Christian Berger, Fruits of Vatican II

Fruits of Vatican II
(Leserbrief an den Catholic Herald)

Sir ---
in your issue of June 11 I find two letters to the editor side by side, the first rejecting Vatican II as an outright failure, the other suggesting that being Catholic is an ordeal of dullness, to be avoided only by becoming an Evangelical. 

I am Austrian and work in this country for a while. As an outside observer I would suggest that the two letters have one common reason, the reason of choosing the thorns, but not the roses of post-conciliar times. 

Let me illustrate this by way of example. I happen to know of a particular diocese, where some maverick youth pastors set up summer camps. These camps were very charismatic and relied on the input from the new movements in the Church. 

The Bishop ignored them to the best of his ability for a decade or so; theologians frowned upon them and an establishment brandishing something called the "spirit of Vatican II" seriously contemplated exorcism. Nobody however actually prohibited the initiative.

Bishops retire and have successors, and the new Bishop inherited the biggest and most vibrant youth event of the country. 

Now the important point is this: As things stand there, all sorts of people work together. You have the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the Benedictines, the You! Magazine, the Capuchin Friars, the Legionaries of Christ, the Emmanuel Community and so forth. Organisation is mainly in the hands of the laity. 

The summer meetings proclaim the joy of faith, they make a real difference to the lives of those who attend - like me - and they attract scores of people.

In this light, it may be counted as one major achievement of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, that he managed to inspire cooperation between old and new movements. This was achieved in certain well chosen projects, chiefly the Vienna City Mission last year and the "Pilgrimage of Peoples" ("Wallfahrt der Völker") with some 80.000 to 100.000 attendants from all over Central Europe just last month. 

I ask with all due respect: Has the English Church already harvested these fruits of Vatican II? 

A welcoming attitude towards new movements and their enthusiasm might lessen the number of people who feel like the authors of the letters quoted above.

Yours Faithfully, 
Christian Berger

Sent to 
published in its printed version of 18. June 2004

(c) Mag. Christian Berger, Kathsurf (