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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

    Yes it does.

    We may have instincts similar to animals, but we possess something more, which animals do not possess, which is pride and humility.

    Consequently, unlike animals, we are capable of doing bad and doing good.

  • karlf

    i’m not trying to disprove God, but showing you that science disproves the Catholic doctrinal theory of original Sin.
    The whole concept of concupiscence is based on those behavioural traits which we share with apes. We are evolved apes and have carried the ‘concupiscence’ with us through our evolution into more intelligent, conscious and self aware beings. To say that the original character of human nature was wholly good, and that concupiscence was a direct result of Adam’s sin is therefore clearly nonsense in light of what we know today. Needless to say, those who invented the theory of Original Sin were unaware of the evolutionary process of natural selection.

  • karlf

    Then I suggest you take another look at what the Church teaches.
    Self awareness did not just appear at a ‘point’. We can observe in other animals degrees of self awareness.

  • karlf

    So can you explain how the original character of human nature was wholly good, and without concupiscence, considering what we now know of the evolutionary theory of natural selection? 

  • Peter

    What we know of evolutionary theory is that it cannot demonstrate how  pride or humility could have evolved through natural selection.

    The onus is on science to disprove doctrine, not the other way round.

    If you don’t believe the doctrine, that’s up to you, but don’t pretend that you can refute it scientifically when you cannot.

  • Peter

    Science cannot disprove the doctrine of original sin.

    The sin of Adam was pride.  Consequently pride is at the heart of man’s inclination to sin.

    Pride does not exist in the animal kingdom.  There is no evidence of it.

    To disprove the doctrine of original sin you must find evidence of pride in the animal kingdom.  You must demonstrate how pride has evolved through natural selection.

  • Peter

    But can we observe degrees of pride and humility in animals?  The answer is no, not at all.

    We may have attributes to a greater degree than animals because we have a bigger, more developed brain.

    But pride is something we possess irrespective of the complexity of our brain, because if it depended on the complexity of our brain we would observe it to a lesser degree in animals.

    Consequently pride and is not an evolved phenomenon, but is a characteristic which is uniquely human, a consequence of our fallen nature.

  • karlf

    You are just sidetracking from my point. As i said to you before, submissiveness, subservience, affection, nurturing and empathy have all been observed in animal behaviour. Now, if you add to this a superior intelligence, self awareness, complex communication and social interaction, why would humility not be product of these combined factors? The same can be said of pride.

  • karlf

    Can you explain how the original character of human nature was wholly good, and without concupiscence, considering what we now know of the evolutionary theory of natural selection? 

  • karlf

    Can you explain how the original character of human nature was wholly good, and without concupiscence, considering what we now know of the evolutionary theory of natural selection? 

  • Cassandra

    Don’t you? To show us that “Many are called but few are chosen!”
    To expect the betrayals of his teaching, for his loving sacrifice for us.

  • JabbaPapa

    I’m fairly punctually in serious disagreement with the views expressed @ Rorate — but that particular article is simply BRILLIANT.

  • JabbaPapa

    I’m fairly punctually in serious disagreement with the views expressed @ Rorate — but that particular article is simply BRILLIANT.

  • JabbaPapa

    I’ve been meditating a little on Judas’ Apostleship in these days, at this start of Lent.

    What strikes me is that Judas is the ONLY Apostle not to have received the Gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost or later.

    There is NOTHING sadder for the Iscariot than this separation from the baptism in the Spirit … :-(

  • JabbaPapa

    I’ve been meditating a little on Judas’ Apostleship in these days, at this start of Lent.

    What strikes me is that Judas is the ONLY Apostle not to have received the Gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost or later.

    There is NOTHING sadder for the Iscariot than this separation from the baptism in the Spirit … :-(

  • JabbaPapa

    Dear Ben, one of our strong points in common is our continuing failure to call a spade otherwise … :-)

  • JabbaPapa

    … and revelation.

  • JabbaPapa

    Wouldn’t we be calling Our Lord God a liar?

    Notwithstanding your internet handle — No.

    Christ COMMANDS us to believe everything that has been revealed in “the Scriptures”

    Believing everything that Scripture *reveals* is NOT the same thing as believing the absolute literal truth of everything in Scripture.

  • Charles Martel

     Sweetjae,
    Vatican II added nothing to the Catholic Faith. I’ve never met a Catholic who has actually read all of its many verbose pages. What are they really missing? I absolutely agree that we must know the teachings of the Church, but there are many many more important teachings to than those in Vatican II. Even if we are talking about pastoral and ‘relevant’ teachings, I think ‘Pascendi’ is a good deal more relevant to our age than Vatican II (and, yes, I have read it!).

  • JabbaPapa

    The Adam and Eve story is allegorical I believe

    The story has a great many different levels of meaning — some allegorical, some metaphorical, some mythic, some literal, some religious, some moral, some anthropological, some …etc etc etc …

    DON’T let these aggressively materialistic atheists impose their simplistic and shallow interpretative agendas !!!

  • JabbaPapa

    Why should anyone BOTHER explaining any such things to your repetitious inability to listen to such explanations ???

  • Maccabeus

    You shoot off the phrase ‘evolutionary theory of natural selection’ as though it is a done deal. As a scientist I can tell you there are many and deeply troubling questions which the theory does not answer once we try to get down to details, and to date no explanation for these inconsistencies has been provided. The Dawkins version of evolution, as peddled by the mass media, and still taught in our schools, is shot through with laughable generalisations and inconsistencies. Get a good book on cutting edge evolutionary theory and you will immediately see that the theory is seriously deficient as it stands. One example among many: to have a new species created would require both a male and female member of the species to be created at the same time in history, in the same geographic location (so that they could meet and mate), have offspring which survive (in a hostile environment) even though they are a new development in an already developed ecosystem, and this series of random chance occurrences has to occur every time a new species is developed. From a mathemetical and statistical point of view the theory is patently absurd. To have a successful mutation is itself rare enough (most mutations are lethal) but to have them occurring, by chance, creating both male and female members, in the same period of history (spanning billions of years), in the same location, again and again and again, all driven by random chance events is irrational and unscientific twaddle, 

  • karlf

    If you could explain it Jabba, you certainly would.

  • Sweetjae

    I agree.

  • karlf

    So how is this an answer to my question above?
    “One example among many: to have a new species created would require both a male and female member of the species to be created at the same time in history” What sort of a scientist are you, exactly?

  • Sweetjae

    I agree totally but the point I’m driving at was as applied today, we don’t blame the Pope for appointing bishops that would turn out to be Judases.

    I’m replying to the post deleted by the Herald editors.

  • Sweetjae

    I totally agree.

  • Tomvenour

    Definately Peter, the realisation that we are only beginning to understand the extraordinary number of possible dimensions and that laws of physics may be wildly different in other parts of the universe… We have not come far at all, science has only just woken up!  When one reads obsessive arguments from Atheists churning out the usual drivel about Darwin as proof of weaknesses in the bible, it is enough to make one weep with frustration.

  • Sweetjae

    Benedict you are correct about the litany of abuses…..however, can you directly quote V2 endorsing or teaching those?

  • Sweetjae

    You are correct that V2 didn’t add anything to the Faith, so the question is, why blame it for abuses?

    There had been many pastoral Councils in the past but Catholics don’t have the right to reject or make fun of them. V2 deepened our understanding of Sacred Tradition and the reason why many brilliant Protestants, biblical scholars, ministers, elders, pastors etc. are coming in droves and crossing the Tiber river.

    I can say the Magisterial teaching by V2 on “Visible and invisible ignorance”, Ecumenism (taken from the acts of the Councils of Florence and Lateran-acts of dialogue to heal the rift between the East and Western Churches), Religious Liberty which is only about man has the right to express his religious beliefs without any duress and violence from civil authorities. It didn’t say nor teach that error has rights that the ‘Traditionalists’ accused it of doing.

    The past Magisterium didn’t explain deep enough that this Liberty is inherent in man’s nature as a human being created by God regardless if the man is non-catholic. The intrinsic value of Liberty must not be impeded by anyone including God Himself even if the end result is an error. That is the reason why God knowing full well beforehand when He created Lucifer and the fallen angels that they would betrayed Him yet he still created them anyways. In order for TRUE LOVE to be accomplished, freedom has to be there.

    Same as what V2 teaches that this Freedom is not based on the error one might profess but on the intrinsic value of being in the ‘image of God.’

  • Peter

    The greatest source of goodness in a human being is humility.  It is the virtue from which all other virtues spring.

    We know that natural selection is not responsible for humility because there is no evidence of it in the animal kingdom.

    Consequently, evolutionary theory cannot offer any explanation for humility, and therefore for goodness, in human nature.

  • Peter

    What you are describing is not evidence, just conjecture.

  • scary goat

    Oops….it came out small.  It says “go back!  we f***ed up everything”.  Does this help karlf regarding original sin and evolution?

  • karlf

    “To point out that we have evolved to be more intelligent, more self aware, with a greater consciousness and more complex social interactions, does not nullify these facts in any way”

  • karlf

    “Just leave him to blab about things that he can not defend” I’ve defended my point pretty well so far – actually it’s appearing to be bulletproof!
    “Why not ask him to explain the Lightning that struck the Vatican on the very day that Pop announce his resignation” Maybe there was a thunderstorm overhead and the Vatican had the highest pointy bit in the area? Just a hunch, but I’d really love to hear your explanation.

  • karlf

    But just before we accept that humility in human nature is purely the product of God’s magic, let’s consider the following (which actually contains evidence! Gasp!):
    Submissiveness, subservience, affection, nurturing and empathy have all been observed in animal behaviour. Now, if you add to this a superior intelligence, self awareness, complex communication and social interaction of human beings, why would humility not be product of these combined factors?

  • karlf

    “God is reachable through reason, which strikes fear into the heart of many” Why would that strike fear into people’s hearts if it really is a loving, merciful God?

  • Parasum

    Evolution is no objection to original sin – the story in Gen.3 is not an episode from history – it’s a myth. To be more precise, it is one of several myths in Gen.1-11, and there is more than may appear of the surface.

    At one layer of meaning, it is a taboo-story; one of the kind in which everything is fine so long as the hero or heroine avoids eating certain food (or any food), opening a certain door, opening a box, speaking for a certain time or in a particular place, looking back on a journey, walking anti-clockwise round a sacred object, etc. The hero or heroine seems always to succumb – as here.

    The talking snake should be proof enough that the story is not about an historical event; snakes are not usually capable of debating with a human, or with anyone else. The TS talks with Eve because the reality to which both belong is reality the other side of historical experience – it is not within historical time, as we: their reality is part of primeval time. PT is a reality in which the familiar distinction between man and beast is not absolute: it can be crossed, in both directions. Human can be shape-changers, animals can talk. The primeval unity they share, has not yet been broken. The eating of the forbidden fruit is the narrative device by which this unity is broken in this story.

    It is also a story about barriers, and crossing them – about “trans-gression”, “crossing a line” one should not. The snake is probably an symbol of this; and it tempts Eve to “trans-gress”; so she and Adam then have to cross, willingly or not, the line that separates the Garden of Eden (where God walks) from the (relatively) ordinary world.  

    There is a great deal in this story – the more one studies it, the more one finds to study. It’s not an account of an historical event, and it certainly isn’t an allegory. Nonetheless, it is true in its own way. 

  • karlf

    The problem with what you say is that Church doctrine on Original Sin does not follow this line at all. If it was taught that humans evolved to become conscious of their animal nature but failed to act to override it, then your points would be valid. But what we are told is that human nature was originally lacking in the inclinations towards envy and lust, selfishness, aggression and the desire for status etc. The Church teaches that these influences were created as a result of the Fall, but as a result of scientific progress, we now know this to be nonsense.

  • Parasum

    Atheists have a good deal of excuse. It doesn’t help that the explanation that invites the jibes is the one that used to be common to Catholic & Protestant alike. The meaning of the story is not self-evident; and the explanations of the story as it come to be understood since the 19th century labour under the disadvantage of seeming to deny several very important Christian doctrines, contradicting Christ Himself, & other parts of the Bible. So the more recent explanations tend to look rather shady, as though their proponents were trying to pull the wool over the readers’ eyes.

    A lot of people don’t like taking ideas on trust & being unable to test them for themselves: join this suspicion with lack of intellectual sympathy and a Fundamentalist attitude, then take away the religious faith that is the basis for the attitude, and one has the Bible-scorning Fundamentalism of a quite a few atheists. They are often inverted Evangelical Fundies, burning what they adored. No wonder if they despise what they used to believe: loss of faith can be immensely traumatic. Something Catholics ought to be able to understand.

    Most people have neither time nor patience nor (often enough) the ability to follow the commentators’ explanations. Especially nowadays, when any religious idea that can’t be explained in a short sentence of few words is handicapped from the beginning.

    “..some allegorical…”

    ## None allegorical.

  • Parasum

    Are you familiar with this ?

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Animal-Minds-Human-Morals-Origins/dp/0715627287/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361059870&sr=8-1

    It’s not an “easy read”, but it’s enormously interesting, and very relevant to the point you’ve made. (An interest in philosophy would help).

  • Parasum

    STM that what would have to be found, is something different from even that. STM that what would need finding, is scientific evidence of alienation from God. But that is a state of being – not an object.

    Alienation from God (of which original sin is an example) is a relation; not a thing-in-itself.  It is a relation to God (or rather, the absence of one). Science has access to particular individual humans – not to man in general; not to man’s relation to God; & in any case, science cannot find God: nothing created can.

    OS is a like a dent in a car. Cars exist in themselves, as individual entities – but the relation to a car that consists in “being dented”, exists only as a quality of the car; not as an independent thing in itself. How can science discover either the non-existent state of a  relation between man OTOH, and OTO a God Whom science is unequipped to recognise, even if it knew Him to be God; or the unhealthiness in a relation between man OTOH, and – OTO – God ? 

    Original Sin is present in more than one kind of person. Science would need to be able to distinguish original sin from many qualities in man or in his relation – or lack of it – to God: how would it know original sin if  (to imagine the impossible) it found it ?  

  • Parasum

    “magic”

    ## No, *not* “magic”.

  • Parasum

    It’s interesting talking to someone with a different POV. Being only with those who share the same beliefs can lead to staleness – a different POV can be a breath of fresh air.

    “Why not ask him to explain the Lightning that struck the Vatican on the very day that Pop announce his resignation. maybe he will tell tell you that its coincident that sciences or NASA have predicted it before hand.”

    ## It would presumably be entirely explicable, to someone who knows enough about meterorology. That the resignation of the Pope in particular, rather than of some other person, occurred at the same time as lightning struck the Vatican, is not in itself significant.

    Importance is not a quality of things – it’s more like a continuum within which people see them. Seeing different events as related, is a further step: the relations we see between different things are like the stars in constellations: they are not related in reality, but our minds put them together & see pictures, because 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.

    Things as such, if we consider what they are made of, are of no importance: they merely are. What they mean, what their identity is, can’t be gathered from what they are made of. Human beings are made of chemicals: a bunch of chemicals has a price, but no value. To say the bunch of chemicals of which we are made has value, is a judgement not founded on what we made of at all. So here: the fact of two events, does not in itself allow one to see what if anything the events mean.

    The OP’s judgement of those two events is a value judgement; it can’t be gained from the events themselves merely as events. This is why mere “info” about Christ will never convert anyone: Who He really is, is “more than” the facts about Him. That “more than”, to which faith responds, is for God alone to reveal.   

  • Parasum

    “If we call ourselves “Christian”  how do we avoid being challenged by THIS passage, in the N/T if we try to proclaim to one another that the Divinely inspired text in the Book of Genesis is not literally true. Wouldn’t we be calling Our Lord God a liar?

    2 Timothy 3:16    All scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice,

    You suggest that it is to be considered “Fundamentalist”  to believe in the words of the Creation account – yet in the Gospel according to St John, Ch 5, Christ COMMANDS us to believe everything that has been revealed in “the Scriptures””

    ## There are several distinctions to make. 

    1. All Scripture is “useful”. Useful =///= inerrant, nor does it mean “is all of it a record of historical facts”

    2. “[l]iterally true” is a very ambiguous phrase – what do you intend by it ?

    3. The text is Divinely inspired – it does not follow that it must be a narrative of historical fact. Historical truth is one kind of truth – it is not the only kind, even in the Bible.

    4. The parables of Jesus are not historically true. The points Jesus made in telling them do not require the events to have happened. If Jesus can use fictions to make (very important) points, it is not clear why there cannot or must not be fictions elsewhere in the Bible.

    5. God is not being called a liar, because the Bible’s contents are not all of one kind. Very often, it makes no sense to call a particular passage either true or false. “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad” is neither true nor false: it is not asserting that something is the case. “Why hast thou forsaken me ?” is a question – not a statement of fact. “The trees of the field shall clap their hands” is not  a statement that counts as an assertion that something is true as matter of history: it is poetic language, to express the joy of creation at the coming of its Lord. The Bible contains a very great variety of different types of literature: it is more a library than a book. So judgements, including those about truth, that apply to a (more or less) historical text like 1 Kings (AKA 3 Kings), don’t fit the very different book that is the Song of Songs. Proverbs & Ecclesiasticus are not *historically* true. Galatians contains almost no historical statements. The notion that everything in the text must be true as history, or else be allegorical, does not fit the books of the Bible.

    “You suggest that it is to be considered “Fundamentalist”  to believe in the words of the Creation account”

    The OP is not saying it is Fundamentalist to believe the words of the creation account are true. His point is that the idea of the truth he is criticising, is a wrong idea; because the truth of the creation account is a different kind of truth. When, that is, the notion of truth is applicable.

    The creation account is a myth – an inspired myth, and a true myth: but a myth; not a narrative of historical fact.  The references to it in the gospels, & in the NT generally, do not change this.  

    Hope that helps.

  • Parasum

     I think may have posted something dealing indirectly with most of that. TY for the explanation.

  • Parasum

    “Faith is reinforced beyond measure.”

    ## No thanks LOL I wouldn’t touch that kind of “faith” with a barge-pole, not for anything. 

    Faith is super-natural – how can something as negligible & weak & needy & generally pathetic as nature, “re-inforce” it ? That’s like expecting a tick to ask a blue whale whether the whale would like some help. It’s worse. Ticks & whales belong in the same world: they are both created. But God Who alone gives faith is not created. How can a supernatural gift, such as faith, be helped by something so very far below it in strength & value ?

  • Parasum

    “Which is precisely what the Church as taught as doctrine for centuries in the face of constant opposition from scientists and philosophers who said the universe was infinite and eternal, and from pagans and gnostics who said that it was created from pre-existing material.”

    ## Not quite “precisely”. You’re overlooking something – and it’s not the detail that the big bang is being called into question. (The Church looks idiotic when it makes the mistake of adopting cosmological doctrine X as its own doctrine – but that is a further problem.)

  • Charles Martel

    Sweetjae,
    Can you tell me how the teaching of Dignitatis Humanae differs from Leo XIII’s ‘Libertas Praestantissimum’ (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_20061888_libertas_en.html)?
    I don’t see any point in debates like this unless we get to the heart of the matter. Can you also show me where the pre-Vatican II Church taught that consciences may be forced?

  • karlf

    Thanks P – it looks very interesting