Zusammenfassung / Summary
This article deals with the book of Roberto de Mattei on Vatican II. Mattei offers a critical view of the history of this Council, including its pre-history and post-history, from the point of view of the Council’s opponents, specifically the Society of St. Pius X. He is in agreement with the “school” of Alberigo that one can seriously consider the Council an historical “event” and should not, for the sake of an artificial “hermeneutic of continuity” ignore this event-character and reduce the Council merely to its decrees. He actually represents the Council as a “conspiracy” of “modernistic” forces that took the unsuspecting majority by surprise and swept it away. It is, he claims, especially the issues of “religious freedom” and episcopal collegiality that represent a “break with the tradition.”
Criticism can be summed up in the following points:
1. The claim of a “break with the tradition”, as concerns both the course and methods of Vatican II as well as its teachings, betrays, not infrequently, an ignorance of the complexity and change characteristic of church tradition.
2. The charge that the Council was a “subversion” is based on an absolutistic council ideal that not even Vatican I, and in no way even the Council of Trent could live up to. Frequently, as with the interventions of Frings and Liénart or on the appointments to the commissions, or on the voting on the first schema on revelation on 20.11.1962, the real contexts and situations are falsified.
3. The indisputably actual “conflictive” moments are isolated, and the consensus-building that characterizes Vatican II as few other councils, is downplayed. The actual reasons that decided the majority of the at-first “undecided” council fathers to agree with the impulses of conciliar “renewal” are passed over in silence.
4. Simplifications and clichés that fail to do justice to the complexity of the historical situation, and thus also reverse the meaning of much of the Council’s doings (e. g. Wojtyla on religious freedom) characterize the author’s work especially on religious freedom, “Gaudium et Spes”, and the omission of the “condemnation of Communism”.