The Compass and the Magnet

Source: FSSPX News

In late August several clerics, former students of Professor Joseph Ratzinger, will meet at Castel Gandolfo to pore over the hermeneutic of Vatican II, in other words, to discuss the correct way of interpreting the documents of that Council. Last March the Lenten conferences at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris described Vatican II as “a compass for our times”.  This raises the naïve question: can one interpret the direction that a compass indicates? If it points north, as every good compass can do, what commentary does it need? It furnishes precise information that should silence all discussion:  here is north, and all the rest is superfluous!

Hence this second ingenuous query:  why, for almost fifty years, has the Second Vatican Council been the object of so many divergent or even contradictory readings and re-readings? They talk about discontinuity and rupture, about renewal in continuity and continuity in change….  Opinions clash and disoriented minds seem to be all over the map!

The answer is provided by the fact that the needle of the compass no longer points north when it undergoes an extraneous attraction: a magnet can make it deviate or even cause it to behave crazily. While intending to be open to the spirit of the modern world, the Second Vatican Council subjected itself to the force of an attraction extraneous to the Church. In order to find north again, one would have to be freed from the influence of that magnet. And for that, there is no need whatsoever for a hermeneutic; Saint Paul said it straightforwardly enough:  “Do not be conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2).