22 November 2017

"They have uncrowned Him" (3)

When we turn from C S Lewis and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre to the texts of Vatican II, I do not think we find a contradiction. In Nostra aetate the Council declared: "The Catholic Church rejects nothing which is true and holy in these religions". So far, it is in agreement with Lewis and Lefebvre; as it is when it goes on to say that the ethics and teachings of these religions "often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, [the Church] proclaims and must ever proclaim Christ, 'the way, the truth, and the life, in whom men find the fulness of religious life, and in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself'".

I propose now to speak frankly about the Second Holy Ecumenical Council of the Vatican.
(1) With regard even to infallible definitions of dogma by Ecumenical Councils and Roman Pontiffs, it is a commonplace that, while we are bound to accept them as of Divine Faith, we are not necessarily obliged to accept, on the same authority, the arguments which are offered to us in support of a dogma; or the prudential considerations which led to its definition. A fortiori, the same limitations apply to the documents of Vatican II. Because ...
(2) Vatican II, in any case, was not a Council which proposed infallibly any dogmas (except those which were already de fide by virtue of the previous Magisterium, such as the Immaculate Conception and Bodily Assumption of the Mother of God, the immorality of procured abortions, etc., etc., etc..). And ...
(3) Vatican II professed to be a pastoral Council. It is a statement of the obvious that pastoral needs (and implied audiences) can vary toto caelo between one generation and another, so that the pastoral observations of the Council will not be expected to speak as directly to successive generations as they might have done to the first half of the 1960s. Conciliar documents Of Vatican II, very helpfully, themselves made this clear by referring to mundus hodierni temporis or the like; and the very document we are now considering makes the same point by its programmatic opening words Nostra aetate.

In the context of these observations, I can only say that, as far as I can see, this Decree of the Council deals with a subject of some complexity with an almost scandalously cheerful brevity. And it is woefully over-optimistic. For example, it addresses an implied audience of non-Christians who are keenly and with goodwill open to a positive evaluation by us of their own religions. It does not - for example - address a world (such as our world) in which very many who profess thus to understand their own faith see themselves as engaged in a Holy War to exterminate, by death or by conversion, those who hold our One True Catholic Faith. Accordingly, I regard as distinctively time-conditioned ... well past their sell-by dates ... passages such as "She [the Church] looks with sincere respect upon those ways of conduct and of life, those rules and teachings which, though differing in many particulars from what she holds and sets forth ...". And it is not so much the actual words of the Council which embarrass me as, firstly, its failure to give us some well-chosen observations about the errors of false religions; secondly, its failure to give any guidance as to how we are to reconcile its new teaching with its own statement that the earlier Magisterium remains fully in force; and, thirdly, what I might venture to call its body-language - what it seems at first sight to be saying ... until one looks more carefully.

To be continued.


12 comments:

Rose Marie said...

In the 1980s I complained about the "renewal" that was being foisted on us in the "spirit of Vatican II." I couldn't find that the abandonment of Latin, Gregorian chant, catechetics, confession, doctrine in sermons, devotions such as Benediction, and many other Catholic practices was recommended in the documents of Vatican II. I was told cheerfully to relax, that the real impact of a council is not seen for 50 years.

So now it has been 50 years and we are in worse shape than ever. I guess that is the real impact. I agree with our host that Vatican II should be seen as an overly-optimistic, even naïve expression of 1960s zeitgeist and put on the curiosities shelf. Then let's get back to the authentic Liturgy and Magisterium.

Mike Hurcum said...

Wake up Catholics of every persuasion. Look properly at what is happening. The Roman fifth column is now out in the open. Council of Trent is about to be taken off the books and the sacraments are to be set aside for some kind of occult ecumenism

Prayerful said...

If this 'renewal' isn't reversed, Catholics will go the way of the Dodo, apart from those people who hear Masses in the chapels of Traditional priestly societies or the Ordinariate. Some of vanguard liberal element want a Vatican III, which would finish the Church as a visible society. The cataclysmic collapse in the numbers of priests, nuns and Massgoers is blamed on cultural change, or something equally vague and meaningless. The latest appointments to the Congregation for Divine Worship do include some who have said the Mass of All Time, but no one supportive of Cardinal Sarah's idea of trying to make the New Mass fit in with Tradition. Sad.

Ben said...

'Dominus Iesus' (CDF, 2000), which Fr Hunwicke referred to earlier, is a statement we need to make more use of. A few of its statements:

'It cannot be overlooked that other rituals, insofar as they depend on superstitions or other errors (cf. 1 Cor 10:20-21), constitute an obstacle to salvation.' (21)

'If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation.' (22)

'Equality, which is a presupposition of inter-religious dialogue, refers to the equal personal dignity of the parties in dialogue, not to doctrinal content, nor even less to the position of Jesus Christ — who is God himself made man — in relation to the founders of the other religions. Indeed, the Church, guided by charity and respect for freedom, must be primarily committed to proclaiming to all people the truth definitively revealed by the Lord, and to announcing the necessity of conversion to Jesus Christ and of adherence to the Church through Baptism and the other sacraments, in order to participate fully in communion with God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.' (22)

Banshee said...

Of course you couldn't find it in the documents of Vatican II. Those documents recommended the use of chant as the default form of church music, and called on all parishes to make sure that all parishioners knew how to chant the responses and congregational parts in Latin. They also recommended the use of the vernacular Mass as only a special treat at certain big events.

Liberals only followed the documents they found convenient, in the ways they found convenient or could twist into convenience.

Jovan-Marya Weismiller, T.O.Carm. said...

Thank you, Father! Both C.S. Lewis and Msgr Lefebvre are favourites of mine. I link to your blog on mine, and I plan on sharing this series, with links, when you complete it.

Cosmos said...

Banshee,

A "recommendation" to keep doing what has been done for centuries and was considered, in most ways, sancrosanct, is more significant than you suggest. Leaving almost everything open to change, even where that change was discouraged or the status quo praised, is a big deal.

Made up analogy:
"The Holy Church has always recognized the superiority of monogamy, especially as it fosters that total gift of the self which is the hallmark of the Christian life. For this reason, monogamous relationships between one man and one woman should continue to be the norm throughout the Church, and should take pride of place over any alternative arrangements, as authorized by the local ordinary in limited and appropriate circumstances."

El Codo said...

Father.It is so easy to paint a picture of the pre Vatican 2 Church as some sort of Garden of Eden from which we have all now been expelled.People forget the gabbling Irishmen who boasted of getting through the Mass in 17 minutes. Our Blessed,once again,hit bulls’ eye:”Theology is the saying and unsaying,to a positive effect”.

Sadie Vacantist said...

In fifty years time this whole era will be annulled. The teachings of the Council declared no longer binding. How can you host a council in country 'X' which is a protectorate of country 'Y' and from which it is receiving bail outs? If this were a marriage, a canon lawyer would annul it in less than ten minutes.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"How can you host a council in country 'X' which is a protectorate of country 'Y' and from which it is receiving bail outs?"

You refer to Vatican being at the time protectorate of Italy (unlike when Vatican Council started in Papal States in 1869 and was interrupted when Italy invaded)?

William Tighe said...


"You refer to Vatican being at the time protectorate of Italy (unlike when Vatican Council started in Papal States in 1869 and was interrupted when Italy invaded)?"

More likely (I think) the insinuation is Italy as the protectorate of the United States, etc.

rick allen said...

"Vatican II, in any case, was not a Council which proposed infallibly any dogmas (except those which were already de fide by virtue of the previous Magisterium, such as the Immaculate Conception and Bodily Assumption of the Mother of God, the immorality of procured abortions, etc., etc., etc..)....Vatican II professed to be a pastoral Council."

Certainly not everything propounded by Vatican II was dogmatic in nature. But insofar as the pope and his brother bishops promulgated two "dogmatic constitutions," one on the Church, the other on revelation, I don't see how one can simply dismiss the council as "pastoral."

"[T]he documents of Vatican II....recommended the use of chant as the default form of church music, and called on all parishes to make sure that all parishioners knew how to chant the responses and congregational parts in Latin. They also recommended the use of the vernacular Mass as only a special treat at certain big events."

This is entirely accurate, and makes me continue to scratch my head about why those who style themselves "traditionalists," instead of working to promote the actual teaching of the council, seem to be working overtime--at least from the evidence of the internet--on trashing the council and sneering at the pope.