The Catechism of Vatican II

The Apostolic letters at the beginning of the new catechism make it clear that might just as well been called The Catechism of Vatican II. What does this mean?

The principal task entrusted to the Council by Pope John XXIII was to guard and present better the precious deposit of Christian doctrine in order to make it more accessible to the Christian faithful and to all people of good will. For this reason the Council was not first of all to condemn the errors of the time, but above all to strive calmly to show the strength and beauty of the doctrine of the faith.

If we ignore the honey on the rim of the cup and focus on the medicine, the message is that the days of anathema sit and of long lists of clearly defined, condemned propositions are over. At the very least, these things now have to play second fiddle to an evangelization which prioritizes “strength and beauty.” This leaves room for logic and clarity, but they too must be subordinated to this new theology of power-aesthetics. Sure, those with old-school tendencies can point out that anathemas aren’t logically ruled out by the passage, or that precise lists of theological propositions have their own “strength and beauty”, but to take this as a way of trying to give them their old pride of place is as much a caricature and distortion of Vatican II as any clown Mass.

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