Rorate Caeli

A question for our readers

Do you know where I could find an official English translation (if anything exists) of the Epistula ad Venerabiles Praesules Conferentiarum Episcopalium et ad Superiores Religionum: De nonnullis sententiis et erroribus ex falsa interpretatione decretorum Concilii Vaticani II insurgentibus (“Cum Oecumenicum Concilium”) of Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani? This letter, dated July 24, 1966, represented one of the first attempts of the Holy Office to remind bishops -- in overseeing the correct implementation of Vatican II -- resist the encroachment of various errors (some of which are described in the document) and to avoid a dangerous irenicism and indifferentism with regards to the Ecumenical Movement. The Latin text can be found in Acta Apostolicae Sedis 58 (1966), 659-661.

UPDATE: One of our readers has pointed out to me what seems to be an unofficial but accurate translation of this letter: Was Vatican II Hijacked? Cardinal Ottaviani said "Yes!" Officially!

UPDATE 12/27/11: The translation is now on Archive.Org 


29 comments:

  1. Carlos,
    If you get that translation and it is not great imposition, I hope you would post it. I definitely would like to peruse that.

    Christ is risen!
    John

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  2. I sincerely don't know. But if you find it, let us know (preferably with an English translation to boot).

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  3. Anonymous12:44 PM

    Not much help alas but I do recall seeing parts of it cited somewhere by someone....

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  4. Cola di Cola2:30 PM

    Is this the letter you are talking about?

    http://www.olfatima.com/March%2025%202007.html

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  5. Cola di Cola:

    Yes, that is the letter, albeit in "unofficial" translation. That's helpful, though. Thanks!

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  6. Anonymous3:16 PM

    Mr Palad,
    Thank you for posting the letter from Cardinal Ottoviani to the Ordinaries in 1966.
    May I refer you to a great and eye opening work by the late Michael Davies, which shows that at least one document of Vatican II,The Document on the Liturgy, was used by the enemies of Almighty God to set up the future implosion of the Church


    "Liturgical Time Bombs In Vatican II"
    Destruction of the Faith through Changes in Catholic Worship
    By: Michael Davies

    Liturgical Time Bombs In Vatican II. Michael Davies shows how Fr. Annibale Bugnini--before his dismissal by Pope Paul VI under suspicion of being a Freemason--was able to "reform" the Catholic Mass into the constantly evolving liturgy. Quoting Bishops and Cardinals as well as liberal "experts" and Protestant observers, he exposes the "time bombs" which were built into the Second Vatican Council's document on the liturgy by a few revolutionaries in order to be exploited later--and which have been detonating ever since. "I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy."--Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI), 1998."
    God bless
    D.P.H.

    God bless

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  7. John McFarland7:07 PM

    On October 28, 1965, Cardinal Ottaviani gave an interview to Corriere della Sera in which he said the following:

    "I am a soldier who watches over the gold reserve. Do you think I would fulfill my duty by arguing, abandoning my post, turning a blind eye? My son, 75 years are 75 years! I lived them defending certain principles and certain laws. If you tell the old soldier that the laws are going to change, it is obvious that as an old soldier he will do everything to keep them from changing.

    "But if, nonetheless, they change, God will certainly give him the strength to place himself in the defense of the new treasure in which he believes. Once the new laws become the treasure of the Church, an enrichment of the gold reserve, then only one principle counts: to serve the Church. And this service means to be faithful to her laws."

    I submit that the man who said these words is not the most reliable witness of the matters at issue.

    By 1966, he was one more "conservative" revolutionary, in effect disclaiming responsibility for the excesses of the revolution to which he was a belated and heartsick convert, but nonetheless a convert -- perhaps the most eminent of those who, in the final analysis, put the Pope before the Faith.

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  8. John

    The Ottaviani intervention, which was composed in 1969, showed that the saintly Cardinal could see through the rot for what it was. Alas, like most ultramontane Romans, he took the view that one can only say so much until one has to give into authority.

    There is no malice in Cardinal O's notion of loyalty, unlike the neo-conservatives today, who know deep down that something is wrong, but still defend it to the death.

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  9. Anonymous12:18 AM

    I found the title of the document on the Vatican's website, though there was no link to the original with or without a translation. However, the English translation of the title of the letter on the Vatican's site kind of threw me off a bit. The English title of the letter is:


    Circular Letter to the Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences on certain sentences and possible errors on the interpretation of the Decrees of the Second Vatican Council – Cum oecumenicum concilium

    While the Latin original says:
    (Epistula ad Venerabiles Praesules Conferentiarum Episcopalium et ad Superiores Religionum: De nonnullis sententiis et erroribus ex falsa interpretatione decretorum Concilii Vaticani II insurgentibus), July 24, 1966

    Is it me or is this document's title another victim of translating with an agenda? As far as I can tell there is no word "possible" or "certain" in the Latin. While the word "falsi" is completely omitted from the English translation. If I am not mistaken, the English title should be something more akin to this:

    A letter to the presidents of the Episcopal Conferences and to the Superiors of Religious (orders): On the emergence of several sentences and errors proceeding from a false interpretation of the decrees of the Second Vatican Council.

    (N.B. the word Nonnullus can mean "several", "a few", "considerable" while the word falsus can mean "deceptive", "false", or "lying.")

    Maybe it's just me but the English sounds like it tries to make things sound like there are alleged "possible" errors when the Latin original sounds much more definite. Does anyone else have a more expert opinion on this?

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  10. Anonymous1:38 AM

    I agree with John M.'s assessment and Hestor's qualification of John's assessment. Ottaviani could not reconcile what was happening with the past. The interview John quotes reveals a capitulative mentality. It isn't the first time I've heard it. The first time I heard it, it was being quoted by a conservative priest defending the New Mass from criticism (that it was an improvement and so forth). He juxtaposed the Intervention and this interview to show Ottaviani's (clearly regreted) assent to this absurd wreck of a reform.

    --Zakhur

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  11. Tom Varga1:49 AM

    I offer the following link for you to investigate if this is a "valid English translation"

    http://www.fisheaters.com/ottavianiintervention.html

    please read the interesting notes refenced at the end of the document

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  12. Mr. McFarland:

    Put yourself in Cardinal Ottaviani's place.

    All your life, you've been taught the most intense form of ultramontanism, in Rome itself.

    Almost all your life as a priest then a prelate, you have served under Popes who were unswerving in their condemnation of modernism, even if they might have had differing policies on how to approach it.

    All your life, you have believed that the Pope and the hierarchy will not waver in their defense of Catholoic Tradition.

    All of a sudden, the post-Conciliar chaos struck. Do you really think that a blind, 75-year-old cleric would have taken only weeks to realize the magnitude of what he was facing?

    Ottaviani's reaction was perfectly natural.

    It is so easy for us, living 40 years after the post-Conciliar wreckage, to condemn those bishops and theologians who, for all of their attachment to Tradition, could not have foreseen or comprehended what was going to happen. And yet, these men did far more for the Church in the course of their lives than you or I ever did.

    At the very least, just shut up and pray for their souls.

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  13. At the very least, just shut up and pray for their souls.

    Amen.

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  14. Brian2:45 AM

    Carlos Antonio Palad,

    Unless I am missing something, it seems to me that the point of the quote from Cardinal Ottaviani was to support the position that there are no problems with the documents of VCII, but that post-conciliar problems resulted from erroneous implementation.

    The point of John McFarland's post is counter the original point by demonstrating that Cardinal Ottavani acknowledged that he himself "converted" from "defending certain principles and certain laws" to "the defense of the new treasure" of VC2 and thereby "put the Pope before the Faith."

    The conclusion that therefore Cardinal Ottavani is not the "most reliable witness of the matters at issue," seems to be saying that one cannot cite Cardinal Ottavani in defense of the position that there are no problems with the documents of VC2.

    Your counter in defense of the "blind, 75-year-old cleric" and his understandable lifelong adherence to an "intense form of ultramontanism" seems, if anything, to support Mr. McFarland's position.

    Your conclusion that Mr. McFarland should "shut up" and pray for Cardinal Ottavani's soul strikes me as an unfair bait and switch. Mr.

    As I read his post, McFarland was not "beating up" on Cardinal Ottavani, he was disputing the contention that Cardinal Ottavani can be used in support of the position that there are no problems with the documents of VC2.

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  15. Unless I am missing something, it seems to me that the point of the quote from Cardinal Ottaviani was to support the position that there are no problems with the documents of VCII, but that post-conciliar problems resulted from erroneous implementation.

    However, in the quoted words of the interview, Cardinal Ottaviani does not say or argue that there are no problems with the documents of Holy Mother Church's Second Vatican Council, but that rather it is only a problem of erroneous implementation.

    The conclusion that therefore Cardinal Ottavani is not the "most reliable witness of the matters at issue," seems to be saying that one cannot cite Cardinal Ottavani in defense of the position that there are no problems with the documents of VC2.

    Well, no one here has cited him in defense of that position. At any rate, Mr. McFarland seems to be saying a good deal more than "one cannot cite Cardinal Ottaviani in defense of the position that there are no problems with the documents of VC2." Rather, he's claiming that Cardinal Ottaviani didn't really understand what had gone wrong, and that he had compromised his faith out of what Mr. McFarland would see as a false obedience to the Successor of St. Peter and a misguided loyalty to the Body of Christ.

    As I read his post, McFarland was not "beating up" on Cardinal Ottavani, he was disputing the contention that Cardinal Ottavani can be used in support of the position that there are no problems with the documents of VC2.

    That issue hadn't even come up here, so it's unlikely that's what Mr. McFarland was doing. Rather, he is faulting Cardinal Ottaviani for not resisting and rejecting the teaching and acts of Vatican II and Paul VI.

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  16. Anonymous7:23 AM

    Heads up! We are now into the Feast of St. Pius V. Something might happen--or not. Hope springs eternal.

    P.K.T.P.

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  17. Anonymous8:21 AM

    Attn. Jordanes:

    You make your opinion of what Mr. Mc Farland said as affirmative. I think Brian's opinion is closer to what was said. Does Mr. Mc Farland care to comment?

    A.M. LaPietra

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  18. Anonymous8:58 AM

    What in the world crazy website is that from!

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  19. Anonymous12:24 PM

    "At the very least, just shut up and pray for their souls."

    The "shut up and pray" attitude is precisely what allowed a disaster of such magnitude.

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  20. Anonymous2:18 PM

    "The 'shut up and pray' attitude is precisely what allowed a disaster of such magnitude."

    While in no way stating my agreement or disagreement with the above statement, please take note of the continuation: "for their souls". This narrows down the scope of what is being talked about regarding "shut up and pray". Surely it's not a bad thing?

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  21. John McFarland2:59 PM

    Mr. Palad,

    I can and will pray more.

    But I cannot very well shut up, when tradition is riddled with the same servile obedience as Cardinal Ottaviani evidenced, and when that servile traditionalism constantly uses the same rationalization of its servility as the Cardinal's letter.

    The work of Vatican II did not burst upon Cardinal Ottaviani. Archbishop Lefebvre as eyewitness often recounted the famous confrontation between Cardinal Bea and Cardinal Ottaviani on religious liberty before the Council. The hatred of the progressives for him and everything he stood for was anything but a secret. Most of the acts of the Council were adopted roughly three years after the start of the Council. Outmanned and outgunned, the Coetus Internationalis Patrum under Archbishop Lefebvre's leadership fought tooth and nail against the progressives during those years, using arguments with which Cardinal Ottaviani not doubt agreed 200%.

    He was old, he was nearly blind, but he could see what was happening. Indeed, his face was rubbed in it.

    But he sided with the Pope, under whose obvious patronage all of this took place, against the Faith. There is no blinking at that.

    Archbishop Lefebvre was no less ultramontanist than His Eminence. But His Grace, when it came to that, sided with the Faith against the Pope.

    His Eminence supported the resistance to the New Mass. But if Pope Paul had commanded that he celebrate it, do you doubt that he would have done so?

    If I had been in his shoes, I daresay I would have capitulated much sooner, and more thoroughly.
    Vatican II.

    But this is not about Ottaviani or Lefebvre or McFarland or Palad. It is about the Faith.

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  22. Melchior Cano3:03 PM

    Behold the modern era, where armchair, blog commenters feel comfortable, nay, righteous, in attacking a late Cardinal who attempted to stem off the disastrous reforms of Vatican II, and who provided traditionalists for the next 40 years with a powerful weapon. Mr. McFarland, is it not the height of impiety to attack so noble and longstanding a soldier of Christ and servant of His Church. (By impiety I mean the more ancient definition: lack of respect due to one's parents and ancestors). Perhaps Ottaviani should've done more, and yes that quote is certainly troubling, but not nearly so troubling as the blathering judgment which you spew forth. I second Mr. Palad: Shut up and pray for them.

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  23. John McFarland3:13 PM

    Jordanes,

    You speak of "...a false obedience to the Successor of St. Peter and a misguided loyalty to the Body of Christ."

    There is no such thing as "a misguided loyalty to the Body of Christ."

    There is such a thing as "a false obedience to the Successor of St. Peter."

    As Archbishop Lefebvre said regarding the French equivalent of "I'd rather be wrong with the Pope than right without him": this is tantamount to saying: I'd sooner be wrong against Christ.

    The Pope is only the servant of Christ, and hence of his Mystical Body, the Church; and sometimes he is an unprofitable servant.

    When he commands what is wrong, we cannot obey him.

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  24. John McFarland3:28 PM

    Mr. LaPietra,

    I think that Brian and Jordanes are making basically the same correct interpretation of what I am saying, although they come at it from slightly different angles.

    Be that as it may, here's a summary of what I'm saying:

    Cardinal Ottaviani accepted the Council's teachings through servile obedience; and so his effort to distinguish the conciliar teachings from the interpretations of those teachings is not reliable because it is not the work of a traditionalist, but of a Vatican II man.

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  25. I'd rather be right with a wrong Pope than right without him.

    Whether or not Cardinal Ottaviani's obedience to Holy Mother Church was servile or faithful is a matter of debate.

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  26. Anonymous4:15 PM

    "I'd rather be right with a wrong Pope than right without him."

    Confession of a conclavist who left sedevacantism. What about being simply "right"?

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  27. Sometimes that's what being "simply right" requires. Cf. St. Paul and St. Peter at Antioch.

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  28. John McFarland8:37 PM

    Jordanes,

    You say:

    "I'd rather be right with a wrong Pope than right without him."

    I don't understand what being "right without him" can mean in this context.

    You can indeed be "right with a wrong Pope" -- but only as regards those things as to which he is right. As regards those things as to which he is wrong, you can't be right with him.

    This of course leaves the question, as regards anything in particular, as to whether the Pope is right or wrong.

    Note the words of Cardinal Ottaviani in the interview. He descends from traditional Roman clarity to a profoundly saddening imitation of equivocal conciliar babble. A "new treasure"? Does this mean new assets in the deposit of faith? And why this reference to law? I'm afraid I know the answer: in effect he is telling us that authority is ultimately the master of truth, not its servant.

    For most of His Eminence's long life, authority and truth were comrades-in-arms. But now he must choose one or the other -- and he chooses authority.

    He had plenty of company, including figures as eminent as he.

    Mr. Cano,

    My point is to make clear what happened, so that others will not take the same wrong path as His Eminence did; and because of his example, continue to consider themselves justified in continuing on that path.

    The piety owed to God and the Faith trumps the piety to which Cardinal Ottaviani's memory is entitled. If there were a more diplomatic way of making the point, I would follow that way. But there isn't: the dirty linen must be washed in public.

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  29. "I'd rather be right with a wrong Pope than right without him." I don't understand what being "right without him" can mean in this context.

    Orthodox and Protestants happen to hold true beliefs about various matters -- but they are right about those things while being wrong about the institution, role, and authority of the Pope.

    St. Paul in Galatians is shown to be right with a wrong Pope. Others actually or effectively live without reference to the Successor of St. Peter.

    You can indeed be "right with a wrong Pope" -- but only as regards those things as to which he is right.

    No, in Galatians St. Peter was a wrong Pope, and St. Paul was right as regards those things as to which St. Peter was wrong.

    As regards those things as to which he is wrong, you can't be right with him.

    Sure you can, as I've explained.

    He descends from traditional Roman clarity to a profoundly saddening imitation of equivocal conciliar babble.

    It's an interview, Mr. McFarland, not a catechism lesson or a Vatican response to a dubium. It's only to be expected that he would speak in a more informal voice in an interview.

    A "new treasure"? Does this mean new assets in the deposit of faith?

    It depends on what one means by "new assets." Certainly not new revelation, unprecedented or discontinuous from that which has been believed always, everywhere, and by all.

    And why this reference to law?

    Because the Church changed many of her laws at that time.

    I'm afraid I know the answer: in effect he is telling us that authority is ultimately the master of truth, not its servant.

    There's certainly nothing in his quoted words that conveys that meaning. But you can sense that Cardinal Ottaviani cannot be enlisted in support of the decisions that you have made, so it's only to be expected that you would seek to impeach his witness of service to and defense of the Church.

    For most of His Eminence's long life, authority and truth were comrades-in-arms. But now he must choose one or the other -- and he chooses authority.

    How do you know that he saw the Church's authority as contradicting the truth that God has entrusted to her?

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