To Sanctify the World: The Vital Legacy of Vatican II by George Weigel

(New York: Basic Books, 2022-10-04), 311



Introduction: Reimagining Vatican II

read 2023-09-17-Sun

  • "There is a striking similarity, however, between the voices claiming that the Council was a catastrophic mistake and those insisting that it ushered in a Brave new Catholicism. Both seem largely ignorant of the reasons why John XXIII thought an ecumenical council necessary, just as they seem unfamiliar with what Vatican II actually taught." (5-6)

Part I: Why Vatican II Was Necessary

Chapter 1: Crisis? What Crisis?

Summary: Ecumenical Councils have been responses to crises in the Church. The crisis of Vatican II was identified by Newman as proclaiming the Gospel to an irreligious world.

  • I often to think to look back at history to put our problems in perspective and realize that they aren't as bad as may be we think they are. But Newman seems to say the opposite!

I know that all times are perilous, and that in every time serious and anxious minds, alive to the honour of God and the needs of man, are apt to consider no times so perilous as their own. Still I think that the trials which lay before us are such as would appal and make dizzy even such courageous hearts as St. Athanasius, St. Gregory I, or St. Gregory VII. And they would confess that dark as the prospect of their own day was to them severally, ours has a darkness different in kind from any that has been before it... [For] Christianity has never yet had experience of a world simply irreligious.
–Sermon 9: The infidelity of the Future

Chapter 2: Modernity as Ideology

Summary: The crisis of modernity flows through the displacement of metaphysics with epistemology by Descartes and the atheistic humanism of Comte, Feuerbach, Marx, Nietzsche, and Darwin. Their ideas led to the political tinderbox in Europe.

Chapter 3: The New Thirty Years War

Summary: The ideology of modernity (atheistic humanism and incorrect anthropology) led to the horrors of the two world wars.

Chapter 4: The End of Christendom

Summary: The world wars in some sense destroyed Christendom as Newman predicted, leaving us with the "New Paganism" described by Ratzinger.

Chapter 5: The Renewal of the Catholic Mind

Summary: Catholic thinkers met modernity with answers sourced from the Bible and Fathers and rooted in Christ. Leo XIII started a revolution by opening discussions with modernity. The ressourcement thinkers brought a Christ-centered return to primary sources.

Chapter 6: What Kind of Church?

Summary: The ultramontanism emphasizing a strong papacy and the Church's self-understanding as the "perfect society" came to be replaced with a self-understanding as the "mystical body of Christ" and opened the door for Vatican II.

Chapter 7: What Kind of Council? To What Ends?

Summary: Vatican II was to be our invitation to the spiritual renewal of the Church and the world, a new Pentacost.

Part II: What Vatican II Taught

Chapter 8: The Council's Distinctive Features

Summary: Vatican II was not the first modern Council, but it was distinctive for its size and diversity and media presence. Rather than reading the Council through the bi-modal "liberal/conservative" lens, we must return to the sources of the Council: John XIII's statements and the Council documents.

Chapter 9: John XXIII's Original Intention

Summary: John XXIII summoned Vatican II to launch the recovery of a Christocentric, evangelical Church.

  • John XXIII to the preparatory commission:
    • "The Mass, the Divine Office, the Rosary; these are the things that give us strongest support." (100)
    • "We wish you, during this time of preparation for the Council to read each day a few pages of St. John's gospel, and the meditate on them for a while, for there the heavens are opened for us and we are allowed to contemplate the mystery of God's word." (101)

Chapter 10: The Word of God Breaks Through the Silence

Summary: Dei Verbum is the fundamental achievement of Vatican II; we accept God searching for us in Divine Revelation in both Scripture and Tradition, interpreted through the lens of Magisterium.

  • Good image: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition both come to us from God, and are focused for us by the lens of the Magisterium of the Church (121)

Chapter 11: Sacrament of Authentic Human Community

Summary: Lumen Gentium offers a biblically enriched, theologically deepended, and mission-driven ecclesiology to sanctify the world and create authentic human community.

Chapter 12: To Worship the One Worthy of Worship

Summary: Sacrosanctum Concilium is intrinsically linked to DV and LG to renew Catholicism as a Christocentric, sacramentally ordered, and evangelically vibrant force for the world's conversion and sanctification. The Church's worship is the fullest expression of what the Church is.

Chapter 13: Design for a Christocentric Humanism

Summary: Lumen Genium should be read as a pastoral development on the doctrinal teaching of DV and LG, and can be seen as putting forward a new Christian humanism where "Christ the Lord...fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling.

Chapter 14: Truth, Liberty, and the Limits of State Power

Summary: Dignitatis Humanae (declaration on religious freedom) calls for a modernity in which men are free to fulfill their innate desire for communion with the divine, where freedom is intrinsically ordered toward truth.

  • Weigel seems to disagree with the "integralists" like C. C. Pecknold? (178, 188)

Chapter 15: Witnesses and Missionaries

_Summary: Christus Dominus affirms bishops as successors of the apostles, supported national conferences, and insisted that the Church have authority to appoint bishops. Presbyterorum Ordinis articulates a theology of the priesthood which flows from the priest's conversion to Christ and unique configuration to Christ in the sacrament. Optatum Totius fosters the education of holy, intelligent, and competent priests. Perfectae Caritatis calls for an increase in holiness in the Church through the evangelical councils of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Apostolicam Actuositatem emphasizes the laity's role in the mission of the Church. Gravissimum Educationis gives a vision of Christian education that forms the whole person in an integrated way with parents as primary educators. Inter Mirifica was adopted before the Council found its distinctive voice, but does charge parents to ensure degrading materials never find their way into the home. Ad Gentes shows how missionary activity is central to the Church _

Chapter 16: From Plurality to Pluralism

Summary: Christendom was over, and the Council worked to transform plurality into pluralism. Orientalium Ecclesiarum recognized the unique spiritualities, disciplines, and liturgies of the Eastern Churches, and called for a Church that "breaths with both lungs". Unitatis Redintegratio recognizes degrees of communion and that the Holy Spirit is the chief agent in the quest for Christian unity. Nostra Aetate taught that the Church has a duty to foster unity and charity and that the Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in other religions. a

Part III: The Keys to Vatican II

Chapter 17: Jacques Maritain's Lament

Summary: Maritain advocated for religious liberty and condemnation of anti-semitism and his Thomistic personalism helped shape the Council's Christocentric anthropology. But he warned about coming apostasy in the name of the "spirit of the council".

Chapter 18: The Council Without Keys

Summary: Vatican II did not provide authoritative keys for interpretation (creed, etc.) leading to controversy over its interpretation and implementation. Paul VI helped bring the Council to consensus and successful conclusion, but he lost control over some parts of its implementation.

Chapter 19: Keys to the Council: John Paul II

Summary: The pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI gave the Council an authoritative interpretation.

Chapter 20: Keys to the Council: Benedict XVI

Summary: Benedict distinguished between the "hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture" vs the "hermeneutic of reform".

Chapter 21: The Master Key

Summary: The Extraordinary Synod of 1985 provided two master keys in the Council's interpretation by giving a view of the Church as communion (communio), and by commissioning the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Chapter 22: Christ at the Center

Summary: The teaching of Vatican II can be summed up as Christ at the center of history, of the cosmos, and of the quest for an authentic humanism.

Topic: Vatican II (read for Lent 2024 Vatican II Study)


Created: 2022-12-12-Mon
Updated: 2024-03-31-Sun