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What do they really say?… New Session Of Courses Begins Study Of Vatican II Documents

September 22, 2021 Frontpage No Comments

By DEXTER DUGGAN 
 
PHOENIX — Beginning a fall semester of courses on documents of Vatican II, the assistant director of the Institute of Catholic Theology (ICT) here said that “in many ways they were hijacked” by liberal forces. 
Because of this, said Bill Marcotte, it’s important to see what the documents actually say. 
The ICT is an evangelization program based at St. Thomas the Apostle parish here. 
Later during the September 11 session, which was conducted both in-person at the church campus and by Zoom, one of the morning’s speakers, Will Wright, referred to Marcotte saying that many forces tried to hijack Vatican II. 
However, Wright said, Pope John XXIII — who in 1959 announced his intention to convene the Second Vatican Council — said he did not aim to propose new Church teachings there. 
After preparatory work was done, the council lasted from 1962 through 1965. 
This ICT session dealt with three Vatican II documents. Two were decrees — Inter Mirifica, the decree on the media of social communications, and Ad Gentes, on the mission activity of the Church. The third, Nostra Aetate, was a declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions. 
Wright, the director of sacred liturgy at Prince of Peace Church in Sun City West, Ariz., explained that a decree is of a lower level than a declaration or a constitution. 
“It’s really important to read these documents for what they say, and not what we think they say,” Wright said. 
He said people often think of missionary activity as done when going to a far-off place, or going door-to-door, but it’s simply the work of God in which Catholics take part. 
The clergy and hierarchy are called to sanctify the laity, and the laity are called to sanctify the world, Wright said. 
Wright said he thinks it’s a mistake to ignore the life of the Church before 1960 — in other words, around when Vatican II began — and to focus only on what occurred since. 
Before Wright’s presentation, Rae-Mi Leroy spoke to the session on the Church and social communications. She previously worked in the Hollywood entertainment industry and is project manager at St. Jean Vianney Church in Arizona’s red-rocks territory of Sedona. Leroy converted to the Catholic Church three and a half years ago, she said. 
The decree on the media of social communications said the Church has a duty to announce the Gospel through all media, calling especially on priests, religious and laity who have the special skills in this area, Leroy said. 
However, she added, much in the nature of the media has changed greatly since Vatican II, and today everyone can be producers of media content. 
Referencing this Vatican II document, she said, “Communication is central to the life of the Church.” 
Given media saturation with negative content, “I know it is so tempting to walk away from media completely,” but don’t do that, Leroy said. 
By way of comparison, she said, what if the Apostles had said they wouldn’t use the roads built by the Romans to carry Jesus’ message to the world because the Romans had crucified Him? 
Still, Leroy said, since she converted to Catholicism, “I watch TV less and less.” 
Part of the introduction to Inter Mirifica said: “The Church recognizes that these media, if properly utilized, can be of great service to mankind, since they greatly contribute to men’s entertainment and instruction as well as to the spread and support of the Kingdom of God.” 
It added: “The Church recognizes, too, that men can employ these media contrary to the plan of the Creator and to their own loss. Indeed, the Church experiences maternal grief at the harm all too often done to society by their evil use.” 
Wright said that Nostra Aetate, the declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions, is “a very, very short declaration,” only 19 paragraphs long, and is filled with prudential judgments. 
He pointed to its opening paragraph: “In our time, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together, and the ties between different peoples are becoming stronger, the Church examines more closely her relationship to non-Christian religions. In her task of promoting unity and love among men, indeed among nations, she considers above all in this declaration what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship.” 
It’s very hard to have a conversation with someone you don’t have much in common with, Wright said, without starting with commonalities. 
This declaration makes factual statements about other religions’ approaches, he said, not statements of whether they do them rightly or wrongly. For instance, regarding Hinduism, it says: “… men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry.” 
It adds: “They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust.” 
As for the Catholic Church, it’s built on a Temple Jewish foundation, Wright said, adding that an early heresy rejected the Old Testament, but the Church said no to this. 
God will give Catholics the grace to propose Gospel truths to all people, not impose them, he said. 

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