Bp. Nickless (D. Sioux City): we must “exorcize” the “spirit of Vatican II”

I have mentioned Bishop Nickless of Sioux City before.

This is from LifeSite:

Sioux City Bishop Calls for “Exorcism” of “Spirit of Vatican II”

By Kathleen Gilbert

SIOUX CITY, Iowa, October 16, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholics must learn to “exorcise” the so-called “spirit of Vatican II” to end the secularization that has “wreaked havoc” on the Church since the Council, says Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

In a pastoral letter issued Thursday to the lay and religious of his diocese, Nickless wrote that he has “no other desire” than to see the reforms of Vatican II implemented properly. However, he said, “It is crucial that we all grasp that the hermeneutic or interpretation of discontinuity or rupture, which many think is the settled and even official position, is not the true meaning of the Council.”

The “hermeneutic of discontinuity,” under the guise of the “spirit of Vatican II,” sees “the Second Vatican Council as a radical break with the past,” explained the bishop. However, “There can be no split … between the Church and her faith before and after the Council.”

We must stop speaking of the ‘Pre-Vatican II’ and ‘Post Vatican II’ Church,” continued Nickless, who agreed with Pope Benedict XVI that the Council’s meaning “must be found only in the letter of the documents themselves.”  “The so-called ‘spirit’ of the Council has no authoritative interpretation,” Nickless said.

“It is a ghost or demon that must be exorcised if we are to proceed with the Lord’s work.”

The bishop said the cultural upheaval of the 1960s and 70s precipitated a shift in perspective about the Church, and it began to seem that “nothing was certain or solid” in its teaching or liturgy. “Sometimes,” he said, “we set out to convert the world, but were instead converted by it. We have sometimes lost sight of who we are and what we believe, and therefore have little to offer the world that so desperately needs the Gospel.”

This “hermeneutic of discontinuity,” said Nickless, “emphasizes the ‘engagement with the world’ to the exclusion of the deposit of faith.”

“This has wreaked havoc on the Church, systematically dismantling the Catholic Faith to please the world, watering down what is distinctively Catholic, and ironically becoming completely irrelevant and impotent for the mission of the Church in the world,” he said.  “The Church that seeks simply what works or is ‘useful’ in the end becomes useless.”

Nickless devoted a portion of the letter to defending the family against this relativistic mentality, re-emphasizing the nature of the family as the union between man and woman, established by God for the good of the spouses and the procreation of children.


“We must have a distinctive identity and culture as Catholics, if we would effectively communicate the Gospel to the people of this day and Diocese. This is our mission.”

Click here to view Bishop Nickless’ full letter.

Fr Z kudos to Bp. Nickless!

Take some time to read both the whole LifeSite piece, which was a bit too long to include here, and then look at the pastoral letter.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Fr AJ says:

    Wow, what a great Bishop!

  2. CharlesG says:

    Please, dear papal nuncio, Cardinal Ouellet and Pope Francis, we need a few more bishops like this guy!

  3. Gratias says:

    The Church has been taken over by the outside world and they still are not pleased with us. V2 was a rupture and a mistake.

  4. markomalley says:

    The link to Bishop Nickless’ letter, above, is dead. Here is a link that works: http://www.scdioceseschools.org/files/1413521/pastoral%20letter.pdf

  5. dep says:

    It is all very good but, unless I’m mussing something, it’s also three and one-half years old, no?

  6. Southern Catholic says:

    Old news, lol.

  7. NBW says:

    We need many more bishops like Bishop Nickless.

  8. Robbie says:

    Promote this man to Cardinal, and quickly!

  9. a catechist says:

    He’s my bishop. Yes, it was several years ago, and he’s still awesome. Among other things, he published on the diocesan website the guidelines for families who wish their children to receive the sacraments in the traditional order. He’s also very supportive of the Catholic schools.

    I hear him preach regularly at cathedral, where I am a parishioner. He’s always firm, direct, and doctrinal; he never shies from current issues or calling a mortal sin a mortal sin. The number of men entering seminary from our small diocese has more than doubled since he arrived. He’s also great with children and young people.

    In your kindness, please pray for him and for the priests, deacons, and seminarians of the Diocese of Sioux City!

  10. Bob B. says:

    I’ll bet Fishwrap is having a fit right about now.

  11. backtothefuture says:

    We need to exorcise the whole council on the whole.

  12. NoraLee9 says:

    Ill bet he is not certifying governors who have clearly excommunicated themselves through mortal sin (laetae setenciae- correct my spelling if you like) as “Catholics in good standing!” So glad I moved to Jersey. Wish this Bishop were here in the northeast with a little red hat.

  13. Your Excellence, this may be a little more difficult than you think. We have an obstacle in the way of your much needed suggestion: Pope John Paul “the great”:

    “Entrusting myself fully to the Spirit of truth, therefore, I am entering into the rich inheritance of the recent pontificates. This inheritance has struck deep roots in the awareness of the Church in an utterly new way, quite unknown previously, thanks to the Second Vatican Council…”

    This, Bishop Nickless is THE ‘spirit of Vatican II’.
    Kyrie Eleison!

  14. Imrahil says:

    Dear @NoraLee9, one does not excommunicate oneself through mortal sin, but through canonical crime with assigned latae sententiae excommunication. Performing an abortion is such a crime; legislating against the secular punishability of abortion is not, whether we’d like it to be or no.

  15. AndyMo says:

    Isn’t this 4 years old?

  16. Lori Pieper says:

    What NoraLee9 is referring to is the recent flap where Cardinal Dolan of New York, who has been coming out quite strongly against so-called-Catholic governor Cuomo’s new pro-abortion bill issued a correction to a newspaper interview with him. The paper said that Cardinal Dolan had said that Gov. Cuomo might not be a “Catholic in good standing,” and Dolan asked for a correction because he had not actually said that. The reason he can’t say it, of course, is that he has no canonical authority to say it, since he is not Gov. Cuomo’s ordinary (that would be Bishop Hubbard of Albany, thankfully nearing retirement). Cardinal Dolan can’t level an excommunication or any other canonical penalty on anyone who is not a member of his diocese.

    This is what people are straining into “certifying Cuomo a Catholic in good standing” as if he wanted to vouch for him or give him an imprimatur. This is unfair and misleading.

    Imrahil, I believe you are absolutely right about the excommunication for abortion. Unfortunately it doesn’t apply to politicians. Most pro-choice Catholic politicians, like Joe Biden, try to choose their language carefully and say that they themselves are pro-life, follow the teachings of the Church, etc., and just don’t want to impose their views on non-Catholics, etc. It’s a total crock, but makes it harder to accuse them of heresy or disobedience. Even if bishops choose not to apply canonical penalties, they need to point out the blatant hypocrisy in the language, and firmly. I think it will actually do more good.

  17. Kathleen10 says:

    What a wonderful Bishop! Oh if only we had a country-full of such men! It has been long-arriving, but one can really now see the weakness, the vapid nature of statements by Bishops today. They are large on “general religious-speak” but small on Catholicism with a capital “C”. It has been disheartening for years, decades actually. And here comes a man speaking truth and with courage and frankness. Excellent. I must also say one can see in that warm and inviting smile a special kind of love, the kind of warmth that draws you in. We also have a sweet Bishop. I just wish he would make such bold and assertive statements on behalf of our Catholic faith. Because we are deep in “navy blue” country, everything is completely watered down and weak. It could be a statement from any denomination, so as not to offend our followers or atheists.

  18. ocds says:

    [Do I hear an “Amen!”?]

    You most certainly do.

  19. Priam1184 says:


  20. Bill Foley says:

    Catholic Johnny,

    Blessed John Paul II is THE GREAT; he will soon be Saint John Paul THE GREAT, and he will be a Doctor of the Church; he is arguably the greatest pope of all time!

  21. robtbrown says:

    Bill Foley says:
    Blessed John Paul II is THE GREAT; he will soon be Saint John Paul THE GREAT, and he will be a Doctor of the Church; he is arguably the greatest pope of all time!

    Why do you think that?

  22. Nancy D. says:

    Vatican II is a rupture because it made the erroneous claim that the Jews and the Moslems worship the same God as we do, when the fact is, we, who are Catholic, worship The True God, The God of our Salvation, Who desires we overcome our disordered inclinations, including our disordered sexual inclinations, so that we are not led into temptation, but rather, sin no more. The Sacrifice of The Cross, Is The Sacrifice of The Holy Trinity, for “God so Loved us, that He sent His Only Son…”.

    God Is Love. Love exists in relationship. There Is only One Spirit of Love Between The Father and The Son.

  23. robtbrown says:

    Nancy D.

    I’m sorry–you are wrong.

    Through the Church The One God has revealed Trinity of His inner life. That neither Jews nor Moslems don’t believe in the Trinity doesn’t mean they don’t believe in The One God.

    In fact, St Thomas treats the question of the Love of God in the treatise on the One God.

  24. Robt Brown, I doubt he will be able to say why Pope Wojtyla deserves the title “great” unless he cites worldly accomplishments and fame.
    “Woe to you when men shall bless you: for according to these things did their fathers to the false prophets.” Luke 6:26
    Pope John Paul II more than any other single individual fostered, promoted, nurtured, encouraged and exalted the “spirit of Vatican II” and came perilously close to conflating it with the Holy Ghost.

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