Saturday, August 25, 2012


My comment first: I reprint dominic's comment from the last post. While he raises interesting objections, I firmly believe that ecumenical council and papal authority are foundational to Catholicism. Does he undermine both and is there another way to suggest reform, question and fomment discussion in a realistic direction? And isn't Pope Benedict the role model for this critique and reform of Vatican II? I report, you decide!

dominic1955 has left a new comment on your post "LET'S GET REAL ABOUT VATICAN II AND THE REFORM OF ...":

Also, I see no point in insisting upon a "reform" in the same way Sacrosanctum Concilium said. That was what was voted on in the Council back in the '60s. Hindsight being 20/20, I think it is best to preserve rather than tinker at this point. The people who wrote Sacrosanctum Concilium were diaticists and antiquarians-precisely the people who should never be given any sort of role whatsoever in any liturgical reform. The Pauline Missal is an amalgamation of faddish Liturgical Movement antiquarianisms mixed with New Theology didacticism. The expanded lectionary, the mutilated and disjointed prayers, the need to have added "eucharistic prayers" and all sorts of other things violates all liturgical orthopraxis and falls into the predictable camp of the Aufklarung Catholicism of late 18th/early 19th Century Germany, the Jansenists, Josephists, Neo-Gallicans, and Protestants.

Heteropraxis has become so widespread in the Latin Church that it is ridiculous, to the point in which many of us have come to believe that papal fiat is what makes something orthodox or not. It should be burned onto the heart and mind of every proper Catholic that the liturgy is not a project to mess with for each passing age to make it "our own". The liturgy is traditio-we need simply to pass on what we have received. Any alterations that should be made will take care of themselves, the work of progressivist egg head committees is the culmination of what Gueranger called the "anti-liturgical heresy".


Vox Cantoris said...

I agree completely.

The Pauline reform was not an infallible action and it has been an abject failure.

I do not question its validity and I work in both the OF and EF, but the only true Reform of the Reform is an elmination of the current Novus Ordo and its replacement with the Mass of 1965 as the OF with the EF always remaining.

Anonymous 5 said...

As one of the stronger critics of VII, I'll first note most emphatically that I agree with your statement that "I firmly believe that ecumenical council and papal authority are foundational to Catholicism." I will also presume to speak for Marc on this point. When we criticize VII, that point should be kept in mind. Definitely keep it in mind as you read this post.

But VII itself either reflected or ushered in a more contextual approach to magisterial statements--that they should be read not just textually, but contextually. Marc and I both work with authoritative words and documents for a living, and one of the things we accept as a matter of course is that there are different levels of authority (as well as pseudo-authoritative statements and acts that have what we would call the "color of authority"). The Magisterium itself recognizes this in the different levels of assent required to its different "levels": Full assent of faith vs. obsequium religiosum.

The problem that Marc and I have with VII is that it contains statements that we cannot reasonably reconcile with the centuries of unquestionably authoritative doctrinal and magisterial pronouncements that preceded it. This is not a matter of subtlety: we can't manage this reconciliation because the statements in question, on their face, flatly and expressly contradict what the Church has taught for centuries. And we are far from being the only ones who see this problem.

Compounding this problem is the fact that, other than vague references to the hermeneutic of continuity, the hierarchy has--for two generations now--failed (or refused) to tell us or show us how to effect such a reconciliation. Instead, in many documents the hierarchy seems to have dispensed with all pre-VII authority except for scripture itself. Case in point: the voluminous footnotes to the CCC cite almost exclusively to VII and the Bible. What about the other 20 or so councils? What about pre-VII bulls, encyclicals, apostolic letters? None of this reflects any sort of hermeneutic of continuity that we can discern. So the hierarchy doesn't even seem to be practicing what it preaches re continuity.

Further, re preaching vs. practicing, the hierarchy is largely accepting of modernist (i.e., heretical) trends within the Church. Don't talk to me about the LCWR discipline or Summorum Pontificum: such things are noteworthy because they're exceptional. I'll see your Summorum Pontificum and raise you a Protestant-influenced NO, the practical disappearance of the use of excommunications, the near-universal refusal to discipline modernist priests and bishops, and almost-total silence on contraception from 1969 until late 2011, among many, many others. During this time excommunication has been largely reserved for those who have attempted to be faithful to all of the councils prior to VII. This quiescence towards the modernist cancer casts a pall over VII because it shows, in practice, anything but continuity.

(to be continued)

Anonymous 5 said...

part 2:

I am very aware that my appeal to reasonable interpretation echoes Luther's statement at Worms that he wouldn't (or couldn't) accept a doctrine unless it could be proved either by scripture or "plain reason." But I do think that there are major differences between Luther and me. First, unlike Luther, I believe the Catholic faith to be reasonable one, and so largely comprehensible to reason (I don't here speak of the mysteries of the faith, of course). The problem is that the current hierarchy isn't using any. it's just acting and dictating in ways contrary to centuries of Catholic teaching and practice. It is dismissing my concerns without answering them.

Second, also unlike Luther, I stand ready to submit my judgment to the Magisterium, particularly if my analysis in this post is itself in error. The problem is that the hierarchy is obstinately refusing to provide guidance in how to reconcile VII with all previous councils, and in that vacuum, I am forced--literally forced, given my belief in the reasonableness of the Faith--to apply my own reason to solve the problems raised by VII, and that reason says that VII contradicts earlier doctrine. The only possible conclusions are that a) the Church has taught error, which as a Catholic (and unlike Luther) I cannot accept, and b) VII does not rise to the magisterial level, a position which popes have provided some authority for. Until the Church reconciles VIi and pre-VII, I choose to teke approach b.

Under that approach, dominic1955's historico-critical analysis is entirely legitimate. If tradition is authoritative, one who radically changes that tradition bears a heavy burden to show that those changes are in fact in accord with that tradition. And I don't think anyone here--other than Pater--is prepared to argue that tradition has not been radically changed in the last 40 years, in substance as well as form.

This doesn't mean that I reject as useless, or even unauthoritative, everything VII said. Pastoral statements may be useful and even authoritative without being doctrinal. If Fr. McD (or for that matter BXVI) orders me under holy obedience to run windsprints for a half-hour, I can accept the authority of that order without acknowledging that it is a doctrinal pronouncement.

Here I stand. I'll do other just as soon as Holy Mother Church tells me how to do it.

John Nolan said...

Dominic is absolutely spot-on in his analysis. I would defy any objectively-minded person to dispute any of the points he has made - it is blindingly obvious. I have sometimes used SC as a weapon against liturgical progressives, but this is because they are always citing Vatican II as the authority for their distortions.

It has to be said from the start that SC is a thoroughly ambiguous and dishonest document. Those who drafted it had an agenda; they wanted to cut the Curia down to size (the reasons for this must be sought in the then-recent past - the Second World War had ended a mere seventeen years earlier) and the destruction of the Roman Rite was seen as essential to this aim.

If you strip away the pious platitudes from SC you can discern two elements; a conservative foreground (retention of Latin, fostering of Chant, no changes unless demonstrably necessary &c)and a background scheme of far-reaching reform with an almost breathless urgency about it.

Within a year of Paul VI's signing it off there appeared the decree Inter Oecumenici (1964). Those who think the 1965 'rite' was 'the reform the Council intended' should revisit this document and read it carefully. It is nothing short of revolutionary, and makes it clear that the changes it demands are interim ones, pending a 'Novus Ordo Missae'.

The decree Tres Abhinc Annos (1967) delivered the coup de grace to the already mutilated Roman Rite. Few people seem to mention this, but it allowed the Canon to be recited aloud in the vernacular and stripped it of the gestures which had accompanied it for at least a millennium - there was henceforth to be only one sign of the cross and two genuflections. The altar was to be kissed only at the beginning and end of Mass. Most significantly, the Communion rite was altered to merge the priest's Communion with that of the faithful.

Add to this changes in vesture, orientation, music and ars celebrandi (the last two principally due to the vernacular which had completely ousted Latin in most parishes by 1967) and you have a complete revolution in under four years. In retrospect an astonishing achievement. And the Novus Ordo, Communion in the hand, EMHC, female servers et al. were still in the future (in most places at least).

Any historian will tell you that successful revolutions are nearly always imposed from above, and this one was no exception. Pius X did a lot of tinkering with the liturgy, not always with happy results, but when asked to make a minor change in the Canon of the Mass was supposed to have said "I can't do that - I'm only the Pope".

Benedict XVI has identified the disintegration of the liturgy as being the main cause of the current crisis. However, he cannot be seen to repudiate the actions of one of his recent predecessors, unlike the ninth-century pope who disinterred the body of his predecessor and put it on trial as a heretic and schismatic.

Carol H. said...

Paul VI himself admitted, “Through some crack the smoke of Satan has entered into the temple of God.”

The Church should not be squeemish about identifying and sealing that crack. It is time to begin the healing process and to remove the smoke damage.

Henry Edwards said...

tSurely it's a red herring to speak of "repudiation" of the Council in trying to correct the disastrous consequences of Vatican II, whether they be the results of improper implementation, or of the ambiguity of its documents (whether duplicitous or not), or both.

Plainly, some of its prudential decisions--however appropriate they may have seemed at the time--are no longer relevant now in a completely different era, with utterly different problems requiring solution. (One need only read some of the Council's documents to see how dated some seem now, how bound they are to a world and Church that (for better or worse) are no longer with us.

So even one who is utterly committed to the magisterium of the Church, and who has no particular "problem" with the Council, can and should recognize in the light of forty years of subsequent experience, that some of its recommendations, whether or not they were properly implemented then, are inapplicable or irrelevant now. Vatican II is hardly the first ecumenical council to be superceded by subsequent events (including some of its own making).

In particular, in regard to the liturgy, although Sacrosanctum Concilium--however duplicitous its provenance as a document crafted by liturgical activists for approval by traditional bishops--demands respect as a statement of the ordinary magisterium in that now distant era, we now can hardly fail to see that some of its recommendations have led the Church far into the weeds. Others may still be applicable and therefore deserve to be implemented in continuity with the tradition that virtually all the Council fathers represented.

It is not this "hermeneutic of continuity"--as expressed by Pope Benedict, I take it--that repudiates Vatican II. Rather, it was a rogue concilium that, in commandeering its implementation, effectively repudiated the Council in the area of the liturgy (as did others in other areas). Its actions were validated (and its new liturgy legitimized) by Pope Paul VI--apparently having been convinced that the Novus Ordo was needed to forestall worse chaos--but he is far from the first pope in history to make a tragic prudential error of judgment.

Respect for Vatican II, if nothing else requires rectification of the previously unfathomable disaster that followed it (where in direct or indirect consequence).

Henry Edwards said...

Perhaps pertinent is an article in the 8/23/2012 edition of The Wanderer about a response by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei to two dubia regarding the meaning of the word "legitimate" of article 19 of Universae Ecclesiae, which requires acceptance of the ordinary form as "valid and legitimate".

The reply apparently says that one who accepts the validity of the OF need only accept its legitimacy in ecclesiastical law, not necessarily in divine law. This implies one is permitted to regard the OF as a rite as valid and legitimate in the law of the Church, but still regard some of its tolerated common practices--e.g., altar girls, communion in the hand--as doctrinally unorthodox or otherwise displeasing to God. (A possible inference being that one can accept Vatican II while rejecting some of its apparent consequences?)

The precise language of the dubia and response is technical. I can provide a copy to anyone to writes to me at h DOT edwards AT mindspring DOT com

rcg said...

There are two points I would make here: First that I whole heartedly agree with dominc1955 especially in his statement that we simply need to pass on what we receive. If it is not understood by us, or 'relevant', or any other sort of subject problem then it is we who are in need of revision.

Secondly, it seems to me that the best that can be said about V-II and the attendant missives, e.g. SC et al, is that they are very poor instructions. Worst case, they are confusing and present obstacles to faith.

Anonymous 2 said...

Prompted especially by Anon 5’s very clear and eloquent statement of his position, I have been doing a bit more research on Vatican II today and confirming yet again my own ignorance and lack of qualification to reach any kind of informed judgment about whether, and to what extent, Vatican II is, or is not, consistent with prior Tradition. This confirms, yet again also, my conviction that such matters are, as I customarily express it, “above my pay grade,” and that all I can do, therefore, is to defer to the Magisterium, whose members, I assume, are properly trained to determine such matters. (I fully accept, of course, that other commentators on this Blog may not share my own ignorance and lack of qualification in such matters.)

Thus, yet again, I take no sides on the issues under discussion in this thread. I do offer the following two items, however, both to help explain why I feel unqualified to address these matters and as some evidence that Anon. 5 may not be totally correct in contending that “the hierarchy is obstinately refusing to provide guidance in how to reconcile VII with all previous councils.” My sense is that the hierarchy is, as Houston would say, “working the problem.” Given the obvious complexities involved, and speaking personally, I am content to leave it to them to do so:

I am sure there must be other, better documents and commentaries that can make the same point, but these two commentaries offer a glimpse of the complexities. If I understand correctly, one complexity, for example, seems to be created by the fact that Pope Benedict prefers Augustine to Aquinas, and this preference informs his approach to various VII issues. This then raises for me the question: What happens if the next Pope has the reverse preference?

All that said, I do still think it is helpful for those on different sides of the issues to ask the sorts of questions I raised in a recent comment: What are the deepest values informing our disparate standards and/or disparate applications of those standards, and our worries and concerns, as we consider Vatican II? What is REALLY at stake here? Can we agree on these values? Or at least identify more precisely where we disagree, if we disagree, at this deepest level? Might this point a way forward?

John Nolan said...

What, then, are we to make of the post-Conciliar Mass or more specifically the Novus Ordo Missae promulgated by Paul VI, the genesis of which is quite fully documented in the writings of Bugnini and others? A similar question might be asked about the changes to the Roman Ritual, but this would require a separate thread.
1. Its validity is not in doubt, provided there are no defects in its actual celebration. By 1968 there was already widespread liturgical experimentation and abuse (100 unauthorized Eucharistic Prayers were circulating in France). Liturgical abuse is a separate issue.
2. Not only is it the normative form of Mass in the Latin Church, it is the only form of Mass which most Catholics know, and countless people have derived spiritual benefit from it.
3. Referring to it as the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is misleading. It is a new departure, and was seen as such at the time of its promulgation. It needs to be judged on its own terms. It follows the outline of the Roman Rite but differs from it in too many details to be regarded as a development of it. EP III is a well-constructed anaphora but was written by Fr Cipriano Vagaggini to replace the Roman Canon (which Vagaggini objected to for a number of reasons).
4. The movers and shakers in the post-Conciliar Church decided that the Roman Rite was no longer fit for purpose and replaced it with something else. Paradoxically this has had the effect of preserving the Roman Rite in its last definitive edition, that of 1962.

Pater Ignotus said...

Vox - No "reform" of the mass is infallible. Liturgical norms and rubrics are, by their very nature, alterable.

Anon 5 - Just because YOU cannot reconcile statements of Vat 2 with prior teaching doesn't mean that it can't be reconciled. Is it possible that the lack of understanding lies with you, rather than with Vat 2?

Anon 2 - It is not necessary that a Pope-To-Come might have a "reverse" approach. It is likely, though, that he will have a different approach.

John - Pope Benedict refers to the OF as one of two forms of the Roman Rite. Is it possible (Is it likely) that he knows more about this and understand more about this than you?

Joseph Johnson said...

I had never heard about Fr. Cipriano Vagaggini so I looked him up and read an article about his criticisms of the Roman Canon as it is in the '62 Missal. It appears that his main criticism is that it is disjointed and is not well organized, from the standpoint of logical thought processes and in terms of what it references at different points in the prayer (such as referring to the bread and wine as a "sacrifice" before they are transubstantiated into Christ's Body and Blood.

While I can understand and appreciate his criticisms from the standpoint of writing well with organization of thought, it would never occur to me to see a need to edit and critique a centuries old prayer which is the heart of the Catholic Mass. It is something which is venerable and sacred by long usage and it seems so typically "modern" to think that we should now edit and reorganize something (as one would in organizing his thoughts in a term paper or legal brief) that should simply be received and used without criticism or question.

Jacob said...

Add me to the crowd that thinks Dominic is right. The novus ordo is a creation of Bugnini. Reforming it is like worrying about redecorating the Titanic.

John Nolan said...

@Joseph Johnson

Vagaggini didn't quite get his own way, as Paul VI put the In spiritu humilitatis and Orate Fratres, with their references to sacrifice, back into the Offertory and insisted on the retention of the Roman Canon (with only slight modifications) as an option.

@ Pater Ignotus

Those who opposed Summorum Pontificum complained that the idea of having two forms of the same Rite was unprecedented. However, the Holy Father needed to stress that the Mass is the same, whichever books were used, hence the rather novel terminology. However, when we talk of the Roman Rite we don't simply mean the rite currently used and approved by Rome. Joseph Gelineau, one of Bugnini's acolytes, knew what he was talking about when he said in 1967: "Let us be clear about this, the Roman Rite as we know it is no more. It has been destroyed".

Anonymous 5 said...

Pater: In answer to you statements "Just because YOU cannot reconcile statements of Vat 2 with prior teaching doesn't mean that it can't be reconciled. Is it possible that the lack of understanding lies with you, rather than with Vat 2?"

I submit the following.

First, as I noted in my first post, and contrary to your attempt to subjectivise my lack of understanding, it isn't just me. The opinions I voiced are very widely held.

Second: No, I don't think it possible that the lack of understanding lies with me unless the authors of the VII documents were deliberately using words in an obfuscatory sense. As an example, compare the two following sentences:

"This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom." (Dignitatis Humanae no. 2).

"This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone." (Mirari Vos no. 14).

But if I am wrong about this, and the lack of understanding is mine, then all the more reason for the Church to correct and enlighten me. It refuses to do that.

Third, your statement is precisely the sort of useless commentary that the hierarchy has provided for two generations. So I have a request to you.

a) Please read my following blog post:

b) Address your choice of any one of the four issues I list there (religious liberty as discussed in Dignitatis Humanae no. 2, the nature of the Church as discussed in discussed in Lumen Gentium no. 8, ecuminism as discussed in Lumen Gentium no. 8 and Unitatis Redintegratio no. 3, and collegiality as discussed in Lumen Gentium no. 22 together with Nota praevia no. 3).

c) Reconcile for me the VII language regarding the issue you have chosen with the relevant papal and conciliar documents I have provided links to in the above blog post.

This is an entirely honest request on my part and I have an open mind as to any reasonable arguments you may make. Please keep in mind that the whole point of my posts on this thread involve a plea to the hierarchy to help me understand, a plea that has so far gone unheeded.

I also invite all other readers of this blog to engage in the same exercises i have requested here of PI.

Respectfully submitted.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon 5,

I don’t know whether this will help but here is a link to an article in the May 2012 issue of First Things: “Is Vatican II Completely Binding On Catholics?”

Significantly, after discussing the status of various types of statements made in the Vatican II documents, it ends with the following sentence:

“But for the faithful Catholic, emphasizes Msgr. Ocariz, there can only be one reliable voice in the final analysis: ‘An authentic interpretation of Conciliar texts can only be made by the Magisterium of the Church herself.’”

Here is a link to the underlying article by Msgr. Ocariz, who has been directly involved in discussions with the SSPX:

As you can imagine, given my own felt ignorance and lack of necessary qualification, I am very comfortable with this position of deference to the Magisterium in trying to determine the "authentic interpretation" of Vatican II and will wait patiently for the relevant matters to be clarified. Given the glacial time frame over which our Church has traditionally operated, this does not seem to be an unreasonable position.

In the meantime I return – yet again – to the questions I set out yesterday:

What are the deepest values informing our disparate standards and/or disparate applications of those standards, and our worries and concerns, as we consider Vatican II? What is REALLY at stake here? Can we agree on these values? Or at least identify more precisely where we disagree, if we disagree, at this deepest level? Might this point a way forward?

And I add the thought that these questions do not require any second-guessing of the Council on our part. They are prior to any judgments about the Council’s status, legitimacy, interpretation, etc. Instead, they try to get at the very roots of why we are talking about these matters at all.

Anonymous 5 said...


You raise some interesting ideas and questions. Before I try to provide my own answers to them, however, I'll see if Pater wishes to reply to my previous. I do hope, however, that I have made clear in this thread that I share your general attitude of deference to the Magisterium.

Henry Edwards said...

John: "Joseph Gelineau, one of Bugnini's acolytes, knew what he was talking about when he said in 1967: "Let us be clear about this, the Roman Rite as we know it is no more. It has been destroyed"."

It is interesting to note the date of Fr. Gelineau's famous statement --1967, thus the "demise" of the Roman rite several years before the full implementation of the Novus Ordo.

During this early period, in my part of the U.S. the Eucharistic prayer in the loose-leaf binder seemed to change virtually every week.

It is arguable that Paul VI's approval of the Novus Ordo was intended as a conservative effort to stablize the situation and reverse the disintegration, reducing the number of EP's from more than a hundred to "only" four.

Henry Edwards said...

A2 and A5,

For those committed to the magisterium, the problem is that--fifty years and millions of souls later--we still await the magisterial interpretation of Vatican II in continuity with tradition that Pope Benedict XVI has called for.

For those devoted to the Council, perhaps the problem is that it will slide into irrelevance and be forgotten, for lack of definitive interpretation.

Anonymous 2 said...

Henry writes “fifty years and millions of souls later.”

Perhaps Henry is finally gesturing towards the “deepest values” and “what is REALLY at stake here” that I have now mentioned a couple of times in an attempt to get at the very roots of why we are talking about these matters at all.

Perhaps the deepest values and these roots are so obvious that no-one feels the need to address them. My hunch, however, is that there is a potentially fruitful, and very serious, theological discussion to be had about this. But my own role is not to open that discussion (unqualified again, I am afraid), just to suggest and invite it.

Anonymous 5 said...


To my disappointment, Pater has shown no interest in addressing my post, so I'll try now to address yours. :-)

The first article you posted is certainly on point, but the list of things at the bottom attacking my position have problems. The main problem with the list is that it contains a sweeping assertion which, if taken literally, countenances violation of the law of the excluded middle. Unless we want to declare the contradictions between VII and prior doctrinal statements to be a mystery of the faith and not subject to rational understanding (and if the Church wants to do that, then by all means and for the sake of clarity of teaching she should quit pussyfooting around and do it), then I think that's a perversion of St. Anselm's injunction to believe in order to understand. If we really go that route, what are we to make of BXVI's Regensburg statement that "not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. . . . But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality."? It sounds to me that we've adopted the Muslim approach to reason.

2) As to your question regarding "our deepest values": To begin with, I would observe, a might Peter Kreeft, that by using the subjective term "values" you've already fallen into the trap and thus given us an object lesson in the ubiquity of modernism in the Church. It implies that the values of the modernist are as valid as the values of the faithful Catholic. A better way of putting it for the orthodox Catholic would be "What truths of the Catholic Faith appear to have been called into question by VII?" or, if you wish, "Have any truths of the Catholic faith been called into question by VII?"

This is really at the very heart of my concern, though I can't speak for others. I have always maintained in my teaching, that for all the Gregorian chant and Mariology and Real Presence on the one hand, and all the Bible-thumping and snake-handling on the other, there is only one true difference between Catholic and non-Catholic Christianity, and that is that the Holy Spirit teaches infallibly through the Catholic Church. All other differences in Catholic and non-Catholic Christianity flow from this one major difference.

If, then, the Church _actually_ contradicts itself at any point in doctrinal teaching, it is a false religion.

Further, if certain praxis within the Church, although perhaps valid in itself, is conducive to the notion among Catholics that the Church may contradict itself in its teaching--for instance, in order to conform itself to the spirit of the age--then that praxis should be subjected to strict scrutiny, if you will. (Example: if we can turn the priest around and add altar girls, then why can't we ordain women?)

Further, if the Church is really what she claims to be, then we may expect Satan to attack it from within, and in just this way. So an orthodox defense of orthodoxy and orthopraxis in the face of radical change--whether that change is in continuity with tradition or not--is an important practice in which to engage.

In my case I must also be able to explain clearly the correct teachings of the Church to inquirers, catechumens, candidates, and lay Faithful, and re the four points of VII, I don't currently know what to teach.

As before, I here state that I submit everything in this comment of mine to the Magisterium.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon 5,
Thanks for your responses. Here are my reactions:

(1) I may have misunderstood your position (please correct me if I have), but I read you to be setting up a dichotomy between “mystery” and “reason” regarding the approach to resolving the apparent contradictions between Vatican II and earlier magisterial documents.

Accepting your point about the Pope’s Regensburg speech and the need to find a “reasonable” explanation for these apparent contradictions, perhaps the difference between us is that I know that my_own_ reason is not up to the task, and therefore I leave it to the collective reason of the magisterium. I do not personally feel the need to resolve these apparent contradictions to my own satisfaction. Instead, I can trust in the Holy Spirit to guide the magisterium through the tangle to the correct and “reasonable” solution in the fullness of time. I believe the two articles I linked support this attitude. (I accept and respect, though, that others may feel a more urgent need for greater certainty.)

All that said, you raise a very good practical question about how to present the apparent Vatican II position on the four disputed points during any effort to explain clearly the teaching of the Church.

If I were faced with this problem, I might be inclined (a) to present the position of Vatican II on these points as I understand it, (b) note that some consider that this position is hard to reconcile with earlier magisterial pronouncements, and (c) suggest that our appropriate response to such situations as faithful Catholics is to trust in the Holy Spirit to guide the magisterium to a resolution of these difficulties in the fullness of time, as discussed above. However, surely our priests are better qualified than I am to advise how best to handle this practical problem.

(2) As to my use of the word “values,” I agree that the word is often used in a relativist and subjective sense (values clarification and so forth). However, it does not have to be used in that way and that is not how I was using it. Don’t we Catholics believe in “objective values” as opposed to “subjective values”? I was not speaking as a modernist or a relativist but as a fellow Catholic asking about our own Catholic values. I am sorry if this was not clear. For example, we believe in the value and sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

So again, I ask: What are the deepest values informing our discussions here? What is REALLY at stake? What are we really worried about? WHY do these mattes cause Marc to lose sleep at night, as he says in the next thread? And are we able, as Catholics, to agree on this fundamental matter?

These questions go even deeper than the “truths of the Catholic faith” that you mention or arguments over what they are, because they concern the fundamental matter of why we care about adhering to these truths in the first place and about any possible misunderstanding and/or confusion regarding them.

I suspect that these questions have some rather obvious answers (Your own reference to Satan is perhaps suggestive here, as is Henry’s reference to “millions of souls later”). Or then again, perhaps the answers are not so obvious after all. Moreover, working out the detailed implications of those answers may not be such a simple matter.

As to your disappointment over Pater’s silence, perhaps he, like Father McDonald, is at some kind of conference and away from the computer.

Anonymous 5 said...


I don't think that my reason, speaking generally, is up to magisterial interpretation either. But there is a point at which one is talking about basic principles of logical discourse that don't require theological, or even much logical, training (or at least such is my supposition), and we seem to be at that point with regard to the problem areas of VII.

I've already discussed excluded middle somewhere above, so in this comment I'll take logical contradiction as an example: ~(A & ~A) in reference to the statements I already quoted above and repeat here:

"This shameful font of indifferentism gives rise to that absurd and erroneous proposition which claims that liberty of conscience must be maintained for everyone." (Mirari Vos no. 14).

"This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom." (Dignitatis Humanae no. 2).

Do these statements actually amount, doctrinally (or even linguistically), to ~(A & ~A)? Since, if they do so doctrinally, Catholicism is a false religion, I don't think anyone here would accept that. Based on what you say you're content to leave it at that, and that's fine.

But for whatever reason, Marc is really struggling with it. Since we're talking Philosophy 101, any half-decent theologian should be able to attack the problem and dispose of it readily. This isn't rocket science. But the constant refusal of the hierarchy (and Pater) to get down to cases and try to explain how these statements work together isn't helping, although surely there are many highly-trained theologians and logicians in the hierarchy (among them JPII and BXVI).

I've been drawn into the debate because Marc and I discuss his concerns a lot, because my analytical outlook is similar to his, and because I've detected an air of bland dismissiveness in the hierarchy that (in my view) is starting, after a few decades of bobbing, dodging, and weaving, to amount to intellectual dishonesty. As a teacher that's an attitude I'm reluctant not to challenge. I simply don't think it fair that one of the few times the Church has been heavy-handed and authoritarian in this generation, rampant with error and dissent at every hand, is in its dealings with those who in good conscience have raised this concern. Maybe it's my sense of fairness that's wrong, but the only thing I can do is call 'em as I see 'em.

I'm especially reluctant to keep silent in light of the massive changes that have taken place in the Church in the past half-century. Change of this magnitude creates an atmosphere conducive for falsity to creep (or gallop) in unless the orthodox are on their guard, which they haven't been. I think that most people here, whatever their view on the documents of VII, would agree that the Spirit of VII has bred the preaching and practice of error. There have been times in the past when the hierarchy has failed the Church; based on my lived experience, which is all I have to go on, my lifetime has shaped up to be another of those eras, and I'm simply trying, a la St. Catherine of Sienna, to call the hierarchy to task for it. Hence my strict scrutiny analogy.

This restates my earlier attempt to address your questions about basic values. If you go back and skip over my challenge to you about your "values" terminology, I think that the rest of that comment pretty well sets forth my position. I can try to elaborate if you like.

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon 5,

Thanks for the explanation of your deeper concerns.

Here is an extract from Msgr. Ocariz’s article in the second link in my post at 5:47 p.m. on August 26. It addresses the principles of interpretation in general. I hope it helps, and I commend the rest of the article too:

“The unity of the Church and unity in the faith are inseparable, and this also involves the unity of the Magisterium of the Church in every age, since the Magisterium is the authentic interpreter of Divine Revelation transmitted by Sacred Scripture and by Tradition. This means, among other things, that an essential characteristic of the Magisterium is its continuity and consistency through history. Continuity does not mean an absence of development; down the centuries the Church deepens in her knowledge, in her understanding and, consequently, also in her magisterial teaching of Catholic faith and morals.

“A number of innovations of a doctrinal nature are to be found in the documents of the Second Vatican Council: on the sacramental nature of the episcopate, on episcopal collegiality, on religious freedom, etc. These innovations in matters concerning faith or morals, not proposed with a definitive act, still require religious submission of intellect and will, even though some of them were and still are the object of controversy with regard to their continuity with earlier magisterial teaching, or their compatibility with the tradition. In the face of such difficulties in understanding the continuity of certain Conciliar Teachings with the tradition, the Catholic attitude, having taken into account the unity of the Magisterium, is to seek a unitive interpretation in which the texts of the Second Vatican Council and the preceding Magisterial documents illuminate each other. Not only should the Second Vatican Council be interpreted in the light of previous Magisterial documents, but also some of these earlier magisterial documents can be understood better in the light of the Second Vatican Council. This is nothing new in the history of the Church. It should be remembered, for example, that the meaning of important concepts adopted in the First Council of Nicaea in the formulation of the Trinitarian and Christological faith (hypóstasis, ousía), were greatly clarified by later Councils.

"The interpretation of the innovations taught by the Second Vatican Council must therefore reject, as Benedict XVI put it, 'a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture,' while it must affirm the 'hermeneutic of reform, of renewal within continuity' (Discourse, 22 December 2005). These are innovations in the sense that they explain new aspects which have not previously been formulated by the Magisterium, but which do not doctrinally contradict previous Magisterial documents. This is so even though, in certain cases — for example, concerning religious freedom — these innovations imply very different consequences at the level of historical decisions concerning juridical and political applications of the teaching, especially given the changes in historical and social conditions. An authentic interpretation of Conciliar texts can only be made by the Magisterium of the Church herself. Therefore, in the theological work of the interpretation of passages in the Conciliar texts which arouse queries or seem to present difficulties, it is above all necessary to take into account the sense in which they have been interpreted in subsequent Magisterial interventions. Nevertheless, there remains space for legitimate theological freedom to explain in one way or in another how certain formulations present in the Conciliar texts do not contradict the Tradition and, therefore, to explain the correct meaning of some expressions contained in those passages.”


Anonymous 2 said...

As reflected in the last sentence, there seems to be much material available for consideration and analysis, on both sides of the issue, regarding the specific texts you mention. Here is a link. I hope it helps too:,or.r_gc.r_pw.&fp=baef827db5508c9b&biw=853&bih=371

Anonymous 2 said...

Anon 5,

I have another thought to pass on. Unqualified though I am to address the challenges of reconciling the two texts you mention (techniques of legal interpretation in which we are both trained are not, I suspect, the same as techniques of magisterial interpretation), it is very clear to me from reading Dignitatis Humanae and associated documents that these documents do not display any “shameful indifferentism.” Indeed, they seem quite uncompromising in their assertions regarding the truth maintained by the Catholic Church, although they are conciliatory and respectful regarding how that truth should be presented to the world.

One book that I pulled from my shelves this evening that addresses these matters (including the document Dominus Iesus issued in 2000 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Prefect Ratzinger) and that may also be helpful is “Salvation Outside the Church?” by Rev. Peter M.J. Stravinskas (2002).

Anonymous 2 said...

I am sorry, Anon 5, I have just realized that the link I included in my 12:41 a.m. comment earlier this morning seems garbled. I don’t know how to make it register correctly when I copy it, but if you Google “Can Mirari Vos Be Reconciled with Dignitatis Humanae?” it will bring up the sources I was attempting to link.