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By Phil Lawler | Aug 23, 2017Something went wrong—seriously wrong—in the Catholic Church in the years after Vatican II. Can we all agree on that much? Leave aside, for now, the familiar debate about the causes of the problem; let’s begin with the agreement that there is, or at least certainly was, a problem.
Eric Sammons makes the point in a provocative essay that appeared in Crisis last week:
If an entirely objective social scientist were to study the Catholic Church in the second half of the twentieth century, he would see one fact staring him straight in the face: the Church experienced a precipitous decline in the Western world during that time.The problem (whatever it is) is compounded, Sammons remarks, by a general refusal to acknowledge the reality of our post-conciliar difficulties: what he terms a “soft censorship” of unpleasant news. Bishops and pastors, diocesan newspapers and parish bulletins have bombarded us for years with reports that the Church is “vibrant,” that programs are booming, that the liturgy is beautiful, that religious education is robust. Never is heard a discouraging word. Yet we know better. We know about the shortage of priests; we see the news of parish closing; we notice the empty pews on Sundays. Something is wrong; we know that.
Sammons argues persuasively that this “soft censorship,” this see-no-evil approach, is now an impediment to evangelization, because it thwarts serious discussions about Mthe current state of the Church. Evangelization means bringing people to the truth, he reasons, and that process “cannot thrive in a censored environment.”
Read the rest there.
Vatican II is what it is and we know that much of it has to do with pastoral theology not dogma or doctrine, except where existing dogma and doctrine are cited.
The optimism of Vatican II and the post Vatican II Church can be traced to the optimism of the secular 1960's, that people could conquer all the problems of the world from war and peace to poverty--remember President Johnson's war on poverty and how successful it was/is?
This optimism, which infected our Church's leadership, turned the Church away from the four last things, death, judgement, heaven and hell, to a Utopian ideology that foresaw heaven on earth by virtue of the Church, a new, ugly and heretical triumphalism that replaced the Church previous and quite healthy triumphalism based upon our movement to the Church Triumphant in heaven symbolized by the trappings and aspiration of the Church Militant on earth.
We cannot undue an Ecumenical Council and the papal magisteriums that were authoritative and codified in bulls and encyclicals. But we can make course corrections.
And Pope Benedict set forth that course direction in his papacy that is going to be viewed soon as a very prophetic moment in the life of the papacy and the Church.
It means continuity between the pre and post Vatican II Church, her liturgies, sacramental theology and the thrust toward preparing for the Kingdom of God as the four last things approach all of us and also with an eye on the Last Judgment. Earth isn't heaven try as we may to make it heaven.
Vatican II has to be read, understood and properly implemented as Pope Benedict insisted.
The current pontificate is informing a whole new generation of much young Catholics as to the deleterious effects of liberal, progressive ideology when applied to the Church in a political way and horizontal way. This generation is seeing the very same authoritarianism in implementing a progressive theology/ideology and the subsequent division it creates and the loss of the Catholic Faithful to either schismatic sects or the creation of new ones or to Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy or to becoming "nones" from a complete loss of faith.
Leadership based upon Pope Benedict's vision is need now more than ever and it will come--that is called faith, hope and love!