Benedict XVI speaks of the two “contrary interpretations” of the Council
On December 22, the pope received the cardinals and members of the Roman Curia in the Clementine Hall in the Vatican for the traditional exchange of Christmas greetings. Recalling certain events of the year 2005, the Sovereign Pontiff began with the “disappearance of John-Paul II, preceded by a long way of suffering and gradual loss of speech”. “No pope has left us an equivalent number of texts, no pope has visited, as he has, the entire world and spoken directly to men in every continent”, affirmed Benedict XVI.
The Holy Father then recalled two major events desired by his predecessor: World Youth Day in Cologne and the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist.
Regarding the world meeting of youth organized last August in his native country, Benedict XVI invited his audience to “treasure in your hearts the images of Cologne”. Recalling the time spent in adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, which had been proposed to the youth, the pope underscored that “particularly in a world which contains the danger that each one becomes the center of his own universe, it is fundamental to emphasize adoration”. On the subject of the Synod of October 2005 on the Eucharist, the pope said that “ in the interventions of the synodal Fathers, the riches of the Eucharistic life of the Church today were reflected and the inexhaustible character of her eucharistic faith was made manifest”.
Then, the Sovereign Pontiff came to the subject of the Second Vatican Council, whose closing forty years ago was recently celebrated on December 8. Benedict XVI affirmed, “no one can deny that, in vast quarters of the Church, the reception of the Council has unfolded with some difficulty”. According to the pope, its correct interpretation resides in a “just hermeneutic”. Benedict XVI thus explained that two contrary interpretations have long opposed one another: on the one hand “the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”, which profited from “the sympathy of the media and of a portion of modern theology”, and on the other hand “the hermeneutic of reform”, of “renewal in continuity”. For the pope, the former “provoked confusion” and “risks resulting in a rupture between the pre-conciliar and post-conciliar Churches”, the latter “has born fruit in silence, but more and more visibly”. (see this section of the pope’s address to the Curia in our Documents section)
“I should probably recall once more the memory of April 19 last, where the college of cardinals, to my horror, elected me to succeed John-Paul II”, the pope finally confided at the end of his address. “Such a task was quite far from anything I could have imagined as a possible vocation”, he admitted, before thanking those who surrounded him with their “goodness” and their “understanding”.