The Church’s “Long War”?
Sandro Magister has the text of Benedict’s Q&A with priests at his vacation home in northern Italy. (This is the pope’s preferred way of communicating in a more casual manner; it is effective, and enlightening, as he seems comfortable in this setting.) The excerpt Magister has posted is Benedict’s response to the final question, regarding the hopes and disappointments of Vatican II. It is a very comprehensive response by the pope, and I think sums up well his thinking about the Council (and the modern world) and the long struggle in which he–and we, if recent threads are any indicator–are all engaged to “define” Vatican II, and modern Catholicism. The pope reveals his typically binary, or I daresay Manichean, view of the conflicts, and his view of himself as occupying the proper center, which he says will hold as long as it has to. The prospect of such a long struggle, as in the early years of the church, as Benedict says, could be dispiriting. But this also seems to point toward a question Peggy Steinfels posted recently about why the Commonweal bloggers and commenters, in particular, seem more concerned with things ecclesial while the magazine itself has traditionally taken a wider view. I suspect that for the first decades of Commonweal’s existence most of the Catholic things we fight about today were taken for granted. Now it is as if we have to settle those ad intra debates before we can constructively engage the wider culture more than we do now. Just an idea for thoughtul (I hope) feedback, or correction.