May I, Prof. Roberto de Mattei?
Translated from the Italian article “Mi permette, Prof. Roberto de Mattei?” by Cardinal Zen on August 8
(by Lucia Cheung)
I think everyone knows that here in Hong Kong we are in full battle against the power that wants to dominate us completely, including speech and thought.
Blessed are those who can say what they think, without worrying whether the authorities agree.
The writer has been categorized as partially right and partially wrong. Professor de Mattei praises me for protesting against the Vatican’s Ostpolitik towards the Church in China but criticizes me for defending Vatican Council II.
I thank him for the praise and I respond to the criticisms (with his permission).
I have not done in-depth studies on Vatican II like Professor de Mattei, but from my simple faith, (not naive, not uncritical) I believe that the teachings of the Ecumenical Councils are supremely authoritative, and I don’t think that part of them will one day be put “in the litterbin” (I think that Cardinal Brandmüller is on my side in this).
I do not even think it right to qualify certain conciliar texts as “confusing and ambiguous.” Obviously some texts are the fruit of a hard work to reach an almost total consensus of the Conciliar assembly, in the process someone had to give up what they thought was already ripen or convenient to be pronounced, while the majority judged it premature or inconvenient to make a pronouncement; compromise conclusions if you want to call them such, but not ambiguous. Giving up something, which some believe can enrich the pronouncement, does not make the pronouncement ambiguous.
The pastoral methodological change does not necessarily affect the content of the discourse.
The Professor says, “according to the new pastoral spirit more important than the doctrine is the way in which the doctrine is presented.” This proposition can be misunderstood, as if the way of presentation is more important than the doctrine itself, as if the requirements of a good presentation may need to change the content of the doctrine.
In the opening address of the Council, Pope John says: “The main purpose of this Council is not the discussion of this or that theme of the fundamental doctrine of the Church … but starting from a renewed, serene and peaceful adherence to all the teachings of the Church in their entirety and precision … it is now necessary that this certain and immutable doctrine, which must be faithfully respected, be deepened and presented in a way that responds to the needs of our time.” So it is not that the presentation is more important than the doctrine, it is that we are now concentrating on studying the presentation (while the doctrine is supposed to be secured already).
Having said that in general we come to some details.
(A) The Professor says: “the ‘Ostpolitik’ is the daughter of the Council.” No! The Council was the occasion to try the policy of Ostpolitik. It did not seem tolerable to completely ignore the existence of the Communist regimes, to do nothing to help those our Brothers. Unfortunately, the attempt started with almost no reliable information on the situation beyond the Iron Curtain in hand. The tragedy was the illusion, post factum, of having had a great success: of having set up the ecclesiastical hierarchy in those countries.
Card. Parolin says: “when we were looking for candidates for the episcopate we were looking for pastors, not gladiators, not those who systematically oppose the government, not those who want to show off in the political arena.”
The fact is that those Bishops, too often, were servants of the atheist regime instead of being shepherds of the Christian flock!
(B) The Professor says that the Address of the opening of the Council given by Pope John XXIII was the magna carta of détente politics: from anathema to dialogue … setting aside decades of condemnations … to the strategy of an outstretched hand … to collaboration with the enemy.
Yes, the Pope declared all this candidly. But, beware, détente does not mean surrender, putting aside the condemnations (refraining from anathemas) does not mean approving the errors (the Council “did not say a word about communism” says the Professor. But one must be blind in order not to see a long and clear discourse on atheism, even a systematic one, and on the attitude of the Church towards it, starting with “the Church cannot help but to repudiate, … with all firmness and with pain such pernicious doctrines and actions” (is it really necessary to explicitly say “Marxist communism”?) .
“Outstretched hand” and “collaboration” does not mean allowing oneself to be killed by the enemy (as the Vatican is doing now, unfortunately not without the Pope’s consent).
I too collaborated with the Communists. I taught for 7 years in many seminaries under their control. They could boast of having opened the door, but I had the true and complete opportunity to teach hundreds of seminarians the sound philosophical and theological doctrine, without discounts.
The Professor is worried that by supporting the Second Vatican Council I will lose supporters for my cause (the defense of the true Catholic faith in China). I hope not. I disagree with Archbishop Viganò as he does not accept the Vatican II, but I support his demands that the Vatican respond to his accusations on facts.
After all, if someone stops supporting me because of what I said above, I’m sorry, I can’t help it: I’m a conservative, but not to the extreme.