the latter and others the former.
As we report this week, dioceses such as Arundel and Brighton and Clifton are focusing on the council and encouraging people to understand it more deeply.
Clifton and the Archdiocese of Southwark have asked Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels - who helped write Vatican II's document on the liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium - to speak. The diocese of Arundel and Brighton is using the four major documents of Vatican II as the springboard for renewal in their diocese.
Other dioceses, such as Shrewsbury and Lancaster, have put less emphasis on going back to look at the council's constitutions and decrees but are focusing on the catechism, the creed and boosting faith through traditional devotions.
Of course, no diocese is trying to make out that Vatican II never happened. The difference is in the analysis.
Some dioceses believe it is important for Catholics to go back to the council documents as a way of boosting their own faith and helping them to evangelise. Others seem to be suggesting that a better understanding of the catechism and creed is what is needed. They would say that with secularisation and religious illiteracy on the rise, understanding Vatican II is not the problem - it is knowing one's faith in the first place. They would also argue that this is what Vatican II sought to achieve. As the Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies, writes in his latest pastoral letter, Vatican II intended to 'find ways of both guarding the truths of our faith, and teaching them more effectively...'
Which will work better in dioceses today? Will lectures on Vatican II help re-energise parishes? Or do we need to go back to basics?
Christopher Lamb is Assistant Editor (Home News) of The Tablet.
18 October 2012 16:39 (9 of 9)
I seem to remember The Tablet's saying that the Catechism has very few references to Vatican II. It's worth counting them. Also, Hans Kung called it 'Yesterday's Catechism' - and didn't Pope John specifically say he didn't want a catechism after the Council? It's very hard to maintain that the Catechism and the documents of Vatican II are entirely in accord with each other. They represent a different view of the Church -- but doctrinally, there is no question of which has the greater authority.
16 October 2012 15:02 (8 of 9)
THOSE WONDERING WHAT VATICAN II ACCOMPLISHED MIGHT BEGIN BY READING ROBERT KAISER'S PIECE IN THIS ISSUE OF THE TABLET.
14 October 2012 13:40 (7 of 9)
Those who argue that Catholics don't know their faith and should study the Catechism and those who complain that we need to recover the impetus of Vatican II both have a point, but they are surely missing the main element in the crisis today, which is that most Catholics, even if they know their faith, relegate it to a remote file in their mental filing cabinet, whence they take it out on rare occasions, such as at a bereavement. But it has little effect on how they lead their lives or on how they respond to the challenges, the ups and downs, of life. For here beliefs in the mind have less influence than basic human anxieties and the culture around us. What we need, surely, is not more catechization about the Church and the various articles of the Christian creed, but a recovery of a sense of what it really means to believe that God exists.
Peter Vande Vyvere
14 October 2012 0:04 (6 of 9)
It is not right that 'the Belgian cardinal Danneels helped write Vatican II's document on the liturgy'. He was a very young professor of liturgy at the seminary of Bruges at that time, but afterwards helped promote the conciliar ideas. His bishop at that time was msgr. Emiel-Jozef De Smedt, who played an important role in Vatican II as a Council Father.
Fr John Wotherspoon (Hong Kong)
13 October 2012 14:23 (5 of 9)
For most of this year, I have been trying to re-read one or two articles from the 16 documents of Vatican II...and have posted a short reflection on each article that might encourage others to join me in such re-reading as a way of remembering the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II. My reflections are not very professional....and were done 'on the run'...but I hope they can be of use to others: http://www.v2catholic.com/documents/index.htm
12 October 2012 17:32 (4 of 9)
Amazing. The Holy Father asks us to study the documents of Vatican II AND the Catechism and already there are those who say we should do one or the other. Why not just do what he asked? Study BOTH. And not the condensed versions or interpretations. I've been studying Vatican II and the Catechism since I discovered the Church in the mid-90's. i wish everyone would!
8 October 2012 18:56 (3 of 9)
Cantabrigiensis:I can see your dilemma cos I have encountered someone who has difficulty with newly ordained priests talking as if nothing has happened since 1870. It is an axiom of the judiciary that they should try and find out what the legislation means by trying to find out what the legislators had in mind at the time. In Parliament experts draft documents,In Rome the same thing happens.This means the documents could have elements introduced by the fathers in session and by the scriptwriters. Pope John favoured diversity and change-unwelcome ideas in Rome. I suggest you read a book or two about what went on in St.Peter's,especially in the 2 coffee bars in the intervals between sessions.Good luck
6 October 2012 23:50 (2 of 9)
The idea of (re)reading the documents of Vatican II will not be accepted by the vact majority of Catholics. However, if people obtain a relatively short (my copy has text of 144 pages) 2012 book by Massimo Faggioli (Vatican II: The Battle for Meaning) the task of understanding not only what happened at the time, but equally if not more importantly, what activities were initiated by both 'sides' virtually immediately after 1965, will be infinitely easier and clearer. He is quite objective in giving the pros and cons of those who view the Council as 'event' and those who see it as a continuation of Trent and Vatican I. Do yourself a favor and read this easy book. For the adventuresome, there are copious footnotes and a very extensive bibliography.
6 October 2012 12:35 (1 of 9)
Christopher Lamb writes, 'Some dioceses believe it is important for Catholics to go back to the council documents as a way of boosting their own faith and helping them to evangelise. Others seem to be suggesting that a better understanding of the catechism and creed is what is needed. Which will work better in dioceses today? Will lectures on Vatican II help re-energise parishes? Or do we need to go back to basics?' As an ordinary man-in-the-pew who has grown up in the years following Vatican II, I'd like to see a combination of both from our bishops and priests. Many of the homilies I hear from clergy of a more advanced age rarely move beyond vague platitudes urging us to love our neighbours, and too many of us are left in a state of ignorance about Catholic beliefs. Most of all though, may we please have accurate guidance about what the Council actually taught, rather than private interpretations of the 'spirit of the Council'?