Main content | Sidebar | Links

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Do liberals remember a mythical Vatican II?

In last week's Boston Phoenix, Michael Bronski splashed cold water on liberals who have been pining for the glory days of the Second Vatican Council:

For decades, the American liberal establishment and American Catholics have held on to a fantasy of the Second Vatican Council, which lasted from 1962 to 1965, as the defining moment of post-war Catholicism, not just for Europe and the Americas, but for the world. To many people, John XXIII was the Kennedy pope, and Vatican II was his Camelot — a glorious, Roman Catholic version of the New Deal and the New Frontier that would move Catholicism from the medieval past into a rosy future of social equality, in which mass would be celebrated in the vernacular, nuns’ habits would be modernized, and the popemobile would replace the traditional gestatorial chair as a form of papal transportation.

While John XXIII was, indeed, a progressive pope in many ways — his obvious love for the people stood in direct and moving contrast to the public austerity of his immediate predecessor, Pius XII — it is important to remember that he upheld traditional Catholic morality vigorously, in encyclical after encyclical. . . .

The reality is that despite the efforts of dissident elements, the Church has rarely changed its position on sexual matters and is not about to do so now. But there is a second liberal illusion about the Vatican and the Roman Church that goes hand in hand with this: that the Church does not have a great deal of power. In fact, having relocated its strength outside Europe and North America, the Roman Church is more powerful now than it has been for almost 200 years.

("Pope and Circumstance," Michael Bronski, Boston Phoenix 5.5.05)

If you're a liberal Catholic looking for a place within Roman Catholicism, be sure to put Commonweal on your reading list. Here's the liberal lay Catholic magazine's Benedict XVI coverage.

If you prefer a bit of visual comedy instead, see the animated Excommunicator at Ship of Fools, the "magazine of Christian unrest."

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 5 May 2005 at 7:29 PM

Previous: Unitarian Ascension Day: Dedicate an elevator!
Next: More holy numbers in the news.



John Cullinan:

May 6, 2005 01:14 AM | Permalink for this comment

Sexual morality in the Catholic church hasn't changed much, but not for lack of trying. Vatican II and it's aftermath came very close to lifting the ban on birth control. Thanks to the dedication of one young cardinal, that blessed event never came about. His name -- Karol Wotjyla. John XXIII thought seriously about the change, but couldn't see past the damage it would do to the doctrine of infallibility. Wotjyla's hardline orthodoxy killed the measure for good. He had a large hand in the authorship of the encyclical Humanae Vitae, which reinforced the old morality.


May 6, 2005 09:55 AM | Permalink for this comment

UUs are always so proud of their diversity, but probably the most diverse church in the world is not UU but the Roman Catholic church! And I mean "real" diversity, which is not whether I like this religion or that, but inclusiveness of people of all races, cultures, and languages (the UUA is severely limited, despite its best intentions, to mostly white well-off only-English-speaking anglo-saxon ex-Protestants), and radical political differences from communism to fascism and all kinds of socialdemocrats, Christian democrats, liberals and conservatives in between, and in theology and ecclesiology, from Liberation Theology and Black African empowerment to Opus Dei and Communion & Liberation or Christ's Legionaries. Now that's diversity! This discussion about whether the RC Church is more or less conservative 40 years after Vatican II is done from a top-down perspective that does not pay much attention to what happens on the ground level.

Comments for this entry are currently closed.