21 December 2012

The Venerable Paul VI

I've seen some of the debate in the last few days, and decided I'd add my $.02 on one issue that keeps cropping up: Vatican II.

The usual manner in which VII comes up in the debate is in comments along the lines of: "But how can he be venerable?  He implemented Vatican II and it was a disaster!  Look at the Church now!"  Yes, the Church has declined in many areas since the time of VII, but just how correlated are the two?  Is it a cause and effect relationship, or have those who blame all the ills of the Church upon the council and Paul VI for implementing it engaging in a Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc (Afterwards, therefore because of) fallacy?

In my little history of the Church in my archdiocese, when I ended by attempting to evaluate what happened to us in the last sixty years or so, I pointed mainly to secular causes.  Here's why: If you look at the Church in my area, attendance is down since the council, catechesis is terrible, and vocations have all but fallen away to nothing.  But if you look at the other churches, the Anglicans, the United, Presbyterians, and so on, you will see they have had an even worse, near total collapse, and they have no Vatican II to blame it on.  Their almost total collapse is almost entirely due to secular forces.  My question is therefore not why did the Church fall so badly, but why wasn't it worse?  As a partial answer, I would like to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we might consider that VII and the Pontificate of Paul VI may actually have helped steer us around some dangers, and rather than condemning him for not being better, we may wish to give thanks that he kept some wolves at bay. 

No comments: