PODCAzT 80: Gaudium et spes 9-10; don Camillo (Part V); SSPXer voicemail

On this Saturday in the 1st Week of Lent, we have a reading from Gaudium et spes, the “Pastoral” Constitution on the Church in the Modern World from the Second Vatican Council.

GS 9-10 is the second reading in the Office of Readings in the Liturgia horarum.

This is a highly controversial document.  First, it is hard to say what a “Pastoral” Constitution is in contrast to a “Dogmatic” Constitution such as Dei Verbum. People on both ends of the debate over Gaudium et spes have strong positions.  Some say GS is infected with “modernism” or is too centered on man.  Others turn GS and other conciliar documents into “super-dogma”.

Whatever your side is, Gaudium et spes is fascinating.  It can be read benignity or with hostility.  But we should read it critically, in the best sense.  Even the present Pope Benedict XVI in years past has strong negative criticisms of Gaudium et spes.

I will talk about these things and more.

Also, we have another installment of stories about the fictional don Camillo Tarocci, (+ A.D. … ?) parish priest of “The Little World” created by Giovanni Guareschi.

I began a to read stories from The Little World of Don Camillo back in PODCAzT 65.  There is a Don Camillo tag you can use to find the others easily.

These delightful pieces are set in post-war Nothern Italy.

They blend brilliant insight into the human condition with solid applied Catholic Faith. 

Today we hear two tales:

The Return to the Fold
and
The Defeat

Finally, I have an interesting voicemail from a layman in the USA who attends a chapel of the SSPX.  He has observations about the blog, SSPXers, and being a Catholic.

http://www.wdtprs.com/podcazt/09_03_07.mp3

Not sure if the iTunes feed is working.  It stops and starts again… mysteriously.  Beats me!

Some of the last offerings (check out the PODCAzT PAGE):

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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58 Responses to PODCAzT 80: Gaudium et spes 9-10; don Camillo (Part V); SSPXer voicemail

  1. Nicola C says:

    It just downloaded via iTunes feed for me, with no problems.

  2. Fr. Charles says:

    On my reading, G et s seems to be an embrace (within the context of Christian faith, you have to admit) of the ideals of European modernity. Curiously, though, it’s an embrace made just as these ideas were losing their credibility and currency. So we are left in the church with certain categories that are no longer useful. To take one example, the European, modern idea of the “nation-state” from which derive (IMAO) the theologies of “inculturation” and the vernacular liturgy.

  3. Luigi says:

    You said the million dollar word, Fr. Charles – CONTEXT.

    It seems to me that GS, being a rather long document, is especially given to having individual portions taken out of context. Like all documents it needs to be read in context with the whole, not to mention by the light of, and in the context of, sacred Tradition.

    Wherever one finds what they see as the Council overreaching in its embrace of modernity it needs to be qualified through the lens of the entirety of GS in which it is clear that all things have real value only inasmuch as they are used toward their proper end, the problem being summed up in GS 13:

    “Often refusing to acknowledge God as his beginning, man has disrupted also his proper relationship to his own ultimate goal as well as his whole relationship toward himself and others and all created things.”

    Wherever one believes the Council overly glorfies humankind it needs to be qualified through the lens of GS 22:

    “The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light…”

    There are surely portions of GS that are open to debate concerning the most efficacious means for assisting man in reflecting and achieving his purpose and his proper end, but where these are addressed we have to remind ourselves of the crucial point; the means only have value in the eyes of the Council inasmuch as they point to God.

    For example, the Council seems to imply that labor unions are a praiseworthy means to that end in GS 68. We can debate that. What we cannot debate, and what the Council does not encourage, is a view of earthy things, like labor unions, that renders them valuable for their own sake apart from God.

  4. Andrew says:

    Why put ‘Pastoral’ in inverted commas when the document is actually called ‘Costitutio pastoralis de Ecclesia in munod huius temporis’? The reasons as to why it is called ‘pastoral’ are contained in the Constitution’s footnotes. I just thought that I’d ask… [I think the whole "Pastoral" issue is rather important.]

  5. Luigi says:

    Fr. Z – I just listened to you presentation on GS. Thank you. You said many of the same things I typed in my reply before I listened. You know what they say about brilliant minds. : )

    First thought, with all due respect, you quote Card. Ratzinger’s use of the word “superdogma” in a context other than that in which he himself offered it. Here is his quote:

    “The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.”

    The Cardinal is not criticizing those who believe the documents do not have flaws that stand in need of correction, he is criticizing anyone who would attempt to read the documetns apart from Tradition as tough they form a dogma of their own. This is a key distinction.

    The fact is, Cardinal Ratzinger was simultaneously leveling criticism at the progressives AND the SSPX – the latter treating the document on religious liberty as though it is a superdogma that cannot be read in keeping with Tradition. He makes no implication about actual flaws in the text that may need to be corrected. What he does imply is flaws in how they are read.

    The only flaws over which we can exercise control now are flaws in how we read that conciliar texts. The questions as to whether or not certain points could have been stressed more clearly, albeit sometimes valid ones, are in the end arguments about the stylistic qualities of the documents only. As in the case of GS; could it have been more obviously Christocentric? Yes. Would we be better off if it was? Yes, but we cannot put that toothpaste back in the tube. Besides, the key to the reading IS RIGHT THERE! As you said. The document is not flawed in content, even if a case can be made that it leaves something to be desired in presentation.

    Let’s say the conspiracy theorists are correct – and they may very well be – that progressive forces deliberately sought ambiguous texts. OK… now what? That ship has sailed. The fact is, there is no heresy to be found in the conciliar texts. There is nothing that needs to be literally “corrected.” Any clarifications will come in clarifying the way we read them. These documents absolutely can be read by the light of Tradition. They must be. Even the most skillfully crafted documents need to be read that way. If the documents of Vatican II present a particualr challenge in this regard – let’s get on with the challenge. We all know what it is – CONTINUITY.

    The problem is not whether it is possible to read the documents as they are in continuity, it is whether or not individuals are willing.

  6. Ottaviani says:

    Let’s say the conspiracy theorists are correct – and they may very well be – that progressive forces deliberately sought ambiguous texts. OK… now what? That ship has sailed.

    Not conspiracy theory – the tactics of the progressives are plainly recorded in books such as ‘The Rhine flows into the Tiber’ and ‘Iota Unum’ both written by people present at Vatican II. Fr Edward Schillebeeckx is recorded on interview as saying that ambiguous phrases were purposely used, in order for the progressives to exploit them after the council.

    I have been thinking for sometime now that the phrase ‘Hermetic of Continuity’ is sort of a lawyer’s ploy. Such a term would have been redundant before the council. The fact that Rome has to always emphasize that there is “continuity” where there blatantly isn’t in some areas, smacks of the cover-up. Things have changed and those who were closely involved in drafting the documents (eg. John Courtenay Murray SJ – Dignantatis Humanae) even admit this without the slightest regret.

  7. MenTaLguY says:

    Thank you, Luigi. I don’t have anything to add; I just wanted to underscore what you’re saying. The problem with the SSPX and the progressives is really the _same_ problem: a lack of obedience and a consequent unwillingness to make an effort to read the council documents in continuity with Tradition.

    This disobedience is especially unfortunate since it has meant that some necessary discussions have not had an opportunity to take place regarding how to read certain documents in continuity with Tradition; we are now some 40 years late for them.

  8. Sid says:

    We are now in a period where the discussion between the SSPX and the Holy See with respect to V2 are about to begin. This Podcazt is a good beginning, not only in its content, but also in it tone: one of conciliation and at the same time fidelity to the Holy See. I thank Fr. Z. The upcoming discussion and negotiation can learn much from this tone.

    I especially like the remarks at the end, that many of us just wish to be Catholic and to attend a reverent Mass where the Faith is preached and our Catholic traditions are practiced. And where our children can receive sound instruction in the faith. And where we’re not treated as lepers and told to sit in the back of the bus.

  9. Creagh says:

    THANKS!

    I enjoyed this greatly and like the caller said, thanks for your blog, great job Father.

  10. Piers-the-Ploughman says:

    Mental guy:
    I disagree, the problems with the sspx and the modernists are not the same. Superficially yes both lack obedience but the heart of the matter is that the SSPX while it is obviously Catholic trusts perhaps only the preconciliar church magisterium and that public expression of faith whereas the modernists are de facto heretics and not even conservative protestant ones.

  11. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    Indeed, there is no heresy in any document of Vatican II.

    But that’s setting the bar rather low, isn’t it?

    Father Z. is to be thanked (once again) for another splendidly useful survey of a matter related to the day’s liturgy, in this case the Liturgia Horarum (I confess, every time I warm up to it there seems a reading from Gaudium et Spes makes me return to the Breviarium Romanum).

    What isn’t discussed often enough, I think, is that G & S is an essentially dated document. 1965 was “only” 44 years ago, a heartbeat in eternity, and yet the decision of the Council to promulgate a constitution on the Church in the “modern world” at once raised the issue of when the “modern world” c. 1965 ceased to be modern and became yesterday’s news. Its very title gives it a rather limited shelf-life.

    Lastly, although off-topic, I find it interesting the LH only presents documents from a single council.

  12. Finally, more Don Camillo, my prayers are answered, you have such a good voice for story telling. How many stories are there in the series and would you consider compiling them at a future date as a paid download or a CD.

    Thank You and God Bless

  13. Malta says:

    “…everyone ought at all times to refrain from any manner of action which might seem to carry A HINT of coercion [this word is repeated ad nauseum]…” NA 4 [emphasis mine.] I guess Christ was being unVatican IIish when he turned the tables in the Temple. Interestingly, the official [carrying an Imprimatur, 1966 Corpus books version] of the documents of VII has this to say: “The course of the development between the Syllabus of Errors (1864) and Dignitatis Humanae Personae (1965) [LOL: the Latinize the latter and not the former!] still remains to be explained by theologians.” Pg. 673.

    Vatican II has this to say re: Hindus: “Thus in Hinduism men contemplate the divine mystery and express it thourgh an unspent fruitfulness of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek release from the anguish of our condition through aescetical practices or deep meditation or A LOVING, TRUSTING FLIGHT TOWARD GOD…Buddhism…teaches a path by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, can either reach a state of absolute freedom or attain supreme enlightenment by their own efforts or by higher assistance.” Id. Pg. 661-662, “Non-Christians” my emphasis. Just when people were starting to get into Yoga and soul-killing esoteric religions, Vatican II had to give them a little pat on the butt and send them on their way with a grin! Nowhere is hell discussed, or is their even a word spoken except in praise of all of the other religions (except Catholicism!).

    http://www.newoxfordreview.org/article.jsp?did=0107-conlee

  14. David Andew says:

    I don’t mean to create a rabbit hole, (and maybe this is a topic you could take up, Fr. Z), but as a lay person who is bound by an obligation as a Benedictine oblate to pray the Offices, I always find it troublesome when the second reading for the Office of Readings comes from one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council. They just don’t seem to pack the kind of “umph” one would truly desire from these relatively short readings appointed to the Office. Often the language seems clumsy, stilted or just kind of rambling and finding the theological point is often like an Easter egg hunt. I sometimes wonder if it’s not a problem of poor translation.

    At any rate, I was glad to have this particular reading from Gaudium et spes explained a bit after having read it this morning.

  15. MenTaLguY says:

    Piers: how can one consider disobedience the superficial issue and trust of the pre-conciliar Magisterium the fundamental one? There can be nothing in the authentic pre-conciliar Magisterium which is itself the cause of disobedience. But disobedience can certainly condition reception of the Church’s authority.

  16. Corleone says:

    Malta – that is my impression as well. I already voiced my concerns with the tone and content of what Vatican II says about Mohammedans as well.

    Incidently, if we look at the “Catholic Encyclopedia” circa 1902, we see concepts and opinions held about various religions are drastically different. It calls those of the Oriental church “Monophysites” which is clearly a misnomer and has even rather unsettlingly derrogatory things to say about them. Yet today, we are indeed even in communion with the Malabar (Syriac) church in that we can both receive communion from each other under certain circumstances (i.e. weddings). In other words, maybe the Vatican II wording is to be taken as a “current understanding” of such religions as is the case of the Catholic Enclyclopedia, in that they are subject to future retrospect and scholarship.

    I dunno.

  17. Martin says:

    Excellent podcast Father. Sound and production quality are improved further on your already excellent previous podcasts.

  18. puella says:

    I haven’t finished listening to it, but that first Don Camillo story was brilliant!

  19. Luigi says:

    Ottaviani: “The fact that Rome has to always emphasize that there is ‘continuity’ where there blatantly isn’t in some areas, smacks of the cover-up.”

    Nonsense. No one, Rome included, needs to issue a blanket defense concerning the vailidity of this, or any other ecumenical council’s teaching with regard to faith and morals. The burden is on you and those of like mind to examine closely what may appear – to you – to be a break with Tradition. If you sincerely don’t undertand how continuity can be applied to a certain teaching, no shame. None of us are obligated to be theologians, we are however called to be humble. When you allege “cover-up” you’re essentially saying you get it and popes of the past four decades don’t. That seems to me to be the wrong way to appraoch the Council documents.

  20. Luigi says:

    Lee Fratantuono: “Indeed, there is no heresy in any document of Vatican II. But that’s setting the bar rather low, isn’t it?”

    That’s an excellent sound bite, Lee. Do you care to elaborate?

    As for GS being dated, you must be kidding. A limited shelf-life as evidenced by what, the title? Are you serious?

    Pope John Paul II’s magisterium disagrees with you entirely. “Flaws” and all, the document has plenty of timeless teachings to offer and is practically prophetic in places in speaking of matters that are of more concern today than they were in 1965.

  21. Dr. Lee Fratantuono says:

    I’m a bit confused by the phrase “Pope John Paul II’s magisterium.” This is exactly the sort of hermeneutic of discontinuity that has caused so much damage, often by setting one pope up against another.

  22. Ottaviani says:

    The burden is on you and those of like mind to examine closely what may appear – to you – to be a break with Tradition. If you sincerely don’t undertand (sic) how continuity can be applied to a certain teaching, no shame. None of us are obligated to be theologians, we are however called to be humble.

    Again this is simply not true. If this was the case, then Rome would have flatly refused the SSPX appeal for doctrinal discussions and just offered the rather unhelpful platitude (like the one quoted above) with the wave of a hand. Of course humility is needed by everybody and this includes the Pontiff too, who is the Vicar of Christ. He too is bound by the perennial teachings of the church and he cannot add or take away anything. In 1969, when Paul VI approved of the new (and near heretical) definition of the Holy Mass in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, it had to be revised again because it was not in continuity with the canons and decrees of Trent.

    It is not enough to say there is “continuity” and command everyone to accept it. It has to be proven to the Catholic world once and for all. If those who confidently say all of the council is in line with the past 2000 years of the church, then they should have no problem showing it to the SSPX and they should not delay any further! After all the excesses of the Council for the last 45 years, traditionalists can hardly be blamed for asking an explanation at how the new orientation of the church squares off with the church before Vatican II.

  23. Luigi says:

    Lee: “I’m a bit confused by the phrase “Pope John Paul II’s magisterium.” This is exactly the sort of hermeneutic of discontinuity that has caused so much damage, often by setting one pope up against another.”

    No, I am setting up JPII’s magisterium against YOUR assertions, not that of another pontiff. Clearly there are only 4 Bishops of Rome that could have spoken directly on the content of GS. It just so happens that JPII left us quite a bit more than any other.

    Still, I’ll rephrase for you – you won’t find any agreement in the papal magisterium of the last 40+ years in support of your notion that “G & S is an essentially dated document with a rather limited shelf-life.”

    I don’t mean to seem combative, but honestly, that anyone would maintain that GS doesn’t directly speak to the people of today makes me wonder if they’ve even read the document. My assumption is that you have, but I am at a loss to understand how you or anyone could come away from it with that opinion. It is loaded with relevant content.

  24. Luigi says:

    Ottaviani: “If this was the case, then Rome would have flatly refused the SSPX appeal for doctrinal discussions…”

    Thankfully, this is not how the Church handles every lost sheep.

    “It has to be proven to the Catholic world once and for all.”

    No, it most certainly does not need to be proven. The work of interpreting and clarifying the Council’s teachings is necessary, but not from the standpoint of “proving” the negative “the Council did not err.”

    A teaching on faith and morals that truly contradicts Tradition is heresy. The Church has no more need of proving that this didn’t occur at Vatican II than it does for any of the 20 ecumenical council’s that preeded it. Clarifying and proving are two different concepts. We can well expect the former to take place, but to demand the latter is simply outrageous.

    Again, it’s a humility issue. Too many approach the Council documetns to “listen” to the Council Fathers as though we have something to teach them, when it ought to be the other way around.

  25. Craigmaddie says:

    As an aside to the discussion, it seems to me that the very phrase “hermeneutic of continuity” emphasises the extent to which many conciliar documents are ambiguous in crucial paragraphs. “Hermeneutic” means “interpretation”. It is only in matters where there is doubt and ambiguity that there is the need for an interpretation of any kind.

    The Acta Synodalia have still (to my admittedly limited knowledge) to be fully studied. But from what has emerged about the draft process of certain documents such that on religious freedom there was a degree of sleight of hand and lack of honesty on the part of certain liberal bishops and periti.

  26. Jason Keener says:

    Ottaviani,

    I would be curious to know what you believe are the specific heresies or ambiguities in the Council’s documents that cannot be squared with Sacred Tradition.

    There is definitely a crisis in the Church and plenty of bishops and priests who push a new orientation. The pushing of this wayward orientation does not necessarily mean the documents of the Council are themselves flawed. Sometimes I wonder if this rupture crowd, often running the Church from high places, has even read the documents.

    The crisis in the Church, which the SSPX rightly recognizes, is probably due more to these things: a breakdown in society’s morals, a breakdown in traditional structures, a breakdown in respect for authority, and a twisting of the Council’s documents by Catholics themselves. Many Catholics often honestly don’t understand that the Council was not a new start from zero, or they don’t care and are hellbent on pushing their own liberal agenda.

    The implementation of the Council has been a failure in many places. It is a shame that Pope John Paul II and others did not do a better job correcting abuses, but here we are today.

    I am all for doctrinal clarifications and discussions, but I don’t think the SSPX is going to get anywhere with their arguments about the Council’s documents being erroneous. For example, as Father Brian Harrison has demonstrated in his book, “Religious Liberty and Contraception,” “Dignitatis Humane” does not contradict Sacred Tradition.

    I don’t think Traditional Catholics should get their hopes up that Rome is going to disavow “Dignitatis Humane” or “Unitatis Redintegratio” anytime soon. If people do believe that, I think they are wasting their time and are in store for a big disappointment.

    As a Traditional Catholic, I have personally spent years giving the documents of the Council a very critical look. I haven’t been able to find anything yet that can’t be squared with Sacred Tradition. That makes sense. In the end, it isn’t too likely that the Supreme Pontiff and thousands of bishops at Vatican II were allowed to teach error in an Ecumenical Council. If we don’t understand the Council, it is probably more likely a result of our own misunderstandings or shortcomings than an error in the texts of the documents.

    Pax Christi.

  27. richard says:

    Well, of course “the Council does not contradict Tradition” — as long as you’re willing to tie yourself into intellectual pretzels to force the point. Catholic conservatives generally are willing to become pretzels; Traditionalists are not.

    IMO the conservative position is contrary to common sense and is not persuasive.

  28. Jason Keener says:

    Hi, Richard.

    What are the specific intellectual pretzels you are talking about? Can you point to a particular text that has heresy or ambiguity that can in no way be understood?

    In any event, we should expect a small degree of ambiguity in the texts of the Council. The texts were not meant to address every iota and nuance of the Catholic Faith. That would be impossible for a few documents.

    If you have to twist yourself into an intellectual pretzel to understand the documents, it is possible you are just expecting too much from the documents. For example, don’t fret if “Dignitatis Humane” didn’t give a full explanation of church-state relations. It was never meant to.

    We also shouldn’t be troubled if we have to do some intellectual work to understand the documents of the Council. We do this same intellectual work when we study the Bible and reconcile the various meanings and senses of a particular passage to see how the passage fits with the whole of Sacred Tradition.

    I am fond of the SSPX in many ways, but their arguments against the Council’s actual documents are unconvincing. There is a crisis in the Church, but if we keep blaming the Council’s documents or keep expecting too much from the documents, we are just wasting time.

  29. Craigmaddie says:

    Jason:
    I am fond of the SSPX in many ways, but their arguments against the Council’s actual documents are unconvincing. There is a crisis in the Church, but if we keep blaming the Council’s documents or keep expecting too much from the documents, we are just wasting time.

    The main problem with the documents is their very ambiguity which, as was recounted in sources such as Iota Unum, was not accidental. The comment of Schillebeeckx that after the Council the liberal faction would be able to draw out the consequences of these ambiguities is very well known. Catholic teaching must always be clear and unambiguous in order not to give heresies any purchase.

    But the attitude of the Council to error was also a mistake as condemnation of error was somehow seen as ‘uncharitable’: that somehow error would correct itself without reproof. We can see with hindsight what a tragic mistake that was.

  30. Michael J says:

    I think that there is a consensus that the Council’s documents are widely misunderstood. What I do not understand is why this is attributed soley to base motives when there is a much simpler and more charitable explanation.
    The SSPX incorrectly interprets the council because they are disobedient. Liberals incorrectly interpret the council because they are heretics. Does it not occur to anyone that if there is such widespread confusion that there is likely a flaw in the documents themselves?

    If my son fails his physics exam, I will likely look to his study habits as a source of the problem. If he *and the vast majority of other students in the class* fails the exam, the likely source of the problem is the way that the material is taught

  31. Jason Keener says:

    Craigmaddie,

    The Council’s documents are not all that ambiguous when someone knows how to interpret them. The documents were never meant to say everything about the Catholic Faith, and the documents were never meant to be read without earlier papal teaching, etc. Can you point to a specific passage in the documents that is either heretical or so unclear that no one could ever figure it out?

    You also said the attitude of the Council towards error was too weak. Where is the Council too weak on error? Can you point out a specific passage?

    Was Pope Pius XII also too weak on error when had this to say about religious toleration:

    “It is plainly true that error and sin abound in the world today. God reprobates them, but He allows them to exist. Wherefore the statement that religious and moral error must always be impeded, when it is possible, because toleration of them is in itself immoral, is NOT valid absolutely and unconditionally. Moreover, God has not given even to human authority such an absolute and universal command in matters of faith and morality. Such a command is unknown to the common convictions of mankind, to the Christian conscience, to the sources of revelation and to the practice of the Church. Apart from other Scriptural texts which are adduced in support of this argument, Christ, in the parable of the cockle, gives the following advice: let the cockle grow in the field of the world together with the good seed until the harvest (cf. Matthew xiii, 24-30). The duty of repressing moral and religious error CANNOT, therefore, be an ultimate norm of action. It must be subordinate to higher and more general guiding principles, which, in some circumstances allow, and even perhaps seem to indicate as the better policy, toleration or error in order to promote a greater good.” (CI RIESCE–address to Italian Jurists on December 6, 1953)

  32. Jason Keener says:

    Michael J,

    I agree that the Council’s documents are misunderstood. That doesn’t mean the documents themselves are necessarily flawed. There could be other reasons for this misunderstanding of the documents. Here are a few of those reasons:

    1. Some people just expect the documents to address every iota of Catholic teaching when they were never meant to or could not have been expected to. Catholicism is too big of a subject for a few documents.

    2. Some people read things into the documents that are not in the documents. The liberals are big on doing that.

    3. Some people read the documents out of context without putting the documents next to earlier papal teaching, etc.

    The SSPX makes the mistake of blaming all of the Church’s problems on the Council or the Council’s documents and their supposed ambiguity.

    The crisis of the Vatican II period in the Church could be due to so many other things. It could be due to weak leadership in the Church who has failed to implement the Council properly, a breakdown in morality, a breakdown in traditional gender roles, a breakdown in authority, radical individualism, radical political correctness, or people just ignoring the actual texts of the documents themselves, etc.

    If your son and the vast majority of the class fail the test, it is not necessarily the fault of the textbook. [Not necessarily, no. But when the "vast majority" don't grasp the textbook, then there is probably something wrong with the textbook, or the teacher chose the wrong textbook for the students.] Perhaps the students are not approaching the textbook in the right way, as people have not approached the Council’s texts in the right way with the proper hermeneutic. If your son fails, maybe the teacher has not properly explained how to study a physics textbook or how to work through problems presented in the textbook.

  33. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Malta, it seems to me that Nostra Aetate is simply describing those other religions with their (the other religions’) terms. I never took the document to be an endorsement of those false religions.

  34. Michael J says:

    Jason,

    My son and all of the other students (to continue the analogy) failed the physics exam because some of the contributing authors to the textbook sought to disprove the principles of physics but were prevented from outright lying by the editors of the book.

    Then, when he asked for clarification, his teacher gave him false information.

  35. Luigi says:

    The term “vast majority” is incorrectly being offered here to describe those who don’t grasp the Council.

    If the term fits anywhere it is to say that the vast majority have never even read the documents, much less made the effort to explore them by the light of Tradition. Of course they don’t grasp them.

    Of the progressives we can say for the most part it doesn’t matter; they are determined to interpret the Council according to their own fancy either way. The don’t want to grasp what is being conveyed.

    But for the SSPX types, this is where it gets interesting. It seems plain to me that these folks are exploring the documents and largely trying to uphold traditional Catholic beliefs. Yet that said, they have a huge problem going in; they have already essentially anointed themselves as the chosen ones upon whom authentic Tradition hangs by a thread.

    When Pope Benedict XVI can say, “the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time,” and the SSPX can essentially reply (my words, just to make a point) “No, sorry Holy Father, the Council blew it and you’re confused,” we have a major humility issue.

    This isn’t a matter of the Council documents being difficult to grasp. When the mindset with which one approaches them is as full of hubris as this, of course they don’t grasp what is being said. They are reading the documents in order to teach, not to learn.

  36. Michael J says:

    Luigi,
    So the council is misunderstood for one of three reasons:

    1. Sloth
    2. Heresy
    3. Pride

    gotcha.

  37. Jason Keener says:

    Michael J,

    I still think the ambiguities in the Council’s documents are apparent ambiguities and not real ambiguities.

    If one studies the documents and reads the footnotes and official explanations given by the Council Fathers as to why they included this or that in a text and didn’t include this or that in a text, it becomes even clearer as to what the documents actually mean. Because one might have to do some of this legwork to understand the documents does not mean the documents were written in a poor way.

    We have to do legwork to properly understand many historical, academic, or legal documents. For example, in order to understand a passage of the Bible, we look to the historical context of the passage, the author’s intent, the literary devices used, etc. We also look to everything else in the Sacred Deposit of Faith to see how it fits with the particular Scripture passage we are considering. No one criticizes the Sacred Scriptures as being too ambiguous because some parts of it require a bit of legwork for a fuller understanding.

    Also, if a vast majority of people are not grasping the texts of the Council, it could mean that a vast majority have not been shown the proper hermeneutic. Many people are also totally confused by the Bible until they are shown the tools of biblical hermeneutics.

    I’m not sure if the physics textbook analogy holds up here perfectly because the documents of the Council were perhaps not meant to be as self-contained as a physics textbook probably is. For example, “Dignitatis Humane” purposely did not address church and state relations because this had been addressed so fully in the encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII. The official explanation given at the Council clearly laid this out.

    Also, the Council often meant to address parts of Church teaching that had not been emphasized much in past centuries. Pope John XXIII made this clear at the start of the Council when he said there would be no point in having a Council that would say the exact same things in the exact same ways as had been done earlier.

  38. Jason Keener says:

    I agree with Luigi. Can we say that a “vast amount” of people really do not understand the documents of Vatican II if they come to the documents with an open mind and the proper hermeneutic?

    It does seem the more radical traditionalists who attack the Council’s documents do not even want to come to the documents with an open mind or open heart. These traditionalists see the crisis in the Church and often immediately start to attack the Council as a horrible innovation that had to have been the cause of this mess we are in. Some of these radical traditionalists also make the logical error of thinking that just because two events appeared at the same time, one must have caused the other. In this case, they believe that because the Church has been in a crisis since Vatican II, it has to have been the Council’s fault.

    I’ve read just about all of the criticisms the Dimond Brothers and the SSPX have made of the Council. Their method of interpretation often involves plucking a text out of a conciliar document and then putting it next to another isolated text from an earlier papal teaching with no appreciation for the bigger context of either of the documents. You can’t understand any document that way. I could go through the Bible plucking out texts from different books that would seem contradictory too if they were totally taken out of context with no consideration for the historical circumstances of the work, the intent of the author, etc.

    The SSPX will often claim that the Decree on Ecumenism from Vatican II contradicts Pius XI’s “Mortalium Animos.” I sometimes wonder if the critics of Ecumenism have even read “Mortalium Animos.” Pius XI’s document clearly condemns pan-Christianity and a type of false ecumenism that makes no distinction between religions. This was becoming popular in Pius XI’s time. Pius XI didn’t condemn the healthy ecumenism promoted in the Second Vatican Council’s decree.

    That’s about all I got for now. :-)

  39. Luigi says:

    I really appreciate this opportunity to discuss this topic with bright, interested people who love the Church. What a gift!

    The only other thought I might add is that even if one concedes that the Council documents are flawed in any number of ways, it seems to me we are still left with essentially three choices:

    1. We can ring our hands endlessly over the “ambiguities.”

    I dare say that horse has been badly beaten already, but we can continue down this path for another four decades. The question now is to what end should we keep harping on it? Does anyone really harbor any fantasies that the conciliar texts will be ammended? We can talk about the can of worms that would open, but why bother? It’s not going to happen.

    Result: A waste of time and effort.

    2. We can interpret the documents recklessly according to our own personal agendas without regard for sacred Tradition. God knows that has and is being done by progressives – lay, clergy, and religious alike – ever since the Council closed.

    Result: We’ve been living it for 40+ years. No need to remind ourselves.

    3. We can get on with the work of interpreting the texts, warts and all, in continuity with Tradition, and go about implementing same.

    Result: We may actually begin to see widespread, authentic fruits of the Council, and the re-emergence of the traditional Catholics beliefs that the Council never intended to override but the renegades have managed to obscure through their committment to #2. No pun intended. : )

  40. RBrown says:

    There are some very good things in Vat II, but there are definitely flaws/ambiguities in some of the documents, among which are:

    Sacrosanctum Concilium is not very good (that, according the the putative Grand Elector of JPII). Chapter IV, on the reform of the Divine Office is a mess (that, according to yours truly).

    Presbyterorum Ordinis is not an adequate expression of the Catholic Priesthood.

    Gaudium et Spes calls for the end to war, which is OK but dreamy (one of my Angelicum profs used to say that G&S was naive). olutionary!). It also condemns total war, without really saying what it is.

  41. RBrown says:

    There is in Vat II a very important (and welcome) movement away from the negative anthropology that was a major component of the Counter Reformation Church. There is, however, question about whether this change at times crosses the line into Pelagianism, as JRatzinger says about certain texts of Gaudium et Spes.

    That notwithstanding, it is fairly well known that any G&S optimism about the relationship of the Church to secular culture is not shared by this pope. He seems to think that hostility toward the Church is intrinsic to secular culture. He maintains that attitude even though he does not reject a synthesis between theology and scientific knowledge–for example, in his book on Eschatology his comments on the nature of Time and certain concepts of physics.

  42. RBrown says:

    I dare say that horse has been badly beaten already, but we can continue down this path for another four decades. The question now is to what end should we keep harping on it? Does anyone really harbor any fantasies that the conciliar texts will be ammended? We can talk about the can of worms that would open, but why bother? It’s not going to happen.
    Comment by Luigi

    It’s not a question of whether the texts will be amended, but what are we to make of texts that encourage priests living together to say at least some of the office in common even though it contradicts their entire history?

  43. Craigmaddie says:

    Jason Keener:

    Can you point to a specific passage in the documents that is either heretical or so unclear that no one could ever figure it out?

    Now, did I say that any of the passages were heretical? I would say that there is a great deal of ambiguity about the term “ecumenism” as used in post-conciliar Catholic teaching. Nowhere in the conciliar documents is ecumenism clearly defined. This allowed an interpretation of ecumenism to gather momentum that was more indebted to statements from the World Council of Churches than from, say, Mortalium Animos or Satis Cognitum.

    One of the most disputed passages in the conciliar documents were those that referred to the Church of Christ “subsisting” in the Catholic Church. The very fact that in 2007 the CDF had to issue a clarification of the word “subsists” in the Council documents ipso facto highlights the ambiguous wording that was used concerning some of the most crucial points pf Catholic teaching.

    You also said the attitude of the Council towards error was too weak. Where is the Council too weak on error? Can you point out a specific passage?

    The opening speech of John XXIII to the Council Fathers included:

    The Church has always been opposed to these errors; She has often condemned them with the greatest severity. Now, however, the Spouse of Christ prefers to employ the medicine of mercy rather than that of harshness. She is going to meet today’s needs by demonstrating the validity of Her doctrine, rather than by renewing condemnations.

    Scripture is full of admonitions against false teachers and against admitting those who preach error into the ranks of the faithful. Error is not self-resolving. It is not like a Freudian neurosis which melts away under light of consciousness – it has the power to destroy the virtue of faith in those who accept it.

  44. Luigi says:

    “It’s not a question of whether the texts will be amended, but what are we to make of texts that encourage priests living together to say at least some of the office in common even though it contradicts their entire history?”

    Thank you, RBrown. If in asking the question, “What are we to make of texts that…” [fill in the blank] one intends to take that crucial step from simply complaining about the text to what I describd as choice no. 3 – getting on with the work of interpreting the text, warts and all, in continuity with Tradition, and going about implementing same, much is being accomplished.

    As to your specific example, I’m not entirely sure what you have in mind. It certainly is not a matter of sacred Tradition even if perhaps tradition. I’d be sincerely interested in what makes this troubling to you.

    The Divine Office in its essence is not rightly considered private petition. It has been prayed in choir by clerics for centuries, has it not?

    Even so, an encouragement to priests to so pray together seems to me to be wise. One of the great challenges that secular priests now face, it seems to me based on those that I know personally, is the absence of brotherhood that not uncommonly exists between them – even at times among priests who live in the same rectory.

  45. Jason Keener says:

    Rbrown,

    How’s it going?

    I agree that “Gaudium et Spes” and many of the other documents are filled with a hopeful and joyful tone. I think this was a good idea because the Catholic Faith is going to draw more people in when it is presented with joy and hope. As Catholics, we have so much to be hopeful about. We have the true Faith. We have the Eucharist. I also think this more hopeful tone of the Council’s documents fits well with St. Francis de Sales’s approach that we should “Cook the truth with charity until it tastes sweet.” St. Francis de Sales also taught us that we can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Having said that, I am not advocating Pollyannaism.

    I don’t understand your criticism of “Presbyterorum Ordinis.” The document is approximately 27 pages long and hits on about every major element pertaining to the priesthood. I don’t think we can say the document isn’t traditional enough either. Here are a few examples:

    “Priests, who are taken from among men and ordained for men in the things that belong to God in order to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” #3

    “…priests of the New Testament, in virtue of the sacrament of Orders, exercise the most outstanding and necessary office of father and teacher among and for the People of God.” #9

    “Priests act especially in the person of Christ as ministers of holy things, particularly in the Sacrifice of the Mass, the sacrifice of Christ who gave himself for the sanctification of men.” #13

  46. Jason Keener says:

    Craigmaddie,

    Thanks for your reply.

    You stated that the documents of Vatican II nowhere give a definition of “ecumenism.” That is not true.

    The “Decree on Ecumenism” #4 states:

    “The Sacred Council exhorts all the Catholic faithful to recognize the signs of the times and to take an active and intelligent part in the work of ecumenism.

    The term “ecumenical movement” indicates the initiatives and activities planned and undertaken, according to the various needs of the Church and as opportunities offer, to promote Christian unity. These are: first, every effort to avoid expressions, judgments and actions which do not represent the condition of our separated brethren with truth and fairness and so make mutual relations with them more difficult; then, “dialogue” between competent experts from different Churches and Communities. At these meetings, which are organized in a religious spirit, each explains the teaching of his Communion in greater depth and brings out clearly its distinctive features. In such dialogue, everyone gains a truer knowledge and more just appreciation of the teaching and religious life of both Communions. In addition, the way is prepared for cooperation between them in the duties for the common good of humanity which are demanded by every Christian conscience; and, wherever this is allowed, there is prayer in common. Finally, all are led to examine their own faithfulness to Christ’s will for the Church and accordingly to undertake with vigor the task of renewal and reform.”

    In other places, the “Decree on Ecumenism” is also clear in pointing out the errors of false ecumenism:

    “It is, of course, essential that Catholic doctrine should be clearly presented in its entirety. Nothing is so foreign to the spirit of ecumenism as a false irenicism, in which the purity of Catholic doctrine suffers loss and its genuine and certain meaning is clouded.” (#11)

  47. RBrown says:

    Thank you, RBrown. If in asking the question, “What are we to make of texts that…” [fill in the blank] one intends to take that crucial step from simply complaining about the text to what I describd as choice no. 3 – getting on with the work of interpreting the text, warts and all, in continuity with Tradition, and going about implementing same, much is being accomplished.

    That’s an admirable approach. The problem is that it doesn’t work.

    Let’s take another example: SC suppresses both Prime and the weekly Psalter–without exception. The problem is that the Rule of Benedict mandates both.

    What’s your solution?

    As to your specific example, I’m not entirely sure what you have in mind. It certainly is not a matter of sacred Tradition even if perhaps tradition. I’d be sincerely interested in what makes this troubling to you.

    Which example? I gave more than one.

    The Divine Office in its essence is not rightly considered private petition.

    In its essence the Divine Office is not considered private simply because it is the prayer of the Church. One who says the Office in private is always united with others who are likewise saying it (cf. the Mystical Body of Christ).

    It has been prayed in choir by clerics for centuries, has it not?

    In monasteries and the medieval mendicant orders (e.g., OP’s) the answer is yes.

    In most of the religious institutes (e.g., SJ’s) founded from the 15th century to the present, the answer is no.

    Even so, an encouragement to priests to so pray together seems to me to be wise.

    It’s not wise if it’s in contradiction to the essence of the priest’s vocation.

    One of the great challenges that secular priests now face, it seems to me based on those that I know personally, is the absence of brotherhood that not uncommonly exists between them – even at times among priests who live in the same rectory.
    Comment by Luigi

    I agree that there’s not unity in the priesthood. Does saying the Office in common remedy that? What if there are three priests in a parish, and the pastor wants all to say Lauds and Vespers together? But one of the priests is used to saying his Office in Latin? What happens then?

  48. Luigi says:

    Craigmaddie: “Scripture is full of admonitions against false teachers and against admitting those who preach error into the ranks of the faithful. Error is not self-resolving. It is not like a Freudian neurosis which melts away under light of consciousness – it has the power to destroy the virtue of faith in those who accept it.”

    Pope John XXIII was not setting a blanket policy against condemnations going forward ad infinitum, he was simply laying out the particular course for this Council. We cn debate how wise this was, but to me it is nearly prophetic in its wisdom – bearing in mind that there is indeed a place for condemnation and he didn’t deny that.

    In 1962 as the Holy Father spoke, there was no “information super highway.” Today, however, people the world over are innundated with all sorts of thoughts and ideas that purport to solve all their problems, often by taking them away from Christ and His Church. (Example: abortion, embryonic stem cell research) In this environment, condemnation isn’t enough to discredit the many false notions that compete for the hearts and minds of men.

    One of the purposes of condemnation is to make the truth plainly known where confusion may reign. Today, thanks to the our ability to communicate, most people do not lack for “knowledge” of the truth, i.e. they know exactly what the Church teaches, or they can avail themselves of it if willing. i.e. The problem we face today is not the same as it once was; when condemnations were so useful. It is that so many are unwilling to acknowledge the validity of truth or they are falling prey to the many lies of the Evil One which assail them in more ways now than ever.

    The Holy Father’s statement, “She is going to meet today’s needs by demonstrating the validity of Her doctrine, rather than by renewing condemnations,” has more validity today than it did in 1962.

  49. Luigi says:

    RBrown – Thanks for the conversation. I’m sincerely grateful. There are certainly specific difficulties which need to be addressed. Only a fool would pretend there are not. This is what implementation is all about.

    On the matter at hand, I think you summed up your difficulty – if I understand correctly – when you said:

    “It’s not wise if it’s in contradiction to the essence of the priest’s vocation.”

    So are you saying that those priestly orders that have long prayed the Office in community were somehow contradicting the very essence of their priestly vocation? Would you then lobby for a prohibition of same? Rhetorical, I’m assuming you would not. It seems to me to be a monumental stretch to say the encouragment in SC for priests to pary parts of the Office together is tantamount to a “contradiction to the essence of the priest’s vocation,” but if people of good will want to debate it, fine. There is nothing about the recommendation in SC that hints of “undebatable.” Priest, theoogians, others can discuss its relative wisdom all they want. At the end of the day, it was simply an encouragement.

    As for, “That’s an admirable approach. The problem is that it doesn’t work…”

    I think you mean to say that it’s not always simple or easy. Assuming you literally meant it doesn’t work as in it’s impossible to work out, I’d be interested in hearing your alternative.

  50. Luigi says:

    Jason Keener – I just wanted to say thank you for all the good points you’ve raised. This has been an excellent discussion. Too much so almost. I keep getting pulled away from other things I need to get done. : )

  51. Jason Keener says:

    Craigmaddie,

    There definitely has been a lot of ink spilled over the term “subsists in.” The use of this term should not cause us trouble for several reasons:

    1. The CDF has now clearly explained what “subsists in” means. It does not mean the documents are horribly ambiguous if a few phrases needed further clarification. Most serious historical documents require some study and legwork. In any event, this more recent clarification of the CDF is not the first time theologians or Popes have explained what “subsists in” means or how “subsists in” is in continuity with the past.

    2. “Subsists in” is a perfectly adequate phrase to describe the Church because “subsists in” means to exist in something fully and perfectly in an enduring way. “Subsists in” was chosen instead of “est” because “subsists in” allows for the idea that even though the true Church always endures fully in the Catholic Church, elements of truth are also present in other ecclesial communities.

    3. Also, the Council in no way revoked the traditional use of “est” like Pius XII used in his encyclical on the Mystical Body of Christ. “Orientalium Eccelsiarum” #2 states, “The Holy Catholic Church, which IS (EST) the Mystical Body of Christ…” (Decree on the Eastern Churches)

  52. Michael J says:

    Jason,

    Clearly you seem to have a good understanding of what the documents of the Vatican II council actually state and what they do not state. The question remains, though is why so many others do not. I am not speaking, by the way, of the laity who “do not want to do the legwork” but of those who are specifically commissioned to teach the Faith.

    Why, for example, would Bishop Foley believe that Vatican II mandated only versus populum Masses?

    I respectfully submit that the reason you fail to see any problems with the documents themselves stems from a stereotypical American (as in, fiercely independent) attitude.

    This is not a bad thing, and I in no way mean it as an insult, but I note with interest that there is no role for a teacher other than the individual. That is, Bishops and Priests do not teach the Faith but instead teach us the method (hermeneutic) by which we are supposed to teach ourselves.

  53. Jason Keener says:

    Hi, Michael J. Thanks for the reply.

    It is unfortunate that so many priests, bishops, and lay people are confused about the Council’s documents. I think there are a lot of factors that contribute to these misunderstandings. For example, JP2 probably did not do nearly enough to crack down on those who were left to run wild with their own interpretations of the Council. The Sacred Liturgy and our church buildings were demolished after the Council further promoting the idea the Council had changed everything. I don’t think we can underestimate how the outward demolition of the Liturgy has contributed to the present inward crisis where so many interpret the work of the Council as a new start from zero. For the average Catholic, his or her only contact with the Council or the Faith is through the Sacred Liturgy. Is it any wonder why Catholics are so confused?

    I don’t know why Bishop Foley was so stuck in his position against the ad orientem posture, at least for Masses celebrated on EWTN. If one reads the GIRM, it actually presupposes in different places that the priest is facing “ad orientem.” As we look at the failures of the post-Vatican II period, we also have to realize the Devil is still working in the world, and all of us are affected by ignorance and sin.

    I also think part of the hermeneutic of continuity is not using a stricter method of interpretation for the Council’s documents than we use for other magisterial documents.

    For example, I could criticize Pope Leo XIII’s “Immortale Dei” for being overly ambiguous because it did not adequately address the dignity of man and his civil right to be free from coercion. “Immortale Dei” is a long document that gives a very full treatment to many things involving church and state relations. Why didn’t Leo XIII find space in that long document for a better treatment of the right of people to be tolerated in their religions because of their human dignity?

    I could also criticize the “ambiguity” in Pius XI’s “Mortalium Animos.” Why did Pius XI only focus on the errors of false ecumenism and pan-Christianity? Why couldn’t the Pope have found room in his document to point out more clearly that just about all religions have at least some elements of truth? Even the Church Fathers were ok with adopting the true elements of paganism and pagan philosophy.

    The case for ambiguity that can be made for the Council’s documents can also be made for earlier papal encyclicals. That is why it is absolutely essential that we read every Church document as a part of a larger whole that makes up the Sacred Deposit of Faith. We do this in union with the Living Magisterium.

    People also criticize the Council as being too ambiguous because it used a long essay format for the documents. That is a misguided criticism because many of the best earlier papal encylicals also used something similar to a long essay-type format. Leo XIII’s “Immortale Dei” and Pius XII’s “Mediator Dei” are just two examples. Essay-type magisterial texts are not necessarily bad or open to wild misinterpretation.

    In any event, I think that is enough blabbing from me on these topics for awhile. Take care!

    If you want to chat more, email me:
    keener_jason@yahoo.com

  54. Craigmaddie says:

    Good points. Thanks, Jason. You’ve given me a few things to think about.

  55. RBrown says:

    So are you saying that those priestly orders that have long prayed the Office in community were somehow contradicting the very essence of their priestly vocation? Would you then lobby for a prohibition of same? Rhetorical, I’m assuming you would not.

    I cannot understand how you would have interpreted what I clearly said to ask such a question. Once again:

    There are two traditions in the Church of how the clerical office is said. The first is community office, as seen in monasteries and the medieval mendicant orders. The second is the office said in private, as done by diocesan priests (excepting canons) and religious institutes like the Jesuits.

    Vat II ignores the second tradition.

    Is that so hard?

    It seems to me to be a monumental stretch to say the encouragment in SC for priests to pary parts of the Office together is tantamount to a “contradiction to the essence of the priest’s vocation,” but if people of good will want to debate it, fine. There is nothing about the recommendation in SC that hints of “undebatable.” Priest, theoogians, others can discuss its relative wisdom all they want. At the end of the day, it was simply an encouragement.

    If the documents of Vat II are as good as you say they are, they why would it be recommended (suadetur) that the clerics contravene their own vocation?

    As for, “That’s an admirable approach. The problem is that it doesn’t work…”

    I think you mean to say that it’s not always simple or easy.

    No, I said that it contradicts the second tradition. You seem to be substituting your own personal optimism about the documents for a lack of knowledge in these matters.


    Assuming you literally meant it doesn’t work as in it’s impossible to work out, I’d be interested in hearing your alternative.
    Comment by Luigi —

    I already stated it–clerics should stick to the tradition of their vocation.

    And of course, I listed other problems with SC, which you ignored.

  56. RBrown says:

    2. “Subsists in” is a perfectly adequate phrase to describe the Church because “subsists in” means to exist in something fully and perfectly in an enduring way. “Subsists in” was chosen instead of “est” because “subsists in” allows for the idea that even though the true Church always endures fully in the Catholic Church, elements of truth are also present in other ecclesial communities.
    Comment by Jason Keener

    Actually, it says “outside” the structure of the Church (extra eius compaginem).

    Although you’re on the money with your comments on “subsistit in”, the use of “extra” raises questions. Is the Protestant use of the Baptismal formula outside of the Church? In a way it is, but in another way it is not.

    In light of the welcome return to the concept of the Church as the Mystical Body (cf Pius XII’s Mystici Corporis), the use of the word “societas” and the phrase “extra compaginem . . . ” (Haec Ecclesia, in hoc mundo ut societas constituta et ordinata, subsistit in Ecclesia catholica, a successore Petri et Episcopis in eius communione gubernata(13), licet extra eius compaginem elementa plura sanctificationis et veritatis inveniantur) seems to me a theological regression to Counter Reformation theology.

    BTW, the phrase “ecclesial community” is used to refer to the Protestant churches, never the Catholic Church.

  57. RBrown says:

    I could also criticize the “ambiguity” in Pius XI’s “Mortalium Animos.” Why did Pius XI only focus on the errors of false ecumenism and pan-Christianity? Why couldn’t the Pope have found room in his document to point out more clearly that just about all religions have at least some elements of truth? Even the Church Fathers were ok with adopting the true elements of paganism and pagan philosophy.

    That wouldn’t be an example of ambiguity. An ambiguous (equivocal) word can refer to things that are wholly diverse (including being contradictory). This differs from analogy, in which a word refers to diverse things that are identical in one aspect.

    I think it can be said that equivocal is to analogical as syncretism is to synthesis.

    The case for ambiguity that can be made for the Council’s documents can also be made for earlier papal encyclicals. That is why it is absolutely essential that we read every Church document as a part of a larger whole that makes up the Sacred Deposit of Faith. We do this in union with the Living Magisterium.
    Comment by Jason Keener

    See above.

  58. Ottaviani says:

    I would be curious to know what you believe are the specific heresies or ambiguities in the Council’s documents that cannot be squared with Sacred Tradition.

    I don’t think that the council proclaimed anything materially heretical – it pronounced now new dogmas and did not bind anything on the faithful as infallible. I believe however that it did however introduce some new policies and novel interpretations that are a grave departure from the attitudes of the church before 1965 – the old sensus Catholcus as it were. These need to be assessed as to whether: (1) they are actually beneficial for the church (2) whether they can truly be interpreted in the light of tradition. If they fail on both points, then they must be discarded.