The National Catholic Review
John W. O'Malley
The president's persona and the spirit of the council
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We have a Vatican II president. Barack Obama, I am sure, does not think of himself in those terms, but when I heard his speech at Grant Park in Chicago the night he was elected, and more recently his commencement address at Notre Dame, that is what immediately struck me. On those occasions he embodied and professed in his public persona the spirit of the council. In making that statement I know that I am entering a minefield. Catholics who denounce the president for his stance on abortion are of course responsible for many of the mines in the field, but their mines have been so thoroughly discussed lately that for the sake of brevity I will bypass them here.

The other set of mines in the field comes from the expression “the spirit of Vatican II.” The expression, used widely at the time of the council and given a certain official standing at the Synod of Bishops in 1985, has lately in Roman circles been quietly downgraded, if not dismissed as meaningless. No doubt, the expression has been abused to justify interpretations far removed from what the bishops intended, and it has seemed all too prone to ideological manipulation. Your “spirit of the council” is not my “spirit of the council.”

Yet the expression has a legitimate place in our vocabulary and is in fact almost indispensable for grasping the big message the council wanted to deliver. By “the spirit of the council” I mean simply general orientations that transcended particular issues. In my book, What Happened at Vatican II, I argue that beneath the particular issues the council dealt with—episcopal collegiality, for instance, and religious liberty—more profound and far-reaching issues lurked. I call these the issues-under-the-issues. I ground them in the texts of the council and in that way ground “the spirit of the council” and give it verifiable substance.    

Among the issues-under-the issues was style, the issue especially pertinent for grounding “the spirit of the council.” The council spoke in a new style, a style different from all previous councils. It eschewed words implying punishment, surveillance, hostility, distrust and coerced behavior-modification that characterized previous councils. It employed words that espoused a new model for Christian behavior—not new, of course, to the Christian tradition as such, but new to council vocabulary. I am referring to words like brothers and sisters, cooperation, partnership, human family, conscience, collegiality and especially dialogue. The new words cannot be dismissed as casual asides or mere window dressing. The council used them too insistently, intentionally and characteristically for them to be that. This new vocabulary made the council a major language-event in the history of the church.

The shift in vocabulary had profound ramifications. It meant a shift in values and priorities. Critical among these new values was civility in dealing with persons of different faiths or convictions and a willingness to listen to them with docile heart and mind. This civility was not a superficial tactic but a manifestation of an inner conversion. It of course did not mean surrendering one’s beliefs, but it did mean a willingness to learn from others and a refusal to condemn them without a hearing. Such openness of mind and heart is the essence of genuine dialogue.

The council hoped that this new style of being, which brings with it a new way of proceeding, would lead to cooperation among all persons of good will—Catholics and non-Catholics, Christians and non-Christians, believers and non-believers—on the new, massive, and sometimes terrifying problems that face humanity today. This new way of proceeding in large part constituted “the spirit of the council.” It was one of the big messages the council delivered to the church and to the world at large.

That is why when I heard Obama’s two speeches I was struck by how much he spoke in accord with the spirit of Vatican II.  In those two addresses, as well as in his other speeches, he called for civility, for the end of name-calling, and for a willingness to work together to deal with our common problems, including abortion, rather than a stand-off determination to impose one’s principles without reckoning what the cost to the common good might be.

President Jenkins of Notre Dame called attention to Obama’s oratorical gifts. Such gifts are consonant with the rhetorical tradition that produced the spirit of Vatican II. The council deliberately chose to speak as much as possible “in the pastoral style of the Fathers,” who were schooled from their earliest days in the rhetorical tradition. That tradition is what made them such effective preachers and leaders of their communities.

Classical theorists about rhetoric like Cicero and Quintilian described it as the art of winning consensus, the art of bringing people together for a common cause. It is an art, please note, closely related to ethics, for those same theorists described the truly successful orator as vir bonus dicendi peritus--a good man, skilled in public speaking. It is an art in which Obama excels and which, certainly unwittingly, puts him in touch with the spirit of Vatican II.

I often hear laments that the spirit of Vatican II is dead in the church. Is it not ironic that not a bishop but the President of the United States should today be the most effective spokesperson for that spirit? To judge from the enthusiastic response he received from the graduates at Notre Dame, his message captured their minds and hearts. Maybe through young Catholics like those at Notre Dame who are responding to Obama’s message the spirit of Vatican II will, almost through the back door, reenter the church. The history of the church has, after all, taken stranger turns than that.

John W. O'Malley, S.J., is university professor, theology department, at Georgetown University and author of What Happened at Vatican II.

Comments

Bob | 9/22/2009 - 3:59pm
Wow....It always amazes me that someone can be so brilliant and gifted but yet so easily coned and blind.  The President is a glorified used car salesman. Yes, he has tremendous gifts of style and fancy elloquent speach.  But his actions and his true intentions have clear goals and they do not match his words.  Empty lies they remain.  He continues to decieve even catholics.  Wow....how St. Ignatius must turn over in his grave.  What happened to discernment of spirits?  Remember those 14 rules?  If a man had 20 children and I murdered one and said I have the goal of murdering al lof them......but ....we should have an open mind even though we strongly disagree.....you want to defend your children.....i want to murder them...let's not get crazy or rash but relax, so I kill another and keep saying "let's all be civil, these are tough choices that are beyond my pay grade, then i kill another.  How many children do i have to kill before the Father defends or fights against me.  Well if he embraces the so called spirit of Vatican II or the Spirit of Lord Obama he will instead of defending his children write poems of joy and openness and tolerance as I kill all his children, then I will say you know you are a great man.  I will then start stealing for him and keep enhancing my speech on brother hood sharing finding the common good. until he is has nothing!!!!! Wake up!!  I would never send my kids to GeorgeTowne after reading this magazine article.   Let's pray that we wake up and get out of the fog.
Gary Crevier | 9/15/2009 - 5:58pm
     If the supreme court of the United States would outlaw abortion, would the Right To Life organizations go away? Or would they spend as much time and energy with an equal  outcry against such issues as the death penalty or against any kind of life taking, such as war? And if they would, why are they not speaking out about that now?
Andrea Grillo | 9/8/2009 - 3:25am
Sono molto lieto di poter leggere un commento così lucido e aperto sullo spirito del Concilio Vaticano II. E' una speranza che ciò che il "centro" della casa non riesce più a comprendere possa rientrare dalla "porta di servizio".
Christopher Gomez | 9/1/2009 - 3:15pm
Matt 7 15-20  "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits.  Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles?  So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit.  A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus you will know them by their fruits."
So much for Jesus not condemning anyone.
Mary Anne | 8/25/2009 - 1:13am

Thank you Rev. O'Malley for the breath and the depth of your striving to reach readers with the "medicine of mercy" which ordered the life of John 23rd. This great Pope took a prophectic stance in responding to the call of the Holy Spirit for a new Council,. This  Council would be urged  to listen and act in loving ways. This would be a council spreading the "Good News" of love and forgiveness. The judgemental and intolerant ways of the past  only served to brutalize and violate humans who saw things from other perspectives. Let us not forget the "blood filled pages of our Roman Catholic history which were papally supported, yes Papally supported!

I have not heard the speeches in question but look forward to reading them soon. Your description of these and their positive impact is life giving. No sane person desires abortion! We are often victims of circumstance in the many walkways and byways we travel. Let's get the life offered in the Gospels and allow ourselves to be reborn of the mercy Christ Jesus exemplifeid on earth.

Joe | 8/8/2009 - 4:24pm
So niceness and civility are what the Spirit of Vatican II was and is all about?! Great, another Jesuit defending bad doctrine and bad morality with precious moments sentiments about being nice. What utter nonsense. Avery Dulles' 2003 piece in the magazine is more on target. Style does no trump substance, and no matter what Obama says, he falls on the wrong side of key moral issues. His is the Spirit of the Age, plain and simple.
Monique Martinique | 7/9/2009 - 10:28pm
How refreshing to read this article! And how clear!I was just in Vermont visiting my family and experienced a wonderful homily on Sunday about us being the children of Vatican II! Perhaps the Spirit of God is stirring our jaded hearts to renew our own spirits and open up the windows of our minds and let some of that healthy Vermont air in! I mean air as pristine and without pollution of narrowmindedness and lack of respect for the thoughts of others.
The homilist knew Karl Rahner personally, how exciting!!
We must not forget the vocabulary of VATICAN II promoted by Yves Congar as well! That we are the PEOPLE of GOD and the Holy Spirit dwells in the People of God very strongly and not just in the upper echelon of hierarchy.
 
Patricia V. Russo | 6/19/2009 - 10:03am
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
WILLIAM CARRINGTON | 6/18/2009 - 4:01pm
In truth, knowing that this article was written by one of the foremost historians of the council, (as mentioned by blogger #44, Brett R. McCaw on 6/16/09) I have to say I expected no less. Fr. O'Malley's lament over the death of the 'spirit of Vatican II" among the Church hierarchy is far from inappropriate as the 'spirit of Vatican II' is far from meaningless. Like blogger McCaw, I have read Fr. O'Malley's book and was impressed at its prodigious scholarship and balanced, enlightening insights. It is indeed a masterful work for which I, for one, am deeply grateful. The value of "open-ended dialogue, openness, egalitarianism, and aggiornamento" far exceeds a mere set of generalized ideals. For example, the issues surrounding abortion are understood by each side. What is critical in the practice of genuine dialogue is the acknowledgment that the "Truth" is not a dead "thing" that must be protected by a static, self-appointed supreme authority, but is rather incarnate in the living Spirit of the Triune God who loves us and continues to reveal His love every day. (I sometimes think the siege mentality exhibited by certain pronouncements of the magisterium reveal their lack of faith in the living Spirit animating us.) Vatican II called on the whole church to increase in holiness and rejected the habit of former councils of promulgating lists of no-nos and condemnations of people. If we all increase in love for God and one another and increase in virtuous behavior, the need for abortion may decrease to the point of extinction. Enough for now. Thanks Fr. O'Malley
James Heaney | 6/18/2009 - 3:27am
@BillWhite: I concur that orthodoxy is not an end in itself. However, I think that orthodoxy is a *prerequisite* both to effective evangelization and the virtuous life. It is impossible for one who lacks orthodoxy to live a fully Christ-like life. Now, granted, as a result of original sin, the darkening of the intellect, and the inflaming of the passions, *nobody* lives a fully Christ-like life, including the most orthodox Catholics. All the same, as the sole institution on Earth competent to make authoritative judgements on orthodoxy, it is both logical and necessary for questions of orthodoxy to be one of the top priorities-perhaps *the* top priority-of the instutional Chruch. Since none of her other work (Catholic evangelization, Catholic charity, general holiness) can proceed or long survive outside the shelter of orthodoxy, the rampant heterodoxy she faces in the present-day American Catholic is (rightly) of prime concern. Because of the centrality of orthodoxy to Christian Catholic life, I not only consider the recent condemnations by the bishops appopriate, but think that stronger measures, such as excommunications, would be *more* pastoral, *more* healing, and ultimately *more* in accord with the spirit of Vatican II than the strongly-worded letters they have published so far. I *do* like to think that, at the very least, the spirit of Vatican II rests on something more than a mere rhetorical style that can be emptied of Christian content and refilled with any old workaday ideology of inhumanity.
Brett R. McCaw | 6/16/2009 - 7:38am
In truth, knowing that this article was written by one of the foremost historians of the council in America, Fr. O'Malley SJ, I have to say that I am more than disappointed. At the conclusion of the article, I couldn't help but say to myself, "so what?" To draw the analogy between Conciliar dialogue and ressourcement to the overly post-modern, fetishistic sense of dialogue as-an-end-unto-itself within Obama's rhetoric requires a bit more than mere intellectual gymnastics - probably just a lot of extra time and a decent imagination to go with it. Relating the over idealized 'spirit of Vatican II' to much of anything at all is nothing more than reducing it's realities to a lowest common denominator with something else - which is never very meaningful anyway. Fr. O'Malley seemingly laments over the fact that the belief in the 'spirit of Vatican II' is dead among Church hierarchy and perhaps there is a reason for that. This 'idea' has developed into more or less of a 'content-less'concept as the "Spirit of Vatican II" has represented a set of generalized 'ideals' (open-ended dialogue, openness, egalitarianism, 'aggiornamento') on which the council is believed by many to be based upon. But this is an incredibly incomplete and fractured way of looking at the council and not a method that we can use with any amount of seriousness if we expect to have any sort of renewed study of this very important period in the contemporary life of the Church. To Fr. O'Malley's credit, his history of Vatican II (What Happened at Vatican II) is really a magnum opus in many senses of the word - this article is clearly not.
Travis W | 6/14/2009 - 12:32am
Can you imagine Jesus sitting down with the devil to find "common ground?" As Catholics we do not compromise. There is the Truth then there is evil. I will never support another hitler. PRAY PRAY PRAY for a change of heart for these misguided souls(the author of this article as well as Obama).
jing | 6/11/2009 - 5:44am
this is what we call moral relativism which pope benedict xvi has cautioned all catholics. i feel so sad that we, and esp. the clergy are becoming blind to the true and traditional tenets of christianity, especially catholic christianity
Rev. Vincent Fitzpatrick | 6/11/2009 - 1:28am
The last time I read anything remotely so stupid was the last time I surfed over to americamagazine.org from "Off the Record." Let me paraphrase this article: I like Obama, and I like Vatican II. Both make me feel good. I'll skip over the matter of killing millions of babies-which Obama supports-and just assert that he is a good man. And he brings people together. Don't ask me for any examples. Don't ask me for any examples of what Vatican II taught, either. Feel the luv. The end. There was a time when the editors of America would have thrown such drivel into the nearest wastebasket. Now, America is chiefly in the business of documenting the death rattles of the Society.
Bruce | 6/10/2009 - 9:57pm
If we were speaking of "a good man" your comparison would be palatable. To compare this man with teachers of the Church and the "spririt of Vatican II is naive and absurd.I recall that a book cannot be judged by it's cover, but the contents that are bound between them.What "lies" between these covers of this book are disturbing. This book could be labeled a "mystery novel". In chapter 1 we find that we are not sure of his place of birth, which is thought to be the State of Hawaii. He was raised by his mother, graduated from Punahou High School in Hawaii and from Harvard Law School. This law student goes on to be elected to the Illinois Senate and serves less than 200 days in that capacity before running for the highest office in the land. A story of rags to riches. Obscurity to Fame. The chapter ends by asking the question, Who is this man? Where is he from and What does he beleive?Chapter 2, entitled "Obssession" details the  mainstream media's  refusal to cover these questions about this candidate past, such as,mentor, Saul Alinsky, who praised "Lucifer" as the first revolutionary. His work with ACORN, an organization who's mission is the "disruption" of the voting process to create "chaos". His church led by a pastor that preached "HATE". But the obsession gets better, anyone who "questions" this candidate is "uncovered", "investigated" and even ridiculed. Then a poll is released that reveals that the elected Catholic community supports for this candidate! After his election it is also revealed that over 50% of Catholics voted for the most prolific abortionist candidate in the history of the United States. As the mystery unravels, a Catholic College dedicated to the Mother of our Church, the Blessed Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ "invites" the president to receive an honorary degree and speak at the graduation! Anathema! The president of this catholic university ignores all pleas from Bishops, the community of the faithful and peaceful demonstrators praying the rosary(who he has arrested).At the end of the chapter, a professor of Theology from this same University compares the spirit of the president's speeches to be in line with the "spirit of Vatican II". Readers are reminded that during the first 100 days this "prophetic" president has spent more money than prior presidents during their first 100 days (combined!). He has apologized for America's contributions to world peace, promised to correct America's perception of Islam, stated that Amreica is not a Christian Nation and given billions worldwide for abortions in the name of promoting women's rights. His chosen cabinet members have been tax evaders, pro-abortion, athesist, and gay activist. His agenda while transparent is deceptively worded and hidden as riders by a Congress and Senate that is both "obsessed" and morally corrupt. Chapter 3 has yet to be written.    (Many will be "deceived" by his tongue and under the pretense of "peace maker".)Unknown 
Tom Feick | 6/9/2009 - 4:44pm
Fr. O’Malley. From Georgetown University. The same Georgetown University that covered the symbol of Christ, “IHS”, inscribed on a pediment on the stage at the university where President Obama spoke back in April. All because our ‘common ground’ president, in a spirit of 'civility,' was a bit uncomfortable having the audience see a Christian symbol at a Catholic University where he chose to speak in a ‘conciliatory tone.’ That may be the tone that Fr. O’Malley is comfortable with but it is not the tone of Vatican II, regardless of how you try to spin it. St. Ignatius, pray for us.
Gerald Malsbary | 6/9/2009 - 3:26pm
Tragic! The spirit of Vatican II as a creation of ... rhetoric? If that's what "nice words" is. Rhetoric is much more than that, and Vatican II is much more than that. O'Malley is caught in a thirty-year-old time warp. Where has he been? The Golden Rule, for which Obama pretends to speak, is precisely what the pro-abortion position violates! What if someone had aborted YOU?
Daniel W. Casey | 6/9/2009 - 7:29am
Nonsense like this article simply gives cover to Obama's agenda, which is destructive of innocent human life. Georgetown and Notre Dame (my alma mater) have chosen the easy, secular, popular path instead of witnessing to the faith. They are Catholic in name only, and are anti-Catholic in practice, acting against the church and the bishops. They ought to be ashamed of themselves, but are far too self-serving and institutionally narcissistic to feel shame. They need to be rebuked.
william vlasic | 6/9/2009 - 3:57am
If St. Paul and the other saints and martyrs spoke with the jibberish that Omalley( V2 spirit) speaks of in his ridiculous article there would be no catholic church no truth -just silly fables that jenkins and obama lull into pathetic numbness and mindless glee(yes we can)the young souls of late "Notre Dame" Catholic school
Dr. Cyril Ignatius Kendrick | 6/7/2009 - 12:28pm
John O'Malley's comments are an excellent illustration of how the Church in America was hijacked from within, and how many Catholic institutions ceased to be an effective witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. An important part of the Catholic renewal in America will be reclaiming those Catholic colleges and universities that can still be saved, and abandoning those that can't be. That a politician whose agenda is so contrary to that of the Church in not only welcomed on a Catholic campus, but given high honors is obviously an enormous disgrace to Notre Dame. And unfortunately, Notre Dame has for some time been solidly within the ranks of those institutions actively undermining the Church in America. It should be treated accordingly by Catholic families making decisions over where to make donations and where to send their children for schooling.
Ron A. | 6/6/2009 - 11:23am
Yes. "The spirit of Vatican II, a.k.a., "secularism", "the church of the here and now" is well represented by the positions of mr. president. Satan thrives on this sort of "spirit" as is demonstrated by the moral chaos both within and without the Church. Consider the moral scandal of our age: no doubt the good father "understands" the abortionist's position? (Why was he at the Grant Park rally? Was it out of excitement?) This is all so absurd and decadent!
Dietrich | 6/6/2009 - 10:38am
With such wonderfully and thoughtfully expressed comments on both sides. I cannot hope to compete in eloquence, so I'll be as succinct as I am able. 1. "Silver-tongued devils" do not a moral man or nation make. 2. As a graduate of a Jesuit University, I pray for the suppression of the Jesuits, who manifest in so many ways they emphatically do not wish to enjoin the Church as humble Catholics, but rather as Jesuits first (whatever that means to them today). It's articles like these that make plain how far afield Jesuit thought is in regard to Church teaching and how it fits into their priorities and agendae. That Father O'Malley would submit this for publication is an indication of this disease. In charity, it's time to rein these renegades back into the fold or cut them off completely.
Ronnie | 6/5/2009 - 4:24pm
After reading some of these comments in support of Obama, O;Malley and Jenkins, I couldn't help but think of the words of Jesus and I'm paraphrasing: Not every one who calls me Lord will enter the kingdon of heaven and many will be deceived. Obama is the most radical pro-abortion President we have ever had and the deception and cluelessness of those who believe his semantics about open hearts and open minds is mindboggling...Is he really a false prophet? Please do not be deceived....Actions speak louder than words and his actions are deadly.....Reminds me of the German people's obsession with Hitler....
Tom | 6/5/2009 - 2:53am
This article is bizarre. It's like I've dropped into another universe where everything's in reverse: good is bad, bad is good. I'm shaking my head. How can a man who has given his life to be a priest be so deceived? Barack Obama is truly the most vapid president ever. No content! And people like Fr. O'Malley are actually taking him seriously!
Paul Zalonski | 6/4/2009 - 8:23pm
Fr O'Malley's article is mere rubbish. Style never trumps content. What he purports to be the teaching of Vatican II and its spirit is banal, reduction. This line of thinking easily lends itself to reducing the Catholic faith to vocabulary, which is important but certainly not the only criteria. O'Malley indeed represents the consistent experience I have of the Jesuits being the Church's loyal opposition.
peter & carmel cowan | 6/4/2009 - 7:16pm
Thank you for the very positive article. You,and the President remind us of Jesus' example of listening in a compassionate and non-judgemental way to my neighbour. The article is 'prophetic' given President Obama's speech just now in Egypt.
Bill White | 6/4/2009 - 5:55pm
After reading the 39 previous comments, I am reassured that Fr. O'Malley is right on target. Sad to say, our leadership is impotent and has been for the last 30 years. John XXIII stirred enthusiasm, not pride,[in the deepest sense of those terms]in our Church. Neat and clean organizational efficiency might be supreme in most companies because the bottom line is profit, but the Church is more than that. Even Pope Benedict sees the downsizing ['smaller and purer']of our Church perhaps as the movement of the Spirit working when the 'efficient organizational men' aren't listening. Orthodoxy and orthopraxy are not ends in themselves. They lead to idolatry. Rather, they are means to the God beyond. But let us not judge nor condemn those who have eyes but do not see, and ears that do not hear. The Spirit alone can accomplish that!
Peadar Roe | 6/4/2009 - 3:26pm
“Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old,” he said. “I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby. I don’t want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn’t make sense to not give them information.” Barack Obama in the spirit of Barack Obama.
Mrs. Randy Falcon | 6/4/2009 - 7:33am
Sounds like the spirit of death not life. I don't care spirit. Anything goes spirit. Dissent spirit. Evil spirit. Me first spirit. disrespect for others spirit. I will not serve spirit. Not the Holy Spirit to be sure.
francis puchino | 6/4/2009 - 6:41am
As a graduate of a Jeauit university I am appalled at such an article. Are you kidding me? This presicent is making active war on the Catholic Church in this country...he is divisive to Cathoics who are more enthralled by how he says things rather than what he does! Look ay his deeds...
David Q | 6/3/2009 - 11:54pm
I, too, have thought Barack, like John XXIII, was one to throw the windows and doors wide open!
M. L. | 6/3/2009 - 10:44pm
I fully agree with your remarks on Obama and Vatican II.
R.C. | 6/3/2009 - 10:37pm
How is it that so many Jesuits are deceived into trading clarity of thought for the kind of mishmash of half-truths and wishful thinking O'Malley offers in this piece? I ask because it truly is a mystery to me. Is it because of the prestige which follows those who cozy up to the powers that be? The social approval which comes from forsaking the spirit of Jeremiah and Joshua in favor of the error of Balaam and the rebellion of Korah? Sigh. It probably isn't that, or not entirely. I suspect that O'Malley comes by his error "honestly" in the partly-culpable sense that, having willfully avoided the kind of clear thinking which would have prevented his slide into error, he now actually believes the error. One would think that an educated man would have some manner of analytical thinking under his belt...but logic is an effective tool only for those who pick it up and use it. O'Malley seems to have put down all his intellectual tools. The problem with trendy lefty clergy hoping to sever Vatican II from its continuity with all earlier councils and declarations isn't that they're both in and of the world. That's only the symptom. The problem is that they're kind of dumb.
Paul Hoffer | 6/3/2009 - 10:03pm
I must disagree with your contention that Barak Obama is an example of "vir bonus dicendi peritus"-a good man, skilled in public speaking. Satan was skilled in public speacking too but in no way does that qualifies him as "good." Obama is glib orator, skilled at deception and using the good intentions of his opponents against him. Make no mistake-the Catholic Church is Barak Obama's opponent. And unlike the dupes apparently who teach at Georgetown, I will not be tricked into believing that Barak Obama and his neo-Nazi thugs aka ACORN are capable of doing good.
Ioannes Andreades | 6/3/2009 - 9:13pm
Pres. Obama sure has the dicendi peritus part down.
Brendan | 6/3/2009 - 7:57pm
I am repulsed by the idea that President Obama is considered as someone who espouses the "spirit of the council". First, Father O'Malley forgets that Vatican II was only one of the many Ecumenical Councils of the Church and did not negate any of the authoratative teachings of previous councils. Thus, there is only continuity and not a fracture-no old church (pre-vatican 2) and new church (post council). Thus, someone who espouses teachings and policies that violate magisterial teachings can never be considered as a friend of the Church. In fact, his ecclesical community as it drifts further and further from unity with the Catholic church is one that has and does preach another Gospel. The other issue that I have is that at one time "The Jesuits" were the defenders of the faith-during the Counter Reformation, in their evangelization in Asia and India; but now there is in fact as schism as one of the Jesuit commentaters has to say- John Hardon, Father Fessio, Father Richard Tomasek, Fr. Lynn, Fr. Pacwa represent the Jesuits as Ignatius understood them; the others seem to be new-age counterfeits as evidenced by the infiltration of homosexuality into their ranks as evidenced by the houses of formation in California and the chaos at the University of San Francisco and BC. Finally, the number of people clapping has nothing to do with Truth-they simply wanted their ears tickled as Scripture warns us. I note that a study was released that indicated that "Catholic university" women are more likely to have an abortion that public university students. These institutions are failing in their mission when this happens. They substitute theology departments with "Catholic studies" or "religious studies departments. Theologians, teachers, employees dissent on a regular basis with no consequences. As such most students upon graduating have no idea what the Church in fact teaches or even why. God Help Us.
Fr Ronan Kilgannon Erem. Dio. | 6/3/2009 - 7:56pm
While I enjoy hearing good rhetoric, and sometimes employ it myself, I am at the same time suspicious of it. Florishing rhetoric is expected during a political campaign (at least in the U.S.) but one quickly tires of it. I agreed with very little that the former President did, but at least, without any rhetoric, he was conservatively consistent. I am not at all sure about President Obama. Cardinal George after his interview with the President on ethical matters commented that it was difficult to converse with him because he kept agreeing with everything the Cardinal said, even though this contradicted what he had said during his campaign and had done since becoming president. I would humbly suggest to Fr O'Malley that he wait for some time and judge the President not just on his fine rhetoric but on his actions. To say that he best articulates 'the spirit of Vatican II' is just too silly to consider. One expects more from an academic, Jesuit or otherwise.
Padraig | 6/3/2009 - 6:37pm
Mr. O'Malley....you sound brainwashed. The antichrist will come one day touting peace and cooperation. Obama"nation," who is an abomination, supports abortion...the killing of innocent life...remember Herod? Obama even supports aborting the development of a child once it is outside of the womb. That is infanticide. Jesus was born from a virgin in the most miraculous occurence in the history of Earth...do you know anybody else who has been born like that? Obama is a puppet for the New World Order...internationalists who are setting up the antichrist's kingdom. Obama wants the division of Jerusalem..for it is to become an international city...do you think when Jesus went to Jeruaslem He asked His Father if he could divide it?....that is God's city...man has no right to divide it...unless God's word is wrong. Here's another thing for you to ponder...would Jesus bow down in front of a statue of His mother in order to be able to pray to His Father? You would think He would have done so in the Garden..when it mattered most. But He didn't...why? Moses rebuked his people when he came down from the mountain for worshipping idols...why would the Vatican maintain an obelisk in st. peter's square which was put there by Caligula? Sir Issac Newton...the grandfather of modern science, the father of physics..was a devout christian...he could not, with all his brilliance, explain where life comes from or why life exists...unless he read his bible. Obama does the same thing that the popes have done...especially Benedict (arnold)....that is bowing down to muslims and going to mosques and praying to allah...even facing in the direction of mecca where brainwashed muslims walk around a satanic cube...muhammad was a slave trader and a child molestor...he married a nine year old and first had relations with her when she was six....he plundered villages killing the men and enslaving the young and making concubines out of women...islam is anti-christ...they don't believe Jesus as the Messiah...the bridge to God and eternal salvation...why would you converse with a muslim without the intent of converting it? You don't honor and respect their religion and then tell them they are going to Hell....because that is where they going unless they repent of their ways and follow Christ...Bible says that...is the Bible a lie? Go read Malachy Martin...Newton thought the papacy was the antichrist...ever wonder which palace the pope is living in today? Jesus wore rags and sandals, didn't have a pillow to rest his head on and walked everywhere...sounds a lot like the papacy doesn't it....only if you are a fool...you are deceived by Obama and the Vatican...it's a narrow road to Heaven...I suggest you get off your high horse and surrender to the true Jesus....not this monetary and materialistic myth the catholic church and modern christianty preaches. The kingdom of heaven is mentioned thirty-three times in the New Testament...Jesus was resurrected at 33. St. Ignatius, who is credited with coining the term "catholic" was held by Jesus as a baby in His arms....Judas ate with Jesus...those who profess spiritual allegiance are merely just demonic mirages....you are saved by grace...otherwise why would God have created grace? Jesus didn't save the thief that hung next to him by a "system" or an "institution." That thief was saved by his belief in Jesus as Messiah. Jesus knew his heart...even in unspeakable pain and torment. You keep clinging to the "crutches" the catholic church makes it congregants adorn. The catholic church molests children, covers it up all the while judging everybody else on morality. Is that what Jesus would do or Peter or Paul? A carpenter, a fisherman and a tent maker. The three greatest men in history...Jesus of course being perfect. The papacy is just an extension of the roman caesars....roman empire never died...just lived on through the papacy...just like naziism didn't die with the destruction of Germany. Demonic philosophy governs the earth...the powers and principalities are satan's to control. You know Socrates and Plato could argue endlessly over theology and philosophy....but they couldn't tell you, without using speculation, theory and conjecture where life comes from and why we exist. John the Baptist knew...and he had no new testament to follow. He had no degrees on his wall. He lived in the wilderness and ate locusts and honey. You teach at georgetown with a nice title and a self-absorbed ego....maybe you are like the popes and wear a golden ring on your right hand that people kiss when they greet you...Jesus would have liked to walk around in gucci shoes and ride around in a vehicle made by ferrari....I'm sure if Jesus was here he would keep priceless works of art in His temple...and vacation in numerous palaces. Why do you need to live like a king on earth when you will be in paradise in Heaven? You want to know why....look up hypocrites, vipers, pharisees...then remember..."depart from me, I never knew you," might the last words you ever want to here. The meek shall inherit the earth...not the spoiled and eclectic. Jesus had a Phd...but it was in love...not arrogance!
Laura Page | 6/3/2009 - 5:39pm
The president certainly has a way with words. And many want to believe them. But they are empty words. While calling for open dialogue the president works behind the scenes to squelch free speech, opinions that are not in accord with his own. In fact it is pretty scary what is happening. What is scarier is that there are so many people who are taking his words at face value and not paying attention to his actions.
Rose | 6/3/2009 - 5:24pm
President Obama has absolute contempt for the Catholic Church. It's as obvious as the truth that abortion is murder and his political appointments of Catholics who condone it. He means to divide and conquer and it's working. These are just realities that some Catholics would rather not see. Satan has done a wonderful job of twisting the truth and Obama takes full advantage of it. It's a shame and a scandal worthy of constant prayer.
Ed | 6/3/2009 - 4:42pm
I've learned to roll my eyes whenever I see the phrase "spirit of Vatican II," which I've come to see is code for "all the stuff we on the left wanted the council to say and mean but couldn't get included in the documents." Sorry America, there is no "spirit of Vatican II." And I somehow doubt that the bishops of the council would have approved of Notre Dame's hosting and honoring a politician who publicly supports (to use Senator Moynihan's term) infanticide.
Carolyn | 6/3/2009 - 4:11pm
Tolerance has never been a virtue and will never be a virtue. A virtue is always associated with a "good." Tolerance however is not always associated with a good. For example: We should never tolerate the abuse of children. The virtues are: fortitude, justice, prudence, temperance, faith, hope, and charity. Carolyn Erb
denyse | 6/3/2009 - 4:10pm
I am surprised that more importance be given to the (attractive) "spirit of Vatican II" than to President Obama's records on Abortion - the shape over the content somehow: please find enclosed below past votes and records (videos) of Obama who is heard admitting he still does not know when life begins - "not at birth since it depends on the theological or scientific point of view" - more cunning speech I do not know - except of the ennemy, Obama's boss it seems: - The real Barrack Husein Obama – Racist abortion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPk_Al2hvqs&feature=related Obama and the abortion video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkrfHqwG0Jc&feature=related Obama and his thoughts on abortion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJXZzLS9OAY&feature=related Obama & Live Abortion http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYRpIf2F9NA&NR=1 Obama & Infanticide Part 1 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6heVhZfVwR8&feature=related Obama & Infanticide Part 2 : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrhWq4nXtdk&feature=related Obama vote – living babies thrown into waste bins http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4kdWN5WllGc&feature=related -
Carolyn | 6/3/2009 - 3:57pm
Tolerance has never been a virtue and will never be a virtue. A virtue is always a "good" and can never be any less than a "good." Tolerance is not a "good" in all cirucumstances. For example -we should never tolerate the abuse of children. The following are virtues for they are always a good: prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope and charity.
Carolyn | 6/3/2009 - 3:55pm
Tolerance has never been a virtue and will never be a virtue. A virtue is always a "good" and can never be any less than a "good." Tolerance is not a "good" in all cirucumstances. For example -we should never tolerate the abuse of children. The following are virtues for they are always a good: prudence, justice, fortitude, temperance, faith, hope and charity.
Peggy | 6/3/2009 - 2:23pm
This should be required reading for all those right wing or single issue Catholics whose rhetoric condemning those of different viewpoint alienates and makes progress impossible. We need not relativize our principles to evangelize but respect our hearers like Jesus did. In particular the bishops and clergy need to publicly enter into the spirit of Vatican II that you describe. I would love to have a statement on dialogue and civility come out of the next bishops' meeting, even though that would doubtless annoy the Vatican.
Pete | 6/3/2009 - 2:14pm
It is too bad we do not have a bishop in the USA, who can articulate common values as well as the President. Mr Obama acts more Catholic than our own negative Bishops.
Paul | 6/3/2009 - 2:14pm
There is nothing Catholic or inspiring in the moral relativity espoused by the Author, Fr. Jenkins or Pres. Obama. As Catholics, we are compelled by our faith to speak and act as Catholics. The Holy Spirit can only work through us when we are in accordance with the will of God. No person who is in accoord with the Spirit can condone abortion. If you are looking for a true "Vatican II" representative, look no further than Mother Teresa. She said; "I choose the poverty of our people. But I am grateful to receive (the Nobel) in the name of the hungry, the naked, the homeless, of the crippled, of the blind, of the lepers, of all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone." Lets stop the foolishness. We are compelled to follow the Magisterium of the Church. If we choose not to, we do it a our own peril.
RJBSr. | 6/3/2009 - 1:36pm
The issue at ND was not Obama but the deceit of the ND administration in its disregard of the wanton killing of the innocent unborn, the undermining of the pro-life movement, the marginalization of church teaching and authority, and the assault on the fundamental Christian principle of the dignity of each human person. Nihilism won at ND. "If God is dead, then everything is permissable".
Henrietta Atkin | 6/3/2009 - 1:34pm
I wish you could read some of the stories of women who have had abortions, and are struggling to accept themselves after realising they put to death their own child. It's all very well to talk about the "spirit of Vatican II" and other lofty concepts; they end up not having much meaning when you are trying to persuade a young woman that her life DOES have hope and she IS forgiven, after the cruel fact of abortion. Many of the women I talk to have a five-year plus journey towards healing that is never complete and shadows the rest of their young lives. Let's not even discuss the "mines" of the aborted children. Fact is, their mothers are permanently scarred from the experience. I have read dozens of times "Why didn't someone tell me how I would feel? Why didn't someone tell me that I would yearn after my murdered baby for the rest of my life.?" Their agony is the reason that I am committed to crying out the truth: that abortion is wrong and evil and hurts women and children viciously. So if I don't seem tolerant and in the spirit of Vatican II, it's because I'm trying to get the TRUTH out so that no more women have to go through the anguish of being post-abortive and realising they did something terribly, terribly wrong.

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