Songwriter Paul Simon of Simon and Garfunkel wrote a song in the 1960's called "The Boxer", which has some great lines it. For purposes of this posting, I point out the following line:
A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.
As far as being a Catholic is concerned, this statement is never truer than when discussing the Second Vatican Council and the ramifications therefrom. Father John Zuhlsdorf recently linked to an article from almost five years ago concerning a letter from Bishop R. Walker Nickless. The article was originally posted on Lifesitenews.com and is entitled "Sioux City Bishop Calls for 'Exorcism' of 'Spirit of Vatican II'". You can read Father Z's post here. The article refers to the 17-page letter written by Bishop Nickless in 2009. He was the then-newly appointed bishop of that diocese, and this was his first letter as bishop.
Father Z's readers saw this and read it as a bishop condemning Vatican II and all that came from it, despite the fact that this was not in any way the intention of Bishop Nickless. Here is the first part of the article as posted by Father Z (the comments in red are his):
Bp. Nickless (D. Sioux City): we must “exorcize” the “spirit of Vatican II”Notice that this very clearly says that the Bishop feels "the spirit of Vatican II" needs to be exorcised, which is not Vatican II itself. Yet the comments left by readers make it very clear that they completely disregard the words of the Bishop and equate the "spirit" of Vatican II with the Council. Even the few excerpts from the article made it clear that this was not what His Excellency was saying. The next two paragraphs as quoted by Father Z make that very plain. The words in bold are from Father Z's post:
In a pastoral letter issued Thursday to the lay and religious of his diocese, Nickless wrote that he has “no other desire” than to see the reforms of Vatican II implemented properly. However, he said, “It is crucial that we all grasp that the hermeneutic or interpretation of discontinuity or rupture, which many think is the settled and even official position, is not the true meaning of the Council.”
The “hermeneutic of discontinuity,” under the guise of the “spirit of Vatican II,” sees “the Second Vatican Council as a radical break with the past,” explained the bishop. However, “There can be no split … between the Church and her faith before and after the Council.”This makes it very plain that the Bishop does not believe that Vatican II constitutes a break with the past or a "rupture" in Church teaching. He plainly says that those who teach such are teaching falsehoods. The LifesiteNews article continues, and unless the reader is careful, he can continue to read this as Bishop Nickless condemning the Vatican II council:
This “hermeneutic of discontinuity,” said Nickless, “emphasizes the ‘engagement with the world’ to the exclusion of the deposit of faith.”
“This has wreaked havoc on the Church, systematically dismantling the Catholic Faith to please the world, watering down what is distinctively Catholic, and ironically becoming completely irrelevant and impotent for the mission of the Church in the world,” he said. “The Church that seeks simply what works or is ‘useful’ in the end becomes useless.”It is important to note that Bishop Nickless is not condemning Vatican II as "systematically dismantling that Catholic Faith", but blames the false "hermeneutic of discontinuity." As quoted above, His Excellency believes that "There can be no split … between the Church and her faith before and after the Council."
The article was so old that the link to the Bishop's original letter was broken. Fortunately, one of Father Z's readers provided a working link, and therefore we are able to read the Bishop's entire letter, which is here. Other than the one reader posting a working link, none of Father's Z's readers seem to question the broken link and are presumably not interested in reading the actual letter. Father Z originally posted about this letter in 2009, and he quoted from the letter at that time, so I don't understand why he did not correct his readers who got it so wrong, as can be seen from their comments.
Here are some of the comments to Father Z's blog:
I find all of these comments to be very disconcerting. Unlike Bishop Nickless, who is attacking the false "Spirit of Vatican II", these comments are attacking the Council itself. None of these readers seem to understand Bishop Nicklass' message. I won't accuse Father Z of encouraging these kind of comments, but I do question why he let these comments stand without some response or correction.
The 17-page letter from Bishop Nickless is actually a wonderful teaching tool as to the real meaning of Vatican II and why it has not borne the anticipated fruit of its founding fathers.