The Politics of the Holy Spirit

Michael Sean Winters first argues that the Second Vatican Council was revolutionary:

Douthat also insists that there was nothing revolutionary about Vatican II. I do not want to get hung up on semantics. If he wishes to make a Burkean point, that there is a difference between reform and innovation, and revolutionaries innovate, I am mostly in agreement, but while the Council did not itself innovate per se, it reformed a lot. Through much of the nineteenth and the first-half of the twentieth century, Rome carried on an extensive correspondence with the American hierarchy on the subject of interreligious events. The officials in Rome did not like the idea of a Catholic priest saying a prayer at a civic event alongside ministers of other religions. What caused Rome to change its mind? In the postwar era, they recognized that the needed America as a bulwark against communism and that non-Catholics would be needed too. Now, interreligious events characterize all local churches and all papal trips. If that is not a revolution, I am not sure what is and, I dare say, it might even qualify as an innovation, a necessary one to be sure and novel only because previously no country, like the U.S. had experienced the admixture of religious groups to the extent that we did.

And among confessional Protestants like Missouri Synod Lutherans and Presbyterians, participating in interreligious services can still get a pastor in trouble. Separated brothers or more like distant cousins seven times removed.

But Winters thinks the Holy Spirit was responsible for the revolution:

Most egregiously, not once does one grasp in his analysis of Vatican II that the Holy Spirit was active in the deliberations of the Council, and that this is not only testified to by those who participated in it, but by our Catholic beliefs about the Spirit’s presence in the Church. If the Spirit was not active at Vatican II, why should we think it was active at Trent or Nicaea? One can deride, as Douthat does, those who invoked “the spirit of the Council” to justify positions that were actually in conflict with the texts of the Council, but there really was a “spirit of the Council” and Pope Francis is not wrong to invoke it. Yes, the “spirit of the Council” was invoked to justify silly things but not by Pope Francis or Cardinal Kasper.

So will Winters allow that the Holy Spirit was also behind the U.S. Constitutional Convention or England’s Really Exceptional Glorious Revolution? Lots of churches adjusted to liberalism. American Presbyterians did in 1789. It took the Vatican longer. But why invoke the third person of the Trinity for something so ordinary?

The dangers of exceptionalism are everywhere.

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2 thoughts on “The Politics of the Holy Spirit

  1. “If the Spirit was not active at Vatican II….”

    Hahahahahahaha.

    Go read “The Rhine Flows into the Tiber.” The only thing active at Vatican II was smart liberal German theological aggression. Hans von B equals Karl Barth in a clerical collar. The H.S. … Gawd, spare me. And Sister Joan is Mother Teresa in good disguise.

    Like

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