Fr. Longenecker has a good piece up about how mainstream journalists are misinterpreting the reformist attitude of Pope Francis as a revolutionary spirit. This is the same wishful thinking that was applied to Blessed John Paul II, when after his election he was expected to change all the rules and revolutionize the Church. Fr. Longenecker develops his thought on the matter thus:
The problem with the narrative devised by the secular press is that it is constructed on philosophical presuppositions of which the journalists themselves are probably ignorant. The modern secular world interprets world events and history according to a hermeneutic of revolution or what Pope Benedict called a hermeneutic of rupture. This is essentially a Hegelian understanding of history in which there is thesis, antithesis and synthesis. In other words, there is a status quo, there is the challenge to the status quo and this brings about conflict out of which a new order is born.
And then he moves from the present situation with Pope Francis to the root problem of this revolutionary interpretation:
This contrast between reform and revolution sheds light on the recent history of the Catholic Church. The Second Vatican Council was a reforming council, but it was not a revolutionary council. Unfortunately, in an age of revolution, with the zeitgeist one of revolution, the council was hi-jacked by those who could not see the world in anything but revolutionary terms. Thus I still hear Catholics speak about “pre-Vatican II” and “post Vatican II” as if a great revolution took place. The other day a fellow priest condemned our plans for a traditional style church saying that “It is pre-Vatican II. We are supposed to build modern churches now that encourage participation.” The true interpretation of the second Vatican Council is that it reformed the church, but did not bring about a revolution. The Second Vatican Council corrected, adjusted and expanded the ministry of the church and the truths of the faith through the continued guidance of the Holy Spirit. It was never intended to be revolutionary and iconoclastic. The wreckage of the Catholic Church in the wake of Vatican II was an abuse, not a right use.
I completely agree with Father’s assessment. I would just mention that the revolutionary interpretation of both Pope Francis and the Council is facilitated by a counter-revolutionary spirit which accepts the revolutionary interpretation of the Council in the name of preserving Tradition. In fact, many traditionalists, including those who are in full communion with Rome and attend the novus ordo frequently, subscribe to the position that Vatican II was a revolution that must be answered with a counter-revolution.
The critique of Pope Francis is from both the progressive and traditionalist edges of the Church. It is the same critique with opposing motives.
Our Lady Undoer of Knots, pray for Us!
God said, “This is my son, in whom I Am well pleased. Listen to Him.”
Mary said, “Do what He tells you.”
How I wish the Church would employ such brevity so as to reach those it was Intended to.
Actually, most of the traditionalists (with whom I have great sympathies, and with whom I often identify) I know and/or know of, do not see Vatican II as “a revolution that must be answered with a counter-revolution,” but–just as Fr. Longenecker said–a council that was hijacked and needs to be rescued from rampant and abhorrent misinterpretation and misapplication. You may be referring to “rad-trads,” as they are called, who often do come at that council itself as if it were something that needs to be worked against. In any case, “traditionalism” has a broader context than Vatican II–talking about it as if it doesn’t only works in a discourse that ITSELF treats Vatican II as it if was a uniquely pivotal and revolutionary moment within Church history, thereby succumbing to the same tendency bemoaned. The broader context of traditionalism is one of reclamation and resistance: reclamation of the traditions that have been lost, suppressed, and squandered by the march of modernism (and now post-modernism), and resistance to further loss, suppression, and squandering. In that sense, you could say traditionalism (broadly defined) is counter-revolutionary.