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Italy: The debate on Vatican II interpretation flares up again

Catholic World News - December 06, 2010

In a book review headlined “De Mattei and the Council, a critical methodology which devaluates its texts,” Catholic author and sociologist Massimo Introvigne has debunked a recent book promoting the opinion that Vatican II must be construed as a rupture with the previous tradition of the Church.

In his review of Il Concilio Vaticano II-Una storia mai scritta (The Second Vatican Council-An unwritten story) by Roberto De Mattei, Massimo Introvigne points out that the author is wrong in grounding his vision on a structuralist-style approach that the Council’s “text”-- namely its final written documents-- may not be separated from the “context” in which they were produced. Such context, Introvigne claims, included the preparatory work, session discussions, media coverage, and subsequent implementations: all stages that were dominated by the “hermeneutics of rupture,” which interpreted the Council’s documents not in light of tradition, but against it.

In his important review, published on December 1 in the Italian daily Avvenire, owned by the Italian bishops’ conference, Introvigne argues that the Vatican II documents retain their value as magisterial teaching. Good science should serve to explain documents,” he contends, “and not to tear them apart.”

“Once these documents have been rigorously purged from their interpretation and media presentation,” Introvigne goes on, “the magisterium teaches that its documents must be first and foremost read (many who talk about them have in fact never read them), and then given allegiance to their essential teachings”. Therefore, according to Introvigne, De Mattei is upholding “that hermeneutics of rupture Benedict XVI has time and again decried as harmful” to the Church, in particular in his famous speech to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2005. He adds that on another noteworthy occasion, on July 24, 2007, during his vacation in the Italian Alps, the Pope elaborated further on this issue, noting that the hermeneutics of rupture is upheld by both the progressive faction and the opposite end of the religious spectrum, the anti-conciliarists. Both claim that Vatican II has broken with tradition: the former to rejoice in this rupture, and the latter to deplore it.

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: koinonia - Dec. 11, 2010 1:33 PM ET USA

    A way to demonstrate the issue is to think outside the box, looking to those outside Church. To a man you'll find an assessment that VII fundamentally revolutionized the Church. They laud its overthrow of the doctrinal exclusivism. Is it possible for something inspired by the Holy Spirit to be so misunderstood by just about everyone outside the fold and many within? The Church clarifies and elucidates when She teaches. A troubling question indeed for any thinking Catholic regardless of opinion.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Dec. 08, 2010 10:53 AM ET USA

    The one thing the Enemy accomplishes with these flare-ups is to secure the final impenitence of the heretics and apostates. We should pray for them. Their time approaches.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Dec. 08, 2010 10:39 AM ET USA

    "liberty of conscience and of worship is the proper right of every man, and should be asserted by law..." "religious freedom must be given such recognition in the constitutional order of society as will make it a civil right." No amount of "interpretation" can "purge" the difficulties here. One has been condemned, the other promoted vigorously. Is it possible for an unbiased objective person to explain the fallacy of the one while lauding the wisdom of the other?

  • Posted by: Mike in Toronto - Dec. 07, 2010 10:29 PM ET USA

    Fortunately (or, rather, providentially) for Holy Mother Church, the Church ? Us brigade is well past its best before and is rapidly approaching its expiry date, another event we await with joyful hope.

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