Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Further Developments Noted in the "Italian Debate" about the Council, Rupture and Continuity

I saw this piece on Chiesa yesterday, but only had a chance today to bring it to our readers attention -- which I indeed wanted to do because it is a continuation of our coverage of what we've termed the "Italian debate on rupture and continuity" in relation to the Second Vatican Council. The piece in question is Council Under Construction. But Some Are Folding Their Arms and in it Sandro Magister details some of the ongoing developments in this open debate.

One item which particularly caught my attention is his accounting of the politics at play as a result of a prestigious historical studies award being granted to Professor Roberto de Mattei for his work, "Il Concilio Vaticano II. Una storia mai scritta.":

Another new development is the Acqui Storia prize that will be awarded next October 22 to Roberto de Mattei for the volume "Il Concilio Vaticano II. Una storia mai scritta [Vatican Council II. A history never written]," published by Lindau and covered by www.chiesa at its publication. The Acqui prize is one of the most prestigious in the field of historical studies. The jury that decided to award it to de Mattei is made up of scholars of various perspectives, Catholics and non-Catholics. Their president, however, Professor Guido Pescosolido of the University of Rome "La Sapienza," resigned from his position precisely in order to dissociate himself from this decision. In the view of Professor Pescosolido, de Mattei's book is spoiled by a militant anti-conciliar spirit, incompatible with the canons of scientific historiography. Professor Pescosolido has received support from a statement released by the SISSCO, the Society for the Study of Contemporary History, headed by Professor Agostino Giovagnoli, a leading representative of the community of Saint Egidio, and from another representative of the same community, Professor Adriano Rocucci. And in "Corriere della Sera," Professor Alberto Melloni – coauthor of another famous history of Vatican II, also staunchly "militant," but on the progressive side, the one produced by the "school of Bologna" of Fr. Giuseppe Dossetti and Giuseppe Alberigo, and translated into various languages – even insulted de Mattei. While acknowledging that he had enriched the reconstruction of the history of the Council with previously unpublished documents, he equated his book with "just some anti-conciliar pamphlet" unworthy of consideration.

In comparison, the tranquility with which Professor de Mattei has endured such affronts has been a lesson in style for everyone.

In his summation, Magister also notes with similar interest as we did here on NLM the doctrinal preamble that the CDF delivered recently to the SSPX; a preamble which "enunciates some doctrinal principles and criteria of the interpretation of Catholic doctrine necessary to guarantee fidelity to the magisterium of the Church and the 'sentire cum Ecclesia,' at the same time leaving for legitimate discussion the study and theological explanation of individual expressions or formulations present in the documents of Vatican Council II and of the subsequent magisterium." Evidently it is relevant and of interest in this discussion of continuity vs. rupture.

Magister also makes note of the entry of the Swiss Dominican Cardinal, Georges Cottier, into this discussion:

Cottier, 89, Swiss, a member of the Dominican order, is theologian emeritus of the pontifical household. He published his contribution in the latest issue of the international magazine "30 Days." In it, he replies to the theses upheld on www.chiesa by the historian Enrico Morini, according to whom the Church intended to use Vatican Council II to reattach itself to the tradition of the first millennium. Cardinal Cottier warns against the idea that the second millennium was a period of decline and departure from the Gospel for the Church. At the same time, however, he acknowledges that Vatican II was right to reinvigorate the vision of the Church that was particularly vibrant in the first millennium: not as a subject standing on its own, but as a reflection of the light of Christ. And he considers the concrete consequences that stem from this correct vision.

Cardinal Cottier's text is reproduced in its entirety in Magister's article.

Magister also notes the release of a two new books, the first, "Riforma nella continuità. Vaticano II e anticonciliarismo" by Pietro Cantoni (Sugarco Edizioni, Milano, 2011):

The book reviews the most controversial texts of Vatican Council II, to demonstrate that they can all be read and explained in the light of the tradition and the grand theology of the Church, including Saint Thomas. The author, Fr. Pietro Cantoni – after spending a few years as a young man in the Lefebvrist community of Ecône in Switzerland – was educated in Rome at the feet of one of the greatest masters of Thomistic theology, Monsignor Brunero Gherardini. But it is precisely against his master that he aims the criticisms of this book. Gherardini is one of the "anti-conciliarists" most under fire.

The second book comes "in the interpretive vein of Monsignor Gherardini and Professor de Mattei", released this past October 7th; a book which "identifies in Vatican Council II itself the problems that would come to light in the postcouncil":

Alessandro Gnocchi, Mario Palmaro, "La Bella addormentata. Perché col Vaticano II la Chiesa è entrata in crisi. Perché si risveglierà" [Sleeping beauty. Why with Vatican Council II the Church entered into crisis. Why it will reawaken]", Vallecchi, Firenze, 2011. The two authors are neither historians nor theologians, but they support their thesis with competency and with communicative efficacy, for a readership much more vast than the one reached by the specialists.

On the side opposite the traditionalists, the theologian Carlo Molari has also expanded the range of the discussion in a series of articles in the magazine "La Rocca" of Pro Civitate Christiana in Assisi, in which he examined and discussed the contributions that have appeared on www.chiesa and on "Settimo cielo."

Thanks in part to them, it is therefore likely that the controversy over Vatican II will be extended to the general public. Precisely on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the grand assembly, in 2012.

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