Not every valid Council was a fruitful Council.

Joseph Ratzinger"Not every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis, may of them have been a waste of time.  Despite all the good to be found in the texts it produced, the last word about the historical value of Vatican Council II has yet to be spoken."

Ratzinger, Joseph. Principles of Catholic Theology: building Stones for a Fundamental Theology. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987, p. 378.  

Lateran V is an example of a Council which, though valid, was not very fruitful.

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79 Responses to Not every valid Council was a fruitful Council.

  1. Hieronymus says:

    Then by all means let me speak it: Woops!

  2. Robert of Rome says:

    Point well made, Fr. Z. We need to hear more said about valid vs. fruitful councils.

  3. raitchi2 says:

    I’m still waiting for vision of the Council of Vienne to be fulfilled.

  4. Jaidon says:

    Maybe we could talk about the Cardinal meant by fruitful? I think I have a vague idea, and I know what fruit I want to see, but it is something I’d like to see in print and discussed by others in the know.

  5. frival says:

    I remember reading that statement. And then reading it again. He is incredibly lucid in his thoughts regarding the Council, I think in part due to his understanding of the history of Councils past.

  6. Oneros says:

    My favorite Vatican-II-related quote! Yay! If only more Catholics would realize we are free to critique Vatican II (even in the texts themselves) as long as we don’t say it taught heresy (and the same goes for Vatican I, Trent, etc…which one could critique, on the other hand, as overly scholastic, authoritarian, centralizing, etc)

    However, I think Ratzinger himself was (and now as Pope is) actually very committed to the idea of making Vatican II historically important, even though there isn’t really much substance to work with. Because of his personal involvement. The Council was a certain generation’s “pet project”…to admit it fizzled out or was a failure or had more bad effects than good…would be an incredible loss of face.

    So all sorts of hierarchs on both sides of the aisle spend a lot of energy paying lip-service to Vatican II, trying to portray their particular vision for the Church today as the “true implementation” of Vatican II, etc. Everything is referred back to it as if it has some hidden meaning that we just still need to figure out. I think we need to just move on.

    I think, “in the last analysis” the documents “Orientalum Ecclesiarum” and “Unitatis Redintegratio” will be seen as very important, once reunion with the Orthodox is achieved (something, admittedly, unthinkable without Vatican II’s paradigm shift on the topic).

    I think “Sacrosanctum Concilium,” “Nostra Aetate,” and “Dignitatis Humanae” will be regarded as disastrous and infected with modernism.

    The others were largely without-major-effect (A “decree on social communications”?!? Where was the condemnation of Communism!?!) Most of these others will simply be forgotten though the “big ones” like Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes…may be remembered as trite rather unoriginal re-statements of what was already believed, that were, thus, instrumental in the linguistic shift the hierarchy made from speaking (previously) in precise, compact, scholastic formulations…to verbose, fluffed-up, vaguely ambiguous “nice-talk”. From an attitude perhaps (admittedly) over legalistic and medieval…to one over-optimistic and potentially indifferentist.

  7. Denis Crnkovic says:

    frival – Monsignor, later Cardinal, now Pope, Ratzinger not only had/has a deep understanding of Councils past, but also was, in my analysis, one of the few voices at Vatican II that did not speak solely from an emotional desire to “renovate” things for the sake of renovation. His approach to reform as early as 1963 was to effect only necessary changes, determined by a measured, intelligent and dogmatically sound hard look at the state of the Church in the mid-20th century. As far as I can tell, he was and is the sanest voice on this issue.

    As for fruitful councils, I am reminded of the Council of Florence which (among other successes) accomplished so much for the resolution of the East-West schism — only to have local interest groups dismantle the Council’s wisdom. Yes, history has yet to deal with Vatican II.

  8. Of course before some of the commentators seek to say Vatican II was “a waste of time” it is good to look at the next sentence from this book:

    “If, in the end, it will be numbered among the highlights of Church history depends on who will transform its words into the life of the Church.”

    In other words, whether or not Vatican II will be considered a waste of time depends on whether or not what it decrees are implemented. An interpretation which claims the future Pope was speaking against what Vatican II taught is taking it out of context.

  9. Oneros says:

    But what exactly did it teach?

  10. Magpie says:

    Does anyone know where the receipt is?

  11. Aaron says:

    Arnobius, that’s not how I interpret that sentence. Try it with this emphasis:

    “If, in the end, it will be numbered among the highlights of Church history depends on who will transform its words into the life of the Church.”

    In other words, the key is who will have the final say on what it means. Which would seem to prove the point that opponents of the Council made from the start: the language is so vague that it can be interpreted to mean anything. For the past 40 years, the “who” have been liberals and dissenters, and they’ve stretched V2 to mean all sorts of things–some exactly the opposite of what it said. On the other hand, if in the final analysis it gets applied by orthodox theologians who carefully interpret it through the filter of tradition and discard possible meanings inconsistent with that tradition, it will have a very different outcome.

    Oneros, it does seem like there’s a great reluctance to disparage anything at all that came from that particular generation. (And given the hissy fit they’re throwing over having their translation fixed, I suppose that reluctance isn’t surprising.) Perhaps when that generation has passed away that will change. Sometimes it seems like orthodox people who reject much of what came after the Council have to make a special effort to find things to praise in the actual documents, so they won’t be seen as fringe or “Lefebvrists”.

  12. Thomas G. says:

    The Second Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D., the “Three Chapters Council”, was also a bust. Though it taught no heresy it clarified no doctrine either, and was called by the Emperor for political reasons: to attempt to appease the Monophysites and thereby assuage divisions within the Empire.

  13. Oneros says:

    “Sometimes it seems like orthodox people who reject much of what came after the Council have to make a special effort to find things to praise in the actual documents, so they won’t be seen as fringe”

    Exactly. And I think we need to deconstruct this notion that somehow it is “fringe” to find the Council itself to be rather worthless, but “mainstream conservative” to praise “the documents themselves” even though we both hate what came after and (in one way or another) as a result.

    Paying lip-service to Vatican II has become this bizarre sort of Omerta that marks one as a “loyal insider”. It’s all really messed up…

  14. Thomas G. says:

    Here’s one interpretation of Vatican II: that it was the high water mark of Satan’s assault on the Church. It failed (because the Church is indefectible and infallible and always will be), but just barely.

    Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg was the “high water mark” of the Confederacy. Perhaps VII was Satan’s Pickett’s charge.

  15. Jack Hughes says:

    What went wrong with Lateran V?

  16. Thomas G. says:

    Jack – the 5th Lateran Council met in 1518 at the beginning of the Protestant Rebellion. Had it acted decisively it could have averted the schism that followed. It didn’t.

    On the other hand, this council did define the soul as personally immortal and that each such soul is “divinely multiplied by God’s creative act at the time of infusion into the body . . .” – Fr. John Hardon, The Catholic Catechism, p. 104.

    So . . . it beat out the Second Council of Constantinople in that it (the Lateran) did develop revelation to some degree. Constantinople II takes the cake, IMHO, for useless councils.

  17. @Aaron

    I made a typo in the quote. It should have read:

    “If, in the end, it will be numbered among the highlights of Church history depends on those who will transform its words into the life of the Church.”

    Sorry for the omission.

    In context however, you need to read pages 367-393 before trying to give your meaning, as the future Pope decries both the denial of what was good from the past and the denial of what needs to be done now.

  18. Lee says:

    “Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg was the “high water mark” of the Confederacy. Perhaps VII was Satan’s Pickett’s charge.”

    There must be some difference between this and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, but I can’t think what it might be at the moment.

  19. “However, I think Ratzinger himself was (and now as Pope is) actually very committed to the idea of making Vatican II historically important, even though there isn’t really much substance to work with. Because of his personal involvement. The Council was a certain generation’s ‘pet project’…to admit it fizzled out or was a failure or had more bad effects than good…would be an incredible loss of face.”

    It takes some stugots to point your finger at the pope and accuse him of serving his own reputation before the Church. And why, because he doesn’t seem to share your view of the Council? How dare he! C’mon man. You can do better.

    I admire your passion for the subject. God knows there are way too many fools out there who aren’t interested enough to even have an opinion much less an informed one. We’d all be better off if more people had your passion. But seriously… the pope is trying to save face? That doesn’t help make your point at all. You would do well to consider that maybe – long shot though it may be – that Benedict XVI’s idea of what constitutes “true implementation” is actually more correct than your own. Just maybe. : )

    “We need to deconstruct this notion that somehow it is ‘fringe’ to find the Council itself to be rather worthless…”

    No, it’s not “fringe,” at this point in time it’s just foolish and very premature. This ain’t JEOPARDY, Oneros. Why put the punchline before the joke? It only colors your view unnecessarily. We’re living in the shadow of the Council; or as the Holy Father put it, “the last word about the historical value of Vatican Council II has yet to be spoken.” I wouldn’t pronounce it worthless just yet.

  20. Oneros says:

    “There must be some difference between this and blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, but I can’t think what it might be at the moment.”

    The difference is that the poster said that Satan FAILED in his “charge” because the Church is infallible and indefectible, which means the Holy Spirit did, in fact, do His job, and the Council didn’t end up teaching heresy.

    Again: Councils (like popes) are not positively inspired by the Holy Spirit nor do they constitute some sort of divine mandate. Infallibility is a negative protection only.

    “It takes some stugots to point your finger at the pope and accuse him of serving his own reputation before the Church.”

    You misunderstand me. I’m not saying the Pope defends the Council disingenuously in order to try to shore up his own reputation. I’m merely saying the Pope’s personal involvement in the Council biases his (personally sincere) evaluation of its worth. Parents are always more blind to the flaws in their own children. I bet the creators of New Coke sincerely thought it was better too…

    “We’re living in the shadow of the Council”

    But only because they refuse to move out from under it.

    Probably out of fear of taking up their own agency and authority as bishops and Pope again. Currently, “the Council” serves the psychological end for many of them as this external locus of agency that they act as if their hands are tied by it, so they (liberals and conservatives both) can refer all responsibility to “the Council” when people complain about their decisions, and of course “the Council” cannot answer back, it is all dead texts, so it makes a convenient rallying cry for both sides to justify their agenda.

    If the Pope called another Council tomorrow or, better yet, on his OWN authority simply reversed all the practical changes and re-issued an “old sounding” Syllabus of some sort…we could forget the Council. So why not? Many agendas get derailed by changed circumstances without ever being picked up again. I mean, can you imagine if the Democratic platform was still Bimetallism??

  21. albizzi says:

    Not only was VATII a “waste of time” but rather it was a true catastrophe not only because of the confusion it sowed in the minds but because of the blindness of its supporters who decline to acknowledge that it harmed the Church strongly and for a long time.
    “Errare humanum est, perseverare diabolicum”

    [Okay.... This could be a pretty good discussion if we self-edit and really chose what will be interesting and helpful. Let's keep the mere Vatican II bashing out of this.]

  22. “I bet the creators of New Coke sincerely thought it was better too…”

    LOL!

  23. Supertradmom says:

    Oh my goodness. I left a job years ago after creating an uproar among my peers for criticizing Vatican II, or rather the flood of novelties and ideas which supposedly were connected the the council. The persons in charge could not accept that there was no difference in “pastoral” and “doctrinal” truths. In other words, they were relativists. These same Catholic teachers and priests denied that Ratzinger’s Dominus Iesus had any bearing on the Church or their teaching in the classroom. I also have been “corrected” by priests, DREs, etc. for teaching pre-Vatican II truths, as if there were doctrinal changes made in the council documents. Can you imagine someone saying, as I was informed, that “our parish is a Vatican II parish”, implying what? One of the priests told me I could remain working in RCIA only if I never discussed with the people that I also attended the TLM in another parish. I would be “divisive” if I did so.

    It is amazing how many people see the council as the beginning of something new, which we mostly here would see as a rupture of the continuity of doctrine, liturgy, devotions, Catholic culture of what was before.

    The odd tyranny of the post Vatican II devotees, who frankly are ill-informed and ill-catechized, reigns in many parishes and Catholic educational institutions. Thank God for our present Pope, who is intelligent and brave enough to sift through the rhetoric of the past forty years.

  24. TonyLayne says:

    At the risk of repeating myself (in re Abp. Coleridge), VII would have been “a waste of time” had nothing–good or evil–come of it. The very fact that we’re having this discussion now means that VII has forced us to take another look at our faith, rather than allowing it to slide into marginalization and irrelevance or to decay, like the Anglican Church, into compromise with the forces of secularization and phony relevance. Even if we end up where we were ante concilium, I think we’ll have a better understanding and appreciation of what that position is and means.

    I’ll agree, causa argumenti, that various of the documents are not above critical discernment and iterpretation within the context of tradition. But I’m with Lee: to call the Council itself a Satanic attack on the Church is to verge on heresy, if not blasphemy. If the Holy Spirit protects the corporate Church from teaching error, then it protects “pastoral” councils as well as “theological” councils; any distinction between the two is not grounds enough for stripping infallibility from the former.

  25. Supertradmom says:

    There is no distinction between pastoral and theological truths in reality. What is theologically true is pastorally true and what is pastorally true is theologically true. The fact that we even think there are separations is in itself a legacy of Vatican II.

  26. Oneros says:

    But there is a difference between discipline and dogma. The human hierarchy is NOT guaranteed to make good disciplinary, prudential, pastoral, administrative, diplomatic, political, financial, etc etc choices. Not even in Council.

  27. Supertradmom says:

    I think what you are trying to say is that people are fallible. However, the Teaching Magisterium of the Church is not.

  28. Bruce says:

    What a coincidence Father, I just bought Principles of Catholic Theology: building Stones for a Fundamental Theology the other day. I’m on page 68.

  29. Henry Edwards says:

    Supertradmom: “our parish is a Vatican II parish”, implying what?

    It implies to me that they probably don’t follow any of the actual directives of Vatican II. In the “spirit of Vatican II” they don’t care about that sort of thing.

    In the typical diocese, I suspect the bishop would have to go to a TLM to observe the actual participation urged by Vatican II.

    Of course, most TLMs now are more participative now than the typical one before Vatican II. For instance, the typical TLM now is a sung Mass with most people using missals, whereas before most were (of necessity in big parishes) low Mass with some people no more prayerfully engaged than the typical person at an ordinary form Sunday Mass today.

    So the usual quip is not without truth — That Vatican II has done more for the TLM than for the Novus Ordo.

  30. TonyLayne says:

    Sorry, the “off” tag on the bold type didn’t work ….

    Not only was VATII a “waste of time” but rather it was a true catastrophe not only because of the confusion it sowed in the minds but because of the blindness of its supporters who decline to acknowledge that it harmed the Church strongly and for a long time.

    The Council didn’t sow confusion. Rather, the same “spirit of Vatican II” types who took over in the vacuum of authority were infected by the general social and political ferment that was gripping the First World at the time. The blame for that must in large part be charged to the Marx-influenced college professors of the ’50s who had such a disproportionate impact on the activism of the “flower children” of the counterculture, and whose academic heirs continue to poison the intellectual atmosphere today. It was they who inferred a promise of change from Bl. John XXIII’s spoken rationale for the calling of the Council, and used it to justify intruding their doctrinal and liturgical innovations into the life of the Church. I’m afraid Paul VI must also shoulder some blame for for not doing enough to support bishops’ efforts to defend orthodoxy (such as there were), and even for making some very poor choices in episcopal appointments.

    I must also point out that confusion among the laity was partly due to insufficient catechesis prior to VII and abysmally bad catechesis afterward. (I speak as a product of a particularly half-baked CCD program; at my Confirmation, I knew less about my faith than many prominent anti-Catholics!) While we can blame the “flower children” for the sad state of post-VII religious formation, we must also recognize that the rote memorization of the Baltimore Catechism which comprised the bulk of pre-VII religious education wasn’t sufficient to meet the needs of the “average Catholic” who, in the post-war economic expansion, was more and more likely to be a college graduate and even to have done post-grad work.
    Many people saw this and tried to address it; the “flower children” saw it as their opportunity to hijack catechesis, in the same way that they took over public and post-secondary education, and use it to further their own agenda. Again, though, VII was not the cause but the opportunity and the putative exculpation for their experiments.

    We’re still too close to those times. Too many of us were part of, grew up in, the turbulent wake of the Vietnam era to view the time with complete dispassionate objectivity. We can even say that that time still hasn’t passed. I think it’ll be at least another fifty years before anyone can be trusted to make a final, definitive case for or against VII. In the meantime, I’m willing to trust Papa Ratzinger to apply the Council’s documents within the ruling context of the apostolic tradition.

  31. TonyLayne says:

    Supertradmom: There is no distinction between pastoral and theological truths in reality. What is theologically true is pastorally true and what is pastorally true is theologically true. The fact that we even think there are separations is in itself a legacy of Vatican II.

    I’ll agree that the pastoral and theological can’t be separated, although the distinctions are baked into the terms themselves. But I was trying to point out that using the distinctions to declare VII “fallible” isn’t a legacy of the Council per se but rather a conservative overreaction to the liberals’ use of “the spirit of Vatican II” to justify their desired changes. The two camps weren’t produced by the Council itself; rather, they were produced by the introduction of Marxist dialectics into liberal thinking, which preceded the Council by as much as thirty years.

    Oneros: But there is a difference between discipline and dogma. The human hierarchy is NOT guaranteed to make good disciplinary, prudential, pastoral, administrative, diplomatic, political, financial, etc etc choices. Not even in Council.

    “Not even in Council”? Drop this phrase and I’ll cheerfully agree with you. A Council, as a college acting in communion with the Bishop of Rome, is protected from error to the same degree that the Pope is protected when teaching ex cathedra (cf. Jn 14:26, 16:13; Mt 18:17-18). Individual bishops may err in such matters, but not the whole of the college in this context.

  32. Supertradmom says:

    Two priests I know told me that they and their confreres in seminary wanted to be ordained in order to change the Church into something more ecumenical, more “protestant”. These men are in their late 70s. Their seminary training pre-dated Vat II and I agree with those who say that the changes in perception happened before the council, otherwise the council would not have happened at all. One of the interesting changes these men sought and did were what we would call “novelties” in the Liturgy. Another change cherished by these priests is the so-called equality of religions-false ecumenism-which led to a softly-softly approach to doctrine and dogma. Sadly, both priests had an enormous influence in their dioceses and in Washington, at the USCCB.

  33. Maltese says:

    As Charles Coulombe writes:

    “So, you might ask your author whether or no Vatican II was really an Ecumenical Council. Well, all the Catholic bishops were gathered to solemnly deliberate; the fact that it was all for naught in terms of dogma is beside the point. Those who demand that the Holy See one day openly disavow it ignore history. *What is more likely to happen is that, after the present crisis is surmounted, it will be flushed down the memory hole with Constantinope II, Constance, and Basel.* Present on the lists forever as: “21st Ecumenical Council: Vatican II, 1962-65, Dealt with pastoral problems.” There safely filed, scholars in 2567 will breeze over it to look at more impressive and important Councils, just as we breeze by Lateran V to look at Trent.

    Paul VI was not unaware that things were out of control at the Council. He took decisive action there: he wept.” [Puritan's Empire, 513-514, emphasis added.]

    Since the Council demanded retention of Latin (“The use of the Latin language…is to be preserved in the Latin rites.” Sacrosanctum concilium 36) and yet this demand is completely ignored (though is the one thing which should have been followed), I would argue that nothing novel is binding in Vatican II, just as the novel demand that Jews must wear distinctive dress at the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) was soon ignored, and is therefore not binding.

    “What is more important is to make clear the kind of assent demanded of the faithful…What this means, as Pope John Paul II never tires of emphasizing when referring to Vatican II, is that it is to be interpreted in light of Tradition, of other Councils, and Papal Encyclicals, and, where found to be in conflict with these, disregarded.” Richard O’Connor, Homiletic and Pastoral Review, July 1981, pp. 5-6.

  34. TonyLayne says:

    Supertradmom: Certainly, quite a few priests had that in mind either while they were being formed in the seminary or at some point after ordination. They and their lay associates had a terrible impact on the Church. My sole concern here is a tendency among traditionalists to commit a post-hoc fallacy by reading liberal heterodoxies into the conciliar documents. I think we must take it as a rule that, if a particular paragraph or statement in any conciliar document can be understood in an orthodox manner, then it must be given that interpretation by default. I think we must also get away from blaming the Council for the blight that struck the Church in the last fifty years, and focus on the corrupt philosophical ideas which fed the counterculture and which still poison thought today.

  35. Roland de Chanson says:

    Denis Crnkovic: As for fruitful councils, I am reminded of the Council of Florence which (among other successes) accomplished so much for the resolution of the East-West schism—only to have local interest groups dismantle the Council’s wisdom.

    Good point.

    An interesting fruit of this council was the assent to the filioque by the grousing contingent of Greeks. But it was this Trinitarian worm that stuck in the Constantinopolitan craw. The subsequent repudiation of the agreement by the Byzantines was their last gasp before they were crushed by the unitarian-minded Turk. Having bid farewell to the Greeks, the Latins promptly asserted the authority of the pope over a council.

    It took a V2 pope, namely JP2, to scotch the filioque when praying with the Ecumenical Patriarch. This is of course a prerogative of papal authority: to subtract what his predecessors have added. One might wonder sine culpa whether he was of a unitarian disposition during the scandalous act of Coranic osculation. Ecumenism forever is the watchword, I guess.

    May the Buddha of Assisi grant enlightenment the Church of Peter.

  36. If the Council Fathers had had their way, we’d all have learned Latin and how to sing chant in the Seventies, the whole parish, with some polyphony by the choir as a nice change once in a while. And so it goes, with practically every document.

    Their big failures were not in orthodoxy, but rather in failing to produce clear, short documents in a timely fashion; and in allowing the documents to be “captured” and interpreted solely by those who were against everything the Council Fathers were for.

    Now, imagine if Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae had been captured in this way. It almost was. Just as with Vatican II, the dissenters created a pre-release atmosphere that the contents were already known, that Paul VI would tell everybody to go forth and fornify.

    If Humanae Vitae had been 1000 pages long and not available in English translation for five or six years after its Latin or Italian version, and if it wasn’t able to be bought for less than fifty or a hundred bucks a copy, it would have been ignored, just like the Vatican II documents. Everybody would have “known” that birth control was okay and that sex outside of marriage wasn’t a sin, because the workshops and media reports would have said the pope said so.

  37. TonyLayne says:

    Maltese: The fact that VII was the proximate occasion for such a crisis will prevent VII from being “flushed down the memory hole”. Latin has been retained, though it isn’t as pervasive as traditionalists may prefer. The demand of the Lateran Council for Jews to wear distinctive dress wasn’t “novel”, merely fatuous and unenforceable.

    I would also urge caution in declaring “novelties” non-binding, since it’s suspiciously close to the Protestant argument that what isn’t in Scripture is not binding on Christian conscience. Perhaps in future the Church will end up at the same point it started from. However, it remains within the Church’s authority to bind us in conscience to its teaching, whether we think a particular doctrine a novelty or not.

  38. Oneros says:

    “Drop this phrase and I’ll cheerfully agree with you. A Council, as a college acting in communion with the Bishop of Rome, is protected from error to the same degree that the Pope is protected when teaching ex cathedra (cf. Jn 14:26, 16:13; Mt 18:17-18). Individual bishops may err in such matters, but not the whole of the college in this context.”

    Exactly. To the same degree as the Pope when teaching ex cathedra. And on the same matters: Faith and Morals ONLY. Not the prudence of discipline. The form of the liturgy does not fall into that category. Infallibility and indefectability guarantee that it won’t be heretical, but that doesn’t mean it will be effective or good.

    Also, one could argue that since Sacrosanctum Concilium’s directives apply to the Latin Rite specifically, it wasn’t even an “Ecumenical” document, but simply one of a plenary synod of the Western Church that just so happened to meet at the same time as Vatican II.

    Infallibility is limited to faith and morals. And also limited to teachings that are promulgated UNIVERSALLY. Those that apply only to the Latin Patriarchate…are not subject to it.

    “that using the distinctions to declare VII “fallible” ”

    Vatican II was infallible: it didn’t teach heresy on matters of Faith and Morals. End of story. That doesn’t mean we have to see it’s documents as some sort of divine mandate, like the new fluffy nice-speak, think its disciplinary suggestions were prudent or shouldnt be overturned by the Pope, agree with its pastoral opinions about ecumenism, religious liberty, the Jews, etc…when Popes and Councils in the past (of equal authority, mind you) said different things (In reality, Catholics are free to believe either side, those are prudential questions, not doctrine).

    “I’m willing to trust Papa Ratzinger to apply the Council’s documents within the ruling context of the apostolic tradition.”

    But why does what he does have to be “applying the Council’s documents”?! Couldn’t he, in his own authority as Pope, just DO THINGS, new things…without any reference to the Council one way or another?? Without trying to portray those things as “implementations of the council,” without interpreting them (sometimes tortuously) as somehow coming from the Council.

  39. TonyLayne says:

    Oneros: Faith and Morals ONLY. Not the prudence of discipline. The form of the liturgy does not fall into that category. Infallibility and indefectability guarantee that it won’t be heretical, but that doesn’t mean it will be effective or good.

    Since catechesis is an extension of the liturgy, you can’t separate the form of the liturgy so neatly from matters of faith. Part of the reason we’re having this discussion is because the language of the Novus Ordo fails to properly catechize. This doesn’t mean that the principle of allowing liturgy in the vernacular is erroneous but that it is being badly applied. The principle itself is infallible and indefectable.

    Vatican II was infallible: it didn’t teach heresy on matters of Faith and Morals. End of story. That doesn’t mean we have to see it’s documents as some sort of divine mandate, like the new fluffy nice-speak, think its disciplinary suggestions were prudent or shouldnt be overturned by the Pope, agree with its pastoral opinions about ecumenism, religious liberty, the Jews, etc…when Popes and Councils in the past (of equal authority, mind you) said different things (In reality, Catholics are free to believe either side, those are prudential questions, not doctrine).

    If Vatican II didn’t teach error, then what’s the problem? We apparently agree that “the spirit of the Council” has been invoked to promote everything from silliness to heterodoxy, though I would stress that the “spirit” is invoked because the actual texts of the documents don’t support them. However, ab abusu ad usum non valet consequentia: we don’t need to hide the conciliar documents behind the woodpile any more than we need to cite them at the drop of an opinion … unless you think they did teach error.

    But why does what he does have to be “applying the Council’s documents”?! Couldn’t he, in his own authority as Pope, just DO THINGS, new things…without any reference to the Council one way or another??

    Erm, not quite. The power to bind and loose (Mt 16:19) isn’t a blank check. And he doesn’t have to cite any conciliar document every time he speaks, though given the wide range of their concerns it would be remarkable if he didn’t cite any of them ever. But if we’re agreed that the Council didn’t teach error, then there is nothing wrong with him applying them.

    I think that, in basics, you and I are agreed on many points but are expressing it different ways. I don’t think that it’s prudent to reject any of the documents, or even ignore them, simply because that runs the risk of repeating Martin Luther’s error. Rather I choose to suspend judgment until I can understand the documents in light of the apostolic tradition, and to trust the prudential judgment of the Pope, who is much more trained in theology and the tradition than I am, and in the magisterium of the Church.

  40. Joshua08 says:

    Tony, what do you think of this. The 101st paragraph of Sacrosanctum Concilium is directly contradict by the current discipline of the Church. Vatican II ordered that the Divine Office be recited in Latin by clerics, leaving the vernacular only for religious who were non-clergy and lay, though it admitted that a bishop could permit vernacular for a priest who had a GRAVE obstacle.

    Now there we have, shortly after the council, and rescinding of something explicitly ordered by it. Add to this the varied nature of disciplinary decrees from Councils (Trent’s marriage laws did not apply in several countries, because not promulgated severally in the parishes- contrary custom revoked other Conciliar laws) and it is not as clear cut.

    Martin Luther’s error was far more profound than merely questioning discipline and it is disingenious to compare this to him (heck, he was such a heretic that his Christology combines the errors of Nestroianism and Monophysitism).

    Our current pope himself has said that the Church, that is the universal Church, can err in prudential matters. Further, the fact that we have a right in Canon law to make our needs known acknowledges that at times the Church’s discipline needs to be adapted and has not- which means there is a deficiency, even if an historically conditioned one. This needs to be weighed against the condemnation of Pistoia, where the pope was clear that the Church could not, in her universal discipline, establish something positively harmful to the Faithful…but that still allows “negative harm”…that is the Church never could require us to do something that would be harmful, but it could neglect something that would be beneficial. And again, this needs to be balance by what our current pope said on the same exact subject…in individual cases the Church can make prudential mistakes (even in an ecumenical council), but to hold that the Church habitually does so, or fails to provide what is necessary for salvation, would be an error

  41. Maltese says:

    Tony: “I would also urge caution in declaring “novelties” non-binding, since it’s suspiciously close to the Protestant argument that what isn’t in Scripture is not binding on Christian conscience.”

    No, you are mixed-up. Only dogmas are binding. But you are right that protestants think in a very narrow box….

  42. Oneros says:

    “If Vatican II didn’t teach error, then what’s the problem?”

    It was vague, it spoke in an unhelpful verbose new style, it called for disciplinary things that were not prudent, it advanced pastoral stances about ecumenism and religious liberty that are untraditional and confusing, etc.

    I’ll admit none of these things touched on doctrine strictly so called, that they are prudential questions that Catholics are free to disagree about and which the hierarchy is free to change their approach towards.

    But let’s admit that. Rather than trying to tortuously “interpret” some of these things “in the light of tradition”…let’s just admit that there was a change, exactly because these were always non-dogmatic changeable sorts of thing (like how the hierarchy deals with other churches, etc).

    Rather than trying to hide the change with “hermeneutics” (read: spin)…let’s just admit there was a change in non-dogmatic administrative and pastoral questions, but also admit that Catholics are free to dislike or disagree with such disciplinary changes on the part of the hierarchy (to disagree, though not to disobey as long as those policies are in place).

    “But if we’re agreed that the Council didn’t teach error, then there is nothing wrong with him applying them.”

    Teaching error is different than being prudent decisions. Vatican II didn’t teach any heresy. But that didn’t mean that what it did say was positively valuable, that the plans it laid for disciplines and administrative actions were good plans, that its pastoral approach was a prudent or effective one.

    Really, Vatican II’s vision was short-sighted and incoherent, untraditional, and reflected new emphases on values that are not the emphases I think would have been/would be best. THAT’S what I think is wrong with these continued attempts to “apply it”. The fact that it didn’t teach heresy has nothing to do with it (though, talk about damning with faint praise).

    It didn’t teach any heresy. But it sure made a lot of imprudent and untraditional suggestions on non-dogmatic policy matters.

    “The principle itself is infallible and indefectable.”

    Of vernacular liturgy? If you mean that it isn’t heretical and that Vatican II was thus not being heretical when it called for that, of course. But that doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea pastorally, aesthetically, etc. Just because something is non-heretical, doesn’t make it prudent.

    And the mere vehicle of “the Council” doesn’t make it any more so just because it was a Council. The Pope, in approving the Novus Ordo translation, would enjoy any of the same prerogatives that a Council had, so you can’t so starkly separate “the Council” from “the implementation” as if the one could not make a bad decision on such questions

    Of course, as I said, the whole question is further obscured by the fact that the Liturgy is not universally promulgated, but rather to the Latin Patriarchate only.

  43. B.C.M. says:

    BXVI… As they say in Democratic politics… 8-more years!

  44. Oneros says:

    Basically, let’s admit that rather abrupt and extreme change and discontinuity in the area of non-essential (ie, non-dogmatic) policy happened, so that it’s merit can be openly debated, rather than trying to explain it away with sleight-of-hand “hermeneutics” and interpretations using the nebulous “light of tradition”. There doesnt have to be (and, frankly, can’t be) some synthesis or reconciliation of the two approaches through some exegetical magic, because the later Vatican II approach (to issues like ecumenism, etc) was very consciously a rejection of the older, sterner approach. But, the hierarchy is free to make such changes in the area of disciplinary policy (and has throughout history to adapt to changing circumstances) and, at the same time, we are free to disagree with such decisions.

  45. Ef-lover says:

    Oh my goodness. I left a job years ago after creating an uproar among my peers for criticizing Vatican II, or rather the flood of novelties and ideas which supposedly were connected the the council. The persons in charge could not accept that there was no difference in “pastoral” and “doctrinal” truths. In other words, they were relativists. These same Catholic teachers and priests denied that Ratzinger’s Dominus Iesus had any bearing on the Church or their teaching in the classroom. I also have been “corrected” by priests, DREs, etc. for teaching pre-Vatican II truths, as if there were doctrinal changes made in the council documents. Can you imagine someone saying, as I was informed, that “our parish is a Vatican II parish”, implying what? One of the priests told me I could remain working in RCIA only if I never discussed with the people that I also attended the TLM in another parish. I would be “divisive” if I did so.
    =================================================================================

    When I became a CCD teacher around 15 yrs. ago, at our first meeting of the school year we were directly told by the DRE we were not to teach anything that was considered to be pre-VII.

  46. Thomas G. says:

    Here’s a positive doctrinal fruit of Vatican II: Lumen Gentium (LG) paragraph 25, in which the truth of the Ordinary Universal Magisterium (OUM) was made explicit.

    I believe that JPII invoked the OUM twice (at least) in his pontificate: in Evangelium Vitae to condemn the intentional killing of innocent human life (abortion, euthanasia), and in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to confirm the Church’s constant practice of ordaining only men to the priesthood. These two teachings may be regarded as infallibly promulgated by the Church by virtue of the OUM, I believe.

    Though some dislike LG’s use of “subsists” (as in “The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church”), I think LG is a wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church.

  47. Oneros says:

    “I believe that JPII invoked the OUM twice (at least) in his pontificate: in Evangelium Vitae to condemn the intentional killing of innocent human life (abortion, euthanasia), and in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis to confirm the Church’s constant practice of ordaining only men to the priesthood. These two teachings may be regarded as infallibly promulgated by the Church by virtue of the OUM, I believe.”

    Which was a bit odd. The whole point of OUM is that you don’t have to “invoke” it with a specific declaration (as in an extraordinary solemn definition)…it simply has always been taught everywhere, that’s it’s whole point. Something is infallible by OUM without any Pope ever having to say so (though he can point out the fact, of course).

  48. Thomas G. says:

    Oneros – true enough, but having a Pope confirm that something is taught by the OUM certainly puts debate to rest – or should. In any event, it was a positive doctrinal fruit of the Council.

    A lot of the trouble came out of Gaudium et spes, with some passages called “downright Pelagian” by Ratzinger. Its teaching on the “autonomy of earthly affairs” led to a lot of confusion and a lot of Catholic retreat in secular areas, like politics.

    OTOH, paragraph 22 of GS, the famous Christological paragraph, produced fruitful insights in JPII’s pontificate also and maybe even set the overall theme for his pontificate (nota bene his first encyclical, Redemptor hominis.

    My point is that one can go a little further than just saying that the Council’s best feature was that it avoided teaching positive doctrinal error. It did have some good fruits.

  49. TonyLayne says:

    Joshua: I have not said, and do not say, that the Church can’t err in matters of prudential discipline. I’m fine with lack of application on saying the breviary in English, as that is a matter of discipline … so long as those who are bound to say it actually do. However, all my comments have been in the context of the liturgy, where (as I said before) we can’t so easily separate what is merely prudential from what actually touches on matters of faith.

    As for my caution: In retrospect, perhaps the reference was disingenuous. My thinking at the time was, Martin Luther’s error was to source failures of discipline in “errors” in matters of faith, in the arrogant confidence that he knew better. I don’t say we can’t disagree on matters of prudential discipline … as long as the distinction betwen matters of faith and matters of discipline is clear and respected. In that respect, it would pay to put a wide no-man’s-land between the two. But I apologize for dragging a heretic into the matter.

  50. Blessed Lord’s Day!

    Oneros: “Rather than trying to hide the change with ‘hermeneutics’ (read: spin)…let’s just admit there was a change in non-dogmatic administrative and pastoral questions…”

    I don’t consider Benedict’s insistence on an hermeneutic of continuity a matter of spin at all, much less is it a matter of hiding change; it’s really a matter of shedding light on certain “change” so it can be seen for what it truly is – authentic development, lest it be mistaken for, or falsely interpreted as, a break with sacred Tradition.

    Remember – there is a second part to Benedict’s hermeneutic – authentic reform, which can only happen in continuity…

    One of the mistakes people make is in seeing the content of VII as an all or nothing proposition; it’s not. It is neither all a waste of time worthy of disposal, nor is it all treasure.

  51. TonyLayne says:

    Oneros: Rather than trying to hide the change with “hermeneutics” (read: spin)…let’s just admit there was a change in non-dogmatic administrative and pastoral questions, but also admit that Catholics are free to dislike or disagree with such disciplinary changes on the part of the hierarchy (to disagree, though not to disobey as long as those policies are in place).

    I agree. And I hope that you didn’t interpret anything I said as calling your faith into question. I would say, though, that it’s precisely because some of the passages were not very well written (what else do you expect from a committee?) that caution should be exercised in critiquing them. Moreover, like ThomasG pointed out, more can be said on the Council’s behalf than that it avoided teaching error.

    Was calling the Council prudent? Perhaps, perhaps not. I’ll admit that the timing was singularly unfortunate, as it came just as the post-war generation was starting to emerge from universities, with a conviction that everything old and traditional was outdated and repressive. I think it’s because of this historical accident that people tend to misplace the cause of the ecclesial turmoil in the Council itself, rather in those who took it as their warrant to remake the Church according to a particular sociopolitical agenda.
    To call it “imprudent” would still be a hasty judgment, as historians will be struggling for some time still to come to grips with the social and political forces that were in play.

  52. mpm says:

    Louie Verrecchio,

    I’m glad you brought up that point about “hermeneutic” NOT_EQUALS “spin”.

    If it’s all just about “spin” then the hell with it!

    A “hermeneutic” is what guides an interpreter as to the proper sense in which to understand something. That is, if VCII places a certain emphasis on the Mass as the Eucharistic Meal, that does not annul all the doctrine of Trent about the Mass as the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar. The proper “hermeneutic” tells us that later statements (such as those of VCII) must necessarily be understood in the light of everything that was said before, because true doctrinal novelty is properly known as “heresy”. In fact, Pope Paul VI made that very point at the Council, and had the language inserted into the documents.

  53. Supertradmom says:

    Happy SS. Cyril and Methodius in the new calendar. Look at what they experienced in the establishment of the Slavonic language in the Liturgy. Outright persecution from the German bishops…Although these Fathers of Europe were supported by the Pope, they still met with great resistance. So too, the traditional Liturgical movement is still getting great resistance. I think part of the problem with this entire Vat II argument boils down to three moments in history: one, the appointment by Pope John XXIII of non-Catholics on the Vatican congregations , offices,and the committees of Vatican II; two, the misunderstanding of the role of the laity, causing the “clericalization” of the laity and a confusion of “ministry” and “apostolate” promulgated by the clergy; three, the purposeful taking out of context of Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes, in the seminaries, educational institutions, even in the present Catechism, in footnotes, if not in the text. These three “moments” led to confusion and error in both the perception of the hierarchy and the push for false ecumenism.

    The fact that the USCCB petitioned Rome to have English as the official language of the Liturgical would be one consequence of a misunderstanding of the role of the laity,and the problem of the impetus of false ecumenism; and even though I invoke SS Cyril and Methodius today, who used the Mass of St. John Chrysostom, the problems of the novelties and the NO were not one of language, but of translation and intent to make the Holy Mass of the NO more “protestant” and therefore, more ecumenical. Therefore, in summary, the entire movement was purposefully a break of continuity in both Traditional and Teaching. SS Cyril and Methodius were “conservative” in their teachings and Liturgical changes, not purposefully disobedient.

  54. Supertradmom says:

    Liturgy, not Liturgical…sorry

  55. Supertradmom says:

    again, Tradition, not Traditional…I think I need to proofread better.

  56. Oneros says:

    “having a Pope confirm that something is taught by the OUM certainly puts debate to rest”

    Yeah, I just worry that this will become the “norm”. That something won’t be considered “definitively” taught by OUM UNLESS it is confirmed by a Pope, and at that point…what’s the point? At that point there would then be little practical difference between a Pope “confirming something is taught by OUM,” and just defining something with a solemn act of extraordinary magisterium.

    “My point is that one can go a little further than just saying that the Council’s best feature was that it avoided teaching positive doctrinal error. It did have some good fruits.”

    As I said, I would agree. Namely the decree on the Eastern Churches. And I think ecumenism (though that has produced many bad fruits too in the experiments with the Protestants)…is finally going to be a HUGE development in history, when reunion with the Orthodox is achieved. I think that will be directly attributable to Vatican II and the policy paradigm shift it inaugurated on the matter, and it will be a good thing.

    “authentic reform, which can only happen in continuity…”

    I disagree when it comes to policy questions. We need not subscribe to some sort of gradualism. Sometimes a 180-degree turn IS needed.

    I think the big changes on Ecumenism with the Orthodox will bear good fruit, but that policy shift was hardly “continuous,” in fact it was a major thawing of a diplomatic stance on the part of the hierarchy previously marked by much hostility and isolationism.

    Likewise, thank goodness we don’t call for Crusades for the Jews to be confined to ghettos anymore, at least in my opinion. But, people are free to believe those policies were good, or bad, back in the day, and free to believe they would be good, or bad, today, in any combination. It’s not a doctrinal question, so people are free to debate the relative prudence. We don’t have to find the new policies adopted at Vatican II to be prudent, can hope they will be overturned, can prefer the older policies, or can even wish they would have gone further, or have different opinions of the different policies based on their relative merits.

    “if VCII places a certain emphasis on the Mass as the Eucharistic Meal, that does not annul all the doctrine of Trent about the Mass as the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar.”

    No, it doesn’t annul it. But it DOES mean that the hierarchy has adopted a new pastoral stance and way of speaking (and pastoral approaches are, in themselves, totally chageable things, which we are free to disagree with)…that emphasizes the meal more and the Sacrifice less in the way in which they speak. And I don’t think that was prudent. I think we should go back to emphasizing the Sacrifice and the old way of speaking.

    Trying to pretend like Vatican II didn’t change the pastoral approach to speaking about these things, is disingenuous. If we’d just admit there was this change, then we would be free to debate the relative merits of the two respective emphases. But some Catholics are apparently under this “in the light of tradition” hermeneutic that would have us believe that Vatican II changed nothing, not even the [changeable] pastoral approach to the topic. But if that’s true, than why would there have even been a council and what would be the point of simply restating things??

    Take religious liberty, for example. At one point the hierarchy’s diplomatic stance toward other religions was quite stern and hostile. At Vatican II, they decided to change policy and approach other religions tolerantly, cooperatively, and with a cautious optimism. The problem is calling this diplomatic/pastoral question a “teaching”…because then you get all these people trying to tortuuously reconcile texts that are not reconcilable, because the later position very consciously rejected the other policy.

    But still, in the name of “interpretation in the light of tradition”…you get Neoconservatives who try to argue (tortuously) that Vatican II’s stance on religious liberty is the one the Church has always held (definitely not true), Trads who try to argue that the old stance is somehow dogma or somehow still the official diplomatic policy of the hierarchy (obviously not true), and liberals (and even some papalatrous neocons) who will try to argue that the old stance was “wrong” and that the new stance trumps it in a way that binds Catholics to believe it and support it as if it were dogma (hence statements to the SSPX and such that certain “teachings” about the Jews and other religions are “non-negotiable” when, frankly, such prudential questions ARE negotiable, absolutely speaking. The Vatican doesnt have to change its current approach, but at the same time the SSPX is free to advocate for the idea that they should change back).

    The question of how the hierarchy pastorally and diplomatically deals with other religions…is a prudential question, not a matter of dogma. There are certain doctrinal principles behind it (including, on the one hand, that error has no rights and, on the other, the freedom of human conscience) and the different policies are different exactly inasmuch as they choose to emphasize these various informing principles more or less. Neither is definitively “right” or “wrong”…but one policy may be better for one time or place, and the other for a different time and place. And the hierarchy is free to change its pastoral approach to the question according to the times, but this is a human decision, not some sort of divine mandate, and is subject to human error or imprudence. So we are free to debate the relative merits of the various possible policies, to disagree with the current and like the old, to wish we returned to the old, or to imagine some other policy that is a mean between the two or which goes even further in either direction, etc.

  57. Maltese says:

    Oneros: *Rather than trying to hide the change with “hermeneutics” (read: spin)…let’s just admit there was a change in non-dogmatic administrative and pastoral questions, but also admit that Catholics are free to dislike or disagree with such disciplinary changes on the part of the hierarchy (to disagree, though not to disobey as long as those policies are in place)*

    You are spot-on. Although I must say I’m glad SSPX disobeyed. Although it wasn’t licit to do so, it was proper; just as laws made it illicit for a slave to join the underground railroad, but it was proper to do so. St. Athanasius went around ordaining priests who weren’t Arians even though he was “excommunicated.” That wasn’t licit, but it was proper given the situation, in fact it was justified, as are the SSPX…

  58. Supertradmom says:

    Maltese,

    I do not think we should compare St. Athanasius with any SSPX bishop or priest…There were other ways for Lefebvre to respond to the growing problems of Liturgical abuses. Athanasius was battling the Arian heresy. Lefebvre was not battling a heresy which was splitting the Church. As you know, Lefebvre was active in the Vatican II Council committees, including the famous one with Ottaviani. Lefebvre was warned by Paul VI several times. The Archbishop, as part of his rationale for disobeying, criticized modernism in the Church, basically stating that the Holy, Catholic Church as a whole had departed from the Truth, which, of course, was and is not true. And, as you probably know, the Archbishop was granted permission, as I understand, from Cardinal Ratzinger in the name of the Pope, to ordain one bishop. One cannot compare the excommunication of Athanasius with that of Lefebvre.

    Also, just for the record, Athanasius ordained priests after the excommunication and this was not the cause of the excommunication. The facts you have given just show that both men felt they were justified, but in fact, only one was-Athanasius.

  59. Father S. says:

    RE: Maltese

    Grave disobedience (i.e., sin) is never justified. Ever. Neither, for that matter, is rejoicing in another’s sinfulness.

  60. Jordanes says:

    Thomas G. said: So . . . [Lateran V] beat out the Second Council of Constantinople in that it (the Lateran) did develop revelation to some degree. Constantinople II takes the cake, IMHO, for useless councils.

    I don’t think any valid general council has been entirely useless. Vienne was mostly useless, but at least gave us the doctrinal definition that the soul is the form of the body. Constantinople II also condemned several Origenist errors, including apocatastasis, a form of universalism. Not very “fruitful,” sure, but not useless.

  61. TonyLayne says:

    Maltese: … I must say I’m glad SSPX disobeyed. Although it wasn’t licit to do so, it was proper; just as laws made it illicit for a slave to join the underground railroad, but it was proper to do so. St. Athanasius went around ordaining priests who weren’t Arians even though he was “excommunicated.” That wasn’t licit, but it was proper given the situation, in fact it was justified, as are the SSPX.

    No one should be “glad” of a schism, even when time proves it necessary, which it hasn’t in the case of the SSPX. Schisms fall under the classic definition of “giving scandal”; i.e., creating motives for others to either lose or reject the Faith. Only the distance of history and the settlement of the Council of Nicaea allows us to say that Athanasius was justified in his persistence; had things gone a different way, he would be considered not a saint but a heretic like Novatian. (I might be wrong on this, but I believe his “excommunication” came from someone other than the Bishop of Rome, which if true would be a crucial point of dissimilarity.) Other traditionalists managed to hang with the Church, and are gaining ground in their efforts, without having sought the drastic action of schism.

    If, in the end, we do return to the Tridentine Mass as the Ordinary Form, it won’t be because of the SSPX but because of the traditionalists who remained within the Church. I’m not persuaded that their actions were justified any more than are the misguided souls who have formed “Ecumenical Catholic” communions instead of just joining the ELCA.

  62. RichardR says:

    And not every Pope is a good Pope.

  63. Maltese says:

    TonyLayne: actually, SSPX is NOT in schism. Much of the good things happening in the Church right now (read, Summorum Pontificum) is due to their influence. I am not SSPX, btw, but I appreciate the good they’ve brought to the Church, and I do go to Latin masses whenever I can. Even FSSP owes their parentage to SSPX, as do the Transalpine Redemptorists. If you knew the full story of how FSSPX was treated in the 1970′s, it would make your head spin; essentially, a cadre of sinister modernists were trying to crush anything that reeked of Tradition, and FSSPX was a prime target. At one point +Lefebvre wrote to Paul VI asking why Hans Kung was being treated with kit gloves, and even coddled by some in Rome, while SSPX was being crushed? The first openly advocated heresy, the other strict doctrinal adherence. Irony, there.

  64. Apart from the liturgical issues, the ecumenical issues, and the problem with “Gaudium et spes” (not a dogmatic constitution), the importance of “Lumen gentium” seems to be lost in all this discussion. The “universal call to holiness” and the understanding of the Church, in dogmatic terms, has been of utmost importance to the life of the Church, even if it is not properly understood or is interpreted in dissent.
    We cannot have an objective perspective here; we’re int he midst of all of this. It will take years, probably when most of us are dead, in our eternal reward (hopefully!), when all of this will make sense.
    Pope Benedict is trying (and succeeding, I believe) to make some head-way here; slowly and gradually, but with a real goal in mind. As much as John Paul II is castigated (by both the left and the right) he has made an invaluable contribution to the implementation of VII in its proper understanding. Okay, maybe he was not “with the program” liturgically; Pope Benedict is and will continue to be. And the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church; if not, we’re lost.

  65. Maltese says:

    nazareth priest: you are absolutely right that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church, but he doesn’t always stop stupid decisions of Popes, or, even, councils. The church is a human institution, divinely inspired. The books that we now call the Bible took three centuries to decide upon. Vatican II was a valid council, but sort of “silly” in my estimation; inasmuch as it didn’t do anything to improve the Church, and has inadvertently harmed Her. That doesn’t mean the Fathers present were nefarious: just drunk on the libatious moment. Think of it: the Church was embarking on a New Era, away with the death and destruction of the first and second world wars, religions and countries coming together, for a brave new world!!! Hurahhh! Well, things didn’t work out quite that way. We are on the precipice: with Iran about to get nukes, Israel on the edge, ass hole countries such as Venezuela (not the people, but he power structure, I mean), the world is precarious. It would be nice if we didn’t have a universal-love rainbow -fest mass (the novus ordo, created, as it was, with the help of protestants, in committee chambers), and the mass which formed, inspired, and gave breath the the great Saints, the Traditional Latin Mass. Tradition could come in really handy right now, instead of the gobblygook that most diocese offer….

  66. Maltese: Believe me, I agree with you. I am just saying that what was written at VII in its original setting has been thwarted by those who are “change agents” and those who want to somehow “freeze” the Church into a particular era…I know, I sound like a “progressive” but really, truly I do not believe I am.
    The real issue in all of this is the call to holiness; I believe this with all my heart. And if the documents of VII, despite the incongruities in some of them (I do admit to this) are understood correctly and in the proper interpretation (in the light of Catholic Tradition) we can move forward.
    The liturgical debacle is a mess, I admit. With time, proper teaching and formation and the wonderful progress that is being made with Gregorian chant, the “Benedictine Altar arrangement”, the move to ‘ad orientem’ in the Ordinary Form, the proper translations, the move toward reverence and silence, and the return to the understanding of the Mass as a Sacrifice, I believe there will be a change throughout the Latin Church. But change is going to come slowly. It’s a real frustration and aggravation, I do understand.
    What Pope John Paul II has given the patrimony of the Church in his encyclicals is going to take time to implement. I have studied them. They are very foundational for our future.
    But what we see today is not going to be what will be in the future.
    Call me naive, idealistic or stupid.
    But God is ever-greater; He has given us the means to be present in this world, which is in such dire need of the message of Good News, that Christ has died, is risen, and will come again and is present to us even in this hour of darkness.

  67. Oneros says:

    “If, in the end, we do return to the Tridentine Mass as the Ordinary Form, it won’t be because of the SSPX but because of the traditionalists who remained within the Church.”

    Hmm…as one of the traditionalists who “remained within the Church” and doesn’t go near the SSPX with a ten-foot-pole…even I don’t believe that. It is clear just from a socio-political analysis that most of the Vatican’s overtures to traditionalists have been in strategic response to the SSPX’s agitation. Let’s not fool ourselves with rose-colored glasses.

    I’m not saying that fact justifies what the SSPX did or has done or continues to do. I’m just saying it is, in fact, a fact.

  68. Maltese says:

    nazareth priest: *The real issue in all of this is the call to holiness*

    Yes! That is it! But Socratically, what IS “HOLY?” To the traditionalist it might be the TLM, to the liberal, women priests. Is it chaste priests, or uncontracepting catholic faithful? See my dillema? I don’t even know what you mean by “holiness.”

    I do know this, the TLM, wrought and formed by the centuries IS very holy….

  69. robtbrown says:

    Oneros,

    A few points.

    1. A declaration is not the same as a definition–both are used by Pius IX in Ineffabilis Deus. The latter refers to new dogma. IMHO, infallibility can be expressed in both.

    2. Primary Objects of Infallibility found in the OUM have been taught explicitly, e.g., abortion.

    Secondary Objects usually have been taught implicitly, thus the unique status of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis.

    3. Lumen Gentium expanded the authority of the OUM.

  70. robtbrown says:

    Yes! That is it! But Socratically, what IS “HOLY?” To the traditionalist it might be the TLM, to the liberal, women priests. Is it chaste priests, or uncontracepting catholic faithful? See my dillema? I don’t even know what you mean by “holiness.”
    Comment by Maltese

    The word “holy” means set apart (also in Greek and Hebrew). Thus, a chalice and a church are holy because they have been set apart for mass. Celibates are holy because their celibacy sets them apart for God.

    Latin is a holy language because it is reserved (set apart) for worship.

  71. ssoldie says:

    Thank you Maltese, 14 Feb 10;39, ‘I have handed on what I had recieved’, who was it that has that enscribed on his tomb?

  72. MichaelJ says:

    Father S,
    It would help me greatly if you would clarify your statement of “Grave disobedience (i.e., sin) is never justified”.

    Much as I’d like to live in a world where questions about obedience and an individual’s responsibility are so clearly defined, this statement seems too close to the infamous “Nurenberg defense”. Please also note that while Archbishop Lefebvre’s actions could certainly be cited as an example, I am speaking in the abstract sense.

  73. Maltese says:

    ssoldie: I know it’s a rhetorical question, but I’ll answer it anyway-that would be his Eminence Lefebvre; missionary extraordinaire, humble man of God, preserver of all things Catholic, and perhaps, someday, a great Saint…

  74. Maltese says:

    robtbrown: You’re not going to get off that easy. You gave a dictionary definition. So is a an upside-down chalice used at a black mass “holy” just because it is “set apart”?

  75. Father S. says:

    RE: MichaelJ

    The line you quoted was meant in particular response to the post by Maltese in direct reference to the actions of the Archbishop Lefebvre. As such, the sentence had an intended reference, namely, the grave disobedience in the life of that bishop. Any disobedience which is both grave and sinful is never justified.

    The difference between that and the obedience behind which people often hide in the case of atrocity is vast. In the case of the Nazi prison guard, for example, there is no sin in his disobeying an order to gas a group of people. As such, the sentence “Grave disobedience (i.e., sin) is never justified” does not refer to this type of disobedience.

  76. Father S. says:

    RE: MichaelJ #2

    I was thinking about this a bit more while away from the PC, and another comment came to mind. The difference between the two cases hinges on freedom. In the case of Archbishop Lefebvre, he was not morally free to disobey. In the case of the death camp prison guard, he was not morally free to obey.

  77. Oneros says:

    “he was not morally free to disobey”

    I think it’s too soon to make a judgment. HE certainly thought his actions were necessary. I suppose it all comes back to how grave we believe the crisis really was in the late 70′s and early 80′s. He may have, in his personal judgment, found it grave enough to do what he did. Whether he will be vindicated in that decision…cannot be said for quite some time. Another few decades, up to a century perhaps, depending on how fast or slow things move on the issue and what the final result ultimately is.

  78. TonyLayne says:

    Oneros: Hmm…as one of the traditionalists who “remained within the Church” and doesn’t go near the SSPX with a ten-foot-pole…even I don’t believe that. It is clear just from a socio-political analysis that most of the Vatican’s overtures to traditionalists have been in strategic response to the SSPX’s agitation. Let’s not fool ourselves with rose-colored glasses.

    You’ll note I said “if”. After all, you’re talking to a guy who predicted McCain would win. Since then, I’ve decided I’ve no powers of prophecy or prognostication. However, the Lord moves in mysterious ways ….

    Maltese:robtbrown: You’re not going to get off that easy. You gave a dictionary definition. So is a an upside-down chalice used at a black mass “holy” just because it is “set apart”?

    Actually, since the Black Mass is a deliberate mockery of the real Mass, turning the chalice upside-down does make it “holy” in the perverse view of Satanists. But I recognize the point of your objection. If all we mean by “Holy is the Lord God of hosts” is to say that He is “set apart”, it doesn’t seem to mean very much. However, since in our regular usage it carries a sense of purity or spiritual power, then I can’t see how Latin would fall under that sense, since it can be (and has been) used for the profane as well as the sacred. Such as the childrens’ book I have in my possesion: Cattus Petasatus ….

  79. Father S. says:

    RE: Oneros

    It is most certainly not to soon to make a judgment. Whether or not Archbishop Lefebvre thought what he was doing was right, he failed to properly form his conscience. We can say, objectively, that his actions were gravely disobedient. Completely regardless of the consequences of his actions, he chose something that was gravely sinful.

    Bear in mind that people think that their sinful actions are correct all the time. For example, the abortionist may think that he is helping mothers. The priest who allows Christian burial for an atheist may think he is doing the right thing. The archbishop who scandalously leads people away from the truth in the name of tolerance may think he is doing the right thing. The fact remains that all have failed to properly form their consciences. None are free to act sinfully. This is a basic tenet of the moral law. Abandon this and everything else about the moral law will end up in tatters.