L’Osservatore Romano: article about acceptance of Vatican II aimed at liberals and SSPXers

I am sure that, given some stories going around that the SSPX might refuse the CDF’s “Doctrinal Preamble”, there should be an article in L’Osservatore Romano (on the site in English, Spanish, French, German, Portughese and, of course, Italian) entitled:

On the 50th anniversary of the indiction [Curious word to use, since “indiction” is a term usually meaning a cycle of years, such as the ancient Roman 15-year cycle.  Of course in Italian it is more like “call”.  But this is the English page of the article, right?]

On adhesion to the Second Vatican Council

The forthcoming 50th anniversary of the convocation of the Second Vatican Council (25 December 1961) is a cause for celebration, but also for renewed reflection on the reception and application of the Conciliar Documents. Over and above the more directly practical aspects of this reception and application, both positive and negative, it seems appropriate also to recall the nature of the intellectual assent that is owed to the teachings of the Council. [Are they all owed equal assent?] Although we are dealing here with a well-known doctrine, about which there is an extensive bibliography, it is nevertheless useful to review it in its essential points, given the persistence – also in public opinion – of misunderstandings regarding the continuity [there’s the magic word] of some Conciliar teachings with previous teachings of the Church’s Magisterium.

First of all, it is not pointless to recall that the pastoral motivation of the Council does not mean that it was not doctrinal – since all pastoral activity is necessarily based on doctrine. [The authentically pastoral…] But, above all, it is important to emphasise that precisely because doctrine is aimed at salvation, the teaching of doctrine is an integral part of all pastoral work. Furthermore, within the Documents of the Council it is obvious that there are many strictly doctrinal teachings: on Divine Revelation, on the Church, etc. As Blessed John Paul II wrote: “With the help of God, the Council Fathers in four years of work were able to produce a considerable collection of doctrinal statements and pastoral norms which were presented to the whole Church” (Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, 11 October 1992, Introduction).

Assent Owed to the Magisterium

The Second Vatican Council did not define any dogma, in the sense that it proposed no doctrine with a definitive act. However, even if the Magisterium proposes a teaching without directly invoking the charism of infallibility, it does not follow that such a teaching is therefore to be considered “fallible” – in the sense that what is proposed is somehow a “provisional doctrine” or just an “authoritative opinion”. Every authentic expression of the Magisterium must be received for what it truly is: a teaching given by Pastors who, in the apostolic succession, speak with the “charism of truth” (Dei Verbum, n. 8), “endowed with the authority of Christ” (Lumen Gentium, n. 25), “and by the light of the Holy Spirit” (ibid.).

This charism, this authority and this light were certainly present at the Second Vatican Council; to deny this to the entire episcopate gathered to teach the universal Church cum Petro and sub Petro, would be to deny something of the very essence of the Church (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, 24 June 1973, nn. 2-5).

Naturally not all the affirmations contained in the Conciliar documents have the same doctrinal value and therefore not all require the same degree of assent. [As I suggested, above.] The various levels of assent owed to doctrines proposed by the Magisterium were outlined in Vatican II’s Constitution Lumen Gentium (n. 25), and subsequently synthesised in the three clauses added to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed in the formula of the Professio fidei published in 1989 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Blessed John Paul II.

Those affirmations of the Second Vatican Council that recall truths of the faith naturally require the assent of theological faith, not because they were taught by this Council but because they have already been taught infallibly as such by the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. So also a full and definitive assent is required for the other doctrines set forth by the Second Vatican Council which have already been proposed by a previous definitive act of the Magisterium.

The Council’s other doctrinal teachings require of the faithful a degree of assent called “religious submission of will and intellect”. [the famous “obsequium“] Precisely because it is “religious” assent, such assent is not based purely on rational motives. This kind of adherence does not take the form of an act of faith. [And here is the point they may be, I think, be driving at….] Rather, it is an act of obedience that is not merely disciplinary, but is well-rooted in our confidence in the divine assistance given to the Magisterium, and therefore “within the logic of faith and under the impulse of obedience to the faith” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum Veritatis, 24 May 1990, n. 23). This obedience to the Magisterium of the Church does not limit freedom but, on the contrary, is the source of freedom. Christ’s words: “he who hears you hears me” (Lk 10:16) are addressed also to the successors of the Apostles; and to listen to Christ means to receive in itself the truth which will make you free (cf. Jn 8:32).

Documents of the Magisterium may contain elements that are not exactly doctrinal — as is the case in the documents of the Second Vatican Council — elements whose nature is more or less circumstantial (descriptions of the state of a society, suggestions, exhortations, etc.). Such matters are received with respect and gratitude, but do not require an intellectual assent in the strictest sense (cf. Instruction Donum Veritatis, nn. 24-31).

The Interpretation of Teachings

The unity of the Church and unity in the faith are inseparable, and this also involves the unity of the Magisterium of the Church in every age, since the Magisterium is the authentic interpreter of Divine Revelation transmitted by Sacred Scripture and by Tradition. This means, among other things, that an essential characteristic of the Magisterium is its continuity and consistency through history. [i.e., the Church’s teaching did not begin in 1963.] Continuity does not mean an absence of development; down the centuries the Church deepens in her knowledge, in her understanding and, consequently, also in her magisterial teaching of Catholic faith and morals.

[NB:] A number of innovations of a doctrinal nature are to be found in the documents of the Second Vatican Council: on the sacramental nature of the episcopate, [yep.. that’s a biggie] on episcopal collegiality, on religious freedom, etc. [A major problem for the SSPX, btw.] These innovations in matters concerning faith or morals, not proposed with a definitive act, still require religious submission of intellect and will, even though some of them were and still are the object of controversy with regard to their continuity with earlier magisterial teaching, or their compatibility with the tradition. [Clearly aimed at the SSPX.] In the face of such difficulties in understanding the continuity of certain Conciliar Teachings with the tradition, the Catholic attitude, [“the Catholic attitude”… ] having taken into account the unity of the Magisterium, is to seek a unitive interpretation in which the texts of the Second Vatican Council and the preceding Magisterial documents illuminate each other. Not only should the Second Vatican Council be interpreted in the light of previous Magisterial documents, but also some of these earlier magisterial documents can be understood better in the light of the Second Vatican Council. [Okay… they’re not going to like that one.] This is nothing new in the history of the Church. It should be remembered, for example, that the meaning of important concepts adopted in the First Council of Nicaea in the formulation of the Trinitarian and Christological faith (hypóstasis, ousía), were greatly clarified by later Councils.

The interpretation of the innovations taught by the Second Vatican Council must therefore reject, as Benedict XVI put it, “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture,” while it must affirm the “hermeneutic of reform, of renewal within continuity” (Discourse, 22 December 2005). These are innovations in the sense that they explain new aspects which have not previously been formulated by the Magisterium, but which do not doctrinally contradict previous Magisterial documents. This is so even though, in certain cases — for example, concerning religious freedom[NB:] these innovations imply very different consequences at the level of historical decisions concerning juridical and political applications of the teaching, especially given the changes in historical and social conditions. [NB:] An authentic interpretation of Conciliar texts can only be made by the Magisterium of the Church herself. Therefore, in the theological work of the interpretation of passages in the Conciliar texts which arouse queries or seem to present difficulties, it is above all necessary to take into account the sense in which they have been interpreted in subsequent Magisterial interventions. [NB:] Nevertheless, there remains space for legitimate theological freedom to explain in one way or in another how certain formulations present in the Conciliar texts do not contradict the Tradition and, therefore, to explain the correct meaning of some expressions contained in those passages.

Lastly, in this regard, it does not seem superfluous to call to mind that almost half a century has passed since the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council and that in these decades four Roman Pontiffs have succeeded one another on the Chair of Peter. An assessment of the teaching of these Popes and the corresponding assent of the Episcopate to that teaching should transform a possible situation of difficulty into a serene and joyful acceptance of the Magisterium, the authentic interpreter of the doctrine of the faith. This must be possible and is to be hoped for, even if aspects that are not entirely understood remain. [NB:] In any case, there remains legitimate room for theological freedom and for further opportune in-depth study. As Benedict XVI wrote recently: “the essential content that for centuries has formed the heritage of all believers needs to be confirmed, understood and explored ever anew, so as to bear consistent witness in historical circumstances very different from those of the past” (Benedict XVI, Motu Proprio Porta Fidei, 11 October 2011, n. 4).

December 2, 2011

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62 Responses to L’Osservatore Romano: article about acceptance of Vatican II aimed at liberals and SSPXers

  1. Alan Aversa says:

    Vatican II’s innovation on religious freedom is not just “A major problem for the SSPX”; it’s a major problem for us all!

  2. Alan Aversa says:

    Vatican II was not entirely infallible because it “ha evitato di pronunciare in modo straordinario dogmi dotati della nota di infallibilità [avoided pronouncing in an extraordinary way (new) dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility]” (Pope Paul VI audience, 12 January 1966) and “In view of conciliar practice and the pastoral purpose of the present Council, this sacred Synod defines matters of faith or morals as binding on the Church only when the Synod itself openly declares so,” which it never did (Council’s General Secretary, 16 November 1964).

  3. Father Z: “I am sure that, given some stories going around that the SSPX might refuse the CDF’s “Doctrinal Preamble”, there should be an article in L’Osservatore Romano”

    You mean . . . As an attempt to throw a wrench into the works?

    It does seem to me — though on perhaps too quick a perusal — that this article shares some of the ambiguous, verbose and flabby Vatican II style that has contributed to so much misinterpretation of the documents of the Council.

  4. sawdustmick says:

    According to ZENIT, the SSPX have rejected the preamble.

    http://www.zenit.org/article-33918?l=english

  5. kgurries says:

    Basically, all doctrinal content requires some level of assent (but never actual dissent). At the same time, some magisterial texts contain aspect that are “not exactly doctrinal” in nature (descriptions of the state of a society, suggestions, exhortations, etc.). We are only required to respect but not necessarily give religious assent to these “non doctrinal” aspects. Obviously, part of the ongoing theological discussions will have to effectively distinguish the doctrinal from the contingent.

  6. asperges says:

    It’s a makeover and a fudge. Why oh why do we have to go over and over this wretched Council?

    A priest nearby was attacked recently by some fanatical parishioner for including Latin or giving Communion on the tongue or somesuch. “Haven’t you ever heard of Vatican II?” she raged. “Yes, I have,” he replied. “It was 50 years ago. Get over it; we’ve all moved on!”

    Head in the sand mentality. The article is right, though, that some matters are still open to interpretation. That doesn’t say much for its clarity.

  7. jdscotus says:

    I actually believe that this is a good essay, as it lays out a blueprint of sorts for the SSPX to accept the documents of VII that are aligned with orthodoxy, ignore the more vulgar documents, and appeal to past councils to demonstrate the lack of continuity with certain aspects of VII.

    Also, people should not get worked up if–and this is just an if at this point–the SSPX does not sign the preamble on the first offer. Why should anyone be surprised if the SSPX rejects Rome’s first offer? That’s what a negotiation is, a back-and-forth discussion on issues important to both parties. I believe that an agreement is possible, even probable; everyone just has to look like a winner for it to happen, as in any negotiation.

  8. trad catholic mom says:

    Well he lost me here:

    The forthcoming 50th anniversary of the convocation of the Second Vatican Council (25 December 1961) is a cause for celebration

    a cause of celebration? Really?

  9. Tina in Ashburn says:

    So why doesn’t the Magisterium explain the Council’s writings for us and be done with it? As Henry Edwards refers above, the ambiguous and loose writing is easily interpreted in the worst way. This continued ambiguity and crisis of authority leaves us all mired in subjectivity, ‘feelings’, and error.

    The article says “some of these earlier magisterial documents can be understood better in the light of the Second Vatican Council.” Why oh why didn’t it say instead “the Second Vatican Council can be understood better in the light earlier magisterial documents”? Don’t Tradition, long-standing beliefs and teachings give us the context to understand better the nuances of the Council?

    Those that choose not to be attached to a bishop of Rome can continue with their pretext of the Catholic Church not being good enough for them as long as there is ammunition. But frankly, I wonder if those that choose separation from the Church aren’t feigning interest in unity. Will the Catholic Church will ever be good enough for them unless the Church gives into their demands?

  10. leonugent2005 says:

    I think the problem that almost everyone has with Vatican II is that Vatican II asserted that church teaching did not begin in 1570. The fact that many people interpreted Vatican II as church teaching beginning in 1963 was unfortunate and also wrong.

  11. Andrew says:

    Without any difficulty I assent with a serene and joyful acceptance to the Second Vatican Council’s teaching, which states: “Linguae latinae usus, salvo particulari iure, in Ritibus latinis servetur.”

  12. JMody says:

    Striking thing to me is that all of the references it cites to support the Vatican II documents and innovations and changes are .. Vatican II documents, or documents that came AFTER Vatican II. While the prose is flowing, even in this translation, it certainly seems like a very verbose, and flabby, and poorly constructed piece.

    We need the example set by the Second Council of Constantinople, where the Pope in less than fifty years was telling people just to ignore it …

  13. Grateful Catholic says:

    Tina in Ashburn at 6:36 pm said:
    “The article says ‘some of these earlier magisterial documents can be understood better in the light of the Second Vatican Council.’ Why oh why didn’t it say instead ‘the Second Vatican Council can be understood better in the light earlier magisterial documents’? Don’t Tradition, long-standing beliefs and teachings give us the context to understand better the nuances of the Council?”

    Yes. And the article says so:

    “In the face of such difficulties in understanding the continuity of certain Conciliar Teachings with the tradition, the Catholic attitude, having taken into account the unity of the Magisterium, is to seek a unitive interpretation in which the texts of the Second Vatican Council and the preceding Magisterial documents illuminate each other. Not only should the Second Vatican Council be interpreted in the light of previous Magisterial documents, but also some of these earlier magisterial documents can be understood better in the light of the Second Vatican Council.”

  14. Denis says:

    Will the Jesuits be required to sign a document stating their fidelity to the totality of Catholic doctrine? Catholic theology professors? Liberal bishops, priests, and nuns? It seems to me that much more is being required of the SSPX than has been required of other Catholics.

    That Zenit headline is the product either of malice or sloppiness. In the article it’s clear that Bp. Fellay has not ‘rejected’ the offer but that the society will propose amendments.

  15. BaedaBenedictus says:

    I’ll celebrate the calling of that oh-so-pastoral Council when virtually my entire family returns to the Church. And that won’t happen till she is more recognizably Catholic. A good first step would be for our bishop to average better than 0.5 vocations per year and quit selling heretical books out of his cathedral and stop shutting parishes and schools left and right.

    I think we could all do without these “fruits” of the Council.

  16. Tina in Ashburn says:

    @Grateful Catholic, yea, you are right. In context that phrase doesn’t sound as bad. I guess I get over-sensitive to any sentiment that under-emphasizes the whole context of Church history against Vatican II.

  17. Oneros says:

    It’s just doublespeak to act like we can accept both the Syllabus of Errors AND the Council’s “teaching” on religious liberty. It is also incredibly “progressivist” to suggest that the latter somehow “trumps” the former (even though they are at an equal “level” of authority) just because it came LATER in history.

    This whole idea of assent to prudential questions (and that’s all the question of the Church’s relationship to the State is, in either the traditional or more modern form)…is in itself odd.

  18. marcpuckett says:

    The bulla indictionis of the Council, the apostolic constitution Humanae Salutis, was signed on the 25th December in 1961, and so I imagine that is what is being referred to in the OR article’s title.

  19. Mike says:

    I must say that many so-called neo-con clerics I know, while not Trads, never, and I mean, never, refer to the documents from V2 that the innovators love, ie, Nostra Aetate, for instance.

    Why can’t the SSPX do the same? I mean, move on, already, accept the authority of Peter, hold your nose at some of the docs from V2, and bring Tradition back on a wider scale. Sheesh!

  20. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    @ Denis: Excellent point. That really puts it all in perspective, huh? Maybe B16 will issue a sort of ‘Pascendi Dominic Gregis’ as part of his New Evangelization. The grade-school attached to the parish where my family attends the EF requires its teachers to make the Oath Against Modernism.

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    I understood it and I have no problem with it. The key to the whole thing is continuity. Vatican II must be situated correctly within the context of teaching that has come from previous councils and the magisterium past, present and future. The world did not suddenly transform into another disjunct reality in 1962…that is….There was no rupture because it wouldn’t have been possible for there to be a rupture in something like the Catholic church which derives its “reason for being” from revelation meant for all time.

  22. catholicmidwest says:

    And the task for theologians now is to sift through the documents carefully, and do the work of situating Vatican II in the proper logical, legal and spiritual context. This is a task which will require a level of scholarship that the Church has not used publicly in many years, and yet this is the task that we will have to perform.

  23. leonugent2005 says:

    JMody what you have is 2 popes who have become blessed since Vatican 2, one incorrupt in death the other John Paul II. So when you say “We need the example set by the Second Council of Constantinople, where the Pope in less than fifty years was telling people just to ignore it”. All I can tell you is that so far this hasn’t happened, but I wish you luck. Also there is a possibility that the words “Mutual Enrichment” won’t be ignored by future popes as well. We will have to wait and see.

  24. catholicmidwest says:

    “28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

    It can’t be a bad thing that in-depth discussions are going on with the SSPX. No matter how that turns out, the more illumination these things get, and the more discussion these things get, at the right levels of the Church, the better.

    [By “the right levels of the Church” I mean among those intellectually prepared to understand them, not the likes of the NYT or the Fishwrap’s seedy columns.]

  25. boko fittleworth says:

    “Sub Petro” is my new name for eye-talian hoagies.

  26. jhayes says:

    Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda: The Oath Against Modernism was rescinded in 1967. Doesn’t exist anymore.

  27. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Indeed the Oath was rescinded in 1967. Because at that time, Paul seemed to believe that the Modernists were on their way out…

    D’oh.

  28. jhayes says:

    Oneros, In his 1982 “Principles of Catholic Theology” Cardinal Ratzinger discussed Gaudiam et Spes and the Council in general, saying:

    “This implies that there is no possible return to the Syllabus, which could well have been a first step in the combat against Liberalism and the nascent Marxism, but which cannot be the last word. Neither embraces nor the ghetto can resolve the problem of [relations with] the modern world for the Christian. Hence, the ‘razing of the bastions’ that Hans Urs von Balthasar called for already in 1952 was in effect an urgent duty ….

    It was necessary for her [the Church] to raze the old bastions and confide only in the protection of the faith, the power of the word that is her unique, true, and permanent strength. But to raze the bastions cannot signify that she no longer has anything to protect, or that she can live owing to different forces than those that engendered her: the water and the blood that poured from the open side of her crucified Lord. ”

    –pp 437, 438 (French version).

    Where a newer document and an older one can’t be reconciled, the newer one takes precedence.

  29. jhayes says:

    Here’s the statement by Bishop Fellay from the SSPX official website:

    “It is true that this Doctrinal Preamble cannot receive our endorsement, although leeway has been allowed for a “legitimate discussion” about certain points of the Council. What is the extent of this leeway? The proposal that I will make in the next few days to the Roman authorities and their response in turn will enable us to evaluate our remaining options. And whatever the result of these talks may be, the final document that will have been accepted or rejected will be made public.”

    Full Article

  30. Geoffrey says:

    “Vatican II in its official promulgations, in its authentic documents, cannot be held responsible for this development which, on the contrary, radically contradicts both the letter and the spirit of the Council Fathers.”

    “…to defend the true tradition of the Church today means to defend the Council.”

    – Pope Benedict XVI (then Joseph Card. Ratzinger) “The Ratzinger Report”, 1985, pp. 30 & 31.

  31. mike cliffson says:

    This was what I thought was said at the time!
    I am struck by the pithiness of jhayes’ quote :
    “It was necessary for her [the Church] to raze the old bastions and confide only in the protection of the faith, the power of the word that is her unique, true, and permanent strength. But to raze the bastions cannot signify that she no longer has anything to protect, or that she can live owing to different forces than those that engendered her: the water and the blood that poured from the open side of her crucified Lord.”
    100 years time, it’ll all be clearer.
    As well as the invincibly ignorant, as in that oh-so-sadly-true first video of FR’s next post, there’s such a tendency for us ,nearly to the holiest, as a spatial church or generation worldwide even, to share assumptions that they don’t realize are from Man not God.
    We are generally no longer scandalized by Our Lady speaking patois to Bernadette, or St Terese of liseaux writing other than theological academic French – but whole swathes of holy learned priestas and faithful WERE. Subconscious more than reasoned axiomatic, A perfect God could not
    be in any way involved with other than perfection in French! Apart from divine condescention anyway, perfection in french was as defined by a human body, the academy!
    What are our generation’s blindspots?

  32. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Oneros,

    two points. 1. It is not progressist to say that Vatican II (even if it were on equal level – it is, in fact, on higher level, although there are still more higher levels) trumps the Syllabus. Lex posterior derogat legi inferiori. Otherwise, the very idea that doctrines can exist below infallibility level is in question.

    2. It is not doublespeak but, in fact, possible to hold the Syllabus and the II Vatican Council. Why? Because the do not contradict each other!

    The only sentences even in question are

    77. In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship.

    The Council does not alter the view that Catholic Christianity should be religion of the State; it says that other religious should worship freely, which is something very much different.

    78. “It has been wisely decided by law, in some Catholic countries, that persons coming to reside therein shall enjoy the public exercise of their own worship whichever that be.”

    If, God prevent, some would want to revive the child-sacrifice as their own worship, Vatican II does not hinder us from persecuting them. Thus, as the Syllabus only condemns freedom for all forms, not freedom for most, we have no contradiction.

    80. The Roman Pontiff can and must reconcile himself, and come to terms with, progress, liberalism and modern civilization.

    Let it be granted for the sake of the argument that in the meantime the Pope has done so. But the Syllabus didn’t condemn him doing so. It condemned that he can and must do so. It did not condemn that he “cannot, but ought to as far as he can” (and the moderns would indeed say that the Pope cannot really), nor that he “can, but is under no necessity to”, nor (of course) that he “cannot and must not”. (Nor even that he “can and ought to, but certainly not under pressure by automatism”. The Latin text has “debet”; the common translation that he not only needs not but “ought not to” is wrong, this would be “opportet ei”.)

    Of course, to speak about the tone of the text, rather than the precise content of the condemnation, is a different matter. In this sense I understand the cited (by @jhayes) statement by our now-Pope.

  33. Prof. Basto says:

    A few topical observations only:

    1) Vatican II did indeed introduce many innovations, but not concerning the sacramental nature of the episcopate; that nature was already well established, and if one reads Sacramentum Ordinis one will confirm that;

    2) It is interesting that the article’s Author only quotes and references post-conciliar documents. Could the same points be sustained with references to pre-conciliar documents?

    3) If not, then we are faced with a bigger problem, a methodological one: we first need to ask a different question, namely: Is there a consensus between the Holy See and the SSPX on the meaning of Church’s teaching on the several levels of assent owed to the Church’s teaching?

    4) In other words, there is this meta-magisterial teaching, this teaching of the Magisterium about the Magisterium, BUT THIS TEACHING ALSO HAS NOT REMAINED UNCHANGED. There were innovations to it introduced by Vatican II.

    5) So, this begs the question: is the Conciliar and Post-Conciliar teaching about the Magisterium, specifically the Conciliar and Post-Conciliar teaching on the question of the levels of assent owed to the Church’s teachings, accepted by the SSPX, or do the SSPX consider that teaching to be yet another spurious innovation of the Council and post-Council?

    6)Lumen Gentium indeed seems to have introduced novelties on the question of the “levels of assent”. Are those novelties themselves correct? Or a strange new form of “not so infallible infallibility” was proposed that actually does not make much sense?

    7) If something is not infallible, then it is fallible. It does not mean that the fallible teaching is wrong, it however does mean that it can be wrong. The Article FAILS precisley when it tries to say that the lack of infalliblity does not mean fallibiliy. Of course, this is black or white: either a teaching is infallible, or it is fallible.

    8) If a Council that wished to proclaim no dogma – and that stressed its pastoral character even in Notes officially annexed (at the moment of promulgation) to the text of the Conciliar documents themselves – issued fallible documents that contradict previous documents that use solemn language and that are covered by the grace of infallibility, then by no means should the previous infallible teaching be re-read in light of the subsequent fallible one. On the contrary, the error of the fallible teaching must in this case be recognized.

    9) The teaching of the Second Vatican Council itself cannot be used to ascertain the level of authority of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

    The level of authority of this new Council, including the level of this new Council’s metamagisterial teachings (the teaching about “religious submission of intelect and will”), must be ascertained according to pre-existing docrine.

    It would only be admissible to ascertain the authority of the Council documents on the basis of the Council’s own teachings if the Council were the “original constituent power” of the Church.

    However, as the Supreme Authority of the Church reminded us in Pope Benedict XVI’s 2005 Christmas Address to the Roman Curia, the Second Vatican Council was never endowed with Constituent Power (as the other Councils were also not): the Church’s Divine Constitution is unchangeable and it was set by Christ, Her Divine Founder.

    The Pope said: “The nature of a Council as such is therefore basically misunderstood. In this way, it is considered as a sort of constituent that eliminates an old constitution and creates a new one. However, the Constituent Assembly needs a mandator and then confirmation by the mandator, in other words, the people the constitution must serve. The Fathers had no such mandate and no one had ever given them one; nor could anyone have given them one because the essential constitution of the Church comes from the Lord and was given to us so that we might attain eternal life and, starting from this perspective, be able to illuminate life in time and time itself.”

    If that is so, that is, if Vatican II was not invested with original constituent power over the Church (and that is an obvious fact), then, as a necessary consequence, THE AUTHORITY, AND THE PRECISE LEVEL OF AUTHORITY, OF THE COUNCIL AND OF ITS DOCUMENTS CANNOT REST ON THE COUNCIL’S OWN TEACHINGS.

    Also, the Council’s teachings, INCLUDING ITS METAMAGISTERIAL TEACHINGS (about the Magisterium, levels of assent, etc), cannot be in contradiction with past infallible teachings. Otherwise, there would be rupture in the Church’s doctrine, and not continuity.

  34. Dan says:

    I don’t understand all the moaning and groaning over VII. Face it- when the Church gathers in ecumenical council, it is guided by the Holy Spirit. Accordingly, I don’t see how anyone can attack the documents of the Council, unless they want to insist that the Council was guided by something other than God. And frankly, that’s not our determination to make. Our Holy Father is giving us a wonderful example of interpreting those teachings according to the “hemenutric of continuity,” and I agree with him that the Council (when implemented correctly and honestly) is a source of grace for the entire Church and world.

    Remember Our Lord’s promise to Peter regarding His Church – “and the gates of hell shall not prevail” – God is in control, and He has blessed us abundently by calling Benedict XVI to the Chair of Peter. All this quibbling over how bad VII was makes me think that the council’s detractors are more concerned with imposing their own will on the Church rather than conforming themselves to God’s will as expressed through the teachings of the Church and the Roman Pontiffs.

  35. randomcatholic says:

    The religious liberty question is very thorny. I remember on this blog several years ago there was a dust up in the comments section over the issue, and Father Z said something like: “There will be no more long treatises on religious liberty in the com-box. There will be time for a more complete entry on the subject soon, but now isn’t it.” He hasn’t touched the question since, and that is probably prudent.

    I have read “Religious Liberty Questioned” by Lefevbre (I personally found it VERY weak and racist) and Michael Davies “The Second Vatican Council and Religious Liberty” (I found this book quite strong and well argued…. although my edition was poorly bound and was missing many pages from the middle of the book).

    That said, I am a Vatican II Catholic and view the Church’s stance on religious liberty as a gift and a fundamental part of what I view as justice. I do not believe that the Church will compromise the teaching of Vatican II on religious liberty, but if it does, it will become a serious issue for me, and I am sure many many other Catholics as well. I do not think it is impossible to admire both Michael Davies and John Courtney Murray by the way, but my fundamental view of justice requires that I grant to others the freedoms for their religious expression that I demand for my own. Lefevbre’s little pamphlet on the other hand is so weak as to be laughable in my opinion.

    Not that my voice means anything, but I will do whatever I can to preserve the Church’s teaching on religious liberty as outlined in the Second Vatican Council.

  36. ContraMundum says:

    If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony cannot be verified. John 5:31, NAB

    Unlike many of the commenters here, I fully accept Vatican II. However, citing the Council’s own words claiming authority for itself does not really help establish its authority. Dei Verbum and Lumen Gentium are products of Vatican II, so there’s really no point in the following:

    Every authentic expression of the Magisterium must be received for what it truly is: a teaching given by Pastors who, in the apostolic succession, speak with the “charism of truth” (Dei Verbum, n. 8), “endowed with the authority of Christ” (Lumen Gentium, n. 25), “and by the light of the Holy Spirit” (ibid.).

    But then the whole article is the same way. If I believed that Vatican II was a tragic error and totally invalid and that the popes and bishops ever since had been seriously in error, quotes from Vatican II and subsequent popes and bishops about how great Vatican II was would not impress me in the slightest. This article cannot be effective in persuading the adherents of SSPX. For whom was it written, then? People who already agree with Vatican II? Why would they need more arguments if they already agree; why especially would they need arguments that are only persuasive to those who already agree?

  37. Springfielder says:

    Thank You Lord for giving us The Traditional Latin Mass, the Mass which nurtured the Saints who somehow lived their Catholic faith without insisting on modernity and ecumenism which, are no improvement on the commandment to love thy neighbor. I’m delighted to see Catholics becoming more and more interested in the traditional style of worship of our Risen Lord. Yes, the Lord can be worshiped at the New Mass in spite of the distraction of the emphasis on the ‘community’.

  38. Lopes says:

    Not all Councils are/were guided by the Holy Spirit. We all should study a little bit of Church history before making these comments. It is troubling that the author writes about ‘innovations’ and the self-proclaimed ‘VII Catholics’ do not find it disturbing.

    As far as the Archbishop ‘pamphlet’ being ‘racist’ and ‘laughable,’ it is another sad sign of the ‘fruits’ of VII: most Catholics are guided by the general secular mindset in Western society in which the greatest virtue is to embrace ‘diversity.’ The Catholic Faith is now just a denomination where you all must just get along and ‘respect’ errors.

  39. randomcatholic says:

    @Lopes. Defend this publicly. This is from Lefevbre’s tract. It is shameful. “Moreover, all races and all people, already provided with different natural gifts by the Creator, have not been wounded exactly the same way by original sin: some are affected more deeply by the BLINDING OF THEIR INTELLIGENCE, others by the WEAKNESS OF THEIR WILL, others by a hatred rooted in a dissolute concupiscence, others, finally, by fear rooted in a disordered irascibility etc. The result is RADICAL INEQUALITY among different people in the concrete natural dignity of persons, inequalities WHICH REQUIRE UNEQUAL TREATMENT FROM BOTH DIVINE AND HUMAN AUTHORITY” (pg. 20)

    Yes, I know this quote is available online. If you want we can discuss other quotes. I will dig out my well notated and well worn copy when I get home.

    I condemn racism and bigotry. Don’t like it? Care to share why?

  40. njmama says:

    Dear Lopes, if the Catholic Church were all about “diversity” and ignoring errors, why would anyone give two hoots about the SSPX in the first place? Everyone would just shrug and accept them back with no conditions. This is not the case, as far as I understand, because the Church still cares very much about orthodoxy.

    As a fairly new Catholic, a regular Fr. Z reader, and am trying to wrap my head around what all the hoopla is about. Because Vatican II was used by some liberals to run off in the wrong direction the council was a shame? Since when do we give dissenters the power to define our history!? And that comment about ecumenism– again, just because a bunch of liberals make ecumenism a hippy dippy, “our differences don’t matter” sort of thing, orthodox Christians shouldn’t try to live peaceably with pagans and other non-believers? It is disappointing when devout Catholics mistake genuine charity for a form of secular tolerance. While Fr. Z entices interest in traditional Catholicism and the Latin Mass, some of these comments just turn the stomach.

  41. irishgirl says:

    I remember when I was a Third Order Franciscan in the 1980s, I was at a workshop weekend where a woman from the host fraternity went on and on about ‘how great Vatican II was’.
    I got so fed up, I turned to her and said in a low but firm voice:
    ‘The Church did not start with Vatican II.’
    I’m rather tired of Catholics saying that Vatican II was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
    Look at the so-called ‘fruits’ of Vatican II, as some posters here have said: no vocations, parishes and schools closing right and left, heresy preached from pulpits, liturgical abuses everywhere.
    Makes me glad that I go to the TLM exclusively now….

  42. St. Rafael says:

    even if the Magisterium proposes a teaching without directly invoking the charism of infallibility, it does not follow that such a teaching is therefore to be considered “fallible”

    Yeah right. Sing me another one. Trying to have their cake and eat it too. If it is not infallible, then it is fallible. If you reject the protection of the Holy Spirit, then don’t come crying later trying to turn something into what it is not. They did not invoke the charism of infallibility, so they ended up with something very fallible. I’m sorry, but non-infallible does so mean fallible.

  43. St. Rafael says:

    Hence, the ‘razing of the bastions’ that Hans Urs von Balthasar called for already in 1952 was in effect an urgent duty ….

    Hans Urs von Balthasar was a Modernist and a heretic. His “razing of the bastions” was none other than an attack on the Magisterial doctrines, dogmas, and traditions of the Church.

    Where a newer document and an older one can’t be reconciled, the newer one takes precedence.

    Doctrine never ever changes. Doctrine can never change. Doctrine can be further developed, but as Vatican I taught infallibly, doctrine can be developed, but that development can never change the orginal meaning of that doctrine.

    If two documents on a subject are in contradiction, then there is an error in one of them. The Magisterium cannot be contradicted. There is an error and opposition to Magisterial teaching in one document.

  44. ContraMundum says:

    Not all Councils are/were guided by the Holy Spirit. We all should study a little bit of Church history before making these comments.

    So said the Arians and the Nestorians.

    It is troubling that the author writes about ‘innovations’ and the self-proclaimed ‘VII Catholics’ do not find it disturbing.

    And yet you are seemingly not troubled by the Filioque, which certainly was not a part of the Creed promulgated at Nicea. Nor are you troubled by the definition of papal infallibility, which “innovation” prompted the “Old Catholics” to go into schism.

    We’ve heard this tune before, and frankly we know where it leads. If SSPX does not reconcile with the Catholic Church, in 100 years they’ll be every bit as flaky as the “Old Catholics” are today.

  45. randomcatholic says:

    @ContraMundum: incredibly well said in my opinion.

  46. Mr. P says:

    The proper interpretations need to be spelled out.

  47. jbpolhamus says:

    Clerical abuse scandals, loss of vocations, the abandonment of religious life, apostasy on a scale never before seen, destruction of altars, alienation of church property, confusion among the faithful, confusion in catechesis, ignorance of doctrine, all on a scale never before seen in the history of the church…remind me…where is the supposed “Light” of Vatican II supposedly shining out of? The only logical celebration of its influence I will consent to is a Tridentine Rite requiem mass. Nothing good has come of it. Nothing, and the only spirit abroad in its teaching has been the Spirit of the World, not the Holy Spirit. Know it by its fruits, and in them there can be no mistaken identity.

    Now. Having said that, can Good come out of this situation? Certainly. Our feet can always be turned into a better path and we would be able to say, “I have run in your ways, Lord, for you have enlarged my heart.” And we should be running for all we are worth, clutching and drawing out every strand of good teaching and action that emanates from the spindle of Our Lady’s spinning wheel. For instance, the new translation: not perfect, but a much better thing. So start a society of some kind, and sponsor a mass using it with Roman Vestments, ad Orientem, with chant propers, and a dignified mass setting. That kind of improvement is going to lead us away from the cliff, one mass at a time.

    Summorum Pontificum: not perfect, but helping to turn the tide and allow some balance to be introduced into Catholic liturgical life. So gather a “stable group” together and sponsor a mass in your parish. Get up the gumption to ask. If you don’t ask, you can’t be either turned down OR accepted. Be bold. Such actions will help lead us away from the cliff, one mass at a time.

    Don’t try to sell me a warm-fuzzy bill-of-goods about Vatican II’s unfailingly bitter fruit (I’m speaking rhetorically, here, mind.), but don’t sit around wringing hands or whinging pessimistically if you’re not doing something to improve the situation with the tools you have to hand. Personally, I think the signs are good. And improving. Deo Gratias.

  48. Mdepie says:

    Wow.. what a mess! I am not a member of the SSPX, and I am 51, so as Michael Voris of Real Catholic TV has stated, I am of a the generation who grew up post Vatican II. I lived in a small town as a boy, so some of the changes post Vatican II were only slowly implemented . I can recall some traditionalists aspects of Mass from the mid 60s, ( like the tabernacle in the center of the Church, priest saying mass with his back to the people, kneeling for communion) but I have no clear memory of the Tridentine mass in hits entirety per se. It is from this standpoint I would say the following:
    1) Looking at things from the point of view of a Martian anthropologist who was studying Catholicism, pre and post Vatican II one would have to conclude little measurable good came of it and much that was catastrophically bad followed. So looking at numbers of seminarians, Catholic schools, kids in Catholic schools, percentage of people who attend mass weekly, number of converts to Catholicism, numbers who assent to important Catholic dogmas like the Real Presence etc these things peaked near 1965 and dropped precipitously therafter. The drop continues as I type this. At the very least one would have to conclude that nothing in Vatican II prevented this catastrophe and one might reasonably be suspicious that something about it contributed to it. I can already guess some will say this does not prove causation. True enough, but if a doctors started using a new medicine for condition X, and then the FDA noted the death rate for condition X began to rapidly increase, it would seem reasonable ( even mandatory) to suspect something was not so hot about the new medicine. I do not understand how one can not reasonable ask the same regarding Vatican II.

    2) My own personal rememberance of the Changes are of a sense of loss. I find the modern hymns effeminate ( Lord of the dance is just about intolerable,) I miss confessionals that were anonymous little booths were one confessed anonymously “soul to soul”. I miss the external acts that helped support my belief in the Real Presence ( kneeling, incense etc..) Now I know what I must beleive, but the tabernacle is off in the corner, I have seen kids literally bite the Eucharist like a cookie.. it is simply harder to think anyone else in the Church thinks that we are getting “God”, so being the flawed human I am, it takes a greater act of will on my part to believe.
    My own experience is that It would seem to be easier to have been a Catholic pre Vatican II, at least the Church was more overtly mystical, clear in its teaching and frankly aesthetically pleasing.

    3) This does not mean one must “doubt” Vatican II. The central problem with Vatican II and much of post Vatican II writing and theology is its sheer impenetrable prose which makes it excessively vague and a therefore a blank slate on which any “modernist” can impose whatever view they wish . ( This is a similar technique the left engages in in terms of our much more clearly written US contstitution. In re the Consitution we have a living document, whilst in re Vatican II we have had the spirit of Vatican II.. it is quite similar.) I consider myself reasonably well educated ( physican, board certified, etc) I for the life of me, find it very hard to tease out the real meaning of some passages of the Vatican II document, sometimes they seem to say nothing at all, sometimes they do seem to say things that are hard to reconcile with previous teaching… ( Can someone explain to me what are the differences between Catholiicism and say Islam that would make it important to evangelize non Christians such as Muslims, based on what Vatican II says about non Christian religions? The “obsequium” regarding religious assent is in practice very hard to apply/ Does this apply to the parts of Vatican II or John XXIII encylicals on social justice which laud the United NAtions, inpite of the fact that the UN has become a major promoter of abortion, which Vatican II calls an unspeakable crime? How does one lend religious assent to both these views simultaneously? Is this kind of mental gymnastics what Christ commands? Is this the Gospel? I could go on, but the central point is the documents of Vatican II are so ill concieved and so obviously a product of committee work that they are excessively wordy, vague and allow for endless debate over their meaning. Thus opening the door to various forms of quasi heretical belief and practice. I do agree its a Council so can not contain heresy per se, but making the distinction is difficult. Some people interpret some Vatican II documents in ways that clearly contradict what was historically taught in the Church. I know one teacher in Catholic school who claims atheists can be saved as easily as Christians… Is this what Vatican II taught?

    This endless debate over the Council is itself evidence of how flawed Vatican II was , Was there this kind of debate over what Trent was trying to say? or what Trent accomplished? What is needed is a definitive revisitation of the council and very clear un ambiguous clarification of What the Church believes and does not believe, and where there has been true development of doctrine and where there must be better consistency with what has gone before. This is a job for deeply religious, holy theologians loyal to the Church from the time of Christ to the present. ( Not those who think the Church began or ended with Vatican II. ) I do not know who will be able to step up to the plate to began to take this on.. but we must pray for this.

  49. Well, obviously the intertwining of French or American or Peruvian (or whatever country’s) political stances and race problems, with traditionalism or liberalism of Church positions, and with various ethnically Catholic devotional practices, makes everyone just that little bit harder to reconcile. But that’s obviously true of everyone involved; the SSPX is just a little more exotically obvious to us about it, because most Catholics don’t swim in their sea of institutional culture.

  50. mike cliffson says:

    @Mdepie
    VII Documents:
    I have been told , FrZ, or someone, probably has the gen, that said texts in English were intended to be somewhat normative, a bit like legal translations: evrthing else has to be sacriced in favour of an exactly limited meaning-if you can ever get to it!
    Certainly my moronic ignoremus’s opinion of them in English was much as yours perhaps: turgid impenetrablle woffle for specialists, I thought.I gave up.
    However , my experience of them abt 20yrs ago, over many tens of hours, and not all of them either, was in a Romance language (Spanish) wholly cognate with their original compositions, in which they were READABLE, iluminating, enjoyable even, if chewy at times.
    I may add this was in the company of an increasingly exasperated future priest* awaiting but ordination who felt that even lay catholics, ignorant perhaps of philosophy and theology as he had within his ken, should know enough about their faith to not make the mistakes we made misunderstanding what we were reading. (*Post ordination he is far more forbearing-which doesn’t make him wrong then ! We catholics probably know more about our cars than our faith! )

  51. Lopes says:

    “Moreover, all races and all people, already provided with different natural gifts by the Creator, have not been wounded exactly the same way by original sin: some are affected more deeply by the BLINDING OF THEIR INTELLIGENCE, others by the WEAKNESS OF THEIR WILL, others by a hatred rooted in a dissolute concupiscence, others, finally, by fear rooted in a disordered irascibility etc. The result is RADICAL INEQUALITY among different people in the concrete natural dignity of persons, inequalities WHICH REQUIRE UNEQUAL TREATMENT FROM BOTH DIVINE AND HUMAN AUTHORITY” (pg. 20)

    What is wrong with this exactly? For example, Asians have better results in IQ tests. I am not Chinese; should I say that these results are racists? Facts are facts whether you like them or not. This talk about opposing racism and bigotry is the same argument used by homosexuals to justify their depravity. The ‘defend this publicly’ comment is quite ridiculous. Again, you sound like you work for the ACLU. There are better ways to express an opinion than to repeat the same empty platitudes used by people that hate the Church.

    ‘And yet you are seemingly not troubled by the Filioque, which certainly was not a part of the Creed promulgated at Nicea. Nor are you troubled by the definition of papal infallibility, which “innovation” prompted the “Old Catholics” to go into schism.’

    How would I be ‘troubled’ by the Filioque? This claim is used by the so-called Orthodox to justify their schism with the Church. Problematic is to use the same argument repeated by them. Papal infallibility was not an innovation; are you going to say that the Immaculate Conception was also an innovation.? The Church held those truths for centuries, rooted in the Bible. They became dogma when it became necessary to defend them in an unquestionable manner. You seem to believe that ‘Old Catholics’ were right. No Pope or Council have the authority to ‘reveal’ new truths, and, therefore, to present innovations.

    @njmama: the overwhelming majority of Catholics is completely indifferent, even unaware, of these discussions. If you do some basic research online you will find plenty of statements, videos and pictures from clergyman in which it is obvious by their actions and words that they see the Church as just one of many.

  52. kgurries says:

    This essay is a good reminder that Catholics are obliged to give assent to all doctrine proposed by the magisterium concerning faith and morals. This is a traditional concept — one that traditional Catholics should be affirming rather than questioning.

    Condemned Proposition:
    “The obligation by which Catholic teachers and writers are absolutely bound is restricted to those matters only which are proposed by the infallible judgment of the Church, to be believed by all as dogmas of the faith.” (Syllabus, n. 22)

  53. jhayes says:

    St. Rafael, pope Benedict points out the difference between the principles of earlier decisions of the church and the application of those principles to situations that can change over time:

    These are all subjects of great importance – they were the great themes of the second part of the Council – on which it is impossible to reflect more broadly in this context. It is clear that in all these sectors, which all together form a single problem, some kind of discontinuity might emerge. Indeed, a discontinuity had been revealed but in which, after the various distinctions between concrete historical situations and their requirements had been made,
    the continuity of principles proved not to have been abandoned. It is easy to miss this fact at a first glance.

    It is precisely in this combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels that the very nature of true reform consists. In this process of innovation in continuity we must learn to understand more practically than before that the Church’s decisions on contingent matters – for example, certain practical forms of liberalism or a free interpretation of the Bible – should necessarily be contingent themselves, precisely because they refer to a specific reality that is changeable in itself. It was necessary to learn to recognize that in these decisions it is only the principles that express the permanent aspect, since they remain as an undercurrent, motivating decisions from within.
    On the other hand, not so permanent are the practical forms that depend on the historical situation and are therefore subject to change.

    Basic decisions, therefore, continue to be well-grounded, whereas the way they are applied to new contexts can change. Thus, for example, if religious freedom were to be considered an expression of the human inability to discover the truth and thus become a canonization of relativism, then this social and historical necessity is raised inappropriately to the metaphysical level and thus stripped of its true meaning. Consequently, it cannot be accepted by those who believe that the human person is capable of knowing the truth about God and, on the basis of the inner dignity of the truth, is bound to this knowledge.

    It is quite different, on the other hand, to perceive religious freedom as a need that derives from human coexistence, or indeed, as an intrinsic consequence of the truth that cannot be externally imposed but that the person must adopt only through the process of conviction.

    The Second Vatican Council, recognizing and making its own an essential principle of the modern State with the Decree on Religious Freedom, has recovered the deepest patrimony of the Church. By so doing she can be conscious of being in full harmony with the teaching of Jesus himself (cf. Mt 22: 21), as well as with the Church of the martyrs of all time. The ancient Church naturally prayed for the emperors and political leaders out of duty (cf. I Tm 2: 2); but while she prayed for the emperors, she refused to worship them and thereby clearly rejected the religion of the State.

    Full Document

  54. jhayes says:

    In that same Christmas address Pope Benedict characterized the two viewpoints on the council as “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” and “a hermeneutic of reform” he did not use the expression “a hermaneutic of continuity” as he is often misquoted. His point was that the alternative to discontinuity and rupture was not simply continuing with things as thy had been, but reforming them. The church “develops” in time.

    The last event of this year on which I wish to reflect here is the celebration of the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council 40 years ago. This memory prompts the question: What has been the result of the Council? Was it well received? What, in the acceptance of the Council, was good and what was inadequate or mistaken? What still remains to be done? No one can deny that in vast areas of the Church the implementation of the Council has been somewhat difficult, even without wishing to apply to what occurred in these years the description that St Basil, the great Doctor of the Church, made of the Church’s situation after the Council of Nicea:  he compares her situation to a naval battle in the darkness of the storm, saying among other things:  “The raucous shouting of those who through disagreement rise up against one another, the incomprehensible chatter, the confused din of uninterrupted clamouring, has now filled almost the whole of the Church, falsifying through excess or failure the right doctrine of the faith…” (De Spiritu Sancto, XXX, 77; PG 32, 213 A; SCh 17 ff., p. 524).

    We do not want to apply precisely this dramatic description to the situation of the post-conciliar period, yet something from all that occurred is nevertheless reflected in it. The question arises:  Why has the implementation of the Council, in large parts of the Church, thus far been so difficult?

    Well, it all depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or – as we would say today – on its proper hermeneutics, the correct key to its interpretation and application. The problems in its implementation arose from the fact that two contrary hermeneutics came face to face and quarrelled with each other. One caused confusion, the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit.

    On the one hand, there is an interpretation that I would call “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”; it has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology. On the other, there is the “hermeneutic of reform”, of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.

  55. albizzi says:

    @Mdepie.
    I agree with you that the council Vatican II was so confused that the controversies regarding its interpretations are still going on 50 years later. Was ever the Council of Trent as questioned as VATII ? I doubt it.
    That’s not a good sign.
    I am afraid that this council will become outdated long before its confusions, contradictions and inconsistencies will be cleared.
    For my part I prefer to ignore it when I reckon it contradicts the Church’ Tradition, since it was merely a pastoral counci,l not dogmatic.

  56. Taylor says:

    I am beginning to believe that this blog is for those few of the Church who would rather accuse and convict its own Church Fathers (when there has been no crime) than to listen and understand fully what the Church expresses and intends in the teachings of Vatican II. Can someone please explain to me what truths were apparently changed by Vatican II, an Ecumencial Council which was led by the Holy Spirit AT LEAST as much as the Council of Trent? (Trent was spread over many years and plagued by interruptions and even low attendance at times but was led by that same Holy Spirit in order to fix the mess which led to the Protestant Rebellion.) Produce the evidence! What salvific TRUTH did Vatican II change? Are we chasing a phantom? While the Council of Trent was saving the Church, the Council of Vatican II was giving new life to the Church. But a few want to continue to rant without being able to express what truths have been changed. If no truths of our Faith have been changed by Vatican II – and if this evidence can not be produced and the point actually proven – what good is there in ranting about SSPX and Vatican II? Who can tell me now that because I am obedient, in my love for the Holy Spirit, to the teachings of Vatican II that my soul is at risk? If you can not do this, then can any good come from bashing Vatican II?

  57. Mdepie says:

    Tayloe:
    I think yo uare missing the point, so again:
    The Problem with Vatican II is that 50 years out we can not seem to agree on what it said, the fact that Trent was at times sparesely attended ( You don’t say…. really? ) is irrelevant. Trent was clear in what it was responding too ( the Protestant reformation and clear in what you were required to believe as a Catholic) 50 years post Vatican II we have this ongoing debate with folks on the left somehow thinking you can dissent, and folks on the right (SSPX) thinking the same thing. As for those of us who are non experts, I remain deeply puzzled over the meaning of the council, or specifically how one can reconcile previous teachings with all the “developments” One probably most troubling to the SSPX crowd is the decree on religious liberty. I do not think they necessarily think that the state should coerce individuals to become Catholic ( After all the teaching this was wrong would date back to Aquinas and beyond. The question is really religious indifferentism. Does it matter if one is Catholic or not. So tell me does the modern Church think you are less likely to attain eternal salvation if you are not a Catholic? If not what would be the purpose of the “Great Commission” ? Should Catholics try to convert people? Why. I think most Modern Catholics can not answer these questions in a coherent way. Vatican II is less than eloquent in discussing them, focusing mostly on reassuring us that all religions have something we can “esteem”. It is that kind of thing that makes Vatican II such a confused mess.

  58. jlmorrell says:

    Taylor and others,

    In my opinion, it is up to the Vatican II defenders to prove that this Council was not a rupture and drastic change with many traditional teachings that were upheld before. I am no expert, but then it doesn’t really take one to see that Nostra Aetate and Dignitatis Humanae (to mention only two) are NOT compatible with the consistent teaching that came before in Mortalium Animos, Quas Primas, Immortale Dei, Quanta Cura and other magisterial documents.

    The teachings of the Church after Vatican II in regard to ecumenism, inter-religious relations and religious liberty are deeply influenced by classical liberal thought, which was roundly condemned prior to the Council. And, this is all without even touching on the rupture associated with the liturgy. Again, it takes no expert to see this – the peasant with no knowledge of any church documents can understand that the Assisi scandals would have been seen as abominations by the pre-concliar faithful.

  59. Imrahil says:

    Dear @mdepie,

    Can someone explain to me what are the differences between Catholicism and say Islam that would make it important to evangelize non Christians such as Muslims, based on what Vatican II says about non Christian religions?

    Based on what Vatican II says about non-Christian religions, I’d say that Muslims are to find in Christianity what is right in Islam, but in better context, deeper understanding and fuller completeness. In addition, they would find there correction of what is wrong in Islam (which in this case include some quite simple logical flaws: Jesus is “the Word of God” but only one of the prophets – come on, you can tell that to your grandmother…), about which the Council said nothing because that was clear from the onset.

    They’d find a better chance of salvation, always, but especially in this time when all untrue religion empirically seems to break asunder (not saying that the true religion does not suffer enough from unfitting concategorization). They’d find joy of the world and its Creator’s goodness (whereas Islam itself only teaches obedience). They’d, in the meantime, make the world a still better place to live in; I mean that politically: if the Moslems become Christian, international politics becomes easier, for joining in a common, and true, philosophy.

    They’d be right and not wrong. And, of course, they’d find our Lord.

    On the other hand, if somebody (I don’t say that’s you…) thinks that only a “get baptized or go to hell”-Feeneyism (which is a wrong doctrine, besides) is a motivation to evangelize, then it’s this person who has a reduced view of what Faith is good for. I don’t say that I have a view on this topic really myself, but more than this it must be at least!

  60. Sam Schmitt says:

    Many commenters here seem to rely on three arguments that Vatican II should not be accepted / was a failure:

    (1) Horrible things have happened in the Church since Vatican II
    (2) Some things taught by Vatican II (e.g. religious freedom) cannot be reconciled with previous teaching
    (3) Vatican II was just a pastoral council anyway, so we can pretend it never happened

    Neither of these arguments really hold up, but are repeated incessantly as if they were self- evident.

    (1) As anyone familiar with the history of past councils knows, many previous councils have seemed to “fail,” but this cannot be judged until many years after the council itself. Past ecumenical Councils have often ushered in a periods of doctrinal and disciplinary confusion, sometimes taking decades (and, in the case of the Council of Ephesus, another ecumenecial concil 20 years later) for everything to be sorted out. The Council of Chalcedon and Vatican I resulted in schisms. Even Trent did not do away with Protestantism, and in some parts of the Church its reforms were resisted for many decades. Perhaps Catholics of the 16th century would have been better off dismissing it as a “failure”?

    As for points (2) and (3), they contradict one another. If none of the teaching of Vatican II is binding (supposedly), then why the need to reconcile it with previous teaching? At any rate, I find it curious that the SSPX takes the liberal interpretation ofthe Council as normative, and then rails that it is incompatible with tradition. Their energies would be better spent by abondoning such strawmen and taking to heart Pope Benedict’s call for a “hermenutic of continuity.”

  61. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Sam Schmitt,

    a few observations to your very fine comment.

    (0) The very idea of giving and drawing back acceptations of a council or dismissing as a failure is a flaw; a Council is a Council is a Council. It can (arguably) have erred (outside infallibility circumstances, of which there were none in Vatican II); it cannot cease to be a Council. [Of course, we may still call it a failure, just as one may call Ludwig Erhard’s chancellorship a failure.]

    (ad 1) Still more nonsensical is the thought to question a council from its effects, rather than its content.

    (ad 2+3) They may tendencially contradict each other, but they do not formally, and since contradiction is the very means to gain truths in our, and any true, philosophy (in the natural way), I’d personally reserve the c-word to be a last, invincible killer argument. However, that’s personal taste and I’m of course not censoring your words.

    Here is, at any rate, how they do not contradict each other. Vatican II was a pastoral council, according to its intent and also the degree attached to its sentences, nevertheless in the things it did teach some were actual doctrines. You get the idea.

    The SSPX take as normative what they perceive to be the literal sense; in addition, they are of course influenced by the progressist interpretation for the simple reason that it is prevalent in popular culture. “Hermeneutic of continuity” is what the Pope wants, but they misunderstand him. They understand that it is obliged to them that the II Vatican Council was a continuation of tradition; the Pope means that it is from the continuity of tradition that the II Vatican Council is to be interpreted, even if this would in singular instances make appear singular ruptures (but the point is singular, not an altogether-rupture). Similar to law: A law interprets previous law as far as possible, and changes it as far as necessary, and if – by the way – it violates higher law, then it comes into force in a reduced way in so far as it does not violate it.

    In addition, they see a lot of contradictories where there are none. Vatican II (apparently, at least according to them) said that in the middle of the Church’s service is the man, and previous tradition, apparently, said: God is there. Now whatever to be said about prudence, this is no contradictory (this being the precise point of the double-commandment; and Vatican II did certainly not say “man and not or secondarily only, God”). And so on.

  62. Taylor says:

    Dear jlmorrell and mdepie,
    Thank you for replying to my 3 Dec 11 post. I am pleased to be considered a peasant for God when I say that all that we need to do is have faith in the promise that the Holy Spirit is guiding and directing the Church through the legitimate Pope and the legitimate Magisterium. As well, we need to have faith and understand that Vatican II can not be taken and treated by itself, separately from all that came before. This is what people do – they isolate it as if it is a drop of oil in water. Fundamentalists do the same thing with a single phrase in the Bible – isolate it and consider outside of the context of the whole of Scripture and Tradition. Also, compare the immediate context of Trent with the immediate context of Vatican II. I am an idiot, but I know that when the leaves begin to bud that spring is on the way and when the leaves change color, fall is sure to come – and I am the same way with the teachings of the legitimate Church authorities. Denying Vatican II or speaking ill of it demonstrates an awful lack of faith and trust…you know this. When we say to condemn the sin but not the man, we must apply this to the teachings of the Church. We may condemn how individuals incorrectly executed the teachings of the Church, but do not condemn the works of the Holy Spirit, please. My friends, please relax and have faith and find and promulgate the good which comes from the Spirit through His ecumenical councils.
    Peace,
    t