Van Fr. Hunwicke:
"Conciliar hermeneutics have moved on. I do not only refer to the
teaching of Benedict XVI about 'Continuity' and 'Rupture' (although I
think this is important and I was disappointed that spokesmen of the
SSPX were more concerned to evade this discussion than to grab it and
run with it). I mean also the much greater willingness among many to
take a longer view of the Council. The more distant an object is down
the lines of perspective, the smaller it appears to the eye (do you even
know when the Council of Vienne was?).
Benedict XVI echoed Newman's
celebrated remarks about what unpleasant events councils have generally
been and how harmful; and theologians are much less nervous now about
admitting the existence even of textual problems within Vatican II
itself. Arguably, Councils are best kept up the sleeve of the Sovereign
Pontiff. Our present Holy Father had not been long on the Throne of S
Peter when he commented on the facile optimism of Vatican II and opined
that we are not so naive today (does this make him a Cryptolefebvrian?).
At the heart of this question is a really very obvious and simple
truth: the Council earnestly and laudably desired to engage with the mundus hodiernus, the mundus huius temporis, and with nostra aetas; but we are not now still in the mundus or aetas of
the 1960s. The Council of Vienne, like Vatican II a largely practical
Council, happened 700 years ago, but it took much less time than that
for it to recede so far as to disappear off the Church's horizons; and
it is a long time since anybody was required to eat humble pie with
regard to its Conciliar documents, the "Spirit of Vienne", and "the
entire post-Viennian Magisterium".
Time itself possesses a
quasi-Magisterial status, and I think enough time has elapsed since
Vatican II to enable us to ... No: I will most certainly not say 'to renounce it'.
After all, when Philip IV collected money for a crusade within six
years and then simply embezzled that money together with the wealth he
had looted from the Templars, I do not know that the Holy See thought it
appropriate to annul the proceedings of Vienne. No; it is time simply to move on from the 1960s to the mundus hodiernus and the nostra aetas of
When an elderly ball has been kicked around for long enough,
sensible schoolboys leave it to settle quietly into the nutrients at the
bottom of the ditch, unobserved except by the water voles, and agree to
move on together to newer games. Whatever was of permanent value in
Vienne ... and Vatican II ... has merged and disappeared gradually into
what one might call the Church's general background noise (dogmatic
decrees and anathemas of dogmatic councils are, of course, a different
matter). What was unhelpful in the Conciliar texts or their consequences
... and when the Templars were led out to be burned, they probably thought that was unhelpful ... Time has purged away; or will purge."