Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council is an opportunity to revisit the clear teaching of its documents and reject distortions and false interpretations that have gained traction in the Catholic Church, according to a council scholar. Alan Schreck, professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, spoke at the Graymoor Spiritual Life Center in Garrison March 13 on "Vatican II: World Church or Church of the Little Flock?" Vatican II is still a sure compass for the church today, Schreck said, and each pope since the council reaffirmed its teachings as "God's teachings in our time." Nonetheless, he said, there has been tumult as the postconciliar church sought to understand what the council meant and how to implement it. Schreck said extreme responses vary from those who thought the council did not go far enough to create a democratic church to those who thought it wrought too many changes and opened the door to secularism and modernist heresy. "The documents of Vatican II are among the great unread documents of our time," said Schreck, a theologian, author and scholar of the council. "People are not sure what it said. A lot of things that are blamed on Vatican II are not in the documents." Here is an excerpt from Lumen Gentium promulgated by Pope Paul VI in November 1964. "Moreover, let the laity also by their combined efforts remedy the customs and conditions of the world, if they are an inducement to sin, so that they all may be conformed to the norms of justice and may favor the practice of virtue rather than hinder it. By so doing they will imbue culture and human activity with genuine moral values; they will better prepare the field of the world for the seed of the Word of God; and at the same time they will open wider the doors of the Church by which the message of peace may enter the world." It is very relevant for a time so filled with wrong-headed thinking and a society that appears to seek to destroy the Catholic Church.