Somehow or another I heard about the council, and two of us went to the superior and asked for permission to have copies of the documents of Vatican II. He had a meeting with his consultors to decide whether or not we could have copies. The decision was that the two of us could have them because we had asked, but they would not be made generally available to the other seminarians. “Within a month they were mandatory reading,” Reese laughed again. “Even though there were struggles and arguments and fights” during the council, Reese said, “there was a feeling that history was on the side of the progressives and that we were moving forward, that it was pretty much unstoppable and things were going to get better in the church year after year.” Reese said, “This pretty much stopped with the papacy of John Paul II,” who saw “the documents of Vatican II as what was important, not the spirit.”
Currently a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University in Washington, Reese was a source of concern for the Vatican during his seven years as editor in chief of the Jesuits’ weekly magazine, America. He resigned that post in 2005 following curial criticism of his openness to exploring sensitive church topics, from same-sex marriage and stem cell research to reception of Communion by Catholic politicians who support legal abortion. Before becoming pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Pope John Paul II “put their interpretation on the documents ... and often it was the conservative, minority interpretation of the council,”Reese said. “Today the fear is not only that the brakes have been put on, but that the gearshift has been put into reverse. We see changes in the areas of collegiality, liturgy, and ecumenism, where we cannot even call Protestant communities churches any more.” Meanwhile, critics of “the spirit of Vatican II” charge that it is played like a get-out-of-doctrinal-orthodoxy-free card. Ratzinger, now as Pope Benedict XVI, forwards the argument for a “hermeneutic of continuity” that underscores interpretation of the council documents themselves.
Link (here) to the full article at NCR