Answer: Political labels like conservative and liberal are inadequate to describe the transcendent nature of the Church, and are thus erroneously applied. The Church isn't about political feuding, but about preserving the teachings and practices our Lord Jesus Christ has given us through the Apostles and applying them to the world today.
The problem underlying the division into political camps is a misunderstanding of what faith is. Ratzinger says that in the Bible, faith is
not a system of semi-knowledge, but an existential decision--it is life in terms of the future that God grants us, even beyond the frontier of death... (A) life lived by faith resembles more an expedition up a mountain than a quiet evening spent reading in front of the fire....
(Faith and the Future, Franciscan Herald Press, 1971, p. 50.)
The reflection of the faithful in the second year of preparation ought to focus particularly on the value of unity within the church, to which the various gifts and charisms bestowed upon her by the Spirit are directed. In this regard, it will be opportune to promote a deeper understanding of the ecclesiological doctrine of the Second Vatican Council as contained primarily in the dogmatic constitution Lumen Gentium. This important document has expressly emphasized that the unity of the body of Christ is founded on the activity of the Spirit, guaranteed by the apostolic ministry and sustained by mutual love (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-8). This catechetical enrichment of the faith cannot fail to bring the members of the people of God to a more mature awareness of their own responsibilities, as well as to a more lively sense of the importance of ecclesial obedience.
All the words uttered by the Redeemer in the Upper Room on the eve of his Passion become part of the era of the Church: first of all, the words about the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete and Spirit of truth. These words become part of it in an ever new way, in every generation, in every age. This is confirmed, as far as our own age is concerned, by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council as a whole, and especially in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes. Many passages of this document indicate clearly that the Council, by opening itself to the light of the Spirit of truth, is seen to be the authentic depositary of the predictions and promises made by Christ to the Apostles and to the Church in the farewell discourse: in a particular way as the depositary of the predictions that the Holy Spirit would "convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment".
This is already indicated by the text in which the Council explains bow it understands the "world": "The Council focuses its attention on the world of men, the whole human family along with the sum of those realities in the midst of which that family lives. It gazes upon the world which is the theatre of man's history, and carries the marks of his energies, his tragedies, and his triumphs; that world which the Christian sees as created and sustained by its Maker's love, fallen indeed into the bondage of sin, yet emancipated now by Christ. He was crucified and rose again to break the stranglehold of personified Evil, so that this world might be fashioned anew according to God's design and reach its fulfillment". This very rich text needs to be read in conjunction with the other passages in the Constitution that seek to show with all the realism of faith the situation of sin in the contemporary world and that also seek to explain its essence, beginning from different points of view.
The Pope wrote these notes of the Council (naturally) before he became the Pope. They represent his true mind toward the Council, and he boldly affirms that we must
re-read the magisterium of the last Council in the whole previous magisterium of the Church while on the other hand we can rediscover and re-read the whole preceding magisterium in that of the last Council.
Again the Pope recommends Gaudium et Spes
which I want to recommend to all of you, as I did to your peers from the European continent in Loreto last September. It is a `valuable and ever youthful document.... Reread it attentively. You will find in it the light to discern your vocation as men and women called to live in this both marvelous and dramatic era...'
It is likewise impossible to decide in favor of Trent and Vatican I but against Vatican II. Whoever denies Vatican II denies the authority that upholds the other two councils and thereby detaches them from their foundation. And this applies to the so-called `traditionalism,' also in its extreme forms. (p. 28)Ratzinger insists that
to defend the true tradition of the Church today means to defend the Council. It is our fault if we have at times provided a pretext (to `right' and `left' alike) to view Vatican II as a `break' and an abandonment of the tradition. There is, instead, a continuity that allows neither anachronistic longings nor unjustified impatience. We must remain faithful to the today of the Church, not the yesterday or tomorrow. And this today of the Church is the documents of Vatican II, without reservations that amputate them and without arbitrariness that distorts them. (p. 31)