The venerable Catholic publisher Ligouri has been a hit-or-miss source of material these days, and one of its recent offerings, 2011’s Vatican II: Its Impact on You, a short book I picked up at a local parish, is a clear miss — the sort of thing you’d expect from, say, Paulist Press or St. Anthony Messenger Press twenty years ago. (Both Paulist and SAMP have been publishing much more reliable content in recent years.) Written by Peter A. Huff, Ph.D., who “holds the Besl Family Chair in Ethics/Religion and Society” at Cincinnati’s theologically troubled Xavier University, this latest book on Vatican II reflects the false “hermeneutic of rupture” that Pope Benedict XVI devoted much of his pontificate to correcting. Alas, that rupture is on display in these pages. Here’s a sample from the “Liturgy” section of Chapter 7: the Impact of Vatican II:
Paul’s revised rite opened a whole new horizon for the Catholic liturgical imagination. Contemporary music, simplified vestments and worship environments, and an air of informality have come to be standard features of the Catholic liturgical experience. Respect for local cultures is also a hallmark of post-Vatican II worship. Laypeople have especially flourished in their new vocations as cantors, lectors, eucharistic ministers, diocesan liturgical directors, and members of parish liturgy committees.
It’s worth noting that the man Huff so casually refers to as “Paul” is Pope Paul VI and that just about everything he describes in his “new horizon” either had little to do with the texts of the conciliar documents or has been the subject of a steady stream of corrections and clarifications by the Holy See to restore the reverence and formality envisioned by the council fathers.
Unsurprisingly, Pope Benedict XVI’s efforts at restoration are barely mentioned while the discredited and censured theologian Karl Rahner is lauded as “the dean of Catholic theology after the council.”
This book is clearly designed to cement an erroneous implementation of Vatican II and counter the much needed reform of the reform ushered in by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. As such it should be rejected categorically.