Tablet: “Don’t let anyone tell you the Council didn’t change much!”

The Pill… aka The Tablet… does it again!

On 5 October the American journalist Robert Kaiser, who covered the Council for Time magazine, gave an address for the annual evening of self-affirmation and pre-Conciliar Church bashing for the liberal London Catholic bien-pensant.

Yes, Robert Kaiser gave the 2012 Tablet Lecture!

The talk was entitled “Stories of Vatican II: The Human Side of the Council”. It can be summarized as “Pre-Council, bad. Post-Council, good.” The talk is salted with witticisms such as, “The Council Fathers did not follow the example of Trent. They followed the example of Jesus.” Trent v. Jesus. Get it? And: “Before the Council, we were sin-obsessed. It was even a sin to eat a hamburger on Friday night after the game.” Tom, the bishops in England and Wales reinstated Friday abstinence in 2011. And: “Before the Council, we thought we were miserable sinners when we were being nothing but human.” The Council, apparently, did away with personal sin.

But note that The Tablet described Kaiser’s talk as: “Don’t let anyone tell you the Council didn’t change much”.

Let’s drill into what The Tablet and Kaiser think about that.

During his talk, Kaiser insisted:

Please note that most of these changes did not come about because the Fathers of Vatican II revamped what we had already professed believing in the Apostles Creed. They didn’t change our faith, they didn’t come up with a new understanding of God. Still one God, two natures, three persons. Only in this sense can I agree with Pope Benedict XVI when he keeps insisting on something he calls ‘the hermeneutic of continuity.’

I have to agree with him when he says the Council didn’t come up with anything new. No, no new dogmas.


“Still one God, two natures, three persons.”

“Still one God, two natures, three persons.”

“Still one God, two natures, three persons.”


That’s the problem with Vatican II.   In its wake, especially with the help of the Tablistas, people screw up even the most basic tenets of our Faith.

Liberals no longer remember that it’s, watch carefully…

  • God has one essence, in three divine Persons.
  • Christ, the Second Person, has two natures.
  • God has one nature, a divine nature.

But, as Kaiser and The Tablet say, “nothing changed” in regard to the faith.

The Council did not, in fact, change the basic tenets of the Faith.  It’s just that some people don’t care what they are anymore.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Gaetano says:

    Mr. Kaiser, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  2. jbas says:

    “The Council Fathers did not follow the example of Trent.” Very funny. The third sentence of Dei Verbum reads, “Therefore, following in the footsteps of the Council of Trent and of the First Vatican Council, this present council wishes to set forth authentic doctrine on divine revelation and how it is handed on…”

  3. Charles E Flynn says:

    Let us look on the bright side. Father Z now has copy for his first set of three thematically-related mugs:

    • God has one essence, in three divine Persons.
    • Christ, the Second Person, has two natures.
    • God has one nature, a divine nature.

  4. David Collins says:

    Undergoing RCIA in the mid-90s, my sponsor told a group of us how as a kid at a Catholic school in the pre-conciliar days all the children would, at the sound of the bells, pray the angelus and kneel when they got to the “and the word was made flesh” part.

    All of us newbies wished we could have been part of a such a culture. Then again, people like Robert Kaiser grew up in Catholic ghettos and threw it all away after Vatican II. Lord have mercy.

  5. asperges says:

    “Yves Congar, Jean Danielou, Karl Rahner, and Edward Schillebeeckx…” It says it all. Look what we ended up with.

    “No, no new dogmas. (And thank God for that. The last thing modern, thinking Catholics want are dogmas of any kind.)” No, Our Lord just taught vague, nice ideas we could all have discussions about and discernment away-days for all eternity.

    The style is so condescending: “We are the Thinking People. You are dross.”

    Everything about this article shouts, “Wrong!” No wonder the Tablet loved it.

  6. Clemens Romanus says:

    Gaetano, nice shout out to “Billy Madison.”

    As to the article, anyone who doesn’t know the basic tenets of our faith should not write articles such as these. Ah, catechesis, where have you gone?

  7. amfortas says:

    We all know things changed for the worse. And let’s not kid ourselves that the Council had nothing to do with it. Dear Fr Lang from the London Oratory tied himself in knots in a recent article about Sacrosantum Concilium (a la Tract 90). Gaudium et Spes has many ambiguities and what Lumen Gentium says about Muslims rings rather hollow in this day and age. There are some heroic defences of the Council being put forward at present. I want to believe them but sometimes I struggle to do so.

  8. Denis says:

    The SSPX are being kept in exile for saying something much milder about Vatican II. Shouldn’t Mr. Kaiser and friends have to sign a doctrinal “preamble”?

  9. jbas says:

    I see your point, but Mr. Kaiser has not founded a clerical institute with illicitly ordained bishops.

  10. acardnal says:

    Clemens Romanus , nice catch regarding the “Billy Madison” quote by Gaetano without attribution.

  11. acardnal says:

    For clarification, it was the principal, Mr. Oblaski who said it to Billy Madison.

  12. robtbrown says:

    After a month-long debate on whether the Church should scrap its traditional Latin Mass for the vernacular, the Council Fathers voted 2200 to 200 in favour of the language of the people. It was our first clue: that Vatican II was trying to re-create a people’s Church.

    I am unaware of any text of Vat II that says the Church was to “scrap its traditional Latin Mass forthe vernacular”.

  13. Gaetano says:

    Apologies for the lack of attribution, though I presumed folks would recognize it. Mea culpa.

  14. Denis says:


    Given what has been said by Archbishop Muller, we can be quite confident that the only matter standing in the way of the regularization of the SSPX is their refusal to sign the preamble. We also have the interview with the SSPX’s Father Schmidberger, confirming that the current impasse has everything to do with the SSPX’s that Vatican II was a radical break with Catholic tradition. However, even the SSPX don’t claim that everything but the doctrine of the Trinity changed with V2.

  15. Gail F says:

    “Still one God, two natures, three persons.”
    Wow. I wonder if he really does not know that’s wrong (he would probably say it was generally right and that being specific is “being too picky,” or if he was just too much in love with the “one, two, three” bit to care?

  16. acardnal says:

    The 17 century painter Bartolome had an interesting take on the “Two Trinities” which I love; perhaps Fr. Z has seen it in London’s National Gallery:

  17. AnnAsher says:

    Wow. Just wow…. And how can there be a new church without rupture ? If there is rupture then something is wrong, no ?

  18. Michelle F says:

    Well, if the Holy Father wants to get the Church cleaned up, he can use this guy’s article as a checklist for every heresy and error that needs to be eradicated or corrected – and as quickly as possible.

  19. acardnal says:

    Until I am convinced by evidence to the contrary, I would agree with Frances M. above regarding Cdl. Jean Danielou, S.J.

  20. Matt R says:

    agreed with acardnal and Frances.

  21. asperges says:

    Glad to withdraw the name of Card Danielou, especially now I have read more about him, eg .
    His reputation was somewhat damaged by unfortunate circumstances of his demise but it seems it suited certain parties to whom he had become an embarrassment, correctly predicting the sort of mess the false Spirit of Vatican II did indeed produce. He was “rehabilitated” by the present Pope in 2007.

  22. BLB Oregon says:

    I may be in the vast minority here, but I’ve never understood the idea (on either side) that the Second Vatican Council must be understood as some sort of condemnation of the pre-Conciliar Church. Rather, I think that the first-hand experience of John XXIII previous to becoming Pope was that World War I and World War II demonstrated that the world was on the precipice of a unprecedented period of change, change that would be presumed by many to “good” without much question in prospect, but which would be as often as not harrowing in actuality.

    If we look at the denominations that had nothing like Vatican II, we can see that they, too, had to go through this awful period of the last 50 years. There was no evading it. There was no place to hide from it. Every denomination in Christendom has taken its hits, both those who unrealistically hoped to evade the touch of change entirely and those who were foolishly willing to drop anything or everything to embrace it.

    I am going to propose that at this point the most profitable attitude to take is that “any landing you walk away from is a good one.” It is not as if we get to go back and re-play the decisions of the 1960s all over again. It is water under the bridge, a course taken, and a flight made. Let God judge those those who had those decisions to make, and let us hope for them the mercy we will need to have measured out to us for what we decide and do now. It is time to re-group from the last 50 years of world history and be clear about what to do next….what to do today, right here and right now.

    Let us thank God that things that some attempted to bury in order to kill were not lost, but that the “buried treasures” of the Church are still very much alive, ready to grow again like corms that came through an awful winter little seen but by no means dead. The roots were too deep to be killed by the freeze. It was a terrible winter, but it is not time to re-live the storm. It is time to come alive and go about the timeless work of bearing fruit again.

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