Benedict and Catholicism

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My good Catholic friend, the well-known German lay intellectual, Count Wolfram von Hofmeister-Behr, has brought to my attention this article, outlining Benedict XVI's thirty year campaign to undo the liberalizing trends of Vatican II.  One thing perplexes me, however, as humble Prod outsider to all things Catholic: if V2 was such a liberal moment, from where did Humanae Vitae (1968) come?  It seems entirely consistent with earlier Catholic teaching; and if the standard liberal Catholic narrative is correct, what we are then left with is (a) a pre-V2 conservative Catholicism; (b) a radical break where the church gets liberalised (presumably by those kept at bay under (a) but who, for some inexplicable reason, still have a lot of power all of a sudden -- quite an achievement in an organization of such complex and arcane bureaucracy where the pace of change is glacial at best); then (c) a long fight back of the conservatives who, as far as Humanae Vitae is concerned, seem to have a lot of power very, very soon after V2 closes.   Doesn't quite seem to add up; but **if** V2 was not the liberalising moment that the Catholic liberals nostalgically see it to be, but something else, then an alternative narrative can be offered which perhaps makes more sense of the before and after.  Maybe the situation is more complicated than simply seeing John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI as villains, undoing the work of their predecessors.

I only raise the point because the liberal Catholic narrative of V2 is the one with which most Protestants seem to operate; and if it simply isn't true, that obviously has implications for how we understand the RCC and the significance of the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.


Posted August 9, 2010 @ 8:24 PM by Rodney Trotter
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