Saturday, March 16, 2013

Did Vatican 2 weaken Roman Catholic authority?

No Vatican 2 did not weaken Roman Catholic authority. Vatican 2 was irrelevant. 

The Roman church began it's European decline during the Enlightenment. Gregory XVI, a short sighted and reactionary pope, responded to the new flourishing of Hellenic-style philosophy by strengthening Vatican control over it's strong holds and attempting to censor and control the rising flood of enlightenment criticism. He famously condemned basic technological innovations like gas lighting and railways because they spread liberal values; in his Mirari Vos he condemned separation of the church and state, freedom of religion and freedom of the press. He positioned the Church firmly against the newly emerging modern states, most of which had protestant majorities.

In Ireland, the Church felt increasingly vulnerable as protestant Britain and Europe grew more secularized. It responded by tightening it's grip over Irish education and society. In 1845 for example, the Irish Church declared subjects as diverse as history, metaphysics, moral philosophy, logic, geology, even anatomy, as hazardous to catholic faith unless thought by Catholic teachers in conformity with Vatican teaching. Bishops demanded a 'fair share' of catholic professors in colleges and dual-professorships in subjects thought to weaken catholic teaching; they even demanded the right to dismiss any professor who undermined the catholic faith of a student. 

The modern day struggle to regain control of our Irish education system from the Roman church has it's roots in 1845 and a reactionary and frightened church. Bishops may speak of 'the rights of parents to choose' or the rights of catholic ethos schools to maintain their identity, but it all boils down to desperation and fear. 

When Vatican 2 rolled around the Roman Church's decline was all but assured. Changing social-economic times and new technology meant the Church lost its ability to control information. The intellectual climate, in particular post-modernism with it's emphasis on analyzing the underlying power and control structures, became more hostile to the Church than even the Enlightenment era philosophers. 

Vatican 2 was of parochial concern to practicing Roman Catholics. Catholic authority was based upon fear, ignorance and social control, all of which were weakened post-1960 and were soon beyond the Vatican control.


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