Yesterday, Pope Benedict spoke extemporaneously to thousands of priests about his recollections of Vatican II. Toward the end, he addressed some of its setbacks, namely the negative influence of the media. While that certainly played a role, most of the damage was self-inflicted by radicals within the Church, e.g., Cardinal Bernardin and his acolytes, who took positions of power and influence during the confusing aftermath of the Council. In less blunt terms, Pope Benedict acknowledged this in his now famous 2005 Christmas address to members of the Curia on the initially dominant “hermeneutic” of rupture which has given way to a hermeneutic of continuity. In any event, here are the Holy Father’s thoughts from yesterday on the “Council of the media”:

“I would like to add still a third point… the Council of the media. It was almost a Council itself and the world saw the Council through it. The ‘Council of the journalists’, of course was not carried out within the faith but within the categories of today’s media. That is to say, it was outside of the faith, with a different hermeneutic … a political hermeneutic. For the media, the Council was a political struggle, a power struggle between the Church’s different strands. … There was a triple problem: the Pope’s power transferred to the power of the bishops and to the power of all: popular sovereignty. The same thing happened with the liturgy. They were not interested in the liturgy as an act of faith but as something where things are made understandable, a type of communal activity. … These translations, the trivialization of the idea of the Council were virulent in the practice of applying liturgical reform; a vision of the Council outside of its proper interpretation, that of faith, was born.”

“We know that this Council of the media was accessible to all. Thus it was the dominant one, the most efficient one, and it created a lot of calamities, problems, and misfortunes. … The true Council found it difficult to make its thought concrete and actual. The virtual Council was stronger than the real council. But the Council’s strength was present and, little by little, it became more and more actual, becoming the true force that is, after true reform, the Church’s true renewal. It seems to me that, after 50 years, we see how the virtual Council has broken down, been lost, and the authentic Council appears in all its spiritual strength.”