If the Second Vatican Council had not happened, there would be no ordinariates for Catholics of Anglican tradition.
Consequently, this post by Bishop Robert Barron on Reclaiming the Second Vatican Council at Word on Fire is of crucial importance.
He explains two opposite reactions to the implementation of Vatican II, which Henri de Lubac called the implementation of a “para-council” that did not reflect the wishes of the Council fathers.
On the one hand, we have the so-called “liberal” Catholics who, under the auspices of the para-Council, encourage predominantly modernist and secular mentalities. There is a strong emphasis on the “pastoral” dimension of ministry while downplaying the intellectual and theological dimensions. Liturgy, from the para-Council view, is an anthropocentric enterprise where the gratification of the ego dictates the music, preaching, architecture, and celebration of the Eucharist. Social justice is reduced to a simple activism, which St. Teresa of Kolkata so often warned against. The Catholic identity of our schools and universities is repressed, leaving behind a shell of their former distinctiveness. As a result of these mindsets and practices, millions of Catholics have left the Church as she seemingly fades into the background of society, just another sentimental institution among others in the humdrum of civilization.
On the other hand, many “conservative” or “traditional” Catholics are in all-out rebellion against Vatican II, or more appropriately, what is falsely peddled as Vatican II. Witnessing the deterioration of solemnity, piety, catechesis, and beauty due to the para-Council, there is a temptation to “circle the wagons” and return to the tried and true infrastructures pre-Vatican II Catholicism. This regression is rooted in an admirable desire, even if its zeal is misplaced. Recognizing the steadfast doctrines, traditions, and practices of Trent, they hope to revive the past glory of the Church so she can reassert her unique presence in the world. This is verified by the growing number of young men and women who are opting for the Traditional Latin liturgy, seeing it in opposition to the liturgy of Vatican II.
Both of these competing poles are reactions to the para-Council, and each equally misunderstands the Second Vatican Council. The one side is told Vatican II opened the doors to a “new age” and “modern” theology that encourages a dismantling of the tired traditions and close-minded beliefs of the “pre-Vatican II” Church. The other is told Vatican II suppressed Latin and ad orientem, disavowed orthodox theology, and paved the way for the perversion of our religion. None of these claims are correct.
Many faithful Catholics are being attracted to the traditionalist critique because they see Vatican II used to justify modernism and progressivism, something they rightly reject.
As one theologian said to me a couple of years ago, when I was wrestling with these issues: “It’s better to be a traditionalist than a modernist; but it’s best of all to be a continuist, a word I just made up.”
And to be a continuist, is to see the Second Vatican Council in continuity with tradition –as Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI urged us to do, and not see it as a rupture, either from the perspective of the progressivists who are gleeful at rupture; and the traditionalists who abhor it.
Bishop Barron concludes with a message that is key (my emphases):
“Furthermore, most Catholics—including many persons in leadership positions within parishes and Catholic institutions—have never read the documents of the Second Vatican Council, thus remaining uninformed of its true intentions. As a result, the most essential and exciting aspects of Vatican II are given little attention: a rehabilitation of patristic and biblical scholarship in Catholic theology, an increased co-operation and openness to the traditions of the Eastern Rites, a deeper knowledge of liturgical mysticism and sacredness, an evangelical zeal to convert the modern world, a renewal of sacred art and music, a revitalization of the ancient practice of adult faith formation, a profound consideration of the marriage vocation and its role in society, etc.