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Remodeling The Church (Part One)

On January 7, 2012 the Vatican unveiled the plan to remodel the Church. It is being called the Year of Faith. The Vatican is not calling this a remodel, but c’mon, if it looks like a remodel, sounds like a remodel, it is a remodel. I am going to try to outline this plan for you. It is too early to give specific details, but I hope you will be able to get a good idea with the information that is available. This blog post represents part one of a two part posting outlining the Year of Faith.

As I was reviewing the Year in Faith I had a nagging feeling that I had heard this stuff before. I seemed to remember a prediction I had read that was very reminiscent of this plan. I dug through some of of my older resource materials and I discovered where I had heard this prediction; Fr. Andrew M. Greeley, of course.

If you are not familiar with Fr. Greeley you should know he is one of my favorite Catholic authors. In the 80’s I read one of Fr. Greeley’s fiction novels (The Cardinal Sins) and that got me started reading his books. I recommend that you read his books, fiction and non-fiction. He is an excellent author and he understands Catholicism well. When the pedophile Priest scandal was churning and my parish had two Priests convicted of pedophilia, Fr. Greeley’s book (Priests: A Calling In Crisis) helped me deal with the concerns I was experiencing. He might help you too.

Back to the prediction. In 2004 Fr. Greeley published a book (The Catholic Revolution) and he predicted that there would be attempts to bring back the preconciliar Church. He even named Joseph Ratzinger (then a Cardinal) as one of those in the Church who would lead the old Church comeback. Now, as Pope, Joseph Ratzinger has surrounded himself with Bishops who are obedient to Rome and he is ready to start remodeling.

Unlike some commentators, I entertain no nostalgia for the so-called confident Church of the years 1945-1960. Most of those who lament the passing of that Church weren’t there at the time… Nor am I persuaded, as some in the Vatican [i.e. then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger], that a strong effort should be made to restore much of the discipline that existed in the preconciliar Church, to undo the mistakes that have been made since 1965 and to protect the Church from even greater harm.
Andrew Greeley (Author, Priest, Sociologist)

Fr. Greeley saw the difficulties during Vatican II in terms of a metaphor; new wine being poured into old wineskins. The old wineskins burst and nobody knew what to do. Some set about attempting to repair the old wineskins. This could not be done and yet even today there are those who still try.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would doubtless like to remodel the Church to fit the rural Bavarian paradigm within which he remembers growing up… However, his Bavaria… [is] not there anymore… Moreover, their restoration four decades after the Council is impossible.
Andrew Greeley (Author, Priest, Sociologist)

I hear what you are saying to yourself right now; “why is he dragging all of this Vatican II baggage out?” “I thought this blog post was about the Year of Faith?” Dear surfers, it is only because of Vatican II that we now have the Year of Faith. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Let me explain. One of the components of the Year of Faith will be a convocation of the Synod of Bishops.

Okay, right now you are saying to yourself; “what is a convocation?” “Better yet, what is a Synod?” Perhaps a “Year of Faith” quote, or two, from the Vatican will help?

To assist in the correct understanding of the Vatican Council II, the communiqué cites the next General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on The New Evangelisation for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. [The communique] also states that from the outset of his Pontificate Pope Benedict has strived to encourage “a correct understanding of the Council rejecting as erroneous the so-called “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” and promoting what he himself has termed “the ‘hermeneutic of reform’, of renewal in continuity.”.
Door of Faith

Vatican Council II, “beginning with the light of Christ… wanted to elaborate on the intimate nature of the Church and its relationship with the contemporary world.” “After the Council the Church – under the sure guidance of the Magisterium and in continuity with the whole Tradition – set about ensuring the reception and application of the teaching of the Council in all its richness.” “To assist in the correct reception of the Council, the Popes have frequently convoked the Synod of Bishops… providing the Church with clear guidance through the various post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortations.”
Year of Faith

These are not my words, and they are not taken out of context. Click through to the article I drew the quotes from and see for yourself.

Basically, the Pope plans to gather a special group of Bishops for a meeting. From the meeting of this group will come assistance on the correct way to receive the reforms of Vatican II. This meeting of the special group of Bishops is necessary because, up until now, our understanding of Vatican II has not been correct. The Pope and the Bishops will tell us the proper way to understand the reforms of Vatican II.

Fr. Greeley predicted that given the right circumstances there would be a strong effort to restore preconciliar discipline.

Welcome to the Year of Faith.

Let me put it to you another way.

If we control the spin, or direction, of an object, we are showing sides of it we want to show while not shedding light on the rest. A spin doctor uses spin control to emphasize or exaggerate the most positive aspect of something.
What is a Spin Doctor

The Vatican is spinning this Year of Faith as a time to elaborate and encourage renewal in continuity of our Catholic faith, but they are hiding the fact that they are frantically patching the old wineskins that burst in 1965. B16 has his clique of Bishops, and maybe together they can restore that preconciliar discipline (bring back the good old days). That is what this whole Year of Faith is about.

Still not convinced? Okay, here is another quote that describes how we might use our time during the Year of Faith.

Practical suggestions include a greater focus on the quality of the teaching of the faith and an examination of local catechism as well as a greater use of the mass media and art, with a focus on the faith, its principles and content and the ecclesial significance of Vatican Council II.
Door of Faith

Did you catch that last part? Trust me, I am not going to be spending my time focusing on the ecclesial significance of Vatican II. Fr. Greeley said it best.

I believe that, for all the confusion, all the mistakes, all the false prophets, all the stupidity of the last thirty-five years of Catholic history, the new Church is a great improvement on the old Church.
Andrew Greeley (Author, Priest, Sociologist)

About neodecaussade

I am a Roman Catholic quester. You will find that I have scripture based academic interests. You will discover that I am a conservative Catholic but I am also prone to heterodox tendencies. I am versed in highly pietistic traditionalist practices but I am not a traditionalist. I am interested in entering a discussion on the future of the Roman Catholic Church. I would like to have a role in discussing how the future Church will be shaped.

3 responses »

  1. I enjoyed this post and you have spurred me to learn more about the year of faith. I do not have the theological training necessary to truly evaluate your thesis. However, I found this article interesting as it coincides with my understanding of Vatican II council. My understanding comes from RCIA discussions when I converted in 2000.

    Wondering what your opinion is on Dr. Hitchcock’s discussion?

    Thank you

    • Dear cinhosa, Dr. Hitchcock originally wrote this article in 2000. The Catholic Church was different then. JP2 had previously excommunicated the SSPX and while he was consolidating Bishops who were loyal to Rome he was spending more time on the world stage. Within 5 years this would all change. B16 was more inward focused, he created the FSSP and opened the door so the 1962 Tridentine liturgy to be used. B16 reversed the excommunication of the SSPX and promoted more Bishops loyal to Rome. Dr. Hitchcock would not write this same article today.

      When the 3rd edition Missal was instituted this Advent the traditional factions within the Church felt impowered to make their desired practices a reality. They installed alter rails and positioned themselved ad orientem. One Bishop went so far as to tell his entire Diocese that holding hands at the Our Father was not allowed. They are guilty of the exact same excesses as the liberal factions.

      I cannot say that what Dr. Hitchcock wrote was untrue, other than his opinions on the loss of sanctity in worship. I am not defending or condeming either side for taking what they want. It is human nature. I will simply leave you with one thought. What does the future of Christianity and Catholicism look like in 2045? Does it look like 1945? Does it even exist any longer?

      The changes brought about by Vatican 2 made the Church better, even if there were mistakes. Pulling back on the reins and galloping back to the starting gate after 50 years may seal the fate of Catholicism and doom Her to history books and memories. Ask Zeuss.

      • Thank you for the response. With regard to your question on the future of Christianity and Catholicism. I think there have been many times in history when the Church is threatened. Today’s threats are apparent – at least to me and I have moved past my fear for its future to understand what is within my ability to impact the future.

        In such times of threat (throughout Christianity), people are moved by the Holy Spirit to fight for the Church. Sometimes people die for it. Other times, people simply choose to be faithful disciples in all aspects of their lives.

        For example, you and I (and many others) are moved to write about Christianity on our blogs. We are not certain of the impact we may have on people. Some of them may be moved by our words that they turn to God and become another defender of our faith. So I think in this difficult time, we have an opportunity to counter these threats by living our essential purpose – to lead lives of holiness.

        Conversion to Christianity has always been a one-person-at-a-time process. Let us pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ to be courageous and protect our faith as we lead lives that are holy and attract people to follow our Lord.

        I enjoyed the dialogue!

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