Rorate Caeli

"The Second Vatican Council will not be negotiable"

Statement by the Permanent Council of Bishops of France concerning the lifting of the excommunications

The lifting of the excommunication of the four bishops of the Fraternity Saint Pius X by the Holy See is drawing numerous reactions in Catholic opinion as well as that of society.

The coinciding of this announcement with the revelation of the position Bishop Williamson, denying the tragedy of the extermination of the Jews, has caused a condemnation that can not be sustained. The bishops of France strongly condemn the outrageous and unacceptable words of Bishop Williamson. They reiterate their commitment of dialogue and friendship with the French Jewish community.

They bear in mind that Benedict XVI continues to carry out his commitment to a fruitful relationship between Jews and Christians. They strongly emphasize that the lifting of the excommunication is not a pardon. It is the starting point on a long road that will require a precise dialogue. In any case, the Second Vatican Council will not be negotiable. No ecclesial group can serve as a substitute for the magisterium.

The bishops have welcomed the willingness of the Holy Father to go to the limit in offering an invitation of reconciliation. They are in communion with him in the exercise of episcopal vigilance. They express their support and gratitude to the priests, deacons, religious and laity who make up the Catholic Church in France[…]

Permanent Council of Bishops of France


  1. What does that mean that Vatican II is not negotiable?

    If the FSSPX to be asked to accept more than the IPB?

  2. I suppose that once the parties negotiate a clear definition of what the Second Vatican Council is, then...whatever it will be non-negotiable.

    It seems the French bishops are banking too heavily on the belief that if they knowingly step in front of a traditionalist bus, the Holy Father will be there to collegially pull them back to the curb.

  3. Anonymous11:03 PM

    Man, it's so sad when someone has been defeated but they don't yet know it ...

  4. Unfortunately for the declining NO church of France VCII is negotiable, whether they like it or not. Many issues arise from its consequences - they do not need to look further than their own devastated frontiers in order to understand that.

  5. "No ecclesial group can serve as a substitute for the magisterium"

    This is precisely what these four Bishops have been saying and praying for all this time

  6. Anonymous11:21 PM

    The Good Shepherd Institute has a constructive criticism of Vatican II. That's what the SSPX need.

    Stating that Vatican II is not negotiable is quite over the top. They just don't want confusion as the SSPX is strong in France.

  7. Anonymous11:24 PM

    They're trying to pressure the Pope to make Vatican II non-negotiable.

    I would support the SSPX over Vatican II any day.

    And as much as a mistake and a lack of valid judgement it was, I am bored hearing about Bishop Williamson and the Jews.

    Williamson doesn't think right. That's a given for saying what he did. But the Jewish complaining and "outrage"...

    I can count at least 7 other ethnic and minority groups in Europe during the time of the Nazis which suffered the same (or proportionatly more) in the concentration camps and labor camps as the Jews. And everyone has forgotten about them.
    Jews talk about outrage.
    Well, to forget the others is likewise an outrage.
    How about the 25,000 priests and nuns who were gassed or executed for hiding Jews??

  8. Anonymous11:31 PM

    Vat II not negotiable means that you can't wish it away. You can't make it go away. You're stuck with it till kingdom come.

    Vat II is so ambigious that it can accomodate modernists and orthodox Catholics.

    The theological dialogue that the SSPX hoping to acive is a dialogue where those ambigious meaning of Vat II can be fixed in an orthodox way so there's no possibility of misinterpretting it the modernist way.

  9. At first I read it that to mean they, as in the French bishops, are saying that for them, VCII is not negotiable. It seems to me, at least, that they issuing an challenge to Rome.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the coming year. Perhaps the silent apostasy will find its voice.

  10. Anonymous11:57 PM

    Strictly speaking, there is nothing in this statement of the French bishop which is untrue. Vatican II is not negotiable. This means that its true meaning and its true authority cannot change. However, it is for the Pope to interpret the conciliar documents; and it is for the Pope to clarify what authority each of them bears.

    Fortunately, it does not take a rocket scientist to realise, after reading the documents of that more important Vatican Council--Vatican I)--that nothing new in Vatican II is dogmatic. Nothing new in Vatican II is infallible. It is only a pastoral council, a Council which gives the clergy and laics a new direction (in 1965) for pastoral action. In its pastoral provisions, it was obviously misinterpreted and misapplied, but that is another matter.

    Since it was never a dogma of the faith in the first place, there is no need to negotiate over its doctrinal meaning.


  11. Anonymous11:59 PM

    Rattle, rattle, rattle, methinks I hear the rattling of a cage.

  12. Anonymous12:06 AM

    Their parishes are nearly empty whilst the SSPX parishes are packed--and they can't stand the fact.

  13. "No ecclesial group can serve as a substitute for the magisterium."

    What they mean is that the praxis of Vat II wreckology is not negotiable for them. The Magisterium of the Church is its teaching authority. Vatican II as it is understood is NOT DOGMA. It's a practical application which can be mutated, changed, or supressed at the will of the pontiff. There have been those who argued that the terms of the convening of the council and the issuance of "Dogmatic Constitutions" are mutally exclusive anyway, and that the council went far beyond its mandate or capacity. Certainly the Consilium sub-group did, and that is what is not only negotiable, but possibly subject to Papal action.

    It is precisely action on that front that I expect we'll see in the coming years...and possibly more. The SSPX have never DENIED the council, they simply said they have no use for its praxis. That is an eminantly fair argument, and one the French Bishops are going to have to have to come to terms with.

  14. Anonymous12:08 AM

    This is ridiculous. Who do they think they are? The French Bishops have no place to make statements on the pastoral Vatican II Council. The Church is hierarchical, not collegial. This is a decision for the Pope to make.

  15. Anonymous12:14 AM

    It's the frogs maginot line against the Pope's panzer divisions. I know who my money is on. :-)

  16. Anonymous12:18 AM

    An observation VERY applicable to the Novus Ordo hierarchy in France (and other countries) is that the worst part of losing the Faith is not realizing you've lost it.

  17. Anonymous12:28 AM

    “In any case, the Second Vatican Council will not be negotiable.”

    But Vatican II and what it means is exactly what the “long process” of dialogue between the Society and the Holy See will be all about.

    The French bishops are hoping against all reason that the Vatican will force the Society to bend the knee to Modernism, what will most likely happen is that both the Vatican and the Society will come to a very quick understanding of what the Council says and what it does not say.

    Fr. WTC.

  18. Anonymous12:31 AM

    Too bad the Council Fathers didn't feel this way about the Council of Trent at VII.

  19. Anonymous12:37 AM

    Given a couple of news cycles, even in France, this too, shall pass.

    I understand that +Williamson has written a letter of apology to the Holy Father. Good for him. I would've never thought that possible, and it bodes great things for the future. I'd love to see this earn him a place on the floor at the next Bishop's Synod.

    In the meantime, for endangering The Cause, until all is accomplished, I'd suggest as penance a temporary location a little farther from the camera's glare than La Reja. Tierra del Fuego, perhaps?

    ~ Belloc

  20. Anonymous12:51 AM

    I agree with the non-negotiable status of CVII.

    "I hope that (my) gesture will be followed by the solicitous effort (of SPPX) to accomplish the ulterior steps necessary to accomplish full communion with the Church, thus testifying true fidelity and true recognition of the Magisterium and of the authority of the Pope and of the Second Vatican Council."

  21. They express their support and gratitude to the priests, deacons, religious and laity who make up the Catholic Church in France[…]

    That is what few are left! More people go to the SSPX in France than the Novus Ordo.

  22. Methinks I hear the cry of a dying breed - that of truly catholic bishops in France. What a nonsensical statement made by a group that claims to be catholic! This is the type of remark that makes the state of necessity a reality in France.

  23. Anonymous1:16 AM

    "A long road that will require a precise dialog."

    And what about a "precise dialog" with the Pope about the NO clergy refusing people who want to receive communion kneeling? What about a "precise dialog" with the NO clergy, including bishops who still welcome homosexuals in their seminaries? Last, but certainly not least, what about a "precise dialog" with the Pope concerning the NO clergy giving Communion to PRO-Abortion politicians.

  24. Anonymous1:19 AM

    Chris, what is IPB? my mind went blank...

  25. Anonymous1:23 AM

    Actually, I found the French Bishops' Statement to be weak. It is nothing like the spirit of the 1970s and 1980s, when they ruled the roost. They are beginning to realise that their beloved Age of Aquarius reform was a hopeless joke. It's difficult to defend the empty Catholic schools, empty seminaries, and empty churches. They are now putting up official opposition almost as a matter of course; it lacks the spirit they had in the past.


  26. Anonymous1:38 AM

    Boy they sure are squirming...

  27. Anonymous1:39 AM

    And indeed it will not.

    It can be correcly interpreted; the exact force of each of its documents (which were issued under different types to begin with) can be examined and better understood; but the Church will never say "You know, one of our Ecumenical Councils, that we have held to be Ecumenical and the acts of which the Pope approved and confirmed, was not a Council after all".

  28. I'm not a member of the SSPX - I've never met a SSPX supporter - let alone a SSPX priest.

    This process of reconciliation involves the SSPX and the Holy Father. The French bishops should mind their own business.

    The French bishops are totally irrelevant in this important negotiation.

    Charles from the Bronx

  29. Anonymous2:08 AM

    Everything else is negotiable except for the Council that caused all this "dialogue" rubbish. A bit of a paradox isn't it?

  30. Anonymous3:17 AM

    "No ecclesial group can serve as a substitute for the magisterium."

    My Dear Bishops of France, that includes your Bishops' Conference, so stop trying to speak as if you have the authority of the Pope.

  31. And, given that an episcopal council is an ecclesial group, no episcopal council can serve as a substitute for the magisterium. So let's allow Rome to decide what's negotiable.

  32. Anonymous4:52 AM

    IBP = Institute of the Good Shepherd

  33. Well stated Athanasius. Statistically, the NO in France will be all but extinct by 2030.

  34. Belloc

    If he has written a letter of apology what an outstanding example that would be for all those thoroughly disobedient NO bishops who flirt with anti-papal behaviour, schism and heresy on a regular basis. Perhaps most of the French bishops would like to apologise for their attempts to stall the Summorum Pontificum or perhaps for some of the illicit liturgies they sponsor against the church's teachings on acceptable behaviour at the liturgy.

  35. The remnant and Kreuz both have references to the said

  36. Anonymous5:58 AM

    Which version of Vatican II is not negotiable?

  37. Anonymous6:05 AM

    IBP = Institut du Bon Pasteur.

    The French NO church is dying, and the French bishops know it all too well. Such statements as the one that was posted by the Conférence Épiscopale are pathetic, and in all charity I feel sincerely sorry for those who published it.

    In any event, someone above said that there were more SSPX that NO Mass attenders. This is true, but to be precise you must include the FSSP and ICRSP, IBP, and related communities, in your numbers. That said, in many a French diocese, the "mainstream" Sunday massgoer is a SSPXer.


  38. Anonymous6:20 AM

    The French Bishops have no right to lay down conditions.

  39. Anonymous11:30 AM

    Alas, it is a sad day, to see that the Permanent Council of the Bishops of France has fallen into a schismatic mentality, and has had the daring and presumption to insert itself into a matter which pertains to the Apostolic See alone, against whose judgments no man, no cleric, nor bishop, and no nation can lawfully take a stand.

    In saying, "In any case, the Second Vatican Council will not be negotiable." They have arrogated to themselves the unheard of right to interpret an Ecumenical Council and determine its level of obligation.

    In saying, "No ecclesial group can serve as a substitute for the magisterium." They have contradicted themselves in a most hypocritical manner, for this is precisely what they have presumed to do!

    If the Holy Father decides that a non-obligatory council is negotiable in any or every detail of his pastoral resolutions, this is his right, and this is reasonable and in harmony with the Faith and the laws of the Church.

    It is not the right of the French Bishops to speak against this, and in doing so they have gravy harmed the unity of the Church, for which public apologies must be demanded and given.

  40. Indeed, anonymous I have stated this many times in the past on good authority that many French bishops are de facto schismatics who love to throw stones. Many of their "pastoral units" are a disgrace to The Faith. The Cure d'
    Ars would probably fail to recognise what goes on in French NO churches as belonging to nothing other than protestants.

  41. Anonymous4:27 PM

    It is not a question of whether Vatican II is negotiable. The issue is the interpretation of Vatican II. How can this council be interpreted in light of Catholic tradition, taking into account previous councils such as the Council of Trent, and the Council of Florence, in addition to previous Church documents, such as the Syllabus of Errors.

  42. I'm sure those with a "different" persuasion would ask what do you mean in light of Tradition? The answer, really, is very simple and completely disarming in the process. It means what the Church has always taught, held and professed to be true from time immemorial. Nothing more and, certainly, nothing less. How can anyone argue with this interpretation of Tradition? Well, I guess the French Episcopate can. Egads, it boggles the mind and this from the country wherein intellectual prowess presumably is so highly prized.

  43. "... no ecclesial group can be a substitute for the magisterium..." I presume this will include the French bishops 'conference" which in canon law has no authority.

    It is also a pity that these same bishops could not see fit to condemn the evils of abortion or homsexuality in the manner that they have seen fit to go after +Williamson. I certainly cannot recall a vigorous condemnation.

  44. Anonymous6:05 PM

    The French Bishops have always been an obstacle for anyone who desires to remain Catholic. The Second Vatican Council is NOT a dogmatic Council...the papal encyclicals must be interpreted "in the light of tradition" other words according to what the Church has always believed and taught (which includes ALL Councils). It seems to me that there are very many prelates who need to go back to studying Church encyclicals of all the popes. Any contradiction of these teachings must be rejected.

  45. Anonymous6:38 PM

    Athanasius said: That is what few are left! More people go to the SSPX in France than the Novus Ordo.

    This is just not true. The SSPX faithful is a a fraction of the church attendance. Even in Paris where the SSPX have a major base, you are talking one church, and it is not as well attended as some of the other churches even in the city centre.

    Where do these figures come from?

    The SSPX is not growing significantly, nor is the rest of the church showing significant decline, if we are talking the numbers game..

    Let's get real here.

  46. Anonymous8:35 PM


    Have you recently been to a NO Mass in France? Are you aware that despite all obstacles presented by the episcopate, trad seminarians represent a good third of all French seminarians? Do you know that French "Catholic Schools" no longer, for the most part, teach the Catholic Faith. Recent polls indicate that less than 3% of the French attend Mass every Sunday. How is that for "la fille ainee de l'Eglise"?
    Yes, the NO Church is dying in France.

  47. Anonymous9:33 PM

    I was hitchiking through France a few years ago, on the way to Paral le Monial, when a Frenchman who speaks English gave me a lift.

    We talked and the subject of the church of France raised its head.

    He said the church in france is in a awful situation. I asked him what mass he attened, he said the vernacular.

    I said, "What in your opinion is the chief and principal cause of the mess in the French Church?"

    He said, "Our Bishops, none of them is worthy anything!"

    I said, "But they are all apointed by Rome?"

    He said, "That's the problem. There is nothing we can do!"

    I said, "You can pray..."

    Br. Alexis Bugnolo

  48. Anonymous12:40 AM

    Martin said:
    Have you recently been to a NO Mass in France? Are you aware that despite all obstacles presented by the episcopate, trad seminarians represent a good third of all French seminarians? Do you know that French "Catholic Schools" no longer, for the most part, teach the Catholic Faith. Recent polls indicate that less than 3% of the French attend Mass every Sunday. How is that for "la fille ainee de l'Eglise"?
    Yes, the NO Church is dying in France.

    Yes, I know France well. I can give you the names of some packed churches in Paris.

    Church attendance is a fraction of what it was pre-Council and I can accept the 3% figure, but that equates to 2 million people; the sspx can boast only tens of thousands. Church attendance has stabilised now, no growth but that is true of the sspx as well. (In fact because of divisions and defections their numbers are declining marginally)

    Yes the traditional orders have one-third of the seminarians, but they are not sspx. They greatly outnumber the number of sspx seminarians. Aditionally two-thirds are committed to the Novus Ordo.

    Yes, the church appears to be a mess, but it is still our Mother and we love it and don't look for her demise.

    But please let's speak truthfully.

  49. Anonymous1:28 AM

    Dear French Bishops,

    My soul is not negotiable.

    How can the Church go forward and not define with certitude what on earth V2 is? Are not our souls in peril from the fallout of V2? In my opinion our leadership has failed us and at the very least has committed the sin of omission.

    Did not Pope Paul 6 assign the task of defining V2 to a committee (gulp) that to this day has not produced one defining document and has itself been relegated to obscurity? Perhaps, this merely confirms what many have been saying, that V2 is a pastoral only.

    Worse yet, how come our leadership has not been more forthright in telling us about our Catholic heritage and explaining the uncertainty of V2? We have been handed the V2 experiment with little recourse to the Magisterium – which was/is suppressed in order for us to embrace the world (gulp). I feel so ripped off and even spiritually violated. Thank God for the TLM and teachings.

    We laymen are forced to go searching for traditional Catholic truth because we don't hear it in Church or see it in our pastors. Am I a disobedient protestant for relying on the teachings of the Church Fathers rather than questionable V2 teachings?

    Its sad, when our Bishops make statements and we laymen must interpret and compare and weep for fear of disobedience and sin of pride. Is it pride or wisdom that dares to assert that even a blind man can see that our leadership is confused?

    Please Pope Benedict be a strong, decisive leader to unify and strengthen Catholics and expose the enemy within. Let us repent while there is still time. I fear we are about to enter into an era where the world will become more violent towards Catholics and we need strong leadership.

    With humility I remain,

  50. Anonymous4:29 AM

    Church attendance is a fraction of what it was pre-Council and I can accept the 3% figure, but that equates to 2 million people

    I assume the 3% figure is for Catholics and not for the entire population of France ... so weekly Mass attendance is probably closer to 1.3 million.


Comment boxes are debate forums for readers and contributors of RORATE CÆLI.

Please, DO NOT assume that RORATE CÆLI contributors or moderators necessarily agree with or otherwise endorse any particular comment just because they let it stand.


(1) This is our living room, in a deeply Catholic house, and you are our guest. Please, behave accordingly. Any comment may be blocked or deleted, at any time, whenever we perceive anything that is not up to our standards, not conducive to a healthy conversation or a healthy Catholic environment, or simply not to our liking.

(2) By clicking on the "publish your comment" button, please remain aware that you are choosing to make your comment public - that is, the comment box is not to be used for private and confidential correspondence with contributors and moderators.

(3) Any name/ pseudonym/ denomination may be freely used simply by choosing the third option, "Name/URL" (the URL box may be left empty), when posting your comment - therefore, there is no reason whatsoever to simply post as "Anonymous", making debate unnecessarily harder to follow. Any comment signed simply as "Anonymous" will be blocked.

Thank you!