Card. Piacenza to seminarians:”Your will probably be the first generation that will correctly interpret the Second Vatican Council”

On 4 October the Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, His Eminence Mauro Card. Piacenza (I have liked this guy for a long time) gave a talk to seminarians in Los Angeles.

The whole text is on the site of the Congregation (which is not the same as the vatican.va site!).

Among the many good comments he made – in Italian, not English – was this:

[...]

You will probably be the first generation that will correctly interpret the Second Vatican Council, not according to the “spirit” of the Council, which has brought so much disorientation to the Church, but according to what the conciliar event really said in its texts to the Church and to the world.

A Vatican II different from that which produced the texts we have in our possession today does not exist! It is in those texts that we find the will of God for his Church and is against these that it must be measured, in company with two thousand years of Tradition and Christian life.

Renewal is always necessary for the Church, because the conversion of her members, poor sinners, is always necessary!  But there cannot be, nor could there be, a pre-Conciliar Church and a post-Conciliar Church! If this could be so, the second one – ours – would be historically and theologically illegitimate!

There is one Church of Christ, of which you are part, which goes from forth Our Lord to the Apostles, from the Blessed Virgin Mary to the Fathers and the Doctors of the Church, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, from Romanesque to Gothic to Baroque, and thus until our days, uninterruptedly, without any interruption of continuity, ever!

And all that because the Church is the Body of Christ, it is the unity of His Person that is given to us, her members!

[...]

WDTPRS kudos to Card. Piacenza!

The whole text in Italian is worth reading, if you can read Italian.  Hopefully an English version will be released soon.

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32 Responses to Card. Piacenza to seminarians:”Your will probably be the first generation that will correctly interpret the Second Vatican Council”

  1. vivaldi says:

    This is very true and it makes for a very painful time in Seminaries where the superiors almost invariably think Vatican II was a second Pentecost.

  2. Glen M says:

    Google Translate works on their website and this speech.

    Our Holy Father and senior clergy are telling us the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ was mistranslated – in error. We need to reinterpret the documents in the spirit of tradition. There will be resistence as many clergy and laity who bought into the false notions have influence and power in our dioceses. The martyrs and many saints endured worse so we shouldn’t complain and continue to rebuild the Church brick by brick.

    Our Lady of the Rosary – pray for us.

  3. merrydelval says:

    Vivat!!!!!!!

  4. Supertradmum says:

    wow and great and I believe this…

  5. teomatteo says:

    “But there cannot be, nor could there be, a pre-Conciliar Church and a post-Conciliar Church! If this could be so, the second one – ours – would be historically and theologically illegitimate!”

    Such a simple statement and yet it seems so critical to hear put this way.

  6. moon1234 says:

    “If this could be so, the second one – ours – would be historically and theologically illegitimate!”

    That is the money statement of the whole piece. It is what traditionalists have been saying for a LONG time. THIS is why the current prelates, outside of the Pope and few others, can not accept the SSPX with an official structure. It really would be a reminder the break with tradition that VII and the manufactured new Mass really is.

    No one can say that there was any kind of organic development of the liturgy after VII. It was a direct replacement. THAT will always be the glaring change that EVERYONE will be able to notice as long as the Missale Romanum 1962 is allowed to be used. It is why so many Bishops wished to see it supressed.

    Notice how we are STILL hearing that VII will NOW be interpreted correctly. If VII were NOT such a disruption in Catholic history, the faithful would be chugging along just fine. This large break with Catholic history will always be seen as such. History will record it as one of the great confusions in the Church.

    I am teaching Church history in CDD (ST. JOSEPH CHURCH HISTORY: The Catholic Church Through the Ages, Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik). One thing that is glaringly obvious from early Church history that all of councils were called to either refute heresy or clarify dogma and teaching. From the first council of Jeruselum to the council of Nicea. This was very consistent.

    Once you know more about Church history you really begin to see that VII did nothing to refute heresy or help define the faith. If anything it invented more than it clarified. It confused more than it clarified.

    I think the only way to move forward is to start over with all of the “changes” implemented by the council and begin again.

  7. KAS says:

    I love that the documents of Vatican II themselves are now taught in the seminaries because it will be that much more difficult for the “spirit of” crowd to push their innovations when the Priest in the parish actually has read and studied the documents and knows when an idea is not acceptable.

    My prayers for the Bishops and priests that they be faithful to Vatican II!

  8. Brilliant. Thank God for this statement, and this man. It’s nice to see someone in such authority finally saying what needs to be said. What a relief to see someone in such authority (other than the Holy Father) do something other than blather on with vacuous words about “The Council” and how it defines who we are.

    Maybe, by the grace of God, our “40 years in the wilderness” is coming to an end. Brick by Brick, perhaps, but that is how things are built, after all!

  9. irishgirl says:

    Bravo to His Eminence!
    I agree with what moon1234 said: ‘It is what traditionalists have been saying for a LONG time’. I’ve been around traditional Catholics who absolutely REJECT Vatican II. I’m not learned or eloquent enough to tell them otherwise; they’ll have to find out for themselves. I guess.
    carolinapublican, it’s also my hope that our ’40 years in the wilderness’ is coming to an end.

  10. RJS says:

    If the documents of Vatican II are so poorly written that the Bishops who attending the Council “missinterpreted” it for 50 years, why would the next generation being capable of interpreting it any better? The problem is not the interpretation, but the council itself.

    One example: Vatican II teaches that “believers and unbelievers agree almost unanimously that ALL THINGS on earth should be ordained TO MAN as to their center and summit”.

    If this statement is interpreted to mean that “all things on earth should be ordained to man as to their center and summit” (which is what it says), it is false. God (not man), is the center and summit to which man should be ordained.

    The problem is not merely the “interpretation”, but the documents themselves. The sooner people start admitting this, the better.

  11. Geoffrey says:

    Amen! I’ve often said that everyone needs to sit down and (re-)read the council documents. I think everyone (traditionalists, progressives, etc.) would be surprised as to what they really say!

  12. Ismael says:

    I truly hope that the next generation of priests truly WILL apply V2 correctly!

  13. St. Rafael says:

    50 years of total devastation, chaos, and collapse and these prelates are still clinging to Vatican II.

    The “spirit” of Vatican II is Vatican II. The “spirit” comes from the documents themselves. The liberals and neo-conservatives are still chasing the “correct interpretation” after 50 years. The liberals are getting pretty desperate to the point that the new twist to save their baby and precious council, is that now they are telling us the interpretation is just around the corner. Be patient. There is no rupture.

    As much as they fool themselves into believing there is “spirit of Vatican II” and a “correct Vatican II,” people are starting to finally see the total rupture of the new liturgy and bad theology comming from VII. What happened at Vatican II was that neo-Modernism triumphed. Neo-Modernist theology was written into the very documents that would go on to wreck the Church as a theological system for decades. What the Popes from Pius X to Pius XII tried so hard to prevent, litlle by little, started gaining into our teaching and, by extension, our worship and discipline, until they took over the Church .

    A traditionalist said the other day “that they need to set up MA meetings (Modernists Anonymous) for these liberals that are in denial that Vatican II is the cause of nearly fifty years of Church destruction and loss of souls.”

  14. RJS,

    That passage is actually very clear and understandable, unless one desires to contort it’s meaning in contrast to the entire tradition of the Church.

    “THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON

    12. According to the almost unanimous opinion of believers and unbelievers alike, all things on earth should be related to man as their center and crown.

    But what is man? About himself he has expressed, and continues to express, many divergent and even contradictory opinions. In these he often exalts himself as the absolute measure of all things or debases himself to the point of despair. The result is doubt and anxiety. The Church certainly understands these problems. Endowed with light from God, she can offer solutions to them, so that man’s true situation can be portrayed and his defects explained, while at the same time his dignity and destiny are justly acknowledged.

    For Sacred Scripture teaches that man was created “to the image of God,” is capable of knowing and loving his Creator, and was appointed by Him as master of all earthly creatures(1) that he might subdue them and use them to God’s glory.(2) “What is man that you should care for him? You have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet” (Ps. 8:5-7).”

    I always think it’s funny that some of the same people who rip liberals for not liking the new translation, are also the same people for whom the documents of Vatican II seem to be “too haaaard.”

    It’s just reading through a hermeneutic of continuity. It’s not that hard.

    Many bishops for the past 50 years did whatever they wanted without regard to anything that Vatican II taught. There was no serious attempt to ground their actions in the documents of Vatican II. They just did what they wanted and told people it was part of “Vatican II”.

  15. FrAWeidner says:

    RJS – The idea of the Hermeneutic of Continuity is that, when reading Vatican II documents, one presumes 1) the priority and truth of the traditional content of the deposit of the faith, and 2) that conciliar documents are to be interpreted as being in agreement with that prior tradition and deposit. So one may deduce that if one is reading a passage from Vatican II and it seems to contradict the deposit, that means that one is in objective terms interpreting the passage incorrectly. Since Vatican II, whether doctrinal or pastoral, is incapable of contradicting Church teaching, it doesn’t and cannot correctly be interpreted to do such. That applies whether one is a modernist or a traditionalist. In other words, where there’s an apparent contradiction, chuck the interpretation, not the passage.

    I think there are several ways to resolve the quandary you bring up using the Hermeneutic of Continuity. “Believers and unbelievers agree almost unanimously” – that doesn’t say whether they should, it’s saying that they existentially do. Is that incorrect? Moreover, from the simple quote you’ve given (let alone wider context), I would say that whoever wrote the passage does not mean to contradict the idea that believers should see God as the center and summit, but that man, created in the image and likeness of God, created for his own sake as opposed to the rest of creation which was created as gift to him, has a dignity which supersedes and trumps the rest of creation. Man is the center of summit of things within the realm of the created, and even unbelievers ought to be able to see that. I think that’s the point the passage is making in striving for common ground and cooperation with those in the world who don’t believe but can’t be circumvented or ignored.

  16. GregH says:

    Are we still hearing that tired phrase “If the only the documents of VII had been implemented correctly…”

    The Vatican II documents belong to a bygone generation

  17. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Terrible things have occurred in the Church in the past 50 years or so. Clearly the largest blame for that lies at the feet of the modernists. For those modernists to have had the opportunity to do such harm, however, the Church prior to the council clearly had serious problems. Generations of clericalism and poor catechesis led too many laity to accept uncritically the innovations of ill-intentioned or stupid clerics. The attempt to engage modernism on its own terms was too easily misconstrued by many as a capitulation to modernism – both those who wanted to capitulate and those who wanted to resist. After several generations of attempting one method of addressing modernism, the Church has moved into attempting a different method. The old method of addressing modernism relied heavily on arguments from authority, natural law and reason – all of which have been thoroughly rejected by contemporary man. As great as the Oath Against Modernism, the Syllabus of Errors and the decrees of Vatican I are, there are but very few folks alive who can comprehend them. If we were to rely on those treasures of the Church to reach out to the lost today, we would be making the task of conversion overly difficult.

    Terrible things have occurred in the Church in the past 50 years or so. That sentence could have been written in every prior century too. The Church is in the world, but not of it. The degree of secular prestige and intermittent worldly power and wealth that She possessed in the centuries since the Edict of Milan appear for the time being to be irretrievable. The civilization which is Her child is at best gravely ill. In many places civilization appears to be completely defunct. Yet this isn’t the first time or place the Church has faced that circumstance and She has, ultimately, prevailed, as She again will.

    I know from my own life and from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans that our Lord brings good things from even the terrible consequences of sin. To protest that no good could come of VII comes dangerously close to the sin of despair. We all have crosses to bear, but we all are promised the grace needed to bear them.

  18. The problem is not the interpretation, but the council itself.

    Hi RJS,

    I think we need to consider as distinct: the council itself (in its substance, properly interpreted), the conciliar texts and the interpretation of said text.

    The council itself: The ecumenical councils of the Church enjoy the Holy Spirit’s protection from error in their substance such that they cannot produce teaching that is contrary to the sacred deposit of faith. If Vatican Council II could author heresy, where does one’s confidence rest in the 20 ecumenical councils that preceded it?

    The conciliar texts: These do not enjoy Divine protection with regard to their clarity and style, or as the Vatican Press Office statement concerning the Doctrinal Preamble stated, in their “individual expressions and formulations.” In other words, they can be rather ambiguous in places if the bishops assembled so choose, and if the Holy Father so approves.

    Interpretation: This is where the rubber meets the road. An honest assessment of the conciliar texts of VII is that they are ripe for misinterpretation in places by those who are wont to consign the Church of Tradition to the dustbin of history. But this does not, indeed cannot, mean that the Council itself so broke with Tradition.

    A few years ago I forced myself to read Gaudium et Spes with “the eyes of a liberal” just to see what I might find. You’ll need a hot shower and 15 decades when you’re finished, but try it. What you’ll discover is that there is ample cover to be found in the voluminous verbiage of the document for those liberals who are determined to find it.

    I like Fr. Weidner’s explanation. If one simply approaches the text with the assumption that a correct interpretation is that which is congruous with Tradition, then that’s what one will find – even if at times with some effort.

    In the end I think there is treasure in them thar conciliar decrees, but thanks to the murkiness of the text in some places, some digging is required to find it.

  19. albizzi says:

    The question is: Was this council so much necessary?
    Sometimes I wonder whether that council was nothing but a caprice of John XXIII. And actually it looked like this to many among the familiars of the Vatican’s arcanes. Some even disrespectfully believed the pope was becoming crazy.
    The Pope defined its aims in a few words: “Aggiornamento”, updating and “apertura al mondo”, opening to the word. Because he imagined the Church wasn’t enough open to the world? There actually were prosperous missions everywhere throughout the planet with much more workers for the harvest than they are nowadays, and conversions in great numbers. In the west countries the churches were overcrowded at sunday masses.
    Once the gates were opened, on the contrary we could see the evil spirit of the world rushing into the Church and immediately endeavouring to destroy it from within, the missions in jeopardy and the churches beginning to empty.
    And updating, yes, updating WHAT? I know: Updating the church’s teachings and dogmas to the modern times, isn’t that pure Modernism?
    Everybody must acknowledge this: Pope John was the first modernist pope we got despite all his predecessor’s efforts who, foreseeing the danger,strived to prevent that unprecedented situation and Paul VI, John Paul II were modernist too. And so far as I know the Modernism now is so well entrenched at every level in the Church that it looks as if it was there since centuries.
    Let’s get rid of the Modernism and all the modernists once and for all, and then we will be in position to correctly “interpret the council” with serenity.

  20. MarkJ says:

    If the Bible itself can be so misinterpreted that we have some 28,000 Protestant groups each claiming to have the Truth, then it is certainly within the realm of possibility that Vatican II documents could also be wildly misinterpreted. Modernists feel free to ignore Church Authority and Tradition in their interpretations of Vatican II, just like the Protestants feel free to ignore Church Authority and Tradition in their interpretations of the Bible. We can be safe if we accept the Authority of Vatican II as a valid Church Council AND if we read its documents in the full illuminating light of Tradition. Which still leaves wide open the possibility as faithful Catholics to question particular trends and teachings and liturgical decisions, epecially when Tradition is being trampled underfoot.

  21. dominic1955 says:

    The whole issue of interpretting Vatican II in a “hermeneutic of continuity” is interesting. Basically, if it contradicts (or at least isn’t as clear as it should be and the Church has been before) just assume it MEANS the same thing as that previous teaching? Fine and dandy, no problem with that. However, when do we reach the point when we realize we have to bring along Trent, Vatican I, etc. etc. etc. just to be able to “interpret” Vatican II? When do we admit that we should just consign it to the same dust bin as Haec Sancta, ignore it for clearer teaching, and move on? Same applies to much of what came out after Vatican II, like the CCC. I really fail to see what it improved on over the Catechism of Trent. Not that the Tridentine catechism was totally exhaustive or perfect, but what could be improved wasn’t with the CCC.

    Vatican II did not teach heresy-cool, I would hope not. However, neither did it teach that much that makes it merit this pedestal that so many of these Modernists and their lap-dog useful idiots the neo-Cons think it does. Why do we constantly have to give a hat tip to it?

    Maybe what His Emminence has in mind is that the upcoming generation of clerics will “interpret” it properly by letting it quietly go by the wayside and helping steer the Church back in the ways of old…

  22. St. Rafael says:

    The council itself: The ecumenical councils of the Church enjoy the Holy Spirit’s protection from error in their substance such that they cannot produce teaching that is contrary to the sacred deposit of faith. If Vatican Council II could author heresy, where does one’s confidence rest in the 20 ecumenical councils that preceded it?

    The other councils were dogmatic and were protected from error because they invoked infallibility and the Holy Spirit in the actual documents themselves. All the other councils used infallible definitions with the language of anathema and that the Holy Spirit declared this definition to be thus. Previous councils wrote their texts in canonical form, similar to modern statutes in legal texts written by state governments.

    Vatican II was not a dogmatic council. It was no called to define anything or refute anything. It was the first pastoral council. It was the first council to write their documents in essay form. None of the Vatican II documents inovoked either infallibility or the Holy Spirit. You can’t be protected from error, when you don’t use the Holy Spirit or infallibility.

  23. Stephen D says:

    So much good news recently. I remember the preconciliar church and have waited (impatiently and sometimes angrily) for its ‘spirit’ to return and it looks as though it is doing so at last! Deo Gratias.

  24. AnAmericanMother says:

    Do you suppose there’s any significance to the fact that His Eminence had his picture taken in front of what looks like a couple of condottieri?
    He looks like a fairly tough customer himself.

  25. muckemdanno says:

    So, the Cardinal says that this is the first generation that will correctly interpret the Council? In other words, the bishops who wrote, amended, edited, voted on, approved, and ratified the documents of Vatican 2, did not “interpret” the documents correctly. This is like saying that St Paul did not correctly interpret his own epistles.

    The “continuity” crowd has an Orwellianesque logical problem here. They expect us to believe that both of the following are absolutely true, since the Council must be interpreted according to traditional doctrine:

    1- Over an entire generation of the Church has misinterpreted and misapplied the last Ecumenical Council.
    2- There has been no discontinuity or rupture in the Church.

    If the Church has always said “white” and Vatican 2 says “black” then they expect us to interpret “black” to mean “white” since it is necessary that the doctrine has not changed. (Or, is it that they expect us to interpret the “white” that the Church has always said to mean the “black” that we find in Vatican 2?) The argument will still continue about whether the Church teaches “white” or “black.”

    The Documents of Council should be tossed away.

  26. flyfree432 says:

    Reading Father Z’s comment section is almost as hard as reading Huffposts. God bless Cardinal Piacenza and Father Z for showing us that not all traditionalists are inept and misunderstand the Church as much as liberals do.

  27. Gail F says:

    MarkJ said: “If the Bible itself can be so misinterpreted that we have some 28,000 Protestant groups each claiming to have the Truth, then it is certainly within the realm of possibility that Vatican II documents could also be wildly misinterpreted.”
    Hear hear! Love this from Cardinal Piacenza.

  28. robtbrown says:

    St Raphael says,

    Vatican II was not a dogmatic council.

    Why then are Lumen Gentium and Dei Verbum called Dogmatic Constitutions?

  29. Thomist says:

    robtbrown has it right!

    7 October 2011, moon1234 says:
    Once you know more about Church history you really begin to see that VII did nothing to refute heresy or help define the faith. If anything it invented more than it clarified. It confused more than it clarified.
    Ismael says:
    As much as they fool themselves into believing there is “spirit of Vatican II” and a “correct Vatican II,” people are starting to finally see the total rupture of the new liturgy and bad theology comming from VII

    That is confusion worse confounded.
    The present Pope places Vatican II in its rightful place:
    “I am convinced that the damage that we have incurred in these twenty years is due, not to the ‘true’ Council, but to the unleashing within the Church of latent polemical and centrifugal forces; and outside the Church it is due to the confrontation with a cultural revolution in the West: the success of the upper middle class, the new ‘tertiary bourgeoisie’, with its liberal-radical ideology of individualistic, rationalistic and hedonistic stamp. The cardinal exhorts all Catholics who wish to remain such “to return to the authentic texts of the original Vatican II.” [The Ratzinger Report, Vittorio Messori, Ignatius, 1985, p 28-31].
    Cardinal Ratzinger expressed the required fidelity to Vatican II as: “to defend the true tradition of the Church today is to defend the Council…And this today of the Church is the documents of Vatican II, without reservations that amputate them and without arbitrariness that distorts them.” (The Ratzinger Report, Ignatius Press, 1985, p 31).

    Vatican II did not issue doctrinal statements.
    In his book, Sources of Renewal Karol Cardinal Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) wrote: “It may be said that every Council in the Church’s history has been a pastoral one, if only because the assembled bishops, under the Pope’s guidance, are pastors of the Church. At the same time every Council is an act of the supreme Magisterium of the Church. Magisterium signifies teaching based on authority, a teaching which is the mission of the Apostles and their successors, it is part of their function and an essential task.” The Cardinal goes on: “All this has been signally confirmed by Vatican II, which, while preserving its pastoral character and mindful of the purpose for which it was called, profoundly developed the doctrine of faith and thus provided a basis for its enrichment.” (Ibid, p 38-39).

    So pastorally inclined like all Councils, Vatican II also developed doctrine profoundly, as Fr John a Hardon, S.J., affirms. Vatican II confirmed that even non infallible doctrine must be received with assent: “This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra”…when doctrine is proposed or formulated. [Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), 25].

    Similarly, “collegial infallibility…marks a turning point in doctrinal history.” [See "The Catholic Catechism", 1975, Doubleday, p 232-233]. This refers to the bishops around the world when teaching in accord with the Pope; when reflecting historical continuity of teaching; and in an Ecumenical Council when approved by a Pope.
    The Dogmatic Constitution On The Church #8 (Vatican II) teaches that “The one mediator, Christ, established and ever sustains here on earth His holy Church….(T)his is the sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic.” Fr John Hardon, S.J., describes as “unequivocal” (= clearly defined), “for the first time in conciliar history — the Church is not one of many branches.” [See The Catholic Catechism, 1975, Doubleday, p 213].

  30. catholicmidwest says:

    Only time will tell. There have been several councils within which only parts are considered binding (Basle, Constance). This may yet happen to Vatican II. However, some shoring up of teaching and practice of the Church will have to happen before such an announcement can be made. Right now, announcing such a thing would still be very damaging, since so much of the common life and preaching of the Church was predicated on the “Spirit of Vatican II” since the 60s and that reliance remains in so many of our books and common language about the Church. Vatican II will have to fade some more before this sort of thing can occur.

    The best thing that probably could happen now is already happening….and that would be to emphasize continuity and start talking about the church “without respect to” Vatican II. In other words, acknowledging the fact that the Church depends on Vatican II for rather little, so there’s no need to keep bringing up that council. The other earlier ones were actually far and away much more important because of their explanations of doctrine and their historical contexts.

  31. albizzi says:

    …” acknowledging the fact that the Church depends on Vatican II for rather little, so there’s no need to keep bringing up that council”…
    Catholicmidwest,
    You have the best concluding words. So much uproar in the sixties, when the Church’s “springtime”, the new “pentecost” were at hand according to the own words of the good pope John, for such a meager result.
    The game wasn’t worth the candle, seeing the sad state the RCC is in 50 years later.
    BUT… The council was misinterpreted, yes, like the communism was misinterpreted by those who ruled the country for 80 years after Russia succeeded in getting rid of it.

  32. Thomist says:

    What an example — some people make their own trouble and never learn!