Blogwatcher - Ten ways to misunderstand Vatican II

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BY STEFAN GIGACZ

An excellent blog post at America magazine by Vatican II historian, John W. O'Malley warns against "ten sure-fire ways to mix up the teachings of (the Council)":

It is not easy to interpret any great event, so it is not surprising that today there is disagreement about how to interpret the Second Vatican Council. Here, I want to turn the issue around to indicate how not to interpret it. Some of these principles are, in fact, of direct concern only to historians or theologians. The issues that underlie them, however, should be of concern to all Catholics who cherish the heritage of the council. These 10 negative principles are simply a backhanded way of reminding ourselves of what is at stake in the controversies over the council’s interpretation.

Fellow Jesuit Ladislas Orsy concurs but adds that "confusion over Vatican II is normal even 50 years later", saying that:

I'm just beginning to understand the depth and breadth of the [Second Vatican] council".

And who knew that 1970s icon Ivan Illich had started out as a Catholic priest? Not me when I first his critique of education Deschooling Society (now, appropriately, free online) in about 1973. Distributist John Médaille (friend him on Facebook) resurrects Illich by linking to this post by Chase Madar.

Illich was a quasi-mythical being, and from the bare facts of his biography it’s easy to see why. The child of a German-Jewish mother and a Croatian father, he grew up speaking German, Italian, and French, picked up Serbo-Croatian, studied Greek and Latin, and became fluent in Spanish and English. Young Illich survived the Axis’s racial policies and after studies in Florence, Rome, and Salzburg earned graduate degrees in history, philosophy, and theology. He was ordained as a priest and seemed set to become the next young polyglot polymath at the Vatican.

Instead, in 1951, he signed up to become a parish priest in one of New York’s poorest neighborhoods—Washington Heights, on the northern tip of Manhattan, then a barrio of fresh-off-the-airplane Puerto Rican immigrants. The classically educated bookworm turned out to be an effective and popular priest. The experience of tending to immigrant parishioners as they got flash-fried in urban modernity left a lasting impression of the grotesque inadequacy of large-scale, rationally administrated institutions in dealing with basic human needs.

But after the Vatican ordered him to resign from the CIDOC centre in Mexico that he had founded, he chose instead to resign:

Nudum Christum nudum sequere was a beloved Latin phrase—naked I follow the naked Christ—and he said it often in what he knew to be the last years of his life.

Back in Australia, YCS leaders this weekend joined an Australia Day Twitter campaign against children of asylum seekers being held in detention.

Look for more at on Twitter at hashtags #kidslike me, #youngandfree.

Meanwhile, another anti-detention activist, former public servant and prominent Catholic John Menadue has launched a new current issues blog Pearls and Irritations.

In Malaysia, Catholic parliamentarian Charles Santiago has reacted strongly to a right-wing group's plan to burn bibles in the Malay language:

This time around Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali has pushed it too far by urging Malays to torch all Malay language Bibles that use the word Allah and any other religious Arabic words. Ibrahim has actually incited the Malays to commit a crime. His senseless incitement is highly seditious and equally inflammatory, in multi-religious, multi-racial Malaysia. He is clearly trying to cause a further split in an already divided nation.

Many Muslim groups such as Sisters in Islam were also appalled:

This dangerous and reckless provocation will only court the zealotry of the bigots and consequently tear apart the existing fragile harmony among Malaysians of various ethnic and religious backgrounds. Religious conflicts do not get resolved amicably and effectively by rabble rousing and dangerous antics such as the proposed torching of the holy books of believers.

Thankfully, the plan has been abandoned.

Back in the USA, the Daily Theology blog recalls that this year is the 50th anniversary of Pope John XXIII's pathbreaking encyclical Pacem in Terris and applies its teachings to the gun control debate.

Pope John calls into question both the motivations of those who profit from the proliferation of weapons and doctrine of mutually assured destruction (MAD)—the flawed idea that “peace cannot be preserved without an equal balance of armaments.”

Today, instead of building fall out shelters in the basements of our schools, we have “shelter in place” plans. Instead of practicing going under their desks in case of a bomb, our school children are practicing what to do if someone comes in with a gun. It’s a mad world.

John XXIII firmly and resolutely dismisses these MAD arguments and rightfully laments the culture of fear that lies behind it and is engendered by it: “people live in constant fear lest the storm that every moment threatens should break upon them with dreadful violence.” Stockpiling weapons engenders the culture of fear that makes the use of violence attractive in the first place. Later, Gaudium et Spes takes up this same point and strongly warns that the stockpiling arms as an aim for peace “is an utterly treacherous trap for humanity” (81).

And finally, you can now turn your iPad into a Gothic-style religious reliquary thanks to Bavarian photographer Georg Dinkel, Michelle Starr of cnet's Crave blog informs us:

In the style of German Gothic sacred architecture, (Dinkel's) TonSchrein 2.0 is a thing of ornate gorgeousness — out of all proportion to its actual function.

Here's a pic:

Ornate gorgeousness? Not sure that Apple designer Jonathan Ive would agree even though he has been quoted as saying:

One of (Apple's design) concerns was that there would somehow be, inherent with mass production and industrialisation, a godlessness and a lack of care.

In this case, I think I'll stick with Ive's post-Vatican II design ethic!


Michael MullinsStefan Gigacz is preparing a Ph.D. at MCD University of Divinity, Melbourne, on the role of Joseph Cardijn at Vatican II.

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