Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Carl Olson and Moyra Doorly Engage in Friendly Debate on Ignatius Insight

Many will be familiar with the series of discussions on the Second Vatican Council that authors Moyra Doorly and Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P, have been publicly having in the Catholic Herald. Now, via the blog of the editor of the same, Luke Coppen, we are introduced to the fact that this conversation has been expanded, appearing over on the Ignatius Insight blog between Carl Olson and Moyra Doorly.

Here is an excerpt:

Doorly: Your comments about the 'hierarchy of truths' were helpful but raised problems for me. Taken at face value, and without a philosophical training, the term surely opens the door to the sidelining of traditional Catholic doctrines, which is what has happened after all.

Olson: We should be careful, I think, to distinguish between what the documents of Vatican II actually say and how they have been misused or misunderstood. If someone wishes to sideline traditional Catholic doctrine, as many dissenters did and do, they could, of course, employ a misuse of the hierarchy of truths. But, then, this is the way of heresy always and everywhere: to take something that is true and to skew it, taking it out of context or using it incorrectly. As long as this world exists, people will fall or jump into heresy. There was concern at the Council of Nicaea that the use of a term such as homoousion to express and defend the divinity of Christ could lead to misunderstandings or further errors. And, in fact, the next few councils had to keep addressing further Christological errors. As you know, following the Council in A.D. 325, there was a long period when a large number (a majority, according to many scholars) of bishops adhered to the errors of Arianism and "semi-Arianism." In short, while there should be an awareness of how a term might be misused or misunderstood, the essential issue is that of truth.

Doorly: The current position is to focus on the misinterpretation and misapplication of Vatican II documents.

Olson: There is much truth to that, I think, and it is because there has been such a huge amount of misinterpretation and misapplication. It is something like responding to The Da Vinci Code: you must address all of the falsehoods in order to clear the way for truth to be seen and appreciated. Yet it is also very much the case that Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have positively articulated and "unpacked" the documents of Vatican II. In fact, their pontificates are, in so many ways, continuations of the Council, as can be seen especially in their encyclicals and other major writings.

Doorly: But the SSPX argues that this has been made easy by the inclusion of new teachings and abiguous statements in the documents themselves.

Olson: I can hardly begin to address this here (and I know Fr. Nichols has addressed it to some degree), but this, of course, is the point of Benedict's insistence on a "hermeneutic of continuity," which rejects the notion (embraced by many "progressives"/dissenters) that Vatican II is a (positive, in their eyes) rupture from the past. Ironically, the SSPX seems to also see the Council as a rupture from the past. But the Council did not happen in a vacuum, nor were its documents ever meant to be read apart from the Church's unbroken Tradition.

Read the entire discussion here: More conversation about the "hierarchy of truths"

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