Scott P. Richert wrote the following: Three sentences from Pope Benedict XVI's letter to his fellow bishops "concerning the remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre" deserve to be examined on their own. In a mere 79 words, the Holy Father laid to rest the myths that are held dear by those who think that the Church remade Herself in Vatican II:
The Church’s teaching authority cannot be frozen in the year 1962 – this must be quite clear to the Society [of St. Pius X]. But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.
In other words, those who see Vatican II as a break from the past--both traditionalists and (for lack of a better word) modernists--are mistaken. The Church's tradition never comes to an end, which means that all of Her actions, including Vatican II, need to be interpreted in light of Her tradition. If Vatican II seems to us to be "something new under the sun," then the problem lies with us.
Once the Church and SSPX have dealt with issues at the doctrinal level (as Pope Benedict says they now must), then the SSPX, in finally accepting "the Second Vatican Council and the post-conciliar magisterium of the Popes," will be submitting itself to the living tradition of the Church. Yet they cannot be the only ones to do so. That same submission, the Holy Father has made clear, is required of those--including bishop, priests, and theologians--who sometimes act as if they believe that the tradition of the Church began with Vatican II.
Father Robert Fox was born in 1927 and ordained a priest in 1955. He died in 2009. He was a prolific writer and well known as a columnist for the National Catholic Register and other Catholic papers.
In 2000 he wrote his take on Vatican II which you can read in full by pressing HERE.
Below is the summary of what he wrote. Father Fox lived as a priest prior to the Council, observed it as it happened and saw what transpired afterward. I would recommend that anyone who has an antipathy toward the Second Vatican Council see it through his eyes and accept it as he does.
How does one summarize an ecumenical council, such as Vatican II, that has been and is transforming Christian society and has brought more changes to the Church in a few years than during the preceding 400 to 500 years? Without harm to faith or morals, some of the changes of Vatican II would have been realized centuries earlier if it had not been for the Protestant Revolt (and its own reformation) in the sixteenth century.
At the time of the Protestant Revolt there were movements for the use of the vernacular (language of the people) in the liturgy. The "revolters" immediately put their services in the language of the people, and so Latin became identified with Christians who remained loyal to the pope in the unity of the ancient Catholic Church. Doubtlessly, the nonauthorized innovations, changes, and discard of doctrines which accompanied the religious upheaval of the sixteenth century necessitated that the Catholic Church, for the protection of her members and to save them from confusion, maintain its long-held position on such questions as use of the vernacular. Thus Latin became almost a fifty (though nonessential) mark of the true Church after the Protestant Revolt.
What does one say about those Catholics who, after Vatican II and during the implementation of the council documents, became confused about of disobedient to Church authority, striking out even against the Holy Father, the pope? Ultimately, only God judges souls. One can sympathize with the faithful who were led astray by some members of the clergy and religious, who themselves rebelled against or misrepresented the truth. And still we must remember that, for each and all, God's grace is always sufficient in every temptation, and once the gift of the fullness of the true faith has been bestowed by God upon a soul, our good, heavenly Father will not withdraw it, unless the person himself (or herself) rejects it.
After Vatican II, life in the Catholic Church became more challenging and more thrilling — more full of joy for those who engaged in the authentic renewal under and together with the magisterium. Confusion reigned only when educators, clergy, religious, and laity did not work in harmony with the Holy Father in interpreting and implementing the authentic renewal to which each Catholic is called.
Most who read and use this book of Church history are Catholic teenagers, tomorrow's adults and tomorrow's Church. But the Church of tomorrow will be the same as the Church of yesterday, of the last century, and of the first century. A newly conceived human life in its mother's womb, is a continuum, sill the same life when it is born as it is one hour, one day, or fifty or eighty years later. So the Catholic Church, Christ's Mystical Body of today and the future, will always b the same Church Jesus Christ founded twenty centuries ago.
The cells of the human body change with the passage of years; still, it is the same human body. Individual members of the laity, religious, priests, bishops, and our Holy Father the pope change with the passage of years. Still, it is the same Church, "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." As sacred scripture says: "Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, the same forever."
Our Catholic youth of today must become so strong in the faith — not beset by confusion or misunderstandings, but looking beyond the human failings of individual members of the Church and striving for personal perfection in Christ Jesus — that the reality and the sanctity of the Church, its true face, will truly be known and loved by all the world.
The Catholic Church is a divine organism. It is of Christ, the God-Man himself. It is human, and also divine. With the eyes of faith, each member must see beyond its human quality and witness the inner divine reality which is Christ's Mystical Body.
We have just studied its 2,000-year history, and as we look to the future we can know that, as in the past, Satan and the forces of evil will always be there, attempting to destroy the Church through its human quality. As Christ Jesus was tempted in the desert, the forces of evil, the spirit of wickedness, will never cease tempting the members of Christ. As at the head of the Mystical Body did not and could not fall, for he is divine, so, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the human quality will be strengthened and will prevail.
The history of the Catholic Church will always be full of pages of great and lesser saints who testify to that mark of the Church we call holiness. It will always retain its oneness, its catholicity (universality), and always remain apostolic; the only Church built upon the apostles and promised that "the gates of hell shall never prevail against it."