Friday, February 15, 2013

End of an Era?

Whoever the next Pope is, it is unlikely that he would have been an active participant in Vatican II, whether as a Council Father (like the young Bishop Karol Wojtyla) or as a theological consultant (like Joseph Ratzinger).

According to Andreas Widmer (a former Swiss Guard-turned-CEO who got to see Pope John Paul's papacy up close), John Paul saw his mission as continuing the implementation of Vatican II, and Benedict saw his as rounding that out and equipping the Church for the New Evangelization. From Benedict's perspective, what is needed now is not a continued implementation of Vatican II, but vigor and energy in the Petrine ministry. (One might say that this is already a hint to the next Conclave, but I don't see that in Benedict's character.) 

Widmer's take, that Benedict saw his role role as assuring the genuine implementation of Vatican II seems to be supported by his own words on Feb. 14, speaking to the clergy of Rome in a kind of farewell address. He told the back story of his own participation in the council, and then very baldly told a tale of two councils: the one he was part of ("the council of the Fathers", "the true council") and an alternate council--the "council of the media." These two councils had very different takes on such things as authority, liturgy and scripture. Pope Benedict was not afraid to say that it was the "council of the media" and not the "true council" that had the greater impact, and not for the good. But he's also not afraid to declare, as he goes off into the sunset: "This Virtual Council is breaking down, getting lost and the true Council is emerging with all its spiritual strength. And it is our task, in this Year of Faith, starting from this Year of Faith, to work so that the true Council with the power of the Holy Spirit is realized and Church is really renewed."

Who will take on that task? Cardinal Re joined the Curia in 1963, so he was around during the Council--as was Cardinal Martins, who was a professor at the Claretianum (the university of his religious order, the Claretians)--but neither appear to have had an active role in the Council. 

This could mean that 50 years after the Council, we may see our first post-conciliar Pope. 
It could be that the next Pope will be the Pope of the New Evangelization that Vatican II intended all along.

1 comment:

Sr. Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP said...

Thanks, Sr. Anne, for another interesting article and for the reading list in your next article. Even if neither man wears the white, it's definitely worth reading their thought. (I like Ouellet, too.)