Pope: Media Spread Misinterpretations of Vatican II

These media misrepresentations ‘created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery,’ the Holy Father lamented in a Feb. 14 address.

Second Vatican Council Fathers.
Second Vatican Council Fathers. (photo: Wikipedia)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI said that many of the misinterpretations of the Second Vatican Council were caused by the media promoting its own version.

“The world interpreted the Council through the eyes of the media, instead of seeing the true Council of the fathers and their key vision of faith,” said Pope Benedict at Paul VI Hall Feb. 14.

“Fifty years later, the strength of the real Council has been revealed, and it is our task for the Year of Faith to bring the real Second Vatican Council to life,” he told the priests gathered to meet him.

Pope Benedict spoke with the priests of the Diocese of Rome in an unscripted speech on the Second Vatican Council, which he first attended as a special advisor to Cardinal Frings of Cologne and later on as a theological expert.

“The immediate impression of the Council that got thorough to the people was that of the media, not that of the fathers,” he explained.

“The council of journalists did not, naturally, take place within the world of faith, but within the categories of the media of today, that is outside of the faith, with different hermeneutics … a hermeneutic of politics,” added Pope Benedict.

The Holy Father, who will give up office on Feb. 28, is one of the few remaining witnesses of the Council.

“The media saw the Council as a political struggle, a struggle for power between different currents within the Church,” he recalled.

“But it was obvious that the media would take the side of whatever faction best suited their world.”

In his view, there were those who sought a decentralization of the Church.

“There was this triple issue: the power of the Pope, then transferred to the power of the bishops and then the power of all ... popular sovereignty; and, naturally, they saw this as the part to be approved, to promulgate, to help,” said the Pope.

He also said that this was the case for the liturgy, with no interest in it as an act of faith, but as a something to be made understandable, “similar to a community activity, something profane.”


‘Council of the Media’

“We know that this council of the media was accessible to all,” he said.

“So, dominant and more efficient, this council created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery. In reality, seminaries closed, convents closed, the liturgy was trivialized ... and the true Council has struggled to materialize, to be realized,” he stated.

In his analysis, Pope Benedict said that the virtual council was stronger than the real Council, but the real strength of the Council was present.

“It has slowly emerged and is becoming the real power, which is also true reform, true renewal of the Church,” he said.

“It seems to me that, 50 years after the Council, we see how this virtual council is breaking down, getting lost, and the true Council is emerging, with all its spiritual strength,” he observed to his priests.

“And it is our task to work so that the true Council, with the power of the Holy Spirit, is realized, and the Church is really renewed,” he emphasized.

Pope Benedict said it was a “special and providential gift” to be able to meet with Roman clergy before leaving the papacy in two weeks.

“It's always a great joy to see how the Church lives and how in Rome the Church is alive, because there are pastors who, in the spirit of the supreme Shepherd, guide the flock of Christ,” he said.

"It is a truly Catholic and universal clergy, and it is part of the essence of the Church of Rome itself, to reflect the universality, the catholicity of all nations, of all races, of all cultures.”