It is often suggested in “conservative” Catholic circles that the faithful – clergy and laity alike – are awaiting the day when a Roman Pontiff will provide all concerned with an official interpretation of the text of Vatican Council II.
In a 2013 interview with Michael Voris (before he shifted gears), for example, Bishop Athanasius Schneider expressed the necessity of a magisterial act, in light of conciliar ambiguities, that will “give us clear, very clear, interpretations of some very specific subjects.”
This wasn’t the first time he had made such a suggestion. In an address given in 2010, Bishop Schneider called for “a conciliar Syllabus with doctrinal value.”
He went on to say in this same address:
In the hermeneutical uproar of contrasting interpretations and in the confusion of pastoral and liturgical applications, the Council itself united with the Pope appears as the one authentic interpreter of the conciliar texts.
Like most things associated with “hermeneutic-of-continuity” conservatism, there is a gaping logical hole in Bishop Schneider’s clarion calls for conciliar clarity. Think of it as an elephant in the room that either he does not see, or dares not acknowledge … nay, make that four elephants in the room, each one wearing white – men by the names of Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis.
The contradiction in Bishop Schneider’s reasoning should be obvious enough:
On the one hand, he is entirely correct in saying that “the Council itself united with the Pope” is the solitary source of an “authentic” interpretation of the conciliar texts. In other words, he knows very well that the true meaning of the Council’s teachings will only be made known to us by the popes, and by extension, those who exercise authority in the Church in union with him.
The lacuna in his presentation, however, is simply this:
Each of the four aforementioned popes have already provided, and continue to provide, precisely what Bishop Schneider and others have been demanding.
Since the time of Council’s closing up to the present day, we have been given countless encyclicals, exhortations, constitutions, letters, and other documents of various sorts; along with allocutions, speeches, sermons and assorted reflections; complimented by any number of meetings, symposiums, liturgies and services courtesy of the popes (and those who serve in the Roman Curia at his pleasure) providing “clear, very clear, interpretations” of every single one of the most controversial portions of the conciliar texts.
Has it never occurred to our “conservative” friends that all of the above mentioned papal and Curial instruments are heavily, and at times exclusively, footnoted to the text of Vatican Council II and other post-conciliar so-called “magisterium” based largely upon the same?
Have they not read the inaugural Encyclical of Paul VI, Ecclesiam Suam, which in setting forth the direction of his papacy deferred countless times to the thrust of the Council; even as it was still in session?
The Ecumenical Council will give us new and profitable instructions, and we should be preparing ourselves even now to welcome them and to put them into effect. – Paul VI
Did they simply forget that the entire pontificate of John Paul II was specifically ordered on providing exactly the interpretation that they claim to await?
For me, then – who had the special grace of participating in it and actively collaborating in its development – Vatican II has always been, and especially during these years of my Pontificate, the constant reference point of my every pastoral action, in the conscious commitment to implement its directives concretely and faithfully at the level of each Church and the whole Church. – John Paul II
Do they not know that Benedict XVI made it the mission of his own pontificate to continue where his predecessor left off?
I too, as I start in the service that is proper to the Successor of Peter, wish to affirm with force my decided will to pursue the commitment to enact Vatican Council II… – Benedict XVI
Will they deny that Pope Francis has taken up the conciliar cause with renewed and unprecedented vigor?
The Council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit … But after 50 years, have we done everything that the Holy Spirit said to us in the Council? – Pope Francis
One of the reasons why conservatives imagine that we are still awaiting an “official” conciliar interpretation, I suspect, lies in the fact that nothing coming from Rome thus far relative to the Council’s novelties has been given to us in such way as to be binding.
On this point, they wait in vain. Why? Because the Council itself is non-binding.
As the note found in the Appendix of Lumen Gentium states:
Taking conciliar custom into consideration and also the pastoral purpose of the present Council, the sacred Council defines as binding on the Church only those things in matters of faith and morals which it shall openly declare to be binding.
As most readers of this space know very well, the Council openly declared exactly zero propositions as binding. The only things found in the conciliar text that can properly be considered as such are simply reiterations of that which was already binding on the faithful prior to the Council.
As for the conciliar novelties (i.e., the sources of controversy and confusion in the text), these things can never be presented as binding upon the faithful for the simple reason that they deviate from tradition.
As such, the most that the popes can do with respect to providing an “authentic interpretation” of these conciliar novelties is to make known their true meaning via the various instruments and activities previously named (encyclicals, exhortations, constitutions, letters … allocutions, speeches, sermons … complimented by any number of meetings, symposiums, liturgies, etc.)
At this, please allow me to provide a limited bullet point overview of the true meaning of certain conciliar novelties as made known with searing clarity by both the text of the Council itself, and the words and deeds of the popes who have reigned over the past fifty or so years:
Ecumenism: What does Unitatis Redintegratio truly mean?
Given that the communities of the heretics are henceforth considered “means of salvation” in themselves, and their liturgical services are now viewed as “engendering a life of grace” and “capable of giving access to the community of salvation,” it is no longer necessary to seek their conversion to the Holy Catholic Church. This realization opens the way for all manner of joint activities; even going so far as to celebrate the life of Martin Luther!
Interreligious Dialogue: What does Nostra Aetate truly mean?
Now that we understand that God made the Jews of today and the Gentile followers of Christ “one in Himself,” we are able to say that the salvation of the Jews is not at risk simply because they reject Jesus. As such, they are henceforth to be looked upon as “brothers,” and the Church for her part has no mission to convert them.
Come to think of it, the Church, while acknowledging in theory the mission of converting other non-Christians to Christ, shall henceforth place such primacy on dialogue as to prevent us from issuing any explicit invitations to conversion.
Collegiality: What does Lumen Gentium truly mean?
Since the bishops together with the pope govern the Church, it is well for the Church to assemble Synods of Bishops in order to facilitate agreement on essential matters of doctrine. It is also necessary to set in motion the conversion of the papacy, as well as the central structures of the universal Church, in such way as to acknowledge the doctrinal authority of the various episcopal conferences; a work that as yet remains to be done.
Liturgy: What does Sacrosanctum Concilium truly mean?
In recognition of our duty of foster whatever can promote union among all who believe in Christ (i.e., among Catholics and heretics), it is necessary for the Mass to conform as closely as possible to the liturgical actions and underlying theologies of the heretics. In practice, this means stripping the Rite of Mass of those elements that necessarily disturb the Protestant conscience; e.g., those sacred signs that point to the sacrificial nature of the Mass, the expiation of sin that is its purpose, the unique role of the priest, the Real Presence of Christ, etc.
The new rite must be made easily understood by all, even (and perhaps especially) non-Catholics. As such it shall adopt various cultural elements, including local language and music.
Religious Liberty: What does Dignitatis Humanae truly mean?
Though it has taken nearly two millennia, it now occurs to us that man has the right to choose, practice and change his religion at will, and this right endures even if he neglects the duty to seek religious truth. As such, the Church will stand with the Jews in defense of their right to reject Christ, likewise the Muslim, and even the atheist.
This necessarily means that the Social Kingship of Christ as taught in Quas Primas is no longer worthy of preaching.
I could go on, but hopefully the “very clear, interpretations” of the “very specific subjects” given above will suffice.
Bear in mind, they don’t come from me; rather, these interpretations have been made perfectly plain in the words and deeds of the post-conciliar popes and the bishops who rule in union with them.
Indeed, it can be said that these popes have performed impeccably as “authentic interpreters of the conciliar texts;” leaving precious little room for confusion as to what they truly mean.
This being the case, we do not await, as our “conservative” friends maintain, a pope who will provide an authentic interpretation of Vatican II; we await the glorious day when a pope will condemn it!
As one Polemicist in Ferndale, MI put it that the SSPX is in Schism because they do not agree with these particular Vatican II Documents:
If my disagreement with these Particular Documents mean anything, well SSPX and I are in Schism with THAT Polemicist, his Chief Financial Backer, all those “Cub Reporters” & the rest of that crew. Almost 2000 Years of Catholic Teaching & Truth is Denied & replaced with The Contrary, as well as other Neo Catholics & other Dissenters. The Catholic Church in the Latin Rite of 1969, in NO WAY, resembles the Latin Rite, prior to. Vatican II.
In Sacrosanctum Concilium, where it called for detatching the Altar from the Wall, I will say this to all “The Neo Cats”, that what is called The Novus Ordo Mass, comes from this Vatican II Document. There is no denying it.
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was Right.
The only group that continues to insist that there are irregularities in the SSPX, are the FSSP and the indult people. The FSSP was formed to sabotage the SSPX. When that didn’t work, JPII released his fraudulent 1988 decree, Ecclesia Dei.
What do they say: “A tree is known by it’s fruit?” Nothing more to be said.
Thanks for giving us this perspective, Louie. I guess it’s like waiting for that other shoe to drop – but it’s already dropped – or there IS no other shoe…
Looking back, as you have, we can see this very clear message: this is it; we are living VII out; what they promised they delivered. Is that why Francis smiles so much? The reality is that Francis is happy – because what he (and others) dreamed of is coming true – the fruits of Vatican II have ripened.
Just this afternoon I told a loved one that I felt I was living in a nightmare – O when will I wake up? Well, it’s no nightmare, and there is no waking up.
Yeah, even Francis is saying SSPX is okay. Problem is SSPX seems to be saying Francis/VC2 is okay. After reading this post, do you accept 95% of the Council?
I could say there’s a lot of good things that Vatican II stated but I would add this from Archbishop Lefebvre:
“… it is nonetheless certain that the Council was deflected from its purposes by a group of conspirators and that it is impossible for us to take any part in this conspiracy despite the fact that there may be many satisfactory declarations in Vatican II. The good texts have served as cover to get those texts which are snares, equivocal, and denuded of meaning, accepted and passed.”
A hearty AMEN! to that last line my friend.
As much as I am inclined to agree, there is an issue with the quotation regarding the degree of authority the council has. Not only did it say that it “defines” what is explicitly said to be binding, but also: “The rest of the things which the sacred Council sets forth, inasmuch [utpote] as they are the teaching of the Church’s supreme magisterium, ought to be accepted and embraced by each and every one of Christ’s faithful according to the mind of the sacred Council.”
The Latin term utpote means “since, namely, seeing that, inasmuch as”. I’m therefore led to believe the council was referring to dogmatic definitions by the first quote, but not in such a way as to say the rest was not binding.
Outstanding. You just put 50+ years of nonsense into 4 pages of clarity. May I suggest you do the same for “Modernism/Modernist” heresy. It would be a true service to everyone. A lot of moving parts that can take an inordinate amount of time to get to become conversant and comfortable with.
Are you not forgetting the ordinary, universal magisterium–which is both infallible and must be obeyed? The only way that the last 50 years are not binding is if the popes leading the Church do not have authority.
The Pope (the Visible Head of the Church) only has authority when he is in conformity with Christ (the Invisible Head).
That’s all well and good, but when you are bound to obey heresy and apostasy, what does it say about those binding us in Christ’s name? What’s the point of a pope if he’s not guaranteed to have unassailable faith? Why not just be an Eastern Orthodox? Is the pope just an empty figurehead who has to tow the party line?
Dear Sister in Christ, let us continually offer up this horrific experience for reparation for the offences against God from the Church, especially theraders.
Nothing that conflicts with the fixed Deposit of Faith is from God, but rather of the Devil, and must be rejected.
The pope can uphold the Deposit of Faith or attack it. The Catholic Faith never contradicts itself.
One is bound to keep the unchanging Faith, thereby always rejecting heresy. The Catholic Faith supports reason.
As much as I recoil from Pope Francis (he gives me the heebie-jeebies), I still recognize him as the head of the Church founded by our Lord. I pray for him. I don’t feel I am bound to endorse what he preaches. I stick with the catechism. In this sea of modern societal squalor it’s a bonus if a pope is holy and wise. Most of the hierarchy are corrupt as well. But we cling to the Barque.
A pope would stop being a pope if he contradicted the faith as he would stop being Catholic, just as you or I would.
Yes, Lynda we must do that. But I’m starting to re-think my participation on this blog, and others. I am listening to a talk given by Bishop Fellay just after the March for Life (Link to follow). He said something that made me think. I’ll paraphrase: God makes law. Because He is all knowing, He foresees every single circumstance under which we labour trying to apply His law. And He still wants us to obey. In other words, there are no excuses, no telling Him that this was a special case, or we couldn’t obey a particular law because of this or that. Bishop Fellay said this will bring pain, tears, suffering etc. as we struggle to obey – but the reward for this suffering in obedience is Heaven.
So when we come up against Jesus telling us that the second greatest Commandment (Law) is that we are to love our neighbours as we love ourselves, I can’t wiggle out and say “well, yes, Lord, but you know how important it is to bring all the bad things Francis is doing into the light of day, and how important it is for me to put forward my opinions on all of this – to publicly wonder if he is insane, or evil or whatever.”
No. I, personally, am starting to feel that it’s all been said. The criticism just does not feel right anymore. I know Michael Voris has vowed never to criticize Francis, but then he daily hammers bishops, by name. So he doesn’t get it either.
If it’s correct that Our Lord knows every single circumstance that we are living through with this crisis, and yet still wants us to obey His second most important Commandment, how can we resist?
I’d like your thoughts on this, Lynda.
Here’s the link to Bishop Fellay’s talk after the March for Life. The part I talk about above is around the 10 minute mark I think, but the whole thing is worthwhile. This Bishop actually teaches! Wonderful, no matter what one thinks about the SSPX.
Let me break it down for you:
The ordinary and universal magisterium cannot teach error
The ordinary and universal magisterium cannot bind people to evil disciplines
Vatican II, the Novus Ordo, and fifty years of encyclicals, Bulls, etc clearly meet the conditions for being in the ordinary and universal magisterium
These things are evil and heretical
This means that the authority of the popes and bishops are called into question.
Yes, it is reasonable. So why do people ignore that fact that Paul VI madeVatican II a part of the solemn magisterium? Why do people pretend that unless a pole speaks ex cathedra something cannot be infallible or bind the faithful?
Louie, you ought to write and publish an annotated edition of the 16 documents of Vatican II highlighting (either in red or in yellow hi-lighter) all those sections that are —- to use your very own words —“polluted with ambiguities, contradictions and outright errors.”
Not to take anything away from your reporting and research in this useful and timely web site, but by doing so you could be leaving not only a tremendous legacy, but a tool for future scholars and theologians, and maybe even for a Pope or two to condemn outright the documents.
Of course, but the point was that the Council seems to nevertheless inter them to be binding.
Alarico- I highly recommend Roberto de Mattei’s “The Second Vatican Council–An Unwritten Story”. He doesn’t leave a stone unturned in his very thorough study of the documents of the Second Vatican Council.
inspired by Mr. Verrecchio, I have purchased the 2010 Lindau s.r.l. Italian edition of Mr. de Mattei’s fine work. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet — I have my own demons to fight.
However, I still believe an annotated dissection of the documents of Vatican II, calling out directly all the ambiguities and errors from the very documents themselves would be an excellent tool for orthodox and traditional Catholics, especially for the upcoming internal wars of the Church, which now seem inevitable.
Since the documents are the blueprint of the “cesspool of all heresies”, I would envision each passage hi-lighting a certain heresy or ambiguity being designated a distinct colour. And for those ambiguities that are pregnant with a legion of heresies and ambiguities, perhaps a rainbow colour would be apropos.
Alarico–Your term “cesspool of all heresies” is very appropriate. I could think of only one truly authentic source for the ambiguous and confusing language of Vat2–Lucifer, the Father of Lies. This is the infestation of diabolical disorientation of which Our Lady spoke. This would be a monumental task for Louie. May God give him the graces and inspiration to do this. We must support Mr. V with our prayers.
yes, it would be a monumental task, but he need not write it alone. Allot to each orthodox theologian a specific heresy or a specific VII document. There must be qualified theologians well versed in VII documents who would join in on the monumental task.
In the meantime, Louie, as a precursor, why not join forces with Regnery Publishing and write a book entitled, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Vatican II.
You’d be in good company with guys like Anthony Esolen and Thomas Woods. I’d certainly buy such a book.
Dear Barbara, I’ll listen to Bishop Fellay’s talk soon, DV. There is no conflict, objectively, between obeying God and renouncing and denouncing objective, grave and public (flagrant) evils being publicly done by Pope Francis. In fact, in many circumstances, we need to be quite explicit and stern about this in order not to mislead or scandalise or corrupt the Faith or morals of others that we have a responsibility to (or contribute to same). For example, priests and parents have a positive duty to guard their charges from this most pernicious evil. For some persons, in some circumstances, it may not be necessary to make positive denunciations, but we all must actually reject the many objective falsehoods that he promotes, and make it clear that we do not accept these objective evils. Evil is evil no matter whence it comes or who is responsible for a particular instance of it. Such necessary rejections or denunciations must be done with honesty, humility, for the love of God, and for the good of the Church and all souls, and every attempt made to avoid sinning, as at all times. It is most terrible, and one shudders at the terribleness. How we all wish we weren’t living through this. Yet, most of us do not make the sacrifices necessary to become better persons and strive for the holiness to which we are called. We need to work at praying more, sacrificing more and constantly begging for the graces to become holy and to assist in others converting and striving for holiness.
When we see denunciation of objective evil from Francis used as an excuse for sinful behaviour, we ought to condemn this, of course, and avoid same.
Many sincerely-practising Catholics (whether or not labouring under objective errors) do not even have access to a faithful priest or bishop. Truly, an horrific and unprecedented situation.
Thank God that we can communicate in some manner with other sincere Catholics on some internet fora. So many do not have contact with such Catholics in their everyday life. May these Internet meetings aid people to grow in the Faith and in virtue, and perhaps lead people to finding true communities of the Catholic Church, with a priest that does his duty towards his congregation.
Sorry about the lack of coherence – I’m not well enough to think or communicate well.
May God bless and protect you and your family and grant you the grace of final perseverence.
Great link. Thank you, Lynda.
Not nuclear physics is it. But protestants, especially Novus Ordo, know ‘better’. It’s a case of feelings over reason and dimmitude over Faith.
Fr. Malachi Martin maintained that Pope John Paul II should have interpreted Vatican II in light of tradition, but never did. If that even were possible, now we’re way beyond it, as Louie keeps documenting. I’ve been reading the Old Testament history books on how the Chosen People’s faithlessness was punished severely by God. Even the small remnant still faithful to God was punished with their brethren. The Old Covenant was replaced by the New Covenant of the Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church (and only the Catholic Church). As then, so today.