Someone I know visited a parish not her own this weekend. The archdiocese was that of San Antonio; the people of San Antonio have been awaiting the appointment of a new bishop, since their former bishop, Archbishop Jose Gomez, is now the coadjutor archbishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
My friend was therefore not surprised by the fact that, during the Mass she attended, the prayers of the faithful included a prayer for a new archbishop for the San Antonio archdiocese. But she was rather taken aback by the form the prayer took: the people at this parish prayed, specifically, for "...a new bishop who will uphold the guidelines of the Second Vatican Council..."
As my friend put it, "Why the Second Vatican Council? Why aren't they praying for an archbishop who will uphold the Council of Nicaea? Or of Trent? Or..." and so on.
Of course, the answer is as simple as it is depressing: because in the mindset of some progressive Catholics, the Second Vatican Council a) represented a radical departure from Catholicism 1.0, the oppressively medieval version which took over sometime after Constantine (yes, they do read Dan Brown) and got out of control by the 1960s, and b) is under attack by Extraordinary Form Masses, the new English translation of the Mass, a generation of rising young orthodox clerics, the continued absence of a female priesthood, and the unfortunate fact that things like abortion, contraception, and homosexual sex acts are still actually considered sinful. Therefore, a prayer that one's new archbishop will "...uphold the guidelines of the Second Vatican Council..." is only comprehensible if you understand what, to a progressive Catholic, Vatican II really meant.
After all, what exactly do the petitioners want, when they beseech God for a new bishop who will uphold Vatican II? Do they worry that Dei Verbum will be ignored? Are they laying awake nights, wondering if enough young people are being inspired to missionary activity by Ad Gentes? Do they think that a new archbishop might be lacking in his ability to conform the diocesan schools to the high ideals outlined in Gravissimum Educationis? Does Inter Mirificia seem threatened somehow?
Of course not; and that's why they're not really referencing the documents of Vatican II in their prayer, but merely the "guidelines." Or what they, like most progressive Catholics, have come to believe the "guidelines" of Vatican II really are. It's almost as if progressive Catholics have a secret stash of conciliar "guidelines" that are being increasingly attacked by those Catholics who have never seen nor heard of these "guidelines," and who, frankly, find the notion that Vatican II had anything to do with these unfortunate ideas to be preposterous.
I can't help but wonder whether there aren't a significant number of progressive Catholics who really do believe in the "Guidelines of Vatican II," (formerly known as the "Spirit of Vatican II," until someone pointed out that believing in "spirits" was so Council of Constantinople I), and who almost picture a whole set of documents, which would look something like this:
The Guidelines of the Second Vatican Council (with apologies for the bad Latin. And English):
1. Communitas Primaria. This secret guideline of Vatican II makes it clear that the community is the most important, most wonderfullest, most speciallest thing in the whole-wide banner-draped world. Jesus is important because He is the life of the community!
2. Signum Rusticanus. This secret VII guideline orders that all statues, good art, and stained glass images of the saints be removed and replaced with felt banners, geometric stained glass, and art which is incomprehensible to anyone but the artist. In this way the community and its specialness can take center stage (literally) because nobody's going to be distracted looking around at the hideous decor. We'll just have to look at each other, garbed in our tee-shirts and shorts of community specialness!
3. Feminarum Antistitarum. This secret VII guideline all but admitted that women would make the most amazing priests--priestesses?--well, we'll get to that--but that first a couple of generations of Catholics would have to get used to the idea, something that would be accomplished by making sure that women took over every role imaginable in the parish, and did so much of the "lay ministry" tasks that honestly it would just make perfect sense for the community to decide that it no longer needed Rome's permission to take the next step, order some tie-dye vestments, rent a boat, and, well, you know.
4. Culpae Nihil. This Secret VII guideline clarified what most people suspect anyway: there's no such thing as sin, nothing is anyone's fault, all sex especially is good and noble and heroic, and the only possible bad thing you can ever do is judge somebody, because that's very un-community of specialness of you.
5. Cantor et Ductor. This Secret Vatican II guideline specified that the song leader is in charge of "doing liturgy," and the song leader should always select music that celebrates the community in its sacred specialness, and should never, ever pick anything written before 1970 or which can't theoretically be played on guitars and accompanies by homemade tambourines.
These, and a few others (feel free to add them on your own blog or in the comment boxes!) are the secret "Guidelines of Vatican II" that progressive parishes are increasingly worried about. After all, it wouldn't take much--just a few young priests who have studied the documents of Vatican II and who agree with them but who would also like a little Latin, some incense, some decent artwork, some good music, and a proper level of attention paid (in homilies and otherwise) to the reality that we're all wretched sinners in need of God's mercy--for the "Guidelines of Vatican II" to disappear from the Church forever, and to remain nothing but a bad memory and a collection of truly unfortunate churches designed and built during the brief and terribly destructive self-infatuation of the People of God.