By their fruits?

When the spirit of a council dictates, almost from day one, how the documents of a council are to be read and applied, then that spirit is the true fruit of the council, regardless what the documents may say. Luckily, the Church has never fallen into this trap, so keep calm and party on, right?

This is the conservative paradox: the same people who are blamed for “hijacking The Council” are those to whom pious submission must be given in the implementation of The Council. Conspiracy theories are generally taboo among conservatives, but The Tale of Those Nasty Liberals Who Hijacked Poor Ol’ Vatican Two is one conspiracy theory still very much in vogue. The documents have borne the fruits we see (and will probably keep seeing, for a long time to come) because the seeds of said fruit are embedded in the documents themselves. This is why, as Bp. Schneider reminds us, the documents must be subjected to a thorough magisterial pruning, so that the vigor of the Pastoral Mandate can be matched by the tradition of doctrinal security.

Meanwhile, the unrelenting cry for MOAR COUNCIL has a bizarre way of leading to the very abuses which The Council is supposed to have saved us. The Council cannot be a final harbor. It was a milestone, but the Church keeps moving, and I think the Church needs to either enforce the documents with a zeal that any “rad trad” would admire, or needs to admit that The V2 Experiment has failed. The Church will–and must–go on, but, pragmatically speaking, The Spirit of The Council is the clear winner these days. It is heroic of laymen to hold the magisterial line, but it is properly the duty of the episcopal college to get the led out and get our house in order. No “pastoral” strategy is guaranteed infallible immunity.

At the same time, I’m floored that unflinching defenders of Vatican II at least admit that the V2 documents shouldn’t but in fact can be read in a discontinuous, heterodox way. Can the same be said of any prior council? And even if it could be, it was the purpose of a later council authoritatively to rectify such problems. No one in the hierarchy is seriously calling for such a correction. Everything Is Awesome. Except, darn it, this time we need to really implement The Council. There’s that creeping conspiracy theory again.

I don’t see how we can have it both ways. If V2 is to be judged not as a dogmatic intervention but as a pastoral endeavor, and should therefore not be held to such rigorous intellectual standards as prior councils, then the manifest deterioration and disorientation of the Church in certain ways should suffice to show how the pastoral endeavor has been derailed on its own terms. Rather than being read in an orthodox sense, the conciliar ambiguity in question reverses the entire hermeneutic by subjecting past teaching to endless debate and doubt in the superdogma event horizon that V2 has, despite its intended “humility”, become. To cite prior councils is to be labeled a rad trad, which is pretty astounding a charge. As Brunero Gherardini had persuasively argued, what is need is not a declamation of continuity, but a demonstration of it, and the only possible resources for such a demonstration reside in the very things that get one labeled a rad trad. V2 is the most self-referential council in the Church’s history, which is why, like any spiraling mass, it sucks everything else into its gravitational pull, and contorts it all into a shape of its own making.

The documents were not presented as platforms of change. How could a merely pastoral council aim to extend or settle dogmatic issues? The entire premise of the council, at least officially, is that the Church was simply restating long-standing doctrine. Yet, there followed a torrent of adaptation and compromise which the documents had not explicitly decreed. By avoiding the pastoral latitude that it did, the council left the door open for “the spirit of Vatican II”, which is, predictably enough, the impulse which has prevailed for decades. This is why the Church is in the tumult of a collective swing back to the center, and I am baffled why it’s so scandalous for Catholics to point out this disorientation and put V2 in its place, as it were. No one is meant to live at the peripheries of doctrinal coherence. The world has always been crazy. Human nature has not changed. It was the historical chauvinism of the V2 Fathers which led them to presume that the Church was in a new world. Blinded by a naive progressivism, the Fathers gave us a shining example of an old trick: orthodoxy can be defeated by a direct refutation or by being marginalized as optional. The latter strategy has been highly effective for decades now. Dogma doesn’t have to be changed in order to permit a revolution. It can simply be marginalized as irrelevant compared to more pressing Pastoral Needs of The People. Why deny objective truth when you can make it irrelevant?

About The Codgitator (a cadgertator)

Catholic convert. Quasi-Zorbatic. Freelance interpreter, translator, and web marketer. Former ESL teacher in Taiwan (2003-2012) and former public high school teacher (2012-2014). Married father of three. Multilingual, would-be scholar, and fairly consistent fitness monkey. My research interests include: the interface of religion and science, the history and philosophy of science and technology, ancient and medieval philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Please pray for me.
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51 Responses to By their fruits?

  1. Tony Jokin says:

    From the docs I have read, I think it is true to say that the VII documents themselves seem to have been put together within the operating principles and assumptions that

    1) We should avoid mentioning anything that emphasizes our differences and conflicts with the goals and sensibilities of the non-Catholic world
    2) Whatever we do state in our documents should be spun into such a manner so that the non-Catholic world would be lead to think that the Church is in agreement with the goals and sensibilities of their world
    3) All of this is done to make the Church seem relevant to the world

    I personally think it is with the above in mind that one should read Vatican II. I think as soon as one recognizes the above, one sees that Vatican II is not really a good source for decision making regarding anything Catholic. The laws governing the preparation of the documents already hint that Vatican II was trying to prepare documents which would fit better at an interfaith gathering or an ecumenical gathering. No one should be looking at Vatican II to therefore decide how the Catholic Church should move forward because it is missing a lot of material. The Holy Spirit did not lead the Council to leave out the material. NO, it was the operating principles and assumptions that lead the Council to leave out the important stuff.

    Now do the operating principles and assumptions fall under teachings of the Catholic faith? I would argue that they do not because the particular question is in regards to how to best convey a message rather than the accuracy of the contents of the message itself. The method of conveying can be judged by predicting the fruits using common sense/reason or by simply looking at the fruits. The method is bad so it is time to move on or have another Council 🙂

    My personal opinion of course….. 😀

  2. When I was in the seminary, I joked about how I wish the Scripture scholars would turn as critical an eye toward Vatican II documents as they did toward the Bible. “As you can see here, the progressives inserted this paragraph to signal their openness to the world. In the next paragraph however, the reactionaries clearly intended to undermine the call for reform…”

    My professors were not amused. That’s probably one of the many reasons I was eventually dismissed, heh.

  3. Claudio says:

    I believe there are genuine doctrinal developments in the Vatican II Council that unfortunately were not clearly explained and require further magisterial clarification as Bishop Schneider is calling for. In particular, the Decree on Religious Liberty seems to contradict past teachings but I have read some excellent articles (see links below) that in my opinion show how to understand the Decree so that, doctrinally, it is in continuity with previous teachings even if there has been a change in discipline. The magisterium needs to start making these type of clarifications in an authoritative manner although we will probably have to wait for a future Pope to make them since I don’t believe Pope Francis has the intellectual competency to issue such a document.

  4. The entirety of V2 was steeped in Ecumenism, the universal solvent of Tradition. Instead of teaching the truth, V2 was fixated on dialoguing with those who reject her and that dialogue was disingenuous in that dialogue had as its subtext the desire not to offend.

    At least that is how ABS understands the essence of this ecclesiastical debacle.

  5. Tony Jokin says:


    With respect to the first article you linked, doesn’t it rely on the concept that there is a category of error that is not harmful? It seems to me that it suggests the change in Church policy toward that category of error while allowing for past policy for types of errors it lists (and considers sufficiently critical) at the end of the article.

    But cannot one argue that any form of religious error is dangerous and will eventually become a threat at least to public morality? Also, if those religions do not have a similar concept of religious freedom, is it not true that once they come in to power, there will necessarily be disturbance of public peace and rights of citizens? Doesn’t the assumption that some errors are not a “big deal” implicitly imply that perhaps some little heresies should be allowed to freely grow? How does one determine which things are critical and which things are not?

    It feels as if the criterion set forth in DH as grounds to resorting to the past policy, if followed accurately, should reduce the modern policy to simply be the past policy?

  6. drprice2 says:

    In addition to generating a welter of ambiguous compromise documents, we had an ecumeni al council with pastoral aims which didn’t get around to defining the term “pastoral.” Hence the birth of the dread Spirit of Vatican II. In reality, said birth was inevitable, since the documents don’t speak for themselves, or at least not without sounding like Sybil Dorsett. The progressives prepared the ground quite well, and hit it running, with the “Spirit” being their interpretive totem/bludgeon. They effected a rupture quite quickly (with the NO liturgy, which is a cultural rupture of the first magnitude), and exploited it well.

    The last two popes struggled mightly to canalize the tsunami, and did it somewhat well. But the new guy wants to dynamite the levees in a new aggiornamento. Whee.

  7. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    Tony, It was Claudio who provided the llnk but such claims have been answered

    ABS does not see how this concept – religious liberty – erects an unscalable wall around indifferentism; rather, it seems to be a glorious golden bridge leading directly to it

    O, and it does one’s heart good to click on Cal me Jorge and read the dairies of Fr Fenton, the great Editor of the ecclesiastical review in America. He knew the V2 revolutionaries personally and he was scandalized at what they were trying to foist on we flummoxed faithful.

    He was NOT fooled.

    As time drags on, more and more is being exposed and while this Pope/Cross will do jack about it, the end of the revolution is coming as the steaming pile of its errors and machinations are becoming too damn big to ignore.

    Hell, man, even the pacific Tiber-Swimmer, Fr Hunwicke is publicly expressing his frustration with the Bishop of Rome.

  8. Tony Jokin says:


    I am so sorry. For some reason I thought you posted it. Codg, if it is not too much trouble, can you edit my reply above to read “Claudio” instead of “ABS”? [NP. All better now. — Codg]

  9. Claudio says:

    All sin is harmful and yet St. Thomas Aquinas taught that it was not prudent to pass a law against every conceivable sin. Same holds for errors. Passing laws to suppress all religous errors is not prudent because in some cases it will violate justice. This is the concept that I believe Father Harrison is making.
    The second article I linked has another crucial concept. Freedom and truth can not be separated. Therefore since everyone has the God given right to pursue the truth, they also have to freedom to pursue the truth. That is what is meant by religous liberty in the Decree in my opinion. It is not a liberty to pursue error but a liberty to pursue the truth. So what happens when someone absuses this liberty by pursuing error even when he thinks he is pursuing the truth? I think the Decree basically says that from a civil perspective, the person should be left alone not because he as a right to his error but because the civil government can not usurp his God given right to pursue the truth even when he is abusing his freedom in doing it. Obviously there is a limit to how much the civil government can allow someone to abuse his freedom to pursue to the truth when it starts to violate the commond good. So one of the the questions that the magesterium needs to clarify further is what constiutes a threat to the common good such that the religous liberty of those in error need to be suppressed. Is it anything that is publicly manifested? Pre-concilliar Popes might answer yes to that question while post-concilliar Popes will answer no. However that change is not a contradiction in doctrine but a change in judgement on what is harmful to the common good.

  10. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    Tony. You accept Doctrinal change, not doctrinal development, for it is quite clear that D.H. (despite its protestation to the contrary) did change doctrine and it can not be reconciled with what came before V2.

    O, and V2 is not binding for it has no canons or decrees and irreformable definitions that one could violate and incur an anathema and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, as Prefect of the CDF, was the sapper who undermined the claims to bind by the ordinary magisterium when he cast prior magisterial binding material off the barque of Peter with a shrug that It no longer applies

  11. Tony Jokin says:

    Thanks Claudio for your reply.

    This is the problem I still have with what you say.

    In the case of St. Thomas, it is my understanding that he does not speak of a right for that moral evil. So he does not speak of some equivalent concept like religious freedom for moral systems. It seems more like a call to be prudent in considering which things to legislate.

    The articles you cited seem to speak of an actual concept of religious freedom that exists. The common interpretations of DH do not say that for prudential reasons, we are going to tolerate heresies and errors more than the level to which we used to in the past. Instead, the interpretations speak of the existence of a principle known as “religious freedom”. If one just wanted to say that “given the times we live in and the inability of the Church to influence the State, we are going to tolerate and support this concept of religious freedom simply because it is of advantage to us”, then I am sure no many would be critical of it. But that is not what is said by those who interpret DH. This is also why I personally find the distinction made by Dr. Thomas Pink between the coercive right of the Church vs. the coercive right of the State on matters of religion a bit attractive. But I am not sure if it solves all the problems.

    Because at that point one has to ask who DH is directed to. Is it directed to the secular State? But surely, the secular State doesn’t care about the Catholic Church and her assertion that the world must have religious freedom. As far as the concern of the State goes, unless one can make a secular argument for religious freedom, the State doesn’t really need to be bothered by such a concept anyway.

    Now if this pronouncement is aimed at Catholics, one is also confronted with the reality that such a proposal is untenable. While Catholicism might propose the toleration of religions, not all religions believe in toleration of other religions. Furthermore, a specific person in a non-Catholic religious belief may disagree with the Church’s prudential observation to tolerate. After all, if they are not Catholic, there seems to be no reason for anyone to necessarily agree with the prudential judgement of the Catholic Church. So the higher principle that one may cite for granting religious freedom, whether it be peace or common good, seems impossible to achieve by granting religious freedom anyway. It seems necessary to already have agreement on the prudential judgement as well as at least enforce a rule upon all believers and non believers that all religions should be tolerated. But that itself is to undermine the religious freedom by enforcing at least one particular Catholic religious belief (that of religious freedom) on all.

    At the end of the day, I feel that there is no way around the fact that the Church must desire a Catholic State and for all to submit to her teachings to realize a common good. Even for the Church to enforce a prudential notion of “religious freedom”, she has to be able to influence the State and suppress those religions that disagree with her. But to appeal completely to the secular State to maintain religious freedom is nonsensical. It gives them the right to decide what constitutes an obstacle for common good in the sphere of religions. A State may therefore end up deciding to suppress Catholicism, the only true religion, for holding and preaching some of her moral precepts.

  12. Tony Jokin says:


    Thank you for the link. I briefly skimmed through it and was very interesting. I will be giving it a thorough read hopefully soon! 🙂

  13. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    Tony. ABS ran across that site several years ago while doing some research online. It’s a great site with some very interesting arguments by an intelligent, serious, humble, man who is quite willing to submit to Rome – if it will only hear and respond to his treasonable and rational arguments

  14. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    Tony. Has Ray Rice converted to Mahometanism last year, his Religious Liberty would heave been violated by the NFL for Mahomet not only taught that wife beating is jake, he knocked around his favorite squeeze…

    But, remember, we worship the same God…

  15. Pingback: “The Tale of Those Nasty Liberals Who Hijacked Poor Ol’ Vatican Two” | A Blog for Dallas Area Catholics

  16. Wanda says:

    I had 12 years of Catholic education just before the VII council, graduating HS in 1966. Therefore, my education was unchanged by anything from VII. IMHO, the fruits of the council have been rotten, indeed, and stem from a break with what the Church always taught. What I was taught in school and what is “passing” for an explanation of the Catholic Faith today is not the same. Why is that? As Cardinal Ratzinger stated to the Bishops of Chile, July 13, 1988: “The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council…”. In order to discern VII, we need only see if it is in agreement with what the Church has always believed and taught everywhere and at the same time. There are no new “truths” to be brought out because Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle. If VII does not agree with previous Councils then VII is mistaken.

  17. Claudio says:

    I think the problem with your analysis is in your definition of religous freedom. I know that the normal meaning for the average person implies that they can choose any religion they like. However I would contend that the definition of religous freedom in the Decree is very different. I would argue that the definition of relgious freedom in the Decree is the right to pursue the truth. A more radical way of saying this is that everyone has the right to become Catholic since Catholicism is the true religion. The question than becomes what happens when someone makes the wrong choices as they pursue what they percieve to be the truth. The Decree answers that you tolerate them unless the common good requires that their error be suppsressed. If you look at it from this perspective, errors are not given rights. You are simply tolerating them because of dignity of the human person. The idea of tolerating errors existed in pre-Vatcian II teachings. The development that happened is a greater appreciation for the dignity of the human person which in turn means a greater toleration for those who are in error. Having said all this, there is nothing in the Decree that stops Cathlics from pursuing a confessional State and passing laws to prohibit intrinsic evils like prohibiting abortion, contraception, same sex marriage, etc. The tradition friendly sentence in the decree that persons and societies have a moral duty to the true religion encourages this. What the decree discourages is something like shutting down a church because it is not Catholic. The reasoning is not that the non-Cathlics have a right to their religion or a right to build a Church, but they do have the right to pursue the truth as they see it and unless the non-Catholic church becomes a threat to the common good, it should be tolerated. Note that you can argue that if the level of education for Catholics in a particular area is poor and the creation of a non-Catholic church would cause a serious threat to their Faith which is part of the common good, then you could pass laws to stop the construction of non-Catholics churches assuming you have the votes to do it. But even in this example, the better solution is for the Catholic leaders (both secular and clergy) to educate those in their care so as to maximize the freedom of non-Catholics to discover the truth and therefore become Catholic. It is much easier to convert to Catholicism if you don’t feel that you are being oppressed.

  18. S W says:

    Intentional ambiguity is diabolical. The church would be better off today if some of the players at Vatican 2 were smothered with their felt banners. I have been looking for the good fruits of Vatican 2 for my entire life at this point, and have found zero. I no longer laugh when the boomers attempt to explain the good fruits of the council, rather I ask if they have been to the Latin Mass lately and if they have made their own funeral arrangements. The smoke of Satan, is the flatulence in the wind for today’s Church militant. We get it. Viva la Pius X!

  19. Tony Jokin says:


    DH does not seem to speak of “toleration” of error. It simply seems to speak of a “right” to religious freedom for everyone, does it not? Although the starting section seems to indicate a notion of “freedom to be Catholic”, section 2 states

    “2. This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right>/b> to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.”

    But Pius IX condemns the proposition in the Syllabus of errors which states

    “15. Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true. — Allocution “Maxima quidem,” June 9, 1862; Damnatio “Multiplices inter,” June 10, 1851. “

    You don’t see a problem with this?

    Also, the common good itself demands that error be suppressed in general and tolerated in particular circumstances. But the particular interpretation of DH that you suggests turns this around. The interpretation you give seems to suggest that common good demands that error be allowed and that suppression should only be applicable in particular circumstances. To claim as such seems problematic.

    To perhaps illustrate this with a different example. Justice demands that crimes be punished. But in particular circumstances, it may be beneficial to allow certain crimes to go unpunished for upholding a different principle like mercy. But to therefore say that crimes should go unpunished in general for the sake of common good is an error. That disregards the fact that satisfaction of justice (which is the goal of a punishment) is essential for the common good.

  20. Tony Jokin says:


    I finished reading the entire article last night and it was indeed very insightful. I even ended up downloading many of the other pdf documents linked in the citations in that document.

    I read the speech in the appendix before I started reading the analysis (as the author recommended) and I must admit, I was cringing while reading some of the twisting of the words of past Popes in that speech. That made the analysis of the author and his dismantling of the assertions even more gratifying to read 🙂

  21. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    Tony. Were one to be in a generous mood (ABS ain’t) one might concede unintentional errors were committed re references to Pre V2 Doctrine.

    Wanda. Ahhh, an old school Catholic, like ABS. You’re about the same age as Israel (ABS’ age) which means that you know the church of today is not the same church into which you were born.

  22. Claudio says:

    I don’t see a problem between the 2 passages you cited because in my opinion, they are not talking about the same thing. To be immune from coercion does not directly imply you are morally free to embrace any religion you like. The clause, “within due limits”, further strengthens the notion that you are not free to embrace any religion because there are no limits to embracing Catholicism. This same clause further strengthens the notion that the sentence is more about toleration than rights since you don’t put normally put limits on rigths since they are given by God. I will admit the wording is poor. Instead of starting with “This freedmon means” , it would have been clearer if it started with “This freedom includes” so that the meaning of religous freedom from the first section is better retained.

      In regards to the common good requiring that errors be suppressed in general and only allowed in particular circumstances,  I would phrase it differently.  The common good requires justice,  in particular,  distributive justice.  In some cases this means supressing errors and in some cases it means not supressing error because is would be violating justice.  In the case of religous belief,  suppressing error by the civil authority is normally a violation of justice unless that belief translates into action that also violates justice.  From this perspective, there is no notion that you are allowing error to roam free but instead you are trying to maximize justice which directly helps the common good.  The same holds for crimes.  Most crimes violate justice and so should be punished.  However there may be acts that are sinful but yet should not be made crimes because having the state pursue these crimes would be a greater violation of justice than the crime itself.  An example would be if masturbation were made illegal.  Since it is a sin that is typically done in private,  for the state to start spying on its citizens to catch masturbaters is clearly a greater violation of distributive justice than the act itself.
  23. Claudio says:

    Although I am not a fan of how the Decree on Religous Liberty was written, it needs to be remembered that it was written at a time when communism was strong and the supression of Catholicism and other religions was in full force and so I think the mind of the Council Fathers was focused on writing something that would appeal to non-Catholics as well. The mistake I think they made in trying to appeal to non-Catholics is that they hid the pre-Vatican teachings on the duty of men and societies to the true religion (one line in the document does not cut it) and made no attempt at harmonizing the new development of more fully appreciating human dignity in regards to religous beliefs with the pre-Vatican II teachings.

  24. Tony Jokin says:


    The problem for me is that what you are suggesting is not what the text says though. You suggest toleration. But the text states

    ““2. This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.””

    Yes, the text goes on to say how this means that men are free from coercion but it is due to a right nevertheless and not due to toleration. As for the enforcement of “due limits” implying that it is a toleration and not a right, I am not sure that argument is convincing. After all, the right to possess property can be said to be limited in so far as one is not allowed to steal that property from another. No one would argue from such a “limit” that therefore there is no right given from God to possess property.

    The problem in general with DH is that the intentions of the authors make clear that they were not speaking of toleration as well. The link provided above by ABS has a speech from a Bishop that introduced the schema which clearly indicate that the intent of the author was not about “toleration”. While it is probably true that there exists an interpretation of DH through which one can still salvage the old Church teaching, it is reasonably true to state that the intentions of the authors of DH were definitely not along those lines. Does it really make sense then to even labor to formulate an interpretation of DH that reconciles with the traditional teaching? Are we not to interpret a document according to the meaning intended to be communicated by the authors and not according to what we want to fit it in to later?

  25. Tony Jokin says:

    Actually, about my last paragraph in the post above, on second thoughts I am not sure how one interprets the “intended meaning of the author” with respect to a Council document. Given that there are so many who debate it at the end of the day and may have had different intentions when they voted on it. Perhaps this is why council fathers should never vote and agree to a document that is clearly lacking in clarity.

  26. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    Does it really make sense then to even labor to formulate an interpretation of DH that reconciles with the traditional teaching? Are we not to interpret a document according to the meaning intended to be communicated by the authors and not according to what we want to fit it in to later?

    An Ecumenical Councilcan not be reduced to a level of legislative positivism for it too is required to Teach and defend Tradition and If one desires the surety and purity of the Faith, one desires all actual Doctrines and even new Doctrine be in harmony with Tradition.

    DH can be shown to conflict with Tradition and, as Msgr Gherardhini observed, what is required is not a declaration of continuity but a demonstration of continuity when it comes to the documents of V2 and the entirety of Tradition prior to 1962-65 BCE.

    As Prof Mattei observed (The Second Vatican Council, an unwritten story) a conspiracy of modernists pre-existed V2 (they met in secret) and they took control of the council on the first day and they produced documents that were open to diffuse and differing interpretations and that simple fact alone proves the documents are unsound because there IS argument over their meaning but the Church – although solicited to make an authoritaive/infallible decision about the documents by famously faithful catholics such as Romano Amerio, Msgr Gherardini, and Bishop Schneider, etc – the Church (contrary to Tradition and Holy Writ) refuses to even hear the dispute of its members but, rather, simply says the very documents under dispute are the answer to the confusion generated by the very same Documents.

    But that is an absurdity.

    That is Not The Catholic Church ABS was born into.

  27. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    The Koran has its Satanic verses and Pope John Paul II concedes that Vatican Two might also have Satanic verses.

    YEA Ecumenism !!!!

  28. Claudio says:

    I have already admitted that that text is poorly written which somewhat hides the meaning of what religous freedom means that would make it compatible with pre-Vatican II teachings. This is why as I stated in my very first comment, we need the Magisterium to provide an authoritative document that clarifies how the Decree is compatible with previous teachings. I will add the following. I take the Vatican II Council seriously. Not only is it a valid Council but its teachings are authoritative even if they are not clear and seem to be in error. Those Catholics that argue that the Council actually teaches error don’t realize what a blow that is to Catholicism’s claim that it is the true religion. For me, we either reconcile Vatican II as being in continuity with Tradition or Catholicism is not the true religion. If, God forbid, I ever come to the latter conclusion, it is not that I would convert to some other religion, but I would instead be forced to become an atheist because for me it is either Catholicism or there is no God and life is totally meaningless.

  29. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    ABS also accepts V2 as a valid council but he denies any claims it is authoritative and binding because that was not its intent.

    It chose to operate on a modest level; it chose to be pastoral – an entirely novel concept vis a vis an ecumenical council – and that alone ought to inform the faithful that some funny business was being undertaken.

    An ecumenical council can not bind the faithful if the documents its produce are contrary to Tradition; now, ABS does acknowledge and accept the disciplinary decisions of the Magisterium (Matt 16:!9) fro he has no other choice as a faithful Catholic.

    But he does not have to accept the decisions without complaint:)

    One must maintain the Bonds of Unity in Worship, Doctrine, and Authority and so ABS has no choice but to assist at the Lil’ Licit Liturgy because he rarely can assist at the Real Mass but he does have the choice to question V2 especially given that Pope Saint John Paul II concedes the Devil had influence during the council.

    ABS is trying to remember that being said about any other ecumenical council in history…

  30. drprice2 says:

    Was the 21st ecumenical council (hereinafter “No. 21”) valid? Yes. One can, with considerable effort and no small difficulty, trace a paper continuity to Tradition from it. The documents mostly permit that (a half cheer for ambiguity). But it is abundantly clear that calling the council was imprudent, and the Bad Guys ran the show for the most part. One doesn’t have to brandish No. 21 as an eternal totem or touchstone–that’s not really Catholic, when you think about it. No one does so with Vienne or Lateran V. In fact, to do so is to fall into the progressives’ trap, and is to fail to heed then Cardinal Ratzinger’s warning about not turning the most recent council into a Superdogma by which one reads the rest of Catholicism.

    What good (and it is there) can be salvaged from No. 21 will be salvaged. It may be that the most salutary lesson to be drawn is cautionary.

    The good news is that progressive hubris stamped an expiration date on much of No. 21–the modern world it was so desperate to “dialogue” with (read: “chase after”) has been dead since 1968, and the world has bent into a much darker direction, morally-speaking. Efforts to continue that dialogue seem like little more than a seance, frankly.

    Here’s a fascinating exercise: read the original preparatory schemas for No. 21:

    I recommend “On the Christian Moral Order” first. The clarity is bracing, and frankly seem to have anticipated our current predicament much more effectively than, say, Gaudium et Spes.

  31. Tony Jokin says:


    I understand your point of view regarding Vatican II and the threat to the infallibility of Councils it will make if one were to reject it. In fact, it is something I do share as well.

    However, let me first state my dilemma and perhaps explain what I feel as an alternative route.

    My dilemma in this case is the following. We know for an example that there are some Scripture passages where the immediate meaning can be interpreted in a heretical way. However, in this case, the Church through the magesterium clarifies the correct interpretation. But, in this process, the Church does not try to take that text and massage it in to a view she would like to teach. What she really does is communicate the actual intended meaning of the inspired authors of the text. We could (though not necessary or required) even further confirm that this was the intended meaning by looking at historical records how the early Church fathers (some who lived within living memory of the authors) explained the passages.

    With respect to Vatican II however, the intention behind many of these documents is clear. The intentions were in-fact made clear when these documents were introduced to the floor of debate. So I am not entirely sure what more the Church can do than interpret the documents in light of the intended meaning of the authors. Because for the Church to massage an interpretation out of Vatican II in a way that is consistent with tradition, when it clearly does not seem to be the same intended meaning of the Council fathers that prepared the documents, is actually detrimental to the truth. Why? Because this implies that the Church at any age could look back at any of her proposed doctrine and then massage out an interpretation to match with whatever she wants to say.

    So my current view (which may change as time goes on) which I consider an alternative route is that we instead focus on showing why the Vatican II Council fathers had no intention in defining and proposing new doctrine. It seems to me that this is rather easily done since we have support for for such a thesis from the opening statement of Vatican II to the introductory speeches of the particular controversial documents.

    Now once the existence of this intention of the council fathers is established, then one can state that to interpret anything in the Council as a new doctrine to be believed from the Council forth is an erroneous interpretation of the Council. In approaching the problem in this way, we also maintain the rule that one must always interpret a text according to the intentions of the authors. More importantly, we do not run in to the problem of questioning the infallibility of Catholic Councils in acting this way. The basic idea on which this reasoning rests on is that a Council is not infallible when it’s intention is to not define new doctrine. So Council of Nicaea to Council of Trent and any in the future that were called with the intention to define doctrine are all infallible. Councils on the other hand like Vatican II and perhaps others in the future that expressly state that there is no intention to define any new doctrine or clarify existing ones cannot command infallibility. After all, any reader of the Council must read it with the intention of the authors in mind.

    What do you think of such a position? Would you still consider that Catholicism is threatened by holding the above?

  32. Tony Jokin says:

    By the way Claudio, this is the excerpt from the introductory speech given by the Bishop for the schema for Dignitatis Humanae (taken from the link provided by ABS above):-

    Let our document be studied as it stands. It is not a dogmatic treatise, but a pastoral decree directed to men of our time. The whole world is waiting for this decree. The voice of the Church on religious liberty is being waited for in universities, inn national and international organisations, in Christian and non-Christian communities, in the papers and in public opinion—and it is being waited for with urgent expectancy.

    I think if one were honest, at least DH should never be interpreted as having any new doctrine in it in light of the above communicated intent of the author and what we must naturally assume must be the intent of the Council Fathers who voted on it.

  33. The false premise used in the interpretation of Vatican Council II the cause of all the confusion.

    How is Bishop Fellay going to announce that Archbishop Lefebvre made a mistake?

    I affirm the traditional teaching on religious liberty,other religions and ecumenism, without rejecting Vatican Council II

  34. FideCogitActio : “Omnis per gratiam” : With the false premise dogmas can be denied.It happened at Boston in 1949

  35. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    Claudio. By their nature, all ecumenical councils are infallible but V2 was unique among all ecumenical councils for it did not take the decision to teach infallibly but to dialogue pastorally; rather the fathers themselves (Popes included) admitted the documents were vague (they had to be, their were written in such a way as to garner sufficient votes to pass without alarming numbers of “no” votes and they were comprises twixt the modernists and the conservatives)..

    As to the question of ambiguity in the documents, admitting that does not mean an attack on the infallibility of ecumenical councils

  36. Tony Jokin says:


    This is what I am finding difficult to reconcile.

    If Vatican II is infallible, and if the intended meaning of the authors of the particular documents of Vatican II were publicly made clear (through the introductory speeches for each documents and such), then no matter how vague they may be, should one not interpret the final council documents in light of that intended meaning and accept it by faith as true?

    What does one try to imply when it is said that the Council documents are ambiguous? One already has the introduction for all these documents which state what these mean? Shouldn’t the obvious answer be to look to the intention of the authors and their explanations of the documents during the introduction and debates?

  37. Tony Jokin says:


    Just to clarify my question, what I am asking is this.

    When one says “Vatican II documents are vague/ambiguous etc.” one seems to completely ignore the fact that these documents had authors who made the intended meaning clear at the Council. Obviously, people at the council didn’t just vote on something no one understood as to what it means.

    So aren’t we sort of engaging in literary modernism when we completely ignore the authors and those who voted (who I guess in a council setting enjoy something similar to being co-authors because of their ability to recommend changes and so forth?) concentrate on the vagueness of the documents?

  38. Claudio says:

    I agree with Dale that it was imprudent to call the Council without the goal of being dogmatic. However there is nothing in Catholic doctrine that requires an Ecumenical Council to teach dogmatically.

    From this article

    Pope Paul VI wrote following:

    “In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statements of dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility, but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the Ordinary Magisterium which must be accepted with docility according to the mind of the Council concerning the nature and aims of each document.”

    So when I stated in my previous post that Vatican II is authoritative, I don’t mean that it is dogmatic (infallible) but that it needs to be accepted by Catholics at the same level as an encyclical from a Pope. So what happens when you have one set of Ordinary Magisterial documents (Vatican II documents) that seem to be in conflict with previous Ordinary Magisterial documents (from the encyclicals of the 19th and early 20th century Popes), you try to reconcile them as best as you can and you make it known to Church leaders that you need a new document to clarify how the 2 set of teachings are not in conflict.

    The following article

    has the following quote from Cardinal Ratzinger in regards to the level of assent for the Ordinary Magisterium:

    “The text also offers different forms of binding which arise from different levels of magisterial teaching. It states – perhaps for the first time with such clarity – that there are magisterial decisions which cannot be and are not intended to be the last word on the matter as such, but are a substantial anchorage in the problem and are first and foremost an expression of pastoral prudence, a sort of provisional disposition. Their core remains valid but the individual details influenced by the circumstances at the time may need further rectification. In this regard one can refer to the statements of the Popes during the last century on religious freedom as well as the anti-modernistic decisions at the beginning of this century, especially the decisions of the Biblical Commission of that time. As a warning cry against hasty and superficial adaptations they remain fully justified; a person of the stature of Johann Baptist Metz has said, for example, that the antimodernist decisions of the Church rendered a great service in keeping her from sinking into the liberal-bourgeois world. But the details of the determinations of their contents were later superseded once they had carried out their pastoral duty at a particular moment.”

    Note Cardinal Ratzinger comment about the teaching of religious freedom by pre-Vatican II popes requiring rectification in the details. If that is true, it is incumbent upon the current Magisterium to officially explain what those rectifications are so as to make them compatible with the Vatican II teachings on religious liberty. The reverse could also be argued. It is the Vatican II documents that need rectifications to be compatible with prior teaching since the language of prior teaching comes across as requiring a higher level of assent.

    Finally, to specifically answer your question about what I think of your thesis that we can simply ignore the Vatican II documents from a doctrinal perspective since the authors did not intend to be dogmatic, given what I just wrote, I think you are mistaken in equating no dogma with no doctrine. The Vatican II documents are not dogmatic but they are doctrinal and so we are back to the issue of reconciling them or Catholicism is not true.

  39. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    Tony. By their nature, all ecumenical councils are infallible but V2 intentionally avoided teaching infallibly. There was no teaching promulgated with that intent and that can be seen by reading the claims of Pope Paul VI.

    As to the documents themselves here is one example of how they were compiled with a subtext of political compromise: Monsignor Philippe Delhaye, one of the four periti who worked on this report (Gaudium et Spes) described the document as “use synths tenant use moyenne entree plusieurs tendances { a synthesis holding a middle position between two tendencies

    And the very first day of the council the revolutionaries won by actualising their conspiratorial plans (arrived at days before the first general congregation) and they took the council by force, violating the rules of the council (a violation that Pope John 23rd heartily approved of; Dutch Bishop turned to a priest friend and remarked, “That was our first victory.”

    The Council opened with a violation of the rules of the council by modernist conspirators and then descended into indefensible political action via the extra-conciliar committees of the Bishop’s conferences.

    Pope Paul VI on the nature of the council

    “There are those who ask what authority, what theological qualification, the Council intended to give to its teachings, knowing that it avoided issuing solemn dogmatic definitions backed by the Church’s infallible teaching authority. The answer is known by those who remember the conciliar declaration of March 6, 1964, repeated on November 16, 1964. In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided proclaiming in an extraordinary manner any dogmas carrying the mark of infallibility.”

    (General Audience, December 1, 1966, published in the L’Osservatore Romano 1/21/1966)
    .“Differing from other Councils, this one was not directly dogmatic, but disciplinary and pastoral.” (General Audience, August 6, 1975)

    And, of course, there are the nota previas by Pericles Felici scattered throughout the council which authoritatively aver the same.

    V2 is sui generis amongst ecumenical councils and that alone is a red flag bigger than Obama’s lies

  40. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    Cardinal Walter Kasper

    “In many places, [the Council Fathers] had to find compromise formulas, in which, often, the positions of the majority are located immediately next to those of the minority, designed to delimit them. Thus, the conciliar texts themselves have a huge potential for conflict, open the door to a selective reception in either direction.”

  41. Tony Jokin says:


    I agree with you that there is clear evidence to conclude that the intent of the Council was not to define something infallibly at VII but to be on the pastoral plane. What I am wondering is whether it is then accurate to state that ecumenical councils are by their nature infallible.

    Because if a Council enjoys some intrinsic infallibility (from their nature), then it seems to say that even if a council does not intend to teach infallibly, the content of the council that accidentally/unintentionally touches upon matters of faith will nevertheless be infallible, no?

    So what I am thinking in my head is the following example. If a Pope invites all the Bishops of the world to get together in Rome, calls it an ecumenical council, but states the goal of the council is to just have casual discussions on doctrine and document the conclusions (and no intent to teach), are the documents recording the conclusions of these discussions (with utmost clarity) infallible teachings of the Church?

  42. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    What I am wondering is whether it is then accurate to state that ecumenical councils are by their nature infallible.

    Yeah, Tony. That ecumenical councils by their nature are infallible is part of Catholic Faith but what makes V2 sui generis and completely novel is that the Popes and Fathers of V2 intentionally chose not to teach infallibly which, to ABS, is confirmation that the Holy Ghost was very active at V2 in preventing the assembled from proposing as infallible the new theology doctrines they insisted upon.

  43. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    Infallibility – Catholic encyclopedia:

    Ecumenical councils


    An ecumenical or general, as distinguished from a particular or provincial council, is an assembly of bishops which juridically represents the universal Church as hierarchically constituted by Christ; and, since the primacy of Peter and of his successor, the pope, is an essential feature in the hierarchical constitution of the Church, it follows that there can be no such thing as an ecumenical council independent of, or in opposition to, the pope. No body can perform a strictly corporate function validly without the consent and co-operation of its head. Hence:

    the right to summon an ecumenical council belongs properly to the pope alone, though by his express or presumed consent given ante or post factum, the summons may be issued, as in the case of most of the early councils, in the name of the civil authority. For ecumenicity in the adequate sense all the bishops of the world in communion with the Holy See should be summoned, but it is not required that all or even a majority should be present.

    As regards the conduct of the deliberations, the right of presidency, of course, belongs to the pope or his representative; while as regards the decisions arrived at unanimity is not required.
    Finally, papal approbation is required to give ecumenical value and authority to conciliar decrees, and this must be subsequent to conciliar action, unless the pope, by his personal presence and conscience, has already given his official ratification (for details see GENERAL COUNCILS).

    That an ecumenical council which satisfies the conditions above stated is an organ of infallibility will not be denied by anyone who admits that the Church is endowed with infallible doctrinal authority. How, if not through such an organ, could infallible authority effectively express itself, unless indeed through the pope? If Christ promised to be present with even two or three of His disciples gathered together in His name (Matthew 18:20), a fortiori He will be present efficaciously in a representative assembly of His authorized teachers; and the Paraclete whom He promised will be present, so that whatever the council defines may be prefaced with the Apostolic formula, “it has seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us.” And this is the view which the councils held regarding their own authority and upon which the defender of orthodoxy insisted. The councils insisted on their definitions being accepted under pain of anathema, while St. Athanasius, for example, says that “the word of the Lord pronounced by the ecumenical synod of Nicaea stands for ever” (Ep. ad Afros, n. 2) and St. Leo the Great proves the unchangeable character of definitive conciliar teaching on the ground that God has irrevocably confirmed its truth “universae fraternitatis irretractabili firmavit assensu” (Ep. 120, 1).
    +++++ end of quotes +++++++++++

    Our friend, Mr. Baker thinks it was not an ecumenical council owing to its intent and actions but ABS is still too old school to pitch his tent on that captious ground

  44. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    O, ABS forgot to add that Mr. Baker is infinitely more intelligent than he is and that blessing from God has helped ABS stay in His Church. For some, high intelligence is as much a curse as a blessing;

    No, in creating ABS with limited intelligence, He proved His infinite wisdom for if He had done otherwise, ABS would surely lose his soul – as He knew from before the foundations of the world

  45. Tony Jokin says:


    I actually did not know that Mr. Baker considered VII to not be an ecumenical council. That is very interesting to hear. I still didn’t get that far in his site and my reading was mostly around his comments specifically on DH and some other topics that immediately interested me when browsing through the site. I will certainly be giving the link you provided a read now.

    I guess what I am having difficulty with is the actual word “nature”. Because that does seem to say that then regardless of the intent of the Pope and Bishops in the council, the documents should be infallible.

    So for an example, I can see it valid to state that “ex cathedra statements of the Pope are infallible by nature”. From it I would understand that even if the Pope intended to not teach infallibly or even deceive, the Holy Spirit will prevent him from stating error when he invokes that language.

    By that same understanding, if we say that about ecumenical councils, is it right to say that VII is not infallible?

    I also noticed the Catholic Ency. article states

    “That an ecumenical council which satisfies the conditions above stated is an organ of infallibility…”

    So are there councils that are known as “ecumenical councils” that would not be an “organ of infallibility”? If so, then we cannot say ecumenical councils are infallibly by nature. They are infallible if the listed requirements of the CE are met and perhaps the implicit requirement that the Pope and the gathering actually wants to define doctrine infallibly through the council.

  46. Pingback: We interrupt this intermission with a brief broadcast… | FideCogitActio : "Omnis per gratiam" fidescogitactio @ gmail . com

  47. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    Begin on page 296. ABS just discovered this was online a few minutes ago. YAY, saves him from typing out the relevant passages

    Click to access Fundamentals%20Of%20Catholic%20Dogma.pdf

    Tony. ABS is neither clever enough or wise enough or intelligent enough to develop the neologism adequate to characterise what V2 was but because it acted contrary to the nature of an ecumenical council it was unlike all the other ecumenical councils but it still seems to me that its decision to not teach infallibly had no effect on the nature of an ecumenical council for it could not change the nature of an ecumenical council anymore than the pigs walking upright in Animal Farm had changed the nature of pigs*

    • OK, ABS could probably have found a better analogy..

    Birds gotta fly,fish gotta swim; 21st ecumenical had to spread it wings and soar to the depths of ecumenical anthropocentrism…

    Wait, what ? That makes no sense but then again an ecumenical council choosing to act against its nature makes no sense.

    This flummoxed faithful knows no way out of this moral quicksand.

    ABS was bred in the bone to be a Knee Jerk Papal Loyalist and it has been incredibly stressful and soul wrenching for him to, finally, admit that what seemed to be part of his nature (nurtured by his Dad who was a LaSalette Seminarian and whose Uncles was a LaSalette Priest) had to change owing to the reality of the new shadow church he faced.

    The Catholic Church ABS was born into would NEVER have called an Ecumenical Council to open the Catholic Church to the world …That is insane…

  48. Tony Jokin says:


    So would your position be that Vatican II is indeed an ecumenical Council BUT, we cannot speak of any pronouncements from it being infallible because the original intent was to not be infallible?

    Everything that appears as doctrinal statements in Vatican II would therefore actually be mere excuses or arguments for tolerating or adopting novelty that was already decided upon as the end goal of the Council even before it began?

    But shouldn’t the Holy Spirit protect a council from being called on such an erroneous issue anyway? Is it hypothetically possible for a Pope to have called a council on an erroneous goal?

    By the way, is there an encyclical or some other official Church teaching document (like the equivalent of Pastor aerternus) that speaks of the infallibility of councils and specific conditions for it? I understand that councils are considered infallible (as was the Pope even before Vatican I) but was wondering if the specific conditions and scope were ever officially defined.

  49. Amateur Brain Surgeon says:

    Tony. Yes,thanks; your first paragraph summarizes my thoughts (such as they are)

    Paragraph 2. From what ABS has come to learn about V2, the vast majority of the Council Fathers were swayed by a highly organized and politically savvy core group of new theology (modernists) revolutionaries who outflanked and out organized a confused and slow-to-catch-a-clue Curia and their conservative allies; by the time the conservatives caught on, it was pretty much over – especially given the orientation of Montini and the bred-in-the-bone-disposed-to-obey faith of the majority of Council Fathers.

    It is a malign and mephitic truth that there are some who will use the orthodox orientation of others to advance their novel desires and the revolutionaries really did think that they were the brightest and most blessed men ever in the Church and they were convinced their novelties were inspired by the Holy Ghost; it is really quite chilling.

    The behavior of the Curial giants was wrenchingly sad to discover (esp Prof Mattei’s book) as some of the great names one associates with Tradition – Ottaviani and Siri, etc – were loathe to oppose Montini and descend to the level of the Cardinal Beas and the other (OK, ABS will not write what he is thinking)…

    It is too much to have expected that 3 or 4 of those great men might have staged a walk-out of the Council and publicly identified the radical changes being attempted, BUT, if they had, that would have caused such a public scandal that either the council would have had to be cancelled or entirely revised and right reason and respect for tradition restored.

    ABS heart aches for these great men..

    Third paragraph. You know, ABS used to think that but he later came to there conclusion that the Holy Spirit prolly has a better idea what was to be done;; maybe, in the long run, it was necessary that all of this poison be exposed and done so in a non infallible manner so the choices twixt novelty and Tradition were as stark as possible.

    It was so surprising to learn that so many of the Bishops came to the council sick-to-death of the real Mass and anxious for its death via “reform.”

    Tony. Thanks for the exchange. It is via this process that ABS is forced to confront what he really believes

    O, and ALL of this time of trial will pass and the Church in all of her glory will be miraculously restored at some future point so that there will be NO denying that Jesus is the head of His Church for the restoration will be nearly as remarkable as the Resurrection ; sure, ABS will never see it for the passion the Church is undergoing is a recapitulation of the Passion of Christ (ONE Apostle at the Cross with the others hiding due to the fear of the Jews) because it will get worse and so ABS will not go quietly into that good schism or pull-up a sede and vacante his mind.

    He will go to his grave maintaining the Bonds of unity and dreaming about that ineluctable and glorious restoration of Holy Mother Church.

  50. Tony Jokin says:


    Thank you for taking the time to discuss this with me. I really appreciate it.

    I read the article by Mr. Baker on his argument for it not being ecumenical. I admit some things were convincing but I cannot get myself to accept such a conclusion without a Church pronouncement. I feel that it is safe to assume it is a ecumenical council until pronounced otherwise. Till then, I think I will just disregard what is in Vatican II in favor of what was handed down before that. After all, I cannot carry out Vatican II if I am not definitively sure as to what it is saying.

    These are definitely confusing times. In a way, I feel that as you said, perhaps God has allowed this confusion. Powerful men before and around Vatican II wanted to build a tower of Babel of sorts and now the result has been confusion.

    The only trouble I personally have is with respect to how I let these things affect my life and faith. I want to just buckle down, stick with what was handed down to me and completely ignore the things happening today with Papal interviews and all sorts of things. But this is difficult to do when these things occasionally reach out and touch you. Recently, I had to switch my parish because things got pretty bad in terms of following liturgical rubrics and the stuff that was said from the pulpit. Some of the content was so bad that I was very sad that the day had come when such ideas were heard in my own parish. Still, God has provided a much better and enriching home at the new parish that I would have never considered if things hadn’t gotten that bad.

    Perhaps it is a test too. Our blessed mother had to endure seeing her child whom she knew as her Lord be ridiculed, tortured and put to death. She was helpless to stop it and how she must have suffered seeing the indifference of those around. So I remind myself that the pain and sorrow I have is never that bad and ask our blessed lady to help me out through this time of trial.

    P.S. The feast of Our Lady of Sorrows is coming up just around the corner. I posted a novena I found on my blog 🙂

  51. Tamsin says:

    Yo. (<– holy ghost (<– your mom))

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