Dethroning Christ? The error at the root of the Viganò controversy (Part I)

A hermeneutic of continuity must be diligently pursued rather than abandoned—and the saga of the modern councils is not yet finished.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, served as nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016. (CNS photo/Twitter; image of Vatican II: CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Abu Dhabi and the Jihad against Vatican II

The Abu Dhabi Declaration, A Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, has been making it difficult for Catholics to live together peaceably. The document was co-promulgated last year by Pope Francis and The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, in the hope that it might “constitute an invitation to reconciliation and fraternity among all believers” and “a witness to the greatness of faith in God that unites divided hearts and elevates the human soul.” In the Church, however, it has succeeded only at reigniting the Dignitatis Humanae and Nostra Aetate wars, and with them the entire conflict over the Second Vatican Council.

The document’s leveling of “the greatness of faith in God” among diverse religions, and its use of the category “all believers” in a manner inclusive of all religions, lend it the feel of something ghost-written by the late Gregory Baum (who had a hand in Nostra Aetate) or by some other advocate of religious relativism. This becomes quite tangible in the paragraph supporting religious freedom:

Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept.

The second sentence here is the most notorious, since it appears to make diversity of religion a matter of divine goodness and beneficence, like diversity of flora and fauna.

That sentence requires some parsing, however. It may be said in its defense that it works with the fact, stated by Paul on Mars Hill, that God “made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him.” And while it does not also state, neither does it deny, the further fact that God, having overlooked times of ignorance, now “commands all men everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed” and whom he has raised from the dead. It does not state it, we may suppose, because (unlike Paul’s discourse in Acts 17) it is on its way to a political rather than an evangelical end; namely, that if people are meant by God to feel after him and to find him, then they must be free to do so. They must not be coerced in matters of religion or culture.

Now, surely there is nothing wrong with a document promulgated in a political context being on its way to a political rather than an evangelical end, so long as that end is understood to be proximate rather than ultimate. There’s the rub, however. For the Abu Dhabi Declaration seems to be evangelically deficient in a way no political aim can justify. Its call to “come together in the vast space of spiritual, human and shared social values,” and to do so in such as way as to avoid “unproductive discussions,” might reasonably be taken to rule out the very thing Paul was doing on Mars Hill!

At all events, Abu Dhabi has proved a serious provocation to many Catholics, as we have seen again this past fortnight. So much so that a controversy has broken out that threatens to lead a number of people into schism.

Bishop Schneider’s real objection

The fuse of this controversy was lit a couple of months ago by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who argued in a LifeSite article that there was a direct causal relation between Dignitatis Humanae and Abu Dhabi, pointing out that Pope Francis himself had said as much.

On Schneider’s view, it was all fine and well for Dignitatis to insist that belief cannot be compelled without a violation of human nature, but a serious error to assert that men should be at liberty to act in religious matters according to their own beliefs and consciences, so long as their actions fall within the limits of a just public order. That is the kind of thinking that leads straight to the relativism of the Abu Dhabi Declaration. “Immunity from external coercion in accepting the only one true Faith is a natural right,” yes. “It is also a natural right not to be forced to carry out evil (sin) or error (false religion).” But there is no natural right not to be prevented from “choosing, carrying out and spreading” evil or error.

Schneider employs here a distinction between the positive and permissive will of God. The former belongs to providence at the level of creative design, the latter at the level of governance, in which both divine and human economies are adapted to historical conditions. Permission is not grounded in natural rights and it need not – generally ought not – extend to what is not right. The bishop begs the question, however, as to whether the natural right to make personal judgments, not least in matters of religion and conscience, extends to corporate practice by virtue of the corporate nature of religion; and whether in the present historical economy permission is granted by God, and ought to be granted by man, to worship freely within the due limits of a just public order, even and especially and order informed by the Catholic faith. There is no direct line from Dignitatis to Abu Dhabi if that is case.

Schneider also employs in problematic fashion the distinction between belief and action. For, by its very nature, belief is not subject to compulsion. Even actions cannot be coerced, though agents can be coerced; that is, pressured through threat of punishment to make, say, a false confession. It is quite meaningless, in political terms, to say that you may believe what you like so long as you do what you are told, especially when doing what you are told means not telling anyone what you believe (in Schneider’s terms, spreading error). It is also quite meaningless to say that man has by nature the right to think wrongly but does not the right to act wrongly. He hasn’t the “right” to do either, but he does have the power so long as God allows him the power, and the liberty, so long as the state permits him the liberty – which in a good many matters it must do.

The objection to Dignitatis that Schneider is looking for, then, is not that it passes from toleration of wrong belief to toleration of wrong action. States do that all the time. Anything can be thought with legal impunity, but only some wrong thoughts can be publicly encouraged with impunity, and only some wrong actions can be publicly undertaken with impunity. Thus it has ever been, and deciding which are which has ever been the lawmaker’s dilemma. There is no warrant at all for his contention that, on the view of the council fathers, a just state must place devil-worship on a par with the Catholic faith. Respect for “due limits” and “just order” (Dignitatis 2) rules that out without ruling out all practice but Catholic practice.

Schneider’s real objection, I suspect, is to the supposition of the fathers that, despite the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church does not have the legal and political right or duty to rule the world on Christ’s behalf, putting an end to what Paul called “the times of ignorance” by enforcing a public order in which it is not permitted to promote anything contrary to Christ.

His objection, in other words, is eschatological. The fathers should have insisted, not merely on the libertas ecclesiae – the Church’s freedom to live and proclaim the gospel in any and every place – but also on the sovereign right of the Church over all lesser liberties. To put it rather more bluntly than Schneider does, they should have insisted on the right and responsibility of a truly just state to say, in effect, “Be Catholic or be quiet.” They did not do so because they worked with an insufficiently realized eschatology, hence with a deficient understanding both of the Church’s authority and of human responsibility in the face of that authority. They did not do so because they failed to reckon with the full implications of the kingship of Christ, with the earthly implications of his heavenly session.

In fairness to Bishop Schneider, his primary concern is that being Catholic must continue to mean giving faithful witness to Jesus Christ. Moreover, he is quite candid that being Catholic doesn’t mean always being right. Witness to Christ, even by means of an ecumenical council, is sometimes given in ways that later require reform. Which is what he hopes will happen where Dignitatis and other documents of Vatican II are concerned. For that council, advertently or inadvertently, mixed error with truth and false religion with true. It did not demand full obedience to Christ, and so to the Church, in the secular sphere.

Archbishop Viganò forces the issue

Enter Archbishop Viganò, who ensures detonation by insisting that Bishop Schneider himself is suffering from a tendency to attenuate the divine authority of the Church. Viganò sees nothing magisterial as ever having required or received correction. The very possibility of that should be excluded. Which means, of course, that Vatican II, was not magisterial. What ought to be conceded is something worse than an unfortunate admixture of error that had serious knock-on consequences. What ought to be conceded is that the council itself was an act of treason at the highest levels. Or rather, that there was an act of treason in the early going that snuffed out the true council, which got no further than its preparatory documents. After that it became merely a “container council” into which the work of “a ‘devil council’ [conciliabolo]” was inserted by treacherous men, men led by the first in a series of treacherous popes that has now reached its crescendo in the Abu Dhabi pope. Hence all its final documents, which have borne nothing but bad fruit, should be set aside and the preparatory documents reaffirmed.

Viganò’s explosive claims were immediately challenged, of course, by many able people, including Thomas Weinandy and John Cavadini, who wrote responses in the same publication, Inside the Vatican. It was in his rejoinder to Fr. Weinandy that the archbishop triggered his second charge, by talking about a conciliabolo. Weinandy’s reply came in The Catholic World Report, where he raised inter alia the obvious and necessary question of an “unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit.” That is not a question I can or will take up, but I will briefly rehearse the central argument.

Viganò attempts to expropriate and redeploy, in support of his claims about Vatican II, an earlier argument of Weinandy’s regarding Pope Francis. If Weinandy can posit a divided papacy, in which the pontiff is both head of the true Church and head also of a false church, a parallel church, then can he not also recognize in Vatican II both a council of truth and a council of error? This analogy Weinandy rejects. The problem we face with Francis, he says, is not that there is a true pope and a false – something impossible in one man – but that there is, in the one pope, both a headship proper to the true Church and a de facto headship of this false church. The household of God and an alliance of false brethren within that household are being led simultaneously by one and the same man, at least to the extent that this man is deliberately making room for them to do their devilish work. While Viganò attempts – by calumniation, says Weinandy, rather than by evidence – to make the same case against the popes of the council, he mounts no case at all as regards the council itself. For what he says about the council is that there are two, not one: the aborted council that only began to take place and the diabolical council that took its place.

So the analogy fails. Where Weinandy has one pope (Francis) simultaneously serving two churches, Viganò has one pope (Roncalli) serving two churches by means of two successive councils. If there is a mystery to Francis that troubles Weinandy, and a mystery to Roncalli that troubles Viganò, there is no parallel mystery to Vatican II. Bishop Schneider’s council, with its strange admixture of truth and error, is mysterious, but not Archbishop Viganò’s. For the latter posits one council that is true, another that is false and can be rejected altogether. He has cut the Gordian knot, at the risk of that unpardonable sin.

Viganò’s intervention, then, if I may say so, has forced the issue. It is no longer possible to equivocate about the Second Vatican Council. Was it of God, or was it of men only? Indeed, was it of God or was it of the Evil One? Whoever objects to what has been done in the name of “the spirit of Vatican II,” including the Abu Dhabi Declaration and the idolatrous adoration of the Pachamama, yet refuses to answer the question, now finds himself in an untenable position, akin to that of those who would not answer Jesus regarding John the Baptist. We may thank Archbishop Viganò for that, at least.

Conflicting accounts of the post-conciliar disaster

Some time ago I suggested that it is helpful to address the mystery of the current pontificate by bringing to bear the distinction between the man and his office, a distinction too easily passed over or misconstrued when writing or reading journalistic shorthand. We need a similar distinction here. For an ecumenical council, like the pontificate(s) with which it is associated, considered in terms of its magisterial office and function, cannot simultaneously belong to the true Church and the false. A pope or a council father, on the other hand, can be divided in himself and against himself. He can for that matter be a scoundrel, who belongs in one sense to the true Church and in another, more fundamental sense to the false, whose fate he will share. (So it was with Boniface VIII, for example, in Dante’s judgment.) Such a one, even without being a scoundrel, can do great damage in the performance of his office or, even as a scoundrel, do significant good; and the good or the harm in question rebounds in some way upon the office, changing the way it is perceived and performed.

When we keep this in mind, we can see more easily that to give the answer we ought to give, the answer we must give if we do not intend to be schismatic – the answer that Vatican II was indeed an authentic ecumenical council, engaged in the work of God and of the magisterium of the Church under God – is not to commit ourselves to the untenable notion that its fathers were uniformly faithful or that its documents, despite the flaws of their authors, were themselves essentially flawless. Nor is it to deny that a council, like a pontificate, can be abused; that it can be employed, wittingly or unwittingly, in service of the false church as well as the true. Where it is abused, and the abuse takes place during as well as after the council – such is the case with Vatican II – that is likely to show in its documents, which will still not declare error to be truth but may indeed contain some admixture of error with the truth. So much (and no more) we may concede to Bishop Schneider, as long as the hermeneutic of continuity is maintained and, with it, the recognition that Vatican II is not unique in this respect. The texts of any council must be read in the light of scripture and of all the other councils. Ambiguities that are present, or inconsistencies that then appear, must be resolved in favour of the unity of the whole.

Archbishop Viganò, who answers the question by repudiating the council, does not believe that this can be done with Vatican II. He points (much like Schneider, though Schneider stops short of the schismatic answer) first to the fruit of the council, then to its actual teaching. The council seems to have left Catholicism in much the same shape as the tragic warehouse blast has left Beirut. Shall we not condemn its teaching, which modernists had been stockpiling for a generation, and return to what we had beforehand?

But there is another and quite different explanation for what happened in the wake of Vatican II, the explanation offered the archbishop by Weinandy and Cavadini. It is not the council and its teaching we should blame, but rather a widespread failure to receive and implement the teaching properly. In the name of the council or its “spirit,” what was implemented was not what the council actually taught, but a perversion thereof. Everything was read just as the modernists wanted it read, which meant of course that the vast majority of it wasn’t read at all. The council, at which the modernists had managed some successes in the midst of many failures, became an excuse for proceeding with everything they had proposed or intended to propose. The spirit operating in a subterranean fashion during the council, and quite openly since the council, is not at all the same Spirit who (in keeping with our Lord’s promise) was operating in and through the council.

The Holy Spirit himself was at work and remains at work, as Weinandy puts it, through both a “beneficent” and a ”severe” grace. This both/and was necessary because of the many sins that had been heaped up in the warehouse, so to say, and left unattended. Or to change the metaphor, ecclesial and cultural life was already suppurating. A great boil of moral and intellectual corruption was growing that required to be lanced. The council, whatever else it was, was an instrument of God for its lancing and eventually for its healing. “Eventually” rather than immediately, because the council (like so many other councils before it) did not achieve everything it ought to have achieved. Its labors, however sincere and productive, were insufficiently directed to lancing the boil or to repair of the infected ecclesial tissue. The courage for that was lacking at the council, as was the courage to back Humanae Vitae afterwards.

I think we must admit that there was want of courage. Marxism and Communism, which had already made serious inroads in the Church, went unnamed. So, by and large, did the hubris and the lusts that marked Western secularism, which had traveled even further. The impending collapse of the one and of the other alike, through their infelicitous union, was not foreseen or prophetically addressed. The sickness in the Church itself, including sexual sickness, was not addressed. Rather a bright face was put on and the people went out as if to a dance, led by clergy and religious who had already got themselves (un)dressed for it. That was not the work of the council, but work that was going on concurrently with the council, to which the council did not put a stop.

The boil has been lanced anyway. The sickly explosion has taken place. But it has been lanced only in the natural course of things – that is, by severe grace – rather than by humble and obedient cooperation with God. Hence there has been little in place with which to clean up or to speed healing. The corruption continues, even at the top of the hierarchy. It is indeed a severe grace we suffer, though other graces are also operative in the divine providence that includes the council itself. For the council, as Professor Cavadini contends, has left us a great deal to work with, and many healing balms, if only we will receive and apply them rightly. From evangelistic success in Africa to lay-led renewal movements (even in Western academia) to new-generation vocations in the John Paul II era, blessings have also abounded.

Of the two explanations for what has happened, the second is much to be preferred to the first. The first tries to save the appearances of the Church before the council by denying the presence of the Spirit at the council. The second sees the Spirit working in and through the council both to call the Church to renewal (beneficent grace) and to expose the deep need for renewal (severe grace). Just as God gave man in his creation the capacity to obey, without coercing obedience and thus removing its significance, so in the council he has given the Church what is needed for renewal, without compelling her members to take hold of it for life or preventing them from seizing it for death. We have witnessed this seizing by violent men, and we are witnessing it still. On that we all agree. We will witness the renewal, too, but not by grieving the Spirit, even blaspheming the Spirit, through denying the gift of the council and attributing to the enemy what actually belongs to God.

That said, the final documents of Vatican II, like its preparatory documents, remain flawed documents, for they remain human documents. Their flaws provide openings for perverse people to justify themselves using the council’s own language. (Of what council can that not be said, never mind a council so ambitious as Vatican II? Not everything written by councils is as clear and definitive as the homoousion clause, and even that did not settle in quickly!) Some intended exactly that, even while the council proceeded, and their efforts, as already noted, met with some success. This does not mean, however, that the council taught error or elevated error into Church doctrine. What it does mean is that a hermeneutic of continuity must be diligently pursued rather than abandoned. And that the saga of the modern councils is not yet finished. There will, as before, be refinements and course corrections or reversals, precisely to prevent rupture and preserve continuity with the Great Tradition, including some that bear quite directly on the reading and use of Dignitatis Humanae and Nostra Aetate and Gaudium et Spes. For we have all witnessed the parade of lorries (one with the Abu Dhabi logo) lumbering through the gaps those documents left open, and we all know that there is work still to be done.

In Part II we will turn to one aspect of that work, an aspect the present controversy has thrust upon us.

(Editor’s note: This is Part I of a two-part essay. Part II was posted on Sunday, August 30, 2020.)


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About Dr. Douglas Farrow 14 Articles
Douglas Farrow is Professor of Theology and Christian Thought at McGill University, and the author of several books including Theological Negotiations: Proposals in Soteriology and Anthropology (Baker Academic, 2018) and a new commentary on Thessalonians (Brazos, 2020).

28 Comments

    • The sheer volume of this “analysis”, which is yet another “theological” opinion destined for the dustbin, reveals the VII fatal flaws…yet again. Simply judge it by its fruits, Our Lord admonished us. Parallel magisteriums, parallel opinions, parallel praxis, parallel “churches”, all diametrically opposed to each other. Historical context reveals it as an end run on God, His prophetess Our Lady of Fatima, and prophecy in general. Just like old Israel, the New Israel will suffer the same fate. May God have mercy on us!

  1. “Just as God gave man in his creation the capacity to obey, without coercing obedience and thus removing its significance” (Farrow). That is understood as the reasoned liberty to decide, which nonetheless follows an act of judgment of natural law or revealed truth that is intelligible in itself. Self evident. Coercion has been argued by Dr Thomas Pink, On the Coercive Authority of the Church. Two functions of that authority are addressed, the first related to Bishop Schneider and what existed previously regarding that authority presumed by the Church over the State [Professor and author Fr Martin Rhonheimer did not see hermeneutic discontinuity in Dignitatis Humanae in regard to Church v State, whereas Dr Pink as well as Bishop Schneider does]. That form of hermeneutic continuity however is not a viable option in our day. What is relative today and missing in this essay is the second function, which is Church coercive authority regarding baptized Catholics. For example the Nicene Creed. Dignitatis Humanae by omission of that authority led many to believe that Catholics have complete freedom to decide, and to be selective in what the Church teaches as mandatory for Catholicism. Catholic politicians who support abortion, contraception, homosexual union, the right for transgender procedures find their rationale in Dignitatis. Certainly this form of coercive authority must be recognized and added to Dignitatis Humanae. Otherwise this essay is an important contribution to correctly understanding both the differences held by Fr Thomas Weinandy and Archbishop Viganò, and the proper prospective of Vat II.

    • Further consideration for assessment of Vat II. Catholicism prior to Vat II was thought central to the development of culture, even State. “Gregory XVI’s Mirari vos, Pius IX’s Quanta cura, and Leo XIII’s Immortale dei do all make claims about the state and its religious duties. Some of these duties are to profess the true religion, which is the Catholic faith. Thus Immortale dei says: So, too, it is a crime for the state to act as if there were no God, or not to have a care for religion, as something beyond its scope, or as of no practical benefit; or out of the many forms of religion to adopt whatever one it likes; for states are bound absolutely to worship God in that way which he has shown to be his will” (Dr Thomas Pink King’s College in Rorate Caeli). Granted Rome prior to Italian unification 1864 was equivalent to a viable sovereign nation, The Papal States similar to the combined population and territory of Belgium and Holland, a reality that furthered the Church to perceive itself the arbiter of religious right domestically and abroad as the political model. That was challenged by German Chancellor Bismark during the pontificate of Pius IX and Vat I. That prerogative was finalized and lost at Vat II and the modern concept of Liberty in Humanae Dignitatis. If the Church is no longer the final word, the arbiter of that authority it’s per force assumed by the State, and with that transfer the dictatorship of the State on religious freedom and practice as evident during the Obama years. Freedom is a wonderful gift, not to become giddy over and misinterpret documents [although stealthily designed to evoke Modernism and later corrected] rather to reassess and correctly realize the divine purpose of that gift to Man. In summation must not the Church express its rightful independence from the State, its religious prerogatives, as well as its contributive value to State and society.

  2. WE READ: “For the Abu Dhabi Declaration seems to be evangelically deficient in a way no political aim can justify. Its call to ‘come together in the vast space of spiritual, human and shared social values,’ and to do so in such a way as to avoid ‘unproductive discussions,’ might reasonably be taken to rule out the very thing Paul was doing on Mars Hill!”

    “Reasonably” indeed! Regarding Abu Dhabi—not the legitimacy of Vatican II—here is some recent history, and then four questions:

    FIRST, the 2007 Muslim RESPONSE to Pope Benedict’s 2006 Regensburg Address (regarding BOTH faith and reason) is entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You.” The complete ayat (verse) from the Qur’an reads: “O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word as between us and you: that we worship none but God and [!] that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, that we erect not, from among ourselves, lords and patrons other than Allah.” (Qur’an 3:64).
    The “Common Word” then INTERPRETS ITSELF as meaning that none have “to prostrate before kings and the like.” And the like? For Q 3:64, Muslim scholar Abdullah Yusuf Ali explains in his annotations to the Qur’an (1934): “Apart from doctrinal lapses from the unity of the One True God, there is the question of a consecrated priesthood . . . as if a mere human being—Cohen, or Pope, or Priest, or Brahman—could claim superiority . . . or could stand between man and God in some special sense” (Ali, Abdullah Yusuf, The Holy Qur’an: Text, Translation and Commentary, Lahore, Pakistan: S.H. Muhammad Ashraf, 1938/1983, note 402.)

    SECOND, from even this uncredentialed reader, four QUESTIONS:

    1. In Abu Dhabi, does the mutually affirmed [!] “pluralism” of religions entail an implicit ABDICATION from Christ as a “partner” (sic) to the Father, and from the Apostolic Succession/ priesthood as established not by any prophet or by “ourselves,” but by the incarnate Second Person of the Triune Oneness?

    2. Are different views of this Revelation, i.e., Muslim beliefs versus Christian faith in the person of Christ, then CONFLATED with overlapping but also different views of what is in fact the natural law (Romans 2:14-15) accessible to reason (“religions”?)—as “human fraternity”?

    3. From the outset, combined with the Common Word, as a CONDITION of “human fraternity” why are such foundational questions now gratuitously/unnecessarily [!] rendered by both [!] parties as illegitimate and “unproductive discussions”—which is the preemptive/engulfing ISLAMIC PREMISE?

    4. By the peculiar (and possibly unvetted?) insertion of just a few prefatory and pivotal words (e.g., “pluralism”), does a worthy Abu Dhabi collapse into a RERUN of parallel and already disastrous accompaniment/accommodation under the secret “provisional agreement” with China?

  3. “I think we must admit that there was want of courage. Marxism and Communism, which had already made serious inroads in the Church, went unnamed. So, by and large, did the hubris and the lusts that marked Western secularism, which had traveled even further.”

    Partly a “lack of courage,” but not entirely. One motive was to enable observer status and attendance by the Russian Orthodox Church from behind the Iron Curtain. Another, however unsatisfying, is explained in a footnote (The Church Today, n. 44) found in the Abbott version of the documents (1966) but not in the later and less-footnoted Flannery version (1996):

    (Abbott)fn. 44: “Historians of the Second Vatican Council may some day recount in full the extensive efforts made to commit the Council to a direct and explicit condemnation of atheistic materialism. In general, the mood of the Council was to remain true to the providential nature as defined by Pope John, and thus to avoid negative measures or harsh condemnations. The analysis of atheism set forth in the text [Ch. 1, paragraphs 19, 20, 21] is an attempt to uncover some of the complexities behind the phenomenon of atheism and agnosticism in their many contemporary guises.”

    • Adding now to my above comment, one history of unmentioned Communism in Gaudium et Spes is provided by Ralph Wiltgen, SVD, in “The Rhine Flows into the Tiber” (1966-85), pp. 272-8. (Wiltgen managed an international press service throughout the Council.)

      Some selected highlights: (1) living in Rome, an exiled archbishop from Prague “received a Czechoslovakian newspaper clipping which boasted that communists had succeeded in infiltrating every commission at the Vatican Council,” (2) some 450 (!) Council Fathers from 86 (!) countries signed and submitted an intervention requesting explicit treatment of Communism (front page stories in three large daily newspapers), (3) there followed a pattern of slow-walking and obstruction, and the blame game as to which party had failed to satisfy procedures, e.g., deadlines, (4) a new request not for a new denunciation by the Council, but simply “a solemn reaffirmation by the Council of the long-standing doctrine of the Church on the matter,” but with blundered distribution of copies (500 Council Fathers took off for a weekend Dante celebration in Florence!), (5) then an instruction by Pope Paul VI to insert a footnote citing encyclicals from himself, Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, so as to allude to papal condemnations of Marxism/Communism (this very condensed footnote appears as the inconspicuous citation in Ch. 1, fn. 47 in the Abbott version of the Council documents, and fn. 16 in the Flannery version), and finally (6) a mandatory apology from Archbishop Garrone of Toulouse for having actually received the interventions on time after all, but for not having distributed them to the responsible commission members [exonerating the council members?]

      Translation: A camel is a horse designed by a committee; and a bureaucracy is a giant machine operated by pygmies.

    • Also, the church had condemned communism many, many times, really starting with Leo XII and going forward. It is rumored that the Vatican cut a deal with the Soviets whereby they would allow the Russian Orthodox to attend the council, so long as the council did not talk about communism. I don’t know if that is true or not, but perhaps it is. At any rate, if that deal was made, the church pulled a fast one on the Soviets. When it announced that Religious Freedom was a right that belonged to every man, that declaration was aimed right at the heart of the Soviet Union. So even though they did not explicitly denounce communism at the council, they attacked one of the primary underlying concepts of communism – If the Russian people had a right to religious freedom, then the Soviet State was doomed. And it was true that the entire Soviet edifice fell with a loud thunk about 20 years after the Council. A pope from Poland helped undermine Communism and helped destroy it. Vatican II helped destroy it. So let us hear no more of this nonsense about the Council not addressing communism.

      • Regardless of the fall of some communist states, the ideas of communism live on and are absolutely rampant in western society. And one might recall that Marx didn’t present communism as proposed political system but rather as a cultural system. If you don’t think that western society and the Church have been near completely deformed by communism (relativism, destruction of marriage and gender, etc.) then you’re non a serious person. And VII was an opening for these problems to slip into the Church.

  4. So we’re back to Benedict’s Hermeneutic of Wishful Thinking. How about they just junk the d–n thing already? Stop the ongoing replacement of the gospel. Stop the ongoing demolition of the church. Work out the theological ramifications later.

    • Pope Benedict is a far better theologian than you will ever be. Please, no useless, no argument comments that try to show disdain for your betters.

  5. I think the notion that there was a great need of reform before the Council is an egregious slander. Of course, there always are abuses and misdemeanors that need to be corrected. In 2020 their name is Legion, unlike in 1960.
    But that was not what V2 was all about. John 23 said that himself in his opening address to the Council. The purposes of the Council were multiple. The authors of the preparatory schemas generally wanted to reinforce the Church’s anti-modernist (and even integralist) posture (cf., DeMattei and Fenton). The eventual documents reflected the German/French/Low Country authors’ desire to embrace the modernist outlook.

    • Exactly. The real of history of the Council has already been written, and heavily documented. This author is living in a fantasy world of denial.

    • No, actually Pope John said that he wanted to position the church to be in a better position to talk to modern man. He wanted the church to stop playing defense, and begin evangelizing the entire world. Sorry, De Mattei is one of those SSPX liking extremists, you can place no stock in what he says.
      It is an extreme slander (a sin) to say that Vatican II promoted Modernism. There is no evidence of that whatsoever. That is one of those little lies the extremists from the SSPX favorable traditionalist side likes to tell. It is not true at all. So stop merely shouting “modernist” all the time. Modernism is defined by the documents put out by Pius X, and the Council never endorsed anything that was prohibited by Pius X.
      The authors of the preparatory schemas were the Curial bureaucracy. The Deep State, if you will. There is no reason to take what they did and pretend it was any sort of standard. The Bureaucrats always prepare schemas as starting points for discussion. Not as the end point that the Council is bound to follow. And at every synod, council or meeting, the bishops usually throw out what the Bureaucrats prepared ahead of time. This happened at the Council. If the bishops are supposed to just do what the Bureaucrats want, then the Deep state is in control and things are totally backward.

    • You are entirely correct. I am not sure what is more laughable: that the Church was in desperate need of some kind of renewal by 1962 or that the Second Vatican Council fulfilled whatever was lacking. Again, without necessarily questioning the validity of the Council and its documents, if the goal was a rejuvenation, it is pretty clear that the attempt failed rather miserably.

  6. I decided a long time ago after reading about Archbishop Viganò and the apparition at Civitavecchia, Italy that he was Blessed by The Virgin Mary. what happened to him I was convinced it was a sign. I support him always.

    • It is a dangerous thing, Kate, to support any human being except a perfect one “always”. Vigano, a man with very fine qualities, has stepped onto very dangerous ground, and, while a sin against the Holy Spirit requires an intention which he hopefully doesn’t have, I think they are right who say his position is untenable and he, and anyone who admires him, need to step back from it. He needs to prayed for, not followed.

      • Well then, just who in the Church should be listened to and is not in need of prayers? Bergoglio? His close allies? Cupich? Marx? McCarrick? James Martin? Wilton Gregory? I can think of a thousand prelates whose words are more deeply troubling than the self-evident truths proclaimed by Vigano!

    • Well, if you use the gift of reason that God gave you, then you will realize that Vigano has recently (and sadly) become a sort of madman. He is issuing “letters to the world” every week or so as if he is the pope or something. No other bishop I know of thinks he has to instruct the world what to do every week. Vigano promotes various conspiracy theories, he thinks Covid is a plot to take over the world. He has announced that according to him, Vatican II is in error. So we have a bishop or two that has lost his mind. Its a shame, because he seemed like a good man. But now he really seems to be one of two mindless bishops who think they are leading another Protestant reformation.

      • Actually, it is quite refreshing to hear from Vigano, one of only a few bishops left in the world who have not lost their minds, and their faith. Blessings of Pachamama upon you, Samton909!

  7. “From evangelistic success in Africa to lay-led renewal movements (even in Western academia) to new-generation vocations in the John Paul II era, blessings have also abounded.”

    Unbelievable. Islam and “Chrislam” are the fastest growing religions in Africa, the innumerable “renewal” movements are nothing but desperate attempts to fill the spiritual void of an empty liturgy, as the departure of people from the Church has become a deluge, vocations continue to plummet post-Vatican II, and Catholic academia has become almost universally apostate… But we still find enthralled authors making the most preposterous claims about the “fruits” of Vatican II. It is simply impossible to comprehend this level of cognitive dissonance. These defenses of Vatican II sound just like satirical mockery of Vatican II.

    • Sorry, you need to stick to the facts. Catholicism is growing by leaps and bounds in Africa and Asia. You cannot deny that Africa is totally Vatican II and Novus Ordo, so you have to come up with some kind of rejoinder “But Islam is growing faster” you say. Well, that may or may not be true. In fact, Christians now have about half of all Africans, and Islam about 40 percent. So Christianity is still outdoing Islam. But lets face it, you must believe that Vatican II has been a “total disaster” when it has not. The simple fact is that after Vatican II, the entire world became missionary ground and the Council helped move those efforts along. Even now, we hear that once Muslims are allowed to be exposed to Christianity, they are starting to adopt it, so wait and see what happens there.
      In short, before Vatican II, Catholicism was a religion limited to Europe and the Americas for the most part. Now, Catholicism is a world religion, making great strides.

      • False. Catholicism is not making any strides. It’s growth is not even keeping pace with population growth. I.e. to talk in absolute numbers is absurd. Like saying he we won 10 games this year and last year we only won eight. What’s that? Oh last year you played 10 games and this year you played twenty? Hmmm..soundly the 10 versus eight isn’t quite as impressive.

      • “Africa is totally Vatican II and Novus Ordo.” [!!!] “[B]efore Vatican II, Catholicism was a religion limited to Europe and the Americas.” Ha ha ha!!!! That is the funniest thing you have ever posted. I knew you had on the VII blinders, but good grief! You might want to pick up some history books on Africa, Japan, China, Madagascar, India… You really have no idea what you are talking about. (I’ll loan you my huge photo album of all the thriving Catholic places – hospitals, schools, orphanages, churches, convents, pilgrimage sites – my own father visited in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan in the 1950s… almost all empty and abandoned now. But at least they could host a World Youth Day, eh?)

  8. Deck chairs. Titanic. The governing clique in the Vatican has been sodomite (like McCarrick), Communist (like McCarrick), and Satanist (like McCarrick) for roughly sixty years. Once you accept this, everything they have done to catechesis, the liturgy, and the schools at every level makes perfect sense.

  9. “We have witnessed this seizing by violent men, and we are witnessing it still. On that we all agree.” No, we don’t all agree. Vatican II was implemented by the same bishops and pope who wrote the council’s documents, approved them, and promulgated them. There was no “seizing” by outside forces (beyond Satan and his minions’ usual efforts, which we know will ultimately be unsuccessful). The current pope and the vast majority of current bishops are consistently implementing the council documents in nearly perfect continuity with their predecessors.

    Is it not much more reasonable to hold that (a) the council fathers, their advisors/periti, and Pope Paul VI deliberately prepared the documents in a way so that they could implement precisely what was actually implemented rather than to claim that (b) some other forces violently seized control of the church and somehow mysteriously wreaked havoc while ignoring the nearly unanimously approved documents and working against the efforts of the documents’ drafters? If we apply Occam’s razor then the more reasonable choice between (a) and (b) is clear. The craftily composed documents and their implementation were, and remain, almost entirely consistent.

    This is not to question the intentions of the composers of the council’s documents. It is charitable and probably accurate to assume the great majority of them had the best of reforming intentions. However, most of us experienced this reformation most directly in the New Order of the Mass, which over a period of about five years transformed an ancient rite into something that was nearly indistinguishable externally from a Lutheran communion service, but also in an updated catechesis that seemed highly influenced by the heresies of Universalism and Indifferentism.

    This is also not to question the action of the Holy Spirit in guiding the council fathers and protecting the documents from serious, overt theological error. He did, but I think He had to work overtime in providing this protection against the efforts of some of the well-meaning but nefarious innovators at the council. The result is a few passages in some of the documents that barely clear the low hurdle of orthodoxy. Or, if we want to apply the “hermeneutic of continuity,” and if a proper metaphor for a hermeneutic is an interpretive lens, then the instrument needed to see the continuity with tradition in these passages is more akin to the Hubble Space Telescope than Sherlock Holmes’s hand-held magnifying glass.

    The conversation about Vatican II will not advance much if we are not honest about the consistency of its implementation with its documents and acknowledge that the implementers and the writers were the exact same men. To move forward with the Church’s mission of the salvation of souls, we either need to find a new way to interpret and implement the council documents, or, as Archbishop Vigano suggests, drop them (which is different from “repudiating” them) and return, at least for a time, to the pre-conciliar means and methods that, while imperfect, seemed to work a lot better than what has been implemented for the last 55 years. Sometimes, when lost, one needs to return to the known point of departure and start anew along a different path. To continue on the present course would be insanity.

  10. “When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.”

    Pope Benedict’s Christmas Address 2012

    One only needs to compare and contrast these two statements, one that affirms The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, and thus the fact that “it is not possible to have Sacramental Communion without Ecclesial Communion”, due to The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, and one that denies The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, and thus making it appear that it is possible to have Sacramental Communion without Ecclesial Communion, revealing the fact that it is not possible for both of these Catholic Popes to be in communion with Christ And His One, Holy, Catholic And Apostolic Church, outside of which there is no Salvation, due to The Unity Of The Holy Ghost.

    “When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defence of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.”

    Pope Benedict’s Christmas Address 2012

    Followed by,

    “If there is a union of a private nature, there is neither a third party, nor is society affected. Now, if the union is given the category of marriage, there could be children affected. Every person needs a male father and a female mother that can help shape their identity.”- Jorge Bergoglio, denying The Sanctity of the marital act within The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, and the fact that God, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost, Is The Author Of Love, Of Life, And Of Marriage, while denying sin done in private is sin.

    And if you are a Baptized Catholic who professes to be converted to Jesus The Christ and cannot determine which statement is consistent with The Deposit Of Faith, and which statement denies The Deposit Of Faith, then “woe to you”, for “To whom much has been given, much will be expected.”

    Pray for the restoration of the Papacy and thus the affirmation of The Unity Of The Holy Ghost.

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  1. Dethroning Christ? The error at the root of the Viganò controversy (Part I) - Catholic Mass Search
  2. Dethroning Christ? The Error at the Root of the Viganò Controversy (Part 2) – Catholic World Report
  3. Dethroning Christ? The Error at the Root of the Viganò Controversy (Part 2) - Catholic Daily
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