Pat Archbold is on fire over at National Catholic Register:
But the common usage of ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ extends its use beyond as just an interpretive lens of the council. Today, it has become a crutch and a cudgel. It is a crutch in that the hierarchy of the Church no longer feels obligated to clarity in its communications, but regularly unitizes and embraces ambiguity out of laziness or even possibly sometimes with more nefarious motives. The bottom line is there is no understood obligation on the part of the magisterium to teach and communicate in the clearest and most unambiguous way possible.
Rather, too much communication in recent years has gone beyond mere ambiguity approaching clear contradiction, leaving it up to those few still concerned with continuity to develop a lens suitable to a proper catholic understanding. If you have to squint, turn your head left 45 degrees, and stand on one foot to view a modern church communication as Catholic, well then you had better do it bub. In this way, the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ is a rhetorical cudgel used to beat anyone who dares to notice any discontinuity.
Why is it now our obligation to assume even the most contradictory utterances and writings are in conformity with immutable Catholic teaching but no longer their obligation to clearly demonstrate that continuity?
I know it may seem antediluvian to suggest this, but read Pascendi Dominici Gregis, or the encyclicals of Leo XII, read any of great encyclicals of the centuries prior to 1960, is any hermeneutic necessary to understand them? Are copious context and a rose-colored lens necessary to view them in continuity with all that came before? No, they are plainly and obviously Catholic with many references to Popes and documents before them to establish clearly in the mind of the reader that what is being taught has always and everywhere been taught.
But is unfortunately rare today that modern Church teaching and communications refer or quote, in any meaningful way, Church documents prior to 1960. It seems obvious to me that this is purposeful, as the clarity of those documents do not serve the resolute ambiguity now so desired.
The unconverted person looking in from the outside could be forgiven for assuming that a 2,000 yr. old Church that is afraid to quote itself beyond the last 50 years is either unworthy of belief or unworthy of its beliefs.
Go here to read the rest. When viewed from the perspective of 2000 years, the Catholic Church is an amazing institution. As Protestant historian Thomas Babington Macaulay once observed:
She saw the commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all. She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s.
The number one problem in the Church, leaving aside sin and the incessant folly of the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve, is that, beginning with Vatican II, too many people in positions of power within the Church view her history with either contempt or shame, instead of as a source of wisdom and strength. Catholics need to remember their past and cherish it, or the future of the Church in this Vale of Tears will be rocky indeed.