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Jeff and Diane Gerst, Fargo, Published December 26 2012

Letter: Vatican II pointed way for church

In response to The Forum’s article “Some Minnesota Catholics lament divisions” (Dec. 15):

Much more divides the Catholic Church than the marriage amendment.

The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (Vatican II) defined the church as a “people of God” in solidarity, dialogue and service to the whole human race. We believe that the church hierarchy is at work implementing tactics aimed at returning the church to its pre-Vatican II days – days in which the laity could not question authority and focused on saving their own souls.

Turning back the reforms of Vatican II will, in our minds, be detrimental to the church. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (“God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism,” 1976) describes for us a potential consequence of returning to a pre-Vatican II understanding of church.

Heschel wrote, “Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion – its message becomes meaningless.”

Our hope is that the hierarchy will once again more completely embrace the teachings of Vatican II and recognize the truth in Heschel’s prophetic statement.