Vatican Meltdown*

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Church Reform: “The Beginnings of the Beginning- or the end of the new song?”

This was sent to me last month by the German church reform group, “Wir Sind Kirche”. I delayed posting it at Queering the Church as I was not happy with the language of the English translation. (Provided by themselves). In terms of some current discussion here, it is particularly topical: responding to a comment in another post, I promised to prepare a post on how John Paul II was responsible for reversing many of the council’s reforms. That post is into fully ready, but I have been catching up on my reading, so Seibel’s words immediately recalled to my mind some of what I ahve been finding. I am posting below the text I received, lightly edited for language, together with my responses.

I have added at the end references to the sources I have used – which were jsut simply those that I had to hand. Any reasonable library will have many more.

Authorized short version of a talk held in Wurzburg on November 8th 2008 during the 24th assembly of the movement “We are Church” by P.Wolfgang Seibel SJ, observer of the Council and long-standing editor of the journal “Stimmen der Zeit”of the Jesuits in Munich.

Pope John 23rd called the Council because he was convinced that the Church was in dire need of fundamental reforms. The Council was intended to initiate a “Renewal of the whole Church”. The Pope was convinced that this reform could only be achieved by shared discussion, and open argument, and only if as many as possible lay people and office bearers were to contribute and introduce their knowledge and experience. He did not accept solving problems by directives or decree. The Church shall “renew itself under the guidance of the Holy Spirit incessantly” (GS21). It is “obliged to study the signs of the present time and to interpret them in the light of the holy Bible”

Read the rest of this entry »

“Stand Up For Vatican II”: Why We Must.

The British Group “Stand Up For Vatican II” today officially launches its new website. As a general council, the decisions of the Council were and remain binding on the whole Church, yet the power cabal within the Curia, aided and abetted by the last two pontiffs, have been steadily and deliberately eroding the important progress that was made by the Council.

Vatican II reminded us that we are all, laity, clergy and bishops alike, equally part of the church, even as we have different roles within it.  One of the tasks of the laity, written into canon law, is to speak up and tell our pastors when we think they are doing wrong. We therefore have a clear obligation to speak if we believe, as I and many others most certainly do, that the modern church, by reasserting central control and power, is acting in contravention of the clear decisions of the supreme decision taking authority of the church, the general council of Vatican II. As one expression of this obligation, the current British initiative is to be warmly welcomed, as are other similar actions in other parts of the world.

Please visit the website, vote in their poll, sign the petition, and write testimonials. If you are in the UK, join them at the public launch in London on January 26th. If not, pass this message on to UK based friends and colleagues.

This is from the “FAQ” page of the website:

Q. Why do we need to stand up for Vatican II now?
A. Because, over the forty five years since the Council met a great deal has changed in the Catholic Church. The liturgy, which is the centre of the faith for most Catholics has been radically changed, much for the better but recently there has been a resurgence of pre-Conciliar thinking which would have the Church return to older models of worship and, because the revised Liturgy has not been used to its full potential and allowed to further change and develop, many find it routine and lacking in inspiration. Many of the decrees emanating from the Vatican in recent times seek to put a brake on the developments that have happened since the Council.
Ecumenical relationships developed enormously between the Catholic Church and the other churches during and after the Council but again, much of this has been slowed down by pedestrian Roman attitudes so that at this time ecumenical relations seem to be at a standstill.
The intense discussion of so many theologians during the Council meant that from being a Church in which everyone felt obliged to toe the party line, we had become a Church where being open about both Catholic teaching and behaviour had become the norm and there could be no return to the way the Catholic church had been. It was changed for ever.
It is because of this that many Catholics want to reassert the insights of the Second Vatican Council and to oppose the direction in which the Catholic Church seems once again to be moving. In fact Stand up for Vatican II was started to persuade the Church to commit more fully to the teaching of the Council.
The Council opened up new ways of thinking about the Church. Not an organisation with the hierarchy at its head but the community of the ”People of God’ from among whom certain people were called to serve it. The people of the Church saw themselves as those who have the right to be involved in its decisions, in its organisation and in its discipline. They expect that those who are called to serve them will take into account their insights and their experience rather than dictating from on high. They feel that their Church is truly theirs and, as such, they want their children to inherit a Church which is open, welcoming and alert to the needs of the present time and for this to happen they have to make their voices heard.
Those Roman Catholics who lived through the Second Vatican Council know that it was, for them, a time of inspiration and hope for the future. They want to share that with today’s Roman Catholics who may not have had that experience but who, nevertheless, are unhappy with the way their Church is and, in many cases, have become disaffected because they see no little for the future. The further understanding of the insights of the Second Vatican Council and the continued renewal of the Catholic Church in the direction taken by the Council, they believe, is the way forward and, they believe, is a movement begun by the Holy Spirit and which must not be allowed to be stifled.

Stand Up for Vatican II

A fascinating email landed in my inbox this evening, about an initiative here in the UK to “Stand Up for Vatican II”.  This is the first I have heard of it, but this is clearly something that has been a while in preparation.  As you will see from the details below, this will be launched here by means of a website which will be going live from January 1, followed by a public launch on January 26th. This initiative, while specifically located in the English Church, is not alone. Other movements are active in other countries, and internationally.  This is something I will most certainly attend and support, and will keep you informed of progress as I learn more. I hope that my UK readers will similarly support it, and readers elsewhere will help to promote it, even from long distance, in any way they can.

Vatican II in session, St Peter's

In the meantime, this is the information I have: Read the rest of this entry »

Reality Based Theology, or the 5% Solution? *

This post has moved to my new domain at

“The Holy Spirit Moves Through All: All Must Be Consulted.”

What do you think has happened to the spirit of Vatican II?  Depending on your personal view of the value of the Council, most assessments appear to either lament the rolling back of the reforms by the revisionist JP II and Benedict XVI; or to rejoice in the return to the authentic tradition before that prevailed before the supposed errors of the reformists. Ted Schmidt, editor of the Canadian “New Catholic Times sensus fidelium” has a much more encouraging view.

The Canadian church is still recovering from the shock of Bishop Leahy, who resigned suddenly after being charged with possession of child pornography. It was in the light of this scandal that Schmidt conducted a series of interviews with Canadian bishops, then shared his reflections on what these said about the state of the Canadian Catholic Church. His observations, though, are applicable to the whole church, not just to Canada.  I share here some extracts – the full article is available at   New Catholic Times sensus fidelium

Knowing many of these fine men I say without fear of contradiction that presently they seem to have missed a fundamental truth of modern ecclesiology, the teaching on the sensus fidelium, that the Spirit is given to the entire church and not an ordained rump of clerical celibates. They are so fixated on the idea that they are “the teachers” that they have forgotten that they must first be the listeners and learners.

That sounds familiar, but it is what follows that is important: Read the rest of this entry »

Church, Power & Abuse

Depressing church news over the past two months has led me to pick up and start reading a book which has been on my shelves some time, but which I have previously only dipped into.  The removal of  excommunication of SPXX  members has received wide and ongoing publicity; clerical sexual abuse is again in the news with the FBI reopening old investigations in LA Diocese, and fresh revelations over   Fr Marcial Maarciel Delgado of the Legionnaires of Christ.  Meanwhile, on the progressive wing of the church, there has been less coverage in the MSM of the silencing or excommunication of the priests  Fr Roger Haight,  Geoffrey Farrow and Roy  Bourgeois, or of bizarre goings-on in the parishes of St Mary’s, Brisbane and St Stephen’s, Minneapolis, where attempts to muzzle complete parishes have led to resistance (St Mary’s) or exodus (St Stephen’s).

What all these have in common is that they are concerned with power in the church – its extension, its abuse, or attempts to defy or resist it.  so I picked up again  “Confronting Power & Sex in the Catholic Church”, by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson.  I am pleased that I did.  Published in 2007, this book Read the rest of this entry »

Maledict Does It Again!

I am so angry I am ready to spit.

This week marks the completion of one month blogging on this site – my first, very tiny milestone.  In the much bigger scheme of things, this week also marks the 50th anniversary of Vatican II.  For both of these reasons, I was anxious to return to the original spirit I promised in launching – to ‘celebrate’ our place in the church, and to focus on the Good News inherent in Scripture, and in the rest of the Christian tradition.

Indeed there is good news, and I will return to it the rest of the week – but for now, I have to express my anger at the latest affront from the Vatican.  (Until I have had time to calm down though, I will not attempt comment of my own – just present the bare facts, and link to flesh out the story. ) In the  week of the Vatican II anniversary, in a move clearly timed to coincide with it, Benedict has chosen to mark the occasion by reinstating 4 Lefevrist bishops, one of whom is so off-the-wall right wing it makes one’ s hair stand on end. Oh, and the timing gets better:  not only were the Vatican rebels welcomed back with open arms to co-incide with the 50th Anniversary, but the rehabilitation of the holocaust denier was done just days before the rest of the world remembers international Holocaust Memorial Day.

Lifting the ban on these wingnuts, whose original fall from grace was based on their opposition to Vatican II, follows hard on the heels of the silencing of more progressive voices:

There is a lot more I would like to say on both of these, but will wait until I have calmed down.

I hope to have more positive material later.