Benedict XVI then returned to his interpretation of the Council, one of the subjects which marked his papacy. “The world interpreted the Council through the eyes of the media instead of seeing the real Council of the Fathers and of faith,” the Pope said at the end of a long historical reconstruction of the climate and experience of the Second Vatican Council.
“The challenge – he went on to say – is to see in God’s Word a message for today and for Tomorrow. The journalists’ interpretation of the Council is different, it is political: the Council was a power struggle between factions within the Church. Between those who wanted the Church become decentralised, lay people to be given a role in the Church and popular sovereignty and those who stressed the importance of worship and participation. The Council was violently trivialised and it was seen outside the context of faith.”
This vision of the Council had some disastrous consequences for the Church: “Seminaries were closed, convents were closed…the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council but 50 years later, the strength of the real Council has been revealed.” Hence the Pope’s invitation to Rome’s priests: “Our task for the Year of Faith is to bring the real Second Vatican Council to life.”
The Pope recalled that one of the main tasks of the Council was to built a positive relationship between the Church and modernity: “the relationship between the Church and the modern period was one of some ‘contrasts’ from the outset, starting with the error in the Galileo case and the idea was to correct this wrong start.”
Indeed, he added, the feeling which prevailed in those years was that the Church was “a reality of the past and not the bearer of the future. And now, we hoped that this relationship would be renewed, changed, that the Church would once again source of strength for today and tomorrow. “
The liturgy was trivialised and sacredness was understood as a purely pagan thing and these outlooks became fixed ideas, according to the Pope. “The translation and trivialisation of the idea of the Council – he went on to explain – led to the event being read outside the context of faith.”
Fifty years after the Council, this false vision is now melting away, letting the “real Council” shine through. The Pope therefore urged clerics to ensure that the Council finds full expression in today’s world as well.