Rorate Caeli

Don Pietro Leone: The Council and the Eclipse of God Part III


Change of title

The author, Don Pietro Leone, who is still in the process of finishing this book, has decided to change the title ‘ The Enemy within. A critique of Vatican II ‘,  to what he has come to believe expresses the true significance of the Council: ‘The Council and the Eclipse of God’ .                                                     F.R.


The Council and the Eclipse  of God

Beatissimae Vergini Mariae humillime dedicatum

Quae cunctas haereses sola interemisti in universo mundo 



     Christ before Pilate Again by Duccio di Buoninsegna (1311)

"And Pilate sayeth to Jesus: What is truth?"


In this Introduction we present:


  1.                       A.The Catholic Vision of Truth;
  2.                       B.The Council’s Opposition to the Catholic Vision of Truth.



A.    The Catholic Vision of Truth


We commence this section by presenting twenty of the principles which constitute the Church’s vision of Truth, whether these principles amount to Catholic dogmas or whether they are entailed by such dogmas. We do so in order to place in their context those principles which the Council opposes. First we present principles concerning truth in general, then principles concerning truth in the ultimate sense of the term: that is to say what one refers to as ‘Truth itself’, or simply ‘Truth’.


Truth and the Knowledge of Truth in General


  1. 1.There is an objective reality [1];
  2. 2.This reality is the object of knowledge [2];
  3. 3.Truth is the correspondence between objective reality and the intellect [3];
  4. 4.The True has logical priority over the Good [4];


Truth and the Knowledge of Truth in the Ultimate Sense of the Terms


  1. 5.Objective reality/ontological truth in the ultimate sense [5] is Being;
  2. 6.Being in the ultimate sense is God Himself [6];
  3. 7.Truth/God (in this sense) can be known in this life;
  4. 8.Truth/God can be known in this life by means of Reason [7];
  5. 9.Truth/God can be known in this life by means of Faith [8];
  6. 10.By Reason He is known as the cause of all things [9];
  7. 11.By Faith He is known in His intimate nature, as the Most Holy Trinity [10];
  8. 12.The Faith is possessed by the Church and by the faithful;
  9. 13.Reason is natural and has as its object natural truth;
  10. 14.Faith is supernatural and has as its object sipernatural truth;
  11. 15.By Fath, in more detail, God is known together with all the other articlesof Faith;
  1. 16.Truth/God can be expressed in an adequate sense in this life [11];
  2. 17.Truth/God can be expressed in an adequate sense in this life by dogma [12];
  3. 18.Faith constitutes a unity, an absolute [13]. Either one possesses Faith in its entirety or not at all;
  4. 19.Faith is Truth in its fullness [14];
  5. 20.Faith is immutable [15].



B.     The Council’s Opposition to the Catholic Vision of Truth


We shall present this opposition in the following sections:


I          Analysis of Texts;

                  II        Skepticism;

III       Comparison of Catholic and Council Teaching.




I   Analysis of Texts


In this section we consider the Council’s teaching on:


a)         a)The Knowledge of Truth;

b)         b)The Expression of Truth;

c)          c)The Fullness of Truth;

d)          d)The Mutability of Truth.




a)      The Knowledge of Truth


i) ‘The search for truth [in religious matters]…  must be carried out… by free enquiry with the help of teaching or instruction, communication and dialogue. It is by these means that people share with each other the truth that they have discovered, or think they have discovered, in such a way that they help each other in the search for truth… The human person sees and recognizes the demands of the divine law through conscience. All are bound to follow their conscience faithfully…’ (Dignitatis Humanae 3) [16]


ii) ‘The highest norm of  human life is the divine law itself – eternal, objective and universal, by which God orders, directs and governs the whole world and the ways of the human community according to a plan conceived in His wisdom and love.’ (UR 4)


 iii) ‘Through loyalty to conscience, Christians are joined to others in the search for truth and for the right solution to so many moral problems which arise both in the life of individuals and from social relationships. Hence, the more a correct conscience prevails, the more do persons and groups turn aside from blind choice and endeavor to conform to the objective standards of moral conduct.’ (GS 16)


 iv) ‘Truth can impose itself on the human mind by the force of its own truth (vi ipsius veritatis), which wins over the mind with both gentleness and power.’ (DH 1)



As we have said, the Church already possesses the Truth, which is Divine Revelation, so She does not need to go in search of it. Furthermore, the Church and Her members cannot legitimately be placed on the same level as other religions, societies, or individuals in the search for religious and moral truth, since, by definition, those outside the Church deny Revelation, and not infrequently even God and the Natural Law as well.


We proceed to consider various more general aspects of these texts:


  1.   1.naturalism;
  2.   2.subjectivism,
  3.   3.the confusion between the Church’s rôles of teacher and disciple.




    1. Naturalism


What is most remarkable about these texts is that the Truth that they propose to Catholics is Truth of the merely natural order, whereas the Truth that saves, the Truth that the Church desires to impart to all men, belongs essentially to the supernatural order. This naturalizing tendency may be seen in three respects:


a)       in stating that members of the Church should search for religious or moral Truth in collaboration with non-Catholics, the Council is in effect proposing merely natural Truth to all men, for the fact that non-Catholics deny Revelation (the Faith), entails that any truth that they may be able to discover together with Catholics will, at the most, be of the purely natural order;


b)       in appealing to the givens of the eternal law and of the conscience (in texts i, ii, & iii), the Council appeals to sources of merely natural truth;


c)       in describing a form of truth which imposes itself by its own power (in text iv), it describes what is a psychological characteristic of natural, or rational, truth alone. Supernatural Truth, by contrast, does not impose itself on the subject, since, in transcending the natural order, it requires the assent of the subject’s intellect and will, and the assistance of supernatural Grace, in order to be accepted by the mind [17].




    1. Subjectivism


Apart from the shift from the supernatural to the natural order in all the four texts above, we also see a shift from the objective to the subjective order: from the authority of the Church to shared vision; and from Truth to the search for truth: or in more detail from the possession of, and assent to, truth, to the search for, and discovery of, truth. The means by which the search in question is supposed to be carried out are the subjective principles of free enquiry, communication, dialogue, and conscience (envisaged subjectivistically).


As to the conscience in particular, it should be said that it is not an autonomous mental faculty which attains Truth infallibly. Nor can the Council legitimately appeal to a ‘correct conscience’ without providing any objective criterion for its correctness. Rather, the conscience is fallible and must be informed by the objective Truth of Divine Revelation.


In all these ways we see the Council accord priority to the subjective over the objective, or in other words to the Good (i.e. what seems to man to be good) over objective Truth.




  1. Ecclesia Docens et Discens


Finally we observe in these texts a confusion between the Ecclesia docens (the teaching Church) and the Ecclesia discens (the learning Church). Our Blessed Lord Himself mandated the exercise of the munus docendi to the Church, as we shall discuss in chapter 1. He did so both for the benefit of Her own members and for those outside Her bounds. Towards Her own members She acts as the Ecclesia Docens, and they to Her as the Ecclesia Discens. The members of the Hierarchy exercise this ministry by instructing the clergy and the faithful; the clergy exercise it by instructing the faithful. The faithful are also obliged by the First Commandment to know the Faith. For those outside the Church’s boundaries, the Church exercises this ministry by evangelization.


If the clergy and faithful are ignorant because they have not been adequately catechized for these past two generations, then their duty is not to learn the Truth from non-Catholics; rather they must research what the Churchmen taught previously, in the days when the latter took their munus docendi more seriously [18].


If an employee at the information counter of a railway-station, when asked whether any trains from that station travel to Rome, replies: ‘I don’t know. Do you know? Let’s go and find out together’, one would say that neither the railway authorities nor their employees are doing their job properly. For it is the business of the railway authorities to communicate such information to their employees, and the business of the employees to communicate it to their clients; and if the railway authorities have not furnished them with the knowledge in question, then it is the business of their employees to find it out for themselves - but not from their clients.




b)     The Expression of Truth


While the first form of opposition to Catholic doctrine from the part of the Council (in section 1 above) concerns ontological Truth, this second form concerns logical Truth. 


i) ‘Christ summons the church… to that continual reformation (ad hanc perennem reformationem) of which she always has need… Consequently, if… there have been deficiencies… in the way that church teaching has been formulated – to be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself – these should be set right…’ (UR 6);


ii) ‘Theologians are now being asked… to develop more efficient ways of communicating doctrine to the people of to-day, for the deposit and the truths of the faith are one thing, the manner of expressing them – provided their sense and meaning are retained – is quite another’ (GS 62) [19].


The substance of these texts may be summarized in the following terms:


  1. a radical distinction is to be made between the deposit of Faith and its expression, since the latter is ‘quite another’ thing (text i) and to be ‘carefully distinguished’ (text ii) from the former;
  2. there is doubt concerning the veracity of the latter;
  3. the latter should therefore be subject to reformation.



1.    A Radical Distinction is to be made between the Deposit of Faith and its Expression


There is no such radical distinction to be made between the Deposit of Faith and its formulation, expression, or knowledge. For the deposit of Faith is Truth [20], and Faith is the knowledge of that Truth [21]; and truth is related to the knowledge of truth by the relation of correspondence: Truth is ‘the correspondence of the thing and the intellect’: adaequatio res et intellectus



2.   That there is Doubt concerning the Veracity of the Latter


The expression of the deposit of Faith cannot be cast into doubt, since the expression of the deposit of Faith is nothing other than dogma itself, and dogma is supernatural truth. This supernatural truth is infallibly defined and ‘proposed for our belief by the Church, either in solemn declaration or in Her ordinary and universal magisterial teaching’ [22].




The making of such a radical distinction between the Deposit of Faith and its expression, as well as the casting of doubt on the latter, constitutes a Modernist manoeuvre condemned both by St. Pius X [23] and by Pope Pius XII [24]. The former describes the Modernists’ notion of Faith as something distinct from the changing formulae used to express it; the latter describes their notion of a Faith stripped of ‘extrinsic elements’ capable of being expressed in accordance with ‘modern philosophy’, with ‘modern needs’ or with the attitudes of non-Catholics.



3.   That the Latter should therefore be Subject to Reformation


Now the expression of the deposit of the Faith, as we have just seen, is dogma, but dogma cannot be ‘reformed’ (text i), that is to say changed for the better. The reason for this is twofold: first, dogma is without deficiency; second, it is immutable and so cannot be changed at all. The doctrine that dogma can change (that is to say in a substantial sense), is a heresy, as declared in the First Vatican Council [25] and in Lamentabili [26]. To say, in more detail, that it must be changed to make it accessible to ‘the people of to-day’ (text ii) is what Pope Pius XII calls ‘dogmatic relativism’ and ‘something that would make dogma itself a reed shaken by the wind’ [27].


Dogma, supernatural truth, is subject to development only in a material sense, that is to say in the clarity and depth of its communication. The Church declares namely: ‘…let there be growth and abundant progress in understanding, knowledge and wisdom… but only within the same dogma, the same meaning, the same judgment’ [28]. In short, according to the analogy of St. Vincent de Lérins, truth is like the sun over the course of the day: in itself it is unchanging, but in its communication it is weaker at the dawn and brighter at mid-day. The fact that the communication of dogma can develop in clarity and depth, does not imply that its past expression is ‘deficient’ (text i) or less ‘efficient’ (text ii).


[1] e.g. the tree I see before me exists objectively. Objective reality is known as ‘ontological truth’.

[2] e.g. I know the tree before me

[3] e.g. it is true that the tree is before me just when it is before me. This truth is known as ‘logical truth’: adaequatio rei et intellectus

[4] What we mean by this, in the simplest possible terms, is the principle that what one pursues as good must conform to what is objectively true, to objective reality; in other words one must pursue what is objectively good. To lend the Good priority over the True, by contrast, is to pursue as good what conforms to one’s will or passions independently of objective reality. This latter position may be termed ‘antirealist’ in its aversion from objective reality, or ‘subjectivist’ in its conversion to the self.

[5] hereinafter referred as ‘Truth’ with a capital ‘T’

[6] God is Absolute Being. He does not receive being from another, but He is His own Being: He is of and through Himself.

[7] ‘If any-one says that the One True God, Our Creator and Lord, cannot be known with certainty through those things which have been made, by means of the natural light of human reason, Anathema sit.’ Vatican I, de Rev. can. 1

[8] Credo in unum Deum, Apostolic Creed

[9] as the efficient cause (the Creator), and also as the final cause (the Goal of man)

[10] the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity have God as their object: God in His intimate nature

[11] ‘If any-one says that Divine Revelation cannot be made credible by external signs... Anathema sit.’ Vatican I, de Fide can.3

[12] dogma is divinely revealed Truth, proposed by the Magisterium to be believed as such

[13] ultimately because its object, God, is a unity

[14] ultimately because its object, God, is the fullness of the Truth

[15] ultimately because its object, God, is immutable

[16] cf. also the invitation to seek Truth with non-Catholic Christians (UR 4) in the section on Ecumenism below

[17] We note a similar confusion in the opening address of Pope John XXIII of 20th October 1962, repeated in the opening address of Pope Paul VI of 29th September 1963, in the words: the Church prefers ‘to encounter to-day’s needs by showing the validity of her teaching, rather than by renewing condemnations.’  

[18] we refer to Lamentabili where St. Pius X condemns Proposition 6 which implies that doctrine comes not from the Ecclesia discens but from the Ecclesia docens: ‘The learning Church and the teaching Church collaborate in such a way that it only remains for the teaching Church to sanction the opinions of the learning Church.’

[19] The text refers to the opening speech of Pope John XXIII where he states: ‘The substance of ancient doctrine of the  Depositum Fidei is one thing, and the formulation of its clothing is another, and one must – with patience if necessary – take great account of this.’ Altra è la sostanza dell’antica dottrina del depositum fidei, ed altra è la formulazione del suo rivestimento: ed è questo che si deve  - con pazienza se occorre – tener gran conto.’

[20] ontological

[21] logical

[22] Vatican Council I, sess.3 ch. 3 de Fide

[23] in Pascendi 12

[24] in Humani Generis s.14, and in general 14-17

[25] Si quis dixerit, fieri posse, ut dogmatibus ab Ecclesia propositis aliquando secundum progressum scientiae sensus tribuendus sit alius ab eo, quem intellexit et intelligit Ecclesia, A.S. If any-one says that it can happen that another meaning that that which the Church has understood and understands, can at some time, according to the progress of science, be attributed to the dogmas proposed by the Church, Anathema Sit de Fide session 3, ch. 4, can. 3

[26] ‘Truth is no more immutable than man, since it evolved with him, in him, and through him’ condemned proposition 58

[27] Humani Generis 17

[28] Vatican I, Dei Filius, c.4

[28] in Pascendi 12

[28] in Humani Generis s.14, and in general 14-17

[28] Si quis dixerit, fieri posse, ut dogmatibus ab Ecclesia propositis aliquando secundum progressum scientiae sensus tribuendus sit alius ab eo, quem intellexit et intelligit Ecclesia, A.S. If any-one says that it can happen that another meaning that that which the Church has understood and understands, can at some time, according to the progress of science, be attributed to the dogmas proposed by the Church, Anathema Sit de Fide session 3, ch. 4, can. 3

[28] ‘Truth is no more immutable than man, since it evolved with him, in him, and through him’ condemned proposition 58

[28] Humani Generis 17

[28] Vatican I, Dei Filius, c.4