Book Critique of MARY, The Church at the Source by Ratzinger and Balthasar

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

II. 1 The Background and Significance of the Second Vatican Council's Declarations on Mariology

MARY, The Church at the Source
Thoughts on the place of Marian Doctrine and piety in faith and theology as a whole
By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)

The Background and Significance of the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Mariology

Pages 19-20: The question of the significance of Marian doctrine and piety cannot disregard the historical situation of the Church in which the question arises. We can understand and respond correctly to the profound crisis of postconciliar Marian doctrine and devotion only if we see this crisis in the context of the larger development of which it is a part. Now, we can say that two major spiritual movements defined the period stretching from the end of the First World War to the Second Vatican Council, two movements that had – albeit in very different ways – certain “charismatic features”. On the one side, there was a Marian movement that could claim charismatic roots in La Salette, Lourdes, and Fatima. It had steadily grown in vigor since the Marian apparitions of the mid-1800s. By the time it reached its peak under Pius XII, its influence had spread throughout the whole Church. On the other side, the interwar years had seen the development of the liturgical movement, especially in Germany, the origins of which can be traced to the renewal of Benedictine monasticism emanating from Solesmes as well as to the Eucharistic inspiration of Pius X. Against the background of the youth movement, it gained – in Central Europe, at least – an increasingly wider influence throughout the Church at large. The ecumenical and biblical movements quickly joined with it to form a single mighty stream. Its fundamental goal – the renewal of the Church from the sources of Scripture and the primitive form of the Church’s prayer – likewise received its first official confirmation under Pius XII in his encyclicals on the Church and on the liturgy.
Note: Scripture should never be subjugated to visions and the ignorance of the dark ages.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Pages 20-21: As these movements increasingly influenced the universal Church, the problem of their mutual relationship also came increasingly to the fore. In many respects, they seemed to embody opposing attitudes and theological orientations. The liturgical movement tended to characterize its own piety as “objective” and sacramental, to which the strong emphasis on the subjective and personal in the Marian movement offered a striking contrast. The liturgical movement stressed the theocentric character of Christian prayer, which is addressed “through Christ to the Father”; the Marian movement, with its slogan per Mariam ad Jesum (through Mary to Jesus), seemed characterized by a different idea of mediation, by a kind of lingering with Jesus and Mary that pushed the classical Trinitarian reference into the background. The liturgical movement sought  a piety governed strictly by the measure of the Bible or, at the most, of the ancient Church; the Marian piety that responded to the modern apparitions of the Mother of God was much more heavily influenced by traditions stemming from the Middle Ages and modernity. It reflected another style of thought and feeling. The Marian movement doubtless carried with it certain risks that threatened its own basic core (which was healthy) and even made it appear dubious to passionate champions of the other school of thought.
Note: The promotion of Mary angers God.
The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger. Do they provoke Me to anger?” says the Lord. “Do they not provoke themselves, to the shame of their own faces?” Jeremiah 7:18-19

Pages 21-22: In any case, a council held at that time could hardly avoid the task of working out the correct relationship between these two divergent movements and of bringing them into a fruitful unity – without simply eliminating their tension. In fact, we can understand correctly the struggles that marked the first half of the Council – the disputes surrounding the Constitution on the Liturgy, the doctrine of the Church, and the right integration of Mariology into ecclesiology, the debate about revelation, Scripture, tradition, and ecumenism – only in light of the tension between these two forces. All the debates we have just mentioned turned – even when there was no explicit awareness of this fact – on the struggle to hammer out the right relationship between the two charismatic currents that were, so to say, the domestic “signs of the times” for the Church. The elaboration of Pastoral Constitution would then provide the occasion for dealing with the “signs of the times” pressing upon the Church from outside. In this drama the famous vote of October 29, 1963, marked an intellectual watershed. The question at issue was whether to present Mariology in a separate text or to incorporate it into the Constitution on the Church. In other words, the Fathers had to decide the weight and relative ordering of the two schools of piety and thus to give the decisive answer to the situation then existing within the Church. Both sides dispatched men of the highest caliber to win over the plenum. Cardinal Konig advocated integrating the texts, which de facto could only mean assigning priority to liturgical-biblical piety. Cardinal Rufino Santos of Manila, on the other hand, made the case for the independence of the Marian element. The result of the voting – 1114 to 1074 – showed for the first time that the assembly was divided into two almost equally large groups. Nevertheless, the part of the Council Fathers shaped by the biblical and liturgical movements had won a victory – albeit a narrow one – and thus brought about a decision whose significance can hardly be overestimated.
Note: Half of Christendom from all ages will be separated from God eternally.
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. Matthew 25:1-13.

Pages 22-24: Theologically speaking, the majority spearheaded by Cardinal Konig was right. If the two charismatic movements should not be seen as contrary, but must be regarded as complementary, then an integration was imperative, even though this integration could not mean the absorption of one movement by the other. After the Second World War, Hugo Rahner, A. Muller, K. Delahaye, R. Laurentin, and O. Semmelroth had convincingly demonstrated the intrinsic openness of biblical-liturgical-patristic piety to the Marian dimension. These authors succeeded in deepening both trends toward their center, in which they could meet and from which they could still preserve and fruitfully develop their distinctive character. As the facts stand, however, the Marian chapter of Lumen Gentium was only partly successful in persuasively and vigorously fleshing out the proposal these authors had outlined. Furthermore, postconciliar developments were shaped to a large extent by a misunderstanding of what the Council had actually said about the concept of tradition; this misunderstanding was given a crucial boost by the simplistic reporting of the conciliar debates in the media coverage. The whole debate was reduced to Geiselmann’s question concerning the material “sufficiency” of Scripture, which in turn was interpreted in the sense of Biblicism that condemned the whole patristic heritage to irrelevance and thereby also undermined what had until then been the point of the liturgical movement itself. Given the contemporary academic situation, however, Biblicism automatically became historicism. Admittedly, even the liturgical movement itself had not been wholly free from historicism. Rereading its literature today, one finds that it was much too influenced by an archeological mentality that presupposed a model of decline: What occurs after a certain point in time appears ipso facto to be of inferior value, as if the Church were not alive and therefore capable of development in every age. As a result of all this, the kind of thinking shaped by the liturgical movement narrowed into a biblicist-positivist mentality, locked itself into a backward looking attitude, and thus left no more room for the dynamic development of the faith. On the other hand, the distance implied in historicism inevitably paved the way for “modernism”; since what is merely past is no longer living, it leaves the present isolated and so leads to self-made experimentation. An additional factor was that the new, ecclesiocentric Mariology was foreign, and to a large extent remained foreign, precisely to those Council Fathers who had been the principal upholders of Marian piety. Nor could the vacuum thus produced be filled in by Paul VI’s introduction of the title “Mother of the Church” at the end of the Council, which was a conscious attempt to answer the crisis that was already looming on the horizon. In fact, the immediate outcome of the victory of ecclesiocentric Mariology was the collapse of Mariology altogether. It seems to me that the changed look of the Church in Latin America after the Council, the occasional concentration of religious feeling on political change, must be understood against the background of these events.
Note: Half of Christendom from all ages will be separated from God eternally.
Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:1-11.