Rorate Caeli

Msgr Pozzo on Aspects of the Ecclesiology of Vatican II

The following is a private, unofficial translation made by Fr. Charles W. Johnson (a U.S. military chaplain) on behalf of Rorate Caeli, of Msgr. Pozzo's speech on July 2, 2010 to the FSSP in Wigratzbad, the original of which has been posted on the Italian-language version of the main FSSP website. DICI has published a short article comparing this speech with the views of Romano Amerio and Brunero Gherardini (see here). CAP.
All emphases are in the original.

The text of a conference given by Msgr. Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” delivered to the European priests of the Fraternity of St. Peter on July 2, 2010, at Wigratzbad. That same day, Msgr. Pozzo had celebrated a Solemn High Mass in the church of Maria Thann, at which more than a hundred priests and seminarians of the same Fraternity were present. (Photos can be found here.) The following day, his Eminence Cardinal Cañizares Llovera ordained five deacons to the priesthood (Photographs of the ordination rites).



If one considers the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church by Vatican Council II, the grandeur and the fullness of the mystery of the Church and her inner renewal are immediately apparent, thanks to the efforts of the Council Fathers.

If, however, one reads or hears much of that which has been said by certain theologians—some of them famous, some of a more amateur theology—or that which has been broadcast in the post-conciliar Catholic press, it is impossible not to experience a deep sadness and to harbor grave apprehensions. It is truly difficult to conceive of a greater contrast than that which exists between the documents on the one hand, and, on the other, the many, ambiguous ideas and affirmations, which are debatable and often contrary to correct Catholic doctrine, and which have multiplied in Catholic circles and in public opinion in general.

When one speaks of the Second Vatican Council and the way it was received, the key point of reference ought to be one only, that which the papal Magisterium itself has formulated in an unequivocal and very clear way. In the discourse of December 22 to the Roman Curia, Pope Benedict XVI expressed himself as follows: “The question arises: why has the reception of the Council, in many parts of the Church, unfolded up till now with so much difficulty? Indeed, everything depends on the correct interpretation of the Council or—as we would say nowadays—on its correct hermeneutic, the correct key for reading and interpreting it. The problems of its reception have been born of the fact that two contrary hermeneutics have found themselves opposed and have been in a struggle with each other. One has caused confusion, the other—silently, but always more visibly—has borne and continues to bear fruit. On one side, there is an interpretation that I [continues the Holy Father] would call the ‘hermeneutic of discontinuity and of rupture’; it has often been able to avail itself of the sympathy of the mass media and even of part of modern theology. On the other side, there is the ‘hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in continuity of the unique subject-Church, which the Lord has given us; it is a subject which grows and develops, remaining nevertheless the same: the one, only subject of the pilgrim people of God.” [Cf. Benedict XVI, Insegnamenti, vol. I, Ed. Vaticana, Vatican City, 2006, pp. 1023 et seqq.]

Evidently, if the Holy Father speaks of two divergent interpretations or interpretive keys—one of discontinuity or rupture with Catholic Tradition, and one of renewal within continuity—that means that the crucial question or truly determinant point regarding the origin of the difficulties, disorientation, and confusion that have characterized and continue to characterize in part our own times is not Vatican Council II as such, the objective teaching contained in its documents, but it is the interpretation of that teaching. In this address, I propose to develop briefly two particular aspects, with the purpose of highlighting the fixed points for a correct interpretation of conciliar doctrine, in contrast to the deviations and obfuscations brought forth by the hermeneutic of discontinuity:

I. the unity and unicity of the Catholic Church;
II. the Catholic Church and other religions in relation to salvation.

Finally, I would like to conclude with certain considerations on the causes of the hermeneutic of discontinuity with Tradition, setting in relief, above all, the forma mentis that lies at the root of it.


1. Against the opinion, held by numerous theologians, that Vatican II introduced radical changes in regard to the understanding of the Church we must attest above all that the Council remained on traditional ground as far as its doctrine on the Church. That does not, however, mean that the Council did not introduce new orientations and propound some key aspects. The novelty, in regard to declarations prior to the Council, is in the fact that the relation of the Catholic Church to the Orthodox Churches and the evangelical [Protestant] communities born of the Lutheran Reformation is dealt with as a self-sufficient theme and in a formally positive way, whereas in the encyclical Mortalium animos of Pius XI (1928), for example, the intention was to delimit and distinguish with precision the Catholic Church from non-Catholic Christian confessions.

2. At any rate, in the first place, Vatican II insisted on the unity and unicity of the true Church, referring to the existent Catholic Church: “This is the one Church of Christ that in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic” (LG 8). In the second place, the Council answers the question of where the true Church can be found: “This Church, constituted and organized in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church” (LG 8). And to avoid any equivocation regarding the identification of the true Church of Church with the Catholic Church, it is added that under consideration is the Church “governed by the Successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him” (LG 8). The one Church of Christ, therefore, is realized, given existence, and established in the Catholic Church. There is no other Church of Christ alongside the Catholic Church. With this is affirmed—at least implicitly—that the Church of Jesus Christ is not divided as such, not even in its substance, and that her indivisible unity is not nullified by the many divisions among Christians.

This doctrine of the indivisibility of the Christ’s Church, of her substantial identification with the Catholic Church, is recalled in the documents of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith Mysterium Ecclesiae (1973), Dominus Jesus, 16 and 17 (2000), and in the Responsa ad dubia [i.e., replies to inquiries] on certain ecclesiological questions (2007).

The expression “subsistit in” [“subsists in”] of Lumen Gentium 8 means that Christ’s Church is not lost in the vicissitudes of history but continues to exist as a unique and undivided subject in the Catholic Church. The Church of Christ subsists, is found, and is recognized in the Catholic Church. In this sense, there is full continuity with the doctrine taught by the earlier Magisterium (Leo XIII, Pius XI, and Pius XII).

3. With the formula “subsistit in” the doctrine of the Council—in conformity with Catholic Tradition—wished to exclude expressly any form of ecclesiological relativism whatsoever. At the same time, the substitution of “subsistit in” for the “est” [“is”] used in the encyclical Mystici Corporis of Pius XII was meant to confront the ecumenical problem in a more direct and explicit way than had been done in the past. If, then, the Church is one only and is found in a unique subject, there exist, nevertheless, outside this subject ecclesial elements, true and real elements, that impel Catholic unity because they are proper to the Catholic Church.

The merit of the Council is, on the one hand, to have expressed the unicity, indivisibility, and non-multiplicity of the Catholic Church while, on the other hand, having recognized that there exist even in non-Catholic Christian confessions gifts and elements possessing an ecclesial character, which justify and encourage the work of restoring the unity of all Christ’s disciples. The pretext of being the one Church of Christ cannot, in fact, be understood in a way that does not recognize the essential difference between the non-Catholic Christian faithful and the non-baptized. It is not possible, in fact, to place on the same level, in regard to adherence to the Church, non-Catholic Christians and those who have not received Baptism. The relation between the Catholic Church and the non-Catholic Christian Churches and ecclesial communities is not that between all and nothing, but between the fullness of communion and partial communion.

4. In the paradox, so to speak, of the difference between the unicity of the Catholic Church and the existence of truly ecclesial elements outside this unique subject, there is reflected the contradiction of division and of sin. But this division is something entirely different than that relativist vision that considers the divisions between Christians not as a sorrowful fragmentation but as a manifestation of manifold doctrinal variations of a single theme, in which all variations and divergences are in a certain way justified, and which should be mutually recognized and accepted as differences and divergences. The idea that stems from this is that ecumenism should consist of the reciprocal and respectful recognition of differences, and that Christianity should be, in the end, the sum of the fragments of Christian reality. Such an interpretation of the Council’s thought is precisely an expression of discontinuity and rupture with Catholic Tradition and represents a profound falsification of the Council.

5. In order to recover an authentic interpretation of the Council in line with an evolution in substantial continuity with the traditional doctrine of the Church, it is important to stress that the elements of “sanctification and of truth” that other Christian Churches and communities have in common with the Catholic Church constitute, taken together, the basis for reciprocal ecclesial communion and the foundation that characterizes this communion in a way that is true, authentic, and real. It would be necessary, though, to add for the sake of completeness that whatever they have that is proper to them and not shared with the Catholic Church, and which separates them from her, connotes them as not the Church. They are, therefore, “instruments of salvation” (UR 3) by virtue of what they have in common with the Catholic Church and their faithful, following that which is common to both, can attain salvation; but in regards to whatever in them is estranged from and opposed to the Catholic Church they are not an instrument of salvation (provided that one is treating of an invincibly ignorant conscience, in which case their error is not imputable to them, even if their conscience must be regarded as erroneous) [cf. for example the fact of ordination of women or homosexual persons to the priesthood and episcopacy in certain Anglican and Old Catholic communities].

6. Vatican II teaches that all the baptized are, as such, members of (the Body of) Christ (UR 3), but at the same time declares that one can only speak of an “aliqua communio, etsi non perfecta” [“some communion, even if not perfect”] between the non-Catholic baptized Christians on one hand and the Catholic Church on the other (UR 3).

Baptism constitutes a sacramental bond of unity among those who believe in Christ. Nevertheless, this is in itself only the beginning and prologue, so to speak, because Baptism intrinsically tends towards the acquisition of the entire life in Christ. Indeed, Baptism is ordered to an integral profession of faith, to an integral communion with the institution of salvation willed by Christ, which is the Church, and finally to an integral inclusion in the Eucharistic communion (UR 22). It is clear, therefore, that belonging to the Church cannot be considered complete if baptismal life is subsequently something objectively defective and adulterated regarding doctrine and Sacraments. A Church can only be identified in the fullest sense where those various necessary and inalienable “sacred” elements that constitute it as a Church are found together: apostolic succession (which implies communion with the Successor of Peter), the Sacraments, and Sacred Scripture. When one of these elements is missing or present but defective, the reality of the ecclesial presence is altered in proportion to the defect involved. In particular, the term “Church” can legitimately be applied to the separated Eastern Churches, but not to the communities born of the Reformation, since in the latter there is an absence of apostolic succession and the loss of most of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. This loss wounds and weakens a substantial part of their ecclesiality (Dominus Jesus 16 and 17).

7. The Catholic Church possesses in herself all truth, because she is the Body and the Spouse of Christ. Nevertheless, she does not fully comprehend it; wherefore, she must be guided by the Holy Spirit “into all truth” (John 16:13). Being is one thing, the full knowledge of being another. Therefore, research and knowledge progress and develop. Even the members of the Catholic Church do not always live at the height of their truth and dignity. Thus, the Catholic Church is able to grow in the comprehension of truth, in the sense of making her own consciously and self-reflectively that which she is ontologically and existentially. In this context, the usefulness and necessity of ecumenical dialogue is recognized, in order to recover that which gradually had been marginalized or obscured in certain historical periods and to reintegrate partially forgotten notions back into the synthesis of Christian existence. Dialogue with non-Catholics is never without fruit nor merely pro forma so long as one presupposes that the Church is conscious of having in her Lord the fullness of truth and the means of salvation.

The following doctrinal articulations are meant to develop a theology in full continuity with Tradition and at the same time in line with the orientation and enrichment desired by Vatican Council II and the subsequent Magisterium up to the present.


It is normal that, in a world that increasingly grows more connected to the point of producing a global village, even religions should come in contact. So today the coexistence of diverse religions increasingly characterizes the daily life of mankind. This leads not only to an external encounter of the followers of various religions but also contributes to a development of interest in systems of religions unknown up till now. In the West the tendency of modern man to cultivate tolerance and liberality prevails more and more in the collective conscience, along with an abandonment of the notion that Christianity is the “true” religion. The so-called idea of the “absolutism of Christianity,” translated in the traditional formula that salvation is in the one Church, encounters nowadays incomprehension and rejection on the part of Catholics and Protestants. For the classic formula “extra Ecclesiam nulla salus” [“outside the Church there is no salvation”] is often substituted now the formula “extra Ecclesiam multa salus” [“outside the Church there is much salvation”].

The consequences of this religious relativism are not only on the theoretical level, but they have devastating repercussions on the pastoral level. Ever more widespread is the idea that the Christian mission does not have to pursue the goal of the pagans’ conversion to Christianity, but the mission is limited either to a mere witnessing to one’s own faith or to working in solidarity and fraternal love to bring about peace among peoples and social justice.

In such a context, one sees a fundamental deficiency: that is, the loss of the question of Truth. With a loss of the question about Truth, that is, about the true religion, the essence of religion no longer is differentiated from that of mystification. That is, faith can no longer be distinguished from superstition; authentic religious experience from illusion; mysticism from false mysticism. In fine, without the demand for truth, even the appreciation of that which is just and valid in various religions becomes contradictory, because a criterion of truth is lacking by which that which is true and good in other religions can be ascertained.

It is therefore necessary and urgent to recall today the fixed points of Catholic doctrine on the relation between the Church and other religions as concerns the question of truth and salvation, with special concern for the profound identity of the Christian mission of evangelization. Let us examine in order a synthesis of the teaching of the Magisterium, which will shed light on how even in this aspect there is a substantial continuity of Catholic thought, though with a richness of emphases and perspectives with their root in Vatican Council II and the more recent papal Magisterium.

1. The missionary mandate. Christ sent forth His Apostles so that, “in His Name,” “conversion and forgiveness of sins might be preached to all the nations” (Luke 24:47). “Teach all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). The mission to baptize, and therefore the sacramental mission, is implicit in the mission to evangelize, because the Sacrament is prepared by the Word of God and by faith, which is in conformity with this Word (cf. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 1122).

2. Origin and scope of the Christian mission. The missionary mandate of the Lord has its ultimate origin in the eternal love of the Most Holy Trinity, and the ultimate end of the mission is nothing other than to make men sharers in the communion which exists between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (cf. The Catechism of the Catholic Church 850).

3. Salvation and Truth. “God wills that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). This means that “God wills the salvation of all by means of the truth. Salvation is found in the truth” (Declaration Dominus Jesus 22). “The certainty of the universal salvific will of God does not lessen but rather increases the duty and the urgency of proclaiming salvation and conversion to the Lord Jesus Christ” (ibid.).

4. The true religion. Vatican Council II “professes that God Himself has made known to the human race the way by which men, if they follow it, may find salvation and become happy. This unique true religion, we believe, subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord has entrusted the mission to communicate it to all men” (Declaration Dignitatis humanae 1).

5. Mission to the nations and interreligious dialogue. Interreligious dialogue is part of the evangelical mission of the Church. “Understood as a method and a means for a reciprocal acquaintance and enrichment, not only does it not oppose the mission to the nations, but it indeed has special ties to it and is expressive of it” (Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio 55). “Dialogue does not excuse from evangelization” (Ibid.), nor can it substitute for it, but it accompanies the missio ad gentes (mission to the nations) (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Jesus 2 and the note on evangelization). “Believers may draw profit for themselves from this dialogue by learning to know better “all that which is of truth and grace to be found in the midst of the nations, through a hidden presence of God” (Decl. Ad gentes 9). If, in fact, they proclaim the Good News to those who were ignorant of it, it is in order to consolidate, complete, and elevate the truth and goodness that God has diffused among men and peoples, and in order to purify them from error and evil “for the glory of God, the confounding of the devil, and the happiness of man” (Ibid.; Catechism of the Catholic Church 856).

6. As to the relations among Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the Council does not affirm, in fact, the theory that unfortunately has been spread in the consciences of the faithful, according to which the three monotheistic religions (Judaism, Islam, and Christianity) are like branches of the same, divine revelation. The esteem towards the monotheistic religions does not diminish or limit in any way the missionary duty of the Church: “the Church proclaims and is bound to proclaim incessantly that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6),” in Whom all men find the fullness of religious life” (Nostra aetate 2).

7. The bond between the Church and other, non-Christian religions. “The Church recognizes in other religions the search still “amid shadows and images” (Dogmatic Const. Lumen Gentium 16) for the “God unknown” though near, for He it is Who gives to all life and breath to everything.” For that reason, the Church considers “all that is good and true” in other religions “as a preparation for the Gospel and as given by Him Who enlightens everyone so that he may have life in the end” (Ibid.; Catechism of the Catholic Church 843).
“But in their religious behavior, men show forth limitations and errors also, which disfigure the image of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 844): “very often men, deceived by the Evil One, have erred in their thoughts and exchanged divine truth for a lie, worshipping the creature rather than the Creator, or else living and dying without God in this world, they have embraced final despair” (Dogm. Const. Lumen Gentium 16).

8. The Church as universal sacrament of salvation. Salvation comes from Christ by means of the Church, which is His Body (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church 846). “It must be firmly believed that “the pilgrim Church is necessary to salvation. In fact, only Christ is the Mediator and the Way of salvation; He makes Himself present to us in His Body, which is the Church” (Dogm. Const. Lumen Gentium 14; Dominus Jesus 20). The Church is “the universal sacrament of salvation” (Dogm. Const. Lumen Gentium 48), because, always united in a mysterious way and subordinated to Jesus Christ the Saviour, her Head, she has in God’s design an ineluctable relation with the salvation of every man.

9. Value and function of other religions in relation to salvation. “According to Catholic doctrine, one must hold that insofar as the Spirit works in the heart of every man and in the history of peoples, their cultures and religions, He assumes a role of preparing for the Gospel” (Encyl. Lett. Redemptoris missio 29). It is therefore legitimate to maintain that the Holy Spirit brings about salvation in non-Christians even by means of those elements of truth and goodness that are present in the various religions; but it is entirely erroneous and contrary to Catholic doctrine “to hold that these religions, considered as such, are ways of salvation, because there is also present in them lacunae, insufficiencies, and errors, which relate to fundamental truths about God, man, and the world” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Notification in regard to the book by J. Dupuis, Towards a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism 8).

In summary, it is clear that the authentic proclamation of the Church in relation to her claims of supremacy is not substantially changed after the teaching of Vatican II. The Council makes explicit certain motives which complete her teaching, avoiding a polemical and bellicose contest, and bring back into balance doctrinal elements considered in their integrity and totality.


What lies at the root of the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture with Tradition?

There is what we may call the Conciliar, or more exactly the para-Conciliar ideology, which was imposed on the Council from the beginning and which overshadowed it. By this expression is not meant something that concerns the texts of the Council, nor (even less) the intentions of the subjects, but the frame of overall interpretation by which the Council was situated and which acted as a type of internal conditioning in the subsequent reading of the acts and documents. The Council is not, in fact, the para-Conciliar ideology, but in the history of the ecclesiastical milieu and the means of mass communication it, i.e. the para-Conciliar ideology, has operated in large part towards a mystification of the Council. Since all the consequences of the para-Conciliar ideology have been manifested as an historical event, the revolution of 1968 must indeed be acknowledged, taking as its point of departure rupture with the past and a radical change in history. In the para-Conciliar ideology 1968 signifies a new form of the Church in rupture with the past, even if the roots of this rupture had been present for some time in certain Catholic circles.

Such an overall frame of reference, superimposed on the Council in an extrinsic way, can be characterized principally by these three factors:

1. The first factor is the renunciation of anathema, that is, the clear contradistinction between orthodoxy and heresy.

In the name of the so-called “pastoral nature” of the Council, there has become current the idea that the Church has abandoned the condemnation of error, i.e. the definition of orthodoxy in contrast to heresy. The condemnation of errors and the anathema pronounced by the Church in the past on all that is incompatible with Christian truth has been distinguished from the pastoral character of the Council’s teaching, which never intended to condemn or censure but only to exhort, illumine, and give witness.

In reality, there is no contradiction between a firm condemnation and refutation of errors in the area of doctrine and morals and the attitude of love towards the one who falls into error, as well as respect for the dignity of persons. Indeed, precisely because a Christian has a great respect for the human person, he is endlessly obliged to free him from error and from false interpretations of religious and moral reality.

Adherence to the Person of Jesus, the Son of God, to His Word, and to His mystery of salvation demands a response of simple and clear faith, which is what is found in the Faith’s Symbols [Creeds] and in the Rule of Faith [regula fidei]. The proclamation of the truth of the Faith always implies as well the refutation of error and the censure of ambiguous and dangerous positions that spread uncertainty and confusion among the faithful.

It would, therefore, be erroneous and groundless to hold that after Vatican Council II dogmatic definitions and censures by the Magisterium should be abandoned or excluded, just as it would be correspondingly an error to hold that the expositive and pastoral character of the documents of Vatican II do not imply as well a doctrine that demands a level of assent on the part of the faithful according to the various degrees of authority of the proposed teachings.

2. The second factor is the translation of Catholic thought into the categories of modernity. The opening of the Church to the concerns and needs begotten by modernity (see Gaudium et spes) is interpreted by the para-Conciliar ideology as a necessary reconciliation between Christianity and modern philosophical thought and ideological culture. This involves a theological and intellectual work that substantially proposes once more the idea of Modernism, condemned at the beginning of the 20th century by St. Pius X.

Neo-modernistic and secularist theology sought an encounter with the modern world just as the “modern” was beginning to dissolve. With the collapse of the so-called “Socialist Reality” in 1989 there collapsed as well those myths of modernity, which served as the postulates of socialism and secularism, and the myths of the irreversibility history’s emancipation. For the paradigm of modernity there has been substituted today, in fact, the post-modern paradigm of “chaos” or “pluralistic complexity,” whose foundation is radical relativism.
In the homily of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, before his election as Pope, on the occasion of the liturgical celebration “Pro eligendo Pontifice” [“For the election of the Pope”] of April 18, 2005, the heart of the question was isolated thus: How many winds of doctrine have we known in these last decades, how many ideological currents, how many modes of thought! … The little barque of thought of many Christians has not infrequently been rocked by these waves, tossed about from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth …. To have a clear faith, one according to the Church’s Creed, has often been labeled as fundamentalism. Meanwhile, relativism—that is, allowing oneself to be carried “here and there by whatever wind of doctrine”—appears as the only attitude appropriate for today. A dictatorship of relativism has been established that does not recognize anything as definitive and that allows as the ultimate standard only one’s own ego and desires.
In confronting this process it is necessary above all to recover the metaphysical understanding of reality (cf. Encycl. Fides et ratio of Pope John Paul II) and a vision of man and society founded on absolute values, both meta-historical and permanent. This metaphysical vision cannot prescind from a consideration of the role of Grace in history, that is, of the supernatural, the depository of which is the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. The reconquest of the metaphysical sense by means of the lumen rationis [“light of reason”] must be paralleled by that of the supernatural sense by means of the lumen fidei [“light of faith”].
Contrariwise, the para-Conciliar ideology holds that the Christian message must be secularized and reinterpreted according to the categories of modern culture both inside and outside the Church, compromising her integrity, or rather under the pretext of an “opportune adaptation” to the times. The result is that religion is secularized and the Faith made mundane.

This pretext has led the Catholic world to undertake an aggiornamento [updating] which in reality constituted a progressive and, at times, unconscious blending of the Church’s mentality with the reigning subjectivism and relativism. This surrender has brought with it disorientation among the faithful, depriving them of the certainty of faith and of hope in eternal life as the highest end of human existence.

3. The third factor is the interpretation of the aggiornamento desired by Vatican Council II.

By the term “aggiornamento,” Pope John XXIII wanted to indicate the primary task of Vatican Council II. This term in the thought of the Pope and the Council did not, however, express what has occurred in its name in the ideological implementation of the post-Conciliar period. “Aggiornamento” in the sense intended by the Pope and the Council was meant to express the pastoral intention of the Church to find more adequate and opportune ways to bring the civil conscience of the present-day world to a recognition of the perennial truth of Christ’s message of salvation and the Church’s doctrine. Love for the truth and missionary zeal for the salvation of mankind are the foundation for the principles of putting “aggiornamento” into action as desired and understood by the Second Vatican Council and the subsequent papal Magisterium.

The para-Conciliar ideology, however, which was spread above all by groups of neo-Modernist Catholic intellectuals and by secularist, worldly centers of power in the mass-media, understood and proposed the term “aggiornamento” as a demolition of the Church in the face of the modern world: from antagonism to receptivity. Ideological modernity—which certainly ought not to be confused with the legitimate and positive autonomy of science, politics, art, and technological progress—posited as its starting-point the denial of the God of Christian revelation and of grace. It is, then, not neutral to the Faith. That which led to the idea of a reconciliation between the Church and the modern world led, paradoxically, to forgetting that the anti-Christian spirit of the world continues to be at work in history and in culture. The post-conciliar situation had already been described in this way by Paul VI in 1972:

By some fissure there has entered into the temple of God the smoke of Satan: there is doubt, uncertainty, problems, unrest. Doubt has entered our consciences, and it has entered through the windows which were meant to have been opened to the light. This state of uncertainty reigns even in the Church. It was hoped that after the Council there would be a day of sunlight in the history of the Church. Instead, there came a day of clouds, of darkness, of groping, of uncertainty. How did this happen? We will confide Our thoughts to you: there has been interference from an adverse power: his name is the devil, that mysterious being to whom frequent allusion is made even in the Epistle of St. Peter” (Paul VI, Insegnamenti, Ed Vaticana, vol. X, 1972, p. 707).

Unfortunately, the effects as enumerated by Paul VI have not disappeared. A foreign way of thinking has entered into the Catholic world, stirring up confusion, seducing many souls, and disorienting the faithful. There is a “spirit of self-demolition” that pervades modernism, which has wrested control over, among other things, most of the Catholic press. This kind of thought, foreign to Catholic doctrine, is revealed, for example, under two aspects.

A first aspect is the sociological vision of the Faith, that is, an interpretation that assumes the social dimension as the key to evaluating religion and that brings with it a falsification of the concept of the Church according to a democratic model. If one observes contemporary discussions on discipline, law, or celebration of the Liturgy, one cannot avoid taking note of the fact that this false understanding of the Church has become widespread among the laity and theologians, as in the slogan: “We are the People, we are the Church” (Kirche von unten [“the Church from below”]). In reality, the Council offers no foundation for this interpretation, since the image of the People of God, in reference to the Church, is always tied to a conception of the Church as Mystery, as a sacramental community of the Body of Christ, composed of a people that has a head and of a sacramental organism composed of members hierarchically ordered. The Church cannot, therefore, become a democracy, in which power and sovereignty derive from the people, because the Church is a reality that comes forth from God and that was founded by Jesus Christ. She is the intermediary of divine life, of salvation, and of truth, and she depends on the sovereignty of God, which is a sovereignty of grace and love. The Church is, at one and the same time, a gift of grace and an institutional structure, because her Founder has willed it so: calling the Apostles, “Jesus instituted twelve of them” (Mark 3:13).

A second aspect I would draw your attention to is the ideology of dialogue. According to the Council and the Encyclical Letter of Paul VI Ecclesiam suam, dialogue is an important and undeniable means by which the Church converses with the men of her own time. But the para-Conciliar ideology transforms dialogue from an instrument whose primary purpose and end are the Church’s pastoral work, emptying it of meaning more and more and obscuring the urgency and the call of conversion to Christ and adherence to His Church.

Against such deviations, it is necessary to retrieve and recover the spiritual and cultural foundation of Christian civilization, that is, faith in God, transcendent and Creator, provident and Judge, whose Only-begotten Son became incarnate, died, and rose again for the redemption of the world, and who has poured out the grace of the Holy Spirit for the remission of sins and for making men sharers in the divine nature. The Church, the Body of Christ, an institution both human and divine, is the universal sacrament of salvation and unity among men, of which it is the sign and instrument. It is in the sense of uniting men to Christ that the Church is His Body.

The unity of the entire human race, which LG 1 speaks about, does not have to be understood, therefore, in the sense of achieving concord between and the unification of various ideas, religions, or values in a “common or convergent kingdom,” but it is attained by drawing all to the one Truth, of which the Catholic Church is the depository entrusted therewith by God Himself. Here there is no harmonization of “various and strange” doctrines, but an integral proclamation of the patrimony of Christian truth, with due respect to liberty of conscience, and with esteem for the rays of truth distributed throughout the universe of the world’s cultural traditions and religions, but at the same time opposing views that do not agree with and are not compatible with the Truth, which is God revealed in Christ.

I conclude by returning to the interpretive categories suggested by Pope Benedict in his “Discourse to the Roman Curia,” cited at the beginning. They do not refer to the usual and obsolete three-fold division of conservative, progressive, and moderate, but they rest on an exquisitely theological duality: two hermeneutics, one of rupture and another of reform within continuity. It is necessary to take on this latter orientation in order to confront areas of controversy, and thereby free, so to speak, the Council from the para-Council—which has been intermingled with it—and preserve the principles of the integrity of Catholic doctrine and of complete fidelity to the deposit of faith handed on by Tradition and interpreted by the Church’s Magisterium.


  1. Anonymous1:30 AM

    So much blather about such a noxiously written set of documents.

    When will some saint step forward and call simply for the fogetting and dust-binning of Vatican 2?

    The Church does not have an obligation to write volume upon volume explaining how ambiguous documents get twisted by heretically-minded people who a priori wish for a hermeneutic of discontinuity.

    If it takes so very much to explain that these documents can and are abused by those, how much easier would it not be to discard them altogether and bank on those other
    magisterial documents that are plainly understood to mean what
    they intended?

    Enough already about the true meaning of Vatican 2.


  2. As a neophyte you may not understand that the Church does not have the ability to formally and summarily "forget and dust-bin" and discard a valid oecumenical council. It would be fatal to her Christ-given identity, tantamount to forgetting and dust-binning herself.

  3. Anonymous2:06 AM

    Because they are the magisterium of the Church in ecumenical council.

  4. Anonymous2:18 AM


    The validity of an ecumenical council
    is no statement of its usefulness
    from a doctrinal perspective, which
    In the case of Vatican 2 Pope Paul VI
    Made amply clearly in his own nota praevia
    it had little if any doctrinal value.

    Pope Benedict has also gone to great
    Lengths to explain that Vatican 2 in intention
    Was strictly pastoral, and therefore
    While having value perhaps for a time
    Can hardly be said to be of ageless value.

    Valid yes, useful and helpful, quite apparently the opposite.

    My pen name notwithstanding, I converted to Catholicism in 1986 but after sojourning through the latter day Catholic sects I thankfully found traditional Catholicism (rediscovered I should say) in 1999.


  5. Cruise the Groove2:30 AM

    "It would be fatal to her Christ-given identity, tantamount to forgetting and dust-binning herself."

    I would not equate the Second Vatican Council with the Church.

  6. This is an excellent post.
    For me, this piece is confirming my faith in the Church Magisterium as the final authority to teach and interpret Tradition as a whole.

    I will follow a saint, only as far as the Church Magisterium teach.

  7. David in Kansas4:34 AM

    Don't any of you see this as a nod in the direction of the SSPX? This man is basically saying and agreeing with what the Society has been saying all along - on two very important points, salvation and the so-called ecumenical movement.

  8. Thanks for sharing this!

  9. Anonymous6:34 AM

    Thank you very much for the translation. I shall read and study the text very carefully.

    Fr. A.M.

  10. Almost7:01 AM

    The explanation of "subsistit in " and "salvation" outside the Church is simply not good enough.

  11. Sixupman8:48 AM

    Of course Msgr. Lefebvre was right!

  12. Neophyte said: "So much blather about such a noxiously written set of documents."

    Well for you it may be a "blather," but for those of us who are "neophytes" to Traditional Catholicism and are beginning to learn and get educated, this document is of great catechetical value. If for you, this article is a "blather," then why even post non-value adding comments or indeed, visit this blog?

  13. Beaver11:19 AM

    Thank you for this post.
    Deo gratias for Mgr. Pozzo.

    Reality, life, nothing is simple; fast black/white answers in this case of the post Vatican II era are NOT answers but more confusion, false tracks.

    This dedicated man of God is wanting to expose the truth in its complexity; it's NOT blather, we've had plenty of 'blather' in fast black/white answers.

    This is to be listened to and digested.

    I'll read it a few more times and I think ant Traddie capable of reading it should do that a few times.

    The conference represents a lot of hard work for which I say: Thank you! It would have been easier to 'blather' but I think that you are too honest for that. Thank you for grappling with the material and briefing us as co-workers in the apostolate.

  14. This is what the FSSP is being fed and digested by many of their priests and faithful. That is why the crisis can only continue without the likes of the SSPX.

    Compare Msgr. Pozzo's statement regarding subsists vs. Cardinal Ratzinger's statements to Osservatore Romano:

    “The Council distanced itself from Pius XII (Mystici Corporis), who had said: The Catholic Church ‘is’ the unique mystical Body of Christ. It is the difference between the ‘subsists’ and the ‘is’ of Pius XII that the whole ecumenical problem lies.”
    (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, quoted in the 4/3/2000 edition of the ‘Osservatore Romano’)

    “Therefore the Fathers of the Council wanted to say that the Church’s being, as such, is something greater than the Roman Catholic Church.”
    (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, quoted in the 8/10/2000 edition of the ‘Osservatore Romano’)

    Who is the greater authority?

  15. This document is significant not because it in fact manages to accomplish what it set out to do (reconcile Vatican II's "Frankenchurch" ecumenical ecclesiology of "elements," "subsistence," full/partial communion, etc. with traditional ecclesiology) but because its very existence attests to the profound difficulties many now sense with maintaining that V2 was "continuous" with past teaching.

    One hopes that those who sense these "difficulties" will one day realize that they are, in fact, contradictions -- and openly advocate dumping Vatican II, just as many now openly espouse dumping the New Mass.

  16. An attempt to square the circle IMO and it fails to recognize that Vatican II opened the door to the "hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture" whereas before there was only one "hermeneutic" - that of Tradition embodied in the pre Vatican II magisterium - of popes from Pius IX and Leo XIII to and including Pius XII.

    The attempt to make the post Vatican II magisterium consistent with the pre Vatican II magisterium is unseemly IMO and it reminds me of the "can't we all just get along crowd" of Rodney King et al. But, I suppose even a partial realization that there is something definitively wrong these days is progress in some way.

    As I've said before, until Pope Benedict XVI, using his apostolic authority, exposes the errors via encyclicals carrying the seal of ex cathedra infallibility, we will not see an end to this crisis. That is only my opinion, of course, but it seems to me the only way out.

  17. Fr. Cekada, if (as you say) Msgr. Pozzo in fact reconciled Vatican II with traditional ecclesiology then what exactly is the problem? I agree with those who have suggested that we study and digest this slowly.

  18. Anonymous3:57 PM

    The creation of the term "para-Council" does not take into account the historical record of the Council. It would be more accurate to say that a few Council Fathers managed to intermingle traditional teaching within the texts (thanks to the Holy Ghost).

    Perhaps there was not complete rupture; however, the intent to rupture is contained within the documents themselves and was not "intermingled" after the fact.

    "Reform within continuity" may be right but will never work if the reformers do not recognize the reality of the "para-Council". It is not enough to blame the Devil. You must acknowledge who/what he used as his instruments so that you can combat him.

  19. Excellent post. Sadly, it will be denounced by the "amateur theologians". No matter: as with Pius IX and the Old Catholics, they will either return to full unity or perish.

  20. Anonymous6:09 PM

    Regardless of whether or not the current Magisterium can present an interpretation of the Second Vatican Council that is consistent with Tradition, the overwhelming majority of living Catholics continue to believe that the Council did, in fact, change the Church. And, in fact, the post-Vatican II Church IS different in many ways - certainly in its worship, popular piety, and priorities.

    Does the Pope or anyone else truly expect people to think that the Council didn't change the teaching of the Church when, immediately afterwords, the popes and bishops have destroyed virtually all the traditional externals of Catholic life?!

  21. Anonymous6:27 PM

    To Ivan et al

    My intention was not to disparage the good Monsignor of his attempts.

    Rather I am sighing at how many millions upon millions of words it has consumed to explain how quasi or actual heretics have abused the easily twisted words of the very lengthy documents in themselves of Vatican 2 to create what they "a priori" wanted all along.

    As Brother Anthony also points out, Cardinal Ratzinger himself acknowledges that in the case of "is" versus "susbsists" the a priori intention was the hermeneutic of discontinuity.

    As such, without taking issue with those who respectfully disagree, if the Pope knows, and traditional Catholics know, and the liberals themselves know that the problem with Vatican 2 is that it was written as ambiguously as would allow for the a priori hermenutic of discontinuity to have its day in the Church, what value is there to generating more voluminous documentation on explaining how the revolution has unfolded?

    If we are running low on ecclesial resources to do the basics e.g. care for the faithful and evangelize the lost, can it be honestly stated that it is a priority to generate voluminous discussions explaining how heretics used ambiguous documents to foment heresy?

    Now practically speaking certainly we need the SSPX to talk to the Vatican to get a formal and official acknowledgement of the issues. But once we get to that point I would advocate ditching V2 documents to the dust bin of history.

    This can be done prudently by hitting it at the root. The Pope at the time must have sensed the politics underway when he trumpe the whole thing with his nota praevia. And if it was pastoral in intention and nature, then ditch the whole thing 40+ years later based on its rotten fruits.

    For the Church's magesterium is not guaranteed infallibility on prudential matters, period.

    Salutations in Our Lady of Fatima, Neophyte!

  22. As Brother Anthony also points out, Cardinal Ratzinger himself acknowledges that in the case of "is" versus "susbsists" the a priori intention was the hermeneutic of discontinuity.

    No, Cardinal Ratzinger did not acknowledge that. He does not believe that the doctrine expressed by "subsistit in" is in discontinuity with the doctrine that the true Church "is" the Roman Catholic Church.

  23. Neophyte said: The validity of an ecumenical council is no statement of its usefulness from a doctrinal perspective

    True, but it is a statement of its validity as an expression of the Church as teacher and shepherd.

    which In the case of Vatican 2 Pope Paul VI Made amply clearly in his own nota praevia it had little if any doctrinal value.

    No, that is not at all what he said or meant in the Nota Praevia.

    Pope Benedict has also gone to great Lengths to explain that Vatican 2 in intention Was strictly pastoral, and therefore While having value perhaps for a time Can hardly be said to be of ageless value.

    But that does not mean the Church can stand up before the world and formally announce, "Vatican II was a ghastly mistake. Please just forget it ever happened." The pope and the bishops have already formally approved and endorsed the documents of Vatican II -- they will never unapprove or unendorse them, because that would be the same as unapproving and unendorsing the truth that the Church is established by God with authority to teach. The Church simply does not have the ability to do that, anymore than a broken egg can be unbroken.

    Valid yes, useful and helpful, quite apparently the opposite.

    That's something altogether different from discarding or dust-binning a council.

    Sorry for taking your screenname too literally.

    CTG said: I would not equate the Second Vatican Council with the Church.

    Nor would I.

  24. Anonymous7:46 PM

    Jordanes wrote:
    "No, Cardinal Ratzinger did not acknowledge that. He does not believe that the doctrine expressed by "subsistit in" is in discontinuity with the doctrine that the true Church "is" the Roman Catholic Church."

    Dear Jordanes, I did not state that Cardinal Ratzinger agreed that "subsistit in" was in discontinuity with the doctrine that the true Church "is" the RC Church.

    He did say: "Therefore the Fathers of the Council wanted to say that the Church’s being, as such, is something greater than the Roman Catholic Church" which he acknowledged as a case of "The Council distanc(ing) itself from Pius XII"

    While he does not state either way that he agrees or disagress with what the majority of Council Fathers wanted, and makes it clear in his other writings that the final text of Vatican 2 ought to be interpreted in an hermeneutic of continuity with other Magesterial teachings, regardless of the intentions of those who drafted up the text, he clearly indicates that the intention was to distance themselves from the previous magesterial teaching on the subject.

    While one can argue semantics (distancing does not necessarily mean outright rejection) the term he uses indicates a keen awareness that there was an attempt in intention at least to achieve a discontinuity with the previous belief.

    And so my argument remains in tact. If Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI knows, and Traditional Catholics know and the liberals themselves know that the language used in Vatican 2 was intentionally designed to permit (I say permit because I agree that the Church herself will decree that Vatican 2 must be interpreted in a hermeneutic of continuity) an hermeneutic of discontinuity, we have it right there - everyone knows that the intention was there a priori to break from or distance themselves from the Tradition of the Church.

    Anyone who knows anything realizes that the real reason the Holy Father is facing such formidable challenge with insisting on an hermeneutic of continuity on the interpretation of Vatican 2 documents is that the forces that molded those documents precisely wanted the opposite. Vatican 2 loses all its lustre once you insist that it must abide by the hermeneutic that states the Church like Her Divine Founder "was, is and will be" always the same.

    KNowing this fact about Vatican 2 writings, I see no reason to explain the mechanics of how various wolves in sheep's clothing then entered the sheep pen by way of their intentional wielding of those same writings and proverbially slaughtered the sheep.

    Shelve it for good and forget about it. Focus instead on clear magesterial statements - for the good of the Church and the salvation of souls.


  25. Jordanes,

    You are wrong in your assessment that Vatican II cannot be revoked. Vatican II will not only be revoked, but it will be condemned with the utmost solemnity.

    Vatican II is not a dogmatic council. Therefore, its teachings, at least those that have not been definitely taught by the previous Magisterium, can be revoked.

  26. Jordanes,

    The Osservatore quote was when the current Pontiff was a cardinal. If he now repudidates it, let him say it in pubic. He has not 'til this day as far as I am aware. His "hermeneutic of continuity" policy does not demonstrate that the word "subsists" can replace the word "is".

  27. Mr. Gurries:

    You appear to have innocently misread Father Cekada's post. Unless he has undergone a remarkable change of mind in the past 72 hours or so, he was postulating a hypothetical situation—one that did not indeed come to pass—not affirming an actuality.

    The absence from standard contemporary English usage of the contrary-to-fact subjunctive in such a construction as the one Father Cekada uses is what makes the misconstruction of his meaning possible, perhaps even inevitable. (I shall leave it to Mr. Perkins to provide us with a formal lament for the form's disappearance, however.) Were our language of discourse hereabouts Anglo-Saxon or Attic Greek, the problem wouldn't have arisen.

  28. Anonymous9:24 PM

    As long as they refuse to acknowledge that the Second Vatican Council documents are the source of the present day crisis, no matter how you interpret the documents, nothing will change.

    They will relegate this Council and its ambiguous documents to the black pit long after all of us are gone. Without Divine Intervention, it will not happen in any of our lifetimes.


  29. Anonymous9:59 PM

    From Jordanes:

    "... the Church does not have the ability to formally and summarily "forget and dust-bin" and discard a valid oecumenical council.

    "It would be fatal to her Christ-given identity, tantamount to forgetting and dust-binning herself."

    In regard to Vatican II:

    Vatican II teachings that are novel and pastoral may be forgotten and discarded by Holy Mother Church.

    Jordanes, do you agree with that?

    I believe that it's as simple as maintaining Traditional teachings that appear within the Council's documents...then discard the novelties.


  30. Anonymous10:26 PM

    "Does the Pope or anyone else truly expect people to think that the Council didn't change the teaching of the Church when, immediately afterwords, the popes and bishops have destroyed virtually all the traditional externals of Catholic life?!"


    It is beyond belief that "traditional" and "conservative" Churchmen expect us to believe their declaration that "nothing has changed within the Church...the reforms are in continuity with Holy Tradition."

    It is truly incredible that our Churchmen have approved Communion in the hand, altar girls, all-vernacular "Latin" Rite Masses, vs. populum Masses...

    ...they pray and worship publicly with schismatics...they stage religious events in synagogues, mosques and Protestant buildings...

    ...they give the impression publicly that Protestants dressed as "Archbishops" (Canterbury, for example) and "priests" are legitimate priests.

    But "nothing has changed...everything we've done is in continuity with Holy Tradition."



  31. As Charles Coulombe writes:

    “So, you might ask your author whether or no Vatican II was really an Ecumenical Council. Well, all the Catholic bishops were gathered to solemnly deliberate; the fact that it was all for naught in terms of dogma is beside the point. Those who demand that the Holy See one day openly disavow it ignore history. What is more likely to happen is that, after the present crisis is surmounted, it will be flushed down the memory hole with Constantinope II, Constance, and Basel. Present on the lists forever as: “21st Ecumenical Council: Vatican II, 1962-65, Dealt with pastoral problems.” There safely filed, scholars in 2567 will breeze over it to look at more impressive and important Councils, just as we breeze by Lateran V to look at Trent.

    Paul VI was not unaware that things were out of control at the Council. He took decisive action there: he wept.” [Puritan's Empire, 513-514, emphasis added.]

  32. Joe B2:03 AM

    "The para-Conciliar ideology, however, which was spread above all by groups of neo-Modernist Catholic intellectuals and by secularist, worldly centers of power in the mass-media ..."

    The article seems to say that the documents of VCII can, with some theological acrobatics hidden from us for decades, be interpreted consistently with prior Catholic teachings (true so far, I'm sure), and that is what the participants intended. It was those evil outsiders - intellectuals and media types - who ran with other interpretations, and soon infected even the hierarchy.

    There was laughter when Cardinal Ottaviani's microphone was rudely shut off. These men intended the revolution they caused, and most still will it.

  33. Anonymous2:45 AM

    Finally I am glad that someone recognized the precedent set in our piety towards Lateran V... Card. Ratzinger expressed this in his book "Principles of Catholic Theology" which he wrote in 1982, the year after he became Prefect. In it is a chapter on understanding and dealing with V2 and that it may be forgotten in the sands of time (as Lateran V).

    Interesting though is that he calls Gaudium et Spes the Counter-Syllabus the Pius IX' s Syllabus of Errors.

  34. Ultimately, the correlation between the councils and its disastrous liturgical and pastoral outcomes is of demonstrable significance not only statistically in the chief indicators but also qualitatively in what new catholics believe today and how they express those beliefs. This has been covered on many occasions as a topic.
    In fact, this goes much deeper.
    The devil is in the details of those documents which is one very poignant reason why younger catholics had better read them as they were meant to be read by the liberals and also while they are there to look at how the liberal modernists were able to despatch Pope John XXXIII's immense preparatory work for the councils to the dustbin of ecclesiastical history. A series of manoeuvres enabled them to mobilise the councils in their own favour and achieve a major part of their agenda.

    In toto, what a comparison is the pre-conciliar church with the post-conciliar version since almost all one can find are stark contrasts. On studying particular areas such as the liturgy; ecumenical and inter-religious processes, the role of the papacy; public behaviours of popes; the rise of the secretary of state; the role of the presbyter as he is henceforth known, and the laity; the norms, values & mores of traditional & new catholics; pastoral initiatives and the missions; as well as numbers of vocations into the religious orders and presbyterate; ecclesiastical architecture and music, etc., etc. we can observe rupture only.

    There is no continuity because there was never meant to be according to the liberals and socialists. They wanted a new church that adapted to the spirit of the age. Alarmingly, this is what we have today - a new church with a new philosophy and one that is instantly malleable to the will of the individual because there are convenience clauses such as primacy of conscience; religious liberty; ecumenical and inter-religious exchanges that the masses construe through the media as giving the individual the right to do as the hierarchy do not as they say such shaking hands with priestesses in sectarian temples of false religions. To these language is a vehicle for meaning whatever they want it to signify because somewhere in the Conciliar discourses it may be justified.

  35. Yes. Cardinal Ratzinger did call Gaudium et Spes a "counter-syllabus". This should be an eye opener for those who now promote his "hermeneutic of continuity". Vatican II cannot be saved because it cannot be reconciled with the teaching of the pre-Vatican II Magisterium. You would think that after 45 years of explaining the meaning of the Council, it would be clear to everyone by now. But that is not the case. If the Holy Father really believes that Vatican II can be reconciled with Tradition, then why doesn't he use his God given authority to dogmatize the Council's teachings which are of controversy? The answer is simple: The Holy Ghost would never allow it because Vatican II is truly a counter-syllabus.

  36. John McFarland2:28 PM

    May I recommend in this connection the Angelus Press's recently published English translation of the "Catechism of the Crisis in the Church" by Fr. Matthias Gaudron of the SSPX.

    It is in effect a summary of the SSPX's assessment of the whole conciliar and post-conciliar mess, and lays out the issues at stake very well.

    Those who more or less agree with the SSPX assessment and are not familiar with the details will find the "Catechism" very informative. It is also a handy summary for those who are familiar with the broader SSPX literature.

    Those who more or less disagree with that assessment need to read it in order to dispute the real McCoy, and not one or the other of the various garbled versions of the Society's positions.

  37. Anonymous3:21 PM

    "If the Holy Father really believes that Vatican II can be reconciled with Tradition, then why doesn't he use his God given authority to dogmatize the Council's teachings which are of controversy?"

    Because the minute he does, some of you will find yourselves on the other side of the fence. Doing so anytime soon, given the number of traditionalists currently insisting that they must teach Rome the faith and not the other way around, will probably result in another permanent, Old Catholic-style schism.

  38. Anonymous5:00 PM

    You forgot the Holy Ghost's intervention. An important piece to miss. I dare say if the Holy Father exercised his power many NO Catholics would split from the Church, more so then the FSSPX.

    Your schism parallel of the FSSPX to the Old Catholics in such a situation is without basis. If you care to read John McFarland's reading suggestion then you could familiarize your self with what the FSSPX are trying to teach Rome (your words).

    I do however believe that if the FSSPX went into formal schism then they may be led into errors perhaps like those of the Old Catholics, perhaps not.

    "The most evident mark of God's anger and the most terrible castigation he can inflict upon the world are manifested when he permits his people to fall into the hands of clergy who are priests more in name than in deed. When God permits such things it is a very positive proof that he is thoroughly angry with his people and is visiting his most dreadful anger upon them. " -St. John Eudes

    Best regards,
    S. Umfor

  39. Anonymous5:15 PM

    Well, Craig, no one was too concerned about "schisms" when they were preparing to shove all of the novelties and nonsense down our throats post-1965.


  40. Craig,

    You have responded with a silly answer. I will take it with a grain of salt.

    When the Church is faced with attacks on Her doctrine, She moves to solemnly define the truth and condemn the error. The Council of Trent is a case in point.

    Look at what happened in England in the 16th century. Virtually the whole of England left the Faith because of the passions of one man. Did the pope stop in proclaiming the truth despite the consequences? Absolutely not!

    Given the destruction in the Church for the last 45 years, it is the pope's duty as Pastor of the Universal Church to bring an end to this crisis. Let him then proclaim Vatican II teaching's with the mark of the infallible Magisterium. Perhaps what you did not consider is that if he were to do this, many traditionalists would go his way. However, he will never do this because he is well aware that Vatican II's teachings are not consistent with the Magisterium of all time. Just read his book called "The Theological Highlights of Vatican II" and you will understand what I mean.

  41. Joe B Said

    Frankly, when we read the accounts of the councils there is an over-riding register of dissent and resolve to implement the liberal agenda no matter what. Your commment elsewhere about the NO rite being such a vehicle illustrates aptly this point. Therefore, to insist on rehabilitating the councils and the liturgical expression of its revolutionary nature, the NO rite, within traditional parameters is no more than a hermeneutic of revisionism.

  42. John McFarland6:51 PM


    The basis of true religion is the deposit of Faith, which was complete by the death of the last Apostle. As St. Jude puts it, it is the faith delivered once [for all] to the saints.

    To be a Catholic, one must believe every jot and tittle of that deposit, be baptized, and accept the authority of the Holy Father and the bishops in communion with him.

    We are the servants of the Faith, and that includes the Holy Father. He is the greatest of its servants, but still its servant.

    As far as I know, no one with any brains has ever even pretended that the SSPX does not teach the Faith as it was taught before Vatican II.

    The basis for the second-class status of the Society from Rome's perspective is an undoubted novelty -- that there are degrees of communion --, which in turn is based on the Society's refusal to accept other novelties taught by the Council.

    Consider also the implications of the Syllabus of Errors and the Holy Father's pre-papal characterization of Vatican II as the Counter-Syllabus.

    The introduction of obvious novelties into the Church, for which novelties have always been anathema (Gal 1:8-9), makes it at best highly imprudent simply to follow the commands of those who introduced these novelties, those who implemented them, and those who preside over an institution of which those novelties have become a part.

    When truth and authority are at odds with each other, one must go with truth. One cannot rely on maxims coined in the days that truth and authority were in harmony.

    There are indeed dangers in this situation. The SSPX epitomizes these problems with a phrase from scripture: the shepherd is struck, and the sheep are scattered.

    But the danger is nowhere near as great as accepting authority that is not in line with truth. How can one accuse the "hard" traditionalists of Protestant private judgment, and then embrace a magisterium that includes the Declaration on Religious Freedom?

  43. Leon: "In toto, what a comparison is the pre-conciliar church with the post-conciliar version since almost all one can find are stark contrasts."


    Compare, for instance, the Bible, where Jesus calls the Pharisees "Vipors," and turns over money-changers' Tables in the the Bible, to the soft, cuddly, feel-goodness of Vatican II, even going out-of-its way to praise Hindus and Buddhists! The former of who are on a "loving, trusting, flight towards God." Ahgg! Come-on!

    Can you imagine what St. Bernard of Clairvaux would have said, after reading such nonsense, if it were from a non-Churchman? "Excuminicato!" But coming from a council itself? He would have been humbly befuddled and sad.

  44. Anonymous1:12 AM

    This may be the biggest steaming pile of obfuscatory modernism I've ever read.

  45. While one can argue semantics (distancing does not necessarily mean outright rejection)


    the term he uses indicates a keen awareness that there was an attempt in intention at least to achieve a discontinuity with the previous belief.

    No, it doesn't necessarily indicate any such awareness.

    Vatican II will not only be revoked, but it will be condemned with the utmost solemnity.

    Perhaps so, but not by the Catholic Church.

    Vatican II is not a dogmatic council. Therefore, its teachings, at least those that have not been definitely taught by the previous Magisterium, can be revoked.

    True, Vatican II chiefly produced contingent and prudential matter that can be revised or revoked. It also produced doctrinal matter that cannot be so easily set aside, or not at all set aside.

    The Osservatore quote was when the current Pontiff was a cardinal. If he now repudidates it, let him say it in pubic.

    I doubt he would ever repudiate it, as he seems to believe that what he said is accurate -- and from what I can tell, it is accurate.

    His "hermeneutic of continuity" policy does not demonstrate that the word "subsists" can replace the word "is".

    And your hermeneutic of discontinuity does not demonstrate that "subsists" is contradictory and exclusive of "is."

    Vatican II teachings that are novel and pastoral may be forgotten and discarded by Holy Mother Church. Jordanes, do you agree with that?

    Those that are pastoral or contingent or prudential may (and I think many if not most of them eventually will) be discarded. If there is any real novelty in Vatican II's teachings, that, a kind of novelty that is an intrusion, a break, a discontinuity, then it not only may but must be discarded. If they are legitimate developments of doctrine, however, one could not and should not discard them.

    Interesting though is that he calls Gaudium et Spes the Counter-Syllabus the Pius IX' s Syllabus of Errors.

    Yes, he contrasted the "optimistic" approach and attitude of G&S with the Syllabus of Errors. The earlier Church document catalogued modern errors, while with G&S the Church sought to interact with aspects of modernity that are right or acceptable or redeemable -- hence, a "Counter Syllabus."

  46. Jordanes,
    Do you believe that Vatican II taught any legitimate developments of doctrine. If so, what newly developed doctrine did VC2 produce?

  47. Anonymous3:00 PM

    Jordanes, your opinion concerning the possibility of "developing" doctrine at the completely novel "pastoral" Second Council of the Vatican is simply wrong. The only aspect of doctrine to which the Church is bound by that Council is where previous doctrine has been repeated.

    Monsignor Brunero Gherardini makes that point very clear in his recent book on the Council.


  48. Nicholas4:43 PM

    "This may be the biggest steaming pile of obfuscatory modernism I've ever read."

    I must agree. Though I laud Msgr. Pozzo for his irenic and constructive attitude, his efforts are ultimately doomed to failure. Vatican II must go the way of the other forgotten and irrelevant councils--and we have had more than one over the past 2000 years. The hierarchy must abandon the inane practice of making Vatican II the touchstone of all contemporary Catholic belief and practice. "Vatican II said this" and "Vatican II said that." ἐς κόρακας with that ideologically dominated shambles! What about quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus has been believed and practiced and handed down? Until men like Msgr. Pozzo realize that there's no there there, and begin to reconstitute the Church's official self-understanding on a firm and consistent theological basis, we will still be tilting at the windmills of the conciliar phatasmagoria.

  49. Anonymous2:58 AM

    No, I did not forget the Holy Ghost's intervention. In fact I'm counting on it. The thing about accepting Vatican II as consonant with large-T Tradition, and reconcilable in the end with most of the small-t traditions too, is that in the end you have to relax and let God drive. (Not that I'm any good at that in most facets of life.)

    An overwhelming number of the world's bishops together with the pope approved the council documents, and they have been referenced approvingly by three more popes since (OK, JP1 didn't say much in his ~30 days). If Vatican II were to be ultimately condemned, what that would then say is that the Church of England was correct all along in Article XIX: Rome hath erred even in matters of faith.

    I do not question that the SSPX teaches the faith as it was taught before Vatican II. But I have no reason to believe that the faith of the rank and file was error-free in those years, any more than it was in the years prior to Nicaea or Trent. The magisterium must attempt to correct the errors of the present; it can't correct the errors of the future.

    The most erroneous interpretations of the "spirit of VII" have been dispelled already by encyclicals, curial statements, and a new catechism. (Enforcement is another matter, of course.) What errors of interpretation remain are likely to be on the other, rad-trad side of the aisle -- the thrust of my earlier "silly" statement. I would argue that those errors were the ones for which VII was convened in the first place, although the council's failure was that it attempted to stress what the faith is and not what the faith is not, hence the lack of anathemas. That decision may have been proven to be poor judgment, but VII's failure in implementation was not due to the lack of anathemas but to the "para-conciliar" mentality Msgr. Pozzo describes.

    Contra some opinions here, the Declaration on Religious Freedom does not say that all religions are equally true nor that all are salvific, only that the Church has no business coercing individuals into a simulacrum of belief. It seems some of you have absorbed the para-conciliar spirit as well.

    And that, in Forrest Gump fashion, is all I've got to say about that.

  50. John McFarland9:23 PM


    You can't relax and let God drive until you're in his one and only vehicle of salvation: the Catholic Church.

    In order to be in the Catholic Church, you must believe every jot and tittle of the Faith delivered once for all to the saints.

    But the relationship between the pre-1962 magisterium, Vatican II and the post-conciliar magisterium, can be fairly described as problematic.

    You say: "I do not question that the SSPX teaches the faith as it was taught before Vatican II. But I have no reason to believe that the faith of the rank and file was error-free in those years, any more than it was in the years prior to Nicaea or Trent. The magisterium must attempt to correct the errors of the present; it can't correct the errors of the future."

    I can't figure out what you mean. The SSPX appeals to authoritative sources. The rank and file don't determine the content of the Faith. If the knowledge of the faithful is faulty, the answeer is to fix it.

    There is no doubt that the knowledge of the faithful -- and of the intelligentsia -- was faulty before Vatican II.

    But Vatican II was an exercise not in correcting those faults, but in codifying and institutionalizing them. The figures who were under a cloud until the pontificate of John XXIII were appointed to the pre-conciliar committees, and then handed the keys to the Council by Pope Paul VI.

    Like many revolutions, the Vatican II revolution got out of the hands of its creators and into more radical hands. But Vatican II was still a revolution; and the difference between the Holy Father and Hans Kueng is the difference between a less radical and a more radical revolutionary. So nowadays the Holy Father's denouncing abortion and sodomy is enough to make him a conservative if not a reactionary.

    Obviously, you know nothing of this. You are simply taking on faith the basic soundness of the Council, and the related myth that it was hijacked from those nice moderates like Rahner, Congar, de Lubac, van Balthasar, Schillebeeckx, Wojtyla and Ratzinger by those awful liberals.

    As regards DH, the Church has always opposed forced conversions. It has also always taught -- until Vatican II, that is -- that the public authority must always oppose the public practice of the false religions -- schism, heresy, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, paganism -- to the extent practicable. What DH teaches is that by virtue of being a human being, each devotee of the false religions has the right to public worship, and civil society has a positive obligation to foster that right. Now there is enough equivocable babble in DH for the really determined to pretend that what I've just said is not the message of DH. But that's its message, all right, as witnessed by the Vatican's bullying such countries as Spain and Colombia into secularizing their constitutions.

    So: you're a prime candidate for some quality time with Father Gaudron's "Catechism."

  51. If Vatican II were just forgotten, we would not lose one jot or tittle of doctrinal development because Vatican II was a doctrinal subversion.

  52. Cruise el Groove.12:57 PM

    you said: "It would be fatal to her Christ-given identity,[refering to dust binning Vatican II] tantamount to forgetting and dust-binning herself."

    Then I said in response:

    "I would not equate the Second Vatican Council with the Church."

    Then you replied:

    "Nor would I".

    I am sorry, but when you say that dust binning Vatican II would be "tantamont to dustbinning and forgetting Herself", do not you mean by Herself, the Church?

    This would be stating that you believe the Church is equal to Vatican II.

  53. Not so, CTG. I said it would be "tantamount" to the Church forgetting and dustbinning Herself. That is not because Vatican II is the Church, which it obviously isn't, but because Vatican II has been formally, properly approved and endorsed by the divinely-created Magisterium of the Church. Thus, if the Church were to turn around and say, "Please pretend that we never formally approved Vatican II," it would be to say, "Please pretend that we have never, ever formally approved any other council or magisterial document."

    Now, because the Church is indefectible, we know that God has deprived her of the ability to discard anything essential to her divine constitution, which includes her magisterium. But formally condemning Vatican II would be an assault upon, even a repudiation of, her teaching authority. Therefore the Church does not have the ability to condemn Vatican II. She can mitigate it, or rescind various documents of a lesser authority, superseding them with other acts or decrees of equal or greater authority, but she can never formally unapprove and solemnly condemn it.

  54. Cruise the Groove.2:55 PM

    Of course Vatican Council II was a validly convened Council of the Church. That goes without saying.
    If one was to deny that it would be "tantamount" to one denying they exist.
    That does not mean that it should have been convened or that anything in its documents other than what the Church always and everywhere has taught, was right.

    But since tantamount means: "equivalent in value, significance, or effect"
    I do not see how discarding the Council for its errors, not its existence in time and space, can be "tantamount to forgetting and dustbinning that which Almighty God instituted.
    Do you actually believe that if the Council was dustbinned that the Church would die?
    I would not link one flawed Church Council, to the indefectibility that God promised to the Church's existence.


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