zaterdag, mei 13, 2006

Paus Paulus VI over het concilie

"The Church's life is dominated by the Ecumenical Council which concluded last December. It isn't just the remembrance of such a great and unusual event that should occupy our minds. Remembrance has to do with something that is finished: the memory collects it, history records it, tradition preserves it; but the whole process has to do with a time that is over and done with, an event that has happened. The Council, on the other hand, leaves something behind it that endures and continues to act. It is like a spring from which a river rises; the spring may be a long way off, but the course of the river goes along with us. You might say that the Council leaves itself to the Church that celebrated it. It doesn't so much oblige us to look back to the act of its celebration as to look at the heritage it has left us, one that it present now and will continue for the future. What is this heritage?

The heritage of the Council consists of the documents that were promulgated on several different occasions at the conclusion of its discussions and deliberations. These documents differ in nature - there are constitutions (four), decrees (nine), and declarations [p. 153] (three) - but all of them together make up a body of doctrines and laws that ought to give the Church that renewal for which the Council was held. It is the duty and the good fortune of men in the post-Conciliar period to get to know these documents, to study them and to apply them.

You have to be careful, for the teachings of the Council do not constitute a complete, organic system of Catholic doctrine. Doctrine is much more extensive, as everyone knows, and it wasn't called into question by the Council nor substantially modified. Instead, the Council confirms, illustrates, defends, and develops it with a most authoritative apologia full of wisdom, vigor and confidence. And it is the Council's doctrinal aspect that we have to consider first in order to pay honor to the word of God, which remains univocal and lasting like a light that doesn't fail, and in order to strengthen our souls. From the Council's solemn and open voice they learn what a providential office Christ entrusted to the living magisterium of the Church in order to preserve, defend, and interpret the "deposit of faith." (cf. Humani generis, A.A.S. 42, 1950, p. 567)

We mustn't separate the teachings of the Council from the doctrinal heritage of the Church. Instead we must take a good look at where they fit into it and at how they are consistent with it and supply it with added testimony, growth, explanation, and application. Then even the "novelties" in doctrine or regulation coming from the Council will be seen in their proper proportions and will not give rise to objections about the Church's fidelity to its teaching function, but will acquire that true meaning which makes it shine with a higher light.

Therefore, may the Council help the faithful, whether teachers or students, to overcome those states of mind - denial, indifference, doubt, subjectivism, and so on - that are contrary to the purity and strength of faith. The Council is a great act of the magisterium of the Church, and anyone who adheres to the Council is, by that very fact, recognizing and honoring the magisterium of the Church. This was the first idea that motivated Pope John XXIII to convoke the Council, as he said so well at its opening: "ut iterum magisterium ecclesiasticum ... affirmaretur." "Our first aim," he said, "in convoking this vast assembly was to reassert the magisterium of the Church." (AAS 54, 1962, 786)

Thus a person wouldn't be correct in thinking that the Council represents a cutting loose, a break, or, as some think, a liberation from the traditional teaching of the Church; nor would he be correct in thinking that it authorizes and fosters a ready conformity to the mentality of our time in its negative and ephemeral elements rather than those which are scientific and secure; nor in thinking that it grants anyone whatsoever the right to give any value and any expression he pleases to the truths of the faith. The Council opens up many new horizons to biblical, theological and humanistic studies; it invites men to do more research into the religious sciences and to go into them more deeply. But it doesn't deprive Christian thought of its rigor in speculation, and it doesn't grant free entry into the Church's philosophy, theology, and Scripture classes to the arbitrary judgement, the uncertainty, the servility, and the desolation that characterize so many forms of modern religious thought, when it is deprived of the help of the magisterium of the Church.

Some people have asked what authority, what theological qualification the Council intended to attribute to its teaching, since it clearly avoided issuing solemn dogmatic definitions that would involve the infallibility of the magisterium. The answer is clear for anyone who recalls the Council declaration issued on March 6, 1964, and repeated on November 16, 1964. (Cf. Notificationes: A.A.S. 57, 1965, 72-75) In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statement of dogmas that would be endowed with the note of infallibility, but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the supreme ordinary magisterium. This ordinary magisterium, which is so obviously official, has to be accepted with docility, and sincerity by all the faithful, in accordance with the mind of the Council on the nature and aims of the individual documents.

We must enter into the spirit of these basic criteria of the Church's magisterium and see to it that our minds increase their trust in the Church's guidance along the sure paths of faith and Christian life. If this is done by good Catholics - the fine sons of the Church, and especially scholars, theologians, teachers, those who spread the word of God, as well as students and seekers of the genuine doctrine that springs from the Gospel and is professed by the Church - then it is to be hoped that faith, and also Christian and civil life, will witness a great restoration of the kind that comes from the saving truth. For indeed the "Spirit of the Council" wants to be the Spirit of Truth. (Jn. 16:13)

May Our blessing help you to understand this Spirit and to make it your own."

Het Italiaanse origineel

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