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JohnQuivideruntoculi has been kind enough to respond to my reflections on Catholicism and change, and as what he has to say is, as ever, of wider interest, it seems fruitful to make some comments on what he has written.

The idea that the Second Vatican Council was in some way hijacked by Satan needs, if it is to be supported, more than a remark by Paul VI about the ‘smoke of Satan’, some critical remarks by senior figures years later, and speculation about what Pius XII might have done had he lived. It is, if one considers it, a most serious charge, and it needs serious underpinning; this I have yet to see.  A hostility to some generic ‘liberalism’ by those who dislike what the sixties and seventies did to Western culture and society, is not sufficient ground on which to convict an Ecumenical Council of pronouncing in the voice of Satan.

Nothing in what I have written convicts, or even implies, that those who disagreed with John XXIII were dinosaurs or fuddie-duddies, and in thinking that the Church needed to come to terms with the modern world, John XXIII was no aligning himself with either liberalism or conservatism; he was seeking to take the mind of the church on the challenges facing it.  The idea that had it not taken place, ordinary Catholics in the pew would have somehow been hermetically-sealed off from the changes taking place in Western society in the sixties and seventies is fanciful. The Anglican and Protestant churches had no Vatican II, and what quiavideruntoculi says about vocations in the Catholic Church was true there too. All churches in the West were hit by the cultural revolution of the sixties and seventies; it would not have mattered whether there had been a Vatican II or not, Catholics would have been as exposed to these changes as those Christians in churches which had no Vatican II.

In mu comments of religious liberty, there was no acceptance of relativism, just of a fact quiaviderunt oculi himself accepts, that circumstances alters cases. He accepts it would not be possible in our society to proceed with heretics as they did at the time of Aquinas. That is not relativism, it is realism. However much quiavideruntoculi might think he can think like a medieval man, he can’t, he has not had their education, neither does he live in their society; this is another form of the Protestant disease of restoriationism. It ignores the changes across time and seeks to substitute for the lived reality of the life of Church some imagined golden age.

I make no apology, and indeed underline it, for making a comparison between the Taliban and those Catholics who approved the burning of other people. This is a barbarous mind-set, and to imagine Our Lord approves of it is, I suspect, to run, oneself, the risk of hell-fire. I reiterate, those who think that burning people is what Christ wants do not know or understand Christ. Blessed John Paul II apologised for such barbarism.  Those who seriously wish to restore it should say so. There are those in Pakistan and other places who approve of this sort of thing. They live in the mind-set of the Middle Ages; those who would burn people now live in that mind-set; if they have been educated in the West they have no excuse for such a view.

My piece explained that the Church has never approved of forced conversion, but that there was a time it thought that those who had been baptised could be forced to repent. This, as anyone with an elementary knowledge of people knows, is nonsense.  If you are threatened with burning unless you repent, the conscientious man will burn, and encourage others to hate a church which does that in Christ’s name; the rogue will ‘convert’ gladly, and you end up with a church full of liars and cheats which is hated by those with real conscientious objections to the way it has behaved.  Such behaviour in Mary;s reign made the Catholic Church a stench in the nostrils of most Englishmen for centuries; I am sad that anyone could imagine that a return to that practice would have any other result. If we refuse to learn from history, we are indeed, fools.

It is not enough to say that the OT shows God approving of violence.  If the OT Jews had had God right in all aspects, then the Jews would have converted. They didn’t. Jesus was harshest on those Jews who preferred the letter of the Law to its Spirit. I see no reason to assume he is less hash on Christians who do the same.

To imagine that love consists of burning someone is to conceive of a God who is the psychopath of Dawkins’ fevered imagination. The Jews often saw God as a tribal God who would bring them victory over their foes; they were wrong, God did no such thing.  We should not see Him as a tribal God, but as a Trinity so overflowing with love that all Creation resulted from it. We should not see Vatican II in terms of Satan, but of God, and of our attempts to understand more fully what it is He requires of His Church on its long journey through time. Did the Council get everything right? Does any Council?  Should we blame it for the moral failings which hit the whole Western world? Hardly, unless we somehow imagine one of two things: that the rest of the Western world was influenced by Vatican II; or that Catholics are not affected by the societies in which they live.