A few highlights:
The majority of the Second Vatican Council fathers and the Popes never saw the council as discontinuous and as a rupture with the past. The emphasis was always in accord with the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council — the unbroken continuity of Catholic Tradition, both in doctrine and in many other areas. There are those who understood, and still understand, the Second Vatican Council as some sort of revolutionary destruction of the past — a sort of French Revolution — that we are destroying everything in the past and starting new all over again, with a whole new [liturgical] calendar and everything.
The Periti (or experts)
What happened, however, is there was a para-council of periti, of experts, who all dominated through the whole matrix of media representation of what was going on at the council. Because of that, there were horrible distortions in the popular imagination, including the clerical imagination, including the priests. Even they saw this as a complete rupture. Emotionally and psychologically, people who intellectually might understand that the Mass is the same if you offer it in English or in Latin, [nonetheless] thought, "We have a whole new world here, and this doesn't really mean what it said."
The Mad Motorcyclists:
There are horror stories. For instance, Gregory Baum and some of these left-wing people who left the Church and dissented, they were going around [Rome] on motorcycles with Latin speeches in their saddlebags trying to find bishops who would say them.
And then some bishop would read them [publicly], they were in Latin, so he probably didn't even know what they said, and then they would blast them all over the newspapers: Things like 'The council says no more Purgatory,' among others. There was that sort of outrage that was going on. And in the area of the media, the left-wing liberal dissenting branch took over and prevailed.
It does not come from the directions from which so many other groups go on. You will find so many political parties trying to call ecumenical prayer groups and things like that. I think that is totally wrong. I think we need to re-center into true ecumenism, which is what the Church does, and not what other people do. We try to attract them to the fullness of truth. We try not to push them further away from the truth that they might still have either by natural revelation or by religious tradition. We try to bring them closer. I think that is what the Council was trying to emphasize. Ecumenism is what the Church does by bringing the truth to people through the aid of the Holy Spirit — the mission — so that those who are closer to the Truth come closer and that those farther away are not moving farther by our example or by our way of presenting the Truth.
And the finishing touch:
But the Truth is only one, and it is in the Catholic Church. We have to accept that.
Published in the January 26 issue of The Wanderer