(NOTE: This is the opening post
by a young man, Raphael or Hythloday, who writes on the
CathNews Discussion Board. My own responses to him, which
are linked below, provide one of the best explanations I
think I have written on my own changing appreciation of
what the spiritual quest is all about.)
As a Catholic "youth" (22), I thought I'd step
from the sidelines and weigh in. I attended the national
Chesterton conference on the weekend. There were a number
of excellent talks, and though I'd grant concessionary prizes
to Race Matthews and Dale Ahquist, first honours must go
to a leading light of the Cummunio school. (I won't mention
their name for fear of libel. Someone has already called
this person a heretic based on my retelling of their talk.
This is due entirely to my poor representation, and I don't
want to repeat the error here!) Ostensibly, this person's
talk was on "G. K. Chesterton and Gaudium et Spes",
but the speaker elucidated marvellously on the cultural
battle that has gripped the Church since the 1950s.
For those who don't know, the Communio school's basic premise
is that the Church's cultural role is to free her people
from "the slavery of being children of the age".
Cardinal Ratzinger is the most prolific Communio thinker.
He notoriously remarked, in the 1960s before he was a cardinal,
that Gaudium et Spes appeared to be Pellagian. Ratzinger's
opposite is Carl Rahner, of the Concilium school, which
conceives (correctly) that Christ was a man for the people,
the Gospel is for the people, popular culture is of the
people, therefore (incorrectly) the Church must embrace
popular culture to evangelise the people.
The speaker spoke of the ambiguity of Gaudium et Spes,
arising from its construction. The writers intended the
document to be read in homes around the world. Not just
Catholic homes either, but protestant, Orthodox, and even
non-Christian homes. Thus references to peculiarly Catholic
dogmas, not to mention subtle intellectual distinctions,
was shed. Wild interpretation of the document resulted.
Peter, you write of "the scandal-giving agenda of
Vatican II with its 'inculturation'". Well, Communio
thinkers would disagree with you. Ratzinger may have thought
Gaudium et spes appeared Pellagian, but John Paul II ended
his fears after he called a synod early in his papacy to
address the interpretation of conciliar documents. He ruled
that paragraph 22 of Gaudium et spes must be taken as the
hermeneutic (intellectual "lens") through which
the faithful interpret the document.
What's paragraph 22? Good question. It synthesises Christology
and anthropology, and it also expresses one of the foundations
of JPII's thought: the scandal of the Incarnation, God becoming
man, fully reveals man to himself. This, according to our
most impressive speaker, stuck a blow to the Concilium cause.
Alisdair McIntyre is (after the Pope perhaps) our age's
leading critic of modernism. He is merely following in the
footsteps of Chesterton. Both claim that the secular humanist
and Nietszcean traditions which inform contemporary ethics
will deteriorate into nihilism. Here is there line of argument:
The ethical claim that each individual
human life is infinitely precious relies on "Catholic
capital". Thinkers who were formed by Christian tradition,
even if they choose to think outside of it, have no problem
in asserting the innate dignity of each human being. Over
time, new thinkers emerge who don't share the Christian
heritage. Realists will study a red-faced, wart-nosed butcher
with vulgar tastes and confess that they cannot see how
he has any dignity. On what basis can we claim that he is
infinitely precious and inviolable? We can't, except by
recognising that the butcher is made in the image of God.
The post-Christian realist can't make that assertion. Thus
the Peter Singer position takes hold.
This is one way that demonstrates the importance of paragraph
22. Our speaker also used this argument to demonstrate that
contemporary culture is irreconcilable with the Gospels,
and that the Concilium project is doomed to failure. We
can see the Concilium experiment in the reforms of the liturgy,
especially in the excesses of "rock masses". Ughhh!
(Talk about cheating us of the sacred!!)
Anyway, the speaker's point, and mine too, is that Vatican
II isn't in itself guilty of this. And, I will personally
add, the problem can't be reduced to Tridentine v. Novus
ordo. Peter, your analysis of youth alienation is correct
at its foundation, but it doesn't go far enough. Think beyond