What Went Wrong with Vatican II – Book Review
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure to read What Went Wrong with Vatican II: The Catholic Crisis Explained by Dr. Ralph McInerny. He is a favorite Thomist of mine and one whose deliberations on Vatican II must be seriously considered even if one ultimately disagrees with him. I recommend reading the book since it is such a quick and easy read, while remaining a crucial piece to understanding Vatican II. You can get it from Sophia Press who is reputable publisher.
One of the first and most important points Dr. McInerny makes is that he is not arguing about the validity of the Second Vatican Council, but takes “as a necessary premise the fact that we are bound by the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.”(p.15) This honesty is very refreshing and is, from what I have seen, about the only positive position one can take on Vatican II and remain orthodox since the documents’ words struggle to stand on their own as a beacon of orthodoxy. He does offer a solution to the difficulties of the documents by proposing that the Church’s position has been definitively defined through papal documents like Veritatis Splendor and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
In short, he argues that the crisis in the Church is not due to Vatican II, but due to the dissent of theologians to Humanae Vitae which was ultimately a dissent over authority; this dissent from authority was disguised by the seeming dispute of the morality of contraception.
I think he demonstrates this dissent by the theologians well, but as his book was written during the reign of Pope John Paul II who did indeed support traditional teachings of the Church, I am curious what Dr. McInerny might have to say of the current papacy. I make this comment because Dr. McInerny’s position seems to be supported by the orthodoxy of JPII and then Cardinal Ratzinger. What would his response be when the Pope supports and gives strength to those very theologians who had dissented earlier? Of course, Pope Francis has never clearly contradicted Church teaching in an ex cathedra style decree, but he has cast a great deal of confusion on the Church by the numerous interviews in which he supports an unorthodox position on clearly settled points of doctrine like contraception. Further, certain wording in his exhortations and an encyclicals are ambiguous to say the least. Also, I’d be love to discover if Dr. McInerny does directly take on the traditionalist viewpoint. Given his great intellectual acumen, I would be very interested to read any such paper or book as I am sure it would be quite the read.
For those of you who have read this book are decide to read it in the near future, please contribute your thoughts here at Freedom’s Discourse. We’d love to know what you think about it all!