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Opinion: Vatican II, dialogue with the world, and natural law

It is not for the world to set the agenda of the Church, but for the Church to guide the world.

Pope John XXIII leads the opening session of the Second Vatican Council in St. Peter's Basilica Oct. 11, 1962. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis’ recent apostolic letter on the use of the traditional Latin Mass, Traditionis Custodis, presumably written in the spirit of unity, has produced a firestorm of reactions—some positive, some negative, others seeking a middle way. The confusion it has spawned, I suggest, is related to the manner in which the documents of Vatican II were written and how they were received by so many.

For example, Gaudium et spes is the longest document in the history of the Church’s ecumenical councils, with over 33,300 words (not counting footnotes). Joseph Ratzinger criticized the verbosity of the Pastoral Constitution after its publication. Since then, much has been written about the “spirit” of Vatican II, but might meaning be obscured when focus is on the revolutionary “spirit” of the age in which the document was written?

The opening of Gaudium et spes generates an ambiguity that dogs the writing throughout, “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ.” As Bishop Robert Barron observed, “Who positions whom here? In a word, is ‘the world’ setting the agenda for the Church, or vice versa?’” These moments of ambiguity invite diverse interpretations into the document as a whole and, instead of promoting unity, have served to engender division.

To be clear, I am not suggesting that the intent of Vatican II was to sow the seeds of discontent—just the opposite. But in an attempt to communicate faith in God to a modern world bent on self-destruction, Vatican II endeavored to rise above the political and philosophical foment responsible for two World Wars and the many other horrors of the twentieth century. The true spirit of the Council was well-intentioned, it was the spirit of peace and love. However, translating that spirit into words proved to be a daunting challenge.

Dialogue with the world

This approach to communicating with the world opened a fissure from which, according to Pope Paul VI, “the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.” The smoke is the ambiguity inherent in language, which has been exploited by modern Gnostics such from Michel Foucault, Herbert Marcuse, and others who have and continue to seek to undermine Western civilization. The unintended consequence of Vatican II has become, for many, the source of our Catholic discontent.

Pope John Paul II, years after the publication of the Council documents, advised, “They need to be read correctly, to be widely known and taken to heart….” Pope Benedict XVI observed, “…freeing them [Council documents] from a mass of publications which instead of making them known have often concealed them, [as] a compass in our time….”

The solution to the current conundrum might be to read the documents correctly, have them taught widely, and extricate them from the snares and traps that have sought to contort the spirit of the message by means of tendentious interpretations.

One example of a correct reading may be found at the beginning of Gaudium Et Spes 29, which avoids ambiguity by making a bold claim that grounds the argument in reality:

Since all men possess a rational soul and are created in God’s likeness, since they have the same nature and origin, have been redeemed by Christ and enjoy the same divine calling and destiny, the basic equality of all must receive increasingly greater recognition.

The next paragraph, when taken out of context of the opening, is ambiguous:

Nevertheless, with the respect to the fundamental rights of the person, every type of discrimination, whether social or cultural, whether based on sex, race, color, social condition, language, or religion, is to be overcome and eradicated as contrary to God’s intent.

When the second quote is taken out of context and read in the “spirit” of the revolutionary climate of the 1960s (and our own), it opens the door to radical notions concerning sexuality, gender identity, marriage, and myriad other cultural canards posing as reality that run contrary to Church teaching. However, if it is read within the boundaries of the rational soul of man clause, confusion is thwarted and the door is closed on irrational claims of discrimination. The Council documents, when read carefully and in their entirety, are rooted in the Church tradition of faith and reason. They are grounded in natural law.

Natural law, human law, and the irrational

Natural law is key in distinguishing the rational from the irrational. For Aquinas, human law relies on natural law and cannot deviate from its spirit. In other words, when reason commands the human soul, people will choose that which accords with nature. If emotion rules the day, whether it be pride or even love, people often make choices according to ego-driven desires that are opposed to nature.

If, for example, a human law claims that a biological male can identify as female and compete in women’s sporting events, it defies natural law and is therefore invalid. Men are typically physically stronger than women. It is a fact of nature. Barring biological males from competing in women’s sports, then, is not discriminatory but rational in that it agrees with natural law.

Traditionis Custodis, on the other hand, is discriminatory and, ironically, contradicts that which it seeks to defend. The Church is informed by tradition in similar fashion to humans being informed by chromones and hormones. Just as sex change is physically impossible, suppressing the traditional Latin Mass is a contradiction. It is unnatural and contrary to reason. Tradition, like human law, must accord with natural law if it is to be viable.

For Vatican II to achieve what it intended, Catholics—leaders and laity alike—must return to its primary documents, teach them in context, and avoid the brouhaha surrounding the Council that leads inevitably to division. We must pay homage to the rational soul that distinguishes man and sets him apart.

Traditionis Custodis appears as more of an emotional reaction to a perceived problem than a rational response that promotes unity. It is not for the world to set the agenda of the Church, but for the Church to guide the world. For this to occur, harmony between faith and reason is vital. When emotion runs high, even if well-intentioned and brimming with love, reason must remain in charge to prevent a descent into madness.

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About Jack Gist 16 Articles
Jack Gist has worked on ranches, in greenhouses and nurseries, as a freelance writer and editor, and as a security guard. He graduated from the University of Wyoming with a BA in English and Philosophy and an MFA in Writing from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Gist has published books, short stories, poems, essays, and opinion pieces in outlets such as The Imaginative Conservative, Catholic World Report, Crisis Magazine, The New Oxford Review, Galway Review, St. Austin Review, and others. His novel The Yewberry Way: Prayer (2023) is the first installment of a trilogy that explores the relationship between faith and reason.


  1. Contributing to the optimistic mood of the Second Vatican Council, I propose, was Jacques Maritain’s earlier thinking (1941) about the natural law. He IDENTIFIES the universal and “spontaneous perceptions of our reason and primary tendencies of our nature”, namely, “the existence of God, the sanctity of truth, the value and necessity of good will, the dignity of the person, the spirituality and immortality of the soul.”
    But then he goes on: “[these] are NOT understood in an identical and univocal way by believers in the various religions of humanity [….] different connotations for the Catholic who believes in sanctifying grace, for the Orthodox who believes in the sanctifying uncreated Spirit but not in created grace, for the Protestant who believes that the merits of Christ are imputed to an essentially corrupt nature, for the Israelite who believes in the Law, for the Moslem who believes in salvation by the mere profession of Islamic faith, [etc.].
    Maritain strains to discern a likeness by ANALOGY, across the board (the key to Thomistic philosophy), that “everything which is authentic love […] tends, under forms more or less perfect, more or less pure, toward Christ, who is known to some, unknown to others.”
    In the affairs of men (with our redefinition of God, truth, good will, person/family/marriage, unborn child/soul?) the airbrush verbiage of “unity” and “fraternity” is proposed as at least possibly building bridges with “pluralistic” seeds of truth, but…but…but?
    If Vatican II were held today, with what greater SOBRIETY AND PRECISION might it encounter, for example, (a) the tension in the Mass between the vertical and the horizontal; (b) the syncretic and anti-natural law “synodal way” in Germania; or (c) in Islam the pre-historic reservation of its natural law facsimiles to only the members of the house of Islam, at the exclusion of the still-outsiders?

    • Peter D. Beaulieu-excellent comments. I always read your comments one these articles and always learn from them. Your quote Contributing to the optimistic mood of the Second Vatican Council, I propose, was Jacques Maritain’s earlier thinking (1941) about the natural law. He IDENTIFIES the universal and “spontaneous perceptions of our reason and primary tendencies of our nature”, namely, “the existence of God, the sanctity of truth, the value and necessity of good will, the dignity of the person, the spirituality and immortality of the soul.” is spot on. Thank you for your information and insight!

  2. “For Vatican II to achieve what it intended, Catholics—leaders and laity alike—must return to its primary documents, teach them in context, and avoid the brouhaha surrounding the Council that leads inevitably to division.”

    Lumen Gentium, Chapter 1, Section 1: “[The Council] desires now to unfold more fully to the faithful of the Church and to the whole world its own inner nature and universal mission. This it intends to do following faithfully the teaching of previous Councils.”

    Pope Paul VI, quoted in M.deSaint Pierre’s ‘Sainte Colere’ (1965): “He who would interpret the Council as loosening the former engagements of the Church toward Her faith, Her tradition, Her asceticism, Her charity, Her spirit of sacrifice, and Her adherence to the Word and to the Cross of Christ, or even as an indulgent concession to the fragile and versatile relativistic mentality of a world without principles or a transcendent end, a kind of more facile and less exacting Christianity would be completely mistaken.”

      • I said in a previous post that Pope Francis’ Moto reminds me of a high school principal I once had who would allow the drug dealing thugs to walk the halls of the school and intimidate the rest of the kids, but who would be really tough on young girls who came to school with the wrong colour socks, etc., to convince us all that he’s such a good leader, willing to take a tough stance. I’m not convinced that this question about the traditional Latin Mass is really all that important. There are far more important things to address. The real enemies of the Church are NOT the Latin Mass crowd. I think we all agree. But for the same reason, I don’t think we should be so focused on this issue. We need to address the important issues. Also, the comparison of the Latin Mass with sex change operation was not good. There is no comparison. The two issues are in completely and utterly different categories and require completely different principles.

      • YES. The Holy Father Himself has identified VCII and a particular segment of the Catholic faithful as not accepting VCII. What exactly The Holy Father Himself means by non-acceptance is patently unclear. It seems to this particular Catholic that The Holy Father Himself does not accept or has failed to understand two simple sentences in Sacrosanctum Concilium:

        “Finally, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that Holy Mother Church holds all lawfully recognized rites to be of equal right and dignity;that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way.” (Paragraph No. 4, Introduction, SC)

        Let’s contemplate those few sentences.

        Let’s continue to contemplate the next one: “The Council also desires that, where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet present-day circumstances and needs.” (op. cit.)

        Questions may rightly be asked:
        1) Were the rites revised carefully?
        2) Has the revised rite brought new vigor to the worship of Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior?
        3)How, then, does The Holy Father Himself account for the increase in apostasy which followed promulgation of the Mass of the New Order?
        4)If the revised liturgy (NOM) has failed to re-invigorate the faith, why blame the TLM?
        5)Is the Mass (of any rite) to blame for a failure to accept VCII?

  3. Saint Thomas Aquinas is mentioned here, At Vatican ll Aquinas was cast out of the Church. The Council Fathers said on the matter, “We must lay aside the old Theology like Aquinas, and we must embrace the New Theology”, What exactly was the New Theology? Was it the creation of a new Church? It certainly sounds like it. In the quotation from 26 Gaudium Et Spes, it sounds like every man is saved. Bishop Athanasius Scheider said this, “Whoever reads the Council Documents they can make it mean whatever they want.” Pope Benedict XVl called for a rewriting of the Council Documents, He asked for the SSPX to obtain Canonical Status because their Theologians would be of great benefit to the Church. It’s too bad that again Modernists interfered, they didn’t and don’t want the Society regularized. I think because the SSPX with 638 priests will come down hard on them.

  4. “For Vatican II to achieve what it intended, Catholics—leaders and laity alike—must return to its primary documents, teach them in context, and avoid the brouhaha surrounding the Council that leads inevitably to division.”

    Well, sure. That’s been the correct path since the very beginning, but precious few have taken it. Moreover, much of the ambiguity, if not all of it, was intentional. It was the hope of the “progressives” to take advantage of it in the aftermath of the council. They did and still do.

  5. Evelyn Waugh, although hardly a theologian, hinted that John XXIII called Vatican II to restart the effort to rid the Church of the “new things” of socialism and modernism, so that the restructuring of the social order for which Pius XI had called could finally get under way. They had become entrenched in the Church’s social doctrine by that time, despite everything that could be done, with the result that the Council was, in a sense, hijacked, and used to advance the very things it was intended to counter. Interestingly, Msgr. Ronald Knox defined the modernist mindset — which he called enthusiasm or ultrasupernaturalism — as an excess of charity that leads to disunity. As Ven. Fulton Sheen noted in his first two books, modernism tries to abolish the natural law and impose a personal understanding of supernatural law in its place, thus charity abolishes justice, faith eliminates reason, and so on, inverting the proper order with man ending up on top and God as man’s servant.

    • Michael D. Greaney, What you say about the Council being hijacked Pope Benedict XVl himself says it in his Biography. Pope St. John XXlll called for the Council on Jan, 25,1959. The Council officially began on May 17, 1959. It produced 70 Decrees, the 1962 Missal, and an Apostolic Constitution on Latin. The words “The beginning of the Council” cause confusion, it was the beginning of the end of the Council. Bishops were called to Rome to sign the decrees and only for that purpose. The Modernists plotted to overthrow the actual Council and they did, it was a council by Modernists. Now more than 50 years after the Council we have nothing, what we did have has been taken away. The Council has born no good fruit, it has produced rotten fruit that has been destroying the Church. Rotten Fruit, God does not bless rotten fruit only good fruit. The Council of St. John XXlll was assured would bear good fruit in abundance. It should be brought back but in Rome, they know that the actual council and the hijacked Council would clash big time. Francis, says we are to accept all of Vatican ll, except for him as he rejects Sacrosanctum Concilium, not in word but in bold action, which is by far worse than just speaking against the Council.

      • John XXIII before and during Vatican II proved that he wanted to eclipse Vatican I. A man who does that is no saint. A man made saint by Apostate Francis is no saint, because his process was negotiated with the process of Saint John Paul II. God bless

        • Pagan-Pope-Francis, You say “Pope John XXlll before and during Vatican ll”. St. Pope John after his Council was voted out by the Modernists, attended only one session of the Council. After which he called his closest Cardinal Collaborators together to have them think of a way to gracefully end the Council, as he saw trouble ahead. Pope John’s Council was voted out because the Modernists found it too rigid or they had their own evil plans. Pope John’s 70 Council Documents took a lot of work. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was one of the Bishops appointed by Pope John with the task of writing the Council Documents. The Documents were sent all over the world for the Bishops to examine and for their input. When the Bishops were called to Rome in October of 1962, it was the beginning and the end of the Council. The Bishops were called to Rome only to sign the 70 documents and for no other reason. St. Pope John was assured it would all take 1 week or 2 at the most. But after the Modernists takeover, it lingered on until towards the end of 1965. You will never read of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre saying anything bad of St. Pope John XXlll instead we read that Lefebvre writes to Cardinal Oddi stating “If the Council went as planned we would have had a great Council” He was talking about the Council of St. Pope John XXlll.

      • Not to contest your overall thesis, let’s still take a look at how Ratzinger regarded a key one of the 70 early drafts—on Revelation. Three points:

        FIRST, as in Seewald’s earlier “Benedict: Last Testament” (2016), Benedict again explains in his new “biography” (“Benedict: A Life”, 2020, an interview) that his goal was/is to clarify the relationship between Scripture/ Tradition and the Magisterium, while the goal of the revolutionaries was/is to view Scripture/ Tradition/ Magisterium through the slippery “signs of times.”

        With Benedict, what is the “transcendent” Truth in itself as compared to our lesser “knowledge” of the Truth? Of the initial and watershed preliminary schema on Revelation, he explained: “But the language we have here does not go to the depth. It operates on the level of our human knowledge. But on the level of being [!], there is only one single source, which is revelation itself, the Word of God. And it is very regrettable that there is nothing, almost nothing, said about it in this schema.”

        SECOND, “the question being put to the vote [the Cardinal Frings presentation, based on the preceding point] was very complicated. Those who wanted new things had to vote no. And those who wanted old things, had to vote yes. Anyway it was a very close vote. Those who won were those who wanted to stay with the original schema [Revelation]. So from a legal perspective there was a very slight majority in favour of maintaining the first draft of the text.”

        “But then Papa Giovanni [himself! John XXIII] saw that the majority was too thin to be viable, and decided that the vote should be reopened […]” (“Benedict: Last Testament,” 2016).

        THIRD, as for the controverted speech still at the beginning of the Council (the “revolutionary” speech on Revelation, by Cardinal Frings on Nov. 19, 1961; actually, written by his theological advisor Ratzinger, and [as for] the follow-up, so-called “coup meeting” of October 15, 1962—a term which Benedict rejects; and whether the episcopacy was only an executive committee of the preparatory committees…), “Cardinal Frings later had intense pangs of conscience. BUT he always had an awareness that what we actually said and put forward was right, and also had to happen. We handled things correctly, EVEN IF we certainly did not correctly assess the political consequences and the actual repercussions [!]. One thought too much of theological matters then, and did not reflect on how these things would come across” [!] (Seewald’s “Benedict: Last Testament” 2016, p. 142).

        Note that for the years following 1965, a second volume of “Benedict: A Life” (2020) is signaled, possibly in 2021.

        • Peter D. Beaulieu, Facts remain facts, even Pope Benedict says he still has qualms about helping throw out the Council of St. Pope John XXlll. His Cardinal lived with extreme regret for having thrown out the Pope’s Council. I want the original Council back. The hijacked Council has proven to produce only bad fruit. Let’s look at the whole scenario. Have the original 70 Documents translated and since they want active participation, let the Laity make decisions. Or do they reject Vatican ll?

          • Qualms, or course, but about exactly what? “Having thrown out the Pope’s Council?” Perhaps you can supply a single quote, finally, from Benedict…to be read alongside the the less-than-total admission I have supplied above.

    • No. John XXIII explicitly said before Vatican II that he wanted the new things, fresh air into the Catholic Church, etc. He was talking about Modernism. Very clearly. Ewelyn Waugh’s theory is just unsustainable. God bless

      • Pagan-Pope-Francis You are wrong about St. Pope John XXlll. Rorate Coeli had an article on St. Pope John XXlll as being a Traditionalist and we must reclaim him as our own. 5 of the schemas of St. John have been translated into English, they’re on the Internet. Read them and you will see that it is a fact, that the words of St. John are true. That he wanted the “second Holy Vatican Synod” (Vatican ll) in the same Tradition as Nicaea, Trent, and Vatican l. Read the 5 translated schemata and remember there are 65 more. Read the Apostolic Constitution on Latin given right before the Council. His Council was hijacked by modernists. Pope Benedict XVl speaks of how it was done, in his Biography. Modernists have been stealing the words of St. Pope John XXlll concerning the “Open Windows” and the “New Spring”. Pope John XXlll meant those words for his Council and not the hijacked one.

  6. Excellent Thomism by Gist. Natural law basis of Vat II documents [perhaps a revelation for most] as the entree into the mod world is on the mark analysis by Jack Gist . What we all share in common inherent to our nature is the Natural Law Within described by Aquinas as inherent knowledge and the capacity to identify what is good, and evil. Prescient within the soul [written by the hand of God] actualized in apprehension. If anything can reverse Trans madness, Critical Race Theory it is the compelling, attractive truth of our divinely ordained nature. Identity of our true humanness. The task of convincing although monumental because of the tenacity of sin and error, the rest is up to us with compassionate appeal, prayer and sacrifice.

    • As previous I’m compelled to cite one lacuna in the documents; that, Dignitatis Humanae that neglected to clarify the coercive nature of divine revelation Christ the exemplary example.

      • As a partial, but inadequate comment on the “coercive nature of divine revelation,” may I propose that the Vatican documents bear some resemblance to a camel as being a horse designed by a committee…

        Specifically, oversights (or worse) in one document are sometimes offset by “interventions”—however remote or oblique [!]—cobbled into other documents. Some examples too-disconnected from Dignitatis Humanae:

        “…the Synod teaches that it is through His revelation ‘that those religious truths which are by their nature accessible to human reason can be known by all men with ease, with solid certitude, and with no trace of error, even in the present state of the human race’” (Revelation, I: n.6).

        “Conscience frequently errs from invincible ignorance without losing its dignity. The same cannot be said of a man who cares but little for truth and goodness, or of a conscience which by degrees grows practically sightless as a result of habitual sin” Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, n. 16).

        “Therefore, if methodical investigation within every branch of learning is carried out in a genuinely scientific manner and in accord with moral norms, it never conflicts with the faith” (ibid., n. 36).

        “For we are tempted to think that our personal rights are fully ensured only when we are exempt from every requirement of divine law. But this way lies not the maintenance of the dignity of the human person, but its annihilation” (ibid., n. 41).

        “…the Council wishes to recall first of all the permanent binding force of universal natural law and its all-embracing principles. Man’s conscience itself gives ever more emphatic voice to these principles. Therefore, actions which deliberately conflict with these same principles, as well as orders commanding such actions, are criminal. Blind obedience cannot excuse those who yield to them” (ibid., n. 79).

  7. Thank you, Jack Gist! Your quote from Bishop Robert Barron was exactly to the point
    As Bishop Robert Barron observed, “Who positions whom here? In a word, is ‘the world’ setting the agenda for the Church, or vice versa?’”

  8. Vatican II was modernist. I won’t go far down this path, but anyone who knows Church doctrine knows what I am getting at.

    Discrimination must be rational, but it isn’t inherently unjust.

    I believe that there are those who use the idea of discrimination as a foot-in-the-door to promote moral relativism. Much the same thing could be said about the ideological uses of the words “diversity” or “pluralism.” With these latter two a certain state of affairs is celebrated or regarded as desirable, when, in fact it may be something that ought to be deplored and changed (e.g. “religious pluralism”).

    The world is something that must be fought. It is one of the three sources of sin.

  9. Jack writes: “The opening of Gaudium et spes generates an ambiguity that dogs the writing throughout,…” He then writes: “This approach to communicating with the world opened a fissure from which, according to Pope Paul VI, “the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.” The smoke is the ambiguity inherent in language, …”

    And then to the following “clarification” (Move on from the issue of the moto to more important issues that are going to make a significant difference in the lives of the vast majority of believers), Jack says: “Once again, Thomas, vague at best”.

    I never found Gaudium et spes to be particularly ambiguous or vague, but I am beginning to suspect that whatever Jack does NOT want to understand, he will simply refuse to and write it off as “vague” and “ambiguous”.

    • Still not sure what you are getting at, with all due respect, Thomas. Do you think carrying on tradition in the Church is not important? Isn’t, in many aspects, the Church synonymous with tradition? Why is the TLM not important and what is more important than carrying on tradition? What is it you want me to understand, that you don’t think the TLM is not important? That may be your opinion, but it is not much of an argument.

      • I’m not sure you really want to “get what I’m getting at”. There are all sorts of traditions in the Church. Yes, certain traditions are important, but there are more important things to concern ourselves with. Tradition cannot be identified with the TLM. Rather, the TLM is a part of the Church’s larger tradition. The Church is by its very nature “traditional”, because the Church is historical. The Novus Ordo, incidentally, is part of that tradition as well. And I did not say that the TLM is not important. I said there are more important things to be concerned about, which is why I believe it was rather silly for Pope Francis to make a big fuss over this issue. The “more important things” that I wish he were more concerned about and more willing to speak about include the state of marriage in the Western world, the Media’s continued misrepresentation of who Pope Francis is and what he stands for, the constant twisting of his words by journalists, the scandal that this causes, his silence in the face of all this, woke culture, gender ideology being taught to Catholic elementary school children, Catholic politicians who are openly pro abortion etc openly receiving communion, etc. These are serious matters, far more serious than families attending the TLM. Most Catholics do not attend the TLM. Most of them are not attracted to it. I certainly am not. I love a simple and straightforward Novus Ordo Mass, with decent music and decent preaching, etc. For those who are drawn to the TLM, leave them alone. Yes, there are some who are somewhat arrogant with their dismissal of Vatican II, etc. That’s a minority. But there are way too many articles on this Motu Proprio. It’s not a wholesale denial of tradition, just a regulation with regard to a very specific tradition. Is it overdone? Probably. But many bishops in the U.S have acted prudently and have maintained the status quo. Great. Let’s move on. Your argument, moreover, is an overstatement. Natural Law and liturgical practice just cannot be compared. Natural law is grounded in principles that are universal and grasped by the natural light of human reason. Liturgical practice is in the hands of the Church that Christ established, and liturgy has been evolving and changing from the very get go. The Church has the charism to make changes she deems necessary, and the magisterium is the organ of that charism.

        Not too difficult to understand.

        • Hi Thomas,

          Thank you for this. Not nearly as vague and you actually have an argument here, good! I agree that the Church has a lot of problems to deal with, and the TLM may seem to be a kind of red herring. I also agree that the Novus Ordo is now also part of the tradition. The TLM controversy, however, can be also seen to be as both symptomatic and symbolic in relation to the other problems you mention. The slip into relativism and ambiguity that many blame on Vatican II hinges on a distancing from long held Church doctrines concerning marriage, abortion, etc. You simply cannot advocate same sex marriage, abortion, etc and adhere to Church Tradition; it is impossible. So, signalling the end of TLC, for many, appears as opening the door to radical departure from Church doctrine. That makes it a big deal.

          As far as Natural Law and liturgical practice, are they not both based in the universality of the Trinity? Biology and liturgy both evolve, though by different means. This fact alone allows comparison between the two.

          Finally, there’s no need to get snarky. It took you awhile to actually state your case. That’s all.


  10. Jack: It might very well be the case that the “TLM controversy, … can be also seen to be as both symptomatic and symbolic in relation to the other problems you mention.”

    If it is symptomatic, we really should not be treating symptoms, but the disease. We need to return to the disease, and if the disease is relativism, then let’s go after that. Although I’m not sure it is relativism as it is cowardice. I love Vatican II. I love the documents, the content, the basic direction, etc. I love JP II and Benedict XVI. They had guts, especially JP II. Francis I’m not so sure about. I’m not sure how courageous he is. But we need a Pope with guts, and bishops with guts. At this point, they seem to be terribly afraid of cancel culture and the loss of revenues. I don’t think it is an intellectual problem (i.e., theoretical relativism), but a moral/spiritual problem. The clergy live too comfortably, and they are terribly afraid of upsetting that comfort level, and so they water down things, render their message completely innocuous and without potency. Perhaps picking on the Latin Mass crowd will make the Pope appear more likeable in the eyes of the world. I’ve noticed that clergy (in general) are profoundly naive when it comes to the character of the world, and the character of individual persons. It’s like they have had very little experience in the world. They are not shrewd. They are afraid; timid, very weak. But on the opposite end you get bold and reckless and self-righteous conservative young clergy who also lack that experience. I think we’ve got a long road ahead of us.

    We need shrewd, holy, and humble leaders, and those are few and far between, it seems.

  11. Hi Thomas,

    “I love Vatican II. I love the documents, the content, the basic direction, etc. I love JP II and Benedict XVI. They had guts, especially JP II.” Now we are in some agreement, but the documents could have been much tighter so as to avoid confusion.

    I believe the disease is relativism, moral and intellectual. TLM serves as an anchor to tradition and Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum cited “interior reconciliation in the heart of the Church” as a “positive reason” for celebrating TLC. Suppressing it it can be seen as opening the door to relativism. To cure a disease one seeks promote a healthy immune system so the body can help itself, if that makes sense.

    Thanks for the dialogue!

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