Vatican II – Genius of the Heart

Vatican II – Genius of the Heart, VHS 1

Originally written 6/25/2017 as a summary of a course at Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL

Vatican II – Genius of the Heart, VHS 1

Preface:

I grew up attending the Roman Catholic Church in the small town of Marshall, IL called St. Mary’s Church. (See https://www.facebook.com/stmarysmarshall/). I still have lifelong friends who attend that church.  My mother, Charity McCulley Cooper, took us there with our large family of 7 children.  Our family took up about a whole pew.  I was the oldest of the living children.  I still have fond memories of Monsignor Donahue, and I probably burned his ears off in the confessionalJJ as well as fond memories of all my friends and my family’s friends.  I don’t think there are many left now, but there are a few.  How we merited a Monsignor in the little town of about 3,000, I do not know.  I went through all the Catholic rites there.  Also, I cannot recall the exact timeline about when the Vatican II changes all filtered down to our little Parish, but my viewpoint is from someone who left the Roman Catholic Church as a matter of conscious in 1969.  I became a conscientious objector to all war at that time, something that was widely discouraged still in official Catholicism.  Nonviolence was at that time promoted by such Catholic figures as Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, and Fulton J. Sheen, for instance, whose non-violent beliefs were unbeknownst to me back then.  I joined an historic peace church.  About a year and a half ago, I was called back to the Catholic Church, partly as a result of Pope Francis and his worldwide influence.  I understand that Vatican II has a section that allows for conscientious objection to war, but that has not been covered yet in the tapes I am reviewing.

Above is a brief preface to what I am studying in companion with taking courses for a Certificate in Spiritual Direction, (CSD) under the auspices of Spring Hill College, in Mobile, AL. See: http://www.shc.edu/.  I remember Pope John XXIII and his successor, Pope Paul VI as I was growing up.  This assignment of looking back into Vatican II via listening to old VHS tapes entitled, The Faithful Revolution, is a joy.  There are five VHS tapes, and I will list notes about each as I view them.    

The first tape is entitled Genius of the Heart.  It is 60 minutes long.  This tape speaks of Vatican II as being a direct spiritual calling for Pope John XXIII to implement, or a call from the Holy Spirit to speak prophetically regarding the Modernization of the Roman Catholic Church.  To this end, he invited Bishops from all over the world to come together in a council, the first since 1817.  There have been about 20 councils in the Catholic Church since its inception, about one every 100 years, but many of them were in early church history.  I don’t know if the Acts 15 council regarding circumcision and unclean meats is included in this number of councils. 

Pope John XXIII called bishops from all over the world in order to offset the power of the Roman Curia, which would like to have had things continue along as has always been.  Vatican II was an unexpected movement, because the cardinals thought they were electing a “transitional” Pope, not one who would bring about such widespread changes. The changes began with the liturgy.  Now the priest was to face the congregation and look them into the eyes.  The congregation was to share the same cup as the priest.  The Mass was to be in native languages, as well as Latin, occasionally, in place of Latin only.  I well remember the days of Latin only.  Pope John XXIII was “attacked” by some of the prophets of doom in his own church for making such changes. He claimed it was like a flash of light, a divine inspiration that motivated him to bring this council together. The changes concerning the Liturgy overwhelmingly passed, like 2/3 or 3/4 vote. 

The Genius of the Heart VHS includes videos of Our Lady of the Universe Catholic Church, (https://www.facebook.com/ourladyqueenoftheuniversebirmingham/) a predominately black church in Birmingham, AL and shows how they implemented Vatican II.  From 1967 to late 1969, when I attended the Catholic Church in Birmingham, AL, I attended Our Lady of Sorrows, (http://www.ourladyofsorrows.com/) in Homewood, right up the road from Samford University, where I attended school.  In reviewing the first tape, I have a desire to go to Our Lady of the Universe Church sometime and experience the rich cultural heritage this church must have.

Vatican II is considered to be not a council of crisis, as other councils may have been, but a council of opportunity. This was in the time period of 1962 to 1965 and satellite TV communications were just available, and Vatican II had a 10 minute window of opportunity for live coverage each day.  Also the new venues of the day widely covered it, and it was on the front page, excepting the days when warfare took priority over what was happening in Rome.  Irving Levine was a well know reporter who daily covered the story of Vatican II.

Pope John XXIII knew he had a tumor, and was to soon die.  I like his words, “I am nothing.  I am your brother, because we are all children of God.”  This is a prophetic statement we need to look into today, in view of all the suffering and polarization in the world.  How is it we are to understand that all human kind, even our enemy, is to be our brother?  I submit it is through the eyes of Jesus, and the prophetic voice of Pope John XXIII, and others, who say, “I am your brother.”  Also, the eyes of Vatican II are still very useful eyes from which we see.

End: Genius of the heart.

Begin: Inspired Awakening, a 60 minute VHS video.

  June 21st, 1963, Cardinal Montini was elected Pope to succeed Pope John XXIII.  He chose the name Pope Paul VI.  The Roman Curia did not like Pope Paul VI, although he had been on the Curia itself, and served as the Vatican Secretary of State for many years.  He was viewed by the Curia as too progressive.  Pope Paul VI wanted to continue the Vatican council which was started by Pope John XXIII.

These were the years of the 1960’s.  It was a time of worldwide change and also change in the Catholic Church.  Women were rising in respect, also rising in respect in the Catholic Church.  These were the years of the Civil rights Movement, and the beginnings of “gay” rights.  Vatican II let about 15 women attend as observers, both religious and lay women.  Sr. Mary Luke Tobin attended from the United States.  Women just wanted to be treated as “human persons.” The video covers some of the events of the women’s movement of the time which I will not get into right now.

Pope Paul VI was very well educated, – a progressive thinker.

The three big revolutions of Vatican II were Liturgy, Laity, and Humanism.  Peace, reconciliation, and human dignity, humanism of Vatican II attempted to help reconcile and heal the wounds of the 1054 schism in which the Orthodox Church split from the Western Catholic Church.  Also, Vatican II aimed to heal the divide of the Protestant Reformation of about 1500.  Admittedly, the Roman Church needed reformation itself.  At the time of the reformation the Inquisition was going on, people were being burned at the stake for perceived heresy, and even St. Ignatius was imprisoned for 40 days for perceived heresy.  (John: St. Ignatius’ movement served as a type of counter-reformation within the Catholic Church itself.)

Orthodox and Protestant observers were also invited to attend the council.  These observers also had input into the council and were invited to review the documents and offer suggestions before the documents of the Second Vatican Council were finalized.  The council was like watching the Catholic Church step into the 20th Century from out of the middle ages.  The Humanism of the council was meant to open doors for dialog with other Faiths.  For example, both Lutherans and Catholics can now find common ground to express the truth of Justification by Faith.   Other belief systems were now viewed as “separated brethren,” NOT heretics.  Vatican II found this common ground for dialog between other churches and found the same faith was being discussed, and just how this faith is expressed is different.

A number of Catholics could not accept Vatican II and formed a group called “Traditionalist” Catholics in order to hold to their own ways of worshiping, for instance with the priest facing away from the audience, with the Eucharist received on the tongue, with head veils for women, with the Mass in Latin, etc.  The Traditionalist were set opposed to the Humanists of Vatican II.

Important to me is the matter of conscious, which was mentioned toward the end of the tape by Dr. Frederick Franck, founder of “Pacem in Terris.” See: http://www.frederickfranck.org/  Dr. Franck mentioned what John XXIII had said with words like “God’s law is imprinted on the human heart.  It is a law of human life, a human and a divine spark.” (John: This reminds me of what the Quakers have said from time centuries before Vatican II, that there is a spark of God in every man, and that the way to prove it is to ask the person if there is anything they can do that they would feel guilty about.)  I, John, am particularly interested about this matter of conscience, as I heard years later was accepted into Vatican II.  I had left the Catholic Church in about 1969 because of a matter of conscious regarding my participation in war.  I was a Conscientious objector to war and still remain so.

End: Vatican II – “Inspired Awakening,” a one hour VHS tape.

Begin, Vatican II – “Human Dignity,” a one hour VHS tape.

Vatican II freed the Catholic Church for social action.  An example of this is Fr. Luis Olivares of Los Angeles, who protested the U.S. involvement in El Salvador.  He said: “With the poor here, I want to throw in my luck.”  There were many refugees in Los Angeles form El Salvador who were fleeing the U.S. supported war in the mid to late 1980’s.  They sought sanctuary here.  There was civil disobedience in 1989 in which the actor, Martin Sheen, took part.  Mr. Sheen was arrested and someone asked him if he were a Communist, to which he replied, “Far worse than a Communist, I am a Catholic.”

Human Dignity was to be for all people, Jews, Muslims, Christians, and even unbelievers such as atheists.  The thought was that if a person is living by their conscience, they could live and be saved.  Fr. John Courtney Murray, SJ, in 1966 said that freedom of conscience – Conscience should be free to worship God as each own person freely thinks.  The Vatican Council wanted to affirm religious freedom. 

Dignitatis Humanae: Individual or group is to be left to be free to act in conscience.  To Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, (to become Pope John Paul II) the council was a test case for putting Human Dignity teachings to the test.  Communists in Poland could not break the Church.  June 2nd, 1979 Pope John Paul II returns to Poland.  Solidarity – We are Catholics, we pray – That’s the beginning of Solidarity.

Catholic is an adjective, – universal – The church is meant for all people and for all ages.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – Perfect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Vatican, (was to become Pope Benedict.

There is a section of the video which includes an example of the Church’s Enculturation, and shows how the Church is celebrated differently in Africa.  There is dignity in primitive cultures too.

Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue – 1964 – Pope John Paul II

Professor Hans King: “No peace among the nations without peace among the religions, there will be no peace among the religions without dialog.”

Vatican II ridded the liturgy of anti-Jewish statements like blaming the Jews for Christ’s death in the Good Friday liturgy.  Jesus was Jewish, Mother Mary Jewish, the apostles were Jewish, and the scriptures were Jewish.  There were anti-Jewish statements by Catholic leaders before WWII.  Pope Pius XII did not speak out against the dictatorial regimes of Hitler and Mussolini, although he did personally save a good number of Jews.  Pope John Paul XXIII apologized to the Jews for this sin.

(John: One of the things that kept me from returning to the Catholic Church for many years was the terrible and corrupt history of the Catholic Church in such matters as this and the Inquisition.  However, I eventually realized the same is true for most all other churches historically and the same is true for John Cooper too.)

The VHS gives an interesting statement.  “The Image of God was dying in each person who died in Auschwitz.” God kept silence in Auschwitz, and the Catholic Church kept silence too.

Pope John Paul XXIII: We are meant to serve the rights of the human person and not just the rights of the Catholic Church.

Vatican II started repairing the damage and difference between what the Church has stated and what the Church does.  Pope Paul VI condemned anti-Jewish sentiment.

End: Vatican II – “Human Dignity,” a one hour VHS tape.

Begin: Vatican II – “A World Transformed,” a one hour VHS tape.

As a result of Vatican II, the Church is now defined as the people of God, not “the mystical body of Christ.”  Laity, women, all are collaborative in worship, used as Eucharistic ministers, readers, etc.  Priests are to be collaborative, not just ruling over people. 

Regarding birth control – lay people were on the commission – support for change was overwhelming.  This went against the super rigid stance of previous Popes before John XXIII.  Pope Paul VI … 1968, Announcement referred to individual’s conscious regarding birth control, use own judgement. (As I understand it) Pope had advised all acts of sex should be open to recreation, the question was, is this a fallible, or infallible teaching?

Food kitchens for the poor arose, gypsies were fed, – The Community of Sant’Egidio, in Rome, spread to over other communities, taking care of the poor.  There were many such communities as this after Vatican II.  (John:  Also, Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement in New York City preceded this.)  

Mozambique – Pope John XXIII invited two warring sides to the Vatican and advised them to start with what they had in common, not what they had that divided them.  The treaty for Mozambique was created at the Vatican.

VHS mentions Opus Dei, a lay movement.  It had started in 1928 in Fascist Spain. Opus Dei was not happy with Vatican II, or with Pope John XXIII.  (John: I understand this is a Secret Society…, cult like…)

By the time of the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, a time of the Vietnam War Cold War, the Church was becoming more relevant to the world.  How would the Church respond to these crisis?  John XXIII called for nuclear disarmament in 1959 & 1960.

“A world Transformed” section of this series brings up and records words of Jim Douglass, (a like-minded acquaintance of John Cooper.)  Jim was interviewed in this section of the videos.  See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_W._Douglass.

John XXIII was mediator between President Kennedy and Castro.  John XXIII wrote “Pacem in Terris.”  “In any situation, modern warfare is unreasonable,” said that there can no longer be any idea of “just” war.

Phillip Berrigan, Catholic priest, peace activist, and poet, is interviewed at times in this tape.

Jim Douglass wrote to Vatican Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes,” which came out with the only negative view on war mentioned by Vatican II.  This document states that any act of war of complete destruction, of an entire city or area, is a crime against humanity and God Himself.  Pope John XXIII was disappointed with Vatican II on the status of war and peace.  Vatican II still allowed for “just” war.  Vatican II was under pressure from the some in the U.S. – and altered statements so as not to imply condemnation of U.S. policy.

Pope Pius XII, before the Council, had discouraged Catholics from being conscientious objectors… Pope John XXIII – encouraged conscience as a basis for the world of justice.  People like Jim Douglass now can open lives to the power of the Spirit.

Blasé Bonpane – Vatican II – Faith is not just a matter of what you know, what you memorize.  Faith is a matter of what you do.  Are you willing to participate in history?

Cardinal Spellman – very much in support of the Vietnam War.  (John: Dorothy Day & Cardinal Spellman, very much on opposite ends of the social justice menu.  See: http://www.nypress.com/cardinal-spellmans-dark-legacy/.

The video goes over the civilian deaths – napalm of innocent civilians by U.S. (little naked girl running from napalm, attacked, and burned by napalm, one of the historic photos of the world) (John: The same thing is happening today, but on a probably broader scale.  Even as we speak, U.S. backed forces are bombing Mosul with phosphorus laden bombs, killing over 475 civilians just this past month, and over a thousand innocent civilians a couple or three months ago, and no one seems to care, even though these type of things are being chronicled by the United Nations and others.)

In early 1968, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, S.J., Catholic priest, peace activist, and poet, helped found with his brother, Phillip, and 7 others, the Cantonsville 9.  (John: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catonsville_Nine) What to do, they asked?  (John: These were the days of the daily body counts in the Vietman War.) They broke into a government facility and took a lot of draft cards and burned them with Napalm.  They were arrested and sentenced to prison, serving about 2 years of a three year sentence.  After being arrested, Fr. Daniel Berrigan, when asked why he was doing this, said something like, we are only doing with papers, (draft cards,) that is burning them with napalm, what was lauded by others to do with human beings.

(John: I am reminded of a house mass I was invited to at the home of Jim and Shelley Douglass, at St. Mary’s House, their Catholic Worker House in Birmingham, AL.  The mass was officiated by Fr. Alex Steinmiller, and was in celebration of the recent death of Fr. Daniel Berringan who had died in April of 2016, aged 94 years old.  I John, was a conscientious objector to war back in these days.  I was not one to be demonstrating, but served my alternative service as a conscientious objector beginning at Spain Rehabilitation Center, which took care of the paralyzed, in Birmingham.  I had left the Catholic Church for matters of conscious in these years, joining an historic peace church, The Worldwide Church of God, while coming to another and continuing conversion experience.  (I grew up on the farm in Illinois, and attended a small town Catholic Church, and I cannot recall how much of Vatican II had filtered down to our small church in the spring of 1967, when I left Illinois to attend Samford University in Birmingham, AL.  I don’t think much of Vatican II had filtered down.)  I certainly did not know of the option for a Catholic to be a conscientious objector.  Pax Christi, https://paxchristiusa.org/, a Catholic Organization that could have helped me with these matters of conscience, which Vatican II finally allowed for in the Catholic Church, did not come to the United States until 1972.  I am afraid most Catholic youth know little of Vatican II, and know little of right of Catholics to believe in non-violence, and object all war, or any war, for that matter.)

VHS mentions Howard Zinn, who said something like “Someone had to do something.” (regarding the wars at that time in history.)

Vatican II’s last paper was unplanned, it was about the Church in the world today.  It was titled “Gaudium et spes,” and freed Catholics to take social action.  (John: See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaudium_et_spes)

Bishop Foley, D.D., of Birmingham, was also interviewed and said that Vatican II stirred many priests, other priests it did not touch, likewise for the Bishops.  (John: I am afraid this remains the case, as I see some movements, seemingly back to pre-Vatican II in the Catholic Church since I have returned to the Catholic Church.)

When out of prison, the Berrigan’s began a movement called “Plowshares,” which was an anti-nuclear weapon movement.  He broke into, with others, a GE facility that made nuclear warheads, and pounded on the fragile ceramic heads with hammers in a symbolic move to turn swords into plowshares, and they poured their own blood on the weapons, and began a worship service until they were arrested.

Bishop Foley – The Civil Rights Movement challenged Catholics to do something about Vatican II.  – Children took to the streets in Birmingham, dogs were set loose, the 16th Street bombing killed four little girls, (John: how much worse is it today in the world?)  Fr. Berrigan said that the Catholics were kind of a ”Johnny come lately” to the Civil Rights Movement.

One more statement from Jim Douglass, “Discern the will of God, and then do it.”

End: “A World Transformed,” a one hour VHS.

Begin: “The Dynamic Hope,” a one hour tape.

Pope Paul VI supervised the implementation of Vatican II.  He seems to have backpedaled somewhat on the birth control issue from what Vatican II recommended.  He was trying to keep both camps on this issue happy.

Pope John Paul I’s papacy only lasted 33 days.  Then, from Polish background, Pope John Paul II was elected.  He combined the names of Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI into Pope John Paul II.  He, as Cardinal, Wojtyla, had participated in Vatican II and had substantial input into parts of it.  John Paul II heavily was heavily influenced by Vatican II and the openness of the Church to the world. He was a Pope of the Council.  He helped improve relations with other Faiths.  John Paull II was the great hope of the Catholic Church.  He wanted to unite all Christians and bring the churches together, bringing God’s love to all people.

What is the role of the Church in Politics?  There were to be no religious in political positions of power.  The church was to be the advocate of the poor.  The Church was to strive to be Universal.  The Church in Latin America reinterpreted Vatican II for implementation in Latin America.  There was concern about the indigenous population, the poor Indians.  For Latin America, “Liberation Theology” opposed “Imperial” Theology which derived from the Church’s conjoining with Constantine, and accepting political power, which resulted in terrible programs like the Inquisition. Imperial Theology is a Theology of the sword.  Liberation Theology, on the other hand attempted to connect Charity and Justice for the poor.

In Latin America, the implementation of Vatican II concentrated on how to change the system of the lives of the poor, or in other words, the preferential option for the poor.  This seemed to get mixed up somewhat with Marxism.  Bishop Ruiz, was one of the last of the Vatican II proponents in Latin America.  He concentrate on serving the indigoes Indians in his Diocese.  Some complained he served them and left out others.  The Vatican was about to relieve him of his duties, but the Sandinista Rebellion occurred and he was the only one who could help resolve this problem.  Bishop Ruiz position was that since Vatican II, the native Indians now have human dignity. 

In theory, Vatican II abolished the pyramidal structure of the Roman Catholic Church.  WE are the Church.  The Church is everyone.  Collegial and collaborative decision making was to occur.  However, this was not exactly how it happened, and it has not happened yet.  In practice, the Roman Curia ruled over the Bishops.  For instance, in about 1995, 30 years after Vatican II, the Church basically stripped Bishop Gailott in France, of his Diocese, and assigned him to a historic diocese which had not existed in many years.   Bishop Gailoot had taken opposing positions the positions of the Church.  His opinion was the Church was to be a Church to the marginalized of society, but I think he spoke only to the marginalized, and not to everyone. 

Dialog is talking to people in love, and to look for this love in all people.  We still need dialog to discern the meaning of Vatican II and we must recognize the human dignity and equality of each other. 

Msgr. Glenn D. Gardner: “When all is said and done, the real call of the Church is simple, it is to love people as Jesus loved them.”

Msgr. Capovilla: “The only force we can use is the force of love and fraternity.”

In 1995, about when these VHS tapes were produced, about 30 years after Vatican II, many changes were to come as the documents of Vatican II continued to unfold.  Vatican II regenerates one Billion people for the third millennium of the Church.

Conclusion:

 (John: The Holy Spirit is always working to unfold God’s will and will unfold what remains to be understood and implemented of the Vatican II papers.  To me, this is the Hope which remains.  Also, the Holy Spirit is not limited to “just” Catholics, but works or at least can work in every man and women in which She desires to work.  The Holy Spirit is the Universal Power, with the Father and the Son.)

John Cooper, Tuscaloosa, AL

About jcooperforpeace
Spiritual Director, Spirituality of Inner Peace

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