Voris video on Vatican II’s built in vagueness

Here is a video from Michael Voris in his usual non-committal, indifferent, ambiguous, vague, tepid, ho-hum style.  o{];¬)

I will remind the readership that in the greater arc of the Church’s history, Vatican II wasn’t all that important.  It is still in the living memory of many right now, which falsely magnifies its importance.  Furthermore, the identity of many American Catholics of a certain age were formed under the influences of the civil-rights movement, anti-war protests, and the sexual revolution.  Together, these influences fused into the minds and identities of many of a certain age together with Vatican II.  Thus, Vatican II has taken on a kind of mythic importance in the identity of many Catholics of a certain age.  When a challenge is raised to any aspect of Vatican II, they take it personally.  When they see a biretta or hear some Latin or read a claim that the documents have some flaws, a loud buzzzzzzzzzz starts in their heads and they react negatively.

This can serve as the starting point of fruitful discussion.

Keep in mind that in the early Church, when bishops holding conflicting views met in synods and councils to work through a problem, they would produce creeds to which they could affix their signatures, as it were.  The creeds had to precise enough to state something clear, but in order to build unity around a credal formula they also often had to leave as somewhat vague certain points which were worked out in later synods and councils.

During Vatican II, after many of the working drafts and schemata were junked, committees and subcommittees, working under pressure and time constraints, cobbled the documents together.

Is it any wonder that the documents have some problems?

If you can find a copy, I suggest reading The Rhine Flows into the Tiber: A History of Vatican II by Ralph M. Wiltgen. He gets into the debates and how many of the documents were put together. You could also drop a note to TAN asking them to reprint this, especially since we are in the 50th anniversary of Vatican II. On the Amazon page I send you to, there is a link you can click asking the publisher to make it available on Kindle. PLEASE CLICK THAT!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Our Catholic Identity, The Drill, The future and our choices, Vatican II and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. tsearles102 says:

    Thanks for the story, Father. I saw this video yesterday and thought it was typically excellent work by Michael Voris. But it did raise a question in my mind regarding, specifically, your (Father Z’s) views on the SSPX. It seems to me you are often less than impressed with the way they do business, and for various reason I tend to agree.

    However, isn’t Michael’s video (and Cardinal Kasper’s comments re the DOCUMENTS of Vatican II) validation of the arguments of the SSPX? Haven’t they been saying all along that the DOCUMENTS of Vatican II, themselves (and not the so-called “spirit of Vatican II”, alone) are the problem. In other words, I believe the SSPX is of the opinion that the “Spirit of Vatican II” would have never found legs if the ambiguities in the Conciliar documents were not open to being logically interpreted the way Vatican II-liberals interpret them. Thus, the SSPX continues to argue that the Council, itself is the root of the problem. The fact that the documents are troublingly and PURPOSEFULLY ambiguous is the problem.

    Please tell me how Cardinal Kasper’s words do not validate the position of the SSPX vis-a-vis its differences over V-II with the most recent Popes. Many thanks and God bless!

    [We are not going into the fever swamp of another SSPX discussion.]

  2. Basher says:


    Interesting video from Voris. I grew up around those Catholics of a “certain age” and I know the “BUZZZZZZ” very well.

    I wonder if you would please comment on Voris’ often very direct and personal criticisms of certain Bishops and whether they conflict with the teaching on detraction. I want to like Voris, but I fear sometimes he goes too far in attacking and I would love your perspective. Thanks. [That’s not really the topic here. Let’s confine ourselves to the topic of the video.]

  3. ghp95134 says:

    “… formed under the influences of the civil-rights movement, anti-war protests, and the sexual revolution. Together, these influences fused into the minds and identities of many of a certain age together with Vatican II. Thus, Vatican II has taken on a kind of mythic importance in the identity of many Catholics of a certain age. …”

    The Church’s Woodstock: “If you remember it, you weren’t there.”

    –Guy Power

  4. jacobi says:

    Good for Voris.
    It has been known for years now that the documents of Vatican II are full of deliberately inserted ambiguities that, while containing truth, could also be interpreted in an entirely different way. By such means, liberal/Modernist periti hoped to influence or indeed seriously damage or alter Catholic belief, and they have certainly succeeded.
    It was Michael Davies who originally pointed this out, but the powers that be have largely succeeded for so long now in covering up this grave attack on the Church.

    Now Voris is saying out loud and clear what so many of us have long believed.

    This highlights again the recent call by Bishop Schneider for a Syllabus of Errors covering possible false interpretations of the Vatican II documents

  5. wmeyer says:

    I have spent some considerable time on the documents of Vatican II, some more than others, and have been working on putting them up side by side in Latin and English, with synchronized paragraphs, for comparative study. I would like very much to know whose English translation is considered the best.

    Fr. Wiltgen’s book is most excellent, and so far, the only commentary I have seen which appears to be both contemporaneous to the Council, and reasonably honest in reportage.

    I find Michael Davies’ Liturgical Time Bombs in Vatican 2: Destruction of the Faith Through Changes in Catholic Worship another excellent volume, and very much germane to the topic at hand.

    I was less impressed with What Went Wrong With Vatican II: The Catholic Crisis Explained by Ralph McInerny, as I think he focused too narrowly on contraception, and there was much more to give concern in the Council’s publications.

    Later books which bear on the current problems and which I have found very persuasive are the anonymously published DOA: The Ambush of the Universal Catechism, by “Catholicus”, and Msgr. Wrenn’s excellent Catechisms and Controversies: Religious Education in the Postconciliar Years and Flawed Expectations: The Reception of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. These last three are all out of print, but occasionally available. They are best read in chronological order.

  6. Johnno says:

    There’s a false equivalence here between Vatican II and previous councils.

    Previous Councils sought to clarify and nail down certain things and reduce ambguity as much as possible.

    Vatican II’s purpose, according to the testimony of those who were involved, seemed primarily set on the objective to purposely further ambiguity and water down the Catholic faith so as to somehow trick Protestants and the world into imagining that they could find common ground with us and therefore join in… An idea so ill-conceivably and amazingly stupid that it makes far more sense to reach the conclusion that the architects of Vatican II didn’t seek to clarify Catholicism or explain ambguities and answer divisive topics like other councils, but rather to destroy tenets of the Catholic Church itself so that it would join the modern world in all its glorious progress.

    Regardless of however you want to see it, Vatican II’s supposed goals were never met and are colossal failures, and the only reason we continue to try and find some light in its darkness is to avoid responsibility for it. That and stubborn pride. Whatever good we do salvage from it is likely God making lemonade from the lemons we fostered upon His Church.

  7. acardnal says:

    frjim4321, Are you listening? The Cardinal’s comments are true. Have you read “The Rhine Flows into the Tiber”? The deleterious affects of the misinterpretation of Vatican II documents are manifest!

  8. Sandy says:

    Having lived through this era, I consider this a good analysis in a nutshell, Father Z. I can remember Vatican II ending, and the artificial changes beginning. For as long as I live, the memory will remain with me of the first time at Sunday Mass that we were told to stand for the Our Father, and later shake hands at the sign of peace. It disturbs my spirit to this day! Will we ever regain what we lost?! Of course over the years I have come full circle. Grew up in the 50’s, went along with all the changes (what else could we do then?), found the EF years ago, and now long for the reverence that was stolen from us. The reason for that longing is because of my situation, I can only rarely attend the EF. If only all Catholics were open to what is offered in the EF, they would experience something heavenly here on earth. I often liken it to the exquisite church architecture of ages gone by – it lifts us to heaven; that’s what it was intended to do, as well as giving glory to God. Thanks for the opportunity to rant! :)

  9. Long-Skirts says:

    Fr. Z said:

    “Thus, Vatican II has taken on a kind of mythic importance in the identity of many Catholics of a certain age.”

    Silly Catholics…
    God bless and please protect Michael Voris, St. Michael the Archangel and +Bishop Schneider who are really very brave Catholic men of a “certain age”.

    OF THE
    (or “fool me once, shame on you”)

    Daily Mass
    In uniformed plaid
    Then suddenly
    Adults went mad

    Priests danced round
    Nuns turned hip
    Fathers, mothers
    All jumped ship

    Michael rowed
    His boat ashore
    Through the Sanctuary

    Garfunked too
    Jesus loves you

    Jesus Christ
    God is dead
    So who You are?

    Mourning pills
    Eat the Bread
    Grace Slicked-souls
    Will feed your head

    All were Virgins
    Female Ghost
    Feminist boast

    Tell what’s happening
    What’s the buzz
    Bishops do
    What never was

    But one Bishop
    Stood up straight
    Great man-Mitred
    Gainst the gate

    Great man-Mitred
    Took the Cross
    Plugged the hole
    To stop Priest loss

    And to this day
    Green fields, no dream
    From Catholic families
    Vocations stream

    Along the
    River banks they line
    Rosaries in hand
    For both Tibre and Rhine

    We believe in God
    The Virgin…the Creed
    If this flow continues
    Your waters will bleed

    But not with Christ’s
    Most Precious Blood…
    A mitred-muck
    Of sin-scabbed mud!

  10. tsearles102: “the “Spirit of Vatican II” would have never found legs if the ambiguities in the Conciliar documents were not open to being logically interpreted the way Vatican II-liberals interpret them.

    This “would have never found legs” is an incisive way of explaining the post Vatican II chaos, and the fact it resulted not from what the fathers of the Council intended and thought they had approved, but from implementation of the Council’s documents in ways that the bishops would not have envisioned.

    Most any ordinary reader who takes accounts like that of Fr. Wiltgen (a rather liberal observer of the Council) at face value, might conclude that these documents–largely written by committees of liberal activist experts–were carefully crafted to attract the approval of the largely traditionally minded bishops at the Council, but also to permit quite different and very liberal implementations after the Council. But it seems significant for such a high-ranking and prominently liberal authority as Cardinal Kasper to suggest the same thing.

  11. contrarian says:

    I had my ‘that’s it!’ moment this weekend after the woman lector stopped at verse 26 of 1 Corinthians 11. I went to check the disposable missalette in my pew, and sure enough, she read it right.

    Voris comes out with the video right after Corpus Christi ‘Sunday’, in which we are treated to a sanitized reading of 1 Corinthians 11: 23ff and where John 6:53ff is replaced by the Feeding of the 5,000 (a reading that works much better to push the ‘community’ interpretation of the Eucharist than the stern warnings offered in John).

    Yes, things were written to be deliberately vague. But some things were deliberately clear. It seems clear as day that the folks who promulgated VII wanted to axe 1 Corinthians 11: 27-29 from Corpus Christi ‘Sunday’, and there’s nothing ambiguous about axing John 6:53. The whole ‘things were just abused’ line simply doesn’t work. At least when it comes to the prayers and lectionary.

    Voris asks that we know all of this info now, what is to be done.
    Yes, a syllabus of errors would be great. Symbolic acts involving bic lighters and VII documents would be great as well.

  12. Finarfin says:

    If we are to believe (pretty much rightly) that Kaspar and his types more or less gave a false story about how clear everything Vatican II was, why should we believe them now? What makes us think that Kaspar’s “admission” is not just as much of an agenda-driven statement as before?

    I have read most of the key documents of Vatican II, and have read much commentary by trusted sources (including our good Fr. Z, EWTN, and above all the Popes, especially Benedict XVI), and have come to the conclusion that in fact Vatican II really was clear: clearly a Council of continuity, not of rupture. Anyone with a brain and who was honest could easily interpret these “ambiguities” properly; they just aren’t that ambiguous.

    Benedict’s “hermeneutics of continuity” was merely stating the obvious, which has been lost on so many. You have to read the new document in the context of all the preceding ones. I must say, his view on Vatican II’s importance was rather surprising. He once quoted in agreement Bl. John Paul II, who said, “I feel more than ever in duty bound to point to the Council as the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century: there we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning.” While Vatican II may only be important for the next century, minimizing Vatican II’s importance is not the way I would combat modernism, nor does it seem to be the method of the Popes’. Reading it in the way that it was obviously meant to be understood does.

    In light of what I said above, I interpret Kaspar’s statements rather differently. I see his statements not as an admission, but rather a change in tactics. When Vatican II documents first started coming out, his type tried to hide them under the rug and talked a lot about how “clear” their own agenda (under the guise of “spirit of Vatican II”) was. But now that hiding is no longer working, he is emphasizing any minimal ambiguities present so that he can justify his misguided view of the world. It’s a losing argument. If it was not, and there really were all these ambiguities, there would have been no reason to effectively hide the documents. They would have presented them at length, showing clearly that what they did was defensible and sanctioned.

    So while I greatly respect Michael Voris, and have listened and learned many things from him, I think he errs here. One does not have to reject tradition to state the obvious: Vatican II was a great collection of writings by the successors to the Apostles, and has been sullied only by those who deliberately misconstrued (not innocently misread) what Vatican II really said.

  13. wmeyer says:

    Although I agree generally with the points raised by Michael Davies, I find in my own reading that SC is really pretty clear. It emphasizes the retention of Latin in the liturgy, as well as giving pride of place to Gregorian chant on the musical side. To read in it–my opinion–support for Mass in the vernacular is to very clearly misread provisions which were intended to apply to mission lands. And the USA ceased to be a mission land a hundred or so years ago. Well, we have devolved back to that level, to be sure, but we were not that in 1970.

    In SC, I don’t know that I would call it ambiguous, although a few added words here and there would have made it very hard to misinterpret.

  14. anilwang says:

    Just to address tsearles102’s comment without (hopefully) getting into the swamp, Mike Voris accepts Vatican II since he does not believe it teaches heresy if one reads it with the hermeneutic of continuity. What Mr Voris is pointing out however is that Vatican II was intentionally written so that “the Spirit of Vatican II” is also a valid reading if you use another hermeneutic.

    As for the vagueness of the documents, I don’t see that as being a deal breaker on Vatican II. Remember the Nicene Creed was rewritten precisely because heretics found a way to read the original creed as supporting their heresy. In essense, the early Church had their own “The Spirit of Nicene Creed”.

    What does concern me though is that given that Vatican II was purely pastoral, it really should have been classified as a global synod rather than an Ecumenical Council. The Church needs global synods to plan out strategies on dealing with issues of the day, and the 1960s definitely had issues that needed addressing (sexual revolution, globalization, secularization, Dutch Catechism, Humanae Vitae, magesterium of theologians, etc).

    Global synods may help expound the faith (e.g. Verbum Domini) or even call for new pastoral projects (e.g. the new Catechism). A global Vatican “Church and the Modern World” synod at the time might have produced exactly the same documents as Vatican II. However, there is one difference, Popes have no qualms about amending synodal work if ambiguities present themselves. For instance, the Catechism has gone through a few revisions. No Pope, however, wants to touch the Vatican II documents to clarify points of ambiguity precisely because it was labeled as “an Ecumenical Council”, even though doctrinally it is little different than the output of a global synod (i.e. only a pastoral restatement of the faith). Schism (both explicit and covert) would likely have been avoided had Vatican II not been labeled as “an Ecumenical Council” and we might not have seen the craziness we do today.

  15. countrylily says:

    To say Vat II wasn’t important is silly. How do you think we got to this point in the church if it wasn’t important. Within 6mths after the council the church was turned upside down. Priest and faithful leaving the church in droves. I do agree that “American Catholics of a certain age were formed under the influences of the civil-rights movement, anti-war protests, and the sexual revolution.” as you put it Father. I think Catholics were becoming very weak in their faith. My mother said they took their Faith for granted. The lay people became… how should I say it.. maybe lukewarm in their faith. Didn’t realize the beauty in it anymore. So God decided to take it away. Vat. II did a good job at that. I believe Michael Voris hits the nail on the head every time! He is direct and not wishy washy like so many are today. He walks the walk and talks the talk. I think tsearles102 has a very good point about the SSPX too. They have been saying this for 40 years now. It’s about time the rest of the world is waking out of their slumber and seeing it too.

  16. frjim4321 says:

    acard yes I am here on the deck soaking up some after-work rays. Thankfully no meetings this evening and it is blissfully sunny and quiet except for the Angelus bells.

    Nope I have not read the book in question, I am working on John W. O’Malley’s “What Happened at Vatican II.” About 10% done. [UGH! A waste of good reading time… unless of course you are reading with a red pen.]

    Speaking of percentages , any guesses about how many Catholic even know who Voris is, let alone squander precious minutes downloading his tripe? How in God’s name does the man make a living? [But you read O’Malley’s offal?]

    VII was the largest gathering in the history of the world spanning several years. I find it humorous when it is minimized as “just another council.” [Not only “just another Council”. How about “Not a very important Council”?]

    To those why decry the Spirit of the Council I would remind them of the scriptural admonition regarding blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. [WHOA! Nice try. Your capitalization of “Spirit” here was intended, I am sure, to equate the Holy Spirit with the “spirit” of those who approached what the Council did with a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture.]

  17. acardnal says:

    frjim, I kinda figured you’d respond that way. Oh, well. We will keep trying to educate you on the fallacies of your opinions and your dislike of the Usus Antiquior. READ Fr. Wiltgen’s book; he was at the Council. Read “A Bitter Trial” by Evelyn Waugh, read Michael Davies’ books, read Msgr. Gamber, and Alcuin Reid . Fr. Z can give you a bibliography I’m sure.

  18. Imrahil says:

    To those why decry the Spirit of the Council I would remind them of the scriptural admonition regarding blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

    Rev’d dear @Fr Jim, with all due respect, but this is to discussion what a foul is to soccer… nor, in fact, a correct comparison.

  19. maryh says:

    @Finarfin That makes sense to me. What I’ve read just doesn’t seem that vague to me. Of course you have to fit it in with the rest of the Church’s teaching. What’s embarrassing is that we actually needed to have a Pope tell us that.

    Of course we should use a hermeneutic of continuity!!! This is the Catholic faith, established by Jesus, passed down through the apostles. How ELSE do you read eternal and unchanging TRUTH except through a hermeneutic of continuity?

  20. Basher says:

    Imrahil said –

    “Rev’d dear @Fr Jim, with all due respect, but this is to discussion what a foul is to soccer…”

    Exactly. We Catholics have actual Church teaching on the protection the Holy Spirit offers to councils. FrJim’s comment takes this truth and turns it into fruit salad. Why, oh why, does the liberal side feel the need to do this?

  21. John of Chicago says:

    ” The Truth shall set us free” and here’s an often neglected truth… our creed (Nicea and Chalcedon) was “written by heretics.” Gnostics, adoptionists, ebionists, arians, docitists, modalists and pneumatomachianists et al. set the Councils’ agendas with their concepts of God, Trinity and Christ and the Church issued creeds and anathemas in response.
    The heart and soul of the Gospels never seems to have found even the smallest corner in our profession of faith in the Church’s creeds–such as blessed are the pure of spirit, the humble, the meek, those who hunger for justice, the peacemakers. No creed references the fact that the sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath, or that crazy thing about camels and needles–not to
    mention the sparrows and lilies and… Well, you known the rest; all much more ambiguous than any Council doctrinal declaration but kind of important, nonetheless.
    Honest to goodness, why focus so much attention and energy on declaring what we aren’t (gnostic, Arian etc., etc.) instead of Who we strive to follow and how? Seems to me I imperil my soul way more when I roll my eyes at those “wimpy” “love one another as I have loved you” sermons than if I simply choose to ignore the siren song of that pneumatomachianist hiding under my bed.

  22. robtbrown says:

    wmeyer says:

    Although I agree generally with the points raised by Michael Davies, I find in my own reading that SC is really pretty clear. It emphasizes the retention of Latin in the liturgy, as well as giving pride of place to Gregorian chant on the musical side.

    I don’t think it’s clear. To be sure, there are some clear texts, but they are often followed by texts that undermine the previous text. For example: no. 36.1 supports Latin, but it is followed by 2, 3, and 4 dealing with translations. The problem is that SC, after supporting Latin, doesn’t then posit limits on what would be in the vernacular.

  23. robtbrown says:


    To those why decry the Spirit of the Council I would remind them of the scriptural admonition regarding blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

    The only way I can possibly justify the above is that, sitting on the deck, you had already knocked down at least 3 strong martinis before you responded. [That’s a different kind of spirit. And if he is reading O’Malley, he would need them!]

  24. acardnal says:

    I tend to agree with robtbrown’s assessment of SC. At one point, SC is supporting use of Latin, the organ, chant, etc. And then later, it is saying something else!! It is confusing, misleading, not clear and AMBIGUOUS.

  25. Hank Igitur says:

    Rhine flows into the Tiber is absolutely essential reading for all Catholics. Hard to believe it is out of print. Alongside the works of Michael Davies one of the most important books I have ever read.

  26. Legisperitus says:

    John of Chicago:

    Yes, it would be nice if the Church did something besides sitting around reading the Creeds all day? Or, it would be nice if the Church accepted the Gospels as the inspired Word of God? Or, it would be nice if the Church never took advantage of error in order to clarify truth?

    I’m not seeing where you have a point here.

  27. frjim4321 says:

    The only way I can possibly justify the above is that, sitting on the deck, you had already knocked down at least 3 strong martinis before you responded.

    Actually a little Tequila Cazadores Reposado. With a drop of Rose’s Lime Juice. (How I had being out of limes!)

    Anyway, I love my quote and I’m sticking with it!

  28. Sword40 says:

    The Vortex just touches the surface of this topic. For more details watch his “MIC’D UP” program.
    Voris is a rare light in the darlness of the media. He says what many of us only “whine” about and what most priest are afraid to talk about.
    At least Fr.Z is bold enough to put the video out in front.

  29. acardnal says:

    John of Chicago, thank you for that very cogent and compelling argument on the ambiguities of Vatican II.

  30. acardnal says:

    Not really.

  31. Robbie says:

    I think Cardinal Kasper is playing fast and loose with how he once viewed the ambiguities of VCII and how he now views them. In the past, I think he said there were no ambiguities because many bishops and priests were moving in the modernist direction. Since most viewed VCII through the liberal/modernist lens, he was content to say this because his desired outcome was being achieved.

    Cardinal Kasper may have changed his tune because the newer generation of bishops and priests have expressed much doubt about what VCII intended. In just the last decade, more and more bishops and priest (relatively small in number, but growing) have taken advantage of SP and have reintroduced tradition back to the faithful. In other words, the liberal/modernist movement in the Church had hit a brick wall.

    Could it be that Cardinal Kasper has changed his tune and claimed there is ambiguity because he’s not seeing his desired result? I think it’s possible. His efforts to see the Church remade took a hit over the last decade or two and he may well see a new chance to reenergize the movement with Pope Francis at the helm.

  32. Andrew says:


    ” The problem is that SC, after supporting Latin, doesn’t then posit limits on what would be in the vernacular.”

    SC no. 54 defines certain limits, doesn’t it?

  33. phlogiston says:

    The vagueness of Vatican II is finally being examined objectively and not with a knee jerk reaction against those nasty “rad-trads”. Cardinal Kasper’s admission is just one example. Another is this article in Catholic World Report: http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/1944/The_Good_the_Bad_and_iGaudium_et_Spesi.aspx The problem is not “interpretation” but the underlying documents themselves. Even the need for a “hermeneutic of continuity” should be telling.

  34. disco says:

    We really do need that Syllabus of Errors for Vatican II. Maybe Francis is the right pope to do it. Those of the certain age had baggage with Ratzinger, they love Francis, for now.

  35. robtbrown says:


    IMHO, it’s typical of the problem. It starts out with limits, then slips in a phrase (“but also with those parts that pertain to the people”) that fuzzes the boundary.

  36. John of Chicago says:

    Legisperitus and acardnal,

    Sorry that my diatribe was unclear and unhelpful.
    Merely wanted to observe that, typically, when the bishops of the world have gathered in council their intent was to combat the beliefs of some one or another heretic with decrees and canons and occasionally even a creed. Their council documents appeared to be very concise of language to suit that purpose.
    Vatican II, in contrast to most of its predecessors, chose a different tack and decided to preach the Gospel of Christ and Him crucified–especially, it seems to me, by bringing the Beatitudes/Sermon on the Mount to the people of a very big, broken and hungry world. Different intent, different way of
    speaking. How could it be otherwise when they were focused not on some nefarious heretic but on nurturing the meek, humble, poor, pure and just? If that is ambiguous, so be it. Blame the author, I guess.

  37. Gratias says:

    First time I have watched Michael Voris. Wise words. We do live with the burden of V2 every day. You should see my local parish; two Sundays ago they brought out the dreaded tambourine again. People stand so you cannot see any of the consecration if you kneel. The priest does not genuflect during consecration. It is all a liturgical catastrophe. What more does Cardinal Kasper seek?

    I find it interesting the Second Vaticaners brought forth all the pomp of the Catholic Church and then used the full might of Pope Paul VI to destroy our relationship with God.

    I do like to have the opposing viewpoint by FrJim4321 here. Especially today in a relaxed mood. Mir, tequila gives me headache (as do Martinis, but I like those much). Enjoy FrJim your vacations with cigars at the beach, this is a fight without end.

    [Besides, even though frjim offers some goofy things in the combox, at least he is polite about it. We can’t say that for all of his critics. *puff*… *sip*…]

  38. Priam1184 says:

    The negative effects of the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath were the outward explosion of ideas that had been growing in the dark corners of the Church since the so called Enlightenment and probably much further back than that. The documents were confusing in that they seem to provide for alternative ways of dealing with the same situation, just like the Novus Ordo Mass and all of its optional texts. Christ prayed for unity in His Church and providing an endless stream of options and alternative viewpoints, while it can be satisfying to one’s emotions, does not accomplish this. I would also very respectfully disagree with Father that this is not a minor event in the history of the Church. The amount of change and confusion sown in such a short period of time, a few years really during the mid to late 1960s ,were astronomical and there is no going back it seems. But this is what is willed for us and it is our cross. I think that a Syllabus of Errors would be a wonderful thing to clarify for those who seek the Truth, but I am equally convinced that it would be entirely ignored by those who do not.

  39. robtbrown says:

    frjim4321 says:

    Anyway, I love my quote and I’m sticking with it!

    Not surprising–just another example of post Vat II clericalism.

  40. wmeyer says:

    The problem is that SC, after supporting Latin, doesn’t then posit limits on what would be in the vernacular.

    No, it does not. However, if read in context, 37-40 are provisions intended for mission lands, where there may be no cultural referents similar to Church teaching, and such changes may help open a door.

    In this country, and in the west generally, the only door they opened was the exit.

  41. wmeyer says:

    Andrew, SC #54 is not setting limits, but rather, expanding the possibilities. It is one of the really vague paragraphs. However, that said, I have reservations about the translation. In particular, “that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin” is open to rather wide interpretation. “May” is not the word I would have chosen if I were trying to reinforce that Latin will be used.

    Just before SC #37, the heading “D) Norms for adapting the Liturgy to the culture and traditions of peoples” deserves consideration. In the United States, we had no culture or tradition of celebrating the Mass which would have suggested that the vernacular be used. None. Zip. Zero. Well, maybe in Collegeville…

  42. Sam Schmitt says:

    Thousands of council fathers from all over the world meeting and voting together could hardly be expected to micromanage every detail of liturgical reforms, so of course the mandates were general. If you want to call this “vague,” so be it.

    Even if the council fathers had laid out down to the most minute detail the changes they wanted, there’s little reason to believe they would have been followed, given that the bigger and more obvious things – both liturgically and in other areas – were blatantly ignored or contradicted.

  43. The Masked Chicken says:

    “No, it does not. However, if read in context, 37-40 are provisions intended for mission lands, where there may be no cultural referents similar to Church teaching, and such changes may help open a door. ”

    See, this is where I have a problem. When, in days past, someone immigrated to this country, they had to learn English as part of their assimilation. Now, we are forced to learn their language.

    When a person becomes convinced that the Catholic Church is the true Church of God, should they not, then, learn Latin as part of their assimilation? The missionaries were allowed to use the language of the people to draw them into the Church, but once they got there, I think it was, probably, the idea that they would, then, learn Latin as part of their assimilation. I think the entire passage about missionary use of vernacular has been misunderstood.

    If you look at the film, In This House of Brede, when the Japanese novices came to England to learn about monastic ways, did the convent start using Japanese prayers? No, they taught the Japanese novices the prayers in Latin. Yes, the Japanese girls came to them – they did not go to Japan, but still, once one decides to become Catholic, ought they not to adapt to the Culture, instead of making the Culture adapt to them?

    The Chicken

    [You get a star for mentioning that good film.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  44. Andrew says:


    The Latin uses the so called subjunctive form of POSSE “ut fideles POSSINT”. The subjunctive form is employed in Latin to express a persuasion, petition, mandate, desire, admonition. I don’t know what’s the best way of rendering the same notion in English but the intention is clear: “provideatur ut possint hoc vel illud facere” – let it be provided that they may be able to do so and so. “May” has to do with the ability to comply not with calling the entire mandate into question.

  45. wmeyer says:

    Andrew, thanks. That makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, our own language has been so abused (and is now so widely misunderstood) as to add layers to the problem. I’m old enough that in reading SC, I am more sensitive to the intent, and sometimes oblivious to the loopholes.

  46. Imrahil says:

    Fwiw, “ut” with the meaning “so that” requires the subjunctive by mere grammar, without further expressing a thing. (“ut” with indicative would mean “as, (just) like”.)

    Hence, “ut aq. facere possint” translates strictly to “so that they can do something”.

  47. I appreciate Cardinal Kasper’s candor–it explains quite a lot. As Mr. Vorhis points out, there has been a game played all these years. “No, it’s not true, not true, not true….well so what, we knew that all along!”

    It fits with what I am calling “Operation Memory Hole”–the sustained effort of those, more on the progressive side, to toss down the memory hole all the foolishness, recklessness, and viciousness that was carried out in the name of Vatican II, which is now very embarrassing. So, instead, they just deny it ever happened. As a priest–of a certain generation–said recently in a retrospective on the post-V2 era, oh, well, perhaps there was a bit of experimenting, but nothing really…

    All that said, there’s something else at work in all this, that it would be a shame–and wrong–to miss: and that is the true hand of Providence.

    When I read The Rhine Flows into the Tiber, I didn’t come away being overly upset, but encouraged. Why? Because it was clear that, even as many people came to the council with various agendas, in various ways, Providence was at work. It fits with what Chesterton said–so memorably but too long to quote here–about the Church careening down the cart-path of history, repeatedly on the brink of disaster, yet unaccountably veers this way and that, century after century.

    The documents of the Council have their ambiguities–and that is, we know, a product of competing claims and interests clashing with each other at the Council. Maybe not the most pleasing narrative, yet how could it be otherwise? Also, remember that in past councils, where the Faith was carefully and precisely defined, there were significant segments of the Church that rebelled, and some of those wounds, dating from the 4th century, were healed only very recently! Recall that twice the Church attempted to heal the East-West division at councils, yet this failed and the wound persists.

    My point being that this messiness of competing human desires and ambitions has been part of the Church, and impacted her governance and attempts at unity, from the beginning, but in different ways. Yet through it all, Providence is there.

    I am not suggesting, as some do, that all causation is directly from God. Perhaps God did, indeed, directly inspire Blessed John XXIII to call the council; or perhaps he simply dealt with it, as God often does, with a maddening light touch. How often we wish he would not be so gentlemanly, and reach in abruptly and smartly turn things the correct way! But God doesn’t do this–I don’t know why but there it is.

    Nor am I denying that there have been problems afterward. No “Operation Memory Hole” here!

    But what I am saying is that God reigns still. All of this will work itself out through his guiding hand–the true Spirit of Vatican II, not the counterfeit that was very popular on the lecture circuit until recent years.

    Meanwhile, there are those who, out of understandable frustration and pain over some of the problems I’m referring to, simply reject the Council altogether, reject the Church with it, and fall into deeper and darker places. A very understandable human reaction, yet wrong all the same.

    Finally, there remains a question, which I defend as a serious and worthy question, no matter that some (many?) of a more traditional stripe will have no patience for it. Namely: might it be possible that God did, indeed, wish the Council called (even if he didn’t wish for everything to transpire as it did, during or after)? And if so, why?

    It’s hard to get those who still enjoy chewing on the bones of “it was a mistake!”; and it’s so easy to imagine that, if only the Council had never happened, everything would have been so much better. And, that could be true. But other hypotheses must be considered. Cultural storms were coming–and the Church has always been influenced by the culture, often in ways she didn’t see till too late. Also, if one argues that the period right after the council represented a “collapse,” then one cannot put all that on the Council itself. The rottenness was there before the Council ever assembled.

    Alas! We shall likely have to wait till after our departure from this world to see that account written. It’s still too early, I think, to discern what God may have been up to.

  48. maryh says:

    Maybe @anilwang is right and it would have been better if Vatican II had been a synod rather than an ecumenical council.

    I can’t help but think, though, that there was something else going on besides documents that could be misinterpreted, were intentionally vague, or needed to be read with a hermeneutic of continuity (which, of course, is the only way you CAN read church documents). As anilwang pointed out, people managed to misinterpret even the Nicene Creed.

    Maybe the problem was that too many clerics didn’t really have a problem with “modernism” and too many lay Catholics may have understood the “what” of the faith but not enough of the “why”. The average lay Catholic didn’t seem to have any defense against priests and even bishops requiring what was not warranted by Vatican II. And they did not have easy access to the documents themselves, and they had complete trust in their priests’ interpretation.

    In the name of weakening clericalism, the “spirit of Vatican II people” used the unquestioning obedience of most people at the time to their clerics to force them to accept changes that were in no way “organic”. And that has lead to even worse clericalism – the idea that only clerical or somewhat clerical roles (service in or from the sanctuary; taking on roles normally reserved to clerics) show the worth of the laity. Not only that, but it led to an unbridled clericalism that wasn’t even controlled by the hierarchy or the actual dogmatic documents of the Church.

    The laity weren’t bound to the Pope or the documents of the Church. They were bound to whatever their local priest or Bishop decided, unilaterally, to impose. How else do you explain catholic Universities that honor pro-abortion politicians, nuns who support “abortion rights”, or the widespread ignoring of Humanae Vitae?

    I guess Humanae Vitae is the document that makes me think that the problem was not so much, or at least not just a lack of clarity. How much clearer can you get than Humanae Vitae? Even had the documents of Vatican II been absolutely impossible to misinterpret, I think the modernists would have abused them and the people would have followed the way they did, like sheep to the slaughter.

    In fact, some of the revival of tradition is not, I think, just due to some things like SP, but also due to the fact that it is incredibly easy, these days, to actually read these documents on the internet.

    And yes, I lived through those times. I remember all the encouragement to read the Bible (which is good, of course) but I don’t remember, even once, being encouraged to read any of the documents of Vatican II. Especially to the laity of the 60’s, I don’t think we would have found the passages about using Latin or Gregorian chant the least bit vague. Even if there were other parts that allowed exceptions.

  49. wmeyer says:

    Even had the documents of Vatican II been absolutely impossible to misinterpret, I think the modernists would have abused them and the people would have followed the way they did, like sheep to the slaughter.

    I think you have hit the crux of it here. I think that, in reading SC, unless you are reading with the desire to find loopholes for change, even radical change, that you are likely to read it as an affirmation of the (then) existing practice.

  50. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Alas! We shall likely have to wait till after our departure from this world to see that account written. It’s still too early, I think, to discern what God may have been up to.”

    Mary told Sr. Lucia to ask that her sealed, written Third Secret of Fatima be opened no later than 1960, because it would be clear, by then. Why?

    After WWI, we saw virtually the identical sexual revolution, civil rights debates, and growing pacifist movements that began in the 1960’s and, yet, in he 1920’s the Church did not get affected by it. After WWII the cycle repeated, but this time, the Church was affected. We already had experimental data showing the after-effects of a World War, so the Church should have been able to prevent the moral decay that followed WWII, at least among its own members as it did after WWI and, yet, it did not. The Church got pretty co-pted by the Spirit of the Age. Why? What was different in 1920 than 1960? One must come to the conclusion that men did not learn from the horror of WWI and repent, so WWII was sent upon mankind. The growing tide of Modernism was not stemmed after WWI, so, after WWII, morality was so further weakened that it got a foothold in universities and seminaries and became, almost, a secondary curriculum.

    In the 1920’s, the Church stood firm in the face of changes in marriage (the divorce rate doubled) and the suggestion of contraception, and radical racial policies, etc. At that time, Modernism was largely outside of the Church gates, but starting with the second generation of German scholars, modernism made a slow, steady march across Europe and into America via immigrant scholars. The Church was weakened from within because she did not defend her borders by penance and conversion of hearts as Mary asked. Does not anyone see the parallel between Casti Connubii in the 1930’s and Humanae Vitae in the 1960’s? It was nothing more than history repeating itself, but, now, the Church was so weakened that Humanae Vitae came as a shock instead of as a confirmation of Catholic beliefs.

    The Church’s response to WWI was not to engage the world with its teachings in a spirit of exuberant hope, but, rather, to keep on as status quo as the stable moral force it was known to be. What we needed in 1960 was much less of the static and more signal. The signal-to-noise ratio bottomed out in the 1960’s. It is arguable that if there had not been a Vatican II, the Church would have soldiered on and the entire fabric of society would have had one stable thing to pin itself on in a sea of change. Perhaps, if we had learned from history, instead of a Vatican II, we would have had a Lepanto, where the Pope called for sustained fasting and prayer for the world. Yes, some updating of ecclesiastical structures was needed, but this could have been handled in a much less dramatic fashion. God allowed Vatican II, but it is possible that he allowed the least damage to be done as possible by it, if, it were not really prudent to be called.

    It is always easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, but the same barbarians were at the gate in 1960 as in 1920 and it should have been obvious who they were and what to do. That it was not is a bad sign, a very bad sign. The barbarians have not become civilized by engaging with the Church as Vatican II had hoped, but the Church has become as close to being barbaric as it has been in many centuries. We need prayer; we need fasting; we need clarity. We need a purging of the half-truths and lies of poisonous fangs of Modernism that allowed the 1960’s to become 1920, part 2 and let the barbarians into the gate.

    We should have known. We should have seen. We should have been a whole lot wiser and sadder in 1960 than we were. Santayana was only partially right – it is not only that those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it. Rather, it is those who fail to look at history with the eyes of faith are doomed to allow history to overwhelm their faith, for they have not learned all that faith has wished to teach them. So, we had a different 1960’s then might have been , if only we had really looked into the heart of men.

    The Chicken

  51. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    Last year, in anticipation of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, I wrote a short series for my diocesan newspaper, which puts the 21st ecumenical council in proper perspective (i.e., by applying the “hermeneutics of continuity”). Click here.

  52. anilwang says:

    wmeyer says: “I think that, in reading SC, …. you are likely to read it as an affirmation of the (then) existing practice.

    To some extent, but from my memory SC encourages experimentation and inculturation and each territory to define norms, subject to Rome’s approval (which was rarely withheld). So it really is no surprise that people did experiment and we have the old ICEL missal, and the LA abuses. An objective 3rd party that has no knowledge of Tradition could see this.

    However such interpretations of SC would be inconceivable for someone who used the hermeneutic of continuity and and had a good understood of what the mass is and isn’t.

    That being said, I agree that it is alway possible to misinterpret a clear statement through use of contextualization, spiritualization, culturization, idealism, or other techniques to make words mean other than what they literally mean.

  53. dominic1955 says:

    Better late than never, but in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II, I suggest we do something about this whole “Memory Hole” thing Fr. Fox speaks of. I completely agree with him, progressives try to pooh-pooh the whole thing with a dismissive, “Oh well, you know, it was the 60s, so some odd stuff was tried but they meant well and nothing much happened…”

    All the stacks of interim missals and insert pages, mimeographed song sheets and eucharistic prayers, church bulletins and journal articles, records and film strips, black and white photos and pulp paperback books tell a different story. I have my own collection of this garbage and I know some of it is still sitting around in church basements and other places just waiting for its trip to that memory hole.

    I suggest that folks save this stuff, don’t let it all get thrown away, put out of existence and our collective memory. Especially save anything that really tells the story of what kinds of drastic changes were being foisted on the people in some areas. The only defense against a “memory hole” mindset are the hard artifacts.

  54. wmeyer says:

    That being said, I agree that it is alway possible to misinterpret a clear statement…

    I note that in Fr. Kocik’s article on SC, he says that “the Constitution opened up the possibility of translating parts of the Liturgy into the vernacular languages (36)”, while failing to observe that 36.1 says clearly: “Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.”

    I tend not to notice some of the loophole opportunities, but I observe that many seem to see nothing else.

  55. StWinefride says:

    The Masked Chicken: “Mary told Sr. Lucia to ask that her sealed, written Third Secret of Fatima be opened no later than 1960, because it would be clear, by then.”

    “It is arguable that if there had not been a Vatican II, the Church would have soldiered on and the entire fabric of society would have had one stable thing to pin itself on in a sea of change”.

    Well said!

  56. Denis says:

    A Syllabus of Errors is a good idea only if its authors have good ideas. If it is written by anyone other than Athanasius Schneider and his intellectual and theological equals, it would likely cause more harm than good.

  57. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Denis, I wonder. At least a Syllabus of Errors – regardless by whom it is written – would mean that we get back to the good old accept-reject method. We might then “no, this is not an error. Proof: etc. etc.” (the Syllabus, of course, would not be an infallible statement of its own) or “yes, it is”, or “but this other thing is an error too, namely the following assertion: etc. etc., proof of relevancy: etc. etc., proof of erroneousness: etc. etc.”

    Then that could be discussed over by the theologian faculties, and the Magisterium, and, if need be, finally resolved by infallible dogma.

    There’s little more to be feared than heterodoxy, but with my unimportant personal feelings, I tend at least to like dogmatic heterodoxy more than anti-dogmaticism.

    Yet to achieve all this… the Syllabus, as it were, could be written by anyone. It need not be the Pope. The Magisterium of an Auxiliary Bishop in Kazakhstan would suffice, maybe not for effect, but for starters. (Though I don’t doubt Auxbp Schneider has enough to do not to be able to spare time!) So would any professor of theology… just depends on how much the work would be received by those who take part in the discussion… and how influential the sort will be who refuses to discuss.

  58. Andrew says:

    At times, reading the documents of Vat. II and coming across various sentences I just shake my head. Here is a sample:

    “There is no better way to establish political life on a truly human basis than by fostering an inward sense of justice and kindliness, and of service to the common good, and by strengthening basic convictions as to the true nature of the political community and the aim, right exercise, and sphere of action of public authority.” (Gaudium et Spes)

    And I ask myself: how is this related to the Gospel? Christ sent the Apostles to evangelize, not to engage in socio political commentaries. Did we need divine revelation so that we could foster a sense of kindliness? This is why you assemble the bishops of the whole world, so as to tell us to be kind or to strengthen our convictions in the true nature of public authority? Perhaps I am just not a very good person, but this kind of stuff doesn’t inspire me at all.

  59. Priam1184 says:

    @Fr Martin Fox: Thank you. There is most definitely something else at work in all this. What it is we do not know nor will we in our lives here on earth, but something is happening. I feel no conflict when I say that the after effects of the Second Vatican Council seem an unmitigated disaster to me but that the same Council both was and is the work of the Holy Spirit. Troubled but not in conflict.

  60. Bea says:

    Fr Jim
    “it’s my quote and I’m sticking to it”

    reminds me of the original saying:
    “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it:
    truth in fiction, lies in fact”

    Vatican II = by their fruits you shall know them.
    What are the fruits of V-II?
    Time has shown us.
    The periti of the council cannot or will not admit they were wrong.
    Too many years/too much pride.
    I sometimes wonder if the REAL reason Pope Benedict abdicated is because he finally “got it” as to the role he and others played in the council and the pandoras box that released what mayhem we now see and many will not recognize it because their loyalties are to the council and not to the Church and Christ who established it.
    The council was a historical event, true, but it really had no teeth.
    Prelates loyal to it cannot really sink their teeth into it because it was just “mush” (as Card. Kasper has admitted, in acknowledging the ambiguity).
    Wouldst that more prelates in authority would recognize that fact.

  61. robtbrown says:

    wmeyer says:
    The problem is that SC, after supporting Latin, doesn’t then posit limits on what would be in the vernacular.

    No, it does not. However, if read in context, 37-40 are provisions intended for mission lands, where there may be no cultural referents similar to Church teaching, and such changes may help open a door.

    Of course, it does. Here’s the editio typica:

    54. Linguae vernaculae in Missis cum populo celebratis congruus locus tribui possit, praesertim in lectionibus et “oratione communi”, ac, pro condicione locorum, etiam in partibus quae ad populum spectant, ad normam art. 36 huius Constitutionis. Provideatur tamen ut christifideles etiam lingua latina partes Ordinarii Missae quae ad ipsos spectant possint simul dicere vel cantare.

    I find nothing in the translation that violates the original.

    1. Certain parts of the mass can be celebrated in the vernacular, esp readings and common prayer (i.e., prayer of the faithful).

    2. Other parts that pertain to the people can also be in the vernacular.

    3. Even though the people should be able to sing/say those parts in Latin.

    So other parts can be in the vernacular, but the people should be able to do them in Latin. The praxis of the former would obviously eventually suppress the latter. Which it did.

    Also: It made sense in parishes that the readings be in the vernacular, but why put the prayers in the vernacular that everyone already knew in Latin? We noticed this about 40 years ago when we came into possession of Missals used before the total vernacularization: Agnus Dei, Pater Noster, etc. were in the vernacular. Curious.

  62. robtbrown says:

    From the Bugnini book, p 111.

    In article 54 the Constitution says that a suitable place may be allowed to the mother tongue in Masses celebrated with the people, especially (“in the first place) in the readings and the prayer of the faithful and, depending on the local conditions, also in parts belonging to the people. the wording is vague. What is a “suitable” place? What is the point of the words “in the first place”? And what does “parts belonging to the people” include? In the third paragraph of this same article 54, the Council leaves it to the episcopal conferences to judge whether “a more extended use of the mother tongue” is desirable. What limits then did the Council set? If we judge solely on the basis of the text, no one will ever be able to answer with certainty.

  63. dominic1955 says:


    That was my impression when I first slugged through each and every document of Vatican II-what is the deal with all the flighty fru-fru crap? I don’t recall this in Vatican I, Trent, Florence, etc. etc. ad nauseam… There were also plenty of good statements in the documents, but if only they had adopted the original schemata based more on the Roman Synod than all this socio-political-psychological nonsense.

    All the bishops of the Catholic world went to Rome for a Council and they are wasting space in conciliar documents waxing ineloquently on how to play nicey-nice kissy-face with the World? They should have given all the bishops a cope with the phrase “I went to Rome and all I got was this stupid Council” embroidered on the hood…

  64. dominic1955 says:

    That’s an ironic quote from Bugnini, considering he probably had a strong hand in writing SC anyway…

    It does no good to argue that the SC was abundantly clear and that “abuses” muddled everything up. No, if it were so clear and intentionally so, Rome would have been thumping SC all over the place instead of putting the progressive interpretation of it into papal practice.

  65. pannw says:

    Ha, I love the sarcasm on Michael Voris’ oh so subtle personality. I love him.

    Just wanted to let you know that I emailed Tan books yesterday and heard back right away. They are in the process of reprinting The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber and it should be available in 6-8 weeks. [Excellent! Thanks for taking the time and making the effort to contact them.]

    I found Michael’s video and then this posting such a coincidence, because my father asked me to find him some books on Vatican II and the aftermath just over Memorial Day and in my search, I had come across this one which was highly recommended. The cheapest I could find it was close to $70! I’ll let him know part of his Father’s Day gift will be late. I love him but, sheesh!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  66. “Michael Voris in his usual non-committal, indifferent, ambiguous, vague, tepid, ho-hum style….”

    Hahaha! That’s what we love about him… Michael Voris comes on like gangbusters. He’s wonderful.

    BTW, Adoremus has “The Rhine Flows into the Tiber” (for $17.95); it will ship in 2-3 weeks:


    Christine Niles

  67. kmcgrathop says:

    Michael Voris, STB quotes Cardinal Kasper:

    “In many places they had to find compromise formulas, in which, often, the positions of the majority are located immediately next to those of the minority, designed to delimit them. Thus, the conciliar texts themselves have a huge potential for conflict, open the door to a selective interpretation in either direction.”

    Mr. Voris, STB says [quite a few times, loudly] that this is a ‘stunning admission’ that ‘deliberate ambiguities’ were inserted into the Vatican Council II documents, and can’t imagine why the ‘mainstream Catholic media’ have not picked up this story.

    Well, perhaps they have not reported the story because it really isn’t news. The ‘stunning admission’ the Cardinal made seems to have been that the Vatican II documents were the products of a committee. The same thing might have been said about the Council of Nicaea, or the First Council of Constantinople, or the Council of Chalcedon. The formulae these councils affirmed were compromises and as soon as the respective Councils were over, the partisans of one interpretation or the other got to work. Which is one of the reasons the Nicene Creed had to be amended later into the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, and was still later amended during the Filioque Controversy. Subsequent interpretive struggles over the definitions of the various early Councils are what caused the Copts and the Assyrians to drop out of unity with the rest of the Church.

    Unless one imagines that the Council Fathers close their eyes in contemplation waiting for the Holy Spirit to whisper into their ears the sweet and harmonious melodies of true doctrine, to which they can all unanimously and without reservation give their ‘fiat’ to, the work of any Council is going to include pushing and pulling, giving and taking, and yes, even that word which has become a dirty word in modern American political discourse, compromise. But there has never been a Council (beginning at Jerusalem!) that did not involve ‘compromise formulas.’

    But Mr. Voris distorts the multiple definitions of the word ‘compromise’ in English to suggest the Cardinal was implying some kind of secret plot to water-down (‘compromise’) the Faith through the deliberate use of ambiguous terminology. Whereas the Cardinal actually (and rather clearly) says that often language from more than one side was mashed together in order to produce documents agreeable to most (‘compromise’), because something of the different points of view were somehow articulated.

    Where does Michael Voris, STB, think the ‘spirit of the Council’ interpretations he so dislikes came from? Did they just appear at the Council? Or immediately before? Of course not. The folks whom we can call for the sake of brevity ‘progressives’ grew up in the full blossom of the post-Tridentine Church. They were nourished on the glories of the Latin Mass. They were told it was a sin to go to a service in a Protestant Church. They were told (too often) that the Jews had killed Christ and that ‘error has no rights’ as the last word in Church-State relations. Again and again Voris and many others fall into the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy regarding the Council. Vatican II was not about making doctrinal definitions but about how to respond to the growing tidal wave of the modern world. It is not surprising there were many strong differences of opinion about how best to proceed.

    But what does Mr. Voris think has been going on in the Church ever since? Precisely a tug of war on how best to steer the rudder of the Church. This tug of war is precisely the ‘fallout’ from the Council. And Popes John Paul II and Benedict made great efforts in my opinion to promote a hermeneutic of continuity (with a nod – really, a profound bow – to Paul VI for Humanae Vitae). There is no question the Church is in a crisis (it probably always has been and always will be), but were it not for the Council, we might have found the Church washed out to sea by the tidal wave of modernity, like most of our ‘separated brethren.’

  68. robtbrown says:

    kmcgrathop says:

    They were told (too often) that the Jews had killed Christ and that ‘error has no rights’

    One would hope that people would have looked at both the short and long Credo and noted that the Jews are not mentioned–sub Pontio Pilato passus . . .

    And only people have rights–not ideas.


    1. The language of the Nicene Council was not that of compromise. The compromise was offered by Eusebius. Rather than homoousion (the same substance–consubstantialem) he proposed homoiouoios (a similar substance).

    2. There are many good things to be found in Vat II. Also some problems with certain texts, usually because of ambiguities. The reasons for those ambiguities vary and are often complex–too much so to be mentioned here.

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