The lost anathemas of Vatican II

Vatican II was a pastoral council, and the chief structural difference this gives it to previous councils is that it declared no anathemas. This is, however, simply a matter of style: Vatican II declares all sorts of things true, and this commits it to the condemnation of all that is contrary to the claims.

Sure, that last claim was a little quick: among other reasons, one need not issue a formal condemnation of every falsehood. Nevertheless, it’s fun to rewrite the claims of the council as anathemas, and it helps to draw out a dimension of the documents that is easy to overlook in their familiar dialectical-optimism. If nothing else, it would make for an interesting twitter feed.

Where to start? I happen to be teaching social theories now, so after teaching Hobbes, Rousseau, Kant and Marx I moved on to Catholic Social theory as presented in the catechism of Vatican II. So I’ll start with this:

1878 All men are called to the same end: God himself. There is a certain resemblance between the unity of the divine persons and the fraternity that men are to establish among themselves in truth and love. Love of neighbor is inseparable from love for God.

1879 The human person needs to live in society. Society is not for him an extraneous addition but a requirement of his nature. Through the exchange with others, mutual service and dialogue with his brethren, man develops his potential; he thus responds to his vocation.

What cheery, welcoming, upbeat stuff!

Now rewrite the lost anathemas:

Whoever says that the love of neighbor is separable from the love of God, let him be anathema. 

Whoever says that the likeness of the person to God is only in his individual powers or traits and not in his communion with other persons, let him be anathema. 

Whoever says that society is an extraneous addition to the human person and comes into existence wholly by contract, let him be anathema.


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