In the article “Theologians Petition Benedict for an In-Depth Review of Vatican II,” the staff of “Inside the Vatican” present the friendly petition by 50 Italian theologians and academics to Benedict XVI to effectively show – “scientifically” – the “hermeneutic of continuity” with previous magisterium that that the pope claimed for Vatican II on December 22, 2005. In that Christmas address to the Roman Curia, Benedict XVI remarked that there has been a correct and an incorrect interpretation of the Council.
The incorrect interpretation – “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” – held that the huge assembly of 2200 participants could not possibly arrive at incisive texts without a spirit of doctrinal compromise, and hence those texts could not be the true venue for the voice of the Spirit of God. The correct interpretation, the pope said, will consist in a “hermeneutic of reform,” i.e. in the “renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.” And as one subject, she will have one consciousness that will be continuous through history. He has insisted that the true spirit of the Council is to be found precisely in the texts of the Council that contain the development and consciousness of the Church-subject that has received the Word of God and lived it in her development through history.
He is saying that there is development in the Church’s understanding of Christ, and therefore a growing consciousness of the Person of Christ that is precisely the meaning of “revelation.” There can be no development in the Person of Christ as Word of the Father, but there is, and must be, development in the reception of that Word that is “revelation.” Revelation is an action that takes place in the receiving subject when the “veil” to consciousness is removed. If we attend to the distinction between object and subject, we could say that the tree that crashes in the forest objectively makes noise, but subjectively there is no sound. We could say that for there to be sound, a human subject must be there to receive it. Benedict XVI discovered doing his habilitation thesis that in the mediaeval theologians who mediated the meaning of revelation and faith from the Fathers of the Church, revelation took place only by the removal of the veil. The veil of unreceptivity – a stolid in-itselfness - is removed by the act of conversion away from self to receive the Word of the Father. By the very nature of the human person imaging God as self-determining freedom, reception is an action that must be initiated by the person, himself initially moved by Love. Mystery looms here in that the person as self-determining freedom cannot self-determine without having been loved and affirmed ultimately by the creating God. And this because the human person images the divine Son Whose very “to be” is eternally engendered as “I” by the Father. To speak of the autonomy of the human person forces us to speak of the “theonomy” of being loved by God such that there is an “I” to begin with who is then, when loved, capable of mastering self to make the “theonomous” gift of self. The human person is a self-initiating self-mover, but as created, the power to self determine and therefore achieve autonomy is also a created a power that cannot move without being moved creatively. That divine pre-motion antecedes and accompanies the freedom that is the autonomy of self-determination in us and which John Paul II has called “theonomy.” The Virgin’s preservation from sin and empowered by the Love that is grace that fills her enabled her to exercise her freedom of autonomy to make the total gift of herself and be filled with God such that revelation takes place within her. She then “saturates” the divine Person with the totality of her humanity, as we have to saturate the Word today by living ordinary life as another Him. Christ is “perfect” man because the Virgin spared nothing for herself in giving Him all of it.
There can be no knowledge of a divine Person unless there is a likeness of the divine Person in us, that likeness being our very selves in act. Simon had to actualize himself from in-self to out-of-self in order to be able to say “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16). Simon had to become “rock” as Christ is “cornerstone” (Act, 4, 11) . There must be relation to the Word by prayer as the Word is the Relation to the Father. There must be an investment of us in the Word by prayer in order to know Him Who is Word of the Father. In this regard, Benedict once remarked that “objectivity is an absurd abstraction.” There can be no knowledge of the Person-Subject of Jesus as Word of the Father until a conversion to prayer takes place in us.
Likewise, Jesus Christ is the objective revelation of the Father, but there needs to be a revelation of His unchanging Self. The Person of Christ is the Word of God and therefore the source of Revelation. But this takes place insofar as the receiving subject receives the Word within the self and lives it. The receiving Subject is the Church herself. Without her, there is no revelation because no veil has been removed. Therefore, Benedict remarked in 1985 that “the true time of Vatican II has not begun: its documents were quickly buried under a pile of superficial or frankly inexact publications. The reading of the letter of the documents will enable ut to discover their true spirit. If thus rediscovered in their truth, those great texts will make it possible for us to understand just what happened and to react with a new vigor.” Elsewhere, he went on to comment: “I believe that the continuous and complete reading of the texts of the Second Vatican Council is of great, indeed, essential importance. Everyone speaks about the Council but few really know it. The Council texts are truly a summa of the faith appropriated and enunciated by the Church of our day; they offer a sure guide in doctrinal problems. Deep knowledge of the texts gives us fundamental criteria in the different theological discussions.”
Hence, we have what the group of 50 refers to as the “Bologna School” that sees the Council as a parliamentary “event” that “cuts all ties with the past and inaugurates a new era in all respects” such that we have a discontinuity in teaching; and the 50 themselves that see a discontinuity in concept and language in Vatican II and are asking for a scientific evaluation of the doctrinal content of the Council with the doctrinal content of the preceding 20 Councils. Their hope is a “scientific conclusion” that will prove that the doctrinal continuity is real with an “underlying dogmatic identity.”
Both the above referenced Bologna School and the group of 50 seem to be missing the epistemological nature of Vatican II, and that, as Benedict XVI mentioned on December 22, 2005, the Church “is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.” That is to say, instead of considering revealed truth as object, the fathers of the Council considered it as subject. Instead of Vatican II being what we would call a doctrinal council working in the epistemological horizon of objectified truths, it was a “pastoral council” working in the epistemological horizon of the subject. This subject is accessed phenomenologically as consciousness and attitude but not by abstraction. Rather, the subject is described as being on the way, as yearning for the absolute, etc. and hence in existential and ontological terms, not as abstract thought.
Wojtyla, as conciliar father, participated in all of its sessions sitting “right next to the entrance of St. Peter’s Basilica.” As archbishop of Krakow, he was moved closer to the altar, and by January1965 he formed part of the meeting in Ariccia for the drafting of Gaudium et spes which formulated the critical text of #24 that contains the anthropological development that there is “a certain parallel between the union existing among the divine persons and the union of the sons of God in truth and love.” It then concludes to the revolutionary understanding of Christian anthropology: “Man… the only earthly being God has willed for itself, finds himself by the sincere gift of himself.” The phrase “only earthly being God has willed for itself” means what Wojtyla had expressed in “Love and Responsibility,” namely that “Nobody can use a person as a means towards an end, no humana being, not even God the Creator.” The human person is a subject that enjoys the autonomy of self-determination and in doing so, subdues self, gets control of self and is enabled to make this commonly experienced but theologically and epistemologically elusive gift of self.
As mysterious and elusive as this concept of self-gift is, Benedict XVI’s summation of his habilitation thesis points in the same direction in that revelation is the act of reception of the Word of God that is the Person of the Son of the Father. The subject believing, or receiving, must become “another Christ,” whereupon it is astounding to consider that revelation takes place within the believer. But what else could Christian contemplative and mystical life be except the experience of being “another Christ!” It is not surprising that a Michael Schmaus would consider Joseph Ratzinger’s thought as “a dangerous modernism that had to lead to the subjectivization of the concept of revelation.” Consider that the “development” concerning the notion of faith in Vatican II’s Dei Verbum #5 reads that “By faith man freely commits his entire self to God, making ‘the full submission of his intellect and will to God who reveals’” (quoting Vatican I) but bring out the existential and personal character of it. It is John Paul II as pope who shows the development between Vatican I and Vatican II precisely here when he remarks to Andre Frossard that there is reciprocity of self giving between God and man. He remarked that “This gift of oneself is the profoundest and most personal structure of faith. In the act of faith, man does not respond to God with the gift of a bit of himself, but with the gift of his whole person.” He then explains that this transition from concepts of intellect and will “does not mean that the cognitive aspect is concealed or displaced, but it is, so to speak, organically integrated in the broad context of the subject responding to God by faith.”
Ratzinger-Benedict XVI insists that the way into this continuity of experience, consciousness and concept is to return to the texts of Vatican II itself and search out the distinct epistemological levels the represent the two keys the same music is being played in.
His solution is to go to the texts to find the Word of God as Person. Revelation, he says elsewhere “is always a concept denoting an act. The word refers to the act in which God shows himself, not to the objectified result of this act. And because this is so, the receiving subject is always also a part of the concept of `revelation,’ no re-vel-ation has occurred, because no veil has been removed. By definition, revelation requires a someone who apprehends it.” Notice that if the Person of Christ who is the objective revelation of the Father, when received by the believer, He is revelation of the Father within the person of the believer. This is why the act of Simon becoming Peter and proclaiming that this Jesus “is the Christ, the Son of the living God,” is the paradigm confession of faith by the Church. That is, Simon had entered into the prayer of Christ to the Father (Lk. 9, 18). By praying, Simon was becoming “like” the Person of Christ as enfleshed relation to the Father. Simon grew as likeness to Christ by praying in union with Him. As likeness to Christ, Simon experienced within himself this going out of self to the Father (conversion) and achieved the consciousness of being “another Christ,” and therefore “Peter” (Rock) as Christ is “Cornerstone” (Acts 4, 11). Hence, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16).
The above is a presentation of Benedict XVI’s account of the continuity and development of revelation and faith throughout history. Both the Bologna School and the 50 Italian Academics the epistemological dynamics: Revelation takes place insofar as the Person of Christ – Word of the Father – is accepted by a subject who goes through a conversion away from self – emptying self – so as to be able to receive the Word into the self and become that Word. Simon becomes “Peter” as Christ is “Cornerstone.” Therefore, as there is growth in experiencing the Word and “doing it,” there is a growth in Revelation in that the Person of Christ “grows” within the receiving person of the believer. Then, as consciousness grows, and the reflection on that consciousness takes place, there is a growth in conceptual knowing. The subjective consciousness becomes an objectified intentional knowing that is conceptual. Hence, this growth of experience and consciousness of Christ is accompanied by a growth or development of conceptual doctrine reflecting that consciousness. The melody continues to be the same, but the notes are different. This change in subjective receptivity and its consequent conceptualization is based and rooted on the continuous and unchanging reality of the divine Person of the Word. The “hermeneutic of continuity” would consist, then, in the unchanging reality of the Word of God amidst the burgeoning consciousness of the Person of Christ and the asymptote-like variety of conceptualizations/reflections on that consciousness. Hence, there is an ever-increasing development of doctrine and there are truly new real developments, but the Word and the receiving subject framing the concepts is the same Church exercising the same authority exercised in Vatican II (1965) as in Nicea (325) and all the subsequent Councils. As Benedict XVI remarked in 1985: “Whoever accepts Vatican II, as it has clearly expressed and understood itself, at the same time accepts the whole binding tradition of the Catholic Church, particularly also the two previous councils… It is likewise impossible to decide in favor of Trent and Vatican I, but against Vatican II. Whoever denies Vatican II denies the authority that upholds the other two councils and thereby detaches them from their foundation.”
The texts, then, of Vatican II, although reflecting a different conceptual content will contain and reflect the continuity of consciousness which can be found in the texts of Vatican II. As mentioned above the melody is the same but the notes are in a different key. To get the melody, we need to play the notes which are the concepts objectifying the consciousness and symbolized in the texts. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger, speaking to bishops, remarked: “I believe that the continuous and complete reading of the texts of the Second Vatican Council is of great, indeed, essential importance. Everyone speaks about the Council but few really know it. The Council texts are truly a summa of the faith appropriated and enunciated by the Church of our day; they offer a sure guide in doctrinal problems. Deep knowledge of the texts gives us fundamental criteria in the different theological discussions. Naturally it is also important to follow the Magisterium’s recent texts, thus bringing up-to-date one’s reading of the Council.”
The Questions Proposed by the 50:
The Italian 50 propose13 questions they would like to see answered in scientific-objectified fashion by the pope. I offer that they already beg the question of the true solution in that they do not recognize that there are two distinct, irreducible yet complementary epistemological horizons at work here, one concerning truth as object which is the real of the scientific; the other concerning truth as subject, which transcends the scientific and gives the scientific its ground as meaning.
• They ask first for the true nature of Vatican II. I would offer a remark from John Kobler: “The use of phenomenology at the council has not touched the substance of Catholic doctrine, but it has given it a whole new tonality. The effect has been much like transposing a piece of music from C-major to C-minor. Or, to use an even more apt analogy, like the intellectual adjustment necessary to move from an industrialized society into an age of electronics. This psychological ‘gravity shift’ is essentially to a radically new modality, particularly in the domain of theoretical conceptualization.” And this because the entire thrust of Vatican II is “an enrichment of the content of faith… but also, originating from that content, an enrichment of the whole existence of the believing member of the Church.” In a word, the entire thrust of the Council is the achievement of holiness at this moment of history. Notice that this turn to the subject of the believer is an ascetical turn to parse every received truth emitted by the Magisterium into the language of self-gift. The Magisterium can speak only Christ. Every truth framed by the Magisterium is Christ, but Christ as “I” in relation to the Father. The entire Council is framed in dynamic subjective terms that are oriented to the identity of the believer with the obedient Son of the Father. As subjective and ontological dynamic, the Council can take up the whole of modernity that itself is characterized as the turn to subjectivity, but lamentably a subjectivity of unreal consciousness and relativism. Benedict commented to Robert Moynihan: “(I)t seems to me that this was the true intention of the Second Vatican Council, to go beyond an unfruitful and overly narrow apologetic to a true synthesis with the positive elements of modernity, but at the same time, let us say, to transform modernity, to heal it of its illnesses, by means of the light and strength of faith.” He goes on: “Because it was the council Fathers’ intention to heal and transform modernity, and not simply to succumb to it or merge with it, the interpretations which interpret the Second Vatican Council in the sense of de-sacralization or profanation are erroneous.” And then for the position of the 50 he concludes: “That is, Vatican II must not be interpreted as desiring a rejection of the tradition and an adapting of the Church to modernity and so causing the Church to become empty because it loses the word of faith.” And so, the entire epistemological turn of the Council is to the acting person as ontological reality – not a Cartesian consciousness – and that can parse itself as created subjectivity that exercised freedom by dynamizing itself as relation-gift.
• Another doubt raised about Vatican II is directed to the meaning of Tradition about which they report “a Copernican revolution” has taken place since the Council “did not clearly define the dogmatic value of (it).” They find the two sources have evaporated into one. They mention that the teaching prior to Vatican II involves Tradition as one of the two sources of revelation “that have always been admitted in the Church and have been confirmed by the dogmatic Councils of Trent and Vatican I.”
Since the totality of Vatican II is a turn to the subject and the presentation of Christ in terms of subjectivity, it turns out that Jesus Christ as Subject, as Person, is the meaning of revelation that takes place when He is received by the subjectivity of the believer. There is no revelation until the “veil” of re-vel-ation is removed. It is removed when the believer undergoes conversion out of self to receive the Word in himself, whereby he becomes another Self: “I live; no not I; Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2, 20).
The scriptural prototype and paradigm of this understanding of the act of faith is Our Lady who takes in the Word by her self-emptying and engenders Jesus Christ in her total self, saturating his divine Person with her humanity. This major point, the reception of the Word by the subject, is the meaning of Tradition. It is the very person of the believer who experiences the living Word from within, who knows the meaning of Scripture and remembers as Our Lady remembered her Son. Her memory is the living Tradition of the Church’s knowledge of the infancy narratives. This is the meaning of the text: “Sacred Tradition and sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing…” It is true that Dei Verbum 9 sees Sacred Scripture and Tradition as “one thing, but that “one thing” is the Subject, Christ, as Word, and Christ as receiving subject of the believer. Benedict XVI’s summary of his habilitation thesis could help here. He writes: “there can be no such thing as pure sola Scriptura (‘by Scripture alone’), because an essential element of Scripture is the Church as understanding subject, and with this the fundamental sense of tradition is already given.”
• The 50 are exercised over “the new meaning… of the Catholic Church contained in the Dogmatic Constitution… Lumen Gentium.” Again, they beg the epistemological question when they ask for “the exact meaning to be given to the new definition of the Catholic Church” in Lumen Gentium. The question is asked within an objectified epistemology of sense perception and abstraction. The puzzlement undoubtedly comes from LG #8 that reads “This Church, constituted an organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, … Nevertheless many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside the visible confines.” They ask “In this formulation, does it not seem that the Church appears to be merely a part of the Church of Christ,” and this because “the Church of Christ is said to include also – besides the Catholic Church – ‘many elements of sanctification and of truth’ located ‘outside’ the Catholic Church?”
This is perhaps one of the most indicative examples of working within a mistaken epistemological horizon. The scholastic terminology of “subsist” as a verb only takes persons as grammatical subjects. In a word, only subjects “subsist.” That is to say, the Church of Jesus Christ, the divine Subject, “subsists” as acting Subject, only in the Catholic Church whereas many other Churches have objective elements that contribute to sanctification, such as Scripture, sacraments and preaching the Word. If everything is understood in an objectified sense, the text cannot be understood in that the Church of Christ is understood to be a whole that contains parts. Hence, the 50 ask the question: “Does it not seem that the Church appears to be merely a part of the Church of Christ?” because “‘many elements of sanctification and of truth’ (are) located ‘outside’ the Catholic Church.”
• The 50 complain at the omission of the words “supernatural” and “transubstantiation.” This is due to the search for a philosophy more at one with Christian revelation. Although Benedict made it clear that Greek philosophical reason has entered into the very content of the theological account of faith – the Fathers of the Church opting for Greek philosophy over pagan myth – nevertheless, when formulating a Christian anthropology, Vatican II formulated the meaning of man, not in terms of Greek substance, but in terms of person imaging the Trinity of divine Persons. Gaudium et spes #24 reads that Christ’s revelation that “they may all be one… even as we are one’ (Jn. 17, 21-22), has opened up new horizons closed to human reason by implying that there is a certain parallel between the union existing among the divine persons and the union of the sons of God in truth and love. It follows, then, that if man is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake, man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself.” When commenting on the use of the Greek notion of substance for the understanding of the human person, Benedict countered that “the undivided sway of thinking in terms of substance is ended; relation is discovered as an equally valid primordial mode of reality. It becomes possible to surmount what we call today ‘objectifying thought;’ a new plane of being comes into view.”
Benedict gives an example of this in his presentation of the completion of the Council of Chalcedon by Constantinople III. He considered Chalcedon to be “the boldest and most sublime simplification of the complex and many-layered data of tradition to a single central fact that is the basis of everything else: Son of God, possessed of the same nature as God and of the same nature as us. I regard this as the only interpretation that can do justice to the whole range of tradition and sustain the full impact of the phenomenon itself.”
However, to overcome the possibility of parallelism in the two natures, their dynamics as natures had to be trumped by the ontological dynamic superiority of the person who is the one and only protagonist of Christ’s activity. The Person subsumes the power of will in the two natures such that there is only one personal willing. There is only one “I” in Christ. He said: “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (Jn. 6, 38). Benedict wrote: “Here the divine Logos is speaking, and speaking of the human will of Jesus in the mode by which he calls his will the will of the Logos.” There are two natural wills, but only one personal willing. He observed that “the metaphysical duplicity of a human will and a divine will is not eliminated, but the personal sphere, the area of freedom, there is accomplished a fusion of the two, so that this becomes not one single natural will but one personal will.”
The epistemology that characterizes Benedict XVI is the subjective penetration into reality in order to know existentially it. He remarked in New York in 1988 that “objectivity is an absurd abstraction.” His observation of the epistemology of the new physics of Heisenberg and Schrödinger is one with his theological epistemology that enters into the subject or intellectual reality of the “other.” He frequently observes that we only know what we love. True knowledge of the other so obviously cannot be achieved except by becoming one with him or it. True objectivity as realism is achievable only by the subjectively involved. Hence, the objection by the 50 to the change in terminology testifies to the abstract objectification that they are about, and according to which they are petitioning Benedict XVI to cater to.
On Adhesion to the Second Vatican Council
It may be helpful to review the need of adhesion by a believer to the authority of Vatican II and its documents. I offer this brief study from L’Osservatore Romano (12/1/2011) of Fernando Ocariz, Consultor to the CDF, member of the Pontifical Theological Academy, and present Vicar General of Opus Dei. Ocariz affirms that “the pastoral motivation of the Council does not mean that it was not doctrinal.” He suggests, rather, that there were many doctrinal teachings in Vatican II: on Divine Revelation, on the faith, the Church, the common priesthood of the faithful, etc. Ocariz goes on to affirm that “Every authentic expression of the Magisterium must be received for what it truly is: a teaching given by Pastors who, in the apostolic succession, speak with the ‘charism of truth’ (Dei Verbum, n. 8), ‘endowed with the authority of Christ’ (Lumen Gentium n. 25), ‘and by the light of the Holy Spirit (ibid.).”
Concerning the assent owed to the Magisterium, it should be kept in mind that “(T)hose affirmations of the Second Vatican Council that recall truths of the faith naturally require the assent of theological faith, not because they are taught by this Council but because they have already been taught infallibly as such by the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.” There are other doctrinal teachings that require “religious” assent of mind and will” that is not the assent of theological faith but of obedience because of trust in the Magisterium, and therefore “within the logic of faith and under the impulse of obedience to the faith.”
Ocariz remarks that there are “A number of innovations of a doctrinal nature…to be found in the documents of the Second Vatican Council: on the sacramental nature of the episcopate, on episcopal collegiality, on religious freedom, etc.” A sampling of others could be included: the universal call to sanctity of laymen and ministerial priests, the Church as People of God with a radical identity and functional diversity, the Church as sacrament; the unity yet essential difference between the ministerial and the hierarchical priesthoods; secularity as a theological characteristic of laymen; secular work as a way of achieving holiness; the Church of Jesus Christ subsists as Subject in the Catholic Church with objective means of holiness outside her, etc. Each one of these developments in Vatican II are developments coming from the viewing the Church and the believer within the horizon of subjectivity that is constitutively relational. Each of the following examples is the development that comes, not from a change in truth or objective content thereof, and thus causing a discontinuity of doctrine, but from a change in epistemological key from object to subject.
For example, everyone is called, and when baptized into the Christification of self-gift to the Father as the Person of Christ. “Self-gift” is the change from objectified “man,” to the “I” that is capable of giving self away to another. Laity and ministerial priest form the body of the Church, each enabling the other to make the gift of self that is the sanctity of being “another Christ.” This communio of laity and ministerial priesthood characterizes the very structure of the Church as “People of God” follows on the analogy of Christ and the Church, which in turn is the prototype of the relation of male to female. On the level of subjectivity (or “pastorally”), the Church is “People of God.”
Prior to Vatican II, from the 17th century to the 20th, the model for the Church was taken from political society and was theologically developed under the rubric of “the perfect society.” As institution, it was object and “thing.” Skipping to Benedict XVI, we find him describing the Church subjectively as “not an apparatus, nor a social institution, nor one social institution among many others. It is a person. It is a woman. It is a Mother. It is alive. A Marian understanding of the Church is totally opposed to the concept of the Church as a bureaucracy or a simple organization. We cannot make the Church, we must be the Church.” And we become the Church by entering into the subjectivity of self-gift that is faith, the prototype of which is the Virgin.
Consider John Paul II’s remark: “This Marian profile is also – even perhaps more so – fundamental and characteristic for the Church as is the apostolic and Petrine profile to which it is profoundly united… The Marian dimension of the Church is antecedent to that of the Petrine, without being in any way divided from it or being less complementary.” He is saying that the Marian Church (the laity) has a “substantial priority” over the ministerial priest, who in turn has a “functional priority” in order to activate the priesthood oriented to self-gift of the laity in the exercise of secular work in the world.
Secularity becomes a “theological” category for the entire Church (as “dimension”) as well as for the laity where it “characterizes” them. The laity achieve the giftedness of self in the exercise of ordinary work in the world whereby they become “other Christs.” This is a development of seeing the Church and the believer as subject as well as work in its subjective dimension. Secularity is the autonomy of freedom that accrues from the subject mastering and subduing the self. Christifideles Laici, quoting Lumen Gentium was able to say that “the secular world…(is) the place in which they receive their call from God: ‘There they are called by God.’ This ‘place’ is treated and presented in dynamic terms: the lay faithful ‘live in the world, that is, in every one of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very fabric of their existence is woven”… (T)he Council considers their condition not simply an external and environmental framework, but as a reality destined to find in Jesus Christ the fullness of its meaning.”
The above, although merely telegraphic and schematic, are doctrinal developments that are in total continuity with the faith of always and that are the result of an enhanced experience of Jesus Christ as the unique source of all Revelation. Indeed, the consciousness increases, the concepts change but the reality of the Person of Christ remains the same, and the Church, illumined historically by the Spirit, remains in perfect continuity with herself from the beginning.
Robert A. Connor
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