The Beatification Of V II And The “Hermeneutic Of Embarrassment”.
And so the Year of Faith has begun, and I hope it will end without much damage.
I am not so sure, though. It seems to me this year of faith exists with the main objective of the beatification of V II and the attempt to sanitise it and at the same time make of it a permanent element of the Church landscape. I do think both objective will fail, but I digress…
There are rumours of the impending beatification of both Pope Paul VI ( imagine that… Who’s next? Archbishop Bugnini?) and John Paul I. As John XXIII has already been beatified and the current Pontiff has already cared for V-II marketing weapon number 1, this would make a succession of four Popes to be beatified; five, if we consider the one who would merit it – miracle presupposed – just for avoiding antics like V II.
Embarrassing. Still, it might be only a rumour, and Pope Benedict would very probably not expose himself to the very just criticism of beatifying three (perhaps four) of his predecessors, basically pre-ordering his own beatification and – besides making a mockery of the beatification process, which after JP II’s reform largely is largely the case anyway – creating a precedent in such bad taste that in comparison the earth-kissing and rock-concert-loving of his predecessor would be considered innocent and devout pastimes.
So, the Holy Father wouldn’t do it. Or would he? Hand on heart, would you have expected him to ever appoint one like Mueller? Exactly…
Then there are the rather absurd rumours – picked up here and there, and personally never believed – of a new version of the Traditional Mass, who would be “modernised” with the introduction of some aspects of the intermediate version of the Novus Ordo (then itself surpassed by the events when the alleged “spirit” began to wreak serious havoc within the Liturgy). According to this rumour, we would have a, say, “2013 Missal” to take the place of the 1962 (or 1955) one. This rumour seems absurd to me not because I think Pope Benedict would never do something like that to the Traditional Mass (I do think he would be well capable of that; he isn’t a traditionalist by any conceivable definition of the word), but rather because there would be more chances of Kim-Jong-Un one day becoming Pope than of such an exercise being accepted by those who are supposed to be its users, submerging the author of such an attempt with a tidal wave of ridicule for all centuries to come. This rumour can, I think, be therefore dismissed without any worry.
Much more real is the massive PR exercise we have seen in the last weeks in favour of V II. The concept truly reminds one of Gorbachev’s idea that what is intrinsically bad can be saved and made useful just taking some pieces here and there, giving it a hand of polish, talking the process to the sky and developing the entire mess into an exercise in which, suddenly, everything magically starts to work. We will be told ad nauseam that V II was oh so good, and that for reasons probably linked to the lunar phases some evil gremlin took it hostage for fifty years causing a huge wave of wannabe “spirit”, the emptying of churches, the oblivion of Catholic teaching, a scary loss of power and influence even in the most religious US States (who would have imagined the HHS mandate in the Fifties? Abortion? Same-sex “marriages”?) and in general a long attempt – perpetrated or abetted or tolerated by the clergy themselves – to make Catholicism forgotten, irrelevant, and consisting in little more than a couple of stupid slogans about peace and social justice.
Already the Pontiff says that we must take the Council “literally”, but – as always in this kind of reasoning – he begs the question. If there are no significant novelties in the “literal” reading of the Conciliar documents, then the Beatification of V II does not make sense at all and every traditional Catholic can dismiss it as an event of mediocre content and little consequence. If there are, then this is exactly where the problem lies; even more so, because the “reading” is now “literal” and there is, literally, nowhere to hide.
Vatican II was always a circular argument, but in the past there was at least the excuse of the “spirit” now magically waking up and starting to do things in a completely different manner than in the past 2000 years, for reasons which were never satisfactorily explained.
Now that the “spirit” is being very clearly “un-spirited” again, the circular argument is reduced to “V II was so wonderful because it was so wonderful”, and I frankly think it is high time to wake up, acknowledge the devastation, and begin a serious work or reparation of the damage done. I’d call the SSPX theologians for that; I wonder if Archbishop Mueller would approve, though….
I personally suggest a new interpretative key of the texts of Vatican II: the “hermeneutic of embarrassment”, according to which the Vatican hierarchy acknowledge the huge amount of waffle and populism, the appalling lack of clarity, the huge doors intentionally left open to convenient misinterpretations, and the shameless desire to be friends with everyone and “in tune” with pretty much everything under the sun, and set up to reformulate in clear and unmistakable manner all the issues touched by Vatican II documents and which have grated those who can be seen as the most credible defender of traditional Catholic faith.
In doing so, this “hermeneutic of embarrassment” would literally follow the word of one, ahem, noted theologian:
“The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of ‘superdogma,’ which takes away the importance of all the rest”
I doubt the “hermeneutic of embarrassment” will hold sway during my lifetime, which I even hope long and happy. But I have no doubt one day it will prevail, as it has already prevailed in the mind of countless sincere and devout Catholics fed up with this endless rubbish of either the “spirit” making a pig’s breakfast of everything Catholic, or the “milestone” which wasn’t even supposed to be one but must be believed under pain of, erm, excommunication.
Pray for the priests of the SSPX.