noun, the most important part of a thing, the essence; from the
Latin cor, meaning heart.
This Views Guest Column
July 22, 2002
Even the Devil Can Quote Vatican II Documents for His Purposes
Rev. Richard P. McBrien has an article in Tidings
on the Voice of the Faithful. McBrien argues that VOTF is a good thing, as it
fulfills the supposed goals of Vatican II to have the laity take part in Church
governance. In fact, he says the hopes of Vatican II will never be fulfilled
without the direct and meaningful involvement of laity in the life and mission
of the Catholic Church. By meaningful" one should understand that
McBrien means for the laity to be in charge of the bishops; in other words,
for the laity to take on the role of ruling.
Fr. McBrien then quotes some documents of Vatican II to support his case, which
is good. Most often, people will cite the amorphous Spirit of Vatican
II without giving sources. However, McBrien quotes these documents in
misleading ways. He points out the parts of the documents that call for the
laity to participate actively in the sanctifying mission of the Church, but
leaves out the parts that specify the obligations of the laity.
For example, he quotes the Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, n. 10, which
says that the laity have an active part to play in the life and activity
of the Church. (McBrien doesnt capitalize church, as
it should be. Perhaps he is talking about some other church than the Catholic
Church?) But McBrien leaves out quotes such as n. 24: But no enterprise
must lay claim to the name Catholic if it has not the approval of
legitimate ecclesiastical authority.
McBrien quotes the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, n. 31, on how the
laity is also charged with the threefold mission of Christ to teach, rule, and
sanctify. But he leaves out n. 37 on the obedience that the laity is the show:
Like all Christians, the laity should promptly accept in Christian obedience
what is decided by the pastors who, as teachers and rulers of the Church, represent
Christ. In this they will follow Christs example who, by his obedience
unto death, opened the blessed way of liberty of the sons of God to all men.
So obedience is a holy duty for the laity, by which we imitate Christ, who perfectly
obeyed the saving will of God the Father.
Finally, McBrien quotes the Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, n.
9, on the duty of parish priests to listen to their parishioners and to strive
to collaborate with them. But he leaves out the part on the obligations of the
laity to their priests: They should treat them with filial love as being
their fathers and pastors.
One must be very careful whenever one encounters Fr. Richard McBrien. He is
very skilled at making himself seem to be just another faithful priest, but
he is no such thing. He uses every opportunity available to him (and they are
many, as he is always on the television screen) to tear down the Mystical Body
of Christ and replace it with the Elected Body of Man. But we must always remember
that the Church is not a democracy, but rather is a monarchy with Christ as
the King. We have the current hierarchical structure, as unwieldy and difficult
as it may be, because Christ set it up that way.
The apostles (sinners all) were entrusted with the role of governing the Church
in order to safeguard the precious truths handed on to them by Jesus. If we
undergo the kind of structural change supported by McBrien and intimated by
the mission statement of VOTF, Keep the faith, change the church,
we will not keep the faith. The faith only comes to us by the Church. If we
change the Church, making it more democratic or responsive to the modern age,
we run the risk of losing our faith.