Joseph A. KomonchakJanuary 26, 2009 - 3:32pm0 comments
Renewal within Tradition
Edited by Matthew L. Lamb and Matthew Levering
Oxford University Press, $29.95, 488 pp.
This book is intended as an illustration of the fruitfulness of interpreting the Second Vatican Council as an instance of “renewal within tradition.” That phrase is used in contrast to the “hermeneutics of rupture or discontinuity,” which then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger criticized in a December 2002* speech to the Roman curia (the text of which is provided as a kind of preface to the volume). The editors describe the hermeneutics of rupture as overemphasizing what was new at the council, to the extent that the deeper elements of continuity with the church’s tradition are overlooked or dismissed as compromises needed to win votes for conciliar texts and foreign to “the spirit of the council”—that is, its “impulses towards the new.”
The volume is placed in service of Pope Benedict XVI’s views on how to interpret the council, yet neither its editors nor its authors offer a close reading of his remarks on the subject. The editors make little effort to explain the “hermeneutics of reform” espoused by the pope, even though the majority of his talk was devoted to the subject. For Benedict, “the very nature of true reform consists” in a “combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels.” To illustrate his point, the pope showed why the church had to come up with new definitions of the relationship between faith and modern science, between the church and the modern state, and between Christianity and the world...