1. How Catholics Became Prisoners of Vatican II, By Ross Douthat, The New York Times, October 12, 2022, 5:00 AM, Opinion The Second Vatican Council, the great revolution in the life of the modern Catholic Church, opened 60 years ago this week in Rome. So much of that 1960s-era world has passed away, but the council is still with us; indeed for a divided church its still-unfolding consequences cannot be escaped.  The liberal interpretation dominated Catholic life in the 1960s and 1970s, when Vatican II was invoked to justify an ever-wider array of changes — to the church’s liturgy and calendar and prayers, to lay customs and clerical dress, to church architecture and sacred music, to Catholic moral discipline. Then the conservative interpretation took hold in Rome with the election of John Paul II, who issued a flotilla of documents intended to establish an authoritative reading of Vatican II, to rein in the more radical experiments and alterations, to prove that Catholicism before the 1960s and Catholicism afterward were still the same tradition.  Here are three statements to encapsulate the problems and dilemmas. First, the council was necessary. Maybe not in the exact form it took, an ecumenical council summoning all the bishops from around the world, but in the sense that the church of 1962 needed significant adaptations, significant rethinking and reform.  Tradition has always depended on reinvention, changing to remain to same — but Vatican II was called at a moment when the need for such change was about to become particularly acute. But just because a moment calls for reinvention doesn’t mean that a specific set of reinventions will succeed, and we now have decades of data to justify a second encapsulating statement: The council was a failure. This isn’t a truculent or reactionary analysis. The Second Vatican Council failed on the terms its own supporters set. It was supposed to make the church more dynamic, more attractive to modern people, more evangelistic, less closed off and stale and self-referential. It did none of these things. The church declined everywhere in the developed world after Vatican II, under conservative and liberal popes alike — but the decline was swiftest where the council’s influence was strongest.  But neither can anyone evade the third reality: The council cannot be undone.  I just mean that there is no simple path back.  Here, again, the liberals have a point. The most traditionalist Catholics are stamped by what began in 1962 as surely as this anti-traditionalist pope, and the merely conservative — such as, well, myself — are often in the position described by Peter Hitchens, writing about the European high culture shattered by the First World War: We may admire the lost world’s intensity and rigors, but “none of us, now, could bear to return to it even if we were offered the chance.” But this point does not vindicate the council, let alone the ever-evolving liberal interpretation of its spirit. The church has to live with Vatican II, wrestle with it, somehow resolve the contradictions it bequeathed us, not because it was a triumph but precisely because it wasn’t: Failure casts a longer and more enduring shadow, sometimes, than success. You begin from where you are. The lines of healing run along the lines of fracture, the wounds remain after the resurrection, and even the Catholicism that arrives, not today but someday, at a true After Vatican II will still be marked by the unnecessary breakages created by its attempt at a necessary reform. https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/12/opinion/catholic-church-second-vatican-council.html__________________________________________________________ 2. Protecting Babies Born Alive Is the First Step, By Hadley Arkes, The Wall Street Journal, October 12, 2022, Pg. A18, Letter to the Editor Regarding Marjorie Dannenfelser’s “The Political Case for Federal Abortion Limits” (op-ed, Oct. 7): Ms. Dannenfelser, my longtime friend, joined me 20 years ago in supporting the most modest first step legislating on abortion, the bill to protect children who survive abortions. The Supreme Court never endorsed a right to kill the born-alive survivor, but neither did it make clear that such a right was beyond the holding in Roe v. Wade. Former President Obama has insisted that it isn’t. The killings took place, as they have to this day. Twenty years ago, a reluctant, complaining Democratic Party voted for the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act. But the situation was transformed when the bill was moved to restore the serious penalties, civil and criminal, that had been stripped from that earlier act. In 2015 and 2018, the Democratic Party voted almost unanimously in the House to oppose the strengthened bill to protect the child born alive. The Susan B. Anthony List made the new bill part of its top legislative priority. It will come back if the Republicans regain control of the House, and surely this must remain the hardest and most embarrassing position for the Democrats to defend. Surely the most critical political challenge to Democratic candidates would be this: Would you join the Democratic caucus in opposing this bill to protect the child born alive? And if the Democrat argues that the federal government shouldn’t legislate on this matter: Would you pledge, then, not to support the Women’s Health Protection Act, the new summoning measure for the Democrats, a bill that would sweep away the restrictions on abortion in the pro-life states? https://www.wsj.com/articles/protecting-babies-who-survive-abortions-is-the-first-step-act-legislation-sba-list-11665434749?__________________________________________________________ 3. 15 week national abortion ban bill is in line with America’s values, By Grazie Pozo Christie, The Hill, October 11, 2022, 6:30 AM, Opinion The Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act, sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), would protect unborn children across the country from elective abortion after 15 weeks. The bill is a no-brainer from my perspective as a physician. I see fetal patients of this age and older regularly and their humanity is manifest and indisputable.   The little patients I examine by ultrasound are, at 15 weeks, endearingly human and bracingly alive. Sometimes I catch them while they are sleeping. More often I find them exercising their limbs in the dark and peaceful wombs that so beautifully accommodate them. At that stage of development, their organs are functioning — hearts beating, mouths swallowing, bladders filling and emptying. Their toes curl and their fingers probe while their eyes open and close on the impenetrable blackness that surrounds them. I can even distinguish their sex at 15 weeks. Most parents leave with a gaily decorated black and white image of their little darling: I’m a boy! Or I’m a girl! to put proudly on the refrigerator and share with fond grandparents.    These are the vulnerable people that Smith and Graham and their colleagues propose to protect. Most western countries already do so at 15 weeks or earlier, including the vast majority of European nations.     Smith’s and Graham’s approach is in line with Americans’ sentiments and values—and is more humane—than the view held by pro-abortion activists and the Democratic Party. In fact, their view that the unborn deserve no protections whatsoever is a radical position shared by a tiny fraction of the population. Perhaps Democrats should begin to listen to the American people on this issue. If they did, they’d soon find we are far more humane and compassionate than given credit for—not only toward the youngest among us but toward their mothers.  Grazie Pozo Christie, M.D., is a senior fellow for The Catholic Association. https://thehill.com/opinion/congress-blog/3683470-15-week-national-abortion-ban-bill-is-in-line-with-americas-values/__________________________________________________________ 4. Catholic bishops: Moving UK embassy to Jerusalem would be ‘seriously damaging’, By The Pillar, October 11, 2022, 5:09 PM Senior Catholic bishops have condemned the United Kingdom government’s announcement that it is reviewing the possibility of moving its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, and the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, both issued statements in recent days calling on Prime Minister Liz Truss to abandon the policy review. “Such a relocation of the UK Embassy would be seriously damaging to any possibility of lasting peace in the region and to the international reputation of the United Kingdom,” said Cardinal Nichols in a public statement Oct. 6.  Under the leadership of President Donald Trump, the United States in 2018 moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The move was condemned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as by Pope Francis, who at the time issued “a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.” “Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, where the Holy Places for the respective religions are venerated, and it has a special vocation to peace,” said the pope when the decision to move the U.S. embassy was announced. https://www.pillarcatholic.com/catholic-bishops-moving-british-embassy-to/__________________________________________________________ 5. YouTube adds abortion info to Catholic, pro-life videos, By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency, October 11, 2022, 4:00 PM Many YouTube videos produced by Catholic or pro-life organizations will now bear an abortion disclaimer and links to an abortion webpage, as YouTube claims that abortion is a topic prone to misinformation. The move means many YouTube videos about Pope Francis, Catholic teaching on abortion, and alternatives to abortion now include links to abortion information that video creators or video subjects might reject. Clare Morell, a policy analyst with the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Technology and Human Flourishing Project, criticized YouTube’s addition of the abortion panel.“It biases viewers against their messaging, to prejudge and dismiss their arguments before they’ve even heard them,” Morell told CNA. https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/252518/youtube-adds-abortion-info-to-catholic-pro-life-videos__________________________________________________________ 6. ‘Gaudium et Spes’ and Germany’s Synodal Way: Reflections on the Church in the Modern World, The pastoral constitution called for engaging the world in ‘the light of the Gospel,’ but some initiatives in the Church today seek to subvert the faith to the spirit of modernity., By Cardinal George Pell, National Catholic Register, October 12, 2022, Opinion The Latin title of the Second Vatican Council’s pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world, Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope), is not misleading, as it sets out to be both joyful and hopeful, not seeking conflict or confrontation, totally avoiding the use of any anathemas. It is described as a pastoral constitution and was a novelty in conciliar history. I am unsure it will ever be attempted again by a full council, however that may occur with more than 5,000 bishops.  While being doctrinally based on the conciliar documents on the Church, Lumen Gentium, and Revelation, Dei Verbum, this constitution is not primarily doctrinal, but sets out a vigorous Christocentric humanism; guidelines on how the Catholic community should relate with the modern world, in its bewildering variety. It is something of both a commentary and an exhortation and could be described as sociological or prudential, rather than dogmatic.   The 21 councils in Catholic history are examples of the Holy Spirit at work, of divine Providence, despite and through their inadequacies as well as through the obvious benefits they produced. But they have not been held too frequently. Neither should synods become too frequent, become a competitor with prayer, worship and service. And history reminds us to be careful, not to build up false expectations, not to unleash forces which can escape our control. The synodal process has begun disastrously in Germany, and matters will become worse unless we soon have effective papal corrections on, for instance, Christian sexual morality, women priests, etc. We find no precedents in Catholic history for the active participation of ex-Catholics and anti-Catholics in such bodies. Only the Council Fathers, almost entirely bishops, could vote at Vatican II, and the observers were all Christians. Pope St. Paul VI respected the authority and independence of the Council Fathers, intervening rarely as they laboriously produced their documents, established consensus, while remaining fully respectful of the magisterium and Tradition. Despite all this care and scholarship, and largely for reasons outside Church control, the post-conciliar story has not been one of glorious success. Every synod has to be a Catholic synod, bound by the apostolic Tradition, just as Councils are so bound. To allow serious heresies to continue undisturbed is undermining and damaging the unity of the One, True Church, and again, is not consistent with Gaudium et Spes’ call for engagement with the modern world in “the light of the Gospel,” but contrary to it. There can be no pluralism of important doctrines of faith or morals. Our unity is not like that of a loose Anglican federation or that of the many national Orthodox Churches. Some faithful German Catholics are already talking, not of the synodal way but the suicidal way. We must work and pray they are wrong, that no such disaster occurs anywhere in the Church in the modern world. Pope St. Paul VI was fair and even-handed and guided the Council well, creating a good and encouraging model; but the aftermath provides a warning of the powerful hostile forces that surround us. Cardinal George Pell is an Australian cardinal of the Church who served as prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy between 2014 and 2019 and was a member of the “council of cardinals” between 2013 and 2018. https://www.ncregister.com/commentaries/gaudium-et-spes-and-germany-s-synodal-way-reflections-on-the-church-in-the-modern-world__________________________________________________________

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