Few Catholics notice the absurd levels of self-referentiality in the thinking of our Vatican II-worshipping episcopal establishment; we’ve lived with it our whole lives. The Second Vatican Council is the salvation of the Church. The solution to all of our problems is to properly interpret the Second Vatican Council, to fully receive the Second Vatican Council, to let the Spirit of the Second Vatican Council fully permeate and transform all our ideas and practices. What was so great about Vatican II? It was collegial! All the bishops talking to each other! Scrapping their preparatory documents so they could write new documents! From scratch! And vote on them! That’s what the Holy Spirit looks like, right there: bishops writing documents, arguing over them, voting on them. And what did they write documents about? Lots of stuff, but most importantly about collegiality and how great it is for bishops to be talking to each other. Then they went back to their diocese to preach the good news about this great multiyear discussion they’d just had and how it changes everything.
But if bishops talking to each other is so great, why stop? The bishops should spend their whole time talking to each other! A synodal Church! And the laity should join in the discussion, because they’re even holier than bishops. Everything will be open for discussion, because you can’t put rules on the Holy Spirit, and what the Holy Spirit wants is bishops and maybe laypeople talking to each other. No one can predict ahead of time what will come out of these discussions, except that there will be documents, and they will be voted on, and they will be written in that weird mix of baby talk and phenomenological gobbledygook that seems to have replaced Latin as the Church’s official language. Also, we can be sure that the percentage of the Church’s energy and attention devoted to these discussions shall be a monotonically increasing number asymptoting toward 100.
Since the Second Vatican Council has (blasphemously) been compared to Pentecost, it’s worth remembering what didn’t happen at the original Pentecost.
Then Peter addressed the crowd and said, “You guys, you’re not going to believe this amazing meeting that the other Apostles and I just had! It was incredible! Let me tell you all about this fantastic meeting. You see, we were all hiding upstairs out of respect for our Elder Brothers in Faith, when the Holy Spirit descended upon us. At once we began to follow Robert’s Rules of Order, and we appointed subcommittees to draft documents. And, oh my God, what documents we wrote! There was this one–James wrote the first draft, I think–called Holding Hands and Walking Together: Being Church in an Age of Displaced Verticality. It was so pastoral, just dripping with compassion. And John wrote the first draft of Always Our Babies: Dialogue and Dialectic De-centering in the Sacred Space of the Other. Bartholomew did a bang-up job tweaking the grammar (although it’s still kind of hard to tell where one sentence ends and another begins), and then we started voting. Voting and revising, revising and voting.”
“Let me invite you to join us in our dialogue. For the Kingdom of Heaven is like a meeting, a meeting with no end and no bathroom breaks, and anyone who accepts baptism gets to take part in this meeting with full voting rights.”Acts 2, 14-39
Alas, it would ill befit the dignity due to their office, but one does sometimes feel like grabbing one of these princes of the Church and screaming “No one cares about your stupid meetings!”