The Corner

Re: Shut Up, He Explained

Ramesh, You are quite right, I know very little about Vatican II. You are also right that I have neither the time nor the inclination to read it up, though I remember some of the news stories and public discussion from when it was happening. Life is short, and I prefer to use the limited powers of reason granted to me by the Designer on things I find interesting.

I only mentioned Vatican II briefly in passing, though, and made only two assertions about it (other than that it happened in my lifetime, which is incontrovertible). My two assertions were (1) that it changed Church teaching, and (2) that conservative Catholics grumble about this.

Surely it wouldn’t be too much trouble for you to put me right where I was wrong. So which of those assertions is wrong?

On the matter of our late founder having been one of those who grumbled, a generous reader has done the legwork for me, for which I am much obliged:

Mr. Derbyshire:

I had a few minutes to play around with Google before heading off to work. Didn’t find anything specifically written by WFB criticizing the Catholic Church, but I did see this obit from freerepublic.com that implies criticism in Nearer, My God.

“Yet his pen found its way through every conceivable subject, including his own private Roman Catholic faith in his “autobiography of faith,” Nearer, My God. Buckley made no pretense about his concerns with his church. After the Second Vatican Council deprived him of his familiar liturgy, he felt (rightly) that Roman Catholics had been cheated out of the beauty and worship extended to their forebears for nearly two thousand years. Despite his misgivings, he tried to give the new Mass a chance, becoming a lector at his local parish (the largest in Connecticut). He quit after three years and devoted himself to the traditional Latin Mass. Nonetheless, he communed with a God who transcends ritualism and ecclesiology to comfort and refresh every one of His afflicted and weary children. And according to those who knew him best, it is this faith that accounted for Buckley’s deep reserve of personal charity towards others so evident in all he did.”

As a recipient of that charity many times over, I am respectful to and grateful for whatever motivated it. That WFB grumbled about Vatican II, though, is right there in print. If it didn’t change Church teaching, why did he grumble about it?

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