Saturday, June 13, 2015


With nostalgia for the 1960's and 70's currently occurring in the secular world as well as in the Catholic Church (similar to what actually happened in the 1960's and 70's both in the Church and the world), we are seeing once again a deification of the Second Vatican Council's documents to the point of making even pastoral and discipline-oriented aspects of this Council into rigid infallible statements that cannot be changed.

There are three areas that the traditionalists of the Second Vatican Council, i.e. radical, spirit of the council folks, both clergy and laity, make Vatican II infallible and not to be questioned under the pain of mortal sin which are the Sacred Liturgy, ecclesiology and ecumenism.

In progressive quarters, Cardinal Robert Sarah is being lambasted for his ignorance about Vatican II and his amateur approach to it and that he dares interpret Vatican II according to the hermeneutic of continuity and not in the faux-infallibly, immutable way of rupture.

Here are some comments from an infamous blog on liturgy about Cardinal Sarah's approach:

--It would be wrong to consider the extraordinary form of the Roman rite as coming from another theology,” – when will it cease. Feels like we have had a series of CDW heads who have little skills, training, or professional education in liturgy and yet, they make pronouncements that make little sense.
Not only does it come from another theology but also ecclesiology – would almost any graduate student in theology disagree with this beyond the usual ideological suspects?

-- Ecumenism is an enrichment, not a threat, for those who understand and accept in their hearts what the Second Vatican Council taught on the subject. Through ecumenical enrichment we don’t ‘tone down’ our Catholic faith, we deepen it. Conversion of heart is called for.

--So we keep coming back to the same issue: does one accept the liturgy of the Church, does once accept Pope Paul’s judgment that the reforms are faithful to Vatican II, is one grateful for this gift.. or not?
It’s clear that there is development (and – horrors! – change) between Pius XII and Paul VI on archeologism. That’s part of being in the Catholic church.
It’s clear that the authorities interpreted SC 23 to mean that the changes were required, and that the complete overhaul of the offertory prayers was for the good of the church. 

My comments:

Catholics cannot, may not and must not question the validity of Vatican II or its authority. It would be anathema to do so and yes we need to anathematize more in the post-Vatican II Church but in a nice way. Catholics are required to be obedient to the Magisterium of the Church in the areas of Faith, Morals, Canon Law (and discipline). There are no if's, and's or's about it. 

However, we can critique in a Christian and charitable way those aspects of the Magisterium which are not infallible or immutable. This is true especially of the implementation of Vatican II which has been critiqued from the highest possible levels of the Church to the lowest levels to include not only Pope Benedict but Pope Francis and little old me!

We have had cardinals and popes question the advisability of so radically changing the Mass which went far beyond what Sacrosanctum Concilium actually promoted.   The Mass the Pope Paul VI promulgated is not set in stone and some of its ideologies as it was being formed and the mentality of the age which is now passe except in some quarters can and should be questioned as well as the pastoral advisability of some of the changes, not to mention the wrong celebration of the 1970 Missal and the horrible abuses associated with it.

Many tout that Vatican II ushered in a new ecclesiology. Maybe a different theological perspective on ecclesiology but a new ecclesiology? No! And even if one says Vatican II changed the ecclesiology of the Catholic Church, this change is neither infallble or immutable.  Popes and bishops may certainly revisit some of the more ill advised changes of Vatican II and go back or forward in a different way or in the way of continuity rather than rupture. 

As it regards ecumenism, there are a variety of ways to accomplish the unity of the Church that the Lord desires. What Pope Benedict initiated in terms of the Anglican Ordinariate was simply genius and should be applauded rather than ignoring the elephant in the room in terms of Protestantism or Eastern Orthodoxy and how these groups have diminished the faith, are schismatic or down right heretical.They need purification before they enter into the full communion of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Faith.

When it comes to Vatican II's dance with other religions, no religions (the nones) and with the secular world, caution should reign although we need to be speaking to one another but the Church must do so  from a position of strength and certitude about her Faith, Morals and discipline. Ireland is but one of many sad examples of how the world has converted Catholics rather than Catholics converting the world. Secularism new evangelization has been abetted by Vatican II's naivete! We need to critique the drunkenness of some Catholic as it concerns ecumenism, interfaith dialogue and dialogue with the world when we see that the Church is diminished not enhanced by it!


Angry Augustinian said...

Just what is it about Vat II that we cannot question? It produced nothing infallible or definitive. It was a sap to protestantism and modernism, flying a flag of faux ecumenicism and sowing division and doubt for decades. I won't go so far as to say it was the work of the Devil (who quotes Scripture very well, by the way) but, surely, he was smiling the entire time (he's laughing his apse off now). Now, we have a covey of Vat II myrmidons to go with a bunch of sycophantic ultra-Montanists who defend an indefensible Pope to the point of nausea…and you want to criticize SSPX…sheesh!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

JJ, it is a part of the Magisterium even the non-infallible parts that establish an agenda or pastoral plan although certainly open to change and critique in a charitble way and by the bishops themselves.

So yes, your comments are anathema as well as uncharitable born of anger rather than Christ-like love!

MR said...

That under this pontificate we've ended up with someone as excellent as Card Sarah running the CDW is nothing short of miraculous.

George said...

The evangelization of the world since the late sixties has been by and on behalf of secular humanism, and it has unfortunately been enormously successful.

"..we are seeing once again a deification of the Second Vatican Council's documents to the point of making even pastoral and discipline-oriented aspects of this Council into rigid infallible statements that cannot be changed."

Liturgy and pastoral practice are not on the same level as that of dogma and doctrine, which cannot be changed. Nothing however, in the liturgical, or the pastoral or discipline, or in the implementation or exercise of these, can contradict or serve in any way to undermine Magisterial teaching. So while liturgy and discipline can be altered, whatever changes are made, or in the way they are implemented, must conform and be subservient to, the defined teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, and must serve as their intended end, the building up and strengthening of the Body of Christ. It is altogether good to assess after a period of time, the effect of these things that can be changed, and if changes were made that are not having the intended good effect, to determine those things that are problematic and make any needed corrections or changes to practice or implementation.

Rood Screen said...

What's saddest about the Accommodationists (to use Ross Douthat's term for the neo-Moderists) is that I could argue their position more logically and convincingly than they do. (Too much marijuana and libertine sex has dampened their reasoning skills!)

There is no future for the extremists on either side who pit the defined dogmas of Trent and the pastoral care of VCII against each other. There is no discontinuity between these two ecumenical councils. The only way forward is the path of virtue, and in medio stat virtus.

Servimus Unum Deum said...

AMJ, Jansenism is a heresy. There's no sense dealing with those who are heretics, especially that it is insulting to the Redemptorists and St Alphonsus Liguori who fought against that loveless and wrong theology.

Angry Augustinian said...

Hey, Julian, it's a joke. Lighten up. I see Fr. has done gone and whupped out the anathema word again. LOL!

Ted said...

There is an interesting article by Susan J. Benofy in the latest Adoremus Bulletin, and taken up at the NLM blog, that has some relevance here. When we talk about the documents of Vatican II, whether one thinks them Magisterial or not, what are we talking about? In terms of discussion at the Council, SC was different until a few weeks before official publication. It had had a lot of footnotes referencing previous papal documents that showed a continuity with the past. These were removed in the final official version, effectively cutting off SC from the Church's liturgical past, unless one was very familiar with liturgical papal documents. I think this fostered the radical liturgical changes that came after as most in charge were either not familiar with those documents, or, if they were, thought them irrelevant because they were removed. What is curious is that this was done to keep to the proper form for a Conciliar document insofar as not quoting former Papal documents; but the Council documents that followed did quote so. Perhaps this was an innocent concern for proper form at the beginning of the publishing, but I think it is important to revisit those footnotes for a proper understanding of SC. This latest edition of Adoremus Bulletin does this conveniently for us.

Anonymous said...

What is meant by "purification" in terms of ecumenism? Never heard that term before. With the Anglican Ordinariate, it was simpler bringing in Anglicans to the Church. Eastern Orthodox is a much more difficult topic, as they and us have strongly different stances on a number of issues---and the Orthodox still to this day, 961 years later (after the 1054 divide) blame the West for the schism. I don't see what has changed much in 50 years of dialogue between the 2 sides.

Angry Augustinian said...

I am willing to bet…would almost guarantee you…that within the next few years the Church will move toward full acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, including knowingly hiring gays and appointing them to even more positions within the Church administration. We will also see continued "dialogue" regarding gay marriage, Communion to divorced/re-married couples to the point of accepting them for Communion in pastoral practice. That is the key…Pastoral Practice will be the theme of the day while lip service is paid to doctrine and dogma is quoted tongue-in-cheek. The Church will move toward a full embrace of the humanistic/egalitarian zeitgeist. It is coming, so all you real Catholics start thinking about where you will go.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed how the same priest on that blog who accuses those of questioning the liturgical reform of not submitting to the church also states that we cannot know what the church will teach about women's ordination or same-sex marriage in a century or so. I asked him, on more than one occasion, whether he realized as to how inconsistent he is and he refused to respond each time.

John Nolan said...


I'm a real Catholic (I hope) and I'm not going anywhere yet. I've just come back from Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire, a hundred mile round trip in the rain (guaranteed in June in England) for a Solemn Requiem Mass, with absolutions at the catafalque, for the soul of King Richard III. The castle where he was born (and incidentally where Mary, Queen of Scots was executed in 1587) is now demolished but the 15th century Perpendicular parish church (now Anglican of course) still dominates this village with houses and a splendid pub-restaurant in the local stone.

The church was packed, since the occasion was organized by the Richard III Society, a national organization which has been in existence for decades but has no religious affiliation. Yet the Mass was a Catholic one, celebrated according to the Extraordinary Form. The chant was sung in a late medieval style rather than Solesmes and there was some 15th century polyphony. After the Mass was over a new motet was sung, accompanied by organ and a consort of viols, in a style which might have well have been heard in the Chapel Royal in Richard's day. The Reformation not only destroyed the religious art of late medieval England - it also destroyed most of the music which was in manuscript; those fragments which remain show the sheer quality of what was lost.

Most of the congregation weren't Catholics. Those who were had probably not experienced a Solemn Requiem in their lives, and probably not a Latin Mass unless they were over 60. When they went to Communion (the Order of Service made it clear that this was a Catholic Mass and that only those in communion with the Catholic Church under the Pope could receive) they didn't know what to do, queueing up in NO style and standing until the MC intervened to show them how to use the rail.

The notes for the Mass began as follows: 'Today's Requiem Mass is celebrated according to the traditional rites of the Catholic Church ... This ceremony is not a historical reconstruction, but since the rite has changed very little with the passage of time, its content would be familiar in almost every respect to King Richard himself.'

Later on, one reads: 'In fifteenth-century England all literate people had some education in Latin and almost everyone else was familiar with the Latin services through frequent attendance'.

Fast-forward half a millennium and even the small minority of Catholics who attend Mass every Sunday don't even know what it's about despite the fact that everything is in the vernacular and in-your-face.

Of course, our ultimate destiny is uncertain. One of my favourite pieces of music is 'Ein Deutsches Requiem' by Johannes Brahms. Protestant? Perhaps. But I love the text 'Herr, lehre doch mich, dass ein Ende mit mir haben muss, und mein Leben ein Ziel hat, und ich davon muss.'

rcg said...

John, I think that is from Psalms; pretty much cuts across all the denominations.

I am not as pessimistic as JJ. I do think that some Bishops will make that effort he describes, and some have, I think there is an Irish bishop in open revolt over doctrine concerning sexuality. I wonder if something relatively innocuous as the directions of Cardinal Sarah will create a crisis for the Fifth Column that seems to infest so much of the Church? They will try to ignore him, but may need to openly revolt and go into true schism to keep their practises alive.