VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The idea that the Second Vatican Council was a point of rupture between the pre- and post-conciliar Church is “absurd,” says Benedict XVI’s secretary of state.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said this Wednesday at a conference held to mark the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the Circle of Rome. The topic was the magisterium of Benedict XVI.
“Some maintain that the council was a sort of ‘constitution’ that eliminated an old constitution and created a new one. But this is absurd because the essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord,” the cardinal said, reported the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano.
The secretary of state noted that Vatican II has generated “two opposing interpretations”: “That of discontinuity and rupture — which often enjoys the sympathy of the media and of a part of modern theology — has caused confusion; and that of reform and renewal in the continuity of the one Church that the Lord has given, has been silently, but each day more visibly, giving fruit.”
Benedict XVI, he said, has said “‘no’ to the hermeneutic of discontinuity and ‘yes’ to that of reform as it was explained by John XXIII in the opening of the council and confirmed by Paul VI at the closing address.”
Work in progress
Cardinal Bertone explained that the pontificate of Benedict XVI “is still a work in progress,” and that it is premature “to make a balance.” Nonetheless, he noted that this Pope “has known how to take up with depth and pastoral wisdom what the council affirms in ‘Lumen Gentium’ and ‘Gaudiem et Spes’ on the mission of the Church.”
The cardinal noted the Pope’s work “at the service of unity,” both within the Church — as seen by his letter to Catholics in China, “Summorum Pontificum” and his lifting of the excommunication of four Lefebvrite bishops — and with other confessions.
He highlighted Benedict XVI’s “serene and patient dialogue […] with the leaders of the Orthodox Churches and the rest of the confessions and ecclesial communities.”
Nonetheless, Cardinal Bertone continued, “the Pope insists that to be able to dialogue with modernity, it is necessary that the Christian faith be solid, and not reduced to a mere private sentiment. The magisterium of the Pope understands the important position of the fundamental rational of faith and the relationship between faith and reason.”
The cardinal also explained that at the center of the Pontiff’s thought and work is the “constant reference to Christ,” and gave as an example his book “Jesus of Nazareth.”
“In an age in which publications are proliferated with opposite visions of Jesus,” he said, “Benedict XVI invites us to know Christ in his true history, so as to be able to meet him in his mystery of salvation.”
The Holy Father’s book “Jesus of Nazareth,” Cardinal Bertone added, conveys “all the passion the Pope nurtures for the Jesus of the Gospel, the historical figure that is reliable and convincing for every man from any culture who approaches the Gospel without prejudice.”