Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Hermeneutic of Squintinuity

About ten years ago Pope Benedict XVI gave his Christmas address in which he compared two interpretations of the Second Vatican Council. As we know, there are many who have interpreted the Council documents in what he calls "a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture". He refers to this as being the media's version of the Council and the many liberals who supposedly spun the Council in their direction. He says there was an interpretation which has "caused confusion" and that there was another interpretation that "more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit." He calls the confusing interpretation the 'hermeneutic of discontinuity or rupture' and the proper and fruitful interpretation "the hermeneutic of reform" which is also been called the 'hermeneutic of continuity.' So according to Pope Benedict XVI we have a hermeneutic of discontinuity on one side and the hermeneutic of continuity on the other.

Whats that say? 

For the average Catholic what does this mean? Is there really a fruitful interpretation that has taken place anywhere in the Church, or is it really just a fantastical ideal that never really happened? It is my proposal that there is no great fruit that has taken place in regard to a 'hermeneutic of continuity', but rather we have continuing confusion among the faithful who constantly have to squint just right in order to get anything useful out of the Council documents. I shall officially coin a new term and rename this 'The Hermeneutic of Squintinuity.' That is, if you hold your head to the side just right, and squint your eyes just right, everything will line up just like it supposed to, and then the true "spirit" of Vatican II will materialize before your eyes!

Wait if I squint just right...
I do of course believe the Second Vatican Council was a true Council, but I do not think it has been a success. There have been many Ecumenical Councils of the Church that have failed to achieve much of anything, and in fact there have been many canons from councils that few would know or care about. Thankfully there were no canons from Vatican II. It is my opinion that Vatican II will eventually be one of the forgotten failed Councils. The Church has had to endure over 50 years of this Council, and still no one can tell us what it means. Everyone is still looking for the true "spirit" of the Council, and theologians are constantly telling us we need to unpack the documents. Each unpacking however leads to another unpacking, and thus far we are down to a microscopic box that supposedly contain the riches of Vatican II.

Hold on, is that the spirit of Vatican II over there?
There are supposed to be abundant fruits that have arrived from the Council as a result of this 'hermeneutic of squintinuity'. What are they? Here is what we have in the wake of the Council. Church attendance is down. The theology of the Mass has changed from focusing on the sacrificial nature to focusing on the "community." Sacramental theology has almost been destroyed by conveying the communal aspect of the Sacraments and ignoring the fact that they are channels of grace. Every part of the Church's teaching has been watered down by modernist theologians who think that they know more than their Thomistic predecessors. Evangelization and mission work has also deteriorated with the dawn of modern ecumenism, which just happened to become popular after the Council. Thus we have the real "fruits" of the Council.

Where is everyone? 

That being said, I do think it is important for orthodox theologians to take the documents from the Vatican II era and go through them and try to reconcile them with the Church's teaching when confusing parts of the text raise their ugly head. If anyone has read the Council documents, it is plain to see that they are the most poorly written and ambiguous Council documents in the history of the Church. For more on the documents that you may want to read, 'The Rhine Flows into the Tiber." So while recognizing that we do indeed have a need to squint over some of these documents to make them fit, what good does that do for the average Catholic in the pew? I say it does little, and in fact, the average Catholic does not want to, nor should have to squint over poorly written documents in order to make them fit into the traditional teaching of the Church. It is an exercise in futility and most of us simply don't want to waste our time.

What becomes even more frustrating is that almost every bishop, priest, or theologian today acts is if there was nothing ever produced by the Church other than the Vatican II documents. Everyone acts as if Pope John XXIII was the first pope of the Church. It often seems as if the Church started with Vatican II. The pontificate of Pope Francis has only made matters worse. He has canonized Pope John XIII and Pope John Paul II, while ignoring the great pontificate of Pope Pius XII, making an even larger rift between the pontificates of the two. As we know the Council documents cannot stand on their own and thus in order for us to have a clear picture of the Catholic faith we must refer to the popes and Church documents before the Council. It seems however that day by day Pope Francis puts yet another brick in the wall separating us from the Church before the Council.

Full steam ahead!
As it stands, the 'hermeneutic of rupture' is winning the day, and the 'hermeneutic of continuity' has really become the frustrating art of squinting just right so we can claim that there is some value in these documents and the Council itself. The truth is, if Vatican II has not been able to produce anything worthwhile by now, then it should be shelved so we can all move on with our lives and begin the healing process that needs to happen so the Church can continue its mission. We can do this by resurrecting the great writings and documents that came before the Second Vatican Council, which were very clear and enriching for the faithful. In my estimation the only thing you get from the 'hermeneutic of squintinuity' is a headache and bad eyesight.

The result of too much squintinuity.


Larry said...

sir you say the council is valid, "ecumenism ...just happened,"interpretations are "ambiguous" U know ,ambiguous means false, contradictory, and deceptive, dee sep tive.The council was run and enforced, by heretics, face it heretics and accepted willy nilly be a duped and at leasted materially heretical hierarchy. The sacraments are not valid. no question about rite of bishops ordination. Until you and others accept the fact of apostacy in the nominal church, worse times bode.

Matthew Bellisario said...

The Sacraments are valid, what planet are you on? Has the Church been overcome by the gates of hell? I think not. Where is your Church, or did you contrive it out of thin air?

Konstantin said...

"Everyone acts as if Pope John XXIII was the first pope of the Church."

Indeed, I call this phenomenon "reverse Sedevacantism".