Spanish bishops show the way forward

The Spanish Bishops have just published a “pastoral instruction,” entitled “Theology and secularization in Spain, forty years after the end of Vatican Council II.” Sandro Magister has some quotations from it in his weekly column (translated into English). The full text of the instruction in Spanish can be read at the website for the Spanish Bishops’ conference.

The document was planned in conjunction with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and has been three years in the making. (i.e. Cardinal Ratzinger was involved.) It is to be given significant publicity by “L’Osservatore Romano” as a model for other episcopal conferences. The document received more than a two-thirds majority of the Spanish Bishops but key figures are Cardinals Antonio Cañizares Lovera, of Toledo, and Antonio María Rouco Varela, of Madrid, as well as Bishop Eugenio Romero Pose who is president of the doctrinal commission.

Here are a few snippets taken from those translated at Sandro Magister’s site.
On Vatican II
2. They are not few who, in the shadow of a nonexistent Council, in terms of both letter and spirit, have sown agitation and disquiet in the hearts of many of the faithful.

Jesus of history and Christ of faith
At the root of these theories there is often found a rupture between the historicity of Jesus and the profession of the Church’s faith: the historical evidence on Jesus Christ provided by the evangelists is considered to be scarce. From this perspective, the Gospels are studied exclusively as a testimony of faith in Jesus, and are thought to say nothing or very little about Jesus himself, so that they need to be reinterpreted. (28)

Key truths of the faith
When doubts and errors are spread about the Church’s faith in the coming of the Lord in glory at the end of time (the parousia), about the resurrection of the body, about the particular and final judgment, about purgatory, about the real possibility of eternal condemnation (hell) or eternal beatitude (paradise), this has a negative effect on the Christian life of all those who are still pilgrims on this earth, because one then remains “in ignorance about those who have died” and falls into the sadness of those who have no hope (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13). Silence over these truths of our faith, in the area of preaching and catechesis, is a cause of disorientation among the faithful who experience in their own lives the consequences of the division between what is believed and what is celebrated. (41)

Erroneous understanding of shortage of vocations
The lack of clarity with respect to the ordained ministry in the Church is not extraneous to the vocational crisis of recent years. In some cases there even seems to be the intention to provoke a “vocational desert” in order to produce changes within the Church’s internal structure. (45)

Prophetic disobedience “disastrous”
Conceiving of the consecrated life as a “critical presence” within the Church presupposes an ecclesiological reductionism. When hierarchical communion is lived in dialectic terms, with the opposition of the “official or hierarchical Church” to the “Church as the people of God,” one passes in practice from affinity with the Church to antagonism against it. It is then that the “time of the prophets” is invoked, and the attitudes of dissent, which so seriously fragment ecclesial communion, are passed off as “prophetic denunciations.” The consequences of these arguments are disastrous for the entire Christian people, and, in particular, for consecrated men and women. (47)

Dissenting groups
Groups “whose common characteristic is dissent” present an implacable clash between the hierarchy and the people (in English, the expression often used is “the institutional Church”)
The hierarchy, identified with the bishops, is presented with fairly negative traits: it is a source of “imposition,” “condemnation,” and “exclusion.” In comparison, the “people” with which these groups identify is presented with the opposite traits: it is “liberated,” “pluralistic,” and “open.” This way of presenting the Church implies an explicit invitation to break away from the hierarchy and to construct, in practice, a “parallel Church.” (50)

The human dignity of the embryo
We cannot call into doubt the fact that, from the moment of conception, there exists a real and authentic human life, distinct from that of the parents, for which reason interrupting its natural development constitutes an extremely serious attack against life itself. [...] It is contrary to the Church’s teaching to maintain that until the implantation of the fertilized egg one cannot speak of “human life,” thus establishing a rupture in the order of human dignity between the embryo and what is defined, erroneously, as a “pre-embryo.” (64)

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