In the Vineyard :: August 16, 2016 :: Volume 16, Issue 15

Dr. Faggioli on Vatican II in Today’s Church (continued)

The U.S. bishops are not alone, Faggioli continued, “Pope Benedict once called Gaudium et spes the problem child of Vatican II.” But Francis is reclaiming it, he said, and he’s doing it the smart way, without labeling it: “He is always doing Vatican II but he never says it.” The recent multi-year family synod meetings are a good example, Faggioli says: They “really were a question of whether we go forward with Gaudium et spes or turn back to the 1950s.”

Using perspectives gained from his own experiences of moving to the U.S. from Italy at the age of 37, Faggioli then explored the question of why Gaudium et spes is “so complicated” in the U.S. Why was the reception of this Council document interrupted here? There are both historical and political factors involved, he said, and two completely separate ways of viewing Vatican II.

One viewpoint of Vatican II sees the Council through a lens of continuity and ecclesiological consistency. But the other, the opposite narrative, thinks it’s a “big mess like the 1960s,” without coherence. “Many American Catholics, especially the bishops, see Vatican II as a regime change,” he said, and that’s why so many of them oppose Francis.

Faggioli identified three factors in the reception of Gaudium et spes in the U.S. that slow its implementation. One is “the competitive nature of American church politics,” which leads to anti-pope accusations. Indeed, he noted, “the amount of disrespect and contempt for Francis is astounding … He has not gotten that elsewhere.”

A second factor he called the “new Americanism.” What is lacking in American Catholics, including the bishops, “is a truly universalistic, global look, instead of [their] nationalistic view of the Church.”

Third, Faggioli said, is “the role of Augustine in Catholic theology in the U.S.” He cited as one example a quote from German Cardinal Marx, that the best thing for the Church is a secular state. “You won’t hear a U.S. bishop say that!” … Gaudium et spes recognizes the secular state. “Theologians [in the U.S.] do not get that. The Augustinian imprint blocks their vision. But in Italy, where we had Mussolini, or in the Mideast today with Muslim states, they know a secular government is best for them.”

Catholics are not safe when the state is religious or faith-based, Faggioli added. They are safe when the state is neutral or secular, favoring no religion. Because U.S. bishops, and many American Catholics, think of “secular” as a cultural influence, they think a secular state is anti-Christian, anti-religion. But that is not what the rest of the world sees. They understand that a secular state is a neutral government, one that is safe for Catholics.

“There is a transatlantic Church gap,” Faggioli concluded, and it is obvious that some work is needed in the U.S. to develop a global outlook instead of a narrowed one.

You can watch Dr. Faggioli’s presentation, and those of the other speakers at the AUSCP Assembly on YouTube. Just click this link. Or you can read summaries of the other two presentations, along with the Vespers Service text and our other reports on the VOTF web pages.


Page One

Shop at Amazon, Support VOTF

VOTF relies solely on the contributions of people like you to support its work.





© Voice of the Faithful 2016. All Rights Reserved