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In emotional final address to Rome clergy Pope says true meaning of Vatican II is finally emerging

By on Friday, 15 February 2013

Pope Benedict blesses the Roman clergy at the end of his address (AP)

Pope Benedict blesses the Roman clergy at the end of his address (AP)

Pope Benedict XVI has spoken openly about the greatest achievements of the Second Vatican Council in his final address to the priests of the Diocese of Rome.

The Pope, who will step down on February 28, praised as “an act of providence” the Council’s decision to make liturgy as the adoration of God, its first order of business, but he criticised what he called misunderstandings of the liturgical reform the Council fostered.

The Pope said that celebrating the Mass in a modern language does not suffice to make its mysteries intelligible and an external participation by the laity in worship does not necessarily produce “communion with the Church and thus fellowship with Christ.”

Pope Benedict XVI also said the press mispresented the Council as a political struggle for “popular sovereignty” in the church. This “council of the media” was responsible for “many calamities, so many problems, so much misery,” the Pope said. “Seminaries closed, convents closed, liturgy trivialised.”

But the Pope said that the “true council” which was based on faith, is today “emerging with all its spiritual strength,” and he called on his listeners to “work so that the true council with the power of the Holy Spirit is realised and the Church is really renewed.”

The talk gave Pope Benedict a chance to underscore one of the major themes of his pontificate almost at its end. In a landmark speech during his first year as Pope, he had proclaimed the importance of reading Vatican II in continuity with the Church’s millennial traditions, not as a radical break with the past. His efforts to promote such interpretations have culminated in the current Year of Faith, which opened last October on the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II.

In his speech to the clergy, Pope Benedict highlighted some of the Council’s greatest achievements as well as difficulties in their implementation. He praised the document Dei Verbum, on the interpretation of Scripture, as one of the Council’s “most beautiful and innovative” documents, but said “there is still much to be done to arrive at a reading of Scripture that is really in the spirit of the council,” because many scholars continue to read the Bible as a merely human book, without reference to faith or the Church’s teaching authority.

The Pope also told an anecdote about the late Cardinal Josef Frings of Cologne who, when Blessed John XXIII once summoned him to Rome, “was afraid he had perhaps said maybe something incorrect, false and that he had been asked to come for a reprimand, perhaps even to deprive him of his red hat,” the Pope said.

Instead, Cardinal Frings received Blessed John’s praise, and later brought the future Pope Benedict with him to the Council as his personal adviser.

Before the Pope’s talk, the several thousand priests in the Vatican’s audience hall greeted him with a standing ovation and a shout of “Long live the Pope!”

Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the vicar of Rome, then read a short tribute to the Pope, likening the occasion to the departure of St Paul from Ephesus in the Acts of the Apostles.

The cardinal cried as he concluded, telling the Pope, “in the name of all the priests of Rome, who truly love the Pope, that we commit ourselves to pray still for you and for your intentions, so that our grateful love may become, if possible, even greater.”

  • Peter

    It strikes fear into the heart of those who reject God and who deny that they bear any responsibility for the kind of life they live. 

  • Peter

    You sound like a Manichaeist.

  • Peter

    Pope Pius XII didn’t think so and, far from making him looking foolish, it made him look prophetic.

  • Peter

    The frustration is theirs.

  • Peter

    Adam’s sin was pride, such as that which cast the devil into hell.

    As humans we are all tainted with pride.   Pride is not a consequence of our evolved animal nature.  It is a spiritual vice directly from hell.

    Concupiscence is the inclination to sin.   It is fundamentally driven by pride which leads us to sin through our animal nature. 

    But pride is much more than that.  It is a spiritual sin.  It is the rejection of God and the putting of ourselves in his place.  You are persisting in the untruth that pride has evolved when there is no sign of it, even to a lesser degree in the animal kingdom

    You have repeatedly failed to provide evidence of pride, instead resorting to tedious conjecture.

    In direct repudiation of your claim, evolutionary science cannot demonstrate that man’s fallen prideful nature has evolved.   


  • Peter


    A human being can exhibit all of the above characteristics and still possess no humility.

  • karlf

    I think you’re mistaken

  • karlf

    Of course Original Sin is incompatible with evolution, whatever way you interpret the stories of Genesis. The Church tells us that the original character of human nature was wholly good, and without concupiscence. From what we now know about human evolution, how could this be so?

  • karlf

    Perhaps, or perhaps not. But all this talk of pride and humility does not dispute my original point.

  • karlf

    “man is a creature with a habit of  looking for patterns & pictures.The – further – step of  seeing meaning in things is an example of this.” Yes indeed.

  • Sweetjae


    DH (Dignitatis Humanae) and The Encyclical letter ‘Libertas’ are not contradictory, in fact they compliment each other. All persons must BE FREE to seek the Truth without coercion, meaning the highest norm of human life is the Divine Law and Truth which can only be sought AFTER the proper and free manner. The fundamental underlying basis for religious freedom rests on the dignity God affords to man. Before any appreciation can be given to submitting to the Truth there must be a mechanism which respects his intrinsic dignity Thus allowing him to arrived at the Truth.

    In one FUNDAMENTAL respect that traditionalists are so confused about is, the moral right to religious freedom comes** BEFORE** the obligation to submit to the Truth once it is found.

    Your last question is irrelevant because I didn’t say the pre-V2 Church taught that consciences may be forced rather DH taught that government for the common good of the society, can not suppress man’s liberty to express his religious beliefs. Remember this Document (DH) was written at the height of Communism that is engulfing eastern Christian Europe.

  • Peter

    Your claim is that our fallen nature is the product of evolution.
    Pride is the main feature of our fallen nature.Pride is present in humans but absent in animals.Since pride is completely absent in the animal kingdom, it cannot the product of evolution.Our fallen nature cannot be the product of evolution.

  • AlanP

    Pius IX may well have shown courage in publishing the Syllabus of Errors, with its denunciation of religious liberty; but he was courageously wrong.  It was that kind of attitude that prevented people like myself from joining the Catholic Church until after Vatican II.  It saddens me that there is still a vociferous minority (quite apart from SSPX) which wants to return to those attitudes.  They are perfectly entitled to be in the Church, but they really should not use such abusive language about the leaders of the church.  I don’t think Hans Kung has ever accused the Pope of “taking leave of his senses”, as Benedict Carter does below.

  • karlf

    No. My claim is that our knowledge of human evolution disputes the theory of Original Sin. The Church tells us that the original character of human nature was wholly good, and without concupiscence – there is much more to concupiscence than just pride alone.
    Your claim that pride is completely absent in the animal kingdom is like claiming that the animal kingdom is completely absent of embarrassment. Behaviours resembling aspects of what we call pride can be observed in animals, as can those of ‘shame’ (have you ever owned a dog?). The mystery of ‘pride’ to which you allude is hardly much of a mystery at all when we consider the superior qualities of the human mind, combined with these instinctive animal traits.

  • karlf

    Surely Jesus himself was a creationist, as he had no knowledge of the theory of evolution by natural selection. Nor did any other Catholic until  Darwin.

  • Sweetjae

    Have you read the entire message of Pope B16 to the priests of Rome? That there exists so many factors and external forces to consider during the deliberations of V2, where the Church wanted to have a relationship with and add the sole purpose of her of proclaiming the Message without antagonizing other factions. Did you read that the Council Fathers was only briefed about the ancient people of God-the Jews and the new nation of Israel were a product of the same atrocities committed mostly by Christians (Nazis) during WWII and how to approach this delicate matter so it won’t happen again. Then toss into that of other religions, the multiplicity of religions of the world.

    The council of the media was so dominant and powerful that it distorted, twisted with half-truths about the real Council of V2 had intended, that a lot of people were led astray not sparing the clergy.

  • Sweetjae

    May I add, that LP (Libertas) also taught that there is true and false freedom and how this freedom relates to law, civil authorities and God, and how its abuse leads to individual and societal corruption and destruction.

    If you read #10 to 13 of Libertas Praestantissimun ((LP) which looks like a contradiction with the DH and Religious Freedom of V2 but actually compliment each other. LP taught that true freedom of an individual and society doesn’t consist of man doing what he pleases for this it would simply mean the downfall of society rather the law must be conformed to the Truth and Eternal law.

    Question is, (which LP didn’t address), how an individual say a non-catholic would arrived at the Truth and Eternal Law if one is lacking liberty to choose in the first place? OR it’s being suppressed by external force outside of the individual?

    This is where the Documents of DH, Religious Freedom of V2 have entered and explained more fully.

    It’s like this, a young man looking for a prospective wife to love and have family with, so he must undergo extensive dating with ladies to find the Mrs. Right, right? So it’s very unreasonable if he should marry the first girl he dated.

    The same as this, in the process of seeking the Truth and in order to arrive at the Truth we must have the mechanism to for him that respects his inherent dignity (liberty) thus allowing him to arrive at the Truth.

  • Sweetjae

    Once the Eternal Law and Truth is found then man is obligated to submit his whole will but if he still chooses to reject …then this is where Libertas Preastanrissimun ( LP) explained it more fully. DH and Religious Freedom of V2 is PRIOR to all of the above.

  • ThePharmacistofLanceArmstrong

    One wonders if this is some sort of reference to Malachi Martin? Martin was the peritus to Cardinal Bea, Ratzinger’s fellow German and predecessor at the CDF. Martin would leave the Jesuits in 1965 and finish his days writing Dan Brown style novels for publishing houses in New York. Given that Bea took a personal hand in the writing of Nostra Aetate, the question arises as to what influence Martin had over the Cardinal during its development? Secondly, what connections, literary and political, did Martin enjoy? The role of Martin and another Jesuit, John Courtney Murrary, perhaps need closer study especially in the light of these remarks by the Pope.

  • Peter

    There’s no use side-stepping the issue by introducing red herrings.

    There’s absolutely no evidence of pride in the animal kingdom, no evidence that it is the product of evolution.

    Your attempt to relegate it to just one of many vices is futile because pride is unique.

    It is a spiritual sin which rejects God and also inclines us to sin through our animal nature.

    Without pride, without the sin of Adam, man would be innocent, because concupiscence – the tendency to sin –  would not exist.

    There is no evolutionary evidence which says that man was never innocent.  

    There is no evidence which disproves the doctrine that man was wholly good.

  • Peter

    Google St Augustine and the Literal Meaning of Genesis.

  • Peter

    Pride is the cause of concupiscence in man.

    There is no evidence that pride evolved.

    Therefore concupiscence has not evolved.

    If concupiscence is not a product of evolution, there was a time when it did not exist in man.

    There was an time when the character of human nature was wholly good.

  • Dominickavishe

    I Love his comment that underscored the dangers introduced by the secular press. No one could have put in better way the Pope Benedict XVI. May God guard him for ever.

  • Tomvenour

    Scientific ‘progress’ is a myth. This world is infinite, as are the questions that one would seek to answer. There will be no progress as God and his creation is eternal and constantly changing.

  • Tomvenour

    Jesus was not a Catholic and you have no idea what his thoughts on evolution were, if he felt they were even relevant -had he known about the ‘theory’

  • Tomvenour

    Fear = AWE  – come on get wake up man!

  • Tomvenour

    Very interesting stuff but no real surprise there, smoke usually means a fire somwhere. The English church is destroyed, the Catholic church is under severe attack, the damage is spread further into society by utterly ignorant, Godless and Amoral politicians like Cleg and Cameron. You are right this is a very very important article.

  • Benedict Carter

    Malachi Martin was not a peritus at Vatican II, but through Bea became an Advisor on Jewish questions to both John XXIII and Paul VI. 

    His “Dan Brown style novels” were no such thing, but accurate fictional renderings of his intimate knowledge of the Church and the Revolution within it. 

    He left the Jesuits, wrote a best-seller about their betrayal both of the Catholic Faith and their oath of allegiance to the Pope, and earned their undying hatred for having publicised the truth. They in turn lied for nearly 40 years about his clerical status and did their best to smear him at every turn. 

  • ThePharmacistofLanceArmstrong

    I suggested that the role played by John Courtney Murray and his friend Malachi Martin at Vatican II needs to be examined closely. If Martin was so concerned about the Jesuits why did he finish his days in New York as a novelist and doing radio shows? Who was funding him in New York?

  • whytheworldisending

    John the Baptist warned the Pharisees not to say to themselves “We have Abraham as our father” in the belief that this meant they did not need baptism and repentance, since they were sinners – though proud with it. The Pope seems to be a humble person, not proud at all.

    Jesus said that we must not imagine that He came to abolish the commandments. He said He did not come to abolish but to fulfil them. Thus he criticized the jewish authorities for allowing divorce, contrary to the sixth commandment, and for failing to support their elderly parents – contrary to the fourth commandment, by declaring their money to be “Korban.”  And he said they did many other things like this.

    Therefore, when Jesus says we should call no one on earth “Father,” I do not think he is saying we should cease giving our natural parents the honour due to them as parents. I think He was saying that we must not make the same mistake that the Pharisees made, by seeing themselves as an exclusive elite whose spiritual status flowed from their being physically descended from Abraham. Whe Jesus says we have one spiritual father in heaven, I think He is opposing racism and self-interest groups, and emphasising that we are all God’s creatures. The word, “Catholic,” exemplifies this, as it means open to all.

    Reference to the Pope as Holy Father is like reference to Conservative MP Peter Tapsell as Father of the House of Commons, by virtue of having the longest unbroken service as an MP. No parliamentarian could reasonably argue that such service is not deserving of respect, but equally, nobody would argue that we are in danger of worshipping Pater Tapsell.

    The prefix “Holy” is not inappropriate considering that it is used in reference to Jerusalem, the Holy City; ground, in relation to the area where Moses stood when he saw the burning bush, and by Zacharia when talking about Old Testament prophets. Admittedly, when used together with “Father,” it has given rise to concerns such as you express, and that is unfortunate, but for the reasons above I think those concerns are misplaced.  

  • Dmdale1

     Evolutionary theory is just that…a theory. There is no absolute proof that humans evolved from apes. There are breaks and inconsistencies in the fossil record, and some of the fossils which were discovered are mostly reconstruction and little actual fossil. There are inconsistencies in other fossil records, such as the famous horse evolution. There has been no “missing link” found, an ape that has truly began to develop a human mind. For example, one unique aspect of the human mind is the ability to create. Where is the ape art? I am also a scientist, and can see many reasons why evolution is still a theory.

  • karlfx

    I would accept my argument may fall rather flat when put to a creationist, but to someone who accepts the overwhelming evidence that humans beings are evolved apes, the Catholic doctrine of Original Sin is incompatible with this understanding.
    I do find it rather bizarre how some people require ‘absolute proof’ in order to accept that which is disagreeable to them, while needing almost no evidence to believe in something which they desire.

  • karlfx

    St. Augustine suggested that we don’t take Genesis too literally. Good man!
    And your point is?

  • karlfx

    Pride is not the cause of concupiscence, but one aspect of it. Look it up.
    There may not be any conclusive evidence that pride exists in animals – how could this be demonstrated? – but there is certainly evidence. Envy, on the other hand, features heavily in concupiscence and has been clearly demonstrated to exist in animal behaviour.How could there have been a time when human nature was ‘wholly good’ when we have carried such animalistic, evolved behaviours through our evolutionary development?

  • Dmdale1

     I would be interested in this “overwhelming evidence”. There has been no evidence of the necessary missing link, nor any evidence of a clear, distinct progression from a primitive primate to man.
    I would hope that all scientists require solid evidence before stating something as a fact. All good science should involve a large body of data which all fits the theory. If it does not, then the theory is wrong and should not be stated as fact. To do otherwise is bad science. If you are referring to faith, that is certainly different than science. It is not necessary to apply the scientific method to religious faith, but it is necessary to apply it to scientific theories.

  • Sweetjae

    Wrong! It’s just Scripture, Tradition and Church (Magisterium)…..’revelation’ elsewhere is just a fraud.

  • Edith




  • Benedict Carter


  • Benedict Carter

    He was. His books sold a lot of copies. 

    Courtney Murray was entirely responsible for Vatican II’s document on religious liberty. He was banned from teaching under Pius XII. Nuff said.

  • Benedict Carter

    Kung has done much worse: he has denied the ontological reality of the priesthood, denied the Real Presence, denied Vatican I’s definition of Papal Infallibility, denied lots of basic dogmas. Indeed, he has called for a Church in which there are no dogmas. 

    My comments don’t lose people their immortal souls: Kung’s do.

  • Wolf

    I wonder about
    … external participation by the laity in worship ?……We laity stand in awe at the wonders of Mass, are we external?
    When we are baptised it is as Priest, Prophet and King that we are anointed with Holy Oil. The role of the ordained priest is untold in the Sacred mystery of Mass and is awsome. Those who dared to touch the Ark who were not called to the priesthood perished in the Holy of Holies in the  OT…
    but the laity has an untold place in this mystery as the Body, The Church, the loved people that Christ died for….. manifest in the Sacrifice of Mass.  It will take a future Council and revelations of the Holy Spirit to reveal this mystery. 
    In such awsome an occasion ordained priests as well as laity should be humbled. We are all external then…..For it is Christ alone who sacrifices and is sacrificed ..but by his sacrificial love we are internal at the heart.

  • Benedict Carter

    Indeed the truth about Vatican II is emerging.

    And none of it is anything other than catastrophic.

  • benp

    Karif, the problem you raise is clear, but you overstate the incompatibility with current Church teaching. 
    The particular characteristics of human concupiscence come from our animal nature — okay sure. But we don’t call animals concupiscent because we don’t consider them moral agents. Thus an obvious reconciliation between Original Sin and evolutionary theory is to assume that at the dawn of the human race (at some point, a threshold is crossed and we become moral agents in the image and likeness of God), Man WAS free from concupiscence, though due to original sin he then became enslaved to his animal nature. Concupiscence would still therefore only exist as a result of Adam’s sin: before the threshold of humanity, there was no concupiscence, only amoral animal behaviour; AT the threshold, we were free from concupiscence; only THEN we descended into concupiscence.

  • Dolorosa