The National Catholic Review

A leading scholar in the history of Christianity predicts that a widening chasm between the laity and leaders of the Catholic Church will lead to schism in the not too distant future. Diarmaid MacCulloch, a professor at Oxford, said that while the future of the Christian faith as a whole is bright, the Catholic Church should expect fracture. From Religion News Service:

MacCulloch said in an interview that "there are also many conflicts" within Christianity, "and these are particularly serious in the Roman Catholic church, which seems on the verge of a very great split over the Vatican's failure to listen to European Catholics." He predicted that Catholicism faces a division over attempts by popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI to "rewrite the story" of the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council by portraying it as a "minor adjustment" in church governance, rather than as a "radical move to change the way authority is expressed."

"Conflict in religion is inevitable and usually healthy -- a religion without conflict is a religion that will die, and I see no sign of this with Christianity," MacCulloch said. "But the stance of the popes has produced an angry reaction among those who want to see the council continue. No other church in history has ever made all its clergy celibate. It's a peculiarity of the Western Latin church, and it looks increasingly unrealistic."

The Vatican's refusal to allow Roman Catholics to talk about married or female clergy was "not the reaction of a rational body," MacCulloch said.

Do you see schism on the horizon? Do you agree with MacCulloch’s assessment that Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI have tried to roll back Vatican II reforms? I wonder if Catholics unhappy with their church would go through the trouble of forming a new group, or simply join one of the many denominations that might fit their beliefs more closely?

Michael J. O’Loughlin

Note: An earlier version of this post was deleted unintentionally.


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Tim O'Leary | 7/23/2012 - 12:59am
But Anne, I do not want to talk just to Michael.

As regards the schism question, I think we have almost no one saying that a formal schism like the one with the Nestorians, Orthodox or the Lefebvrists, will happen (see David P, Amy H, John B, Tom P, Mike A, myself, etc.). No liberal Bishops ordaining liberal priests. As David Power put it in the middle ''The original question about schism has been well-answered I feel. The verdict is an emphatic no. Lethargy will be the order of the day along with a vague spiritual groping.'' I don't believe that has changed in the second half.

There is a similar consensus that a lot of people in the rich West have left the Church, mostly over sexual and gender issues (you, Jeanne, me, Michael, Bruce, Juan, Amy, David...etc) - such as yourself (#45 above), theologically a SBNR but now attending the Episcopal Church (sounds like a perfect match). Yet I am glad you keep coming back to this Catholic website, and not just to talk about old times.

Michael Barberi | 7/20/2012 - 6:28pm

Well, I don't think anyone, save for a few, on this blog, that know you, would interprete what you write any different from what I say it implies.

I do agree with most of your last remark: that the magisterium should play an important role, and perhaps a decisive role (but not always a decisive role), for committed Catholics in formulating one's informed conscience on important matters.....but not because of your definition or interpretion of the promise of Jesus, which I point out was a promise made to "His Church"...meaning the all-inclusive definition of Church, not solely the magisterium. If one was to embrace your definition, they would be accused of a contradiction since, as you agree, the magisterium has erred many times in the past.

You seem to value the freedom and authority of an informed conscience only up to the point when it disagrees with a Church doctrine. If not, please enlighten me. You seem to take the same position that JP II asserted in VS, when he said that the magisterium speaks the truth that Catholics should be able to grasp. When the magisterium says something is the truth, the individual should/must grasp it...if they don't they have a distorted reason or a inadequately formed conscience, or have been infected with the ills of the secular world...they simply have an erroneous conscience and/or are invincibly ignorant. If I overstate your position, please advise.
Let's be perfectly clear, you falsely accuse me of "attacking Church authority without remainder". Nothing could be further from the truth. I find that insulting. I attack what you say or imply. If I misread you, kindly offer an intelligible explanation or give further clarity to your commentary. My major frustration with your style of argumentation is that you don't really address the specific issues I raise, you merely ignore them or dismiss them as invalid....then you use your argument about the power of authoritative teachings as your justification for the truth.

Let's try to end this "endless" string of ping-pong, since it seems to be going nowhere and I believe that others on this blog would like us to move on. If you want to discuss this off-line, please send me an email. In this way, we might be able to resolve our differences and become more respectful in our exchanges.
Tim O'Leary | 7/20/2012 - 4:11pm
Regarding distortion, why don't you practice what you preach? Where did I say that ''authority has never erred'' or that ''it is always the absolute more truth'' or that past prelates haven't erred? So, please quote me if you value accuracy - don't just project what I must mean.

Anyway, I do value conscience highly (as I have said many times). It is why I am so exercised about the attack on it by the current administration. I also know that one's conscience is not infallible. See how easily you misinterpret what I just wrote in #91. now, extrapolate that misinterpretaiton into other writers you read as you inform you conscience.

My point about Church's teaching authority is that, in the process of informing one's conscience, it should play an important role, and usually a decisive role, for a committed Catholic, because of the promise of Jesus.

Michael Barberi | 7/19/2012 - 8:34pm
Anne Chapman and Tom Piatak,

I did find another source concerning Bishop Karol Wojtyla's participation in Vatican II, in particular Gaudium et specs. The source is the 'excellent' book by Massimo Faggioli "Vatican II: The Battle for Meaning".

Page 11: ....."as bishop of Krakow (Karol Wojtyla) had been very active in the commission for the drafting of the pastoral constitution Gaudium et specs, and later as the author of a bulky commentary on the council."

Page 12 is interesting: "John Paul II convened an extrodinary assembly of the Syod of Bishops in 1985 to overcome the polarization and bring about greater consensus (about the meaning of Vatican II). 13..."as for the continuity-discontinuity issue, the synod did not take a position for or against theological or historiographical "schools", but reaffirmed the complex relationship between tradition and transition in Catholic theology...saying that the Council must be understood in continuity with the great tradition of the Church, and at the same time we must receive light from the Council's own doctrine for today's Church and the men of our time."

Essentially, this synod did nothing to mediate a consensus. The above was also overshadowed by the Ratizinger Report, a book-length interview with him....making a case for a re-thinking of the approach to Vatican II. There is an overwhelming amount of evidence that there were clear divisions among the bishops regarding the meaning and interpretation of Vatican II. This manifested itself in a decisive split between the so-called conservatives, (Joseph Ratzinger, Henri de Lubac and Hans Von Balthasar), who started international review Communio and so-called progressives, (Hans Kung, Yves Congar, Karl Rahner and Edward Shelllebeecke), who started the international review Concilium.

The contest over the interpretation of Vatican II constitutes a critical battleground in our society's continuing cultural wars (page 92).

Hope this helps. 
Michael Barberi | 7/23/2012 - 10:09pm

If you read my postings carefully you will notice I use introductory phrases such as "It seems to me that..." or "If you are referring to"...or "by what you say you imply". I also mention, as I did in #90 that "if I overstate you position, please advise" or "if I misread you, kindly offer an intelligible explanation or give further clarity to your commentary." Yet, you overlook these comments and jump to conclusions that I am misreading you deliberately or I am "unloading my anger at you'. Most importantly, I do not attack the magisterium without remainder" you insultingly assert.  

Please get a grip on yourself and have some humility and try to approach things in a more respectful fashion. As to my favorite topic, it is sexual ethics, so please try to remember that. For your information Humanae Vitae changed sexual ethics and I disagree with this encyclical for good and just reasons....and I don't mispresent the teachings of Wojtyla-JP II.

Lastly, you ignore my respectful holding out of a olive branch in an effort to understand each other better and avoid this rediculous ping-pong match. My invitation still stands, and I hope you will have the wisdom to accept it. If we don't, we will lose an opportunity to learn how to have a respectful and intelligiblec conversation.
Tim O'Leary | 7/23/2012 - 8:33pm
Michael #96
Gosh! Can you please read my post more closely before unloading your anger back on me. I was referring to Anne's own admission above in #45 (you didn't write that - did you check?). Can you not put your ego aside for a minute to see that  I was not referring to you. Your third paragraph could just as easily refer to you, with your misinterpretation (again and again) of what I say.

As regards moving to an email exchange, I do not see any major difference between us on the schism issue. If one uses the schism as an ecclesiastical split, as it normally is used, we agree that it is unlikely. If you redefine it to mean a lot of people have left, I agree. If you say many people have not left but do not follow the official Church teaching, I agree. And I certainly do not want to go back into your favorite topic of contraception.

I would say that the constant anger and even hate (for committed Catholics and clergy) that is shown by the self-described tolerant liberals on this site is a major contradiction.

Pray for me and I will pray for you.
Michael Barberi | 7/23/2012 - 3:55pm

If you are referring to me in your last posting, let me be perfectly clear....I have not left the RCC because of sexual and gender issues. I remain a faithful Catholic and attend weekly Mass and try to encourage reform in a respectful and scholarly manner. 

The schism I referred to in my postings does not meet the definition of schism in the way it is usuallly understood...many people leaving the Church (and attending another Christian Church) inclusive of clergy, theologians and laity, for any number of reasons. I believe there is a so-called doctrinal schism, a profound one, in that most theololgians, laity and many bishops and priests disagree with certain sexaul ethical teachings. 

You remind me of a self-appointed orthodox cop with a mission to bring to all posters "the truth" and to fight against what you believe are misunderstandings and erroneous points of view on the part of other posters. This would not be so bad if you directly addressed the points that others make, and not take-off in another direction to make your points, that mostly are loosely related, if at all, to the points others are actually making. Some people call this arrogance.  

My invitation still stands: if you are sincere about resolving disagreement and unintellible discourse, let us take these issues off line. In this way, perhaps our off-line dialogue will turn our on-line dialogue into a more coherent and respectful discourse. Until that happens, further bloviating does not contribute to moving the conversation forward. 
Anne Chapman | 7/21/2012 - 7:12pm
Tim, you are more than a bit overreaching in your summary to claim a ''consensus'' on each of these points. Your conclusions primarily reflect yours and Tom P's conclusions. The issue of the probabality of schism has a definition problem just as a start, and without an agreed on definition, it is impossible to conclude there is a consensus of any kind - the loss of tens of millions of Catholics is a ''schism'' or it is not, because it isn't led by bishops. De facto schism or de jure schism? As far as the other points go, you and Tom may have a nice mutual admiration society - but your conclusions do not represent any kind of ''consensus'' for each of these points and subpoints for all of those participating on this thread. Many of your conclusions involve issues that are not even addressed by most of the posters. However, just as statements made by bishops or popes or the faceless entity called the ''magisterium'' are not necessarily TRUTH simply because they come from these very fallible men, your ''conclusions'' are not necessarily true simply because you say so and declare them ''consensus.''  Nice try but it doesn't fly.

It would be a good idea for you take up Michael's invitation to discuss this offline if you really wish to continue.
Tim O'Leary | 7/21/2012 - 3:28pm
David Power gave a brief summary of the discussion at the half-century, so here is my attempt at a summary as we get to the century (or over, since some comments have been deleted and the numbering is off).

1. There is consensus across the spectrum to Michael J. O’Loughlin’s main question. A formal schism of the Catholic Church is improbable and MacCulloch’s schism talk was partly influenced by his homosexual agnostic Anglican background and hostility to the Christian moral tradition.

2. The dominant secular culture will continue to attract younger sexually active Catholics and there will still be converts and reverts back to the faith for diverse reasons.

3. SBNR, meaning Spiritual But Not Religious, remains an attraction to those who do not accept Church moral teaching. Some of this involves yoga and Eastern meditation practices.

4. The Episcopal Church has adopted nearly all gender and sexual changes to match the European secular culture. But it is in a theological and organizational mess. It still has nice people, lots of money, good gardens and some very good music. Schism is likely if extinction doesn’t come first.

5. Popes JPII and BXVI have had a definitive impact on the Church’s interpretation of Vatican II – a reforming continuity rather than a radical discontinuity.

6. Poles were victims and heroes in WWII. Pope JPII had an active role on Gaudium et Spes, and promoted it in his papacy (speeches and writings).

7. It is possible, even on this blog, to have a relatively long conversation without argumentum ad pedophilium
Michael Barberi | 7/21/2012 - 1:41pm
Let's take this off-line if you are sincere about finding a resolution to disagreement and unintelligible discourse.
Tim O'Leary | 7/20/2012 - 10:44pm
Michael #96
There you go again - insisting I say or mean something when I don't say it, even when I am explicit, and saying I don't mean what you claim I mean. It is as if I cannot correct a misinterpretation you make by making a clarification. If you are misinterpreting me so easily, what does that mean when you try to interpret much greater intellects like that of JPII. You just might be missing something in his thought.

Anyway, back to the schism discussion, if there are any points left to be made.

Michael Barberi | 7/20/2012 - 2:55pm

You constantly misread and distort what I say, and I am asking you politely, once again, to be careful about your choice of words. I do not, nor do I attack authority without remainder....that is blatantly false.  I attack your assertion that "authority", has never erred and that it is always the absolute moral truth, an individual conscience can err and choosing authority is being faithful and wise, so everyone should follow all Church teachings...end of discussion. 

What is clear is that you attack the freedom of an properly informed conscience. However, you constantly ignore the fact that history has proven that popes and bishops have erred in their papal bulls and teachings. Least I also remind you that God promised that "the Church" (meaning the people of God, clergy, laity, theologians) will not be lead astray. Christ never promised that "one man" the pope would be free from error.

Keep in mind that there has only been two times that a pope spoke ex Cathedra and this had nothing to do with morals or Scripture (e.g., Mary was born free from original sin and that God took her body and soul into heaven). More importantly, in modern times the papal magisterium has acted without a true open and honest dialogue with all bishops in an effort "to teach with one voice". Also, I remind you that my disagreements with the Church are over certain sexual ethical teaching for good reasons.


The reference to the "bulky commentary" is as follows:

 Karol Wojytla, Sources of Renewal: The Implementation of the Second Vatican Council, trans. P.S. Falla (San Francesco: Harper and Row, 1980.  Orignial Polish: U podstaw odnowy. Studium o realizacji Vaticanum II (Krakow: PTT, 1972).
Michael Appleton | 7/20/2012 - 1:35pm
Everything I know about Episcopalians I learned from watching "Life with Father" half a dozen times and going to college with a lot of kids from places like St. Paul's, Deerfield, Andover, Choate and Hotchkiss. I suppose I've always regarded that denomination as more of a social institution. 

There has been a significant decline in membership in all of the "mainstream" churches for many years.  However, I do not find the accompanying growth in evangelical fundamentalism healthy for either religion or the nation.

As for the possibility of a schism, I agree with those who take the view that a formal break will not occur. It is not 1500, after all.  The efforts of the American bishops to reassert themselves has more to do with political power than moral authority in my opinion. The American Church will continue to evolve in spite of contrary forces and the American hierarchy will gradually adapt to that reality.
Anne Chapman | 7/19/2012 - 11:37pm
MIchael, #90. Thank you for the book reference. It validates O'Malley's account - that as bishop of Krakow he and the other Polish bishops wrote a draft for Gaudium et Spes. However, it was not used as the basis for the final document, even though, according to O'Malley, it has some influence on the final document.  Did the book give the name of the "bulky commentary" on Guadium et Spes?
Tim O'Leary | 7/19/2012 - 11:16pm
Michael #89 & #90
You always attack authority, without remainder.

Anyway, arguments have ensued since Apostolic times (such as the circumcision question at the Council of Jerusalem, or the disputes among the Arian Bishops after the Council of Nicaea, or the SSPX and vatican II on one side and Concilium on the other, with Communio in the middle). But, don't you think that God is in control of the Church? Don't you believe He will not let it stray? Or is that too simple a faith?
Michael Barberi | 7/19/2012 - 4:49pm

We often disagree but I always try to be respectful. Nevertheless, when you proclaim your assertions "to be a better witness to the truth because they respect the authority of the magisterium" expect me to challenge you.

The term "without remainder" is a common contemporary phrase that means what is says. If you don't like it, that is your problem, not mind. It is not derogatory epistomology. If you have a specific issue, then explain it to me and I will be kind enough to respond.

 I do make judgments, that is what God wants all of us to use or practical reasoning, to use our minds, hearts and souls, to respect and give consideration to the Church and its teachings, to live as Jesus and the Gospels taught us, to educate oneself adequately, to approach issues with humility, to seek the guidance of our spiritual and other experts...etc. Hence, I don't disagree with much of what you said. You mentioned that you use all of these sources as well. Yet, you don't adequately address the facts and issues I posit as argument, but mostly say "I just think the Church is a better authority (witness) than you". We all make judgments about things we don't have personal and direct knowledge of. No one today has met Jesus, and very few met the pope. That does not preclude us from rendering good judgements.

My so-called opinion is based on legitimate theological arguments, facts and evidence, and not from one source but many. Ted Lipien's masterpiece is a great source because many of the facts in his book can be cooroborated by other facts and opinons. It is not a surprise that when someone writes a book that remotely discolors the persona of a pope or the Church, suddenly its a distortion of the truth, the incomplete truth, misleading, and insufficient evidence to make good judgments. My argument is very much similiar to the arguments made my most theologians and knowlegable bloggers. You will likely call them "dissenters". I don't rely of theological opinion as the only source, I rely on many sources including the pastoral guidance of local parish priests. 

Your argument always boils down to an argument about authority... the individual conscience can err, but not the magisterium. Quite honestly, I a sick of arguing with you about "authority". This does not mean I don't abide by most teachings of the magisterium, but you can disagree and remain a faithful Catholic. When I posit an argument, it is based on solid evidence that can be corroborated with other sources, and most importantly my sources are not "false and misleading" and "not as authoritarian as the magisterium" as you imply.  Least I remind you that popes and bishops, the magisterium, have erred in the past on many issues. Before we had "encyclicals" we had "papal bulls", and many of these were reformed for good reasons. 

I stand firmly on my right of conscience, my growing knowlege and education, practical reason, and faith.  When I make a good argument, it seems that you have to invoke your argument about authority to ensure that others on this blog are not mislead. Frankly, they are all smart, mature adults and they can make up their own minds. Despite what you claim, my conscience is free from unreasonable and unintelligible arguments from authority, as we all are. I am not the only voice crying in the wilderness about certain subjects. I am not simply bias because I have a good argument. I am open to persuasion and enlightenment, but not based on a claim that the magisterium has spoken and they only speak the truth, therefore I must submit my entire mind and soul to evey one of its teachings.
Tim O'Leary | 7/19/2012 - 3:35pm
David #85
When I recommended medication in #84, I didn't mean you to overdose! But, anyway, you and Amy (#37) bring some of the most politically incorrect statements on these posts and that can be refreshingly counter-cultural and tought-provoking, even if it is outrageous at times. Just please lay off the imputation of base motives of Pope JPII.

Michael #87
Your repetitive use of the phrase ''without remainder'' is getting on my nerves. Can't you think of another synonym? I know you think you are making judgments all on your own, free from any personal bias and without appealing to any authority, but don't you know that apart from sensory knowledge, rational logic and personal experience, we can only know other things by relying on various witnesses or authorities, whether of scientists, academics, news reporters, or folk stories, etc. That is the only way to know the Resurrection happened, or that Napoleon existed or that Mars has 2 moons. I use all these sources as well. Unless you have met the Pope and had long conversations with him, you are basing your judgments on him based on other writers (esp. Ted Lipien). So, you are not free from appeals to authority. I just think the Church is a better authority (witness) than you do.
Michael Barberi | 7/19/2012 - 2:27pm

I don't psychoanalyze anyone but draw common sense conclusions based on hard evidence and scholarship. People who defend the Church witout remainder, often view JP II as a saintly and brilliant pope. George Weigel is a great author, but great authors can write with a bias and nothing in Witness to Hope paints Karol Wojtyla as a man with faults or does Weigel give a balanced perspective about Wojtyla-JP II's erroneous views about women, democracies, and human sexuality.

I choose to look at the evidence both pro and con and strive to give a balance perspective. I also follow this philosophy in my studies...reading both the works of the tradition-minded and the less-tradition minded. If all that one reads is a one-sided worldview, then one may be happy and confident about "the truth" but I question how rounded such thinking truly is. I applaud and do not criticize anyone for their beliefs, but I do criticize those that do not adequately understand both sides of the argument. When someone starts using "an argument from authority" as their way of playing the trump card, it does not move the conversation forward but pushes the debate to a premature stalemate. 

There is one obvious fact and that the Roman Curia and its defenders will condemn, criticize, demean and often ignore any counter-argument that is in tension with a Church teaching. That is the impasse that has plagued the Cathoic Church for the past 50 years. We don't have a respectful dialogue among theologians on disputed questions, we only have groups talking over and past each other. When there is a short debate, it is often characterized by rhetoric, sometimes unsubstaniated facts, arguments from authority, and two people asserting that their points of view are the truth, and, most importantly, ignoring and not adequately addressing the major lines of argumentation (inclusive of the facts). 

I could have written a much longer blog about Wojtya-JP II but many on this blog have already expressed his many shortcomings that have damaged the Church. That does not mean that this pope was a immoral person, not a great thinker, or did not do good works. I truly believe that JP II believed his was right, his views were free from error and he was doing God's will. If I could summarize his teachings on sexual ethics it would be very reasonable and fair to say that they were too much of a moral certitude. That would be also very kind.
Thomas Piatak | 7/19/2012 - 10:59am
Mr. O'Leary,

Thanks for your kind words.
david power | 7/19/2012 - 4:40am

Thanks for your kind words.
I am often challenged by your relentless and unflinching look at the facts and your open-mindedness.
If there had been more catholics as truthorientated as you so much pain could have been avoided.Alas...
So often catholics are deemed to be incapable of thinking for themselves and having what Cardinal Ratzinger called a positivism towards the magisterium.
But in you we are blessed with one who does his own thinking and for that at least we can be thankful.

Tim O'Leary | 7/19/2012 - 12:30am
Anne #70
You denigrate George Weigel’s scholarly record even though he has been a prolific writer for over 20 years, and author of 16 books on a wide range of ethical and Catholic subjects (Ethics and Public Policy Center). His “Witness to Hope” with its more recent (2010) second part “The End and the Beginning” is the definitive biography to date, because of his unparalleled access and research. Compare this to MacCullogh’s few pages on the Pope in his History.

It appears that Diarmaid MacCulloch is a specialist in the English Revolt against the Church (7 of his 8 books are on this subject – interestingly he labels Henry VIII a Stalin-like figure, yet he is a cultural Anglican!) but his idiosyncratic History of Christianity has much less scholarly basis, from what I read. As for his anti-Catholic animus, this can be explicit or implicit. The more explicit stuff is found in the Guardian columns I haven't seen his TV series on history of the Church but I read on various UK blogs that it was.

By the way, he doesn’t seem to believe that Jesus was God (maybe he is an agnostic) “Christianity…I live with the puzzle of wondering how something so apparently crazy can be so captivating to millions of other members of my species (p11 in his History introduction)” or that Christianity could be “true” like Hamlet is “true.” So, I think it not unreasonable that his homosexuality and gay rights per se would be the decider on judgments he would make on Catholic teaching. Again, it is best if one knows the bias.

But at least I do not have evidence he is as crass and unhinged as David Power with his anti-Pope JPII craziness. David needs to go back on his medication. I appreciate Michael Barberi's honesty in defending the historical record, even as I disagree with Michael's psychoanalysis of the saintly genius.

Tom Piatak - thanks for your extensive research and links.
Tim O'Leary | 7/18/2012 - 11:39pm
Ken #68
Regarding Tom (#67) link, the seminarian Karol Wojtyla may well have been wearing a cassock at the time of this story. According to Tad Szulc, in his Biography of Pope JP II, he says (p129) that Archbishop Sapieha had required the 7 seminarians studying at his residence (including the future JPII) to wear cassocks since 1944 to protect them from arrest by the Nazis for being AWOL from the forced labor in the limestone pit.

Also, in #69, you say there is “no religion in the curriculum” at your “non-sectarian” school. Is this high school? How could anyone have a complete education without at least some serious study of religion? It seems to me that the absence of religion is its own form of sectarianism. Maybe, that is the beginning of the SBNR mentality.

David Smith (#62) had a great description of this yearning for “something out there, up there, over there, in the next dimension…” But it seems like a very self-centered approach to the Truth, as it tries to grasp a spiritual experience that strokes ones ego (an easy self-affirmation a la Stuart Smalley) without being bound (religio) to the obligations of the Truth.

As regards non-sectarian schools, or public schools, which I am forced to pay for even though I want my kids educated in a Catholic culture (so I pay twice), Anne (#44) linked to a gallup poll that showed a drop in trust in religious institutions. But the same data also showed even less confidence in public schools, on a par with the criminal justice system (only 29%), just below the US Supreme Court & the President (both 37%). Although, I know Anne doesn’t like comparative statistics (#44 - 'nanny, nanny boo-boo').
Michael Barberi | 7/18/2012 - 9:18pm
I cannot find any evidence that John Paul II voted against Gaudium et specs. I do know that he has quoted GS, and "his interpretation" of selective passages, in his encyclicals and othe works to support his philosophy and theology:

1. GS #22 is quoted in Redemptor hominis (8.2, 13.1, 18.1) and in Evangelium vitae (23).

2. GS #24 is also quoted in Redemptor hominis (13.3)

3. His apostolic letter Mulieries dignitatem (7, 18, 20) refers to GS 24  

4. In Vertitatis Spendor he cites GS 10 and GS 27

6466379 | 7/18/2012 - 6:32pm
(#78) Michael, thanks for your response to my comment. I have no gripe with Liberalism guided by objective morality and truth that truly frees, not imprisons in chains of unessary entitlements. Absolutely help, 'til it helps, where help is truly needed but do not encourage the Capital Sin of Sloth, a politicians mistake.

 Liberalism to be morally sound must be imbued with Augustine's reminder, "Charity is good but must never be practiced contrary to sound judgement!"  No, I'm not against Liberalism, against  being our sister's/brother's helper, as an legitimate expression of humaness and holiness - after all, is there any one more liberal than God Himself, the liberality of the Incarnation especially Calvary for example? Simplistic? Well, as you know I'm no scholar! 
Anne Chapman | 7/18/2012 - 5:29pm
Tom, when this all started, you rejected MacCullough's speculation about a schism based on your (and a few people whose blogs or columns you read) belief that he is ''anti-Catholic.''  You said you based this on unspecified and unquoted and uncited passages of his writings. Later you quote a columnist in National Review, who interpreted one sentence of one book in a way that others who read it might not. The sentence is ambiguous.  If he made a mistake, that's what it is - there is nothing ''anti-catholic'' about one mistake.   Maybe MacCullough IS anti-Catholic. I have no idea if he is or not, although I am sure that he - along with millions of gay practicing Catholics and millions of straight practicing Catholics, finds the church's teachings on homosexuality to be without merit. Or are all practicing Catholics who dissent from any church teaching at all also ''anti-Catholic''?  If he is actually ''anti-catholic'' rather than simply critical of this or other Catholic church teachings  you have not yet presented any objective evidence that supports the charge. 

The information about losses from mainline Protestant and the Episcopal churches - presumably because they are liberal - are irrelevant. They say nothing about the probability of MacCullough's prediction coming to pass. You also said you believe him to be anti-Catholic because of  his writings, yet you have not offered even one quote that supports that allegation. A columnist's opinion is ''gospel truth''  but credible critiques of his opinion are dismissed, along with the evidence showing that the Roman Catholic church in the western developed nations has undergone a severe decline in the last 30 years that is accelerating rather than slowing. The losses from the conservative Baptist church don't fit into the theory, so those are ignored also.  But what is the point of this numbers game? It says nothing about the accuracy of MacCullough's prediction.

Other posters brought up reasons why they disagreed with MacCullough's prediction, without going into personal attacks on the man because he is an Anglican, gay activist.  

These discussions are pointless, because no matter how many objective facts are given, with accurate quotes and citations, those who make their judgments on emotional, subjective factors aren't really interested anyway. I'm done. I have a new book to read from the library - Weigel's biography. I have read others, but not his. I'm sure you would enjoy reading ALL of Christianity, as well as John O'Malley's book on Vatican II. You DO like to read books written by qualified scholars do you not? 

Michael Barberi | 7/18/2012 - 3:55pm

Thank you Bruce for your comments. I agree with you that the liberal Western secular culture has been responsible for excessive promiscurity and irresponsible behavior in today's society. However, the word "liberal" is often misused and turned into something evil by many right-wing orthodox thinkers. There is a large spectrum of opinion that can form doctrine and avoid extremism. The Church can steer a course that does not "take us off the cliff of immorality" and still be faithful to Scripture, tradition, reason, human experience and our progressive and evolving wisdom. 

We tend to forget that popes are human beings and are not free from error. A pope has a responsibility to be open to the opinions and wisdom of his bishops, theologians and equally important, the laity. Unfortunately, the Magisterium since the late 19th century has turned into the papal magisterium without remainder.  
david power | 7/18/2012 - 3:53pm
Michael, You are clearly heavily invested in moral theology and I am not.I told you this but it must not be on your screen.
I think Nietzsche undid most of what Wojtyla wrote about eighty years beforehand.
I once went to a conference on the TOB in Austria where I met Christopher West (really nice guy) and a Priest from  Chicago who does a radio show (don't remember his name).
You would have loved it.I thought it was okay but besides the point.For you it IS the point.For Wojtyla it WAS the point.
For me a paragraph of a  genealogy of morals is worth more than anything the late Pope wrote.You disagree .Good for you.I write in short breaks from work and do not feel the need to dispute the finer points and reference everything.
I never follow arguments on here and very rarely find history as a source for an argument. The original question was about schism and that wasof some interest to me I ceased being interested in the things that fascinate you about 2-3 years ago.I gave away my books for free.Don't miss them.
Anyway , if you want to respond please do so over e-mail  otherwise it will be an eyesore for the others.
Michael Barberi | 7/18/2012 - 3:30pm

To say Karol Woltyla-John Paul II was not a creative thinker, or much of a thinker at all, is reflected of a certain ignorance and your remarks are unsubstantiated by your lack of any concrete evidence. Wojtyla-JP II was a man that earned two doctorates and was professor of moral theology and social ethics at the University of Lublin for many years. His work "Love and Responsibility (1960)" and the "Theology of the Body (1979-1984)" were reflective of a creative moral imagination.

No theololgian, pope or bishop before 1960 wrote or ever mentioned the inseparability of two meanings of the marital act; nor did any pope, bishop or theologan ever synthesized a theology of the body from philosophical anthropology, personalism, mysticism and Wojtyla-JP II did. 

There is a difference between someone who is a great thinker and whether you agree or not with his thesis. Great thinkers like Bernard Haring disagreed with JP II's definition of human dignity and he reads Gaudium et spec's section on marriage and the family as rejecting the Augustinian view of sexual intercourse as affected by lust and thereby needing to be re-ordered toward self-giving. Haring did not believe Humanae Vitae was the complete moral truth as well. 

The significant issue about Wojtyla-JP II was that he did many great things; he helped free Poland from Communism and his theology gave many Catholics a way to act reverently with respect to their bodies and relationships. However, his philosophy and theology was not free from many erroneous misunderstandings...about women, human seuxality, marriage and Western democracies.

He had many stubborn erroneous views and, more importantly, he could never tolerate anyone who disagreed with his thinking. By itself that would not be so terrible, except that he became Pope and made ever effort to enshrine his teachings as "moral absolutes" and "definitive and irreformable"....He also required all clergy to take a so-called oath of alligence whereby they had to profess they gave complete mind and heart to all teachings of the Chruch. Those that did not sign this pledge would never be given any higher office responsibilty and would never be made a bishop. These are only some of the many problems that many Catholics have with his papacy. His TOB, that supported Humane Vitea, was based on symbolic speculation. However, to assert and claim with moral certitude that his teachings (that found there way into Humanae Vitae) was "Divine Law" is to close all debate about doctrine to further development based on the ever evolving scholarship in the sciences, moral theology, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, etc. That is the problem.

Anyone who knows what went on at the 1980 Synod on the Family can easily attest to what many on this blog have already said about his dilberate and willful dismissal of other legitimate arguments that were in tension with his own views. It will take the Church decades or even a century before reform will occur. In the meantime, we live in a divided Church and in a Crisis of Truth.
Thomas Piatak | 7/18/2012 - 3:10pm
Ms. Chapman,

The "whose" in the quote from MacCulloch refers back to Karol Wojtyla.  My interpretation of what MacCulloch wrote is the natural one, and it is the same interpretation reached by Michael Potemra of National Review who is not, by the way, Catholic.

Nor is my opinion of MacCulloch based on this one error.  It's based on the other things I've read by him, including portions of his history of Christianity and his opinion pieces.  Nor is it my opinion alone; I've linked to two others who share it, one of whom describes MacCulloch's opinions at great length.

MacCulloch doesn't have to worry over much about my opinion, though.  Being hostile to the Catholic Church, which I consider MacCulloch to be, is not, to say the least, something that causes opinion makers any problems, either here or in Britain. 

david power | 7/18/2012 - 2:52pm

For me it is a question of conscience.
I don't know why the others do so.
In Italy it is quite common to refer to all Popes by their surname.So it is not Pope Benedict but Ratzinger and not Pope John but Roncalli etc.
To call him Blessed would be to participate in a lie to my eyes.But those who feel differently to me I understand.
There was a great wisdom in the old practise of the Church to wait for a long time before pronouncing judgement on anybody .
That is no longer the case and the validity of the whole process has been undermined.
I think that the titles are unchristian.
Even Pope Roncalli I would hesitate to call a Saint , I just see him as a good man of God.
Some people are awed by titles and names etc I am no longer that way.
Jesus spoke clearly of this in the Bible , of being simple and not seeking honours and titles etc.I have enough vices of mine without getting involved in those of others :)
Good to hear from you Maria and I hope you are keeping well and close to God.
Anne Chapman | 7/18/2012 - 12:32pm
I just lost my post. I will try again. Tom, MacCullough wrote that Wojtyla was ''amidst'' the 'crowds'' who found the Council ''distasteful'' and ''uncongenial'' (to their views, I assume - but that is MY interpretation) and whose vote  was ''consistently against such statementS as Gaudium et Spes''.  Note the plural - it is an example of multiple statements/documents. He did NOT write that Wojtyla (or any other bishop by name) voted against Gaudium et Spes but says that the crowd, and the bishop, voted against such statements as.... Someone is interpreting this sentence to make it appear to be a specific rather than a general statement.

The ''crowd'' did not vote as a block - for example, the vote against Gaudium et Spes was 75, against more than 2307 in favor. Was Wojtyla one of the 75? I don't know and MacCullough doesn't say that he was. So far I haven't found a list of names of those who voted for or against the document.  Wojtyla was mostly a conservative, but he went against the conservative crowd in at least one area - ecumenism, and specifically, outreach to the Jewish people.  So, it is doubtful that he was among the 88 who voted against Nostra Aetate. Note that the against votes for Gaudium et Spes and Nostra Aetate are not the same. The members of the conservative ''crowd'' were not a 100% consistent voting block. 

Does it not bother you that your opinion that MacCullough is ''anti-Catholic'' and that this is ''proven'' is based on an interpretation of ONE ambiguous sentence in a 1000+ page book and not on anything that MacCullough actually wrote? Does it not bother you that the source you cite appears to credit Wojtyla with drafting Gaudium et Spes when the facts are that he submitted a proposed draft that was not used as the basis for Gaudium et Spes?  Would you like someone to judge you based on someone else's interpretation of ONE  ambiguous thing you said or wrote during your entire life?  

Thomas Piatak | 7/18/2012 - 11:19am
Ms. Chapman:

Interpreting MacCulloch as saying that Karol Wojtyla voted against the final version of Gaudium et Spes doesn't stem from ''distrust.''  It's what he said:  ''whose vote was consistently in the small minority against such statements as Gaudium et Spes.''  If Wojtyla's vote was ''consistently in the same minority against such statements as Gaudium et Spes,'' that means that he voted against the final draft, or else his vote wouldn't have been ''consistently...against such statements as Gaudium et Spes.''

Anne Chapman | 7/18/2012 - 10:52am
#60. Thank you. Did the quotes come from an article in National Review by Michael Potemna? You believe that MacCullough is ''anti-Catholic'' and that this creates bias in his analyses of the Roman Catholic church, and that he can be proved to be ''wrong'' on his interpretetion of Wojtyla's position on Gaudium et Spes.

MacCulloch writes about Wojtyla as if we were a member of the party that formed around Marcel Lefebvre. He was not.

But,  MacCullough didn't actually write that - it is someone's interpretation of what MacCullough wrote. I own MacCullough's history - ''Christianity - The First Three Thousand Years''. It is more than 1000 pages long, with only 8 pages on Vatican II. I checked the citation - and the whole section on Vatican II - , and there is no mention of LeFebvre at all, nor is there one in the five or so pages devoted to John Paul II's papacy.  Attributing to MacCullough someone else's interpretation does not support the conclusion that MacCullough was factually wrong in mentioning that Wojtyla was among the more conservative bishops at the Council. MacCullough mentions Wojtyla only once in the section on Vatican II (the cited quote) - most of his discussion of Wojtyla's conservatism is in the section on his papacy. He does not seem particularly ''anti'' John Paul II even while discussing his conservatism - ''...Wojtyla was a heroic figure, survivor of struggles against two tyrannical regimes....He was also an extrovert, articulate, and a born actor. His qualities were never better demonstrated than in an assassination attempt....which he not only survived but turned into a notable example of forgivenesss.  (p. 994, ''Christianity'', MacCullough, 2009)

Many cite George Weigel's biography of John Paul II as their primary source - a conservative Catholic who also brings his own biases to his interpretations. Weigel is not a scholar or historian, but a journalist/opinion writer. This may explain why some of the information cited to ''prove'' MacCullough's account is historically wrong is itself wrong - or, at best, misleading.
Indeed, Karol Wojtyla was one of the drafters of Gaudium et Spes, as recounted at pp.167-169 of George Weigel's biography, Witness to Hope.  Wojtyla's contribution in  the drafting of Gaudium et Spes was recorded at the time both by Henri de Lubac and Yves Congar, and Weigel also quotes from the speech Wojtyla made on its behalf at the Council.

Weigel's account may be misleading or perhaps the excerpt quoted was incomplete. I don't have his book and perhaps he clarified this, and others have created misconceptions rather than Weigel. When I get a copy of his book I will check. Another scholar (not a journalist), historian John O'Malley, SJ, provides a more complete account of the role that Wojtyla played in the drafting of Gaudium et Spes. I have to do more research before I can comment on the speech given by Wojtyla to check the source reference used by Weigel. Is it in context? Is it complete? I need to find the source itself, which I assume (hope) is footnoted in Weigel's book.

The Polish bishops contributed a ''late arriving'' draft text for Gaudium et Spes, submitted by Wojtyla, but this was not the draft used - ''[the draft text sent by the Polish bishops] had some influence on the version that was sent to the council fathers that summer but was not accepted as the base text as the Poles had hoped.'' (from O'Malley's 2008 book - What Happened at Vatican II, pp. 204-205). I have O'Malley's book also and double-checked.

Was Wojtyla among the handful of bishops who voted against the final version of Gaudium et Spes? MacCullough doesn't say this - but one could interpret his sentence that way if one were inclined to distrust him. There is no readily available list of the vote by name that I have found - yet. Why did Wojlyta have the Polish bishops submit a new draft? Were Wojtyla and the Polish bishops trying to head off what was being written by submiting their own draft late in the game because he didn't agree with where the draft was going and was hoping to replace it with his own preferred version? I don't know. It seems that it could be an explanation.

''The final proof that MacCulloch is spouting nonsense are the actions that Karol Wojtyla took as Pope.  John Paul II repeatedly cited  Gaudium et Spes and the other documents of  Vatican II in his writings.  He made both Henri de Lubac and Yves Congar cardinals.  By contrast, he excommunicated Marcel Lefebvre.''

The fact that John Paul II occasionally quoted Gaudium et Spes is not ''proof'' that MacCullough is ''spouting nonsense.'' It would have been odd if he had not found at least a few ideas or phrases in the document that he agreed with - after all, the Polish text did have some influence on it.
KEN LOVASIK | 7/18/2012 - 10:43am
David Smith (#62), thank you for responding to my post about my experience with young people.  While I agree with you that 'they have a lot of living to do,' I do not dismiss their searching on that account.  Mature faith, certainly, comes with life experience and true searching ... and that lies ahead of them.  It is also true that they are surrounded with a dizzying array of options when it comes to answering the question of life's meaning.

I teach in an independent non-sectarian school - no religion in the curriculum - and what I describe of the students' sharing with me is in the context of conversations about 'life' and 'death'.  While I do not 'proclaim' my faith, they are well aware that i am a 'man of faith'.  I am surprised - humbled - at their positive response to me.

I share with them the advice that the poet Rilke gives to the young poet:  "If you live the questions ... sooner or later you will live on into the answers." David, I thank you for your advice, "Don't take their search too seriously," but I think I'll pass on it:  in what these young people share with me of their search ("not to be taken too seriously"), I sense more 'faith' than I do in a lot of people who claim to be religious.
KEN LOVASIK | 7/18/2012 - 10:29am
Tom (#67), I checked out out the link that you suggested to David Power, and then I checked on the year of the Pope's ordination.  He was ordained on 11/1/46 ... almost a year after the girl had her experience.  Recall, also, that he studied for the priesthood 'underground' and would not have been walking the streets in a cassock.

John Paul II was, without a doubt, a major presence on the world stage (no pun intended!), certainly more than any Pope before or after him.  His personal charisma is undeniable:  he could mesmerize a stadium full of people of all ages.  He was, however, as we all are, a person of his own time.  We are, each of us, shaped and formed by our life experiences.  He was, as we all are, a person with clay feet, not spared human frailty.

Pope John Paul II is not remembered for listening to (=seriously considering) opinions that differed from his own.  I recall reading a memoir in which an archbishop recalled a personal meeting with the pontiff during his ad limina visit to Rome.  He recalls that each time he broached a subject that the Pope did not agree with, the Pope would simply lower his head and ignore him.  Others recalled that during the synods of the world's bishops that he presided over, John Paul II was seen - on numerous occasions - opening his breviary and praying his office while a bishops was expressing an opinion that he did not deem worth listening to.

David Power (#50), your comment, "in general the world is starved of a Christian with a heart big enough for everybody", strikes a chord in me.  When I read your words, I immediately thought of Pope John XXIII. Although h was not the media star John Paul II was to be, he captivated the world's imagination with his disarming humility and evident love for all people.  Those of us who remember him, as we look at the leadership of the Church in these last 50 years, remember "a Christian with a heart big enough for everybody".  I pray that we will see another Pope like him again ... the sooner the better! 
6466379 | 7/18/2012 - 7:59am
(# 56 ) Michael, you say, “In liberal, humanistic societies, JPII believed that everything was for sale, including human life.” Well, I can’t compete with your scholarly and professorial postings including the one being commented on, and many others too, throughout this “Schism” site which to me are giddying, as I am just an ordinary man who knows a little about many things, but not very much about anything. However, even apart from scholarship your comment on JPII’s assertion   seems to me to be practically verifiable, which even I can see. In my humble opinion   liberal humanistic behaviors are collapsing moral sinews worldwide.
 If this continues, it seems to me that  what happened before in history will happen again – empires will crumble!  Sadly this includes our Country too. Maybe within one hundred years the United States of America will disintegrate into separate nations, and the theory of “One nation under God” will evaporate into the rubble of liberal humanistic societies, turning the “American Dream” into a nightmarish conglomerate of  neighbors  at war with former friends! This is my fear! Not very scholarly I’m afraid, just something of a gut feeling.
david power | 7/18/2012 - 7:32am
Mr Piatak,

I am sorry if I gave the impression of being anti-pole, as I am not.
I was surprised to read that Eamon Duffy ,as a papal historian he is usually a lot more temperate in his comments.I read his interviews in the PBS special and his views were a lot more nuanced.
What I meant by the limits of the Polish language and Culture was not that Poland was any worse than other nations but that it is a country of 40 million and has a tendency to self-absorption as does Ireland.Being Polish you may not have noticed this as most Poles are very sensitive to any criticism whatsoever of Poland .
The language limits is what I believe is when a person is confined to what is available in their language.
I speak 4 languages fluently but that does mean I can transcend my upbringing.
The Heroism that I spoke of was not of the Polish people but of Wojtyla himself.
I am very aware of the history of Poland. I could talk about Irish heroism throughout the centuries but that does not make me any more of a hero than what other  Poles makes Wojtyla.
I have many Polish friends and work with 3 wonderful Polish people.They are kind and intelligent people and nonpractising catholics.
Life  is more complicated than Poles are good or bad.Wojtyla did many things in his life.Some are viewed as good and some are viewed as bad.I think that he was an actor above all and if Eamon Duffy disagrees good for him.
What he loved above all was the limelight and adoration.He would be delighted to see us arguing over him right now.Anyway Tom,
Powodzenia and sorry for seeming to insult Poles
Thomas Piatak | 7/18/2012 - 6:25am
Mr. Power continues voicing his disdain for John Paul II (his favorite pastime) and indeed of all Poles, who are apparently tainted in his mind by their association with John Paul II.

Power claims that, "I don't think he was much of a thinker and outside of Catholic universities and moralists etc. he is not considered much of a thinker."

This is Eamon Duffy on John Paul II:  "He was the greatest man to occupy the chair of Peter for centuries, and one of the greatest ever.  His personal history recapitulated the tormented history of the twentieth century, and he brought to bear on that history an unflinching honesty of vision and an indomitable courage.  He divided the Church, as he divided the secular world, but he was unquestionably the most remarkable man of his times."

Duffy, of course, teaches history at Cambridge, but maybe Mr. Power will consider him a "moralist" because he is, alas, a Catholic.

Mr. Power says he's been to Poland (as have I), but what he learned there was "how limiting the language was and the Culture."  The poor, dumb Poles, with their "limiting" language and culture.  I think we can all agree that John Paul II overcame the language problem, since he spoke all the major languages of Europe and was fluent in most of them, but he couldn't overcome that limiting culture since he remained, after all, Polish.

Mr. Power then makes the astonishing claim that "there is no heroism on the record" in Poland while Karol Wojtya lived there.  Perhaps Mr. Power is unaware that, before World War II, Poland refused to give in to either the Nazis or the Communists, and that during World War II the Poles both maintained the largest resistance movement in Europe (and the only major resistance movement not tainted by Communism) in addition to providing the fourth largest group of soldiers, sailors, and airmen to the Allied cause, whose heroism is on record at such places at Monte Cassino and in such engagements as the Battle of Britain, where Polish pilots made an enormous contribution at a time when the problem Britain faced was not a shortage of planes, but a shortage of pilots.  Maybe Mr. Power has never heard of the Warsaw Uprising, where the Home Army took control of Warsaw from the Nazis, only to lose it in street to street fighting while the Red Army looked on and waited for the Nazis to do the work of killing anti-Communist Poles for them.  Perhaps Mr. Power has never heard of Maksymilian Kolbe or of the hunrdeds of othe Polish priests martyred by the Nazis.  Maybe he is unawere of the thousands of Poles on record as risking their lives to save Jews, and also unaware of what the Nazis did to Poles who tried to help Jews.  As historian Peter Novick notes in his "Holocaust in American Life," the Nazis would kill you, kill your family, and burn down your home if they caught you helping Jews in occupied Poland.  Maybe Power is also unfamiliar with Poland's history of resistance to Soviet Communism.
david power | 7/18/2012 - 5:13am

I have read  Love and Responsibility and the Person and the Act or the Acting Person as my version has it.I am not that interested in moral philosophy or theology when it is within those confines so we do not share the same tastes.
On the one hand you say he was very complex but that you say it can all be reduced to what he experienced when he was young.
I don't think he was much of a thinker and outside of catholic Universities and moralists etc he is not considered much of a thinker.
I have read a million different "influences" on his "thinking" from Scheler,Kant,Aquinas bla bla bla.I find it about as interesting to know where he and how he cooked up his nonsense as what the captain of the titanic had for bedtime reading, no offense.
I have been to Poland and I know how limiting the language was and the Culture.Weigel was a hagiographer and so be careful when youhave him as your source.His objective was to paint a heroic Wojtyla during that period etc when in fact there is no heroism onthe record as the Jews have recently pointed out.
Self-interest can take many forms.As you have read his works you will know that on every page he seems to say "I am convinced" etc and that was his form of it.Insistence on his mystical/philosophical concoction.
A prude knows no geography and so his failure to understand the West could just be his hatred of non church-sanctioned expressions of freedom.Ido remember one quote from The Acting Person which was "The actualization of moral virtualities leads to the fulfillment of the person".In Poland nobody really considered him a thinker.Fr Tischner was considered a thinker, a man with a far more subtle and comprehending mind.  
Thomas Piatak | 7/17/2012 - 11:31pm
Ms. Chapman:

This is what MacCulloch wrote:  “One bishop amidst the crowds who found the whole proceedings Vatican II] thoroughly uncongenial and dismayingly chaotic, and whose vote was consistently in the small minority against such statements as Gaudium et Spes, was a Pole who during the council’s sessions became Archbishop of Cracow, Karol Wojtyla.”  This is at pp.970-971 of his History of Christianity.

MacCulloch writes about Wojtyla as if we were a member of the party that formed around Marcel Lefebvre. He was not. Far from being an ally of Lefebvre, Karol Wojtyla was (and remains) a despised figure for the followers of Lefebvre.

Indeed, Karol Wojtyla was one of the drafters of Gaudium et Spes, as recounted at pp.167-169 of George Weigel's biography, Witness to Hope.  Wojtyla's contribution in  the drafting of Gaudium et Spes was recorded at the time both by Henri de Lubac and Yves Congar, and Weigel also quotes from the speech Wojtyla made on its behalf at the Council.

The final proof that MacCulloch is spouting nonsense are the actions that Karol Wojtyla took as Pope.  John Paul II repeatedly cited  Gaudium et Spes and the other documents of  Vatican II in his writings.  He made both Henri de Lubac and Yves Congar cardinals.  By contrast, he excommunicated Marcel Lefebvre.
Jim McCrea | 7/17/2012 - 9:41pm
"Mary Magdalen" blogspot .... really?  Seriously??

And their record of impartiality is .... what?

This snippet from the site tells me oodles about my question above:

"It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate."
Michael Barberi | 7/17/2012 - 9:06pm

Wojtyla-JP II's philosophy was profoundly influenced by 19th century Polish Romanticism, 1930s-1950 Polish culture, Nazism and Communism. This blog is not the place to go into detail but the root of his thinking is complex, albeit not surprising. 

David, I mean no disrepect, but you don't know what you are talking about when you say "his thinking was most moved by self-interest". There may be some truth in what you say, but it is far from any accurate description of his philosophy and theology and the factors that shaped it.

The horrific genocide in WW II and the profound oppression in post-WW II communism in Poland he experienced, profoundly shaped his worldview and philosophy and theology. This was at a time when religion was outlawed in Poland and contracepton and abortion were legal and used to curtain population growth under communism. The only moral leader in Poland at that time was the Catholic Church in general and Wojtyla specifically. His philosophy was formed in the early to mid 1950s and it culminated in his 1960 book "Love and Responsibility"...especially sexual ethics...that formed the basis of the encylical Humanae Vitae...especially the most important precept the 'inseparability principle'. No other theologian or pope ever wrote or mentioned a inseparable connection between two meanings of the marital act. This was a novum and not a constant teaching of the Church. 

His views on social ethics as well as sexual ethics fundamentally never changed. He was also influenced by the death of his mother whe he was age 9. He had no women in his family or female relatives. Nor did he have any girlfriends throughout his high school and college years by choice. Most of the women in his life were the mothers of friends who took care of him.

If you study his views and all of his works as bishop and pope, you will understand that they were largely based on Dr. Poltawska's erroneous judgments about the West, women and human sexuality. You can trace her views directly into his writings...and I have documented every one of them.  
david power | 7/17/2012 - 8:18pm
Two things on that.
Priestly celibacy is not a basic tenet of catholicism and for that matter most of the other things included are not either.A basic tenet would be that  Jesus Christ is lord or that we believe in the trinity.
The view above is the welltrodden one of Wojtyla being leftish on social and rightish on sexual.
He based his entire Papacy on moralism , winning some to his side with his tirades against capitalism and others to his side with his attacks on abortion, divorce etc.He lost many to Christ at the same time.
His father was a soldier and he was a Priest and there is a tendency for those who are wedded to the system to insist on the system.
But if you study the case of Roberto Calvi and Marckincus  etc you see that his anti-capitalism is just pie-in-the-sky stuff.A rich Church is what he wanted and he only shadowboxed with the badboys of Wall street.
There is nothing complex in his thinking at all.Like most of us he was most moved by self-interest.He threw his lot in with the Church and so whatever moral hue suited the Church suited him.Murdoch,Blair,Maciel,Law and whatever other chancer would grease the palm was in and the likes of Ernesto Cardenal or the Berrigans were out. To imagine that there was a burning conscience lurking under all of this corruption we would have to start with Once upon a time....
Michael Barberi | 7/17/2012 - 7:56pm
A great book about the root of Karol Wojtyla-John Paul II's philosophy, inclusive of his early years, participation in Vatican II, the Papal Birth Control Commission and his Ted Lipien's "Wojtyla's Women: How They Shaped the Life of Pope John Paul II and Changed the Catholic Church". Below are some paraphrased exurbs from his 600+ page masterpience. This is a side of Wojtyla that many biographies about him overlook. 

Karol Wojtyla-John Paul II was not an extreme liberal or conservative, not an enemy of feminism nor a supporter of it, and neither a blind advocate of democracy nor someone who entirely rejected it. He was a liberal Catholic bishop during Vatican II, liberal in terms of social ethics and ecumenism, but a strong so-called right wing conservative with respect of sexual ethics. 
During Vatican II he worked on the Nostra Ateate (In Our Time) Declaration on relations with non-Christian religions, which condemned anti-semitism and affirmed that Jews are not to be blaimed for Christ's death. Wojtyla was progressive when measured against Polish historical and cultural norms, and much less by American and West European standards of the 1970s and beyond.

He was a stauch conversative on basic tenents of Catholicism, including celibacy for priests, keeping women out of the priesthood, and maintaining a strong position against divorsce, abortion and contraception. Wojtyla-JP II respected women but believed that they were better suited for certain roles than men, such as motherhood and caregivers. He never understood Western feminism, or women religious, and they never understood his philosophy either.

Wojtyla-JP II had many erroneous misunderstanding about Western democracy, women and human sexuality. His views about men, women, and sexuality were profoundly influenced by Dr. Wanda Poltawska, a psychiatrist and survivor of the Ravenbruck concentration camp medical experiments...whose opinons were considered by Western experts as 'harmful misinformation'. He was a severe critic of liberalism, especially in the West, and believed that America was an aggressive, unbridled consumeristic society characterized by corruption and that he saw Americans as deeply unhappy despite their material wealth. While his views about the West modified somewhat over the years and became less critical, his basic skepticism of liberal Western democracies never changed. In liberal consumeristic societies, Wojtyla-JP II believed that every thing was for sale, including human life.
david power | 7/17/2012 - 6:43pm

It seems that neither statement is really true.
In a private conversation with Schillebeeckx he learned that Wojtyla voted against most of the documents .There is no historical record of voting so it could not be disproved by it as Tom said.
Ratzinger said that parts of Guadium et Spes were "downright Pelagian" but the Holy father also said that the doctrine of the Trinity is " a bunch of heresies held together by grace".
Wojtyla was a master of duplicity so he may have been against them at the time as Schillebeeckx says and then later on wanting to get ahead in the Church and seeing which way the wind was blowing climbed aboard.
It is clear he did not like democracy or other people having as much as a say as him and this was to the fore for the first time in how he undercut the process for Humanae Vitae.
I think in this case the Professor should have added his source .
Michael Barberi | 7/17/2012 - 6:31pm
I enjoyed the discussion about contemplative prayer and beg my fellow bloggers for your patience while I make a few points, about this and the subject of 'schism'.

I studied contemplative prayer, the prayer of the heart, centering prayer or what amounts to the spiritual works of St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa de Avilia, and to some extent St. Francis de Sales and others. I attended several retreats and after several years of practicing this prayer, which I enjoyed and found spriritually beneficial, I now combine a series of types of prayer as part of my daily prayer routine.

At one point I asked my spiritual advisor why this type of prayer was not discussed very much or formally encouraged and he told me the Christ does not have a special type of prayer that He prefers. All prayer is good and spiritual growth comes from a variety of means such as reading Scripture and the works of saints, and a prayer that combines pentition, thanksgiving, praise, as well as complete self-donation (e.g., comptemplative prayer). The important thing, he said, was to always strive to grow spiritually, in as many ways as possible, and there are many avenues to do it.

I must admit that I do encourage this type of prayer, and admire programs that are offered by parishes to this end. However, when people have conflicts of conscience, moral dilemmas and questions, or are disenchanted with the leaders of the Church for any number of reasons (e.g. the lack of accountability for the sexual abuse scandal) these issues can plague Catholics. When that happens, Catholics want answers that appeal to their sense of reason.

When the same narrative is played over and over again, the answers become unintelligible and this leaves a void that cannot be resolved immediately by prayer. Frequent prayer and Eucharist, the spiritul development of one's relationship with Christ, does not rely on the belief in every teaching of the Magisterium. You can disagree for good and just reasons and remain a faithful Catholic. This is not cafeteria Catholicism, as some like to claim.

The issue I want to make is: Prayer and growing spiritually does not significantly influence one's decision-making about whether to participate in the Catholic Church or another Christian Church, as well as what is means to be a "Catholic" as attested to by the many surveys of Catholics. There are many faithful Catholics that disagree with certain Church teachings and either remain in the Church or join another Christian Church. IMO, we have a certain type of 'schism' going on within the Catholic Church, focused mostly around sexual ethics. Whether you call it a type of schism or not, it functions as the same thing but perhaps without the draconian effects as a true schism. 

The "hope" is that the things that divide us, do not divide our relationship with Christ. I applaud some parishes and the many good priests that are true pastors and spiritual directors. They are focused on the salvation of your soul and not so much on whether you believe or not in every Church teaching. Some priests, of course, go over-board, as one priest in Brooklyn did when every week he told parishioners from the pulpit "if anyone practices contraception, don't you dare come up to the alter for Holy Communion"....after a few weeks this priest found there were many empty pews each week because many Catholics did not want to be admonished and told they could not receive the Eucharist despite the fact that they committed no sin according to their consciences.
Anne Chapman | 7/17/2012 - 6:12pm
#52. ''For example, he claims that Karol Wojtyla opposed certain actions during Vatican II when the historical record is precisely the opposite.''

Could you please provide a few specific examples (with source - article, book, whatever - direct quotes) of his claims about Wojtyla that are not true - and also provide sources for the historical records which demonstrates that MacCullough was wrong?

Thank you.

Thomas Piatak | 7/17/2012 - 5:20pm
Mr. McCrea;

I've read MacCulloch.  He obviously is antagonistic to the Catholic Church.  I'm not the only one who thinks so:

His grasp of the facts regarding the Catholic Church is also poor.  For example, he claims that Karol Wojtyla opposed certain actions during Vatican II when the historical record is precisely the opposite.