Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Countering the hermeneutic of rupture

Being an RS teacher means that I am constantly coming up against the 'hermeneutic of rupture' (if you don't know the lingo, you need to read this).

Recently, during a talk about the Council, a colleague explained how Vatican II changed the Church's understanding of marriage. Before the Council, the Church said that the purpose of marriage was to have children. After the Council, the Church finally acknowledged the place of love in marriage, and said that love was the purpose of marriage. Wow, what progress!

To make a long story short, a little research reveals that this is based on a misinterpretation of what the pre-Conciliar Church meant by primary and secondary goals. The Church used to say that procreation was the primary goal and the perfecting of the spouses was the secondary goal. Now secondary is taken to mean of secondary importance, less important.

But it doesn't mean that. Secundum est quod sequitur. The secondary is what follows. So procreation and the perfecting of the spouses are joint goals, with the latter flowing out of the former. It's about order, not importance. (Think of the processions that exist in the Trinity, for example; the processions are crucial doctrinally, - the Spirit must be seen to proceed from the Word, not vice versa- but the Persons are co-equal.)

If you invert this, and emphasise love over procreation, you end up with a contraceptive mentality.

The Church had a beautiful understanding of the sacrament of matrimony before the Council, perhaps best shown by Pope Pius IX's inspiring encyclical Casti Connubii (1930).

I'm in the debt of Romano Amerio again.

No comments: