Spirited Preaching

Incorrect interpretations of the Second Vatican Council are rooted in a denial or a misunderstanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church, said Raniero Cantalamessa, the Capuchin priest who is the preacher of the papal household. His reflection on Dec. 14 for Pope Benedict XVI and top Vatican officials offered a look at how to interpret the council. “The insufficient attention paid to the role of the Holy Spirit explains many of the difficulties that arose in the reception of the Second Vatican Council,” Father Cantalamessa said. There have been two opposing interpretations, he said, while the position of Pope Benedict—that of “renewal in continuity”—has stood between the two extremes. Traditionalist groups that reject the council represent “a tradition wherein the Holy Spirit played no role at all. It was a collection of beliefs and practices fixed once and for all,” he said. “To freeze the tradition by making it begin, or end, at a certain fixed moment means making it a dead tradition.” The other extreme willingly speaks of “the ‘spirit of the council,’ but unfortunately it was not the Holy Spirit,” he said.

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