Fr. Scalon on the unfinished business of Vatican II

At Homiletic and Pastoral Review there is a good article by Fr. Regis Scanlon, OFMCap.  Let’s see the first part, with my emphases:

Fifty years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the Church in the United States is in the throes of a struggle. Loyal Catholics are showing renewed vigor and vitality, and are helping the Church to move forward in unity. At the same time, the Church is also being exhausted and drained from within by a vocal movement of other Catholics who continue to dissent from Church teachings, particularly the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

Dissent is entrenched in the Church in the U.S.

For most American Catholics over 50, it is an accepted fact that dissent from the magisterium of the Church is widespread, tolerated, and, in some quarters, even welcomed. The breaking point, of course, was Paul VI’s 1968 prophetic encyclical, Humanae Vitae, which condemned contraception as “intrinsically disordered.”  The encyclical became one of the most controversial documents of the century, if not many centuries. The widespread dissent by Catholics was led with enthusiasm by huge numbers of Catholic theologians, professors and intellectuals. The onslaught of bright, articulate academics turning on the Pope encouraged many Catholics in the pews to do the same.

Why would so many educated Catholics—who should have been ready and able to defend the teaching authority of the Church—turn against the Pope with such force? How could they justify it?

The most popular argument was that permission to dissent had been given by none other than the Second Vatican Council. The dissenters claimed that “the spirit of Vatican II,” along with theological perspectives of the Council, supported their argument that individual Catholics have a right to dissent from “non-infallible” Church teachings—even authoritative encyclicals like Paul VI’s “Humanae Vitae”—if they felt they had a good enough reason.

Unfortunately, this false notion was unwittingly given a boost by none other than the bishops of the United States. On November 15, 1968, a few months after the promulgation of Humanae Vitae, the bishops issued their pastoral letter, “Human Life in Our Day,” to help Catholics interpret the Pope’s encyclical.  The bishops said in no. 51 of that document that in some cases, a Catholic could dissent from “non-infallible authentic doctrine” of the magisterium. They explained: “The expression of theological dissent from the magisterium is in order only if the reasons are serious and well-founded, if the manner of the dissent does not question or impugn the teaching authority of the Church, and is such as not to give scandal.”

So, the bishops did approve of limited dissent from papal teaching in faith and morals.

This position was given even more credence later by the powerful and widely quoted Cardinal Bernardin when he was Archbishop of Chicago. Shortly before his death in 1996, Cardinal Bernardin initiated his Catholic Common Ground Project, to bring factions of the church together in “dialogue.” According to a Nov. 14, 1996, article in Origins (pp. 353-356), the axis of Cardinal Bernardin’s legacy was the belief that “limited and occasional dissent” from the magisterium of the Church was “legitimate.

But what did Vatican II really teach?

So, the intellectual community and even the high-ranking Church leaders were reinforcing the idea that dissent from Church teachings was to be expected, even welcomed—and that permission to do so came straight from Vatican II.

However, had they really read the documents of Vatican II?

The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium)no. 25, presents a far different answer from the dissenters. This carefully reasoned Vatican II document states that, even though the bishops of the Catholic Church are not individually infallible, they do teach infallibly the Church’s doctrines of faith and morals “when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church, whose definitions must be adhered to with the submission of faith.”

What could be clearer?

[...]

Read the rest there.

Scanlon addresses, among other things, dissenting liberal nuns and the SSPX.

There are different camps now, to be sure.  I would like to think that they are entrenched, but I fear they are moving farther apart.

The division is made more complicated by the fact that many Catholics a) don’t know their Faith and b) can’t reason well anymore.

How to cut through?

I think, and I think Benedict thinks, that any project of revitalization of our Catholic identity must have at its heart a revitalization of our liturgical worship.  We need a strong turn to the transcendent and to beauty in our worship.

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60 Responses to Fr. Scalon on the unfinished business of Vatican II

  1. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Father, I think Benedict thinks that too. But Benedict is not the Pope anymore. The question is: what does Francis think?

  2. Gregg the Obscure says:

    It’s great to see Fr. Scanlon getting a broader audience. He’s one of the good guys, as are all the Capuchins known to me.

  3. A Sinner 2 says:

    I found his propositions questionable (for example, what about the “time bombs” mentioned as such by Michael Davies and alluded to from the other side by Cardinal Kaspar) and stopped reading altogether upon arriving at this clearly erroneous statement (emphasis added)…

    “…and cling to the minutiae of 500-year-old rituals as necessary, FOR THEIR OWN SAKE.”

  4. joan ellen says:

    Fr. Z says: “I think, and I think Benedict thinks, that any project of revitalization of our Catholic identity must have at its heart a revitalization of our liturgical worship. We need a strong turn to the transcendent and to beauty in our worship.”

    Amen Fr. I have the benefit of the Extraordinary Form Mass on Sunday. But, also the benefit of 2 parishes where the pastors are incorporating Sacrosanctum concilium more and more, little by little in the Ordinary Form. I can’t help but think this is making a difference in the lives of others besides me.

  5. Jack Orlando says:

    Amen to the “revitalization of liturgical worship”. As for the argument “it isn’t infallible, therefore I don’t have to believe it”, Liberals and Ultra-Traditionalists are different sides of the same coin.

  6. catholicmidwest says:

    Father Scanlon is a great person but he’s an older person. He remembers all this and the lenses he’s looking through reflect that. Young people, the people leaving the Church now, don’t remember any of that, and what’s more they don’t care about it. It’s other things, things that don’t even have anything at all to do with catechesis qua catechesis, that are driving their exodus from the Church.

  7. Legisperitus says:

    A Sinner 2: Not only the spurious “for their own sake” is false, but also the “500-year-old” descriptor, which denigrates the extreme antiquity of our traditional liturgy by implying that it was simply an on-the-spot fabrication by St. Pius V.

  8. rcg says:

    Why did intellectuals chose to spend their mental efforts justifying the pursuit of their carnal pleasure? Seriously??? That is how they spend all the time of their days. They restructured all of academia to support and confirm their lusts for power and sex, Vatican II was merely one of the more prominent targets.

  9. Mike says:

    Made a visit after Sunday night’s “Youth Mass” at my parish–one with roto-toms, sax, and jazzy Glorias..and about 15 minutes after the Mass ended, when I came in, the laughter, talking, and such was really, really loud. In front of the Tabernacle.

    The “periphery”, Your Holiness, is inside the Church.

  10. anilwang says:

    Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says: “The question is: what does Francis think?”

    I believe he thinks any project of revitalization of our Catholic identity must have at its heart a revitalization of our prayer-life, reconnection to next life (e.g. he often references the saints and also the devil), and serving those in need with the heart of Christ.

    WRT liturgical worship, he doesn’t seem to see the connection between prayer and liturgy, liturgy and the next life, and liturgy and service.

    Unfortunately, this lack of vision common among the average Catholic and unfortunately its something that is really hard to catechize and evangelize for, even if you have been exposed to TLM.

    I know one person who attended Latin mass until the late 80s and was an altar boy and in the Legion of Mary . He only left for NO in his mid 20s due to a falling out with the priest. Given his background, he *should* have understood how central liturgy is to the Catholic life. No. He appears to know less about this than I did (as a fallen away, never confirmed, poorly catechized Catholic that had an Arian understanding of Jesus).

    I’ve tried to explain the importance of liturgy to him and how central it is to Catholic living, but it doesn’t sink in or does not relevant as long as you’re worshipping God on Sundays (in whatever service you feel comfortable in) and do “the real work of a Catholic” the rest of the week.

    I don’t know how to bridge the gap, so I’m not surprised that Pope Francis hasn’t crossed that gap.

    It seems like “lex orandi lex credendi lex vivendi” depends more on Grace than catechisis.

    My own thoughts on Catholic Identity is that currently the Church is split between “lex orandi lex credendi” traditionalists, “lex credendi lex vivendi” average faithful Catholics, and “lex vivendi” Cafeteria Catholics. Until “lex orandi lex credendi lex vivendi” is restored, there will be no effective Catholic Identity and all attempts at evangelization will be severely hampered.

  11. Therese says:

    anilwang , yes, catechetical poverty is widespread and is the focus of our mission. Among dissenting Catholics I know personally, NONE have read the documents of Vatican II. Equally surprising, I meet relatively few Traddies who have, also. How can we discuss something we know nothing about?

  12. “I think, and I think Benedict thinks, that any project of revitalization of our Catholic identity must have at its heart a revitalization of our liturgical worship.”

    Would one who disagrees with this be part of the Church’s problem rather than of its solution? On the other hand, would this criterion make many or most cardinals and bishops part of the problem? If so, what’s the real solution?

    [Heu! Tu enim dixisti! Solution? tick... tock... tick... tock...]

  13. jacobi says:

    Vatican II was the occasion for a surge of liberal and heretical Modernist thinking into the Church, which attempted to interpret the documents accordingly, hence the Secularisation of some catholic thinking i.e., pressure to adopt secularist ideas such as divorce, female priests, and now homosexual ”marriage”.
    Currently there is an upsurge in such pressure due to their presumption that Pope Francis I, will be more” liberal” than Pope Benedict XVI was. In this they are wrong, since no Pope has the authority to change established Catholic teaching.
    Vatican II “defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council” and was distorted by, “an interpretive current which, referring to a supposed ‘spirit of the Council’, intended instead to establish a discontinuity with the Tradition of the Church”. (Benedict XVI)
    But the Secularists within the Church will continue their dissent, until our present Pope speaks out clearly and unambiguously against them.

  14. marylise says:

    The experiment of molly-coddling heretics within the Catholic Church was a non-starter from the beginning. However, it has become so normative that some of us have never known anything else. We cannot even imagine a Church full of believers. More to the point, we have little direct experience of bishops, priests or nuns who realize that the Magisterium (as opposed to opinion or emotion) should be their habitual point of reference. Some great lover of the Church with a penchant for administration must recognize the call to address this problem. We need an updated version of the inquisition with specific reference to the anomaly of a largely disoriented hierarchy. During His earthly life, the Divine Saviour of all mankind tolerated a ratio of one traitor to eleven faithful bishops. In the twenty-first century, we seem to be starting off with this ratio in reverse. Leaving aside blame, angst and bafflement, it is time to propose solutions.

  15. Traductora says:

    I entirely agree that the liturgy is key -once you get them in the door. I honestly do not like the Nivus Ordo and I think it is lifeless, clearly a committee project. But I travel a lot, and having seen traditional rite communities in many places, I can honestly say there is not a one that I would consider attractive to a questioning soul. [Sad!] The best one I have seen I’d the FSSP mass in Ocala, but of you were a non–Catholic, not to mention non-Christian, I think you’d be overwhelmed and confused, plus people would be wanting you to join “their” version of Catholicism. Once upon a time, there was only one Church, and while it wasn’t great in many places, it was still identifiable. But now, it’s not even immediately identifiable.

    I’ve been at a conference on a traditional form of religious art, and frankly, I feel that that we need to bring back are are the popular devotions and practices. There was a reason for these things and that’s why popular devotions were one of the first targets of modernists like Bernardin (who i hope is getting his just reward for all the souls he destroyed). Reject the iconoclasm of the modernists: bring back processions, May crownings and even -gasp! – religious art in churches. [Necessary!]

    I honestly think the liturgy will sort itself out if we just bring back popular piety, and I think these devotional practices are one thing both NO and traditional rite people could agree upon.

  16. RJHighland says:

    I would just like to say as I have stated many times before the SSPX has not moved, they are entrenched in pre Novus Ordo pre Vatican II. They have not moved and inch. The Church has changed (new mass, new postures and lack of disciplne in matters of faith) the LCWR has continued to move farther and farther from the faith but the SSPX it hasn’t moved and as far as I can tell has no intention to move. The move I have seen is more and more Catholics are coming back to the faith that the SSPX never moved from. God Bless.

  17. moon1234 says:

    @RJHighland

    I think I would have to agree here. They have not changed a bit since I have been reading about them, etc. The Church has changed a lot and I think that with SP more people are seeing them as not being the wild, right wing idealists that they were portrayed. Sure they have some members who are way off the beaten path, but the Church has PLENTY of them on all sides.

    The SSPX are brought up so much because their numbers continue to grow. If they were a cancer, an self defeating organism, it would disappear on it’s own. That is what so troubles the Magesterium about the SSPX. They don’t deny the Pope, they point out inconsistencies with VII documents and previous defined dogma.

    How do you deal with a child who is talking about all of your potential “dirty laundry” at a party. First you ignore them. If that does not work them you tell them to be quiet. When that does not work you tell them to obey or else.

    Comments such as Fr. Scalon’s about 500 year old liturgy shows that he has no respect for the Mass or the saints that said Mass nurtured. He falls into the modernist trap that the Mass needs constant revision and that what was nourishing for the soul is no longer. It is where those who identify as traditionalists stop reading and just shake their heads and sigh while thinking “He was so close…..”

  18. anilwang says:

    RJHighland says: ” SSPX has not moved, they are entrenched in pre Novus Ordo pre Vatican II….They have not moved and inch.”

    I’d disagree. If you compare what Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre asked for and what Pope Benedict XVI offered the SSPX, you’ll see that if Pope Benedict XVI had been Pope back in 1988, the SSPX would never have stepped outside the Church. There has been a hardening of positions.

    Also, no faithful pre-VII Catholic would ever dream of going into schism even under horrible Popes and rampant abuse as was the case during the Pornocracy, yet the SSPX is in no rush to return to Rome.

    No faithful pre-VII Catholic would dream of rejecting the validity of an Ecumenical Council that has been deemed to be valid by the Pope, yet the SSPX does. Note, the SSPX hasn’t said that VII is valid but due to ambiguities and the post-VII results should be scrapped. That is a valid Catholic position that would have been accepted by the CDW and lead to reconciliation with Rome. It has stated that VII teaches error, pure and simple.

    The Church is a mess now. No arguments. And as long as the above points were not mentioned, a faithful pre-VII Catholic would feel more comfortable in an FSSP or SSPX parish than a NO parish.

    But the seeds of this mess were in place long before Vatican II. The Dutch Catechism and the Humanae Vitae revolt along with the revolt by Catholic Universities came so soon after Vatican II but before the NO was released to be anything other than a product of the pre Vatican II Church. If Vatican II never happened, we might be in better shape but there’s no guarantee. Vatican II provided the excuse to “change everything” but even the Humanae Vitae revolt along with the revolt by Catholic Universities was enough to undermine the credibility the Church enough to change everything. It’s not as if the liturgical abuses after Vatican II didn’t have their origins before Vatican II. For an example of how TLM could look like now had Vatican II been abandoned by the Catholic dissenters, have a look at the mass in “Change of Habit” (released before the NO was released but the screen play was written about 1965):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-S3K6wXYpg

  19. Johnno says:

    I recall that when the Popes issued Papal Bulls against slavery, and numerous decrees, that many Catholics, including eventually the U.S. Bishops tried to please the general public by attempting to suggest that the Popes meant only that selling slaves was bad but owning slaves was not despite that the Popes demanded restitution and freeing them? Those weren’t infalliable teachings either, so I guess we can disagree about slavery… ok then…

  20. Phil_NL says:

    It’s not just Vatican II that caused this (and even that is a bit too coarse, as it was faulty interpretations of VII that we’ve been talking ab0ut thus far). The is also a second problem, namely that loads of bishops, and occasionally Popes, have issued loads of silly documents that had very little to do with “faith and morals”. If one writes documents or makes comments that clearly show next to no understanding of the topic, as was done on economics and immigration, to name a few topics, you almost automatically breed a generation of Catholics that will dissent on something. And often with good cause, but then the threshold on dissent on faith and morals is much much easier reached. In fact, it may not be clearr at all when the look-at-us-we-care speeches morph into proper teaching and vice versa.

    So it would also help if bishops would leave political questions which fall in the area of prudential judgement well alone. That way you don’t create a habit of the faithful taking you with several grains of salt – and that doubt doesn’t so easily dissapear when bishops are talking faith and morals, to everyone’s detriment.

  21. AnnAsher says:

    “Many Carholics a) don’t know their faith and b) can’t reason well. Amen ! Tis true ! It’s most unfortunate to watch communities follow the teaching of the Church when a solid priest addresses them and then turn around and follow the misleading of the next priest.

  22. netokor says:

    The heretics and the timid leaders of the Church have helped bring about the nightmare we live in. If you oppose contraception, abortion, homosexual “marriage,” and radical feminism, you are either mentallly unbalanced or very evil. Sometimes I cannot believe what we are witnessing, the beginning of a long sought-after dark age. May the Lord grant us the graces that we will need to remain faithful. I came to the US in 1981. The steep downward spiral is undeniable. How will things be 30 years from now?

  23. FeedieB says:

    Two quotes from the above piece:

    First,

    “So, the bishops did approve of limited dissent from papal teaching in faith and morals.”

    Then

    ‘This carefully reasoned Vatican II document states that, even though the bishops of the Catholic Church are not individually infallible, they do teach infallibly the Church’s doctrines of faith and morals “when, gathered together in an ecumenical council, they are teachers and judges of faith and morals for the universal Church, whose definitions must be adhered to with the submission of faith.”’

    So which is it? I don’t get it. The bishops have stated that we can disagree on certain papal teachings on faith and morals? And since the bishops when speaking in one voice on faith and morals are basically infallible… It’s ok then to disagree with the teachings of the Church since the infallible bishops said so? Someone, help me out here.

  24. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Things seem to make a lot more sense when magisterial pronouncements stated what we were supposed to believe or anathematized what we were not supposed to believe.

    “He who states that a Catholic need not submit his will and intellect to the clear pronouncements of the magisterium or the Roman Pontiff or to the college of Bishops acting in Communion with the Roman Pontiff, let him be anathema” would be so uncharitably and unpastorally comprehensible, wouldn’t it?

  25. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    correction: “…pronouncements of the magisterium *of* the Roman Pontiff…”

  26. CharlesG says:

    @RJHighland

    I would reject the idea that the SSPX has never changed. They are disobedient and contemptuous of the authority of the Pope as Supreme Governor of the Church (Vatican I) and of the Magisterium of Popes and Ecumenical Councils legitimately convened. Rather than interpreting that Magisterium respectfully in continuity with Tradition and promoting such traditional interpretation in the Church, they tendentiously spin everything as a rupture.

  27. nanetteclaret says:

    Lest everyone forget, MODERNISM IS A HERESY. Pope St. Pius X declared that it is so in his encyclical “Pascendi Dominici Gregis” issued in 1907. In fact, he declared that it is the “synthesis of all heresies.” I do not think that this encyclical has been abrogated, even though Pope Paul VI made the oath against it optional. When all of these developments are viewed through the lens of this encyclical, the Truth may be found, and all the errors are obvious.

  28. nanetteclaret says:

    “oath against it” = “oath against Modernism”

  29. RJHighland says:

    Thanks Moon 1234
    Charles G,
    Post Vatican II is kind of like the American Public School System. Supports of the system keep saying we just haven’t put enough money into it to acheive the full potential of the system. With Vatican II they keep saying in 50 yrs. it has never been fully implimented or properly implement all we have to do is properly implement it. The results will be the same. It doesn’t matter how many nutrients you put on a diseased tree unless you eradicate the disease it is a waste of time. The fruit of Vatican II are empty seminaries, religious orders dying off, failed perocial schools and a very fractured and confused laity. Vatican II was the crowning achievement of the moderists, they manipulated and created their own faith from the weak documents. Only time will tell who is right and who is wrong in the debate between the SSPX and the Church. One side saying the Church hierarchy has ruptured from the traditional teachings of the Church or the SSPX is a schismatic group in open disobediance to the See of Peter. I think most of us can agree that the only true solution for the floundering Bark of Peter is a return to the TLM and solid catichism of the traditional teachings of the Church. Say the black and do the red as Fr. Z says. Fill the Churches with Gregorian Chant and Polyphany, have children and teach them the faith, one family at a time, one parish at a time, one diocese at at time. Everything starts at home and builds out.
    Anilwang,
    We have no idea what was in the preamble that was presented to Bp. Felley so until that document is published I don’t think you can say what would have occured this year if Abp. Lefebvre was in Bp. Felley’s position. All we can say is an agreement was not reached and most of us are very disappointed in that. Time will tell but I think you are in a serious case of denial if you believe the SSPX has changed its position on faith and traditional teachings more than the Church’s heirarchy has. The vocabulary alone in interpration of Church documents has changed so much it is like speaking in different languages. It is almost like the curse our Lord put upon the people in Shinar that were constructing the tower of Babel, nobody understands what the other is truly trying to say. Sadly there is not a whole lot of trust either. I agree that the seeds of modernism where in the Church before Vatican II and Novus Ordo but it was not until after the council did they take control of the Church. The Novus Ordo and all the innovations that came along with it is what gutted the laity and the Church. Satan has not over come the Church but he surely has infiltrated it to the highest levels. But if the Apostles are an indication as to faithfulness of the heirarchy then over half of the Apostles would have been with Judas and in a sense James the Judizer would represent the SSPX. We just need another Council of Jerusalem to get this all figured out. Peter had his feet in both camps, had a vision and had to make a call to keep unity, let us hope the Holy Ghost and not the “spirit of Vatican II” guides both sides together on this matter as was done in Jerusalem.

  30. Supertradmum says:

    Same thing or worse here in Great Britain. Priests have been allowing contraception the entire time Humanae Vitae has been promulgated, using the old adage of “conscience” deciding, as if the formation of a bad conscience got the lay person off the hook.

    Too many priests here still teach that contraception is ok in mixed marriages, as long as the person who is Catholic regularly reminds the other that he or she does not want it or like it. Come on!

    As I have noted here before, one priest said that if he would preach against contraception, he would lose one-third of his parish. So?

    As to the aura of dissent, it has been passed on to two more generations, with the result that there are virtually no young people in many parishes, except for converts.

    Last year in Ireland, and this year in England, I witnessed liturgical dissent from priests-kids standing around the altar during the Consecration, using the old words of the previous NO by choice, and so on.

    To add to this, these very priests and laity do not want to be catechized, even when it is offered free of charge! They think they know it all. Sigh…not much will change soon.

  31. RJHighland says:

    Anilwang,
    Change of Habit came out in 1969, at the end of Vatican II and as Bugnini was developing the new mass. It was either prophetic or was produced to influence the movement already inside the Church. Very ecumenical and diverse. Hapless priest, confused religious and progressive laity, all they need was the destruction of the high alter, and having people dancing out with the statues and alter rails, taking down the crucifix and replacing it with a resurrected Christ flying off of the cross. Its a shame they didn’t have people holding hands and dancing in the pews. Most young Catholics would see that and not realize how shocking that was at the time, looks like what they see every Sunday at a Life Teen mass. That is what our last Bishop would have considered a high mass, I pray our next Bishop has a different perspective. Oh wait forgive me for being critical of our last Bishop he was elevated by John Paul the Great and a disciple of Cardinal Mahoney, I had a moment of disobediance and now I must be in schisim with the Church, please forgive me. What must I do to cleanse my soul, yoga perhaps, 10 On Eagles Wings, 5 Kumbayas, a meditation on a Cat Stevens tune maybe, what must I do? Oh I know go back to my local parish’s Wednesday morning bible study and rewatch God Spell (I only made through 10 min. the first time) that would cure me of this disobedience!! In truth we pray for our former bishop and for our next bishop, and we pray for our Holy Father Pope Francis. We pray that he be the Pope that helps to heal the many wounds in our Holy Church.

  32. CharlesG says:

    @RJHighland

    Thank you for your response. Vatican II is its magisterial teachings, i.e. its documents, not how they have been misapplied or misinterpreted. I think it is wrong to paint with a broad brush and say “Vatican II,” or even the specific official liturgical form of Paul VI’s mass authorized following Vatican II, are themselves the cause of the crisis. Since the documents can be interpreted and the liturgy celebrated in an orthodox fashion and according to an hermeneutic of reform in continuity, the real problems that you mention stem from how those were wrongfully put to actual use in the Church. So the solution is to work within the Church to shore up more authentic interpretations of the magisterterial documents, and to push for more reverence, beauty and tradition in the liturgy, whether ordinary or extraordinary form, and not simply write off the entire Church, and especially the last two Popes, as “modernist” and irretrievably in error. Work for tradition within the Church, not tendentiously kibbitz from outside like the SSPX, or work against Church leaders, again like the previous two Popes, who have done a lot of heavy lifting to help restore orthodoxy in the Church, regardless of whether one might be critical of a few of their actions. I can agree mostly with your following statement, although I would maintain that the Novus Ordo of itself is perfectly orthodox and legitimately authorized and can and should be pushed in a direction of more reverence, beauty and tradition (and I say that as someone who sings in a chant schola for an EF missa cantata every Sunday where we sing every single one of the propers from the Liber):

    “…the only true solution for the floundering Bark of Peter is a return to the TLM and solid catichism of the traditional teachings of the Church. Say the black and do the red as Fr. Z says. Fill the Churches with Gregorian Chant and Polyphany, have children and teach them the faith, one family at a time, one parish at a time, one diocese at at time. Everything starts at home and builds out.”

  33. MichaelJ says:

    CharlesG, sorry, I’m not buying the whole ” The orthodox Vatican II documents were misapplied or misinterpreted”. You are suggesting that the very Bishops who authored, amended, approved, and studied the documents (for three years!) are the ones who misunderstood them?

    There is no evidence that what was done to the Church in the wake of Vatican II was anything other than exactly what was intended. The fact that the documents can be interpreted in an orthodox manner is proof of the protection of the Holy Ghost. The fact that they are not, and were not intended to be, is proof of … something else.

  34. Nancy D. says:

    Nostra Aetate, could not be any clearer, “The Muslims and Jews worship the same God as Christians do”. Pope Francis agrees. I am wondering if any one on this blog believes that the Muslims and Jews worship The Blessed Trinity?

  35. robtbrown says:

    Nancy D. says:
    Nostra Aetate, could not be any clearer, “The Muslims and Jews worship the same God as Christians do”. Pope Francis agrees. I am wondering if any one on this blog believes that the Muslims and Jews worship The Blessed Trinity?

    Like Christians they worship The One God, Who created all things.

    NB: According to St Augustine and St Thomas, the Trinity is always to be considered within the One God, so that in God there is only one Act of Willing and one Act of Knowing, these last two being the basis for their Trinitarian Theology.

  36. Sam Schmitt says:

    @MichaelJ

    Strange as it may sound, the evidence is in favor of the proposition that “the very Bishops who authored, amended, approved, and studied the documents (for three years!) are the ones who misunderstood them” – it’s just that there’s room for doubt that many of the bishops were that aware of what was actually in the documents.

    The obvious example is the Constitution on the Liturgy, which bishops approved in Rome only to ignore many of its provisions once they returned home to their dioceses. We’re all familiar with the extinction of liturgical Latin in direct defiance of that the Constitution says. (In fact, when one prominent bishop voiced his concern that Latin in the liturgy would disappear, his comments were received with disbelief and even chuckles from his fellow bishops.) In this case, it was the diocesan liturgy committees and middle managers who were really implementing many of the changes – albeit with the tacit approval of the bishop.

    So believe it or not, the bishops went along with misinterpretations of Vatican II, even though they were the ones who were there.

  37. robtbrown says:

    CharlesG says:

    I would reject the idea that the SSPX has never changed. They are disobedient and contemptuous of the authority of the Pope as Supreme Governor of the Church (Vatican I) and of the Magisterium of Popes and Ecumenical Councils legitimately convened.

    It is incorrect to say that the SSPX is contemptuous of the authority of the Pope. In fact, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos said as much.

  38. Nancy D. says:

    robtbrown, no doubt St.Thomas would agree that the Muslims and the Jews do not worship the same God as Christians do as they do not worship The Blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

  39. anilwang says:

    Phil_NL says: “If one writes documents or makes comments that clearly show next to no understanding of the topic…almost automatically breed a generation of Catholics that will dissent on something. ”

    Agreed, but just one quibble. The “next to no understanding of the topic” is overstated. The key problem is not how much research was done. The key problem is that when they speak outside the competence of the Magesterium the positions taken are just opinions. So different bishop’s conferences will issue different statements on the same topic, and different bishops at different time period will issue different statements. Unless such statements are clearly labelled as “Editorial” or “Opinion”, the average Catholic won’t know what is de fide and what must be believed out of obedience (e.g. tentative Magesterial rulings based on the science of the day) and what is just an opinion.

    This ambiguity greatly reduced the credibility of the Magesterium. The less it speaks, the more it will be listened to and the more effort can be made to make sure that it is listened to.

    Unfortunately bishops with an agenda *want* to muddy the waters, since if its just an opinion, few people will buy into it, and if it is a tentative Magesterial rulings based on the science the science must be backed up for credibility. If people think they have to believe without question, they don’t have to worry about backing up their opinions.

  40. norancor says:

    The article is good even though Father does not seem to know much of anything particularly about the SSPX. Pope Benedict (and you in your comments) have been pretty clear than the SSPX problem is doctrinal, not disciplinary. Vernacular liturgy is at best a secondary concern for the Society, and any traditional Catholic. Putting that aside…

    Even you, Most Reverend Moderator, have pointed out the true objectives from the mouths of Cardinal Kaspar and Archbishop Marini. Pastoralism and ambiguity were the modus operandi of the writers of the documents of Vatican II. The intent was to alter doctrine and doctrinal practice by means of pastoralism as the primary character, ambiguity in documents, misapplication in implementation, and now the problematic trend of saying both the calling of the Council by Pope John, and the documents of the Council, are works of the Holy Spirit and infallible.

    The surreptitious motives of the Council’s framers are detailed famously in the overview work The Rhine Flows into the Tiber and have been substantiated by many other periti and prelates involved in the Council in interviews and works subsequent to the Council, principally by those most proud of their “accomplishments.”

    This leaves good Catholics with a problem.

    “Trads” are regularly dismissed as being some sort of dissident faction of kooks and cranks by conservatives and other “neo-con” Catholics, and let’s be honest, the spittle-flecked nutty wing of “trads” have only proven their lack of prudence and moderation lately, and yet at the same time many “conservative” Catholics are finally awakening to the true nature of the problem: it isn’t simply the application of the council and the spirit of Vatican II.

    The intent by certain members of the Catholic blogosphere to tar and feather “trads” as heretics has recently intensified amongst many, many conservative bloggers. It almost seems coordinated, in how consistent the talking points are. And yet we see many conservatives realizing the discord in teaching and reading the interviews of people involved in the Council, or their disciples (Kasper and Kung, and Marini and Bugnini) who know the agenda was to not update in “aggiornamento,” but to remake in another latter day reformation.

    The Council itself may be true in many regards, and infallible as a matter of the ordinary Magisterium of the Church in stating past teachings. However, the doubtful character of so many ambiguities in the documents and “pastoral provisions” that “trads” like the SSPX and others point out in things like ecumenism, the nature of the Church, and religious liberty, casts a doctrinal pall over the whole Council.

    It should not be possible, or necessary, to have to decide what parts of a Council’s documents are “sound” and unambiguous. Can a Council be both an act of the ordinary Magisterium and at the same time be doctrinally unsound? Is this possible?

    The simple ability to read a document in both an orthodox and heterodox manner is in my mind the most ringing indictment of the duplicitous and ambiguous nature of the Council. And now we know why. It was the intention of the framers to be ambiguous to the point that documents could be read in one way correctly, and another way incorrectly.

    The Church is supposed to speak clearly on doctrine, with one voice, and I hope that conservatives are thinking about this. Regardless of the brittle nature of “trads” at times, we aren’t wrong about this, and our adherence to traditional practice and doctrine isn’t “prideful or impious rigidity.” It is simple prudence and fortitude in the face of rapid, ambiguous, questionable changes. In 2013, the desire to have the hard-headed or stubborn stop calling the Church to “go back” only tells me that we haven’t solved any of our problems, and when we are told that the pope calling the council, and council itself, are infallible, it tells me we really really haven’t solved any of the problems.

    The future isn’t about evolution or inevitability. It is about choices. We need to choose to understand who we are as Catholics again. We need to renew the Sacraments. We need to embrace who we are again, and stop trying to make ourselves something we aren’t, for the sake of the world and non-Catholics. When you have made incorrect choices, you rectify the situation by identifying the problems, making new choices, and acting according to those new choices and goals.

  41. phlogiston says:

    This is all awfully confusing. The “Rad Trads” are said to not accept Vatican II, yet Vatican II also explicitly states that the use of Latin in the liturgy is to be maintained, which was obviously ignored with the synthesis of the Novus Ordo. So are the Rad Trads unaccepting of Vatican II? Or was Rome with the institution of the Novus Ordo?

  42. Johnno says:

    phlogiston -

    Trads don’t have a problem with everything in Vatican II. Just some portions of it and also largely the intentions behind the council as a whole.

  43. robtbrown says:

    Nancy D,

    I already showed above that you are wrong.

  44. anilwang says:

    RJHighland said “Change of Habit came out in 1969, at the end of Vatican II”

    Sort of but movies aren’t created on the spot. It takes at least a year to create them and about that much time to secure funding. There’s also time needed to find someone to accept the screen play and time needed for final polishing, and find actors for the movie and negotiate with them. Finally, there’s time needed to write the screen play in the first place. Adding up these numbers places it close to 1965…long before the documents of Vatican II were generally available.

    You state a number of liturgical abuses in the firm, but there’s more, including nuns out of habits, nuns contemplating leaving their vows to get married (this is never resolved), and so on.

    If the Church was firmly rooted in Catholic Tradition back in the 1960s, where was the Catholic outcry against this film? Why was this film not denounced and boycotted? The reason is simple, things were not as rosy as one would have liked to believe. If you read writings at the time, most bishops, including Lebebvre saw that the Church was sick and that something should be done.

    The roots of the liturgical abuses, the nuns revolts, the university revolt, and bishops revolt on Humanae Vitae along with the Dutch Catechism had their roots in the early 1900s. It doesn’t take that much research to verify this, but if you’re lazy Michael Voris has several CIA/FBI documentaries on these topics with references that can be followed up on.

    Only time will tell whether Vatican II temporarily aggrevated the sickness but will ultimately lead to its cure or exposed a rot that would have done a lot more damage in secret if it were not exposed by Vatican II or whether Vatican II was a valid council that lead to monumental failure and will eventually be rolled back. Until that time (a century or two from now), there will be legitimate debate.

    But good heavens, if criticizing a Pope places on into schism then none of us are safe since there’s not a person here who would not criticize the Borgia Popes. Fr Z himself has criticized some aspect of Pope Francis, and I’m still on the fence on him for reasons expressed here and previous posts, and Dante has a few nasty things to say on some Popes as well.

    There’s a clear difference between criticizing a Pope or bishop and placing oneself outside the Church as the SSPX has.

  45. Phil_NL says:

    Anilwang

    Perhaps I was a bit uncharitable in that characterization (I wrote it at the end of a 21 hour day), but the issue is not that bishops issue statements that are contradictory, or that they may be insufficiently researched.
    The point I’m making is that statements are issued that are simply wrong in the minds of many Catholics (interestingly, mainly those of a more politically conservative stripe, as the statements tend to be politically left-leaning). And since the topics adressed fall under prudential judgement – as does most of politics – Catholics will shrug off these utterances, consigning them to the dustbin they rightly belong in. But once you have cause to disagree on a regular basis with a bishop, it becomes a whole lot easier to disagree on other matters as well, including those where a bishop is in fact teaching the faith. Therefore it would be much better if bishops would leave such matters (again, immigration and economics come to mind most) well alone.

  46. robtbrown says:

    If I might expand my remarks a bit: It’s not that the NT tells us of a different God, but rather that with the Incarnation God tells us something of His inner life. Two men know the same neighbor. One of the two knows something of the neighbor’s personal life, his profession, family, and religion. The other only sees the neighbor to wave but knows nothing of his personal life.

  47. Indulgentiam says:

    “The division is made more complicated by the fact that many Catholics a) don’t know their Faith and b) can’t reason well anymore.”
    I couldn’t agree more Father. In light of Letter from Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci to His Holiness Pope Paul VI 25th, September, 1969 NO one who is not mired in their own agenda should be left with a shred of doubt. The letter is positively prophetic. Every consequence outlined by them have come to pass.
    Example: “Recent reforms have amply demonstrated that fresh changes in the liturgy could lead to nothing but complete bewilderment on the part of the faithful who are already showing signs of restiveness and of an indubitable lessening of faith. ”
    Read the rest here–http://www.fisheaters.com/ottavianiintervention.html

    If these Cardinals, who where there, saw it then, well what doubt can remain? Say what you will about the “intentions” or “Spirit of Vatican II” but the facts are indesputible. Time has proven, without doubt, Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci were right.

  48. Magash says:

    FeedieB says:

    “So which is it? I don’t get it. The bishops have stated that we can disagree on certain papal teachings on faith and morals? And since the bishops when speaking in one voice on faith and morals are basically infallible… It’s ok then to disagree with the teachings of the Church since the infallible bishops said so? Someone, help me out here.”

    Bishops only speak infallibly when they speak in union with the pope. THey only speak with one voice when their voice includes the Bishop of Rome. So the first quote is speaking of American (and certain European) bishops who supported dissent from the pope. By that very act they showed they were not speaking infallibly, since they can’t speak infallibly if they are not in union with he Pope.

  49. BLB Oregon says:

    I don’t think “Question Authority” was invented at Vatican II. Our church is going through this as much because of the vain self-congratulatory attitude behind those stupid bumper stickers and T-shirts as anything else. How ironic that those with that attitude usually imagine that by their defiance they’re doing war with the “self-righteous.”

    I suppose we all have our blind spots. May they be turned from their pride, and may that measure of hope be measured back to me, as well. We can’t afford to be satisfied with where we are now.

  50. BLB Oregon says:

    –”Bishops only speak infallibly when they speak in union with the pope.”–

    The problem with recognizing when the Church speaks infallibly is the amount of time that this is used to say, in effect: “You, my dear bishop, can’t prove you’re right, therefore we are going to assume in spite of your teaching office and my lack of one and in spite of your rightful position of authority that I’m right and you’re wrong until you can unequivocally prove otherwise. So there.”

    What is the best shape of crozier, when you seem to be herding cats instead of sheep?

  51. catholicmidwest says:

    “The division is made more complicated by the fact that many Catholics a) don’t know their Faith and b) can’t reason well anymore.”

    I’m a retired teacher and have a lot of experience with teaching young people. It’s not that they’re not sharp, and it’s not that they haven’t heard a lot. It’s that they think about it along different pathways than the ones older people are used to. They reason just fine; nothing nefarious has happened to the gene pool. ;)

    The difficulty that you’ve seen has to do with the fact that the osmosis-effect doesn’t work anymore. People don’t learn to be Catholics by imitation, any more than they become surgeons by watching medical shows on tv. They just don’t. In education, there’s been a lot of sound research around understanding how people learn, and what you get by osmosis is a sort of recognition, vocabulary and maybe imitation, but not repertorial learning or commitment. Learning at this level is almost exclusively passive. This is not conversion. This is acquaintance with a culture. And young people rightly understand that cultures are mutable. After all, they know many people who are immigrants and know that cultural norms can change and adapt. What we have to do is reach deeper with them to get them to understand the religion of Catholicism as more than a culture.

  52. Phil_NL says:

    “What is the best shape of crozier, when you seem to be herding cats instead of sheep?”

    Probably something like this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Odo_bayeux_tapestry.png

  53. netokor says:

    “What must I do to cleanse my soul, yoga perhaps, 10 On Eagles Wings, 5 Kumbayas, a meditation on a Cat Stevens tune maybe, what must I do?” RJHighlander, just add a personal, heart-felt rendition of “Lean on Me” by Bill Withers. My sister in law almost got sick listening to the choir sing this at her last ever NO Mass.

  54. catholicmidwest says:

    You don’t get most young people to think that Catholicism is more than a culture by throwing the culture at them. This is very important to understand. Many older people have a hard time conceptualizing that, for whatever reason. You can’t do the same thing exactly the same way over and over and expect a different result. Things don’t work that way, even in religion.

  55. Andkaras says:

    Hey ,I’m still praying for Cat Stevens to come back to the church, he had a certain devotion to St. Joseph you know. And let’s face it , his music was better than …ahem.

  56. Elizabeth D says:

    I particularly appreciated this article and have come back to it a couple times. I found some Sisters recently specifically using “Human Life In Our Day” and its alleged “doctrine of dissent”, perfectly seriously, to claim that it’s okay to “follow your conscience” without any real obligation to form conscience in keeping with the teaching of the Church. I think this is particularly a malady of older religious.

  57. RJHighland says:

    Anilwang,

    Thank you for your response. Your premise of the years of research and developement it took to put together an Elvis Presley movie in the 60′s is highly over stated. I think he was knocking out at least one a year if not more. I agree there were problems in the Church in the 60′s, pick a decade in the last 2000 yrs. when there were not problems in the Church, Satan has been attacking it from the beginning. Vatican II did not solve the problem it took a problem that the Church had been dealing with for nearly a century and put it on steroids kind of like the little dude in Batman that becomes Bane.

  58. RJHighland says:

    Anilwang,

    Just one more slight correction, as much as you might want to think the SSPX is outside the Church it is still inside the Church just in “irregular communion.” The finer points of that debate have been gone over a plenty on this sight but they are not outside the Church or in schisim or heretics. This is how I like to explain it. They are just disobedient on being forced to be disobedient to traditional teachings of the Church by a large faction in the Church that is disobedient who say it is ok to be disobedient but only on the things that they want to be disobediant on. I hope that was clear enough. Oh and this is not the first time in the history of the Church that this has happened. Yah know the Paul calling out Peter thing and all those Arian Bishops and to some extent a Pope, those Renaissance Popes and Bishops. Just like the Vatican II Bishops they never actually changed doctine or morals they just were not very good examples of or good shepherds of the faith transmitted through the Church from the Apostles. I think those are all just proofs of the fact that the Catholic Church is the true Church, because those events would have crushed any secular organization. Once again the SSPX has not changed its teaching or practice, to say the Church did not change after Vatican II would be foolish, but it is slowly coming back around by the grace of God. When y’all are done taking the Bark of Peter out for a joy ride we will be waiting here for ya. It’s kind of like when you give the keys of the car to your teenager, you just pray they both come back in one piece.

  59. I’m surprised no one raised the idea of Collegiality which is really the problem at the center of this issue (Fr. Z?).
    1. It was Bishops conferences that overrode John XXIII’s prepared schemas (72 of ‘em) for the “modest, pastoral council” he planned at the 1960 Roman Synod. They demanded his schemas be scrapped and took defacto control of the council. They demanded that reform of the liturgy be dealt with first (they were no dummies – lex orandi, lex credendi) even though John XXIII has just promulgated a new missal update.
    2. It was the Bishops’s conferences from Europe (particularly the so-called “Rhine Group” from Germany) that dominated the discussions at the council and their periti (Rahner) that drafted the documents that are so easy for Modernists to exploit today. They easily dominated Paul VI.
    3. It was Bishops’ conferences that rose up against Humanae vitae (Winnipeg Statement) in flagrant defiance of the Pope in 1968.
    4. John Paul II left it up to Bishops to implement his “indult” for the TLM in 1984 and of course we all know how THAT went. The same Bishops today by and large are blowing off Summorum Pontificum and Universae ecclesiae and what happens to them? NOTHING.

    When Rahner’s “anthropological inversion” of the sources of authority turned theology on its head with his devastating fantasy of “supernatural existential” it also gave the Modernist and immanentist forces of a latent ‘democracy’ in the church their impetus. How could it not result in collegiality? And what comes after collegiality and the laicization of the Sacred Liturgy? Democracy in the church. This is where we are, people. Look around. If its popular enough, it happens. LGBT masses, divorce and remarriage, annulments by the tens of thousands, liturgical circuses, openly sodomite men confronting chanceries for being asked to step down from teaching Confirmation, you name it.

    When John XXIII decided to set aside anathemas, solemn definitions, condemnations of error and the promulgation of teaching canons in favor of “the medicine of mercy”, he unleashed all these forces in the church. Today, we must ask soberly: is there any real mechanism of discipline left in a church that refuses to apply it?

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