Monday, November 29

A good idea poorly executed recently asked Cardinal Edward Cassidy, former President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, what the biggest challenge to ecumenism was in our current day.

His Excellency, displaying the obtuse, albeit consistent, optimism of those who grandly promised a "renewal" of the church -- and the world -- after the recent ecumenical council in Rome spake thusly: "... I suppose that one of the biggest is that we still have a lot to do in our own Church before the decisions of the Second Vatican Council will have entered right down into the life of our Church so that people really understand what we are trying to do and why we are doing it..."

Candidly, if the results of the council have not yet "entered right down into the life of our Church", can he explain what's happened in the Church in the 40 years since the council began?

Reviewing the fruits of these past four decades, some might say, generously, that the council was a good idea poorly executed. The truth may be stranger than fiction. Most of the people discussing "the council" (note their preference for a definite rather than indefinite article -- as if there were no other councils for Catholics to reflect upon) can rarely reference where the basis for the "reforms" they so dearly cherish exist within the council's documents. Instead, reference is frequently made to the "spirit of the council".

These references, were their manifestations not so pernicious, would be humorous. For an institution that, over centuries, perfected the scholastic method to now have its vanguard seemingly speaking in tongues about the "spirit of the council" reminds one of references to "the party" in Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. In those days, everyone was a member of "the party", but none would -- when it came time to foot the bill -- claim to bear the responsibility of the decisions and actions of "the party". Et tu Cardinal Cassidy?

By no means am I comparing the council to either the Holocaust of the Gulag. Many devotees of the council do, however, exhibit a number of characteristics that can manifest themselves in the worst forms of collective behavior -- that of putting the hopes for an idea above the fruits of that idea.