The pope’s “most important discourse”

By Robert Duncan
Catholic News Service

Dominican Father Wojciech Giertych is charged with proofing all of the speeches and texts submitted to Pope Benedict XVI to ensure they are free of doctrinal error. As theologian of the papal household, he plays a key role in the teaching mission of the pope.

In a recent interview with Catholic News Service, Father Giertych singled out Pope Benedict’s 2005 speech to the Roman Curia, a group of the pope’s closest collaborators, as the most important speech the pope has delivered in his pontificate. In that address, the pope said that the only correct understanding of the Second Vatican Council is one in continuity with the church’s perennial tradition.

Father Giertych also spoke about the debate taking place among historians regarding the correct interpretation of the council’s decisions.

One book that made waves in Italy in recent years was Roberto de Mattei’s Concilio Vaticano II: Una Storia Mai Scritta (The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story). Mattei’s history of the council was an Italian P.E.N. literary award finalist in 2011.

“He’s a historian who brings in a wealth of detail that was unknown, and I think that is done very seriously,” Father Giertych said,”but he interprets the council through a key, comparing it to the French Revolution”.

According to Mattei, in 1789, the French Estates-General was called in Paris and a small group of representatives “hijacked” the general assembly’s proceedings, Father Giertych said.

“Mattei seems to interpret what happened at Vatican II with this interpretative key,” Father Giertych said, meaning “a small group (of bishops) from northern Europe imposed their agenda at the council”.

“Maybe historically it is true,” Father Gierych said, because each council is located in a certain historical and geographical context. That means some “groups” are going to have more power and influence than others, he explained.

Nevertheless, the pope’s theologian said “we need to see the hand of the Holy Spirit working through even these human maneuverings”.

To learn more about the day-to-day proceedings and what actually happened on the floor of the Second Vatican Council, check out our blog Vatican II: 50 years ago today.

Robert Duncan is a multimedia journalist in the Catholic News Service Rome bureau.