Tag Archive: vatican ii

The Council Fathers neither could nor wished to create a new or different Church. They had neither the authority nor the mandate to do so. It was only in their capacity as bishops that they were now Council Fathers with a vote and decision-making powers, that is to say, on the basis of the Sacrament and in the Church of the Sacrament. For this reason they neither could nor wished to create a different faith or a new Church, but rather to understand these more deeply and hence truly to “renew them”. This is why a hermeneutic of rupture is absurd and is contrary to the spirit and the will of the Council Fathers.

— Pope Benedict XVI, commenting on the 50th Anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, published in L’Osservatore Romano, 11 October 2012.

Source: http://www.zenit.org/article-35707?l=english


Archbishop Terrence Prendergast greeting some of those gathered after Vespers on 11 October 2012

Archbishop Prendergast presided at Vespers in Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ottawa, yesterday evening to mark the beginning of the Year of Faith.  There was a good presence of pastors and other parish representatives.  Towards the end of the service, candles were lighted and the faith was professed using the Apostles Creed.

Yesterday, 11 October, was the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.  I was pleased that the Archbishop, in his homily, acknowledged that the aftermath of Vatican II is not without contention.  The Archbishop encouraged us to “see the good” in those who hold different views than us.

How we face this tension is going to be important in the years ahead.  Thanks be to God we have Pope Benedict XVI who is leading the way in helping us to understand how to properly interpret the Conciliar teachings.  We must follow the Pope!

Some more – blurry! – photos from last night can be found here.


Today, during the 40 Days for Life, students of Saint Paul University are covering the times on the vigil roster for praying at the abortion mill at 65 Bank Street Ottawa.  I’m about to head down there for my hour, and I’ll also be taking one of the slots for the proclamation of the scriptures.  During the 40 Days for Life here in Ottawa, the Bible is proclaimed from beginning to end at the abortion mill, as a sign that this is a prayerful campaign asking God to change hearts.

Today is the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and also the beginning of the Year of Faith for the whole Church.

Through this year, we are invited “to enter more deeply into the spiritual movement which characterised Vatican II, to make it ours and to develop it according to its true meaning. And its true meaning was and remains faith in Christ, the apostolic faith, animated by the inner desire to communicate Christ to individuals and all people, in the Church’s pilgrimage along the pathways of history” (Pope Benedict XVI, Mass in Saint Peter’s Square, 11 October 2012).

The Holy Father also recalled that “11 October 1962 was the Feast of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God.”  He added, “Let us entrust to her the Year of Faith, as I did last week when I went on pilgrimage to Loreto. May the Virgin Mary always shine out as a star along the way of the new evangelisation” (ibid.).

Those in Ottawa are reminded of the Prayer Service tonight in Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica and 7.30pm to mark the beginning of the Year of Faith.

Reform of the reform

One of the golden opportunities of the new English translation of the Roman Missal is to study again the “nuts and bolts” of how Mass should be celebrated.  Over the past decades, we’ve become used to many things in the celebration of Mass.  Some are legitimate variations;  others are not.  And beyond this, liturgical renewal is not static, but ongoing.  Indeed, the renewal that was embraced at the time of Vatican II had been going on for decades, and liturgical renewal continues today.

It’s with interest, then, that I see the announcement on Ottawa’s dioecesan website of a Mass on the First Sunday of Lent:

CHANTED MASS IN THE ORDINARY FORM, CELEBRATED ‘AD ORIENTEM’: Celebrated by Fr. Pierre Ingram, CC.  First Sunday of Lent, Sat., Feb. 25, 7:00 p.m. at St. Mary’s Church. Accompanied by a small men’s choir; 20 minute intro on chant and booklet with music for full congregational participation. Info: (613-728-9811).

This announcement is interesting on several points.

1.  The Mass is signified as being in the “Ordinary Form” recognising that we now have two official Forms of Mass (the other being the Extraordinary Form).  One of the great achievements of Benedict XVI, in my opinion, has been regularizing the situation of the so-called Extraordinary Form, so that those who wish to worship in this way are now free to do so, and priests are to assist generously groups asking for this.

2.  The Mass will be celebrated ad orientem, in other words, facing “liturgical East” – priest and people on the same side of the altar facing in the same direction.  [I cringe at the description “the priest with his back to the people” because it’s as true as saying that everyone in front of me in the church has their back to me … well, they do and they don’t].  I hope we’ll see a lot more of Mass celebrated ad orientem.  I personally believe that this change [to Mass “facing the people”], even more than Mass in the vernacular, seriously affected in a negative way our understanding of what we are doing when we offer the sacrifice of the Mass.  I believe that even an occasional use of celebrating ad orientem, with appropriate catechesis, could greatly contribute to people’s understand of, and participation in, the Sacred Mysteries.

3.  The Mass will be accompanied with chant.  Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (no. 116), whilst not excluding other kinds of sacred music, stated that Gregorian chant is “specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.”  Unfortunately, hymn singing has come to almost universally replace the singing of the Entrance, Offertory and Communion Chants.  It will take a lot of hard work by liturgical musicians (and assemblies), but it is time – I believe – to start learning the chants.  Of course, there will always be a place for hymns – here and there – but they should be seen as secondary to the proper chants of the Mass.

As I said above, liturgical renewal is ongoing and not static.  Just as we embraced liturgical renewal in the decades following Vatican II, we must not allow ourselves now to get stuck in the immediate past.

Well done to the organisers of this Mass in Ottawa … and I hope that it is an initiative that gets taken up in many other places.


We have no classes this week here in Ottawa, and instead we have a ‘reading week.’  The last few days has enabled me to make some small inroads into a pile of articles and papers I had put aside to ‘read at a convenient time.’  One article I read today is an interview that Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, gave in which he talks about several issues facing the church and the priesthood today.  I think he makes some excellent points regarding what we need to be doing today in terms of renewing and reforming the priesthood.  I commend the article to you for reflection.

[I have added headings.  Source: here.]


Cardinal Piacenza explains ‘crisis’ of Catholic priesthood

Los Angeles, Calif., Oct 11, 2011 / 10:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In an exclusive interview, the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, addressed the “crisis” in the Catholic priesthood as portrayed by the media and said that each priest must respond by living his vocation faithfully.

As prefect, Cardinal Piacenza has the primary responsibility – after the Pope – of promoting the proper formation of diocesan priests and deacons. He is also responsible for the religious formation of all Catholics, especially through catechesis. 

Cardinal Piacenza was born on Sept. 15, 1944, in Genoa, Italy.  He was ordained a priest on Dec. 21, 1969 and was named president of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Goods of the Church in October of 2003. Later that year, he was ordained a bishop.

He was named secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy and was ordained an archbishop on May 7, 2007. In October of 2010, he was named prefect of the congregation. Then on Nov. 20, 2010, he was made a cardinal.

Cardinal Piacenza granted an interview to CNA while he was in Los Angeles, Calif., where he was attending a meeting with the archdiocese’s priests.

The full interview follows.

Image and reality

CNA:  A series of events and exaggerated reporting by the secular media has created a “crisis,” so to speak, of the image of a Catholic priest. How can we rescue that image for the good of the Church?

Cardenal Piacenza: In Catholic theology, image and reality are never separate. Image is repaired by repairing the interior. We must bring about healing first of all from “within.” We should not be too concerned about how things appear on the outside, but rather about “truly being.” It is easy to identify the dynamics that move these campaigns and the interests behind them.

We must never hide, but wherever necessary, we must recognize mistakes with humility and truthfulness and be willing to repair, whether humanly or spiritually, trusting more in the Lord than in our own poor human strengths. That is how the rescue will come, when a priest is who he is supposed to be: a man of God, a man of the sacred, and a man of prayer and, therefore, completely at the service of others, of their authentic and comprehensive well-being, whether spiritual or material, and of the good of the community as such.

Sexual abuse and other scandals

CNA: How can we help Catholics who are disillusioned see that the so-called “sexual scandal” of the Church in no way defines the ministerial priesthood or the Church?

Cardinal Piacenza: On human level it is understandable –  as the Holy Father mentioned during the in-flight interview on his way to Germany – that some might think that they cannot see themselves in a Church in which certain despicable acts occur. However, on that occasion Benedict XVI himself clearly invited us to go to the heart of the nature of the Church, which is the living Body of the Risen Christ that prolongs His existence and salvific action through time.

The horrible sins of a few do not delegitimize the good actions of many, nor do they change the nature of the Church. They certainly weaken her credibility enormously, and therefore we are called to work ceaselessly for the conversion of each person and for that evangelical radicalness and fidelity which should always characterize an authentic minister of Christ. We should remember that in order to be truly believable we have to be true believers.

Celibacy  –  Married priests?

CNA: Some believe that this “crisis” is another argument in favor of reforming the way the priesthood is lived. For example, the demand for married priests as a solution to both the loneliness priests experience and the lack of priestly vocations. What does “reforming the clergy” really mean in the mind and magisterium of Pope Benedict XVI? 

Cardinal Piacenza: This kind of argument, if it were followed, would create an unprecedented break. The suggested cures would make the disease even worse and would turn the Gospel on its head. The issue is loneliness? Why? Is Christ a ghost?  Is the Church dead or alive? Were the holy priests of centuries past abnormal men? Is holiness a utopia, a matter for a predestined few, or a universal vocation, as the Second Vatican Council reminded us? If the climb is arduous, we should take vitamins, strengthen ourselves, and with great impetus, continue upwards with joy in our hearts.

Vocation means “calling,” and God continues to call, but we need to know how to listen, and in order to listen we must not cover our ears. We need to be silent, we need to see examples and signs and we need to draw close to the Church as the Body in which the encounter with Christ always takes place.

In order to be faithful we must be in love. Obedience, chastity in celibacy, total dedication to the ministry without limits of time or days, are not seen as constrictions if one is truly in love, but rather as the demands of the love that one cannot help but give. They aren’t a bunch of “no’s” but rather one big “yes,” like that of the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation.

Reform of the clergy – contra worldliness and passing fads

The reform of the clergy? It is what I have been calling for since my time as a seminarian and later as a young priest (I am referring to 1968-69), and I am thrilled to hear the Holy Father continually call it one of the most urgent reforms needed in the Church. But let us remember that the reform we are speaking about is Catholic and not “worldly!”

To be extremely brief, we could say that the Pope greatly values a clergy that is truly and humbly proud of its identity and completely absorbed with the gift of grace it has received, and that consequently sees a clear distinction between the “Kingdom of God” and the world. A clergy that is not secularized and does not succumb to the passing fads and ways of the world. A clergy that recognizes, lives and proposes the primacy of God and understands how to bring out all of the consequences that flow from it. This means trusting not so much in structures or in human endeavor but rather, and above all, in the strength of the Spirit.

Women priests?

CNA: There is often talk of “women priests.” In fact, a movement exists in the United States that is demanding that women be made priests and bishops. It claims to have received this mandate from the successors of the apostles.

Cardinal Piacenza: Apostolic tradition in this sense is absolutely unequivocally clear. The great, uninterrupted tradition of the Church has always recognized that the Church has not received the power from Christ to confer ordination on women.

Any other claim smacks of self-justification and is historically and dogmatically unfounded. In any case, the Church cannot “innovate,” simply because she does not have the power to do so in this case.  The Church does not have greater power than Christ!

When we see non-Catholic communities led by women we should not be shocked, because where the ordained priesthood is not recognized, leadership is obviously entrusted to the lay faithful, and in such a case, what’s the difference if that lay faithful is a man or woman? The preference of one over the other would be a mere sociological fact and therefore changeable over time. If they were only men it would be discriminatory. The issue is not between men and women but between ordained faithful and lay faithful, and the Church is hierarchical because Jesus Christ founded it that way.

Priestly ordination, which is particular to the Catholic Church and to the Orthodox churches, is reserved to men, and this is not discrimination against women, but rather a consequence of the unsurpassed historicity of the act of the Incarnation and of the Pauline theology on the mystical body, in which each one has his own role and is sanctified and produces fruit consistent with his own place. 

If this is seen in terms of power, then we are totally off base, because in the Church only the Blessed Virgin Mary is “suppliant omnipotence” like none other, and thus she is more powerful in that sense than St. Peter. But Peter and the Virgin Mary have distinct roles that are both essential. I have heard this in not a few circles of the Anglican Communion as well.

Hope for the future?

CNA: From the point of view of numbers and quality, how does the Catholic Church look today in comparison with her recent past, and how does the future look?

Cardinal Piacenza: In general, the Catholic Church is growing in the world, especially because of the enormous contributions from the continents of Asia and Africa. These young churches are bringing a great freshness to the faith.

In recent decades – if I could use the expression – we have been playing rugby with the faith, hitting each other and sometimes hurting each other, and in the end no one scores any points.

There have been and there are problems in the Church, but we need to look forward with great hope! Not so much in the name of some naïve or superficial optimism, but rather in the name of the magnificent hope that is Christ, made real in the faith of each person, in the holiness of each person and in the perennial authentic reform of the Church.

Restoration of order – Prayer, the Rosary, Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration – Families

If the great event of the Second Vatican Council was a breath of the Spirit that has blown into the world through the windows of the Church, then we need to recognize that a lot of worldliness has also blown in with the Spirit, creating a current and blowing the leaves all over. We’ve seen everything, and yet nothing has been lost, but order must patiently be restored. Order is restored above all by strongly affirming the primacy of the Risen Christ, present in the Eucharist. There is a great peaceful battle to be waged which is that of perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, so that the entire world can become part of a network of prayer. United to the holy Rosary, in which we reflect on the salvific mysteries of Christ together with Mary, this will generate and develop a movement of reparation and penetration. 

I dream of a time in which there will not be a single diocese without at least one church or parish where the Sacrament of Love is adored day and night. Love must be loved! In every diocese, and better yet in every city and town, there should be hands raised to heaven pleading for a downpour of mercy upon everyone, those close and those far away, and then everything would change. 

Do you remember what happened when Moses’ hands were raised and what happened when they fell? Jesus has come to bring fire and he wishes for it to burn everywhere in order for the civilization of love to appear. 

This is the climate of the Catholic reform, the climate for the sanctification of the clergy and for the increase in holy priestly and religious vocations. This is the climate for the growth of Christian families that are true domestic churches.  This is the climate for collaboration from the lay faithful and the clergy.  We must truly believe this, and in the United States there are and always have been many promising resources. Continue forward!


Further to my earlier post on the statement released by the Australian Bishops regarding the Toowoomba situation,  some have commented on what seems to be the unusual phrase, “we reaffirm our communion with and under Peter.”  The phrase, I believe, is a reference to Vatican II’s (that’s right, Vatican II) Decree on the Pastoral Office of the Bishops in the Church Christus Dominus, wherein we read:

Bishops, sharing in the solicitude for all the churches, exercise this episcopal office of theirs, which they have received through episcopal consecration, in communion with and under the authority of the supreme pontiff. (n. 3)

From a quick search, it seems that the words “and under” are not found in the more well-known Lumen Gentium of Vatican II, nor in the Code of Canon Law (1983), which might account for its seeming a bit unfamiliar.  I think it would also be fair to say that the following terms have a synonymous use in ecclesiastical documents: Peter = supreme pontiff = pope = successor of (St) Peter = Roman pontiff = Vicar of Christ.

I will add, which I didn’t before, that I think this statement from the bishops is excellent. It succinctly and truthfully – and I believe charitably – describes the situation, and points us in the forward direction.

Let’s continue to pray for the clergy, religious and all the faithful of the Toowoomba Diocese, and through the intercession of Mary of the Southern Cross, may a bishop be chosen who can continue to lead the church there with the love of the Good Shepherd.

New apostolic letter from the Pope

The Holy Father has issued a new Apostolic Letter motu proprio entitled Porta fidei, in which he announces a Year of Faith that will commence next October.  The beginning of the Year coincides with the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Vatican Council II.

Australia Incognita offers some reflections.  There it is noted:

The Motu Proprio has three main themes:

  • the continuity of the faith and God’s presence throughout the history of the Church;
  • the importance of good catechesis on the actual content of the faith, with a paean to the importance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church; and
  • the need to actually spread the faith through active evangelization.

The Holy Father writes in Porta Fidei:

It seemed to me that timing the launch of the Year of Faith to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council would provide a good opportunity to help people understand that the texts bequeathed by the Council Fathers, in the words of Blessed John Paul II, “have lost nothing of their value or brilliance. They need to be read correctly, to be widely known and taken to heart as important and normative texts of the Magisterium, within the Church’s Tradition … I feel more than ever in duty bound to point to the Council as the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century: there we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning.”I would also like to emphasize strongly what I had occasion to say concerning the Council a few months after my election as Successor of Peter: “if we interpret and implement it guided by a right hermeneutic, it can be and can become increasingly powerful for the ever necessary renewal of the Church.”

I certainly hope that the many initiatives that will be undertaken in the forthcoming anniversary year of the commencement of Vatican II will all take their lead from the Holy Father, and present the Second Vatican Council correctly.  The Year of Faith, as announced by the Pope, is another example of the great gift to the Church that Benedict XVI is.  If anyone is in any doubt as to how to correctly interpret the Council, we need just turn to the successor of Peter as he fulfils his role as chief shepherd and teacher.

It’s going to be a long year

The opening of the Second Vatican Council occurred 49 years ago today (October 11, 1962).  Announcements of this fact have been numerous, coupled with promises of “celebrations” of this fiftieth year.  Vatican II is undoubtedly one of the most significant ecclesial events of the twentieth century.  I do cringe a little, though, at the prospect that in three years we’ll probably have to celebrate the golden anniversary of the conclusion of the Council, and then the anniversaries of the promulgation of the conciliar documents.

If all this actually gets people to read and study the conciliar documents themselves, this would be a marvellous thing.  We hear a lot about the so-called “spirit of Vatican II.”  I suggest that many people (not all) who speak of this “spirit” haven’t actually read the conciliar texts in any depth.  I sometimes think that there is a one-page sheet that floats around with “all-the-quotes-from-Vatican II-that-you’ll-ever-need” typed on it.  Top of the list, of course, is “full, conscious and active participation,” as if that’s the only thing the document on the Sacred Liturgy had to say.  Most people, I think, might be surprised to see what’s actually in (and not in) the document on the liturgy.

Thankfully, the Holy Father will continue to help us to correctly interpret the conciliar teaching of Vatican II, in a spirit of continuity, and not rupture as has so often been done in the past.

It’s also good to remember that there have been many councils in the church’s history, and each of them is important in the contribution it has made to our church’s life.  So as some go ‘retro’ and celebrate Vatican II, I’m going to add my own ‘retro’ celebration alongside: celebrating the anniversaries of another significant council of the church: the Council of Trent.  Slightly tongue-in-cheek, I know, but the church’s history is to be seen in continuity.

And, after all, Jesus himself was pre-Vatican II!

For more serious reflection, you might be interested in an article over at The Catholic Thing:  The Spirit of Vatican II.