Laity! Don't for heaven's sake read the texts of Vatican II

Poster for talks on Vatican II at Blackfen. We will be looking at the texts.

For some time, various pressure-groups have been urging us to rediscover Vatican II, to celebrate those halcyon days when everything changed and we realised that the Church of the fifties was dead and a new dawn was breaking upon us – a New Pentecost, no less.

Now that the Year of Faith has begun, and many parishes are busily dusting off their copies of the documents of Vatican II, a new fear is beginning to stalk the land: “Vatican II fundamentalism.” There has been some nostalgia for the days when the young priest cast away his collar and took up a guitar, Latin was thrown out, and dissent from the teaching of the magisterium became widespread. This is rapidly giving way to panic that the People of God might actually read the documents – this would be disastrous because they will not see between the lines to the hidden meaning, and will only read the bad bits.

They will learn that Vatican II taught that the Pope is infallible, that we should give religious assent of mind and will to his teaching even when he is not infallible, that Latin should be retained as the language of the Church, that “both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence”, that Catholics “may not undertake methods of birth control which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law” and other embarrassing assertions that should be left covered in a reverent silence.

For the "true believers" in the hidden meaning of Vatican II, the prospect of the laity discovering the texts is indeed a worry. There is a panicked scramble now to protect people from naively reading the actual documents of the Council as though they had an authority over and above the experiments in liturgy, doctrine and morals which followed in its wake.

Unfortunately, Pope Benedict’s indulgence is for lectures in the Acta of the Council – the last thing that the "true believers" want.

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