Rorate Caeli

34 years ago: Vatican II in the light of Tradition, and in the light of experiments

A little more than 34 years ago, on the day after his election to the See of Peter, Pope John Paul II gave his first radio message Urbi et Orbi, which most probably qualifies as one of his least-known and most neglected major speeches.

In this speech, the then-new Pontiff outlines his understanding of the proper way by which Vatican II should be interpreted and implemented. He speaks, on one hand, of the need to interpret the Council in the light of Tradition, and of the need for fidelity to the authority of the See of Peter. On the other hand he clearly speaks of the Council's proper legacy as something that goes beyond the documents themselves, involving the drawing out of many hidden things in the light of "experiments" and "changing circumstances". His thoughts are of great relevance to the debates of today, when some are insisting on a strict separation between Vatican II and its documents, and the nearly 5 decades of experimentation and radical change that came immediately after it. 

We wish, therefore, to clarify some basic points which we consider to be of special importance. Hence—as we propose and as, with the help of God, we confidently trust—we shall continue these not merely with earnestness and attention but we shall also further them with constant pressure, so that ecclesial life, truly lived, may correspond to them. First of all, we wish to point out the unceasing importance of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, and we accept the definite duty of assiduously bringing it into affect. Indeed, is not that universal Council a kind of milestone as it were, an event of the utmost importance in the almost two thousand year history of the Church, and consequently in the religious and cultural history of the world?

However, as the Council is not limited to the documents alone, neither is it completed by the ways applying it which were devised in these post-conciliar years. Therefore we rightly consider that we are bound by the primary duty of most diligently furthering the implementation of the decrees and directive norms of that same Universal Synod. This indeed we shall do in a way that is at once prudent and stimulating. We shall strive, in particular, that first of all an appropriate mentality may flourish. Namely, it is necessary that, above all, outlooks must be at one with the Council so that in practice those things may be done that were ordered by it, and that those things which lie hidden in it or—as is usually said—are "implicit" may become explicit in the light of the experiments made since then and the demands of changing circumstances. Briefly, it is necessary that the fertile seeds which the Fathers of the Ecumenical Synod, nourished by the word of God, sowed in good ground (cf. Mt 13: 8, 23)—that is, the important teachings and pastoral deliberations should be brought to maturity in that way which is characteristic of movement and life.

This general purpose of fidelity to the Second Vatican Council and express will, in so far as we are concerned, of bringing it into effect, can cover various sections: missionary and ecumenical affairs, discipline, and suitable administration. But there is one section to which greater attention will have to be given, and that is the ecclesiological section. Venerable Brethren and beloved sons of the Catholic world, it is necessary for us to take once again into our hands the "Magna Charta" of the Council, that is, the Dogmatic Constitution "Lumen Gentium", so that with renewed and invigorating zeal we may meditate on the nature and function of the Church, its way of being and acting. This should be done not merely in order that the vital communion in Christ of all who believe and hope in him should be accomplished, but also in order to contribute to bringing about a fuller and closer unity of the whole human family. John XXIII was accustomed to repeat the following words: "The Church of Christ is the light of the nations." For the Church—his words were repeated by the Council—is the universal sacrament of salvation and unity for the human race. (cf. Lumen Gentium, 1; 48; Ad Gentes, 1).

The mystery of salvation which finds its centre in the Church and is actualized through the Church; the dynamism which on account of that same mystery animates the People of God; the special bond, that is, collegiality, which "with Peter and under Peter" binds together the sacred Pastors; all these are major elements on which we have not yet sufficiently reflected. We must do so in order to decide in face of human needs, whether these be permanent or passing, what the Church should adopt as its mode of presence and its course of action. Wherefore, the assent to be given to this document of the Council, seen in the light of Tradition and embodying the dogmatic formulae issued over a century ago by the First Vatican Council, will be to us Pastors and to the faithful a decisive indication and a rousing stimulus, so that—we say it again—we may walk in the paths of life and of history.

***

Beloved brothers in the Episcopate and dear children, fidelity, as is clear, implies not a wavering obedience to the Magisterium of Peter especially in what pertains to doctrine. The "objective" importance of this Magisterium must always be kept in mind and even safeguarded because of the attacks which in our time are being levelled here and there against certain truths of the Catholic faith. Fidelity too implies the observance of the liturgical norms laid down by ecclesiastical Authority and therefore has nothing to do with the practice either of introducing innovations of one's own accord and without approval or of obstinately refusing to carry out what has been lawfully laid down and introduced into the sacred rites. Fidelity also concerns the great discipline of the Church of which our immediate predecessor spoke. This discipline is not of such a kind that it depresses or, as they say, degrades. It seeks to safeguard the right ordering of the mystical body of Christ with the result that all the members of which it is composed united together perform their duties in a normal and natural way. 

15 comments:

authoressaurus said...

May the Holy Spirit extinguish the pernicious flames of this evil and ongoing act of ecclesiastical arson known as Vatican II. May its legacy be short, and its influence ever diminishing. This is my daily prayer, and the focus of my efforts as a church employee. God Bless the Pope, and our Holy Mother the Church.

Augustinus said...

John L:

You are welcome to go to another blog if that suits you!

Alan Aversa said...

Didn't Ratzinger say the Novus Ordo was an experiment?

Iratus said...

"Namely, it is necessary that, above all, outlooks must be at one with the Council so that in practice those things may be done that were ordered by it, and that those things which lie hidden in it or—as is usually said—are "implicit" may become explicit in the light of the experiments made since then and the demands of changing circumstances."

## Out of the time-bomb comes...a time-bomb. Which will give birth to more time-bombs. Which in turn...& so on.

Stephen said...

Innovation, thy home is Rome.

Waiting for Pope Pius XIII said...

As if the documents themselves aren't problematic enough, we see a virtually unlimited license here to coin most any doctrinal idea of one's fancy under the pretense that it can be inferred as being embedded implicitly in The Glorious Council.

Amazing.

A Mom said...

"However, as the Council is not limited to the documents alone, neither is it completed by the ways applying it which were devised in these post-conciliar years...Namely, it is necessary that, above all, outlooks must be at one with the Council so that in practice those things may be done that were ordered by it, and that those things which lie hidden in it or—as is usually said—are "implicit" may become explicit in the light of the experiments made since then and the demands of changing circumstances."

Please forgive my ignorance, but is this the typical manner in which Church Councils have been and are to be conducted? Is it typical for things to lie hidden in the documents so that only a select group in the Church can truly know what is meant by the documents? Are the documents not meant to be a clear guide for all of us? Doesn't this mean that the Council never really has an endpoint - just constant change and uncovering of "hidden" meaning with no end in sight?

All I could think of while reading this address was Mr. Michael Davies (requiescat in pace) and the time bombs he spoke of.

Benedict Carter said...

Vatican II, I am convinced, was all about the Hierarchy inventing FOR ITSELF a means of not being bored, given that so many of them no longer really believed in the dogma of the Faith anymore.

They are still infatuated by it. Simply being Catholic and defending its age-old truth and its consequent culture was, and is, no longer enough.

They have been captured by the world of science.

The modern Church is their way of being scientists.

WE are the subjects of their experiments; their lab rats.

Anil Wang said...

@Iratus,

I 100% agree. The Vatican II documents are not problematic if one reads the footnotes and reads each line in context, and reads them in line with Tradition.

However, the "implicit experiment" escape hatch in Urbi et Orbi, gives free license to "the spirit of Vatican II" and we should not be surprised at the aftermath. Its no longer necessary to actually read VII, since the Pope said Vatican II allows experimentation.


David of Glasgow said...

Is there much difference between these words of the late Holy Father and what Fr Schillebeecx said to a Dutch journalist during the Second Vatican Council: "we will express it in a diplomatic way, but after the council we will draw out the more explicit conclusions"?

Anil Wang said...

@David of Glasgow,

Actually there is a difference since Pope John Paul II likely didn't realize how much rope he gave the modernists and likely thought that the people would experiment in light of Tradition (e.g. bring back old devotions and apostleships). If the Church was in good health at the time of Vatican II, that's all that would likely have happened.

With the Dutch journalist, he likely sensed the mood of the Dutch clergy that resulted in the infamous Dutch Catechism of 1966 which was created on a few months after Vatican II closed. Given how quickly it was released, its blatantly clear that the Dutch clergy were looking for any excuse to introduce modernism in the Church, and given the Winnepeg Statement made hot on the heals of Humanae Vitae, its clear that this modernism was not local in nature.

Mar said...

The late Holy Father said: "First of all, we wish to point out the unceasing importance of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, and we accept the definite duty of
assiduously bringing it into affect. Indeed, is not that universal Council a kind of
milestone as it were, an event of the utmost importance in the almost two thousand year history of the Church, and consequently in the religious and cultural history of the world?"

Am I the only one who finds this statement a tad arrogant? An attempt to canonize the council? It is too painfully evident how the cultural history of the world has gone since the council.

jac said...

The bad fruits of the Council preexisted BEFORE the Council in the minds of all the modernists who were quietly waiting for better times to manifest themselves. Pius XII who once considered to call a council preferred to give up that idea because he knew well the bad seeds already sown inside the Church were upon to germinate. Indeed the signal for the modernists to raise their heads was given by John XXIII and his famous "opening of the Church to the world" and confirmed by Paul VI when he abolish the antimodernist oath.
Since then the modernists hijacked the council with the Pope's benediction and stayed at the Church's helm until now.
Vatican II is obviously the spring of the confusion everyone, lay people and clerics has in his mind, the "diabolical disorientation" of which Sr Lucy spoke.
And the "experiments" of JPII certainly didn't calm it down .

If I Had a Heretic Hammer said...

Anil Wang,

JPII didn't realize how much rope he was giving modernists??

Perhaps they got their ideas from Karol Wojtyla declaring that the Church transformed her very nature at Second Vatican, and the fact that he proceeded as pope to participate in pagan worship in Togo.

In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph. said...

With absolutely NO "Authority" whatsoever they have taken their minor little council and used it as a vehicle for their man-made religion in order to set themselves up as "gods".

The guttural voice, the voice of Satan in his pride, boasted to Our Lord: "I can destroy your Church."

The gentle voice of Our Lord: "You can? Then go ahead and do so."

Satan: "To do so, I need more time and more power."

Our Lord: "How much time? How much power?

Satan: "75 to 100 years, and a greater power over those who will give themselves over to my service."

Our Lord: "You have the time, you will have the power. Do with them what you will."

THEY WEREN'T DISCUSSING THE LAITY.