A new terminology has entered the Liberal/Conservative split among Catholics, that of the “hermeneutics of Rupture/Continuity”. As is well known, Papa Benny himself introduced this new paradigm almost 2 years ago in reference to the interpretation of Vatican II in his Christmas address to the Roman Curia. Thanks, your Holiness. Very neat. Very useful.
I hope I am not spoiling anyone’s fun when I point out that the Pope never used the expression “Hermeneutic of Continuity”. What he said was:
On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the “hermeneutic of reform”, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.
So the fact that Benedict XVI repudiates the idea that Vatican II was not a “rupture” doesn’t mean that he thinks the Council mandated “more of the same”. Of course there was change. There was “reform”. But this “reform” was not a “revolution” (as Past Elder wants you to think). It was a “renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church”. So, changes yes, but change of the subject, no.
A good example, if you really need one, of the “hermeneutic of rupture” is the latest diatribe by Professor Swindler on the Catholica website. According to Catholica Dr Swindler is “Professor of Catholic Thought and Interreligious Dialogue at Temple Univierty, Philadephia. He is also one of the founders of the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC) and its current president.” That sounds like a nice group. Maybe we should start one called “The Duties of the Faithful in the Church” or something of that ilk…
Anyway, Dr Swindler claims that there were “five Copernican Revolutions” that came with Vatican II:
The Turn Toward Freedom,
The Turn Toward the Historic-Dynamic,
The Turn Toward This World,
The Turn Toward Inner Church Reform,
The Turn Toward Dialogue.
The funny thing is, as you read through his “analysis” which Catholica tells us is “packed with information and insight”, he barely quotes from the council documents themselves to support his thesis. In general, I do think that a case can be made to say the Council Fathers did think along these lines. But Swindler doesn’t make such a case, he just asserts it; and then he insists that these represent “Copernican Revolutions” (by which I take it means a complete change) from what went before.
I think if he really took the time to examine the Council documents he would find more evidence of continuity (albeit in line with reform) than of the rupture he suggests.