WHO’S IN CHARGE?
One reason I like being here at St. Matt’s is that we’re a “Vatican II” church. Note Fr. Steve’s columns and homilies on the topic of Vatican II and the current Roman synod.
What I find interesting from a church history standpoint is how the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) echoed topics brought up at the Council of Constance (1414-1418). One of my church history courses, back in my seminary days, talked about that Council as dealing with the question of “Who’s in charge?” Some say, “The Pope”. Others say, “The Council.” We refer to the council-oriented as conciliarists, and Constance was in some ways a high point for that conciliar way of thinking.
That conciliar approach is found throughout our entire church history. In my view, it was unfortunate that the First Vatican Council (1869-1870) largely rejected conciliarism. Papal centralization triumphed.
However–as a recent Commonweal magazine article put it, “Many of Vatican II’s ecclesiological reforms—those having to do with episcopal collegiality, a renewed theology of the laity, a more diffuse conception of infallibility, the sensus fidelium, religious liberty, etc.–are now rightly understood as retrievals from the early Church.”
When I taught history, I often invoked the saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
I am glad we’re remembering and retrieving our history. That Commonweal article also said, “In the United States, the crisis over truth-telling is not only social and political, but also ecclesial. The systematic failure of the Church to tell the truth regarding clerical sex abuse is one particularly grave example of this crisis. A person who cannot face his or her own past (or who consistently lies about it) is impeded from reaching full maturity and healthy integration. Put simply, such a person can’t grow up. Likewise, the Church, if it can’t or won’t tell the truth about its own past, can’t fully flourish and is doomed to a kind of ecclesial immaturity.”
Thank you for your support, and have a great week!