11 Oct 1962 – the opening of Vatican II and John XXIII’s speech

11 October 1962 saw the opening of the Second Vatican Council.  John XXIII, brushing off the reservations of advisors and those whom he consulted, determined to have that Council (but who refused to reveal of Secret of Fatima at Our Lady’s command) gave a speech called from its incipit “Gaudet Mater Ecclesia“.

It is interesting, as an aside, that the Vatican website doesn’t provide it in English. Someone put it together with the variants in Italian. John gave the speech in, of course, Latin.

The February before the Council opened John also signed an Apostolic Constitution on the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica about Latin, Veterum sapientia, but I guess that is one of the AC’s it’s okay to ignore.

In the speech Gaudet Mater Ecclesia, John cited in #8 “prophets of doom who are always forecasting disaster” in the world and in the future of the Church.

I wonder what he would day about that now. John also told the Council Fathers at #16 “to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than the weapons of severity” in the documents they would produce.

There is also an old adage, “spare the rod and spoil the child”. The antinomiam spirit that has risen in the name of “mercy” has resulted in a tyranny.

In Gaudet Mater Ecclesia John said in #11:

“The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this, that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be more effectively defended and presented.”

Is this part of the Spirit of Vatican II or not? It’s hard to tell.

He said: “it is first of all necessary that the Church never turn her eyes from the sacred heritage of truth which she has received from those who went before;…”

He said #14:

The twenty-first Ecumenical Council, which uses the effective and significant assistance of experts in the sacred sciences, in the apostolate, and in administration, wishes to transmit whole and entire and without distortion the Catholic doctrine which, despite difficulties and controversies, has become the common heritage of humanity.

He said #15:

What instead is necessary today is that the whole of Christian doctrine, with no part of it lost, be received in our times by all with a new fervor, in serenity and peace, in that traditional and precise conceptuality and expression which is especially displayed in the acts of the Councils of Trent and Vatican I. As all sincere promoters of Christian, Catholic, and apostolic faith strongly desire, what is needed is that this doctrine be more fully and more profoundly known and that minds be more fully imbued and formed by it. What is needed is that this certain and unchangeable doctrine, to which loyal submission is due, be investigated and presented in the way demanded by our times. For the deposit of faith, the truths contained in our venerable doctrine, are one thing; the fashion in which they are expressed, but with the same meaning and the same judgement, is another thing. This way of speaking will require a great deal of work and, it may be, much patience: types of presentation must be introduced which are more in accord with a teaching authority which is primarily pastoral in character.

It is of interest that the Council opened on 11 October, which in the Roman Missal of the day, that is in the Roman Missal of Vatican II, the Roman Missal of John XXIII, the Feast of the Maternity of Mary.  John said at #17: “In these circumstances, the Catholic
Church, as she raises the torch of religious truth in this Ecumenical Council, wishes to show herself to be the most loving mother of all, kind, patient, and moved by mercy and goodness towards her separated children.”

Today of the office of the Synod (“walking together”) of Bishops, preparing for next year’s opening of the ouroboros-like Synod (“walking together”) on Synodality (“walking together”), release a statement including this:

The synodal process currently underway, dedicated to “Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church,” is also within the Council’s wake. The concept of “Synodality” is found throughout the Council, even though this term (only recently coined) is not found expressly in the documents of the ecumenical assembly. The magna charta of Synod 2021-2023 is the Council’s doctrine on the Church, particularly its theology of the People of God, a People whose “condition is the dignity and freedom of the children of God, in whose heart the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple” (Lumen Gentium 9).

It’s the spirit of the Council.

Talk about the “spirit” is back in spades.  From what I have heard, the phrase is being used to read into the Council something that isn’t there.  The main proponents have, it seem, a special, double-top secret insight into the space between the lines of the texts.

It is a propitious time, with this anniversary, actually to read the documents of the Council.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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


  1. Not says:

    Notice that Pope John XXXIII never said change. He wanted to bring Catholicism to the world in 1962. This has been done today through media and the internet. Tradionalist used to share books, we were called bookworms. Then we shared taped recordings from sound Priest and called ourselves tapeworms. Thankfully, the internet has supplied us with ways to combat false doctrines and heresies.
    If only he had released the real Third Secret of Fatima….
    Thank you Fr.Z, for all you do for us.

  2. Jacques says:

    On feb. 8th 1960, while the World was eagerly waiting for the Vatican’s Voice to unveil the 3rd Secret of Fatima, a press release of the Vatican through the portuguese press agency A.N.I. stated as follows “Although the Church recognizes the apparitions of Fatima, she does not want to ‘take responsibility for guaranteeing the truthfulness’ (!) of the WORDS that the three pastors said the Virgin Mary had addressed to them”.
    Very few people have noticed the disturbing discrepancy between this statement and the text of the 3rd Secret as it was revealed by the Vatican in 2000: Indeed there is not a single WORD of our Lady in this text.
    We know, according to then Cardinal Ratzinger’s own mouth that the messages of Fatima and those of Akita’s apparitions are “essentialy the same”: Now everybody can easily infer which words of the Virgin Mary are lacking from the 2000’s text.

  3. It turns out that the medicine of mercy instead of the weapons of severity only applies when the revolutionaries are out of power. As soon as they are in power, we find that, in fact, they do believe in canonical penalties after all, and apply them far more ruthlessly than their opponents ever thought of doing.

  4. Not says:

    Thank you Jacques, Here I go, Mr Conspiracy. Look up the two Sister Lucy’s. The one that they were touting later in life was not the Sister Lucy of Fatima. It’s plain to see but forensic experts will show you side by side pictures to prove it. We know she was silenced, how disturbing to put an imposter in her place. If that is not”Russia spreading its errors through out the world!” What is?

  5. Kenneth Wolfe says:

    It is crazy to think there was SO much change, that even the feast day for today’s opening of the Council — the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary — would change just a few years later, moved to January 1 with a completely re-written Mass. Nothing was sacred with Vatican II.

    [To be fair, feast days were moved around all the time. Maternity of Mary was first on the 2nd Sunday of October. In various places it was at other times of the year.]

  6. Pingback: TVESDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

  7. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    By my very nature, I share John XXIIIrd’s optimism and “humanistic” bent, which makes him a very sympathetic character to me. I will, therefore, attempt to defend him.

    It’s not as though he was trying to break something that was working fine. He was trying to fix something that was starting to break. About this I would like to make a couple of points:
    1) a lot of the nonsense that happened in the wake of Vatican II would have happened anyways, with or without the extra “rubber stamp” as it were; there were major signs of cracking. Eg. Veterum Sapientiae was written because seminary latin training had pretty much collapsed.
    2) I’m willing to postulate that he didn’t reveal the 3rd secret, but did obliquely disparage it, because he thought he could stop it from happening if he made the correct decision. It’s my understanding (I’m willing to be corrected) that prophecy is there to warn us so that we change our ways. Perhaps he thought if he could reform our errant ways, he could prevent the consequences of those errant ways. (I don’t think that doing this would be a good idea, I’m just trying to explain his possible motivations)

    What he did, however, was attempt reform, and he had some notion as to why, I think, that previous papal attempts, like that of Pius X, had achieved only brief success: they needed to strike at culture, not at law, if they were to succeed. Punishing childten is necessary, but if you don’t entice them to love virtue they will never be good. If I may, I would like to quote Bl. Idelfonso Schuster on the Gregorian reforms: “A reform carried out on a purely legal basis may be too violent in its mode of action, and therefore may often meet with but indifferent success. It is the intellect which must determine the will; whence it comes that, in order to promote the good, we have to begin making it loved, and especially educating the mind to its reception.”

  8. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Don’t forget that the Cuban Missile Crisis started less than a week after the Council started. A lot of the shenanigans are explained by that, just as a lot of shenanigans slipped (or barged) through the cracks after 9/11.

    Fear and uncertainty can paralyze good people, and be used by bad people… and the results of an initial fear or disaster can stretch on and on, for years. And sure enough, the really bad “spirit of Vatican II” stuff happened after the Council was long over.

  9. ProfessorCover says:

    In 1998 I stumbled on a website that associated itself with Malachi Martin. This allowed me to send him an email asking about becoming a Catholic via a place offering the TLM. He sent me a postcard with his phone number suggesting I call him within a narrow window of time any weekday. This I did. In the ensuing conversation he told me that John XXIII gave into temptation when he called for the council. I think Malachi Martin was a Vatican insider at that time.

  10. TonyO says:

    Whether John XXIII had a basically good idea (and intention) in calling the Council, or not, it is undeniable that he let the revolutionaries take control of the process. They effectively scrapped the original schema for new ones bent on ambiguity and pablum. Similarly, Paul VI both put revolutionaries onto the Concilium and then accepted (most of) their proposed changes even though virtually NOTHING about them complied with Vatican II’s directives. These, certainly, constitute major failure to govern. Both popes apparently had no worries about appointing as bishops and cardinals men who were modernists and out of sympathy with the actual Church. (But then, they weren’t the first to do so, apparently.)

    Eg. Veterum Sapientiae was written because seminary latin training had pretty much collapsed.

    Latin training had collapsed due to bishops appointing as seminary rectors men who could not be bothered to believe in what the popes before them had said – about Latin, about Thomistic teaching, about the whole of Christian doctrine. And (arguably) this is because too little care was taken by popes to appoint bishops who rightly cared about these things in their proper place, who would be willing to shut down “Catholic” professors who were spouting modernism, along with “Catholic” colleges, too. This happened long before VII. Why was that?

  11. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    “Latin training had collapsed due to bishops appointing as seminary rectors men who could not be bothered to believe in what the popes before them had said – about Latin, about Thomistic teaching, about the whole of Christian doctrine.”

    Partially. But contained in the text of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century literature about scholasticism are criticisms of the quality of Latin training in the seminaries and how it was in the process of decline. This leads me to believe that it was a more widespread problem.

    Perhaps an analogue may be found within the history of literature. Men once valued Latin, and learned it: they read it, and they wrote in it. Men once valued poetry. The read it and wrote it. But in the twentieth century they stopped reading and writing poetry. It was still “taught” in the schools, but every year it was taught as a vestige, with less and less interest. I think the same thing happened with seminary Latin, and it became so desiccated and vestigial that it was easily swept aside.

Comments are closed.