Saint Thomas Aquinas

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Yves Congar and VCII 'The Challenge to the Church'

I am reading through the modernist leaning theologian Yves Congar's book titled, 'Challenge to the Church: The Case of Archbishop Lefebvre.' He wrote it in 1976, well before the consecration of the SSPX bishops. In it he gives his reasons for disagreeing with Lefebvre's theological views on some aspects of the VCII documents. Congar does not shed much light on this, and in fact seems to be a bit naive as to the problems facing the Church after the Council. He did however warn of a potential upcoming schism. What I found to be more interesting however were his thoughts on VCII, and its implementation. On page 51 and 52 Congar states the following concerning Vatican II, and what it had apparently to him, put an end to.

Congar says that VCII,
    "...put an end to what may be described as the inflexibility of the system. We take 'system; to mean a coherent set of codified teachings, casuistically-specified rules of procedure, a detailed and very hierarchic organization, means of control and surveillance, rubrics regulating worship- all this the legacy of scholasticism, the Counter-Reformation and the Catholic restoration of the nineteenth century, subjected to an effective Roman discipline. It will be recalled that Pius XII is supposed to have said: 'I will be the last Pope to keep all this going.' Indeed, John XXIII, a priest of classic piety, gave a completely different image to the papacy." (Pages 51 and 52)
I also found his observation on priests not wearing their clerics to be quite charming. He writes in the book on page 59,
 "...for instance, the priest who, before celebrating Mass, goes into the body of the church to explain what is going to happen, dressed in a polo-neck sweater or T-Shirt. I'm not saying that this is all right, but it's not something to get so tremendously worked-up about." (Page 59)
On page 61 he minimizes the problem of poor catechesis in the Church as being a "tiny" minority. He also embraces much of the horrible modernist tendencies such as questioning Christ's knowledge and awareness, morality concerning human sexuality, and the validity of the opinions of condemned theologians such as Teilhard de Chardin.
"There exist real and difficult questions which theologians must have the courage to tackle- such as whose on Christ's knowledge and awareness, on the way of talking about the resurrection, or on the problems of sexuality- and for which it really isn't enough simply to repeat the old viewpoints." (Page 61)
The book is only about 100 pages, but it does give some insight as to how one of the Council fathers viewed the Church 10 years after its conclusion, and the affair going on with Archbishop Lefebvre. He seems to think that on the whole, aside from a few hiccups, everything was OK and going well, and that Lefebvre should have just gotten on board with the program.

1 comment:

Alan Aversa said...

So, the root of "the inflexibility of the system" is "the legacy of scholasticism," viz., Thomism. I would hardly call Thomism inflexible! Thomism's great strength is its ability to unify seemingly opposed philosophical systems; Thomism is not a closed system.

He wrote in 1935:
"Theology has itself become a kind of technical discipline, a thing in itself, a professional or class activity, a corporate knowledge, a special, closed domain of interest to a select few. […] When it should have a living [changing‽] connection to the rest of knowledge and human activity, which would give all the rest its direction, measure, complement and underlying fertility. […] When it should be the 'salt of the earth'."

This is exactly the vision of Æterni Patris, but unfortunately Congar et al. thought, by abandoning Thomism, that they would have a greater freedom to actually accomplish Leo XIII's vision better!