JENNY ROUGH, HOST: Good morning!
Today on Legal Docket: the Clean Water Act, the Voting Rights Act, and a new voice on the Supreme Court.
NICK EICHER, HOST: That’s ahead on Legal Docket.
Also the Monday Moneybeat: financial journalism, a critique. Also, OPEC cuts production to raise prices, Elon Musk, one step closer to becoming King of Twitter.
Plus the WORLD History Book. 60 years ago this week Vatican II begins.
ROUGH: It’s Monday, October 10th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Jenny Rough.
EICHER: And I’m Nick Eicher. Good morning!
ROUGH: Up next, Kent Covington with today’s news.
KENT COVINGTON, NEWS ANCHOR: Pompeo/Kirby on Biden armageddon remarks » The White House is still trying to explain remarks by President Biden last week when he spoke of possible nuclear “armageddon.”
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told ABC’s This Week that the president was reflecting the “very high stakes” of the moment, but…
KIRBY: His comments were not based on new or fresh intelligence or new indications that Mr. Putin has made a decision to use nuclear weapons, and quite frankly, we don’t have any indication that he has made that kind of decision.
The president delivered his remarks during a Democratic fundraiser on Thursday — saying we haven’t seen this kind of “prospect of armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban missile crisis”.
Vladimir Putin has continued to threaten the use of nuclear weapons. The White House has warned of “catastrophic” consequences for Russia if he does that, but won’t say publicly what that means.
Crimea bridge / Ukraine attack » Vladimir Putin on Sunday called an attack on a key bridge to Crimea “a terrorist act” by Ukrainian forces.
Putin ordered construction of the massive Kerch Bridge from Russia to Crimea after Moscow illegally annexed the region in 2014.
The bridge holds important strategic value as a vital supply route for the Kremlin’s forces.
Following the bridge blast, Russia fired 12 rockets into a residential area of Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, killing 13 people and injuring more than 50.
Hurricane Ian aftermath » Some Florida residents over the weekend were allowed to return home. That is, those who had a home to return to.
Many of the homes still standing on Estero Island after Hurricane Ian lack basic utilities. So officials trucked in portable restrooms, shower trailers and other essentials. Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters …
DESANTIS: There’s some people that are going to have really significant damage. Some may have total loss. Some may have damage that they’re willing to live in their house for, and if it’s safe, they obviously have a right to do that. They have a right to be where they want to be.
While residents were initially allowed back on the island after the storm, officials shut down access to allow teams to finish searching building by building for possible victims.
Thai daycare aftermath » In northern Thailand, mourners gathered for weekend services to honor the victims of a massacre at a daycare center…
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha joined the mourners.
Last Thursday, an ex-policeman murdered killed 36 people, including 24 children.
Meantime, one family is celebrating a miracle. Their three-year-old child was the only survivor of the incident. She was asleep under a blanket and slept through the entire ordeal.
Iran protests » In Iran, anti-government demonstrations erupted once again in several locations across the country. Marchers twirled headscarves in repudiation of strict religious dress codes.
AUDIO: [Iran protest]
Cell phone footage from the town of Sanandaj captured chaos in the streets after a man was fatally shot inside his car.
It’s unclear who shot him, but Iranian police have opened fire on protesters in other incidents. At least two people were killed on Saturday.
Gas prices rising » Gas prices are moving in the wrong direction again. AAA now puts the national average at $3.91 per gallon. That’s up 11 cents from a week ago and 15 cents from this time last month.
Patrick De Haan with GasBuddy.com told PBS News Hour…
DE HAAN: For the past few weeks, an onslaught of refinery issues, both on the West Coast and on the Great Lakes has brought supply to its lowest level on the West Coast in 10 years.
Patrick De Haan with GasBuddy.com told PBS News Hour that a combination of scheduled maintenance and unplanned outages have combined to cause big problems.
DE HAAN: These can be minor issues, but put together, it greatly limits the ability for refineries to produce gasoline. So it’s planned maintenance, but more so the unexpected outages, four of them in California alone.
The recent decision by OPEC nations to cut oil supplies also hasn’t helped.
De Haan says in California, prices are are up a dollar to a dollar-fifty in many places. And prices have gone up by 50 cents a gallon in much of the Great Lakes region.
I’m Kent Covington. Straight ahead: a new voice on the Supreme Court.
Plus, the Monday Moneybeat.
This is The World and Everything in It.
JENNY ROUGH, HOST: It’s Monday, October 10th, and we’re glad you’ve joined us for The World and Everything In It. Good morning, I’m Jenny Rough.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Hey there, Jenny.
EICHER: Well, Mary Reichard is, as you can tell, away today, so it made sense for Jenny to jump into the cohost chair, this being a Monday because it’s Legal Docket.
Today we’ll kick off coverage of all the oral arguments for this new term of the U.S. Supreme Court.
So Jenny, the first Monday in October was the beginning of a new term and it began with a new face, a new voice on the high court. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
ROUGH: Right. She becomes the 116th justice in the history of the court. That’s not a lot of people, so that’s pretty exclusive company. And replaces a really thoughtful justice that, even in disagreement, Mary and I really respect, Justice Stephen Breyer. He retired at the end of the last term, back in June.
EICHER: I know working next to Mary for our Legal Dockets during the years, she’d frequently have a Breyer-ism, something especially clever or witty. I always thought if Jerry Seinfeld went to Harvard law and graduated magna cum laude, well, you might have another Stephen Breyer!
ROUGH: Definitely. We’re going to miss his professor-like demeanor at oral argument. That and his hypotheticals. He often tossed out these creative what if scenarios that really kept lawyers on their toes.
But at the same time, we’re looking forward to learning more about Justice Jackson’s style. You’ll hear today that she’s already spicing things up!
EICHER: Speaking of, let’s move on to oral arguments. We’ll cover two cases today. To start, a case that centers on the Clean Water Act. That’s a federal statute designed to eliminate pollution in the nation’s waters. The question here: What legal test should the court apply to determine if wetlands fall within the Clean Water Act?
So talk about that…
ROUGH: Right. Let me begin with definitions. I define wetland for our purposes like this: Think of it as a meeting place, where land and water come together and interconnect. A haven for wildlife. A place where, out of dead trees and brush, new life springs forth. In fact, I’ve heard experts call wetlands the cradle of life.
So that’s one reasons wetlands have been endlessly tied up in litigation over the years, especially when people want to fill them up and build on them. To complicate matters, the court keeps changing its mind about which wetlands fall under the Clean Water Act, and that’s the statute at issue here.
EICHER: Let’s turn to the facts in this case. In 2007, Michael and Chantell Sackett started construction on a two-story family home in a residential neighborhood in Idaho near Priest Lake. Now, Priest Lake isn’t on their property. The Sacketts’ property doesn’t have any surface water on it. No rivers or streams or anything like that.
That means, of course, that the Sacketts’ land doesn’t have a direct surface water connection to Priest Lake. But below the surface, that’s where it likely does connect.
ROUGH: And that’s the beginning of the controversy.
Enter the EPA. That’s the Environmental Protection Agency and EPA claims the Sacketts’ property sits on top of wetlands.
Across the road from the Sacketts’ property, lies a man-made ditch that collects water from nearby wetlands. The ditch feeds into a creek. The creek flows into Priest Lake.
And the EPA ordered the Sacketts to stop construction on their home.
Now here’s where EPA’s authority comes from.
The Clean Water Act makes it against the law to discharge pollutants into navigable waters without a permit.
Think about that term navigable, you may think of waters that you can navigate. You can take a boat on it, in other words. Presumably, Priest Lake would be navigable waters, but wetlands wouldn’t be.
EICHER: But that’s not how the Supreme Court has interpreted the term. Back in 2006, the court faced a similar question: Whether the Clean Water Act extended to wetlands that were indirectly connected to navigable waters by a man-made ditch.
The court’s answer was mucky and murky.
It was a three-way split: 4 to 1 to 4, a plurality opinion, no majority. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the four who adopted a test saying the Clean Water Act extended only to wetlands with a continuous surface connection to navigable waters.
Justice Anthony Kennedy was on his own. He wrote a concurrence opinion and adopted a broader test. He said the Clean Water Act covers wetlands that have a significant nexus to navigable waters.
Confused yet? Well, you’re in good company. Those two different tests have caused confusion in lower courts.
ROUGH: So in this case, the EPA relies on Kennedy’s concurrence to argue the wetlands under the Sacketts’ land are adjacent to navigable waters. Thus they are covered by the Clean Water Act. The Sacketts disagree. They argue Scalia’s test should apply—the line-drawing test that requires a continuous surface flow. But the Sacketts lost in lower court.
Now before the Supreme Court, let’s listen to their lawyer Damian Schiff.
SACKETTS: It’s now going on 16 years since Petitioners Mike and Chantell Sackett began construction of a house on a vacant lot in a largely built-out subdivision. Yet, their home-building plans remain on hold to this day because EPA remains steadfast in its view that their property contains navigable waters, subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. But under no plausible interpretation of that term does the agency have such authority.
Schiff admitted the Clean Water Act doesn’t categorically exclude all wetlands. But he argued there needs to be that continuous line on the surface. Wade through a cattail marsh to swim into a lake kind of line.
SACKETTS: It’s an easy-to-administer test. Ordinary citizens can use their own eyes to reliably determine whether…
Schiff went on to argue that even under the EPA’s test, it’s wrong to claim the wetlands were adjacent to Priest Lake. The word adjacent must be interpreted to mean physically touching. But Chief Justice John Roberts didn’t buy Schiff’s argument.
SACKETTS: I’m not sure that’s right. You would readily say that a train station is adjacent to the tracks even though it’s not touching the tracks?
But Schiff argued that example didn’t entail topographical features. It’s different with land and nature.
Justice Jackson jumped right in. She made a distinction between two types of wetlands: one, physically touching the lake or, two, neighboring but not touching and she saw no reason why those two should be treated differently. Especially given the aim of the Clean Water Act.
SACKETTS: You say the question is which wetlands are covered, which I agree with, but I guess my question is, why would Congress draw the coverage line between abutting wetlands and neighboring wetlands when the objective of the statute is to ensure the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the nation’s waters? So are you saying that neighboring wetlands can’t impact the quality of navigable waters?
Schiff argued Congress had to balance concerns: water quality and preserving state rights to regulate property.
Justice Neil Gorsuch asked why the line drawing test was necessary. Why the need to see a continuous line of surface flow. Schiff indicated without that test, a property owner wouldn’t have a reasonable way to know their land is considered a water of the United States.
SACKETTS: If something cannot be reasonably classified as a water then the answer is simply Congress hasn’t authorized it. And that really has to be why mere geographic closeness can’t justify the contratextual conclusion that a two-third-of-an-acre residential lot with a sewer hookup with an address and a mailbox is somehow considered a water of the United States.
Gorsuch agreed that’s the question. He wanted to know the consequences.
SACKETTS: What are the penalties associated with this? What was threatened to your clients and what does one face in these circumstances?
Fines. Big ones. Significant money.
The statute also allows for criminal penalties, too. But those weren’t threatened in this case.
Now, the EPA’s side of the story. Brian Fletcher is the attorney. Justice Gorsuch asked him about all of that.
GORSUCH: I am sympathetic to the idea of how does a landowner know under the standard whether their land is covered.
FLETCHER: So I think we are talking about adjacency, and that may not be something that gives you bright-line rules, but it rules out things that are many miles away.
ROBERTS: Does it? Are you sure the EPA would take that view?
FLETCHER: I’ve asked. The agencies have told me they do not draw bright-line rules. They do not think 300 feet is unreasonable for adjacency.
GORSUCH: So how about 3,000 feet? Could be?
FLETCHER: I don’t know the answer to that, Justice Gorsuch.
GORSUCH: Could it be three miles?
FLETCHER: I don’t think it could be…
GORSUCH: Could it be two miles?
FLETCHER: That, again, when we start to talk about miles, that sounds too far to be adjacent, to reasonably be proximate to.
GORSUCH: One mile?
FLETCHER: Again, I see where this is headed. (Laughter.)
GORSUCH: So, if the federal government doesn’t know, how is a person subject to criminal time in federal prison supposed to know?
EPA lawyer Fletcher said homeowners can ask the government for a determination, free of charge. And he reminded the justices that the Clean Water Act doesn’t prohibit anyone from building a house. It just requires them to get a permit.
SACKETTS: And if the Sacketts’ wetlands would not significantly affect or degrade Priest Lake because of their location or their size or anything else, that’s something that’s appropriately taken into account in the permitting process. This is just about which wetlands are going to have some examination to make sure that that degradation does not occur.
The parties to this lawsuit have been fighting for a decade and a half. And this is the second time the case has been before the Supreme Court. Justice Brett Kavanaugh stressed the significance.
SACKETTS: This case is going to be important for wetlands throughout the country, and we have to get it right.
The last case today arises out of Alabama.
The legal question centers on the Voting Rights Act. How do you slice and dice different voting districts?
In 2021, the state enacted a map of its seven congressional districts. Black voters in Alabama constitute more than a quarter of the voting-age population. But only one of the seven districts has a majority of black voters. That would be 14 percent of the districts for 27 percent of the voting population.
So voters sued, arguing that the state violated the Voting Rights Act, specifically its ban on racial discrimination. Bottom line, that Alabama should have a second majority-minority district.
Here’s Justice Amy Coney Barrett recapping both sides.
BARRETT: Here, you know, there was testimony below that it was impossible to get to the two majority-minority districts if you didn’t take race into account. There’s the quote from the plaintiffs’ expert saying that you can’t get there on accident, which is why it’s important to do it on purpose. And I understood you to be saying that you are being asked, all states are being asked to navigate the rock and the hard place of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act and that if you were forced to adopt a map proposed by the plaintiffs that was racially gerrymandered because race was predominant in its drawing, that you would be violating the Fourteenth Amendment.
Do the maps need to be race-neutral? If Alabama does take race into account, does that create an equal protection problem? That’s what the court will have to navigate navigable waters or no.
That’s this week’s Legal Docket.
JENNY ROUGH, HOST: Next up on The World and Everything in It: the Monday Moneybeat.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Time now for our weekly conversation on business, markets, and the economy with financial analyst and adviser David Bahnsen, head of the wealth management firm The Bahnsen Group. Good morning!
DAVID BAHNSEN, GUEST: Good morning, Nick, good to be with you.
EICHER: David, I’d like to begin with a story from the financial wire, and I have to say, it was very typical of the reports carried virtually everywhere when the September jobs report came out last week. And I’ll ask about that report in a minute.
But what I’d like you to comment on is this headline story showed up in all the news feeds, just this lead sentence, quoting here: “The Dow fell almost 600 points as September’s solid jobs report likely keeps the Fed on track to approve another large interest-rate increase.”
It’s unremarkable in the sense that we get these kinds of reports all the time, these cause-and-effect stories, where jobs, in this case, are positive, but that’s bad because of how the Fed will react, and that’s what caused the stock market to fall that day.
And I’d like you to talk about that kind of reporting from the perspective of a financial-markets professional.
BAHNSEN: Nick, I work in finance and you work in journalism. And I think I’m out of my lane to say what I’m about to say. But here’s what I would say: if I were in charge of the person who wrote the story, I’d fire him. If I was in charge of the person who wrote the headline, I’d fire him. But the problem is that very likely, the person who is in charge is the one behind it all. And I don’t know how they [don’t] get fired. But I’d fire everybody because it is so reckless and so stupid, that it is offensive. The Fed was absolutely going to 100% be raising rates the same amount they were before the jobs report as after. Like we thought 250,000 jobs are going to be created, and it came at 260. And so the Fed is now going to raise rates, when the futures market had a 100% chance priced in for the last five weeks that they were going to raise rates? So these types of things of connecting drama and sensationalism to something that the whole world already knew, is really, really maddening. And it only exists in journalism, in financial markets, everybody already knew the Fed was going to be raising rates. And there’s debate right now in financial markets about whether or not they raise 50 or 75 basis points at the next meeting. And whether they get to 400 or 425, by the end of the year. And whether next year they stop or go higher or cut at the end of the year, there’s debate about other things that are further out. But there’s no debate that they’re going to be raising rates at the next meeting and it had nothing to do with the jobs report.
EICHER: Okay, candor I always count on!
David, about the jobs report—263,000 jobs added, unemployment rate now at 3.5 percent for September—was it a good jobs report?
BAHNSEN: Well it wasn’t a really good jobs report, it was exactly in line jobs report. Some of the private sector payrolls from prior months were revised down by about 62,000. And then, you know, overall, average hourly earnings and so forth are up about 5% from a year ago. They rose point 3% in September, I think that’s good. You want to see wages going higher. And the distribution of the job increases: 83,000 in leisure and hospitality coming into the fall, 60,000 in health care. All of that sounds about right. But again, we, our population size, we should be creating 250,000 jobs every month. And so that’s that’s not a great number, but it isn’t a bad number. And that’s the world we’re living in right now is we’re supposed to believe that what is bad would be good and what is good would be bad – “If we could just get really high unemployment, and really get a lot of job losses, that would be great in that it would indicate inflation is coming down.” And this is about as poor and understanding of economics as one could have and it isn’t true. Job growth is not inflationary. But putting these two things as if they’re at odds against one another, this is definitely the framework we’re living in.
EICHER: On to OPEC+, the organization of petroleum exporting countries, we got word last week OPEC, despite protests from the United States made a decision to cut oil production by 2 million barrels per day. Big deal, isn’t it?
BAHNSEN: It’s huge. It was the biggest story of the week. It is act of belligerence. Now it’s an act of belligerence against us that we deserve. But yes, there is no question Saudi…is basically telling the US, “We kind of have Russia’s back a little.” And it’s Saudi, saying we’re going to protect our own economic interest over any diplomatic concerns the United States may have. But we deserve it, because we don’t need them to be the marginal producer that is dictating price control, we can do that if we would just take care of our own production. So the administration asking OPEC Plus, asking authoritarian, autocratic, non democratic regimes to do their dirty work for them. First of all, it is politically, economically and morally insane. But second of all, I don’t understand why it even makes the environmentalists happy. I don’t know what I’m missing, that the environmental argument is we must not be doing oil production in Texas. But somehow oil production is okay in Saudi. I thought that it was all one Earth. And so I’m very confused about what the atmospheric implications are for oil production in Oklahoma, but not in Saudi Arabia. But regardless, um, it’s 2 million barrels production cuts per day, for next month, we’ll see where they go after. But I think it was a shot across the bow, I think it was Saudi saying we want to keep oil up around $90. They don’t want 120, where it starts to erode demand. But no, as it was creeping down into the 70s, they say, look, you’re manipulating with your strategic petroleum reserve release, we’re gonna manipulate by controlling production. And this tit for tat is basically what our own administration has begged for, and now they’re getting it.
EICHER: Now they’re getting it, do you think that’s going to bring enough pain to cause a course correction and ramp up petroleum production?
BAHNSEN: Yeah, I think that is happening to some degree, I mean, we definitely are exporting more, we’ve increased our capacity for LNG exports, largely because we just simply have to, but nowhere near what we could be. I mean, there’s still a cultural movement, a social movement, a leftist movement that doesn’t want this. You would need far more approvals, you need far less red tape, and you would need because so much of this resides in the executive branch, you would need a different White House. But I think that’s going to happen at some point, and the United States will have to take control over its own energy market sovereignty. But in the meantime, I have a hard time believing that oil prices can get back into the 70’s and stay there, which is what would be needed to appreciably move prices lower at the pump, because you have to remember, not only is there a supply factor here with the OPEC Plus and then our own forced limitations on production in the States because of our own policy failures. But also the administration is committed to the oil producers to buy back the oil necessary to refill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And they just haven’t said when they’re going to do it, but they’ve drawn down hundreds of millions of barrels. We’re back to 1983 levels in our SPR. And so there’s a lot of factors that are going to represent a floor to oil and upward pressure on oil prices for the years to come.
EICHER: Also this week, we saw that Elon Musk decided to go ahead after all on his acquisition of Twitter. What did you think all the back and forth was really about? Was it just Elon Musk’s way of negotiating? How do you read that?
BAHNSEN: Well, in fairness to Twitter, which is not something I say often, there wasn’t back and forth. It was just Elan, and he changed his mind and then re-changed his mind…we know very much what’s going on. He wasn’t likely to prevail at court, and so he kind of threw in the white towel. Why did he, you know, want to get out of the deal? Because he’s dramatically overpaying. And we just happen to be dealing with one of the maybe three or four people in the world who can afford to overpay by $20 billion for a company. And so, I think the odds are very high that the deal will end up closing. But no, I don’t think it’s a done deal, simply because how could anyone think anything’s a done deal with all of the volatility in Musk’s decision-making so far, saying he wants to join the board, not join the board, doing the deal, not doing the deal, threatening to sue, you know, different arguments to get out of it. But at this point, he’s pretty well stuck other than if his lenders show up at court and say the money we contractually committed to provide in financing, which is 12 billion of the 44 billion, his money is now stuck – he has to perform. But the lenders can say we won’t loan and then he gets out of the deal. But for them to say that they have to come up with an incredibly legally strong argument and do so against their own interest, because it doesn’t look good for lenders to renege on financing. So I expect this deal’s gonna close. But no, I would not say it’s 100%.
EICHER: Alright, very busy week. I keep promising listener questions and we will get to that, so please do send your question for David Bahnsen to [email protected], we will make time. Ask anything that’s on your mind around business, economics, and finance: [email protected].
David Bahnsen is founder, managing partner, and chief investment officer of The Bahnsen Group. His personal website is Bahnsen.com.
David, talk to you next time. Thanks again!
BAHNSEN: Thanks so much, Nick.
JENNY ROUGH, HOST: Today is Monday, October 10th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Jenny Rough.
NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Up next, the WORLD History Book. Tomorrow marks the 60th anniversary of the start of Vatican II—the council that reshaped the Roman Catholic Church. Here’s Collin Garbarino.
ANNOUNCER: The Vatican ecumenical council—the greatest gathering of prelates in history—has five American Cardinals present, including Francis Cardinal McIntyre of Los Angeles.
COLLIN GARBARINO, REPORTER: On October 11, 1962, thousands of Catholic leaders convened at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome for the first session of the Second Vatican Council. The council would meet every fall for four years, and it set the tone for Catholicism heading into the twenty-first century. Even at the time, onlookers knew big changes were afoot.
ANNOUNCER: The council’s immediate aim is to make church laws more compatible with modern times and to work toward a long-range plan of Christian unity.
But when Pope John XXIII announced his intention to call a council, not many within the Catholic hierarchy understood what it would address or why Catholics needed a council in the first place. Catholic theologian at Boston College Richard Gaillardetz explains in a documentary about Vatican II.
RICHARD GAILLARDETZ: Prior to the first Vatican Council, the previous ecumenical council was the Council of Trent. It had been over 300 years prior to that. So there wasn’t a lot of experience for modern Catholicism with ecumenical councils. When you add to that the papacy had become more and more powerful, at least in ecclesiastical terms, and one could make the case that Pope Pius XII, in terms of church authority, was one of the most powerful popes in the history of the church. So the mindset for many people was we don’t really need ecumenical councils anymore.
Some Catholic bishops thought Vatican II would condemn the increasing secularism of the modern world. The Cold War was in full swing and the cultural changes of the post-war generation were beginning to become evident. But the pope envisioned an agenda focused on Christian unity and evangelizing the world.
Part of that agenda involved reforming Catholic liturgy. Richard Gaillardetz again.
GAILLARDETZ: The decision is made to celebrate daily mass on a rotating basis. Now you have to understand for the vast majority of the Roman Catholic bishops comfortable with the Late rite, they had never celebrated the mass in any other ritual tradition. This is the first time they sort of realized at an experiential level that our church’s catholicity is enriched, by not just the Tridentine rite celebrated in Latin, but by the Melkite Church, and the Ethiopian Church, and the Maronite Church. The bishops experienced first hand the rich unity in diversity which is the Catholic Church.
MUSIC: “Ave Verum” by Benedictines of Mary & Queen of Apostles
Before 1962, most Roman Catholic congregations in the West worshiped exclusively in Latin. Vatican II opened the door to worshiping in vernacular languages—a change which allowed the lay person to understand what was happening during the church service.
MUSIC: “Of My Hands” by Ray Repp
Pope John XXIII died less than eight months after Vatican II opened, but his vision continued to guide the church in the later sessions.
The council adopted a new church constitution that gave the laity a greater role in church life. Professor of theology at Boston College Robert Imbelli explains the title of the new constitution Lumen Gentium.
ROBERT IMBELLI: The title of the constitution of the church is The Light of the Nations, who is Christ. Sometimes people hear “Constitution on the Church Light of the Nations” and they say, “Oh, the Church is the light of the nations, and how can that be since it’s a sinful church.” But the light of the nations is not the Church, it is Christ.
The council included Orthodox and Protestant observers, who of course weren’t allowed to vote. But many of the documents coming out of Vatican II moved Roman Catholicism a little closer to Protestantism. They emphasized the importance of the Bible for guiding church teaching and the necessity of having a Biblically literate church. The Roman Catholic Church acknowledged someone could be a Christian without being Catholic, and it embraced a spirit of ecumenism, saying partnership with other denominations could be beneficial in certain circumstances. The Church also espoused freedom of religion, distancing itself from political entanglements and state support. And the Church renewed a commitment to evangelizing the non-Christian world.
James Massa, a professor of theology at St. Joseph’s Seminary explains the impact Vatican II had on Catholic-Protestant relations.
JAMES MASSA: I think prior to the council, many Protestants would have been uncertain whether Catholics were even Christian. And through the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, it became easier for Protestant Christians, Evangelical Christians, to look at Catholics and say they are my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Vatican II reshaped the Catholic Church for the modern world, but it didn’t solve all the Church’s problems. In fact it caused some, as certain voices complained the council had changed too much and others complained it hadn’t changed enough.
Over the next 10 years, the Church would lose 100,000 priests. And the ensuing breakdown in clerical obedience and rigour has been blamed for the sexual abuse that plagued the church over the last 50 years. The liturgy might be understandable now, but some Catholics complain that the search for accessibility has resulted in the dumbing down of worship—a complaint that mirrors those Protestants who bemoan the lack of substance in a seeker-sensitive church service. And in many places in the West, post-Vatican II Roman Catholicism has gone the way of liberal Protestantism, concerning itself primarily with progressive social causes rather than Christ who is Himself the light of the world.
MUSIC: “Jesus My Lord, My God, My All” by the Benedictines of Mary & Queen of Apostles
I’m Collin Garbarino.
NICK EICHER, HOST: Tomorrow: the benefits and drawbacks to teen employment.
And, Myrna Brown introduces us to a unique group of veterans who serve and support the military community.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Nick Eicher.
JENNY ROUGH, HOST: And I’m Jenny Rough.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
WORLD’s mission is biblically objective journalism that informs, educates, and inspires.
It is so fun to be on the program today, and the Scripture I’ve been thinking about is Psalm 1. It reads this way: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord.”
Go now in grace and peace.
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