And we know that this Council of the media was accessible to all. So, dominant, more efficient, this Council created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery, in reality: seminaries closed, convents closed, the liturgy was trivialized … and the true Council has struggled to materialize, to be realized: the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council. But the real strength of the Council was present and slowly it has emerged and is becoming the real power which is also true reform, true renewal of the Church.
It seems to me that 50 years after the Council, we see how this Virtual Council is breaking down, getting lost and the true Council is emerging with all its spiritual strength. And it is our task, in this Year of Faith, starting from this Year of Faith, to work so that the true Council with the power of the Holy Spirit is realized and Church is really renewed. We hope that the Lord will help us.
I, retired in prayer, will always be with you, and together we will move ahead with the Lord in certainty. The Lord is victorious! Thank you.
—Benedict XVI, February 14, 2013
Immediate reaction to the address of the Holy Father to the Roman clergy has been varied. Some have interpreted his comments as a remarkable and a new revelation of his disdain for the conciliar reforms; others as a poor attempt of distinguishing the work of the Council itself from its aftermath. In fact, he has simply reaffirmed what he has been saying since the beginning of his pontificate, namely, that Council needs to be interpreted according to a hermeneutic of continuity and reform, not one of rupture.
His distinctions between the Council of the Fathers and the Council of the Media and between the Virtual Council and the Real Council are correlated to continuity and rupture. But here the emphasis is not placed on the key to the correct interpretation of the Council, but on the distinction between the two messengers of conciliar reform. One might call them the heralds of continuity and the heralds of rupture.
The media created the Virtual Council on the basis of reading between the lines of the conciliar documents an “impulse toward the new.” This Virtual Council seems to have won out until recently, or perhaps better, the momentum of the Virtual Council has taken a long time to wane.
It is worth noting that the Holy Father makes a distinction between the Council of the Media and of the Fathers and not of the Theologians and the Magisterium. Perhaps this is because the “theologians” promulgated their ideas to whole Church, not through the halls of the academia, but through the instruments of propaganda. Alinskian pressure tactics have been a hallmark of the postconciliar crisis.
Pope Benedict has indicated before that the hermeneutic of rupture is not unique to the progressives within the Church, but is shared with the those of the traditionalist persuasion. In particular, as the trend moves in favor of the Council of the Fathers the traditionalists gain a bit of credibility. But they must maintain in principle their opposition to the Council. Hence, they also have recourse to the instruments of propaganda, not engaging in the appropriate dialogue directly with the magisterium but fighting their battle in the media, perpetuating the Council of the Media.
It is then significant that on the same day the Holy Father delivered this brilliant discourse, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith delivered an ultimatum to the SSPX. Return to dialogue with the Holy See by February 23 or the CDF will make on offer of reconciliation to individual priests of the SSPX.
In his discourse, the Holy Father touches on most of the delicate issues that are at the heart of the crisis: the liturgy; ecclesiology; revelation, sacred scripture and tradition; ecumenism, religious dialogue and religious liberty. I have read comment after comment from traditionalists to the effect that the Pope is dreaming if on these issues he wants to make a real distinction between the Virtual Council and the Real Council. For example, the traditionalists are closed to an organic development of the liturgy as it is properly defined and moderated by the pope. That there can be a reasonable balance between the use of Latin and the vernacular cannot even be discussed. The same is true with issues touching the Church. That collegiality can be based on something other than a democratic reinterpretation of Church authority cannot be considered either.
At some point we will all have to surrender our opinions and accept the momentous providence of these times. These are tremendous and unprecidented prophetic graces that the Church is receiving, even through the resignation of the Holy Father. There is only one way out of the crisis and that is on the Bark of Peter, not adrift on the flotsam of the media buzz.
Thank you, Your Holiness.
Two thousand years ago the name was Caiaphas….in 2013 the name is Fellay.