Traditionalist and progressive camps that see the Second Vatican Council as a “rupture” both espouse a “heretical interpretation” of the Council and its aims, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has said.
Archbishop Gerhard Müller said that what Pope Benedict XVI has termed “the hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in continuity” is the “only possible interpretation according to the principles of Catholic theology”.
“Outside this sole orthodox interpretation unfortunately exists a heretical interpretation, that is, a hermeneutic of rupture, [found] both on the progressive front and on the traditionalist” side, the archbishop said.
What the two camps have in common, he said, is their rejection of the council: “The progressives in their wanting to leave it behind, as if it were a season to abandon in order to get to another Church, and the traditionalists in their not wanting to get there”, seeing the council as a Catholic “winter”.
A “Council presided over by the successor of Peter as head of the visible Church” is the “highest expression” of the Magisterium, he said, to be regarded as part of “an indissoluble whole”, along with Scripture and 2,000 years of tradition.
The doctrinal chief’s remarks were published in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, to present the seventh volume of The Complete Works of Joseph Ratzinger. The volume collects both published and unpublished notes, speeches, interviews and texts written or given by the future pope in the period shortly before, during and just after Vatican II.
Archbishop Müller specified that by “continuity” Pope Benedict meant a “permanent correspondence with the origin, not an adaption of whatever has been, which also can lead the wrong way”.
The term “aggiornamento” or updating – one of the watchwords of the Council – “does not mean the secularisation of the faith, which would lead to its dissolution”, but a “making present” of the message of Jesus Christ, he said.
This “making present” is the “reform necessary for every era in constant fidelity to the whole Christ”, he said.
“The tradition of apostolic origin continues in the Church with help from the Holy Spirit,” he said, and leads to greater understanding through contemplation and study, intelligence garnered from a deeper experience of the spiritual, and preaching by those who through the “apostolic succession have received an assured charism of truth”.