Catholic World News

Vatican prefect strongly criticizes ‘hermeneutic of discontinuity’

September 11, 2012

Calling for an attentive reading of the texts of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy said that Catholics must reject the “hermeneutic of discontinuity” in interpreting them.

“The Holy Father has recently defined as ‘unacceptable’ the hermeneutic of discontinuity,” said Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, referring to a May 24 papal address.

He added:

The continuity of the one Body of the Church, prior to being a hermeneutic criterion, that is a manner by which to interpret texts, is a theological reality, which is deeply rooted in the selfsame act of faith which prompts us to profess "I believe in One Church." For such a reason, some sort of dichotomy between pre- and post-Vatican II is unthinkable, and certainly one must refute both the positions of those who see in the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council a "new beginning" of the Church as well as those who discern the "true Church" only prior to this historical Council. No one can arbitrarily decide whether and when the "true Church" started. Sprung forth from the side of Christ, and fortified by the effusion of the Spirit at Pentecost, the Church is One and Only, until the consummation of history, and within the communion by means of which will come to be actualized in eternity.

“Certainly a desacralized liturgy, or that reduced to a ‘human representation,’ in which the Christological and theological dimensions vanish until they are displaced, is not what the letter and spirit of Sacrosanctum Concilium intended,” Cardinal Piacenza added, referring to the Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. “This does not justify, nonetheless, the position of those who in their own turn have also wed themselves to the hermeneutic of discontinuity, denying Conciliar reform, considering them as betrayals of a longed-for ‘true Church.’”

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  • Posted by: Jim.K - Sep. 13, 2012 1:34 AM ET USA

    Recently, I attended a Jesuit Church for Mass. The priest followed the new liturgy up to the words of concentration of the Chalice, and then substituted the word "all" in place of "many." I remember after VII when the liberals would persecute any priest who refused the "all men" formulae in the name of "obedience." Now the liberals refuse to "obey" and use the "many" formulae. Until the priests obey the Pope, no reform is possible. Same re: catechical instruction. The enemy is within!

  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Sep. 12, 2012 1:40 PM ET USA

    A canon lawyer and historian told me in the 1990s that ecumenical councils are followed by 50 years of turmoil. On hearing that, I longed for 2012 to arrive, when the turmoil would finally cease. Pope Benedict's new English translation of the Mass is a tremendous step in the right direction. The orthodox seminarians who actually read the documents of Vatican II instead of meekly swallowing the venom of the Council's "spirit" are making significant headroads across the country.

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Sep. 11, 2012 9:54 PM ET USA

    Actions speak louder then words. The last 50 years or so have seen nothing but words and little action. What we need is a Pope who will be a little reckless and bold in literally waging a crusade within the Church against all the enemies of the faith. The worst enemies of Catholicism are within the Church. There will be no proper interpretation of VatII or a fruitful "new evangelization" if we can't even get our own house in order.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Sep. 11, 2012 7:51 AM ET USA

    "I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy...when the community of faith, the worldwide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible...? Then the community is celebrating only itself, an activity that is utterly fruitless." Ratzinger 1997 (This was the goal of some even prior to Vatican II)