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.