Vatican II And Doctrinal Truths

Talking with friends about religious matters one is always astonished at the amount of shallowness and ignorance exhibited by many Catholics. This is the more shocking because these Catholic appear to be, more often than not, in good faith.

As always, one must point out to the tragedy of a Catholic instruction which is so deficient as to lack the very basics; and one can only hope, for the sake of the involved souls, that the priests in charge of instructing their sheep have not intentionally caused this abysmal ignorance (don’t ask me to bet on all of them, though).

Here I would like to shortly touch on one point: the relationship between Vatican II and doctrinal truths.

Whenever appropriate, Catholics must be told (in the office, within the larger family, among friends) that Vatican has not changed anything in the doctrinal apparatus of the Church, because Catholic doctrine doesn’t change.

It just doesn’t. It never could. It never will.

Vatican II couldn’t change anything in the doctrinal corpus of the Church because – besides the fact that V II was a purely pastoral council – such a thing just doesn’t exist in Catholicism.

The idea that V II might have changed the Church’s doctrine is profoundly heretical and the fact that such an extraordinary assertion may be made in good faith may – to a point, and given the circumstances – excuse the faithful who expresses it, but doesn’t make the expression less heretical.

Whenever a new document is issued by the Church, this document must always – and can only – be read in the light of Church doctrine. This is the only valid criterium of interpretation as far as doctrinal matters are concerned.

This must be well understood by everyone who deals with doctrinal matters. “This doctrinal point is not valid anymore because this or that encyclical has changed it” is pure Protestant thinking, not Catholicism. It is dead wrong, and it is utter heresy.

Encyclicals and other Vatican documents always make sense in light of the Church’s traditional teaching, and their sense is always to be searched in this light.

This is true even for the most dramatic cases of bad wording and shallow formulations. This is so true, that even Archbishop Lefebvre thought it fit to sign all of the Vatican II documents.

Please make this clear to your poorly instructed friends and acquaintances (of which, I am sure, you have as many as I do) whenever appropriate.


Posted on January 3, 2011, in Catholicism, FSSPX and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I think the specific problem with Vatican II is that most of the periti (even including our own dear Pope, who thankfully has had a change of heart) worded the documents to be able to be interpreted in an orthodox way, or in a heterodox way.

    They needed the ambiguity to get the approval of the Bishops for the documents, but they knew that people like themselves would be implementing them, and of course they would be implementing the heterodox interpretation. When I read the liturgical documents of VII, then looked at the state of the Mass today, I said to myself “How did this ever lead to that?!”

    Anyway, on topic, I think this is the reason why many people think that Catholic dogma can change. The way that it was implemented in their lives, following VII, pointed toward changeable dogma.

    • NNSS,
      the heretical tendencies of some of the bishops show in my eyes that Bishops can be heretic (they certainly can; they rather often are), but only the total absence of proper catechesis can persuade someone that doctrine can change.

      In my eyes, there is a double complicity here: the priest will never tell the faithful that Catholic doctrine can change, but he’ll close both eyes as the faithful believe it in order to avoid loss of popularity. The faithful know perfectly well that Catholic doctrine doesn’t change, but they’ll kid themselves into “interpreting” the priests’ innuendos, shallow platitudes and circiterisms so that he may avoid dealing with the matter and having to admit to himself that he’s wrong.

      This is my impression anyway.


  2. The strangest feature of Vatican II for me was the role of theologians and ordinaries from the Irish diaspora. Did they just sit there and listen whilst the sons of German policemen and Belgian ticket inspectors told them how to do Catholicsm? Given this was 1962 and one of their number was in the White House with his finger presumably on the button, Irish inertia remains baffling. It even baffled Jackie Heenan who, in the final analysis, became part of the problem. Looking back, the Church might be in a healthier state today if Kennedy had followed the advice of political rival Barry Goldwater and decided to press …

  3. 1) The council was dominated by a Franco-German alliance of theologians and oridinaries.

    2) The Irish diaspora seemed to make no significant contribution to the Council and this includes the North American version of the diaspora.

    3) Archbishop Heenan of Westminster (a classic member of the British version of the diaspora) complains in his autobiography of the inertia of his ‘own people’.

    4) In 1962, the most powerful man in the World was an Irish-American who in theory could have started another war in Europe to take out the Soviets – the stated policy of 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.

    5) Would the Church be in a worse state if such a war had been started?

    6) Do keep up Mundabor!

    • Ah, now I understand where you come from.
      Still, I’d say that it is fair to say that the Irish bishops – culpable as their inertia has certainly been – were not as powerful or influential as the Franco-German, ehem, axis, without or without Kennedy.

      As to the war, I feel that I am a bit biased in answering your question as, had a conflict occurred, I might not have been born in the first place.. 😉

      I think the best thing of Goldwater is that his campaign put Ronald Reagan to the attention of the nation.

      Reagan didn’t start “warm wars” to retake Europe, either..




  4. The failure of Irish American bishops to translate secular clout into religious was a massive failure which, as I say, baffled our own Heenan. Surely these guys should have threatened their Franco-German counterparts with political pressure back home directed at France, Germany and the rest of the EEC countries if the Catholic representatives of these countries continued on their destruction of the Church. Remember this was 1962!

    • I hear what you say, but i still fail to appreciate why Germans and French should have cared for the Irish. With all due respect, it is not that they were the dominant force in Catholicism. An obvious disagreement and fracture within the Conclave would have hampered and possibly halted the whole mess, but I fail to understand how the Irish alone could have caused that. Pope VI himself was allowing the situation to be steered in very dangerous waters and the sad truth is that very many just wanted to go with the flow. The Irish were a part of the problem because they were a part of the “brave new world” that was coming out of the detente but frankly, I don’t think the irish alone would have been war decisive anyway.

      I have found Iota Unum an extremely interesting reading about the Conciliar years. The picture which emerges is one of rather diffuse (even if not universal, not at all) acquiescence (even if not approval) to the instances of “modernisation” from the very top and along many within the senior ranks. It was just th eflavour of the times and the Church has decided, sadly, to go with the times…



  5. I am not talking about Ireland’s Irish. I am talking about their astonishing diaspora. They had just got their boy in the White House. They completely controlled the American Catholic Church – the wealthiest in the World. I MEAN TOTAL CONTROL! They owned the Catholic Church throughout the British empire in particular in the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa – again some of the wealthiest countries on the planet. All ‘winners’ from WWII and yet the heirarchies of these countries just didn’t turn up at Vatican II. Heenan records one American auxilary from New York alert to the danger posed by Rahner but nothing was done to arrest the latter’s dominance.

    • Ah, NOW it’s clear!
      I just couldn’t get how you coul dgive such importance to a beautiful, small island!

      Yes, if you put all of them together (usa, uk, australia, new zealand) they were certainly a powerful block.

  6. Powerful block? It was the most powerful on the planet. The performance of the post-Vatican I (one) Irish Catholic Church should have been the talk of the Council. What they achieved in terms of diffusion of the Faith was on a par with that of their own monks in the middle-ages. This time though, it was their laity as well as religious who should have been referenced.

    Look, what we got instead: a bunch of French and German rejects who have proved to be of interest to nobody.

    • I’d have said the most powerful in the Sixties were still the Italians? All the Popes, most of the Vatican apparatus, and the greatest number of Cardinals. I thik the Germans and french did not invent anything, they were more vocal in asking and formulating what many others wouldn’t ask openly, but were wishing in some way.

  7. The Church is not about Cardinals and Popes.

    The Irish, with only a few million post-famine emmigrants, evangelised the whole of the British Empire plus the USA. The Italians never enjoyed this degree of outreach. In the UK, their immigrants built schools and Churches up until the 1960’s. In the USA, they built seminaries, hospitals and universities. We forget how dramatic pre-conciliar Church growth was both in the USA and UK plus in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. They Irish also made an impact culturally in the USA which has never been matched by other immigrant groups with the exception of the Jews. This legacy has largely been squandered.

    Listening to Benedict Groeschel on EWTN, one is struck by a certain bitterness that the German Groeschel has towards an American Church dominated by a tribe with whom he had no obvious sympathy. It was of course the Groeschel generation that lead the charge for change. Change, which Groeschel, unconvincingly, attempts to distance himself from.

    Boy, things are confusing nowadays.

    • Might be (it sure is), but I wonder whether this outreach becomes, at hierarchy level, ability to influence the course of the Church. Apparently it didn’t. If anything, V II shows that at times it is not how many millions of convert you have, but how many people you can muster where decisions are taken and what kind of people these are. Here we see clearly the difference with the Italians, whose power was (and is) in direct contrast to their “outreach” (thoug the emigration to the US and Argentina was massive from there too).

  8. The Irish bishops seen no need for a Council and rarely spoke at it. One thinks of Archbishop McQuaid’s ill-received assurance that “no change will worry the tranquillity of your Christian lives”.

    You’re right about Vatican II: it was very much a victory of Franco-German theologians over the Roman Curia. The exact opposite of what happened at Vatican I, where incidentally, the decree on infallibility was written by the Cardinal Archbishop of Dublin, Paul Cullen.

  9. Shane

    It is intriguing to note the way Irish Catholicism synthesised with the various ethnic and even indigenous traditions of the host nation. In Canada this would have been the French, in the USA the various other immigrant communities (of which the Italians were just one of many and the one with the biggest problem integrating Mundabor!) plus in England the toffs converting on the back of the Oxford movement.

    What was not understood in mainland Europe was the maturity of the Faith in these countries. In 1962 Ingmar Bergman described John Ford as the greatest film maker in the World whilst Fulton Sheen’s TV shows enjoyed unimaginable ratings. The UK possessed 2 great novelists in Waugh and Greene (each with opposing views on a myriad subjects i.e. Catholic debate was not sterile but lively) and the converts (in the UK certainly) just kept turning up. One could go on, I mean ever heard of Alfred Hitchcock? We even had JFK ‘on the button’ as I tried to explain in a previous post to Mundy. There really needs to be a debate about not what the Franco-Germans did at Vatican II but what the Irish Diaspora failed to achieve with their allies in 1962. It remains a total mystery and their inertia (McQuaid’s quote is revealing) continues to baffle. Something clearly went wrong and the full story as to how a bunch of losers from France and Germany were able to dominate proceedings remains untold. There is a limit as to how far one can run with the ‘Rhine flows into the Tiber’ conspiracy theory.

    For what it is worth, I blame World War II for both the Franco-German performance and the lack of a response from the Anglo-Celtic world.

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