Paul VI versus Pius X

On June 9th, Milroy Joseph, concluded his contribution to Second Sight with the words: “Vatican II succeeded greatly in the creation of disenchantment and ‘squabbling’ at all levels; and the fundamental reason – as I see it – is the break with Tradition. Finally, if you wish to witness what the Catholic Church used to be, please visit a service of the Society of Pius X. You will soon see the difference between the ‘boogie woogie’ church and Tradition.”

I was particularly interested in this because the issues raised by the Society of Pius X have never been aired on this Blog, and because there is currently active talk of some members of the Society being reconciled to Rome, probably in a personal prelature. But no champions of the Society have been willing to share their views with us – at least, as yet. So I think it would be valuable for us to look at some points of interest, and to discuss them. I will be as fair as I can, but I am all the more eager that someone who understands the Society better than I will jump in and correct me.

On this occasion I wish to look at the Council as a whole.

When the Council concluded, many Catholics of substance believed that it would introduce a large number of welcome changes in the Church – which would benefit from the developments in a way that not only left the identity of the Church intact but would in fact make the face of Christ all the more clearly seen in the Mystical Body.

But it didn’t work out quite like that. Very soon we were overrun with a horde of progressive Catholics whose only common denominator appeared to be a lack of real theological knowledge. Many priests, secular and regular, waltzed out of their vocations – in some instances with a bride on their arms. It seemed to many Catholics that, although the Church had a certain primacy of tradition, in reality God called people equally through different Christian and non-Christian pathways. And of course the Church’s authority to teach the moral law came second by a long chalk to the individual conscience. These were the years when a steep decline in all the (western) Catholic statistics took place – church attendance, baptisms, marriages, vocations.

I recall my father, who had been a powerful supporter of the Council, reviewing all this with the same jaundiced eye with which Luther must have regarded the Peasants’ Revolt. Not what was intended at all.

Archbishop Lefebvre, and so the Society of Pius X, disagreed with the Council on specific points – most of which we will look at on other occasions. But to be able to do so consistently it was necessary to show that Vatican II did not have the binding authority of, say, Trent. But if it were more correctly stylised as a pastoral council – interpreted as primarily exhortation without any intention to bind with authority – it could be regarded as a series of unfortunate mistakes inconsistent with Catholic tradition. In course of time the Church could be steered back from its several follies.

So what is the correct interpretation? Fortunately, we have a clear statement from Paul VI, In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statement of dogmas that would be endowed with the note of infallibility, but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the supreme ordinary Magisterium. This ordinary Magisterium, which is so obviously official, has to be accepted with docility, and sincerity by all the faithful, in accordance with the mind of the Council on the nature and aims of the individual documents (General Audience of 12 January 1966).

At a longer view, we have John Paul II making it clear that our current course should be the understanding and the practice held out to us by the Council. Pope Benedict believes that many tendencies following the Council have been destructive; but his remedy is not repudiation but closer attention to the Council documents themselves rather than unjustified interpretations.

My conclusion would be that, although the conciliar documents may be refined by deeper understanding, there is simply no room for picking and choosing among the Council’s statements.  And that, in understanding them in the light of the  traditions of the Church, we will find the right ways for the Church to grow, while avoiding the eccentricities and over-enthusiasms of the post conciliar period.

What do you think? Was Vatican II a good thing, a bad thing, or the curate’s egg? And if the last, which are good and bad parts?

On other occasions I shall look at some of the specific points which the Society of Pius X emphasises.


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79 Responses to Paul VI versus Pius X

  1. milliganp says:

    I cannot help but be sure that the Holy Father’s attempt at rapprochement with the Society of Pius X will eventually unravel with sad consequences. The societies earliest supporters were almost entirely old colonialists and neo-fascists (particularly French Petainists and Royalists). In Archbishop Lefebvre’s autobiography he lumps together all the races of Africa, India and South America as “black” and sees it as the job of Europeans to govern and “civilise” them. A few years ago I came across a website promoting appalling anti-Semitic views which published a book including materials long since denounced as fake, the back cover of the book had a glowing endorsement by one Mgr Bernard Fellay. One constantly finds the old Nazi mantra “Jews, Freemasons and communists” as the “trinity” those who condemn the council identify as the true authors of the Council reforms. Good luck with this discussion but any attempt at dialogue with this group is bound to end up feeling like you are talking to the air.

    • Quentin says:

      You may be correct in your view about dialogue. But I don’t want it to be suggested that I am putting up aunt sallys without inviting those who think that I have misrepresented their position to correct me (or our contributors). Besides, there are some issues which deserve discussion. For example, we have just been discussing the dearth of Confession as a regular sacrament. It is certainly worth suggesting that an effect of Vatican II has been to reduce our sense of sin and guilt, and to reduce our sense of the Church being God’s chosen channel for the graces of absolution and spiritual guidance.

      • Vincent says:

        The Lefebvre faction relates to the same right wing French faction which behaved so disgracefully over the Dreyfus affair. But we must be realistic: were the Vatican to start rolling back aspects of Vatican II, they would certainly claim that it was only a pastoral council, and that it was quite OK to correct it ad lib,
        I understand that the Pope has asked the Society to review his attempts to meet their demands. They are to consider it at their July meeting. I wonder whether Fellay will give his approval to the Church — we are apparently on trial!

    • tim says:

      I don’t follow you. You have hard words (which may be fully justified) for the Society and its supporters. If you’re right, then why would unravelling of the agreement have sad consequences? It might be sadder if agreement were reached! I say that it is right to try. I also say that not all the Lefebvrists hold the views you rightly condemn. There is a duty to reach out to those who do not, as well as to put straight those who do.

      • milliganp says:

        I think the sad consequence would be that those who see the SSPX as a safe hourbour for more traditional views may see the failure of talks as the Vatican’s fault and become even more disillusioned and the schism could be both deeper and wider.
        I think the Holy Father’s intention is to try everything to heal the rift, short of allowing the abandonment of Vatican II, and we need to assist this with our prayers and goodwill.
        I’ll return to the borader subject of either “was Vatican II a good thing” or “what went wrong after Vatican II” in a later post.

  2. Ann says:

    I’d love to comment but i’m lost for words, i’ve recently been looking into the church, and i get confused and surprized at the things i never knew! I was born in the 70’s so i’ve only ever known vatican II, but the more i read about the church’s history, the more i tend to lean towards the teachings before vatican II.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      “….I’d love to comment but i’m lost for words, i’ve recently been looking into the church, and i get confused and surprized at the things i never knew! I was born in the 70′s so i’ve only ever known vatican II….”

      I’m in a similar position though rather creaky having been born in the 50’s not the 70’s! I’m a post vatican II convert. I would like to know which bits you look into which incline you more towards pre vatican II teaching?

      • Ann says:

        Hi mike,
        its just things like the priest having his back to the tabernacle, and we now don’t kneel to receive communion and have a choice to receive the host in our hand or tongue when before it was tongue only and by the priest only. There is also little or no veneration or the saints during mass. Incense is mostly never used, i used to think it was only for funerals because that is the only time i saw it being used. Personally i get pretty upset when i enter church now as most people fail to genuflect and are constantly chatting away like they are in a supermarket! And now they are changing holy days to sundays as not enough people go on the days they should, where is the teaching in that? I could go on. Think i’m having alittle crisis of faith…..

    • There are no difference between the teachings before or after Vatican II – which teachings do you feel have changed?

  3. milliganp says:

    I think there is a tendency, by those of a traditionalist disposition, to attribute the problems in the current state of the Western church to Vatican II and to simply ignore the impact of 20th Century secularisation. My local Baptist and Methodist churches have seen even greater decline than the Catholic church and they have not had a Vatican II. You could have the same conversation with Orthodox Jewish parents or second generation Muslim families.
    Blaming Vatican II for the decline in faith practice and sense of sin is a bit like blaming joining the EEC for Britain’s industrial decline – the two things have happened at the same time but that does not make one the cause of the other.

    • Quentin says:

      I agree with you here. But I note tht Andrew Greeley, the American sociologist, concluded that the Catholic haemorrhage was steeper than other Christian denominations; but he was confident that Humanae Vitae was the principal cause.

      It seems all the more important for us to grasp the meaning of the Vatican II documents fully and relate them to the process of understanding revelation more and more deeply. For example, has the new teachings about the status of other religions led to the indifferentism which some people saw as the danger?

      Can I piggy-back on this by saying (Sunday morning) that I have a fault on my cable which cannot be fixed until Monday. So no moderation possible. I can use email however.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        Could you, in just a couple of simple sentences for us beginners, explain what it was about Humana Vitae that caused this haemorrhage? I assume you mean a continued opposition to birth control but it would be helpful if you gave some confirmation.

      • Quentin says:

        Very briefly, Mike. At the time (second half of ’60s) many queries were being raised about the Church’s teaching (Casti Connubii), because the use of the pill did not affect the structure of the sexual act, and therefore did not appear to be covered. It was beginning to be taken for granted that the teaching would change, and this was accelerated as it got around that the commission set up to advise the Pope had concluded by a substantial majority that this should be so. We must suppose that many couples changed their practices in expectation. The minority on the commission convinced Pope Paul that the teaching should stand. (It would appear that a major consideration was that the Church would be seen to be changing its mind on an established, if not infallible, moral teaching. One popular Catholic writer produced a pamphlet to explain to the laity that such a change did not affect the authority of the Church.)

        Thus the advent of Humanae Vitae came as a great shock. Several of the clergy went public with their disagreement and were laicized. The various national bishops’ conferences either upheld HV or produced conscience get-outs. There was a general impression that the laity were simply going to ignore the ruling.

        The big psychological break, from which we have never recovered, was that formerly law-abiding, respectable and devout Catholics decided that the Church was wrong in a solemn matter – and, with that decision, authority took a tumble.

        If you search STOP PRESS, you will find “What really happened in the papal commission on contraception?”. This may be of interest.

  4. John Nolan says:

    “Old colonialists and neo-fascists (particularly French Petainists and Royalists)”. “The same right-wing French faction which behaved so disgracefully over the Dreyfus Affair” This is, of course, the left-wing version of the right-wing “Jews, freemasons and communists” jibe. Marcel Lefebvre’s father was an ardent Monarchist but worked for British intelligence against the German occupation in both World Wars and died in Sonnenburg concentration camp in 1944. You can’t lump all your political opponents under one umbrella.

    Most of Lefebvre’s career was spent in the mission territories of the French colonial empire, and France saw herself as having a civilizing mission and a duty to impose French cultural values (generally speaking to be French is a cultural concept, to be English is a racial one). In the post-colonial era his views were no longer fashionable, but this doesn’t mean they were wrong. It is a liberal conceit that everything ‘dans le vent’ is morally and intellectually superior, a presumption not supported by historical experience.

    Lefebvre was of course present at the Council, and like many others was increasingly disturbed at the direction the Church was taking in the 1960s. His Swiss seminary was founded with the approval of the local Ordinary, although a majority of the French bishops were implacably opposed. It’s important to understand what was happening in the Church in the early 1970s. Paul VI, seeing that things were spiralling out of control and deeply wounded by the reception of Humanae Vitae, was trying to shut the stable door. The last thing he wanted was a rebellion on the right. So when the new bishop of Fribourg tried to shut Econe down, and Lefebvre refused to comply, the Pope backed the bishop and Lefebvre was suspended a divinis. The rest, as they say, is history.

    Marcel Lefebvre was stubborn and inflexible. This can be both a strength and a weakness, and the same charge was levelled by liberals against John Paul II. His political views were unfashionable, although I think his take on the French Revolution was basically sound; we are still living with the fall-out from that cataclysmic event. Back in the 1970s I feared that he was allowing himself to be manipulated by some dubious characters, and that appears to have been borne out by the events of the next decade. Had he simply ordained Fellay as his successor and accepted a personal prelature things could have moved on.

    In my opinion, Marcel Lefebvre was a learned and holy man, and in some ways a prophetic one. When he died in 1991 it was assumed that he was still excommunicate, although there are some doubts on this score. Would the Apostolic Nuncio have prayed at his tomb had he been so? Not to mention the local bishop and Cardinal Silvio Oddi, who was heard to say “merci, Monseigneur”.

    • milliganp says:

      Your statement that “colonialist and neo-fascist” being somehow a mere left wing mantra equivalent to “Jews, Freemasons and communists” is wholly unacceptable as it has no implicit racist element. I have, sadly, read Lefebvre’s autobiography and it contained nothing to imply a learned nature since it is a contradiction to be truly learned and formed by the Gospel and still be overtly racist. True, he was a product of an era where many held similar views but you don’t have to be a left winger to believe in the innate dignity of every human being, made in the image and likeness of God.

      • John Nolan says:

        “Wholly unacceptable”. Yes, to you of course, with your huffy holier-than-thou liberal mindset, which arrogantly assumes that what is unacceptable to you must be universally unacceptable. Look at the history of colonial and post-colonial Africa in an objective way (sadly, I doubt you can be objective) and stop bandying about the term ‘racist’ (itself capable of no strict definition) as a crude means for closing down an argument.

      • John Candido says:

        The same criticism can be levelled at John Nolan. Is it remotely possible, that what John Nolan deems and assumes as inappropriate, must also be unacceptable to others?

  5. Iona says:

    Ann, and Mike H. – I am similarly situated, – well, similarly to Mike anyway – having become a Catholic (technically, “reconciled”) in the early 80s, well after Vatican II. (Though, that being said, I did have Catholic friends around and after the time of Vatican II so was vaguely aware of what was going on). I have been to a few Tridentine rite masses since they became available, and am still trying to get my head round them though I like the Latin. I think confession is better fairly frequent, and not so good only once a year. I think relegating the Blessed Sacrament to a side-altar is far from being a good thing (though I’m aware that isn’t required in anything coming from Vatican II, but does seem to have followed from it). Re-ordering of churches seems generally to have been a bad thing, if only aesthetically.

    • Vincent says:

      My understanding is that the re-ordering of churches related to the greater emphasis on the Mass as being an expression of the Last Supper, as well as sacrifice. Enabling the priest to face the congregation was claimed to be a better symbol of community. And the use of the vernacular contributed to this.I can see why the more ‘traditionalist’ would dislike the change. But I think it reflects a deeper understanding. I haven’t been to a tridentine Mass for decades. I have no objection to doing so, but I fear my attendance would be based on novelty rather than piety.

      • John Nolan says:

        No so-called reordering of historic churches has worked, and the whole thing was based on a 20th century interpretation of a past which never existed.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        “…..but I fear my attendance would be based on novelty rather than piety…..”
        Well put, me too.

    • mike Horsnall says:

      I agree about the blessed sacrament, though in our church it is still highly visible. Confession is still presented regularly among our group of churches as a good/ neccessary thing so I assume you mean a ruling about what can be considered admissable as opposed to ‘good’ practice. Its difficult to see how a ruling on rate of attendance will affect those shyng away from the confessional-I would have preferred an interval of say a couple of months rather than a year so I guess we are in accord here.

  6. Iona says:

    Milliganp, June 23rd, 7.06 a.m.

    Absolutely agree.

  7. Nektarios says:

    Fellow bloggers

    I cannot really enter into this discussion much, but it seems to me that one would love to enter the blame game on the one hand, and other other. blame either Vatican 11 or whatever, for the present set of problems as they exist now.
    Can we but see, that Thought, being a response to memory, being the past, pushed into the present, and in such deliberations such as Vatican 11, projected into the future, produces division?

    Of course, this goes for everything where Thought as a response to memory and projected into the future, be it in politics, secularization, society, business, fashion and technology, it is producing duality, that is a space or division between one and it, so one is not really in touch with anything or anyone.
    So is it any wonder, that the Church that has this monolithic structure, has lost touch with its people, has to change things frequently and demands for change continues, only producing further divisions?
    They tragedy in all this of course is, we are so used to operating this way, so duality continues,
    division continues, not only externally but internally and all the arguments so far on this topic are not going to change anything as it is presently. Something has to end, or something has to give way, but if that is also a product of Thought, what we have highlighted above will continue.
    So how do we extricate ourselves out of this mess?

    • mike Horsnall says:

      “……I cannot really enter into this discussion much, but it seems to me that one would love to enter the blame game on the one hand, and other other. blame either Vatican 11 or whatever, for the present set of problems as they exist now.
      Can we but see, that Thought, being a response to memory, being the past, pushed into the present, and in such deliberations such as Vatican 11, projected into the future, produces division?….”, actually I am finding this debate very informative as it is. I am very interested in understanding something here so please don’t try and sidetrack us on to your favourite issues.. when debates arise you cant join in with, the decent thing is to not join in!. This isnt a blame game as far as I can see its- simply an attempt to figure out whats going on. When people do put opposing views strongly its best to let them get on with it and see if you can learn something from what they say.

      • Quentin says:

        Mike, Nektarios did consult me before sending this contribution, which I think to be worthwhile. So blame me, not him. Incidentally, I am very glad this topic is opening up. I share your interest.

      • John says:

        Mmm… I fear getting into deeper waters than i can handle, but as a pre-Vat II Catholic I am saddened by a lot of the changes I see in this “new” “more accessible” Church e.g. see Anne’s comments above.
        What seems to me to have happened it that the actuality of the Council is ignored. Anyone who has an agenda or an axe to grind uses the Council as a justification. If they cannot cite Council Documents to support their proposition they invoke that great cover-all “The Spirit of Vatican II” which can be used to bolster any pet innovation. Yes, the decline in the Church is due to many social factors, but the misrepresentation of the Council by many is not the least of these factors.

  8. John Nolan says:

    The question of Vatican II will rumble on for another century. Montini, who would have been elected in 1958 had not Pius XII not denied him the red hat, was sceptical and wondered if the old boy knew what he was doing. A lot of the transalpine bishops saw it as an opportunity to cut the Curia down to size. The present Pontiff, even at the time, was not happy with Gaudium et Spes (its naive 1960s optimism looks increasingly dated) and too many of the other documents reflect too clearly the dichotomy between what the reformers wanted and the Council fathers were prepared to accept.

    The Council had useful things to say, but the acceptance of it in toto should not be a litmus test of orthodoxy or fidelity. The LCWR sisters of the USA claim to have moved beyond it, beyond the Church, and in some cases beyond Christ; yet at the time of writing they are still recognized by the Vatican.

  9. mike Horsnall says:

    Milligan June 23rd, 7.06 a.m.

    Iagree with this too which is why I am really keen to hear from both sides of the issue. I cannot understand why people think that Vatican 2 was a mistake and was responsible for a decline in churchgoing. The reason I cannot fathom this is partly the very obvious reason that at least three of us here havent been put off by the post VaticanII shape of the church so it can’t be that bad! The other reason is that I believe it is God who calls and the changes in the church-buildings etc are essentially window dressings. I am really genuinely very interested in this subject.

  10. Iona says:

    (Moved beyond Christ? – How can one move beyond Christ and still call oneself Christian?)

    Reflecting on my earlier post, I realise that all the things I’ve identified as being aspects of Vatican II that I didn’t like, were not changes identified by Vatican II as essential. Now I think about it, I’m not even sure I know what the essentials of Vatican II were. Certainly a more welcoming attitude towards non-Catholic Christians and to members of other faiths. Certainly doing away with the “perfidious Jews” attitude. Greater involvement of the laity… But was it specified exactly HOW the laity should be more greatly involved? And have I missed anything desperately important?

    • John Nolan says:

      Ah, but they do! As for Vatican II, it’s odd that there is no mention of the burning issue of 1962, namely the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war. VII in a hundred years’ time will be a squeak on the margin of the Church’s history.

    • Nektarios says:

      All that I am suggesting, Iona, is to become more aware of all this, observe all this, see the effects of all this process of Thought on this discussion, topic or any other and on the way we live out our Christian lives.

      The fact is we do label people, concepts, ideas, ideologies and that is an effect of duality,
      of thought, and its divisive effects.
      Asserting this or that, only piles on the pressure or incurs guilt. Arguing the toss over something which you don’t control is rather pointless. You are not the one who is responsible for what the so-called Church authoritites say, and lay on your backs to conform to.
      Those orchestrating all these changes, are caught too as I said, in duality and the process of Thought. The process of Thought as I have explained in past topics, is necessary for that which is repitive, mechanical and so on. But to carry this same repitive duality into our spiritual lives is very dangerous.
      I say this because you are bringing into your spiritual life in Christ, all our divisions ignorance, pettiness, sinfulness, sorrows, fears anxieties – but our live in Christ does not have these. It has different qualities, capacities and perceptions.

      It is as though discussing this has any real importance to our life in Christ at all, for none of these arguments raised so far exist in the Life of Christ in us.

      If we want, or think it necessary to continue such discussion, just be aware – and be aware also it is not out of Life in Christ, just our Thought process, producing divisions.
      duality, producing seeming order, which in fact is disorder. That which is already disordered cannot produce order. No matter how clever, no matter how erudite, no matter how politially correct, no matter how theologically correct, or dogma correct one is outwardly; unless our life flows from the life of Christ, we are deluding ourselves or being deluded or influenced lets say, to conform, caught in duality, remaining in disorder and al that comes in its wake.
      All this discussion is so repetitve and earthy and of little spiritual value if any and serves no purpose.

      With regards to the Orthodox, especially the Greek Orthodox, fewer in numbers certainly, fewer attending the Holy communion or going to confession is on the increase.
      I do not think there is a problem with Orthodox on the essentials of morality or the Church’s teaching, but there is, when they wish ignore it. Perhaps they are arguing the
      toss with each other on some Greek or Russian or some other Orthodox blog?
      I remember looking at a Russian blog a little while ago. There was nothing Christian on it, just politics, politics and more politics.
      This blog in some ways are streaks ahead of some Orthodox blogs, but some are very good, but one has to look for them.


  11. John Nolan says:

    Mike, you might have not been put off by the post-V2 shape of the Church, but I can assure you that a lot of us have been, and still are. Decline in vocations? Almost complete collapse of religious orders? Roman Mass replaced by a kindergarten ‘liturgy’? What is there to like?

    • mike Horsnall says:

      Could you explain, for example, the link you feel exists between post V2 and the decline in vocations/collapse of religious orders? …simply, if you can!

      • mike Horsnall says:

        PS John again,

        Regarding the ‘kindergarten’ liturgy. As you will recall you once reccomended to me Cardinal Ratzinges book ‘Spirit of the liturgy’. I read it and found it excellent. But I can’t see what it is you feel is lacking in the liturgy we have at present. Over this past year I have had to familiarise myself with both the various forms of Mass and the Divine Office. Coupled with the Office of Readings it is difficult to see how these forms of words could be in anyway called degenerate or be seen as failing to glorify God and transmit the faith. If you do say so then it seems to me that you are in effect saying that the very substance of our collective spirituality is under threat from what you percieve to be changes in form…I do not see this at all. As to decline in vocations etc, it is interesting to note that, at Oscott, I think almost 40% of vocations (now on an upturn) are coming from among converts.

      • John Nolan says:

        Mike, it’s easy and misleading to argue ‘post hoc, ergo propter hoc’. There would probably have been a crisis in the Church in the 1960s had the Council not been called, and if Montini had been elected in 1958 it wouldn’t have been. John XXIII summoned the Council for reasons that are unclear and died without signing off a single decree of it. Be that as it may, ‘aggionamento’ can hardly claim to have renewed the Church and the effect of the Council has been overwhelmingly negative. How many first Communion children have been properly catechized? I think you are in a better position to answer that question than I am.

  12. Rahner says:

    The Vatican’s own statistics for church “membership” – if you think they are worth taking seriously – show an increase from 653 Million in 1970 to the current figure of around 1.6Billion.

  13. John Nolan says:

    Mike, I recently talked to an Oscott student who assured me that they are now required to have a knowledge of Latin, Greek and Hebrew to the extent that they can read the scriptures in those languages. And the new English translation has meant that for the first time in 40-odd years we do not have to put up with baby-language. I usually attend Mass in Latin anyway, EF and OF.

  14. As someone who has been described as an Arch- Traditionalist- Conservative I do not find that there is a problem with Vatican II. The problem is with modernity and how it has affected some within the Church, who have become modernists through the impact of the media, politics and miss-appropriation of science. Vatican II did not change any of the Church’s teachings it was not a dogmatic council therefore it could not do so. All the teachings are still in place – The Real Presence – Life begins at conception and must be protected until natural death – Sex can only be between a man and a woman and only then after marriage and contraception is not allowed. Oh, and there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church (SSPX take note) unless of course they are invincibly ignorant which of course is what is really meant by religious freedom. The problem with religious freedom and the SSPX is that they would find it difficult to claim to be invincibly ignorant. Perhaps they are just really Protestants?

    What we really have a problem with is dissent, liturgical abuses etc this is not the fault of Vatican II but the Zeitgeist.

    • tim says:

      Certainly Protestants – just not the traditional kind….

      • John Nolan says:

        I hope you’re not suggesting that SSPX are outside the Catholic Church – they are not, and the Vatican recognizes this. Would there be groups like the FSSP, ICKSP, Transalpine Redemptorists and many others had not SSPX blazed the trail? The surprising thing is not that Lefebvre took the stand that he did, but that he was the only one brave enough to do so.

      • Quentin says:

        John, it would help if you explain this a little further. I understood that a process of attempted reconciliation was going on. But it appears from what you say that no reconciliation is needed. What is happening?

    • mike Horsnall says:

      I agree about the Zeitgeist.

      . All the teachings are still in place – The Real Presence – Life begins at conception and must be protected until natural death – Sex can only be between a man and a woman and only then after marriage and contraception is not allowed. Oh, and there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church (SSPX take note) unless of course they are invincibly ignorant which of course is what is really meant by religious freedom

      Perhaps anyone can help me clear something up (since I am still a couple of years away from diaconate vows as yet!!) We all promise to do our best regarding the above. Then we don’t-or large numbers of us don’t. We have sex when we “shouldn’t” with whom we”shouldnt” using protection when we “shouldn’t” Or whatever it is that we do or don’t do. So, in large numbers we display dissent. I would like to know what people think happens when we do these things…will God punish us? This isn’t a disingenuous question by the way-I have read the catechism quite thoroughly by now. But I would like to know what people here actually believe is the personal consequence of this mass “dissent”

      • John Nolan says:

        Sin, even persistent sin is not the same as dissent. Dissenters are questioning the authority of the Church to rule on matters of faith or morals.

  15. John Nolan says:

    Mike, when you talk about familiarizing yourself with the various forms of the Mass and Office, does this mean the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms?

  16. Iona says:

    Nektarios – “this goes for everything where Thought as a response to memory and projected into the future, be it in politics, secularization, society, business, fashion and technology, it is producing duality, that is a space or division between one and it, so one is not really in touch with anything or anyone.”

    But what (if anything) are you suggesting as an alternative to Thought, when it comes to situations which appear to be problematic, and when considering what to do about them?
    Or are you suggesting that we don’t label them as “problematic” and don’t spend time considering what to do about them?

    Are the Orthodox Churches also experiencing falling numbers of Mass attendance, fewer vocations than there used to be, people remaining vaguely attached to the faith but disputing some of its essential teachings about morality?

    • Nektarios says:


      I don’t know what happened there, but my reply to you is 16 postings further back.
      But to continue a little more….
      With regards to what one may label problematic, has most of the above solved anything?
      I think not.
      Looking for authority out there somewhere, in the priest, the Magesterium or the Pope,
      really is too silly for words.
      Looking to them for meaning in ones life would also be equally silly. ( I am sorry tread on what some hold precious).
      If one is a Christian, a real true born again Christian, then you have Christ and the spirit of Christ within you to illuminate you, so why are we looking to others?
      You are every person, and every person is you.
      So as Christians we meet together, but with a littlte modification to circumstances, we are experiencing the same problematic things in this life as everyone else.
      We need each other because only in relationship does one learn. To relate means to be at one. It is clear that the comments above, we are not at one at all, but operating, arguing out of our own ignorance, disorder, helpleness and spiritual poverty.
      If one wants everything perscribed for one in the spiritual life, one never spirially grows up in Christ at all, just filled with other mens’ disordered thoughts as they try to copein their present, only difference, you have given them authority. Ah, well, thas not true anymore, you don’t give them authority , they select among themselves in the heirachy
      to join their elite little group and rule you. This is hybrid religion!

      • Nektarios says:

        Sorry about the errors. I was having difficulty as it was jumping a bit and hiding what I was typing. Hope you can decipher it. – Nektarios

  17. mike Horsnall says:

    Ann, “think I’m having a little crisis of faith….”

    How would you say the things you list such as people talking in church, position of priest in front of sacrament etc, have affected your faith. I know that when I’m fed up everything can seem petty etc but I can’t see how the things you mention could fundamentally impact your own private devotion. I’m curious about this because I started life in the charismatic free church where the emphasis was not strongly on form but on encounter. I’m hoping to learn a bit about the way Catholics seem to see their belief as ‘bound up’ with something- like the position of the priest on the altar for example-it escapes me completely I’m afraid so I am keen to learn.

    • Ann says:

      Mike, like i said on my first post i was looking into the church and came across things i never knew was ever practised during mass, and read /heard of how some priest’s don’t think that the order of the mass is relevant,mainly a priest called Malachi Martin, so this made me think if now what we do and say is right! Maybe saying having a crisis of faith was the wrong words, as my faith in christ is as strong as ever, just sometimes the people in church don’t seem to be fully involved with the mass and it can distract me. Learning about the priest facing the tabernacle seems right and proper, especially during the blessing of the sacraments. I’m afraid i’m not the greatest at putting what i want to say into words, but i’m learning more as this topic unfolds.

      • Vincent says:

        Ann, I find it helpful to look on the Church as a sacramental organization. An old definition of a sacrament is “the outward sight of inward grace”. So baptism, for instance, is not airy fairy, it is pinned to our experience through the use of water. And water is not just symbolic, it is the way through which we express our intentions at the human level.

        In a similar kind of way the liturgy we say is the outward sign of our belief and of our inward prayer – although here it is the collective inward prayer of the Church. The Mass can emphasise its sacrificial nature through the action of the priest – and this may be better expressed through the Latin Mass (Latin being the language of the Church and so symbolic of its unity all over the world), and with the priest facing the altar. It can be emphasised in its community nature by using the vernacular, and having the priest facing the congregation – as Christ did at the last supper.

        Both ways are legitimate as both reflect sacrifice and community, although with different emphasis. But those who claim that one form is superior to another are talking through their mantillas.

      • mike Horsnall says:

        Not at all, I find this very useful and can go along with much of what you say.

  18. John Nolan says:

    Quentin, the SSPX needs to be reconciled because it is acting illicitly and its status is not regularized. When Henry VIII broke with Rome the prayer for the Pope was excised from the missal, signifying that the English Church was now schismatic. The SSPX prays ‘una cum Papa nostro Benedicto’. Attendance at SSPX Masses is allowed, providing the motive for attendance is not disobedience to the Holy See. When I was in Paris 20 years ago I went to mass at St-Nicholas-du-Chardonnet; at that time it was the only church in the city offering the Usus Antiquior. It was announced that there was an upcoming Mass with the bishop. I had never been to an old-rite Pontifical Solemn Mass (I’ve been to a few since, including more than one in Westminster Cathedral) but felt that in all conscience I could not attend, as at that time the SSPX bishops were excommunicated.

  19. John Nolan says:

    John Candido

    In reply to your comment above: What is appropriate is often a matter of subjective opinion, and some people are more fastidious than others. What I was criticizing was the increasingly intolerant attitude which does not say “I disagree with you because …” but “your views are wholly unacceptable”. When we indulge in behaviour that is indeed “wholly unacceptable” we face criminal charges, but I am prepared to tolerate opinions which are wrong-headed, ignorant or even obnoxious, because I believe in free speech and rational argument. Libel, defamation and incitement to violence aside, we should be able to say and write what we like.

    • John Candido says:

      That’s fine by me. Only, if you are prepared to dish it out, be prepared to get some of it back.

      • John Nolan says:

        It would be gratifying if what I got back was of a similar quality to what I dish out. Disagreement is one thing, wilful misunderstanding another.

  20. John Candido says:

    The Second Vatican Council called by Pope John XXIII and completed under the auspices of Pope Paul VI. As Quentin has noted in his introduction, Pope Paul VI has described the council’s authority in these terms,

    ‘In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statement of dogmas that would be endowed with the note of infallibility, but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the supreme ordinary Magisterium. This ordinary Magisterium, which is so obviously official, has to be accepted with docility, and sincerity by all the faithful, in accordance with the mind of the Council on the nature and aims of the individual documents (General Audience of 12 January 1966).’

    It appears that the Second Vatican Council is not only an authoritative statement of the bishops, but it is also something that is obligatory for all Catholics.

    As Paul Milligan stated, secularisation has occurred concurrently as the Second Vatican Council. Accusations that the Church’s problems are at the hands of liberals, who have distorted the Council messages, are a preposterous red herring of the first order. It is not a liberal regime that is in charge of the Vatican City state.

    What makes the realisation that secularisation is partly at the root of the church’s problems is its dichotomous nature. Like crosses; it is both a blessing and a curse in some ways. It is a blessing because it puts the church on its toes. We have to force ourselves to think and be creative vis-à-vis the Catholic Church’s positions on a multitude of issues. It is a curse because the church has worked long and hard to place the gospel front and centre as the answer to life’s meaning and purpose, only to have its salvific message largely rejected in the Western world, during the last and present century.

    Let us be clear about the following terms. My Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary (Fifth Edition) definition of secular is,

    ‘1. Concerned with the affairs of this world; not spiritual or sacred. 2. (of education etc.) not concerned with religion or religious belief.

    Likewise, my dictionary’s definition of secularism is,

    ‘1. The attitude or belief that religions or religious doctrines should have no place or say in the conduct of a public education system and in the civil affairs and policies of a nation. 2. (Philosophical application) the doctrine that religion, religious dogmas, etc. have no place in the formulation of a system of ethics.’

    Secularisation is similar to saying that religion is irrelevant, that it needs to be excluded, and therefore, it is a complete waste of everyone’s time. Does that sound familiar? Both the young and the not so young have both said this to us all at various times, in both bold and more subtle ways.

    I would suggest that the church is its own worst enemy when it comes to the current crisis that it finds itself. In a nutshell; it is a failure to adapt to modernity. There is a need to both acknowledge and closely examine the effect of secularisation, as it is an unfortunate outcome of the processes of human progress, if the church is to apply well thought out remedies to the assault by modernity.

    As to the meaning of various documents of the Second Vatican Council, I would suggest that we have several sources to consult. One secondary source would be the life and experiences of Angelo Roncalli (Pope John XXIII) as a priest, Bishop, and Vatican diplomat. One extremely important experience would be the Shoah (the Holocaust). I am absolutely confident that this appalling experience would have found its way in his encyclicals as Pope. Indeed, all of the bishops of the Second Vatican Council would have used this dreadful reference point as primary material regarding human dignity, religious freedom, the laity, our relations with the Jews, ecumenism, our relations with non-Christian faiths, and the imperishable and inviolate human conscience; the final refuge of free human beings.

    The Shoah taught us the most severe lessons imaginable. Some of them are to do with human rights and politics; some of them are to do with economics and the scapegoating of minorities, and some of them are to do with prejudice, the rule of law, human freedom, and human dignity. All of these rather expensively gained lessons are there to be interpreted by empathetic and fair-minded people.

    Another source would be the books that he read, his pre-Vatican II encyclicals ‘Mater et Magistra’ and ‘Pacem in Terris’, and the personal beliefs he would have cherished. All of these can be linked to motifs in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. I am not talking about the religious dogma that he no doubt believed, but other matters such as politics, social beliefs, organisational ideas for institutions, the laity, ecumenical ideas, and the church’s ecclesiology.

    One book that he devoured wholesale was by the French Dominican, Father Yevs Congar O.P. (1904 -1995) who was later given a Cardinal’s hat by Pope John Paul II in 1994, in recognition for his services to the Council. The book is entitled in French, ‘Vraie et fausse réforme dans l’Eglise’. I don’t speak French; the title was simply copied and pasted from the above Wikipedia article on Congar. Its translation is, ‘True and False Reform in the Church’, (2011) a Michael Glazier Book, published by Liturgical Press, translated by Fr. Paul Philibert O.P. The book was first published in 1950. Congar believed that fidelity to the church and reform of the church was not a mutually exclusive proposition. We can all take up this notion as a good starting point for the necessary but fraught reform of the Roman Catholic Church.

    Other links about Fr. Yevs Congar O.P.,

    Click to access AEJT_4.3_Nugent.pdf

    • Nektarios says:

      John Candido
      All this is very well as one strives for correct definitions, theological, political, social and so on.
      We have not got beyond the Patristic understanding of Christian World view yet.
      What has transpired since the Fathers and the Holy Tradition is in the annuls of history
      to the present day, and most of it demostrates we have not advanced on jot in true spirituality one bit, but considerably onlly in forms of control, of the masses; cleverness in hiding the true agendas the RC Church has. All is not what it seems.

  21. John Nolan says:


    Can you explain an apparent contradiction in your argument? If the Church is indeed under “assault by modernity”, this would imply that modernity is antipathetical to the Church. Yet at the same time you castigate the Church for her “failure to adapt to modernity”. Modernity, Zeitgeist, call it what you will, is transient: not so long ago eugenics and social Darwinism were all the rage, and backed by the latest scientific research. Not so now. In the 19th century the Catholic Church and Catholic-minded Anglicans had to contend with an intellectual climate dominated by aggressive Protestantism (look at the exchanges between Newman and Kingsley, and even the high-church Gladstone).

    This meant that Catholic Christians had to be counter-cultural, and the same applies today. In an important sense the Gospel message is counter-cultural, and St Paul’s admonition in Romans 12:2 (Et nolite conformari huic saeculo) is as relevant as ever. I suggest you frame it and put it on your desk, along with the comment by Dean Inge: “He who marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next”.

    • John Candido says:

      There is no contradiction between the Catholic Church being assaulted by modernity as a metaphor, and the failure of the Roman Catholic Church to renew itself in the light of modernity. What I am dealing with is subtleties. It is a question of degree and an appreciation that we are dealing with modernity as a dichotomy, which has both good and bad aspects.

      • John Nolan says:

        JC, I’m not sure I follow your argument, although I do rate Yves Congar; Avery Dulles said he was the greatest exponent of the theology of Tradition of all time, and he might well have been right. He was responsible for a large part of Lumen Gentium and his ideas had a considerable influence on Roncalli, Wojtyla and Ratzinger.

      • John Candido says:

        John Nolan.

        Obviously, we come from vastly different perspectives. Most of what I want to see the Catholic Church to become is not literally contained in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Change is hoped at by reformers and progressive theologians around the world, and then, the documents would be subject to an individual’s interpretation. This of course will not do it justice.

        A literal, black-letter reading of the documents, despite some of the language being a compromise between conservative, moderate, and liberal bishops, will probably leave most contemporary liberals somewhat disappointed. The happy exceptions to this are the following Council documents; Nostra Aetate (Declaration on the Relations of the Church to Non-Christian Religions), Dignitatus Humanae (Declaration on Religious Liberty), Unitatis Redintegratio (Decree on Ecumenism), and Gaudium et Spes (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World). These documents herald real change in attitudes for the Roman Catholic Church of today and are de fide.

        Of course, so much depends on the Pope of the day, and most of them are conservative, who come from a mostly conservative College of Cardinals. If a conservative Pope does not like any aspect of the church, I am sure that the Church can accommodate him without too much fuss. If a liberal Pope were to make changes, it would be rather awkward for most of his staff, if the new regime did not remove them from service.

        In a Wikipedia article about the Council, a short paragraph is illustrative of the yawning gap between liberals and conservatives.

        ‘The Council, however, generated significant controversy in implementing its reforms; proponents of the “Spirit of Vatican II” such as Swiss theologian Hans Küng claimed Vatican II had “not gone far enough” to change church policies. Traditionalist Catholics, such as Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, however, strongly criticised the council, arguing that the council’s liturgical reforms led “to the destruction of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacraments”, among other issues.

        I think that most liberals, including myself, have gone well past what the council literally says about issues, to positions of future hope for the Church. The trouble is that we pine for a future Vatican III, which we hope will bring modernity to Catholicism on a number of fronts. What all people need to do is to let the documents to speak for themselves and not to make the mistake of placing their own personal desires on them. I am guilty as convicted!

        I am trying to be a little more realistic with the rather moribund Church that we find ourselves. I do understand that what I find moribund is rather comfortable for others. But this is not a surrender of my hopes for modernity to make its inevitable entrance in future. I am of the case; born a liberal, die a liberal. It is just who I am, and I cannot help who I am.

        The John Nolans of this world and I are worlds apart. I recognise it. In time, we, meaning the Church, will painfully reform itself to prevent its certain collapse. To do this is palpably beyond anyone’s competencies, but we pray for future leaders who are capable of instituting relevant reform. This will not be easily done because significant reform in the Roman Catholic Church is probably the most fraught adventure imaginable that anyone can undertake. It is all the pity.

        The following website is an excellent resource for anyone interested in the Second Vatican Council. It features the English Bishop B. C. Butler OSB, who was a participant of the Council.

      • Quentin says:

        John C., glad to see Bp Butler mentioned. He was the man who said in the Sunday Express, following Humanae Vitae, that since it was not infallible, it was, by definition, fallible, I still have the cutting somewhere in my files.

        I wish you, or someone, could put definitions on the terms conservative and liberal. I find myself agreeing with John N. on some things and disagreeing on others. Likewise, with you.

        I am not sure how a lengthy document from a pastoral council can be de fide. Do you mean literally, word for word? Or just the general drift? And can you cite any official document saying so? But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t authoritative.

      • John Candido says:

        A conservative is someone that prefers most things to remain the same. A conservative is one who is purposefully cautious and generally disdainful of novelty. In its religious incarnation it can take two roots. Fundamentalism is an extreme form of conservatism that usually obeys a leader(s) unquestioningly and reads religious texts in a literal manner, which can be guided by authority or using one’s own authority to interpret them. The other form of conservatism is one where old prescriptions continue to apply to new circumstances, regardless of society’s changing scientific and technological prowess.

        A liberal is one who is more open to change than conservatives and tends to have a more open mind about issues. As a liberal, I always try to look for potential solutions to problems. This does not mean that conservatives are devoid of creativity and have no readiness to try to solve problems. Liberals are generally more tolerant of individual liberty. This would depend on the issue and the milieu that you would find yourself.
        A moderate is someone in between these two polarities. These categories cannot do justice to individuals who cannot readily be categorised as one or the other. Depending on the issue at hand, someone can be a conservative on one issue, a moderate on another and a liberal for any other matter.

        ‘I am not sure how a lengthy document from a pastoral council can be de fide. Do you mean literally, word for word? Or just the general drift? And can you cite any official document saying so? But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t authoritative.’

        I get the feeling that de fide and authoritative have separate meanings in Catholicism but I am not sure of the exact distinction. Can anybody define the difference between the two? I will say the following on the basis that they both have very similar meanings, with my apologies for not knowing otherwise.

        Is any document from the Second Vatican Council de fide? I cannot see how any of the sixteen documents couldn’t be de fide, including those that are generally more conservative such as, Sacrosanctum concilium (The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy), and Lumen Gentium (The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church). To others that herald a change in teaching or a shift in attitudes such as, Nostra Aetate (Declaration on the Relations of the Church to Non-Christian Religions), Dignitatus Humanae (Declaration on Religious Liberty), Unitatis Redintegratio (Decree on Ecumenism), Gaudium et Spes (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World), and Apostolicam actuositatem (Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People). Of course the same could be said of many other documents from Popes or any sacred congregations that followed any of the original sixteen documents.

        An Ecumenical Council is the highest authoritative body of the Roman Catholic Church. I can’t imagine a situation where all of the Catholic bishops in the world who are qualified to attend and participate, go to the trouble to fly to Rome, debating, reading, writing, and giving speeches, only to be informed that their documents are not de fide. An Ecumenical Council, where all participants freely participate, should be seen by all thinking Catholics, as the very essence of the presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit. By the way, an Ecumenical Council towers over Papal infallibility. Papal infallibility is the outcome of religious political intrigue and nonsense on stilts.

        P.S. moving away from theology and for the scientifically inclined, I have an interesting book review of a title called, ‘Nonsense on Stilts, How to Tell Science from Bunk’, by Massimo Pigliucci, University of Chicago Press, May 2010, 336 pages, ISBN-13: 978-02266-678-67.

  22. Horace says:

    When I retired I began to wonder about the changes that had happened in the church over the last 30 odd years and was given (by my daughter) a book “The basic sixteen documents VATICAN COUNCIL II”.

    Reading it carefully I found nothing particularly worrying or contentious.
    To me Vatican II seems to be a symptom, rather than the cause, of marked and disturbing changes in the church.

    For example the mention of Confession; see my comment to “Bless me, father” (June 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm)
    I cannot find, in the documents of Vatican II, any explicit references to practices such as Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Benediction, the Rosary, Litanies, Stations of the Cross etc. which have often disappeared.

    But perhaps the best known example might be:-
    Sacrosanctum Concilium 36 “(1) The use of the Latin language, except when a particular law prescribes otherwise, is to be preserved in the Latin rites”.
    [ Linguae latinae usus, salvo particulari iure, in Ritibus latinis servetur.]
    At least in the UK, as far as I can see, (and with the obvious exception of the Latin Mass Society)
    this requirement seems to be completely ignored.

    But Latin falling into disuse is not confined to the church. When I was young and wrote a prescription it might have looked like this :-

    tab. acetylsalicylic acid g V
    bid prn
    mitte LX

    Hand this to a pharmacist today and you will probably get a blank look and a comment “What’s this!”

    It is written, of course, in Latin, abbreviated :- Rx = recipe {now only found in cookery books}, bid = bis in die (twice daily), prn. = pro re nata (as needed), mitte = send (provide, in this case 60 Aspirin tablets)

    • John Nolan says:

      Some bright spark in the 1990s decided to get rid of most legal Latin. As a result the latest generation of lawyers needs a glossary when consulting older books.

      • tim says:

        Off-topic, but perhaps interesting (to some)?. The EU needs an official common language more than it needs a common currency. I have been arguing for a couple of decades that this should be Latin. The EU is Babel. Important legislation may easily be issued in up to five languages, each of the differing texts of equal authority. And the cost of translation is prodigious – borne centrally. If all official EU documents were in Latin, you would have a single authoritative text for the lawyers to argue over, and countries who wanted it translated into their own language or languages (Finnish, Gaelic, etc) could pay for this (subsidiarity in action). Most European languages are at least partly based on Latin, and Finland has its own Latin radio station. Latin is the official language of the Church, and of much of the European heritage. The UK may have given up legal Latin, but the rest of the continent hasn’t. My great-uncle touring Europe in the 19th century met a Polish priest on the train, and they were able to converse in Latin (family oral tradition). To connect this effusion to the discussion, perhaps I can argue that a minor undesirable effect of Vatican II was unduly to discourage the use of Latin by the universal church.

    • tim says:

      Horace, off-topic again, I fear, but how do you produce italics? I’d love to be able to use italics, bold, underlining, etc. But when I paste things so emphasised into the blog, the emphasis disappears.

      • Horace says:

        To use italics:
        in front of the word or phrase to be italicised
        ‘less-than sign’ “em” ‘greater-than sign’
        then the word or phrase to be italicised
        ‘less-than sign’ “/em” ‘greater-than sign’

        The less-than and greater-than signs bracket the em or /em
        thus text

    • John L says:

      “this requirement seems to be completely ignored”.
      You bet it is! We are often lectured (maybe not so often as of yore) on obedience to the Magisterium. Regrettably too many of our religious leaders are very selective in their obedience so long as the lower orders keep their heads down!
      John L

  23. John Nolan says:

    JC, some would argue that it is the liberal vision of the Church which is moribund (literally so, when you look at the age of its remaining advocates). Benedict XVI has suggested that the Church in Europe and North America may need to become smaller and purer, and I see what he means – what is the point in having a large number of people calling themselves Catholic who are either ignorant of the Church’s teaching on faith and morals or openly defiant of it? As far as I understand it, your liberal wish-list consists of the following:
    1. Women’s ordination.
    2. The Church’s moral teaching to be brought into line with late 20th and early 21st century social mores, eg contraception, abortion, extra-marital sex, same-sex genital acts are to be approved.
    3. The right (and indeed duty) of the Holy See to ensure doctrinal orthodoxy to be abrogated in favour of a ‘magisterium’ of (presumably liberal) theologians. The CDF to be wound up.
    4. The structure of the Church to be entirely overhauled and made to conform with modern secular ‘democratic’ political structures. The pope to become like the chairman of a board, with perhaps a casting vote.

    No pope, whatever his private views, could possibly deliver this; to believe so is utterly to misunderstand the nature of the Petrine office, which is to faithfully uphold the Truth as revealed by Scripture and Tradition. Turning to another of your pet ideas, that of a ‘Vatican III’ to complete the work of Vatican II (as you interpret it) and usher in the liberal brave new world, let us imagine a highly unlikely scenario in which a pope in ten or twenty years’ time summons a General Council. The periti who would draw up the documents would be notably more conservative than their V II counterparts. Likewise the bishops, far more of them from Africa and Asia than was the case in 1962. It would be more like Trent than Vatican II, overhauling seminary training to produce better-formed and more orthodox priests, resacralizing the liturgy after the disastrous liberal experiments of the 1960s and 1970s; I could go on. But these things are gradually happening as we speak, so V III probably won’t be needed.

    • John Candido says:

      John Nolan. Thank you for a most interesting reply!

      ‘No pope, whatever his private views, could possibly deliver this; to believe so is utterly to misunderstand the nature of the Petrine office, which is to faithfully uphold the Truth as revealed by Scripture and Tradition.’

      I am all for scripture and tradition, the magisterium of the Church, the authority of the Pope, all bishops, the laity, and theologians. I will not accept that the very same tradition is not amenable to review or reinterpretation in the light of changing circumstances. The Church has always done this on many issues; it refuses to stand still as a reading of Catholic history will adumbrate.

      • John Nolan says:

        Exactly. Ecclesia semper reformanda. However, authority can’t be invested in everyone; theologians have their own insights, and I for one would not want to go back to the stifling atmosphere which characterized the first half of the 20th century and effectually emasculated Catholic theology. But they disagree on a number of issues, often fundamentally. ‘The laity’, in an oranization with over a billion adherents, can hardly have a collective opinion; in Europe and North America both ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’ have views which they express vehemently via the internet and would appear to be irreconcilable. Vatican II was asked not to change doctrine, but to represent it in a way relevant to the second half of the 20th century. I’m not sure it was successful in doing this, but it did produce Lumen Gentium which I think must inform our understanding of authority as it affects the Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ.

        God knows, we have lived through some trying times, and by 1978 it appeared to many that the Church was in irreversible decline. That this didn’t happen was due in part to a change of leadership, but also to the fact that a 2000-year-old institution has always, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, been able to rectify herself. To predict her ‘certain collapse’ should she not embrace a late 20th century agenda is (apart from anything else) a denial of what Our Lord himself promised, and anyone maintaining this cannot in honesty call himself a Catholic. There has to be a bottom line.

        I earnestly hope and pray that in correctly determining the Sensus Ecclesiae you will return to full communion. I’m not being sanctimonious, since my own expressed views are often tendentious, lacking in charity, and sometimes wrong.

    • John Candido says:

      John Nolan.

      ‘To predict her ‘certain collapse’ should she not embrace a late 20th century agenda is (apart from anything else) a denial of what Our Lord himself promised, and anyone maintaining this cannot in honesty call himself a Catholic. There has to be a bottom line.’

      I will accept my error here. To use the term ‘certain collapse’, I had an intention to grab everyone’s attention by holding out a warning. Having done so, I have gone over the line. Some people do lose hope at times. It is during hopelessness that one can forget that Christ did promise to be with us till the end of time. However, a warning of some sort is apposite.

      As for authority; there is always a need for authority, as its alternative, anarchy, is disorder. Those with legitimate authority in the Church have this authority without question. The Holy Father does have authority, and any other Bishop or priest has authority according to his circumstances.

      However, for those who legitimately have authority, I question how much power they possess, and the method of governance the Catholic Church employs. Transparency and accountability are tremendously serious governance issues for the Church, as the recognition of the authority that theologians and lay people have, in their own sphere of competency.

      I am not seeking a revolution of the Church, merely reform. Reform is not something that the Catholic Church does quickly enough for my liking. I do understand that my preferred reforms and their time frames are akin to a revolution for others.

  24. John Nolan says:

    Tim, I’m with you! The modern state of Israel did it with Hebrew. Two European countries (Austria and Switzerland) use Latin abbreviations on their car licence plates. In Oxford there is a sign saying ‘way out’ in every language but English – next to a little Union Jack is the word ‘exit’. I would go further. The EU needs to be under a Catholic Habsburg emperor who would have precedence over national monarchies (those states which at present call themselves republics would be obliged to restore theirs).

    • Nektarios says:

      John Candido

      There is a whole raft of presumptions in the piece you have just written which I question.
      For example, Is the Church the institution of the Roman Catholic Church the services, the priesthood, the buildings the artefacts found therein. Is Catholic Church the Administration, Is the Catholic Church the Vatican State? If it is, then it will indeed perish with the using, for it had a beginning, a middle and will have an end. The Church to continue not only to the end of Time, but into Eternity, we enter that Church, and that
      overarching authority and power is God Himself.
      This makes so much of what has gone on historically and presently so obvious, that what we in our generation are witness to, is the old nature modified religiously.
      Even so, in the midst of this God does not leave Himself without a witness,

      You say, there is always need for authority otherwise there is disorder and anarchy.

      As we are all living in various states of disorder, then can that which is disordered bring forth order? It may bring forth seeming order, but produces only divisions and problems further down the line.
      I am not against authority, but when that authority is more interested in its propaganda,
      political and religious with all its seeming cleverness, such have lost sight of the Truth, and are thrown back on their own wits and believe their own propaganda. They are concerned with their thought up image being believed, and seen as powerful and so on.
      Perhaps you think I am too cynical? But I know something of the problems the Roman Catholic Church has caused around the world in its manic power lust and in many other areas of life it touches. Do they really know and serve the Lord of Peace, if not, whom do the Heirarchs serve?
      As I say, John, I on the evidence, am questioning what the Roman Catholic Church is actually? The Lord is the judge, of it, but that does not in the meantime give them the right to run roughshod over everybody and demand their authority over others be respected. The right to that they lost centuries ago, but it still plays the same old games.

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