What Vatican II REALLY Was -- According to a Papabile
On October 11, 60 years ago, the Second Vatican Council opened. On this occasion an interview was conducted with Cardinal Matteo Zuppi to look back and take stock: What was the Second Vatican Council and what is left of it? Matteo Zuppi, member of the Community of Sant'Egidio, was appointed Archbishop of Bologna in 2015 by Pope Francis, in the spirit of a Bergoglian “kindness”, succeeding Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, visited by Francis in Bologna in 2017, created Cardinal in 2019, and 2022 by named by him as his deputy to the Italian Bishops' Conference. Since he received the purple, Cardinal Zuppi has been considered a possible papabile in the coming conclave, which is why his remarks are of particular importance. The historian and publicist Cristina Siccardi analyzed the interview.
Vatican II and the hopes and disappointments of Cardinal Zuppi
By Cristina Siccardi*
When Vatican II opened 60 years ago, on October 11, 1962, the progressive faction of the assembly, a minority, was scraping. Its protagonists stood ready, prepared and enthusiastic for the revolutionary changes that Pope John XXIII made possible. who, for no apparent reason, had decided to convene a council for a Church that was to be "dusted" with new and exciting goals - above all, no longer condemning the theological errors and mistakes of the world, but resolving towards them to accept and follow the secularized and anti-Christian "signs of the times".
Time is, as they say, a “gentleman”, we just have to practice the virtue of patience, and the causes of these revolutionary decisions have led to a physiological derailment of their effects. Through the decades we can make an informed assessment of motives and consequences, and we have evidence of this in the protagonists of the time themselves, which we hear and read with great Christian reverence. There is a poverty and sparseness in their elaborations that is embarrassingly impressive: they are ex-revolutionaries who have glorified themselves and are now stunned, with nothing left to say and groping in the dark, seeking support they cannot find, and about tripping over the shards that they themselves have broken.
It is a disintegrating secular Church that has no more answers, that has nothing more to teach, and that confines itself to an attitude of “listening” as its ultimate purpose toward all but the Church of All Ages. The ten plagues of Egypt have reached Rome, but like the ancient pharaoh of Moses' day, these churchmen collapse with impressive pride rather than bow. They do not practice self-criticism and no longer kneel before God, but again and again and meaninglessly before men.
We were able to do all this on October 6th, in a dramatic way and with extraordinary evidence, in an interview with Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna and President of the Italian Bishops' Conference, on the bishops' television channel TV2000, also reproduced by the bishops' daily Avvenire. The answers given to Gennaro Ferrara, the host of the evening, which was also attended by Monsignor Luigi Bettazzi, the last living Italian Father of the Council (the other guests were: the theologian Simona Segoloni; the journalist and Vaticanist Gian Franco Svidercoschi; Ernesto Preziosi, President of the Center for Historical and Social Studies CENSES Roberto Bettazzi, the guitarist of the first Beat Mass in Italy, celebrated on January 26, 1969 filmed in the Church of Santa Maria di Cafaggio and organized by the Istituto Lucewas), were stuttering, limping, uncertain, fuzzy, full of “maybe” and conditional clauses in the subjunctive, without ever giving up the stubbornness of persevering on the path of conciliar errors despite the bad fruits of this tree. The title of the program was “1962-2022: The Council of the Future”, which revealed with great clarity the truth of what the Council objectively was: a sandcastle built on sand.
In just under 18 minutes and 54 seconds (including the questions and a documentary insert by Pope Francis), the cardinal managed to convey the authentic meaning of this council and what it produced: a catastrophe, the real self-destruction of the Church. But let's take a closer look at what was said to "commemorate" (or rather, scuttle) this 60th anniversary of the illusions and at times hallucinations that were being ridden and utterly disappointed at the time.
The starting point was the evening of October 11, 1962, the day on which Matteo Zuppi celebrated his seventh birthday. However, he remembers nothing of that day and said: "Perhaps I got the encouragement that, shall we say, Pope John recommended to me" (meaning the media-effective legendary "Moon Speech"). He therefore immediately refers to the memories of his father, who worked on the Sunday edition of the Osservatore Romano and was extraordinarily involved in the edition at the end of the Council: "I still keep them with so many testimonies, precisely with this emotion of the Council of the conclusion of the Council."In the 1970s, Zuppi was an active protagonist of the ecclesiastical "Spring" in the Community of Sant'Egidio.Those years, according to the presenter, were full of hopes and expectations for the Church and the world, which is why, to stay with the Church, he asked the question: “Which of the expectations you had as a boy do you think have been fulfilled and which ones were disappointed?" Zuppi replied as follows: "Good question. Perhaps the most fulfilled expectation is at the word [of God], after all it was the discovery of the word, the everydayness of the word of a Church and a Gospel that did not remain locked in the sacristies or in the sacred sphere but accompanied us. Hence, according to Ferrara, “the personal reading”, which Zuppi confirmed: “The small bibles, maybe someone remembers the Florentines, those from the Fiorentina publishing house, these small, these first small bibles” that were brought to meetings, "It was an accompaniment, a discovery, let's say of a Gospel that you carried in your pocket, exactly, let's put it that way," ... "and perhaps we have forgotten that a little and left it too much to the lectionary, and that is well, but perhaps more than the Sunday or weekday lectionary we should have a personal, direct relationship with the Word.”
And in what was he disappointed?
Cardinal Zuppi:“There too, a great discovery of those years was communion, a dimension of communion... The Church was communion... The risk is that we label communion, but it has become too little... The Church is not enough becoming communion… too much individual… sometimes… so… that… a relationship more of organon… more structural than the beautiful discovery of the dimension of fraternity, of community, of family… I would say that perhaps it has not changed so much as it could and should have done as the Church ought to be.”
The idea behind the selection of the title for the evening referred to the path indicated by the Council and thus to Ferrara's question: “Is it still a path to be followed? What does it mean to say that we simply have to follow the designated path? Or, if we play with the title: Do we even need a new Council?”
Cardinal Zuppi: “No, first of all we still have to understand it, live it. The Council... there is a reading, there is of course that spirit, that enthusiasm, that perspective... that we have yet to put into practice... All Councils obviously had a... their times. No? ...times of implementation because the Church is a very complicated body...it's never a directive, even in the most vertical times it's never been like that...a button, something that then descended...according to some, even the Council of Trent is in any part didn't arrive, let alone... we still have time, let's put it that way. But we must... and I feel like we live it fully... this quest.”
Cardinal Zuppi then quoted Benedict XVI, attributing words to him that cannot be found.
Cardinal Zuppi:"Ten years ago, Pope Benedict gave a very important speech on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Council, in which he said: 'We must live this sober drunkenness of the Council, which is also marked by the disappointments that this enthusiasm actually caused at the time, better… which this enthusiasm, this hope, the expectation that the Council did not know how to realize what it contained. We have to start again from this sober drunkenness, from this Pentecost.' The Pope said, 'What must we do? Get on our way again. Leaving again' and he pointed to the road to Santiago to say, look, 'so many are leaving, are on their way, we must go with them'. It seems to me that that what we are doing with Pope Francis, precisely because today we must relive this sober drunkenness also with passion and enthusiasm, if we will, also with this naivety, this hope that the Council... has offered... even though we are experiencing many difficulties, and we have also noticed many problems that have accompanied us in these years."
Ferrara interjects, let's talk about this journey, which is obviously a journey forward. Zuppi says, " Some people would prefer to walk backwards," and between giggles, the cardinal adds, "Best wishes...in general, but...anyway, life goes on."
The question arises spontaneously: continue walking, even though we have lost our way and are still groping in the dark?
Gennaro Ferrara then recalled that the cardinal, in a recent interview with the Osservatore Romano, had said that we do not need to be nostalgic for Christianity, that we must overcome the logic of numbers, that we pay attention to thirst and not to the desert should sue. "What does that mean for the Church? "
Cardinal Zuppi: "Well...er...it means...let's say that sometimes we feel...everything has changed, so much has changed...perhaps because so many communities are changing physically...the Impression is that… the idea was that we had everything under control, but we don't have everything under control anymore. In reality, the most sensitive people had already had this experience, they understood it 80 years ago. It always strikes me that Don Primo Mazzolari wrote in 1938 the book I lontani (The Distant Ones) and the Pope... Bishop Montini created a popular mission in Milan, precisely because he felt the distance, the remoteness of entire sections of the population, especially the working class. France, a missionary country, was the big question of the 1940s... What I mean to say is that there is an understanding... they had sensed it before the Council... the Council was a great opportunity to speak to the people, to tell people today that the Gospel is not something from the past, from this great paradigm that Paul VI. had indicated, that of the Samaritan, that was the great perspective of the Council. I would say that today we get to talk to everyone again, and that's also a... it's harder for us. Evangelii gaudium consists precisely in going out into the street to talk to everyone again, to understand the many questions that are hidden, that maybe... that are formulated differently, but which are nevertheless the questions addressed by the answer of the Gospel."
Then we moved on to the theme of collegiality, a dimension that will be lived with the 2021-2023 Synod under the motto "Let us walk together as a Church in the Holy Spirit", a title that echoes exactly the pastoral letter of Cardinal Michele Pellegrino, then Archbishop of Turin, of December 8, 1971. Forgive me, Lord President of the Italian bishops, and that is supposed to be forward-looking and far-sighted? Would that be a step forward, where to? Don't you see the abyss of souls that don't just want to be heard, but long for strong, earnest, courageous, powerful spiritual, evangelical and doctrinal teachings from you, the heirs of the apostles?
Bishop Bettazzi had told Zuppi how happy he was to see 2,500 Council Fathers from all over the world at the assembly: a picture of the collegial, communitarian Church. The synod, it was explained, was linked to the Second Vatican Council. And what about all the rest of the bimillennial church, where has it gone? Zuppi said: " Synodality is the way of listening to the whole people of God, which is why it completes it [the Council]"; “The three parts: the primacy of the pope, collegiality as the great discovery and consciousness of the Council, i.e. the bishops, synodality, and the whole people of God. They all complement each other.”
Finally, the interviewer asked a question about the liturgy: “ Let's talk about the liturgy: is it a fulfilled promise or a betrayal? On the one hand, it is a fruit of the Council, in today's language and no longer in Latin, and yet this project of bringing the liturgy closer to the lives of those who celebrate it cannot be said to have been completed even today...”.
Cardinal Zuppi: “There are two dimensions that meet in the celebration of the Eucharist, in the liturgy: the horizontal and the vertical. I believe we must win back both, and it is no coincidence that Pope Francis is so concerned about the ars celebrandi, on the homily, insisted on the participation of the community in the celebration of the Eucharist. The vertical dimension is the one... the one that was perhaps more neglected in the years following the Council, above all because there was a great sense of communion that prevailed, of encounter, of assembly, of the family of God, for the people who gathered... I think we have to take great care of the celebration by restoring these two dimensions. There is no dimension... We cannot regain the horizontal dimension of participation in the assembly that you spoke of, participation in the assembly, attention to life, that is, life entering into Eucharistic celebration,
Enthusiastic about the musical innovations that the liturgical reform (revolution of the liturgy) brought with it, Zuppi said with a smile: “I had a great passion for the so-called Beat Mass."
This is Vatican II and this is the Church, according to Cardinal Matteo Zuppi.
Just one more remark: much will have to change and the signs of this, albeit mistreated and isolated, are already visible (thanks in part to the internet making them public) in the uneasiness of very many consciences around the world, of all generations and belonging to all social strata, including those of priests and religious, consciences not of the “people of God” but of those who have remained faithful and of those who want to be faithful to the way, to the truth and to life.
*Cristina Siccardi, historian and publicist, her recent book publications include L'inverno della Chiesa dopo il Concilio Vaticano II (The Winter of the Church after Vatican II. Changes and Causes, 2013); “San Pio X” (Saint Pius X. The life of the Pope who ordered and reformed the Church, 2014); "San Francesco" (Saint Francis. One of the most distorted characters in history, 2019).
Introduction/Translation: Giuseppe Nardi Image : Corrispondenza Romana