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Friday, March 10, 2017

The Principal Heresies and Other Errors of Vatican II

The Principal Heresies and Other Errors of Vatican II


John Daly

Edited by John Lane


This document comprises a list of the most important contradictions of Catholic doctrine we are aware of in the pronouncements of Vatican II, together with a summary, in each case, of the evidence showing that the false teaching is heretical, or in a few cases worthy of some less serious note of censure. We suspect that a careful reading of the Vatican II documents would bring many more heresies to light, but we think that those listed below are the best known and most blatant ones.

The Church's Theological Notes or Qualifications

Before beginning the list, it may be worth reviewing the different theological notes or qualifications which the Church attaches to those teachings which she has in one way or another made her own and the corresponding notes of theological censure or condemnation with which contradictory propositions are branded. Click here to view a tabular presentation.

We emphasise that the referenced table is rough and ready. The lesser theological censures have been differently used by different theologians;
1 and some questions of application, and even of theological distinctions, remain undetermined in their use.

The Principal Heresies and Other Errors of Vatican II

(a) The civil right to religious liberty.

"The Council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person... This right to religious freedom is to be recognised in the constitutional law whereby society is governed. Thus it is to become a civil right."2 (Declaration on Religious Liberty Dignitatis Humanae, paragraph 2)

What is more, the Vatican II "popes" took steps to ensure that, in countries where such freedom was not already a "civil right", it became one. Thus the Catholic constitutions of Spain and Colombia were suppressed at the express direction of the Vatican, and the laws of those countries changed to permit the public practice of non-Catholic religions.3 And as though to refute as clearly as possible the attempts of certain misguided "conservative" members of the Conciliar Sect to explain away the text cited above, interpreting it in some quite incredible fashion, Karol Wojtyla never misses an opportunity to inculcate his own - surely accurate - interpretation of the Council's intention. For instance in February 1993 he declared, in the predominantly pagan African Republic of Benin, that "the Church considers religious liberty as an inalienable right..."

The correct doctrine, which popes have often reiterated, is most authoritatively stated in the following passage from Pope Pius IX's Quanta Cura (1864):

"And from this wholly false idea of social organisation they do not fear to foster that erroneous opinion, especially fatal to the Catholic Church and the salvation of souls, called by our predecessor, Gregory XVI, insanity, namely that the liberty of conscience and worship is the proper right of every man, and should be proclaimed by law in every correctly established society... Each and every doctrine individually mentioned in this letter, by Our Apostolic authority We reject, proscribe and condemn; and We wish and command that they be considered as absolutely rejected by all the sons of the Church."

Almost the only label that Pope Pius IX does not attach to this doctrine is in fact that of "heresy", but he clearly thought the "insanity" he spoke of to be heretical for he says that it contradicts Divine Revelation. Moreover, this notion of religious liberty had already been expressly qualified as heretical by Pope Pius VII in his brief Post Tam Diuturnas, so there is no doubt about the matter.

Theological Censure: HERETICAL.

(b) Revelation was completed at the Crucifixion.

"Finally, He brought His revelation to completion when He accomplished on the Cross the work of redemption by which He achieved salvation and true freedom for men." (Declaration on Religious Liberty Dignitatis Humanae, paragraph 11)

This contradicts the traditional and definite Catholic teaching that many truths proposed by the Church as Divinely revealed were not revealed by Our Lord until after His Resurrection. For instance, the Council of Trent (Session 6, chapter 14) taught that "Jesus Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance when He said, "Receive the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive they are forgiven them, and whose sins you shall retain they are retained." These words were pronounced by Our Lord (John 20:23) on the evening of Easter Sunday, more than two full days after His Crucifixion. And of course Catholic tradition contains not the slightest reason to believe that Our Lord had revealed before the Crucifixion His plan to institute the sacrament; and to claim that He did so would therefore be to invent a new dogma never before heard of in the Church. And even then the objection remains that the answers to such questions as exactly who were the ministers of the sacrament could not have been revealed before the Passion, since the apostasy of Judas was kept secret by Our Lord until it took place.

The list of dogmas revealed by Our Lord after His Crucifixion includes the form of the sacrament of Baptism, the extension of the preaching mandate of the Apostles to the entire world, the abolition of the patriarchal religions as means of salvation, the coming into force of the promised primacy and infallibility of St. Peter, the elevation to the Apostolic dignity of St. Paul, and of course Our Lord's own Resurrection. This last He had already prophesied long before, of course; but it is as a historic event that we must believe it today, and its historical fulfilment was not revealed until the morning of Easter Sunday when it took place and was announced by the angels to the holy women.

So the doctrine of Vatican II on this topic denies the Divine revelation of a large part of the Catholic Faith and the Catholic sacramental system, relegating to the status of an unrevealed inessential the very linchpin of Christianity concerning which St. Paul wrote "If Christ be not risen again, your faith is in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:17). But of course if Our Lord did not reveal his choice of St. Paul as an Apostle (an event which probably happened more than a full year after the Crucifixion), it is not surprising that the Conciliar Sect takes no notice of his doctrine!

Finally we note that, in condemning the doctrine of those who hold that new revelations have been added to the deposit of the Faith since the Apostolic era, the Church has been accustomed to teach that the cut-off point after which no further revelation was made was the death of the last Apostle (cf. Denzinger 2021). Evidently the Church would not have chosen such a late date as the closing point of Revelation if it had already closed much earlier, to wit at the time of the Crucifixion.

Incidentally, we have seen it argued that the Latin word "perficere" which occurs in the original of the above text from Dignitatis Humanae means "to perfect" rather than "to bring to completion". Even if it did, we do not see how it would help the opposing case, for Divine Revelation could hardly be considered perfect without the Resurrection and all the rest - the Apostles certainly thought the Resurrection was worth knowing about, and, casting their minds back to their mental state on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, would doubtless have snorted at the notion that Revelation was perfect without it. But anyhow, "perficere" does not normally mean "to perfect". Its natural sense is "to complete" or "to bring to completion"; and even when the secondary meaning, "to perfect", is possible, it is always in the sense of perfecting by completion.

Theological censure: HERETICAL.

(c) Heretical and schismatic sects are means of salvation.

"The separated churches and communities as such, though we believe they suffer from the defects already mentioned, have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fulness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church." (Decree on Oecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, paragraph 3)

This contradicts a doctrine which has been repeated perhaps more times than any other by the Church and is unquestionably Divinely revealed. Only a single example of the magisterial teaching of the true doctrine is necessary and we select the following from the Council of Florence held under Pope Eugene IV (1441):

"The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the Devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with her..."

We have heard it argued that the word "means", occurring in the aberrant passage in this decree, was perhaps intended to signify something like "stepping-stone"; but of course the word is not capable of that meaning either in itself or in the Latin word of which it is the translation. A philosophical axiom states that "a means which cannot achieve its end is not a means." Flying in an aeroplane is a means of getting from England to France, but riding on a bicycle is not, even if, on reaching the Channel, one tossed the bicycle aside and used some other form of transport instead.

Theological censure: HERETICAL.

(d) Communal public prayer with heretics and schismatics is useful and commendable.

"In certain circumstances, such as in prayer services 'for unity' and during oecumenical gatherings, it is allowable, indeed desirable, that Catholics should join in prayer with their separated brethren. Such prayers in common are certainly a very effective means of petitioning for the grace of unity, and they are a genuine expression of the ties which still bind Catholics to their separated brethren." (Decree on Oecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, paragraph 8)

Into this short passage the Vatican II Fathers managed to squeeze two distinct doctrinal falsehoods:

  1. That it is desirable that Catholics should join in "prayer services" with their separated brethren. Far from being desirable, joint religious activities with non-Catholics (except in the case of known individuals who are already on the path to conversion) are forbidden.
  2. That such prayers in common are "a very effective means of petitioning for the grace of unity."

The correct doctrine is set out clearly in Canon 1258 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which the most enthusiastic proponent of Vatican II cannot deny was in force when Vatican II was taking place. This canon states that it is unlawful to assist at actively in any way, or to take part in, the devotional acts of non-Catholics; and this is simply a repetition and statement of what has always been the rule of the Church. Casuists were consulted on what exceptions could be allowed in sixteenth-century England, where and when it really mattered, and the only concessions that they found were very minor activities such as saying grace - and even that was permitted only to avoid serious danger.

Now admittedly if Canon 1258 be purely ecclesiastical law - in other words, a type of human law - Vatican II (if it was a true Council) could have overruled it and imposed a new law. But Canon 1258 was not a purely ecclesiastical law. It represents in part an application of the Divine Law; and not even a pope can abolish a Divine law (nor can he dispense from it). Fully sufficient evidence that a Divine law is at issue is to be found in the following instruction on the subject of "communicatio in sacris cum acatholicis" addressed to the Catholics of England by Cardinal Allen in his letter of 12th December 1592. 4

"...You [priests] and all my brethren must have great regard that you teach not, nor defend, that it is lawful to communicate with the Protestants in their prayers or services or in the conventicles where they meet to minister their untrue sacraments; for this is contrary to the practice of the Church and the Holy Doctors in all ages, who never communicated or allowed any Catholic person to pray together with Arians, Donatists or what other soever. Neither is it a positive law of the Church, for in that case it might be dispensed with upon some occasion; but it is forbidden by God's own eternal law, as by many evident arguments I could convince... To make all sure, I have asked for the judgement of the pope currently reigning [Pope Clement VIII] and he expressly told me that to participate with the Protestants either by praying with them or by coming to their churches or services or such like was by no means lawful or dispensable."

In response to a correspondent we wrote the following:

"(i) The letter by Cardinal Allen was written in circumstances which could not have been more exacting, and which must have made Cardinal Allen and the pope look for every opportunity of compromising on the issue if compromise were to be found. At that time in Elizabethan England, for Catholics to be allowed to pray with non-Catholics might literally have saved the lives of Catholics, and might also have prevented the reduction to total ruin of entire families (and, of course, saved many from the temptation to apostatise, sometimes unhappily consented to).

"(ii) There is no possibility that the prohibition could only have related to attendance at church services, because, no less than twice, the document makes it clear that this is not so, and that the prohibition embraces everything. '...that you teach not, nor defend, that it is lawful to communicate with Protestants in their prayers or services or in the conventicles where they meet to minister their untrue sacraments...' And: '...the pope...expressly told me that to participate with the Protestants either by praying with them or by coming to their churches or services or such like was by no means lawful or dispensable...'

"(iii) The document makes it clear that this prohibition had always existed. '...Contrary to the practice of the Church and the Holy Doctors in all ages who never communicated or allowed any Catholic person to pray together with Arians, Donatists or what other soever...'

"(iv) Again and again the document makes it clear that what is at issue is not merely man-made ecclesiastical law, but Divine law. Thus: 'Neither is it a positive law of the Church, for in that case it might be dispensed with upon some occasion' - it is only Divine law that cannot be dispensed with. Thus too: '...it is forbidden by God's own eternal law.' What could be clearer than that? Or do you assert that there is a distinction between Divine law and _God's own eternal law'? And thus yet again: _...the pope currently reigning...expressly told me that to participate with Protestants...by praying with them...was by no means lawful or dispensable.'

"(v) And how could Cardinal Allen's pronouncement possibly be more definitive? In the first place, he, a prince of the Church and possibly one of the most revered cardinals of the sixteenth century, made it perfectly clear that he had researched the matter with great care, that he was merely repeating what had always been the inviolable practice of the Church, and also that he was completely certain that it was a matter of Divine law and not dispensable. And in the second place, because of the importance of the issue he deemed it his duty, notwithstanding his own complete certainty, to check the matter with the ultimate authority, the man with the keys to the kingdom of Heaven and the power to bind and loose as though the binding and loosing were done by God Himself; and the pope, despite the fact that, as...already suggested, every human instinct must have screamed at him to find a way around the prohibition if a way round could be found, simply affirmed unequivocally that prayer with Protestants - not merely attendance at liturgical services - was both unlawful and not dispensable, i.e. was a matter of Divine law."

We should make it clear that we by no means deny that there is scope for doubt with regard to a few exceptional cases; nor do we deny that the Divine law, which makes it per se unlawful to associate even in the orthodox private prayers of non-Catholics, does seem not to bind - in relation to the genuinely orthodox private prayers of non-Catholics - in cases of grave inconvenience where there is no danger of scandal. Naturally Cardinal Allen and Pope Clement VIII knew that there always would be scandal if Catholics prayed with Protestants in post-"Reformation" England, and they therefore had no need to mention this. What Cardinal Allen's response makes clear without any shadow of doubt is that the concept of praying with non-Catholics is "per se" forbidden by the Divine law - a Divine law which Vatican II simply overruled as though it did not exist.

Theological censure: at least ERRONEOUS IN FAITH for the first proposition and HERETICAL5 for the second proposition.

(e) The procreation and education of children is not the primary end of marriage.

"Marriage and married love are by nature ordered to the procreation and education of children. Indeed children are the supreme gift of marriage and greatly contribute to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: "it is not good that man should be alone" (Gen. 2:18), and "from the beginning (he) made them male and female" (Mt. 19:4): wishing to associate them in a special way with his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: "Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1:28). Without intending to underestimate the other ends of marriage, it must be said that true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it is directed to disposing the spouses to co-operate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Saviour who, through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day.

"Married couples should regard it as their proper mission to transmit human life and to educate their children; they should realise that they are thereby co-operating with the love of God the creator and are, in a certain sense, its interpreters. This involves the fulfilment of their role with a sense of human and Christian responsibility and the formation of correct judgments through docile respect for God and common reflection and effort; it also involves a consideration of their own good and the good of their children already born or yet to come, an ability to read the signs of the times and of their own situation on the material and spiritual level, and, finally, an estimation of the good of the family, of society, and of the Church. It is the married couple themselves who must in the last analysis arrive at these judgments before God. Married people should realise that in their behaviour they may not simply follow their own fancy but must be ruled by conscience --- and conscience ought to be conformed to the law of God in the light of the teaching authority of the Church, which is the authentic interpreter of divine law. For the divine law throws light on the meaning of married love, protects it and leads it to truly human fulfilment. Whenever Christian spouses in a spirit of sacrifice and trust in divine providence carry out their duties of procreation with generous human and Christian responsibility, they glorify the Creator and perfect themselves in Christ.

"Among the married couples who thus fulfil their God-given mission, special mention should be made of those who after prudent reflection and common decision courageously undertake the proper upbringing of a large number of children.

"But marriage is not merely for the procreation of children: its nature as an indissoluble compact between two people and the good of the children demand that the mutual love of the partners be properly shown, that it should grow and mature. Even in cases where despite the intense desire of the spouses there are no children, marriage still retains its character of being a whole manner and communion of life and preserves its value and indissolubility. (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, paragraph 50)

Not only is it nowhere stated or implied in this passage that the procreation of children is the primary purpose of marriage, transcending all other purposes, but it is implied that this primary purpose is equalled in importance by what are in fact the secondary purposes. The correct doctrine is succinctly set out in Canon 1013 of the 1917 Code: "The primary end of marriage is the procreation and upbringing of children."

The erroneous nature of this doctrine is highlighted by the astonishing suggestion that only those who have "prudently reflected" and made a subsequent "decision" should raise "large" families. The truth is that Catholic parents should leave the size of their families entirely to divine providence, unless there are proportionately grave reasons for limiting them by partial or total abstinence.

The perversion of this doctrine by Vatican II is worthy of note not only as a departure from Catholic doctrine, but also as an incitement to vice and depravity. It is precisely because God instituted marriage and the reproductive act proper to marriage primarily as a means to the procreation of new life, and only secondarily for other lawful ends such as the fostering of mutual love between husband and wife and the allayance of concupiscence, that it is unlawful to seek the pleasures proper to matrimony while deliberately frustrating their natural fecundity. In other words, the false doctrine spread in this passage paves the way to the justification of marital onanism and every other sort of unnatural perversion.

It is perhaps not surprising that this passage drew very severe criticism from the two weightiest theologians present at the Council, Cardinal Ottaviani, prefect of the Holy Office, and Cardinal Browne,6 superior-general of the Dominicans. The former, speaking as the eleventh of twelve children of a labouring man, recalled the Scriptural doctrine and Catholic tradition of trusting to Providence rather than thinking it necessary to limit the size of families, and ironically pointed out that, if the text of this decree was to be considered correct and Catholic, this fitted in well with another notion heard for the first time at Vatican II - namely the notion that the Church had previously been in error (see item (q) below). The latter, in two interventions, showed how the desire to teach a fashionable doctrine (according some special rôle to romantic love among the ends of matrimony) was threatening to undermine the Church's traditional doctrine. And although some changes in the text of the decree were made in the light of these interventions, nothing is plainer than that the adjustments were cosmetic and that the underlying errors remain in the text.

Theological censure: ERRONEOUS

(f) The Jews are not presented in Scripture as rejected or accursed.

"It is true that the Church is the new people of God, yet the Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this is followed from Holy Scripture." (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religious Nostra Aetate, paragraph 4).

For evidence of the true doctrine in relation to this remarkable assertion, we may start with Our Lord's parable recorded in Matthew 21:33-45 and the Church's traditional interpretation of it. "The rejection of the Jews and the conversion of the Gentiles are here foretold, as Christ teaches in verse 43," says Cornelius a Lapide in his commentary on this passage.

Then, of course, there is Matthew 27:25: "And the whole people, answering, said: His blood be upon us and upon our children." Presumably something follows from this passage in Holy Scripture, and one wonders what the Fathers of Vatican II had in mind. For the traditional Church teaching in relation to that passage, we return once again to Cornelius a Lapide, where he comments on it:

"And thus they [the Jews] have subjected, not only themselves, but their very latest descendants, to God's displeasure. They feel it even to this day in its full force, in being scattered over all the world, without a city,7 or temple, or sacrifice, or priest or prince... 'This curse,' says St. Jerome, 'rests on them even to this day, and the blood of the Lord is not taken away from them,' as Daniel foretold (Daniel 9:27)."

And out of interest, if we were asked which, out of all the Vatican II passages that we are offering, we believed to be the most difficult to explain away even with the most subtle debating devices, we should probably choose this one. We do not maintain that it is more definitely heretical than the others, but it does seem to present the fewest escape routes, especially as the Fathers of Vatican II expressly elected to have their doctrine judged against Holy Scripture, which is explicit in making it absolutely clear that the Jews have been collectively reprobated for their part in the Crucifixion. (Numerous other texts from the New Testament could be quoted to this end, but we think we have already given enough evidence.)

Theological censure: HERETICAL.

(g) Christians and Jews have a common spiritual heritage.

"Since Christians and Jews have such a common spiritual heritage, this sacred Council wishes to encourage further mutual understanding and appreciation." (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions Nostra Aetate, paragraph 4)

The Church teaches that, far from Christians and Jews having a common spiritual heritage, the most significant feature of what the Jews of the Christian era have inherited from their spiritual ancestors, those who engineered the Crucifixion, consists of the total rejection of the Incarnate God and also of the Old Testament Covenant. The Church has always instructed her children to pray for the conversion of "the perfidious Jews" (as in the liturgy for Good Friday).

It is interesting to note that, deplorable as it is, this text represents a softening of the error which was originally proposed for the agreement of the Council Fathers. Originally it was stated that Christians had derived a great patrimony from the Jews, leading Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer to point out that:

"Christians, however, have received the patrimony which they have inherited from the ancient Jewish people, and not from the Jewish people of the present day. The Jewish people of the present day cannot be described as in all respects faithful to the revelation of the Old Testament, as they refuse to accept the Messias who was the cause of the entire Old Law. The Israelites of the present day are rather the successors of those whom St. Peter declares to have delivered Jesus to death and whom St. Paul declares that the justice of God has abandoned to have a hardened heart (Acts 3:13; 5:20; Romans 10:3; 11:7). Hence it does not seem right to speak in the same way concerning the Jews of old, who were faithful to God and the Messias to come, and concerning the Jews of the present time. From the former, the Church has received and faithfully kept her patrimony, while the Jews of the present day, on the contrary, impoverish that patrimony by their infidelity. For the same reason it also follows that dialogues with Jews should be introduced only with great caution, as the custom is - or at least always was - in the Church. Moreover the Council ought not to abandon this custom except under the influence of grave reason which ought to be explained to the faithful." (Acts of the Second Vatican Council III:III, p.161)

Because "heritage" is a word that is vague enough to allow a number of different meanings to be extracted from this passage, we do not dare brand it with a more severe ecclesiastical censure than that given below: a censure which, though it does not appear in the table given by Father Cartechini, is discussed elsewhere in his work and is frequently recognised and used by Catholic theologians and by the Roman Congregations. We think it worth emphasising this passage notwithstanding its relatively mild censure, because it so clearly shows the heretical animus of the Council, ever eager to say what would please liberal politicians and journalists, especially by flattering the Jews, and quite dismissive of the need to guard unsullied the deposit of faith, to protect the faithful from their enemies, and to rebuke and recall to their duties that perfidious race, once the chosen people, but now under a curse until, around the time of Antichrist, the return of the prophet Elias secures their conversion.

Theological censure: OFFENSIVE TO PIOUS EARS.

(h) Past dissensions with Muslims should be forgotten.

"Over the centuries many quarrels and dissensions have arisen between Christians and Muslims. The Sacred Council now pleads with all to forget the past, and urges that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding..." (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions Nostra Aetate, paragraph 3)

(i) This recommends that we refrain from studying that part of the history of the Catholic Church which deals with the heroic efforts of our Catholic ancestors against the Muslim hordes which time and time again have come close to over-running Europe. We presume that all we need to say about the plea to forget the past is that the past should be studied with great assiduousness and learnt from, for insights into both the Catholic Church and her demonically-inspired enemies. It is not surprising that during the few short years which have passed since the promulgation of this monstrous recommendation by the robber-Council, the Muslims have rapidly risen to a point at which they are now once again within striking distance of taking over Europe, and even - unprecedentedly - the United Kingdom, in which they have had the effrontery to establish their own "government" independent of queen and parliament, an outrage for which no single trial, expulsion or execution for treason has yet been initiated. It is the fate of those who "forget the past" to have to re-learn its lessons by painful experience.

(ii) A moment's reflection reveals that the passage is pregnant with still graver errors also, for it inescapably implies that the "quarrels and dissensions" in the past have been at least partially the fault of the Catholic Church. How does it imply this? It does so by placing the two parties to the disputes on equal footing, as though the Immaculate Bride of the Divine Lamb were just another belligerent cult like Mahometanism. And it implies it again by the advice it offers towards resolving the quarrels and dissensions of the past. This advice implies fault on both sides; for if that were not the case, the correct advice would be (a) that those who have quarrelled with and dissented from the Church should recognise that they were at fault, and (b) that they should be urged to mend their ways and make reparation for the past.

And indeed this will come as no surprise to those who have noted that, in its Decree on Oecumenism (paragraph 3), Vatican II attempts to blame the Catholic Church for the defection of heretics from her ranks: "...More serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame."

One can refute this disgusting assertion in two ways.

In the first place, since the Catholic Church has the Divinely instituted right and obligation (a) to tell the people what they must believe and (b) to govern them - in short, the right and duty to have the final say - it is naturally impossible that any "quarrels and dissensions" which have remained unresolved can be her fault. In other words, any person or institution who has quarrelled with the Catholic Church is inescapably at fault for having refused to submit to her judgement. 8

In the second place, the notion that the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, the Spotless Bride of Christ, whose soul is the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of Unity, should be the cause of quarrels and dissensions, can perhaps best be described as fantastic. It is as ludicrous to suggest that the Church was responsible for the quarrels and dissensions that have arisen between Christians and Muslims as to suggest that Our Lord was responsible for the "quarrels and dissensions" with which the Gospels are filled and which culminated in His judicial murder. This is not to deny that Our Lord was "a sign which shall be contradicted" (Luke 2:34), of course, nor that He "came not to send peace but the sword" (Matthew 10:34), nor yet that both those observations apply to Our Lord's Church no less than to Himself. But the notions that Our Lord and His Church are in any way to blame for the contradiction and "the sword", and that the conflicts of the past have arisen from "lack of mutual understanding" have only to be stated for their blasphemous implications to be exposed. Far from there being "lack of mutual understanding", it need hardly be said that Our Lord and His Church have always understood their enemies perfectly. And quarrels and dissensions between the Church and the rest of the world are caused simply by the refusal of men and nations to submit to the Church's wise, loving, tender maternal guidance and rule.

(iii) It denies the truth that the Catholic Church is as perfect in her practice (where this consists of considered policy rather than of the occasional actions of individual Catholics) as she is in her teaching.9

Theological censure: in (i) it is at least TEMERARIOUS; in (ii) it is BLASPHEMOUS; in (iii) it is ERRONEOUS.

(i) The liturgical services of Protestants engender the life of grace and aptly give access to the communion of salvation.

"The brethren divided from us also carry out many liturgical actions of the Christian religion. In ways that vary according to the condition of each church or community, these liturgical actions most certainly can truly engender a life of grace, and, one must say, can aptly give access to the communion of salvation." (Decree on Oecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, paragraph 3)

Comment is scarcely needed. In relation to the words, "these liturgical actions most certainly can truly engender a life of grace", we simply ask the following questions:

    i. Given that the liturgy in Protestant services, and of course the general body of Protestant belief, teaches that all that is required for the forgiveness of sins is the "general confession", how can it be imagined that this can engender a life of grace? Most Protestants, after all, do not go to confession and do not even claim that their ministers can give absolution. And since Protestant ministers cannot give absolution, the only possible means of entering the state of grace would be by an act of perfect contrition. And the Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches that an act of perfect contrition (which Protestants neither know they ought to make nor know how to make) is very difficult even for Catholics to make.10 If it is exceedingly difficult for instructed Catholics, notwithstanding the fact that they know what is necessary, what chance can Protestants have (even in the rare cases when they are invincibly ignorant in their theological errors and sufficiently respectful of tradition to possess supernatural faith) when they are under the illusion that no effort is required at all?

    ii. Given that the overwhelming majority of "brethren divided from us" belong to sects which have no priesthood, Mass or absolution, and whose principal worship is objectively sacrilegious, how can it be alleged that their liturgical actions can be of the slightest benefit whatever to those who participate in them? (It should be noted that the actual graces received by a non-Catholic who is still in good faith in his errors, when he goes to church and prays, are not engendered by the liturgical charade enacted there, but result purely from God's acceptance of his interior dispositions.)

As for the claim that the various liturgical actions of the separated bodies that St. Peter calls "sects of perdition" (2 Peter 2:1) can aptly give access to the communion of salvation - its unorthodoxy is too blatant to require analysis. Only for a tiny minority of cases can there be any appearance of truth in it - namely validly baptised infants and a few Eastern dissidents who may receive valid Holy Communion in good faith. By grossly exceeding these narrow limits and turning the exception into a general rule applicable, in some measure, even to Protestants, the Council has abandoned any pretence to be Catholic! And above all, the word "aptly" should be noted; for if a few ignorant but devout Greek peasants are able to receive the salutary effects of Holy Communion - on account of their being innocently unaware that their reception of it is grossly illicit and objectively displeasing to God, since they receive it at the hands, not of His servants, but of His enemies - one thing that is quite certain is that this is anything but an apt way to go about working out one's salvation.

Theological censure: we are not certain what censure is applicable, but evidently the passage is at least ERRONEOUS, and, insofar as the text implies that invalid sacrilegious rituals can directly confer sanctifying grace, we think it inescapably HERETICAL.

(j) The Church has a high regard for doctrines which differ from her own.

"The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these [non-Christian] religions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men." (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions Nostra Aetate, paragraph 2)

Putting aside the scandalous reference to life, conduct and precepts, let us concentrate on the statement that the Church has "a high regard" for the "doctrines" of false religions, not only those doctrines which, fortuitously, may be true, but even those which "differ...from her own teaching." Now since the teaching of the Catholic Church is true, it is a logical necessity that any doctrine which differs from it must be false. The Fathers of Vatican II, therefore, have firmly declared that the Church "has a high regard" for false doctrines. Of course, this is perfectly true of the Conciliar Sect; but the attitude of the Catholic Church towards false doctrines has always been the same as that of her Divine founder: unrestrained loathing.

Theological censure: HERETICAL.

(k) Theological meetings and discussions on an equal footing between Catholics and non-Catholics are commendable.

"Catholics who already have a proper grounding need to acquire a more adequate understanding of the respective doctrines of our separated brethren, their history, their spiritual and liturgical life, their religious psychology and cultural background. Most valuable for this purpose are meetings of the two sides - especially for discussion of theological problems - where each can treat with the other on an equal footing, providing that those who take part in them under the guidance of the authorities are truly competent." (Decree on Oecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, paragraph 9)

Whatever anyone may say in attempting to defend the orthodoxy of this heretical doctrine, it is an inescapable fact that, by entering into a discussion with anyone else on an equal footing, one renounces any claim to authority superior to the authority of the other party. Otherwise the footing simply would not be equal. Consider: how can the Church recommend Catholics, even the most competent, to engage in theological discussion with Protestants unless the Protestants are open-minded and ready to acknowledge that their religious opinions are at least doubtful and to change them if they discover clear evidence to the contrary? And yet, for a Catholic to enter into dialogue with such a Protestant on an equal footing, it would be necessary for the Catholic to have the same attitude towards his own religious convictions - in other words, to regard them as provisional opinions rather than Divinely guaranteed, unshakeably certain, and something he would gladly die a thousand deaths rather than call into doubt the minutest detail of any of them for a fleeting instant.

Hence the Council encourages Catholics to conceal the Divine obligation of all persons to acknowledge the Catholic Faith, to conceal the impossibility for any Catholic - without horrendous mortal sin - of questioning the tiniest detail of his Faith, and to conceal the necessity for all heretics to submit to the Church. It encourages Catholics to evince the attitude that theological issues disputed between Catholics and non-Catholics are a matter of open debate: opinion versus opinion. There is no other way of reading those words of the Council. And the behaviour commended by Vatican II was expressly condemned in Pope Pius IX's Mortalium Animos:

"Though it is easy to find many non-Catholics preaching often of brotherly communion in Christ Jesus, you will find none to whose minds it would occur to submit themselves and obey the Vicar of Christ, either as teacher or as ruler of the Church. Meanwhile, they affirm that they would gladly treat with the Roman church though upon the basis of equality of rights and as equals. If they could so treat, they do not seem to doubt but that an agreement might be entered into through which they would not be compelled to give up those opinions which are thus far the cause of their having wandered outside the one true fold of Christ.

"On such conditions it is clear that the Apostolic See cannot in any way participate in their meetings, and that Catholics cannot in any away adhere to or grant aid to such efforts..."

The Holy Father also taught that: "… one who supports those who hold these theories and attempt to realise them, is altogether abandoning the divinely revealed religion."

Vatican II asserts that meetings of the two sides - especially for discussion of theological problems and where each can treat with the other on an equal footing - are "most valuable". Pope Pius XI says that they may not be entertained and that the theories, which would defend such meetings as good, are equivalent to apostasy.


(l) Christians and non-Christians together search for truth and moral answers.

"Through loyalty to conscience, Christians are joined to other men in the search for truth and for the right solution to so many moral problems which arise both in the life of individuals and from social relationships." (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, paragraph 16)

The first question posed by this passage is what meaning is to be attributed to the word "Christians" in it. Does it simply mean Catholics? That is not to be supposed, for Vatican II elsewhere (erroneously) attributed to baptised heretics and schismatics a strict right to the appellation "Christian". Does it mean Catholics and baptised non-Catholics considered as a promiscuous grouping? If so, it is surely sufficiently heretical in itself to suggest that it is possible to generalise as though Catholics and heretics were, at least approximately, in the same position "in the search for truth". Perhaps the least deplorable interpretation is to suppose that the Fathers wished to refer predominantly to Catholics and secondarily to non-Catholic "Christians". But, even at its best, this statement remains an outrageous travesty of reality. With regard to all those truths which it is necessary for men to know, Catholics are not involved in any "search", whether in common with heretics or pagans or anyone else, but are rather set utterly aside from everyone else by their confident possession of the infallible truth.

Nor is it possible to "save" the orthodoxy of this passage by arguing that there remain some truths for which Catholics continue to search (for instance, concerning abstruse theological niceties) while there are others for which non-Catholics search (concerning fundamentals, the answers to which can alone be found in the Catholic Church). For that is merely to assert that Catholics are engaged in one search for truth, while non-Catholics are (or should be) engaged in another and quite separate search. There is not the slightest question of Catholics being "joined to other men" in seeking truth, for the same reason that an Olympic runner is unlikely to handcuff himself to a cripple or paralytic in his endeavour to break a speed record and that a forward-thinking farmer does not normally yoke a pair of tortoises in front of his tractor to assist in ploughing his land more rapidly and efficiently!

The worst scandal of this false doctrine consists in the disastrous impression it is liable to give to non-Christian readers, implying once again that the Catholic Faith is a matter of opinion and that Catholics are still hunting, open-mindedly, for religious truth just as benighted pagans are.

Theological censure: here we think it is necessary to have recourse to a qualification used to brand a proposition which, in its natural and obvious sense, is heretical, even if it is vague and woolly enough to permit those who are determined to close their eyes to reality, such as Mr. Michael Davies, to convince themselves that it is patient of an orthodox interpretation - SAVOURING OF HERESY.

(m) The Church must dialogue with atheists to establish order in the world.

"Although the Church altogether rejects atheism, she nevertheless sincerely proclaims that all men, those who believe as well as those who do not, should help to establish right order in this world, where all live together. This certainly cannot be done without a dialogue that is sincere and prudent." (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, paragraph 21)

The only chance for right order to be established in the world is of course for the world to become Catholic. As Our Lord said would happen (e.g. in John 15:18), the world has always hated the Catholic Church; and it always will hate the true Catholic Church until it joins it. Our Lord made it clear that He did not even pray for "the world" (John 17:9), and St. Paul said, in 2 Timothy 3:12: "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." Moreover, Our Lord instructed his Apostles and their dependants to preach to unbelievers, not to engage in dialogue with them. The Catholic Church teaches that right order in the world is absolutely impossible until the entire world submits to the Church, and that purporting to help establish right order, peace, etc., while remaining in open rebellion against the kingship of Christ is simply a contradiction in terms. In support of this, we quote from Pope Pius XI's first encyclical, Ubi Arcano Dei:

"Because they have separated themselves miserably from God and Jesus Christ, men have fallen from their former happiness into a slime of evils. For this same reason, all the projects they invent to remedy the losses and save that which remains of the ruins, are stricken with an almost absolute sterility."

And here is Pope Pius XII in his first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus:

"Many, doubtless, in thus abandoning the commandments of Jesus Christ,...had not the wit to see that any human effort to substitute for Christ's law some base model of it, must prove altogether empty and unfruitful; 'vanity was the end of their designs' (Romans 1:21). When faith in God and in our Divine Redeemer grows weak and numb, when the illumination that comes from the universal principles of uprightness and honour is clouded in men's minds, what does it mean? It means that the only possible foundation of peace and permanency has been undermined, the foundation upon which the ordering of our actions and opinions, public and private, must rest. If we lose that, nothing can breed or preserve prosperity in a commonwealth."

And here is much the same teaching presented in different words in Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year (volume 14, last Sunday in October, feast of Christ the King11):

"Today we sadly behold 'a world undone', largely paganised in principles and outlook, and, in recent years, in one country even glorying in the name 'pagan'. At the best, governments mostly ignore God; and at the worst, openly fight against Him as we of today are witnessing in the Old World and in the New. Even the statesmen's well-meant efforts to find a remedy for present ills and above all, to secure world peace, prove futile because, whereas peace is from Christ, and possible only in the kingdom of Christ, His Name is never mentioned throughout their deliberations or their documents."

That is the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church, summarised in the axiom "pax Christi in regno Christi" - the peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ. It is a direct reflection of Christ's unambiguous pronouncements and warnings that "the world", which hated Him, would hate His Church. The Church has always held that there are two kingdoms in the world, the kingdom of God, which is the Catholic Church, and the kingdom consisting of all the rest, which is ruled by Satan; and not only do they exist in irreconcilable enmity with each other, but the latter cannot even live at peace among themselves, let alone at peace with the Catholic Church. (It is difficult enough for Catholic nations to live at peace with each other, as the history of the Middle Ages shows.)

Finally on this subject, lest we be accused of reading more into those words of Gaudium et Spes than is warranted, it is perhaps worth noting that Paul VI left not the slightest doubt about his own interpretation of them - an interpretation entirely irreconcilable with Catholic teaching - in his famous speech at the atheistic United Nations in 1965, when he blasphemously described that Masonic organisation as "the last hope of the peoples of the Earth for concord and peace."

Theological censure: once again, in our opinion, SAVOURING OF HERESY.

(n) The Church needs the help of non-believers.

"Nowadays, when things change so rapidly, and thought patterns differ so widely, the Church needs to step up this exchange [i.e. 'exchange between the Church and different cultures'] by calling upon the help of the people who are living in the world, who are expert in its [the world's] organisations and its forms of training, and who understand its mentality, in the case of believers and unbelievers alike." (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, paragraph 44)

What has been said in relation to (m) above is sufficient to refute this doctrine also. Quite plainly, while unbelievers are in the most urgent and desperate need of all that the Church has to offer them, the Church herself needs absolutely nothing from them. Her mission is to preach the truth and offer the means of sanctification to all men, not to act as an intercultural swap-shop; and her Divine founder, by means of the essentially immutable constitution with which He endowed her and the unceasing inspiration and protection of the Holy Ghost whom He sent to her at Pentecost, has supplied her with all that she can possibly need to accomplish her mission. The suggestion that, for any purpose whatsoever, the Church can have need of the assistance of a group of persons qualified, not by theological erudition or holiness, but only by familiarity with the ways and spirit of the world - of which it is written that "the whole world is seated in wickedness" (1 John 5:19) - and including unbelievers among their number, can merit only one possible qualification...

Theological censure: HERETICAL.

(o) Catholic missionaries should co-operate with heretical "missionaries".

"In collaboration with the Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity it [the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith] will seek ways and means for attaining and organising fraternal co-operation and harmonious relations with the missionary undertakings of other Christian communities, so that as far as possible the scandal of division may be removed." (Decree on the Church's Missionary Activity Ad Gentes Divinitus, paragraph 29)

Catholic missionaries are men sent by God through His holy Church to preach the truth to those who are ignorant of it, so that, if they are of good will, they may embrace the Gospel by an act of supernatural faith, which is the necessary foundation of the process of justification. Protestant "missionaries", by contrast, are diabolically-inspired upstarts, not envoys of God but His enemies, brazenly claiming to make known His truth while in fact distorting it according to their prejudices and bringing those foolish enough to accept their doctrines, not light, but an even deeper degree of darkness, so that we may most fittingly apply to a pagan "converted" by Protestant "missionaries" Our Lord's words that "the last state of that man is made worse than the first." (Matthew 12:45) Hence it is that the great Jesuit Scripture commentator, Father Cornelius a Lapide writes:

"...it is never lawful to be glad to see heresy preached and propagated, even among the heathens; for though they announce Christ, yet, at the same time, they also announce many heresies...and these heresies are more pernicious than paganism itself; so that it is far better for the heathens not to receive any truth or doctrine from heretics, than to receive it mixed with so many perverse errors..." (Commentary on the Epistle to the Philippians 1:18; our emphasis)

And in the light of this, can it be credited that a council calling itself Catholic should recommend "fraternal co-operation" between Catholic missionaries and their deadliest adversaries and opponents? Can anyone with a grain of Catholic faith left in his soul seriously imagine that it is lawful to accomplish God's work by acting in tandem with those who are determined to frustrate it? Can anyone seriously advise, for the advancement of any project whatever, that it should be accomplished, not by those who understand the nature of the work and its value, and yearn to see it achieved, but by a promiscuous alliance of those who favour the project with those who oppose it, those who understand it and those who are quite blind to its nature?

We think sufficient answer is given to these questions by the words of St. Paul:
"Bear not the yoke with unbelievers. For what participation hath justice with injustice? Or what fellowship hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath the faithful with the unbeliever? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)

Theological censure: since it is couched as a statement of intention rather than a doctrinal affirmation it is perhaps not possible to attach a censure directly to the words quoted. The position, however, of anyone who believes such a policy to be commendable is obviously HERETICAL.

(p) Deficiencies in the formulation of Church teaching should be put right.

"Consequently, if, in various times and circumstances, there have been deficiencies in moral conduct or in Church discipline, or even in the way that Church teaching has been formulated - to be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself - these should be set right at the opportune moment and in the proper way." (Decree on Oecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio, paragraph 6)

This passage is a good example of how the heretical council Vatican II follows the example of other heretics by subtly concealing its poison and appearing to defend the very truth which it simultaneously denies. The notion that deficiencies may exist in the formulation of Church teaching represents a despicable attack on the holiness and Divine protection guaranteed to the Church by her Divine Founder. Nor is anything achieved by the disingenuous evasion that doctrinal formulation is "to be carefully distinguished from the deposit of faith itself;" for the deposit of faith was communicated by God to men in the shape of words, spoken or written, and has ever been communicated by Holy Church to her children in the same manner, through the voices and pens of her missionaries, pastors and Doctors. It would therefore be quite impossible for there to be deficiencies in the formulation of Catholic teaching without there being a deficiency in the Church's custody and proclamation of the deposit of faith itself. Hence it is that the Holy Ghost preserves the pronouncements of the Church from error - not necessarily by direct inspiration of the most perfect words possible to communicate His meaning, as took place in the case of Holy Writ, but at least by ensuring that no word is ever used in such official formulation which could be considered defective. And hence Pope St. Agatho (678-681) wrote that: "Nothing of the things appointed [definita] ought to be diminished; nothing changed; nothing added; but they must be preserved both as regards expression and meaning." (Epistle to the Emperor, quoted by Pope Gregory XVI in his encyclical Mirari Vos of 15th August 1832)

And of course no escape from the heterodoxy of the contrary teaching of Vatican II can be based on the subtle technique of using the conditional, "If...there have been deficiencies...in the way that Church teaching has been formulated..."; for the simple reason that even to entertain the hypothesis shows that it is believed to be possible that there could be such deficiencies, and to give instructions on how to respond to such an eventuality shows it even to be likely.

Theological censure: in the most natural implication of the words…HERETICAL.

(q) Other heresies of Vatican II, and a heresy in the Good Friday proper of the Novus Ordo Missae.

The foregoing list is not exhaustive, partly because we have never wanted to undertake the time-consuming, laborious and morally dangerous task of attentively reading all the documents of the Council with a view to locating every affront to the Catholic Faith contained therein. We think it worth mentioning here, however, that the decree Unitatis Redintegratio on oecumenism and the declaration Nostra Aetate on non-Christian religions, together with the more celebrated declaration Dignitatis Humanae on religious liberty, form a special category, since the heresies they contain are not incidental but constitute their very raison d'être. In other words, each of those documents not only contains isolated outrages against Catholic truth, but was conceived as an onslaught against some Catholic doctrine. Nostra Aetate sets out to undermine the cornerstone of Christian doctrine that "there is no other name under Heaven given to men whereby we must be saved [than] by the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth" (Acts 4:10,12). Unitatis Redintegratio endeavours to rend the seamless garment of Christ and make his faithful bride the Church a whore by denying that "a man that is a heretic...is subverted and sinneth, being condemned by his own judgement" (Titus 3:10,11). And Dignitatis Humanae, of course, is directed against the social kingship of Christ, the duty of the state to embrace the one true religion and foster it while curbing the public expressions of all false religions, echoing the blasphemous cry of the Jews, "We have no king but Caesar" (John 19:15); "We will not have this Man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14).

It is also notorious that the dogmatic constitution on the Church known from its opening words as Lumen Gentium was conceived primarily to introduce a heretical doctrine of episcopal "collegiality" never before heard of in the history of the Church. In this case, however, the protests of the "conservative" Fathers led to such radical revisions that the doctrine as promulgated may be no worse than tendentious. Until Bishop de Castro Mayer spotted the ploy, it had been the intention of those who drafted the original text so far to magnify the authority of the bishops acting in unison that this supposed authority would be incompatible with the dogma that the authority of the pope over the entire Church is not only immediate and absolute, but also plenary.

Finally, to close this list we think it worth making mention of one heresy that was not included in the Vatican II documents but appeared in the text of the Novus Ordo promulgated by Paul VI in the wake of the Council. It occurs in the proper of the Good Friday liturgy, on which day Novus Ordo celebrants and participants ask God to grant that the Jews "may grow/continue in faithfulness to His Covenant" ("in sui foederis fidelitate proficere"). The unmistakable implication is that the Jews are already, at least to some extent, faithful to God's covenant. But in fact this is not so, because the Old Covenant required the Jews to acknowledge the Messias, Jesus Christ, and when they rejected Him it was irrevocably breached and abrogated in perpetuity. Hence even their external observance of the Mosaic ceremonies cannot be considered "faithful", since it is de fide that the Mosaic law has been abrogated. And, needless to say, the Jews are certainly no more faithful to the New Covenant than they have been to the Old!

Theological censure: HERETICAL.


  • See Father John Cahill O.P.: The Development of the Theological Censures after the Council of Trent (1563-1709), Fribourg, Switzerland, 1955.
  • Emphasis added by ourselves, as also in all the other passages quoted in this appendix.
  • Before the 1960s in a number of surviving Catholic nations, non-Catholics were allowed to meet together for their rituals but could not "worship" in public, or own churches, preach publicly or proselytise. Nor could their ministers dress as clergymen: in Malta, for instance, British army chaplains had to wear a tie instead of a clerical collar.
  • Letters and Memorials of Cardinal Allen (ed. T.F. Knox) vol. 2, p.344. The English has been modernised and clarified in one or two places, and the emphases added are ours.
  • Heretical because it is plainly heretical to imply that committing mortal sin is a good way of petitioning for any grace - more specially "the grace of unity", a suggestion which seems to imply that the Church currently lacks one of her essential notes.
  • Illegitimately raised to the cardinalate by Roncalli in 1962. (Ottaviani was appointed by Pope Pius XII in 1953.)
  • This, of course, became out of date about fifty years ago with the de facto formation of the state of Israel. (We have qualified the setting up of Israel with the phase "de facto" to reflect the fact that it was certainly not in accordance with any valid legal principles, as even Jews, for instance Arthur Koestler in The Thirteenth Tribe, have recognised.)
  • See Luke 10:16 ("He that heareth you heareth Me") and Matthew 18:17 ("If he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican").
  • Cf. (a) Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, volume 4, col. 2194 (in translation): "The Ordinary and Universal Magisterium is also exercised through the implicit teaching manifestly contained...in the Church's discipline and general practice, at least insofar as they are truly commanded, approved or authorised by the universal Church." (b) Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year, Thursday in Whit week: "Whether the Church intimates what we are to believe by showing us her own practice, or by simply expressing her sentiments, or by solemnly pronouncing a definition on the subject, we must receive her word with submission of heart. Her practice is ever in harmony with the truth, as it is the Holy Ghost, her life-living principle, which keeps it so; the utterance of her sentiments is but an inspiration of the same Spirit, who never leaves her; and as to the definitions she decrees, it is not she alone that decrees them, but the Holy Ghost who decrees them in and by her." (Our emphases added.)
  • Catechism of the Council of Trent, chapter "On the Sacrament of Penance", section "The Second Part of Penance", second paragraph ("Necessity of Confession"): "Contrition, it is true, blots out sin; but who does not know that, to effect this, the contrition must be so intense, so ardent, so vehement, as to bear a proportion to the multitude of the crimes which it effaces? This is a degree of contrition which few reach; and hence, in this way, very few indeed could hope to obtain the pardon of their sins." (Our emphasis.)
  • The feast of Christ the King was instituted, by Pope Pius XI, long after Dom Guéranger's death and the publication of the first edition of The Liturgical Year. The treatment of the feast was evidently added by the editor of a subsequent edition.
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    Moral Rigorism and the Jansenist Monster under the Bed

    Moral Rigorism and the Jansenist Monster under the Bed

    Many are familiar with Aristotle’s view of virtue. Simply put, Aristotle proposed virtue as the mean between two vices – but the virtue, he continued, does not fall directly between the two. Instead, it falls closer to one than the other. Thus, for example, he proposed bravery to fall between cowardice (the defect of the virtue) and foolhardiness (the excess of the virtue).
    This view on human virtues is a good way to understand them. However, one must always remember that theological virtues – faith, hope, and charity – can have no excess; one cannot have too much faith in Jesus Christ, have too much hope in Him, nor love Him too much.
    With that in mind, let us turn to pastoral concerns in regards to morals. Pastors of souls especially are called to read the “signs of the times” and prepare their flocks for the particular errors of the day. Failing to do so puts souls in jeopardy, their own included.
    For example, for more than a century, the Church rightly confronted the errors of Jansenism, which was, simply put, a form of moral rigorism tied to predestination. Fr. Hardon defines it thusly:
    According to Jansenius, man’s free will is incapable of any moral goodness. All man’s actions proceed either from earthly desires, which stem from concupiscence, or from heavenly desires, which are produced by grace. Each exercises an urgent influence on the human will, which in consequence of its lack of freedom always follows the pressure of the stronger desire. Implicit in Jansenism is the denial of the supernatural order, the possibility of either rejection or acceptance of grace. Accordingly those who receive the grace will be saved; they are predestined. All others will be lost. (Catholic Dictionary, p. 237)
    This heresy raged following the Protestant Reformation (specifically John Calvin), even into the end of the 18th century. During that time and in particular places (one thinks especially of France), a pastor should speak against moral rigorism with a strong zeal. Of course, the same pastor should speak against moral laxity as well, but since the errors facing his flock were not as commonly of this sort, he would be a fool only to speak against moral laxity and never against moral rigorism. In fact, doing just that would likely push his flock toward the Jansenist heresy, not away from it.
    In the modern world, moral rigorism is not the scourge it once was. Yes, we all must guard against it, for it is easy to fall into, especially for pious practicing Catholics. However, the opposite vice, moral laxity, is alive and well today. It is, in fact, flourishing so abundantly that Catholics don’t feel any need to go to Mass or practice their faith, let alone share the Gospel with others. Relativism of religion reigns supreme and can be best described as indifferentism – that all religions lead to the same place, either universal salvation or universal annihilation. As grave as the error of indifferentism is today, most pastors stand silently by while their flocks are infected with it.
    Yet even this says too little, for silence is not the common pastoral cry in this realm. Pastors instead warn their flocks against moral rigorism! They speak of the “reasonable hope that all men will be saved” and how “there is truth and goodness found in all religions.” They even rally against those who would speak the dogma “outside the Church, there is no salvation.” Even the more orthodox priests nuance this clearly proclaimed doctrine of the Church so much that their flocks succumb to indifferentism.
    In part, this seems to come from a refusal to read any Church documents prior to 1962. Further still, never once is the term “invincible ignorance” used, which, if it were, would help draw a clear distinction between the Truths of salvation and the errors of indifferentism. Pastors just emphasize repeatedly how those outside the visible confines of the Church may be saved.
    While this is true enough – it is possible that, due to invincible ignorance, those outside the visible confines of the Catholic Church may be saved – a gross emphasis on the Church as the only ark of salvation is not the error of our day. The error of our day is indifferentism, not Jansenism; pastors of souls would be wise to confront this error instead of embracing it. This requires reading Church documents dated prior to 1962.
    That indifferentism is a chief error of today is not just one layman’s opinion. Take these statements Pope Pius IX condemned in his Syllabus of Errors, issued in 1864:
    “Man may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way to eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.”
    “Good hope at least is to be entertained of the eternal salvation of all those who are not at all in the true Church of Christ.”
    “Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church.”
    Now, to focus on these condemnations by the Church at the exclusion of all else would be a vice of excess. To ignore them is a vice of defect. The virtue, then, falls somewhere in between. Pastors must warn against both moral rigorism and moral laxity. They must also pay careful attention to our times. Just as the doctor prescribes medicine to remedy the patient’s disease, pastors must speak against indifferentism, a chief error today, so that their flocks might be whole, healthy, and most of all able to attain the salvation freely offered to all by Our Lord, Jesus Christ.


    Discovering a Church in Crisis: Vatican II and the Future

    Discovering a Church in Crisis: Personal Reflections of a Recent Convert

    I. Introduction
    What is going on in the Church these days? How to understand the origin of our present dilemmas, and what to do about them?
    Like many of you, I’ve wrestled with these questions for years. As a recent convert, I started to ask questions after becoming aware of liturgical abuse in my parish. I have gone through an agonizing, years-long process of trying to figure out why irregularities were so common at the Novus Ordo Masses I attended. Some seemed minor, and others were appalling, but abuses were characteristic of virtually every liturgy I attended in different parishes, cities and countries. Over time, mainly through self-education, I learned about the problems of Vatican II and discovered the existence of the Tridentine Mass, which gave me some answers about why there is a crisis in the Church and what to do about it.
    This is a personal statement, not a theological treatise, about my spiritual journey, which is still a work in progress.
    I was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church in 2009. Early on, as I was still learning the basics of the faith, I turned to Catholics I trusted to explain the variations in teachings and practices I was experiencing. When I mentioned problems in the Church or expressed skepticism about an utterance of the pope, or described my own troubling experiences with the liturgy and priests, I was urged to calm down and not to fret over such issues, but to focus rather on my own salvation. That is good advice, and yet I don’t think Catholics are called to be ignorant of Church affairs or to blindly follow error.
    The Novus Ordo Mass is valid, I was told; offer up the liturgical abuses. Altar girls and Communion in the hand are no problem because they are permitted – don’t worry about it. But I have learned that beliefs and practices that are common and widespread in the Church today were unheard of and even condemned just 50 years ago. What happened?
    Has the Roman Catholic Church changed so much that it may be called a new church, a new religion whose adherents are new Catholics – “Neo-Catholics”? The term may be an apt description of faithful Catholics, those often described as “conservative,” who refuse to acknowledge that the Catholicism of today is in many respects different from that of the past; who swallow the Vatican II reforms hook, line and sinker; for whom John Paul II and Benedict XVI are the ultimate authorities and conservative champions; for whom EWTN is the lodestone of orthodoxy; and who defend any and all innovations as long as they are “approved.”
    What follows is not a definite statement of opinion or belief, but rather an open letter from a confused Catholic trying to make sense of the modern Church and my place in it. I will organize my thoughts into separate parts to keep things clear.
    II. Some Observations of Changes in the Church
    The Roman Catholic Church has changed a lot since Vatican II. Consider: a new Mass, new breviary, new liturgical calendar, new code of canon law, new Bible translation, new mysteries of the rosary. New vestments, church decor, architecture, and art. New language (vernacular), new prayers, new wordings of rites (e.g., ordination, baptism, marriage, funerals, exorcism), new catechism, new Rules of religious life, new liturgical readings. Dropped Septuagesima, Ember Days, and Rogation Days; loss of minor orders; loss of feasts. Revived permanent diaconate. Communion while standing. Communion in the hand. Altar girls. Relaxed disciplines (e.g., Friday abstinence, Eucharistic fast); new canonization procedures; new annulment procedures; obscuring of the meaning of extra ecclesiam nulla salus; new theology of Christ’s kingship and the Church’s social teaching; new teachings on ecumenism and religious freedom.
    For years after my catechesis and baptism, I was ignorant of these issues. But when you read the saints and study Church history, you start to get a sense of how the Faith used to be preached and practiced, which stands in stark contrast to the lived experience of the Faith today.
    Cardinal Newman is famous for saying, “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.” If you get deep into the pre-Vatican II history of the Roman Catholic Church, you risk ceasing to be Neo-Catholic and becoming “traditionalist.”
    Whether or not the changes listed above are good or bad, I slowly started to discover, when they are taken together, how drastically the Church has transformed (and continues to transform), and in a short period of time. It is overwhelming. No matter how valid or even beneficial any given change (or “reform”) may be, such a profound remaking of a long established religion – a religion charged with the fundamentally conservative mission of preserving Tradition and passing on the Deposit of Faith – is an earthquake. And if “lex orandi, lex credendi” is true – if how we pray and worship affects what we believe and profess – this is a total makeover of the Church, not just in “externals” or “non-essentials,” but in people’s understanding of faith and morals, as well.
    Just the idea that the Church and its practices can change so much and so quickly is a departure from the concept of a Faith that is unchanging and unchangeable. The problem is not just the novelties, and their great quantity and sweeping scope, but also the way in which such changes are taking place. As Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI noted with regard to the liturgy:
    The liturgical reform, in its concrete realization, has distanced itself even more from its origin. The result has not been a reanimation, but devastation. In place of the liturgy, fruit of a continual development, they have placed a fabricated liturgy. They have deserted a vital process of growth and becoming in order to substitute a fabrication. They did not want to continue the development, the organic maturing of something living through the centuries, and they replaced it, in the manner of technical production, by a fabrication, a banal product of the moment.1
    This is the new church of today. The “conciliar church.” The new Mass – a valid Mass authorized by the pope – has led, in Benedict XVI’s words, to “devastation.” It explains why tens of millions are leaving the faith, and why vast majorities of Catholics in the USA, Europe, Latin America, and everywhere, if you ask them specific questions about the Faith, either do not know the faith or openly disagree with it. Very small numbers of Catholics go to Mass every Sunday, or even once a month. This represents a collapse of faith and morals. Some warn of widespread apostasy (such as Our Lady of Akita). Benedict XVI also said, “I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is, to a large extent, due to the disintegration of the liturgy.”
    Paul VI and John Paul II confirm the post-conciliar crisis.
    In 1968, Paul VI said,
    The church finds herself in an hour of anxiety, a disturbed period of self-criticism, or what would even better be called self-destruction. It is an interior upheaval, acute and complicated, which nobody expected after the Council. It is almost as if the church were attacking herself. We looked forward to a flowering, a serene expansion of conceptions which matured in the great sessions of the Council. But …. one must notice above all the sorrowful aspect. It is as if the Church were destroying herself.2
    In 1972, Paul VI said,
    We have the impression that through some cracks in the wall the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God: it is doubt, uncertainty, questioning, dissatisfaction, confrontation[.] … We thought that after the Council a day of sunshine would have dawned for the history of the Church. What dawned, instead, was a day of clouds and storms, of darkness, of searching and uncertainties.3
    In 1981, John Paul II stated,
    We must admit realistically and with feelings of deep pain, that Christians today in large measure feel lost, confused, perplexed and even disappointed; ideas opposed to the truth which has been revealed and always taught are being scattered abroad in abundance; heresies, in the full and proper sense of the word, have been spread in the area of dogma and morals, creating doubts, confusions and rebellion; the liturgy has been tampered with; immersed in an intellectual and moral relativism and therefore in permissiveness, Christians are tempted by atheism, agnosticism, vaguely moral enlightenment and by a sociological Christianity devoid of defined dogmas or an objective morality.4
    In this era of novelty and confusion, I am inspired by St. Paul: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle” (2 Thes. 2:14). And “Jesus Christ, yesterday and today, and the same for ever. Be not led away with various and strange doctrines” (Heb. 13:8-9).

    Discovering a Church in Crisis: How Would a Saint Treat the Novus Ordo?

    The Sacred Liturgy

    “Lex orandi, lex credendi.” The order of Mass expresses and teaches Catholic doctrine. The changes to the Mass, sadly, are an example of a break from tradition – a “hermeneutic of rupture” from the past – even if many earnestly desire to see continuity. The prayers of the Mass, use of the vernacular, the priest facing the people, the “sign of peace” among the people, calling the priest a “presider,” changes to the altar and sanctuary, changes to the Lectionary, the multiplication of “Eucharistic Prayers” – any one of these innovations would have been a major change in the Mass. Taken together, the new Mass is fundamentally different from the old Mass. For years as a new Catholic, I had no clear understanding that the Mass is a sacrifice. This reality was not explained during my catechesis, and it is not very well communicated or reinforced by the new order of the Mass itself. Therefore, it remained hidden for a long time.
    Some have asked: if a saint of old were to visit a typical modern Catholic church on Sunday, would he recognize the activities there as Catholic? Within the same parish church, you can have a 9am Sunday Mass in Latin with chant and the priest distributing Holy Communion to people kneeling, and at 10:30am a Mass in English with rock music, female altar servers, women as lectors, children standing around the altar, and extraordinary lay ministers giving Holy Communion in both kinds, in the hand to standing communicants – completely different experiences of Roman Catholicism, completely different practices that communicate to the people completely different concepts of what the Mass is and therefore of the Faith itself.
    Just imagine: tomorrow, the pope could decide to redesign the Mass. He could authorize a committee to rewrite prayers and reorder the Mass any way he wants, and technically the end product would probably still be a “valid Mass.” But the idea of a committee making huge changes to the liturgy is unknown in the history of the Church, and “why fix what ain’t broke”? But that is just what happened in the 1960s. Was the old Mass so bad that it had to be remade? The Vatican II document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, said Latin and chant should be retained. It said nothing about the priest facing the people. But it contains loopholes, such as provisions for inculturation and above all the principle of “full and active participation by all the people,” which “justified” the changes made in the Mass of Paul VI. But again, if the pope tomorrow rewrote the Mass, even though he has the authority to do so, I would ask, “Why?” It would be a fabrication of a committee, which is an un-Catholic way of revising the liturgy, which until Vatican II was only by a very gradual, organic process over centuries.
    That’s why I see seeking out the Tridentine Latin Mass and avoiding the Novus Ordo not as a matter of personal preference, but rather as a choice motivated by a desire to worship God rightly. Take the shift of the priest celebrant’s orientation from ad orientem to versus populum. This changes the meaning of the Mass. When the priest faces the people, the liturgical action (bolstered by the newly worded prayers of the N.O.) now focuses on the people rather than God – based on Modernist “assembly theology.” The Mass becomes a meal, a “love feast.” The meaning and role of the priest change. The role and relation of the people change. The altar rail is ripped out, and women now enter the sanctuary as lectors and even servers. Laypeople distribute Communion in both kinds to people, in the hand. Such changes are not just cosmetic or a matter of preference.
    The new Mass was designed to “Protestantize” worship and remove distinct and historical expressions of the Catholic faith. Consider the differences between the traditional offertory and the new “prayer over the gifts.” Abp. Annibale Bugnini, leader of the liturgical reform, said the new Mass was engineered “to strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren, that is, for the Protestants.” The faith of millions, probably virtually all Catholics today, has been influenced by these new practices. The result is an altered understanding of the Mass, of the Eucharist, of the priesthood, of Catholicism.
    Benedict XVI comments on this situation:
    We have a liturgy which has degenerated so that it has become a show which, with momentary success for the group of liturgical fabricators, strives to render religion interesting in the wake of the frivolities of fashion and seductive moral maxims. Consequently, the trend is the increasingly marked retreat of those who do not look to the liturgy for a spiritual show-master but for the encounter with the living God in whose presence all the ‘doing’ becomes insignificant since only this encounter is able to guarantee us access to the true richness of being.1
    A valid Mass can be illicit or even sacrilegious, and it is worth asking: even if some new liturgical activity is permitted, does that mean that it is good? Based on my personal experience, I can reasonably expect that any Novus Ordo Mass I attend will have questionable things being said and done. I do not want to participate in anything that may be offensive to Our Lord.
    Benedict XVI further elaborates on why seeking out the TLM is not just a matter of preference:
    While there are many motives that might have led a great number of people to seek a refuge in the traditional liturgy, the chief one is that they find the dignity of the sacred preserved there. After the Council there were many priests who deliberately raised ‘desacralization’ to the level of a program … Inspired by such reasoning, they put aside the sacred vestments; they have despoiled the churches as much as they could of that splendor which brings to mind the sacred; and they have reduced the liturgy to the language and the gestures of ordinary life, by means of greetings, common signs of friendship, and such things … That which previously was considered most holy – the form in which the liturgy was handed down – suddenly appears as the most forbidden of all things, the one thing that can safely be prohibited. It is intolerable to criticize decisions which have been taken since the Council; on the other hand, if men make question of ancient rules, or even of the great truths of the Faith – for instance, the corporal virginity of Mary, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the immortality of the soul, etc. – nobody complains or only does so with the greatest moderation.2
    If we are to judge by fruits, it seems the reforms of Vatican II have been disastrous.
    Benedict XVI continues his analysis of the relationship between the change from the old Mass to the new, and problems in the Church:
    I was dismayed by the banning of the old Missal, seeing that a similar thing had never happened in the entire history of the liturgy[.] … The promulgation of the banning of the Missal that had been developed in the course of centuries, starting from the time of the sacramentaries of the ancient Church, has brought with it a break in the history of the liturgy whose consequences could be tragic[.] … The old structure was broken to pieces and another was constructed admittedly with material of which the old structure had been made and using also the preceding models[.] … But the fact that [the liturgy] was presented as a new structure, set up against what had been formed in the course of history and was now prohibited, and that the liturgy was made to appear in some ways no longer as a living process but as a product of specialized knowledge and juridical competence, has brought with it some extremely serious damages for us.
    In this way, in fact, the impression has arisen that the liturgy is ‘made,’ that it is not something that exists before us, something ‘given,’ but that it depends on our decisions. It follows as a consequence that this decision-making capacity is not recognized only in specialists or in a central authority, but that, in the final analysis, each ‘community’ wants to give itself its own liturgy. But when the liturgy is something each one makes by himself, then it no longer gives us what is its true quality: encounter with the mystery which is not our product but our origin and the wellspring of our life[.] …
    I am convinced that the ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part upon the collapse of the liturgy, which at times is actually being conceived of etsi Deus non daretur: as though in the liturgy it did not matter any more whether God exists and whether He speaks to us and listens to us. But if in the liturgy the communion of faith no longer appears, nor the universal unity of the Church and of her history, nor the mystery of the living Christ, where is it that the Church still appears in her spiritual substance? [Too often] the community is only celebrating itself without its being worthwhile to do so.3
    To sum up: according to Benedict XVI, there is a crisis in the Church today. The crisis is connected with the new liturgy. The new liturgy is a fabrication that is a break from history and is commonly a degenerated show. The former pope does not say it, but based on my own experience of liturgical abuses, I conclude with a heavy heart: avoid the new liturgy.

    Discovering a Church in Crisis: Arius vs. the Magisterium

    Asking Questions and Reading the Signs

    The current confusion in the Church has been compared to the Arian crisis.
    When priests, bishops, and other Church leaders start to do and teach strange things, each Catholic has to make some choices. Where will you go to worship? Will you go to your local parish or the cathedral, where heterodoxy or liturgical abuse may be the norm? Do you decide, “They may be heterodox, but they are the priests and the bishop, so I’ll keep following them”?
    I guess that many, maybe most, lay Catholics during the Arian crisis did not know or fully grasp the theological issues at stake. Most people were probably illiterate and not well informed about theological debates. They had to make a practical decision about how to live the faith: where they would go to Mass, where to receive the Sacraments. Many of them may have had no choice; maybe in many dioceses, there was no alternative to the heretical clerics.
    It is a terrible position to be in, when all you want is to be a simple, faithful Catholic. Should you stick with your validly ordained but heretical bishop, or follow excommunicated St. Athanasius in the desert?
    I am afraid that a similar crisis is developing today, and has been developing for decades, as Paul VI’s and John Paul II’s quotes show. Tragically, rather than continuity, the historical evidence shows rupture from the past since Vatican II – a rupture in beliefs and practices, faith and morals. In my view, the “hermeneutic of continuity” is just wishful thinking. What good is it to say that Catholic morals as defined in the Catechism or other magisterial documents have not changed, but clerics do not teach the Faith, or they teach only selected parts of the Faith, from the pulpit, and thus lead souls astray? As Pope St. Felix III says, “Not to oppose error is to approve it; and not to defend truth is to suppress it; and indeed to neglect to confound evil men, when we can do it, is no less a sin than to encourage them.”
    Cardinal Gerhard Müller, current head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, says all Church teachings, including those of Vatican II and since, “must be interpreted according to the Tradition, based on Revelation and on Scripture.” The problem is that priests, bishops, and theologians use their teaching office to spread ideas that directly contradict the past teachings of the Church, and they do so without being corrected or disciplined. While doctrine does not change, policies and practices of Church leaders today undermine doctrine and dogma, putting souls in jeopardy.
    For example, a certain priest named Walter Kasper wrote a book questioning the miracles and even resurrection of Jesus, and John Paul II elevated him to the cardinalate. Why?
    Sodomy is still a sin that cries to heaven for vengeance, so why, then, are “gay Masses” permitted in places like London, New York, etc., with full knowledge of the bishops? Why do a majority of American Catholics support “same-sex marriage”?
    How is it that various bishops publicly say homosexual practices are positive and the Church should offer a rite of commitment for two people engaging in sodomy with each other?
    How can the pope’s celebration of the Protestant revolt and praise of Martin Luther – and the post-Vatican II program of “ecumenism” as a whole – be reconciled with Pius XI’s Encyclical Mortalium Animos (1928) and Magisterium’s condemnations of Luther?
    Why is it that Catholics are accused of grave sin by Pope Francis for trying to help non-Catholic Christians, or those of other religions, to learn about and enter the Catholic Church (i.e., “proselytizing”)? Was St. Francis de Sales sinning by proactively converting Protestants to Catholicism by preaching door-to-door and distributing pamphlets and tracts? Was St. Dominic in error when he confronted and told heretics they were wrong and should return to Catholicism?
    Why are the Four Last Things almost never heard preached, and many priests do little or nothing to encourage parishioners to dress modestly for Mass?
    Why is Thomistic theology no longer part of the curriculum, or at least neglected, in many (most?) seminaries today?
    Regarding the liturgy itself, in an encyclical, Pius XII defended the use of Latin as “a manifest and beautiful sign of unity as well as an effective antidote for any corruption of doctrine.” Yet many priests and bishops so zealously push the vernacular in all their Masses that entire parishes have become hostile to the Church’s mother tongue.
    Here are a few examples of recent papal statements that are quite difficult to read in light of Tradition or the Magisterium:
    • In summer 2016, Pope Francis said something odd: “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null.” He also said, defending non-marital cohabitation, “I’ve seen a lot of fidelity in these cohabitations, and I am sure that this is a real marriage. They have the grace of a real marriage because of their fidelity.” This is a confusing thing to say. If the preponderance of Catholic marriages are null, this is an emergency for most Catholics in the world. The second quote is also a disturbing rejection of the Church’s constant teaching on the immorality of non-marital relations. Taken together, the quotes make it sound as though the Pope believes that people living in sin have more valid and grace-filled relationships than (presumably) married Catholics.
    • Recently, the pope stated: “There is a healthy secularism, for instance, the secularism of the State. In general, a secular State is a good thing; it is better than a confessional State, because confessional States finish badly.” This is a departure from the explicit teaching of earlier popes and the tradition of the Church that the state should favor the Catholic Church, in the interest of the common good of helping everyone get to heaven. Pius XI, like other popes, said the state has a duty to promote the true religion. Does Pope Francis’s teaching not contradict the 1925 encyclical Quas Primas?
    • In the same interview, the pope said: “[N]o religion as such can foment war. Because in this case it would be proclaiming a god of destruction, a god of hatred. One cannot wage war in the name of God or in the name of a religious position. War cannot be waged in any religion.” This is simply not true, factually. One recalls Joshua and Jericho and other Old Testament examples. A more recent example is that the doctrines of Islam call for jihad. Mohammed himself was a warlord, and he is considered a model of behavior for Muslims.

    Tradition, Doctrine and Magisterium

    Has doctrine changed? Doctrine is supposed to be unchangeable in the Catholic Church, so I will not claim that it has. However, what is obvious is that many pronouncements by Church leaders, both written and spoken, appear to contradict the traditional doctrine of the Church. It seems there are many Church leaders who would like doctrine to change. Many conciliar and post-Vatican II statements are difficult (or, frankly, impossible) to interpret as consistent with Tradition and the Magisterium.
    I am not an expert on these things, but I have done a little research, and here is what I’ve found about traditional doctrines that appear to be contradicted by Vatican II and post-conciliar documents and actions by Church leaders.

    Religious Freedom

    The Vatican II document Dignitatis Humanae says that humans have a natural right to religious freedom. Such a teaching was explicitly rejected by all Church fathers, doctors, and popes prior to Vatican II. There is no right to practice false religions or spread error, according to pre-Vatican II doctrine. Dignitatis Humanae says false religions may be publicly promoted – a position condemned in the past. In the past, saints destroyed idols and temples and legislated against pagan and heretical practices. According to Vatican II’s modern notion of religious freedom, it appears St. Louis IX was in error for promoting Catholicism in his kingdom, and St. Thomas More was wrong for using state authority to crack down on the publication and circulation of Lutheran literature in England. The modern view is well represented in the quote from Pope Francis above that the state should be secular.
    The modernist ideas of religious liberty expressed in Vatican II documents were condemned by Pius IX in Quanta Cura, Leo XIII in Libertas Praetantissimum, and the Syllabus of Errors of 1864, among many other magisterial documents. Surprisingly, Cdl. Ratzinger claims that Gaudium et Spes is a “countersyllabus” to that of 1864: ”Let us content ourselves here with stating that the text [of Gaudium et Spes] plays the role of a counter-Syllabus to the measure that it represents an attempt to officially reconcile the Church with the world as it had become after 1789.” In other words, Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes directly challenges the teaching of an earlier pope in a magisterial document.
    Pius XI reminds us that Christ is King of the universe, which includes the social and political realms, and the state has duties toward God that include support for the Catholic Church. Pius XII negotiated a concordat with Spain in 1953 that made Catholicism the state religion, which Pius XII considered a model for other countries. After Vatican II, based on Dignitatis Humanae, the Vatican pressured Spain (and other similar Catholic countries) to change the constitution to recognize the new idea of “religious liberty.”

    Questions about Amoris Laetitia

    The big controversy of the moment provides a good example of how doctrine appears to be changing. But doctrine cannot change, and that is why there are so many questions about 2016’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which allows for the reasoning that people in adulterous relationships can be admitted to Holy Communion. This is how the document is already being implemented in many dioceses, such as in Argentina and Rome, with the pope’s approval. Such a practice threatens the integrity of the Sacraments and obscures truths about family life and morality.
    The so-called “Kasper proposal,” which kicked all this off in early 2014, was to admit civilly divorced and remarried Catholics still in valid marriages to the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. In a November 2015 interview, Pope Francis said, “This is bottom line result, the de facto appraisals, are entrusted to the confessors, but at the end of faster or slower paths, all the divorced who ask will be admitted.”
    St. John the Baptist died for upholding the truth on marriage. So did Ss. Thomas More and Bishop John Fisher. And of course, Our Lord’s words in Scripture on adultery are clear. Absolution in confession depends on contrition and the resolution to avoid sin. The Eucharist should be received only by those in a state of grace. But A.L. appears irreconcilable with these doctrines.
    Contradictory implementations of Amoris, such that Communion for adulterers is considered pastoral medicine in some dioceses but mortal sin in others, destroy Church unity. If the Four Cardinals receive no answer to their dubia and therefore issue some kind of public correction of the pope, will every Catholic – pew-sitter to prelate – be put on the spot to take sides in the controversy? If your bishop or parish priest defends Amoris and distributes Communion to public, unrepentant adulterers, consistent with the pope’s teaching, what will you do?


    Discovering a Church in Crisis: Vatican II and the Future

    Tradition, Doctrine and Magisterium (Continued)


    The 1928 encyclical Mortalium Animos condemns modern notions of ecumenism. It says the Catholic Church is the one true Church, to which separated Christian ecclesial communities should return. It says Catholics should not participate in prayers, meetings, worship, etc. with non-Catholic Christians.
    Vatican II documents teach something else on what the Church is and how it relates to other religions.
    The Catholic Church always identified itself as the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ. The Church of Christ is the Catholic Church. Today, this has changed: according to Vatican II and the new Catechism, the Church of Christ now “subsists in” the Catholic Church, raising a distinction between the two. Although the dogma “extra ecclesiam nulla salus” has been solemnly proclaimed multiple times by past popes, the new view is that the Church of Christ extends beyond the Catholic Church (imperfectly), due to “elements of the Church” present in other Christian groups. This is peculiar because Pius XII specified that to be a member of the Church, one must (1) be baptized, (2) profess the true faith, and (3) submit to authority.
    A major innovation of Vatican II is the idea that other faith communities can be in imperfect or partial communion with the Catholic Church. The past teaching was that you are either inside or outside Christ’s visible Church on Earth. The traditional view was that heretics, schismatics, and non-Christians are not in the Church of Christ, and their religions are obstacles to, not vehicles of, salvation. Now it is said that these religions can have “elements of sanctification.”
    Rather than evangelizing, the Roman Catholic Church now dialogues. A document approved by John Paul II says, “Dialogue [is] the meeting of Christians with the believers of other religious traditions so that they can work together in search of the truth and collaborate in works of common interest.” If the Catholic Church possesses the fullness of truth, why do Catholics need to “seek” truth with adherents of other religions?
    Today, Church leaders discourage people from converting to Catholicism, even when they express the desire to do so. The Church leaders say it is not necessary for their salvation to become Catholic. For example, there is evidence that Pope Francis urged the U.K. evangelical “bishop” Tony Palmer not to become Catholic, and then, when he died, the pope ordered a Catholic bishop’s requiem Mass to be said.
    In a statement in 2014, Pope Francis said to refugees of different faiths, “Sharing our experience in carrying that cross, to expel the illness within our hearts, which embitters our life: it is important that you do this in your meetings. Those that are Christian, with the Bible, and those that are Muslim, with the Quran. The faith that your parents instilled in you will always help you move on.” This confirms Muslims in their error. Such a view is condemned in the Syllabus of Errors, which among other things condemns the beliefs that “[e]very man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true” and “[m]an may, in the observance of any religion whatever, find the way of eternal salvation, and arrive at eternal salvation.”
    In the 1993 Balamand agreement, the Roman Catholic Church agreed that it will not try to convert the Eastern Orthodox to Catholicism. The Church renounced “proselytism” – “according to which she presented herself as the only one to whom salvation was entrusted” – and agreed not to create new Catholic organizations where they do not already exist.
    St. Paul said the pagans worship not gods, but demons. The Vatican II document Nostra Aetate praises pagan religions, but Tradition says they are religions that turn souls away from eternal salvation. John Paul II invited pagans to pray to their “gods” at the 1986 Assisi prayer meeting, even giving them Catholic churches in which to perform their pagan rites. Is this not a violation of the First Commandment?
    John Paul II’s 1979 encyclical Redemptor Hominis supported the idea of common prayer with other religions. He said the 1986 interfaith gathering was based on Vatican II teachings. At the Assisi meeting, the Muslim prayer concluded thus: “Allah is He on Whom all depend. He begets not, nor is He begotten. And none is like Him.”

    The Church and the Jews

    Has doctrine regarding the Jews changed? The traditional Church teaching is that before the coming of Christ, Judaism was the true religion. But since Jews rejected and continue to reject the Messiah, what they now practice is a false religion. The time of the Old Covenant is over; all men are called to be saved according to the New Covenant. For salvation, just like everyone else, Jews must believe in Christ.
    Tradition is expressed in the Good Friday prayer in the liturgy:
    Let us pray also for the faithless Jews: that almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts; so that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord. Almighty and eternal God, who dost not exclude from thy mercy even Jewish faithlessness: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
    This prayer was revised by John XXIII and then Benedict XVI, but even their “softened” prayers still call for the conversion of the Jews.
    But Nostra Aetate and other post-Vatican II pronouncements contradict traditional doctrine and have suggested that Judaism is still pleasing to God. The Good Friday prayer of the new Mass says nothing about conversion.
    The Apostles put a great deal of effort into trying to convert the Jews and convince them of the truth the Jesus is the Christ. Our Lord commanded his disciples to go and baptize all nations, teaching all men to follow all his teachings – but today’s successors to the apostles appear to have aborted this mission when it comes to the Jews.
    A BBC News article from a year ago reports:
    The Vatican has told Catholics that they should not seek to convert Jews and stressed that the two faiths have a “unique” relationship. It is seen as a new Vatican attempt to distance itself from centuries of Christian-Jewish tension and prejudice. The document released on Thursday is not a doctrinal text, but a “stimulus for the future”, the Vatican says. It builds on the “Nostra aetate” (In Our Time) document which, 50 years ago, redefined Vatican ties with Judaism.
    The new document is called “The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable” and was written by the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with Jews. It says, “[T]he Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews.” Judaism, it points out, “is not to be considered simply as another religion; the Jews are instead our elder brothers.” Turning to the vexed question of salvation, the document says, “[T]hat the Jews are participants in God’s salvation is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery.”
    Here are some more recent expressions of this post-Vatican II error I came across during my research:
    • “The Old Covenant has never been revoked” (Pope John Paul II).
    • “The Jewish wait for the Messiah is not in vain” (Pontifical Biblical Commission).
    • “To proselytize [Jews] is not an attitude of love, nor is it one of knowledge!” (Cardinal Johannes Willebrands).
    • “Campaigns that target Jews for conversion to Christianity are no longer theologically acceptable to the Catholic Church” (Cardinal William Keeler).
    In 2001, Cardinal Walter Kasper said: “The only thing I wish to say is that the document Dominus Iesus does not state that everybody needs to become a Catholic in order to be saved by God. On the contrary, it declares that God’s grace, which is the grace of Jesus Christ according to our faith, is available to all. Therefore, the Church believes that Judaism, i.e. the faithful response of the Jewish people to God’s irrevocable covenant, is salvific for them, because God is faithful to his promises.”

    Vatican II, Infallibility, and the Future

    Vatican II was not infallible, which suggests to me that where the teachings of Vatican II conflict with those of Tradition and the pre-Vatican II Magisterium, the Vatican II teachings should be rejected. Some have pointed out that modern (i.e., false) ecumenism is a “pastoral program,” not a dogma, and therefore can be criticized and resisted. Along these lines, in 2016, Abp. Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, said, “Nostra Aetate does not have any dogmatic authority, and thus one cannot demand from anyone to recognize this declaration as being dogmatic.”
    John XXIII said in the Opening Address that Vatican II was not to be a doctrinal council concerned with defining any articles of Faith, but was to be a “pastoral” council.
    Paul VI stated, “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.” Later he added, “Differing from other Councils, this one was not directly dogmatic, but disciplinary and pastoral.”
    Cdl. Ratzinger also stated, “There are many accounts of it, which give the impression that from Vatican II onward, everything has been changed, and what preceded it has no value or, at best, has value only in the light of Vatican II. … 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.”
    Cdl. Ratzinger added:
    The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. 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; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.
    … All this leads a great number of people to ask themselves if the Church of today is really the same as that of yesterday, or if they have changed it for something else without telling people. The one way in which Vatican II can be made plausible is to present it as it is; one part of the unbroken, the unique Tradition of the Church and of her faith.
    However, the sad fact is that in the preceding sections, we saw specific examples of how Vatican II documents and their implementation via the words and acts of Church leaders directly contradict Tradition and the Magisterium. Benedict XVI has dedicated a lot of effort to showing a hermeneutic of continuity between Vatican II and what preceded it. But undeniable evidence shows that the Church has changed dramatically since Vatican II and that modern Catholics believe and do things completely differently from Catholics of the past.
    Alarmingly, there are those in positions of authority who want to continue “reforming” the Church. What doctrines or traditions will be undermined next – maybe or maybe not on paper, but certainly in practice? Some speculate that Pope Francis wants to end clerical celibacy. Some think it could be rewording the Church’s teaching on homosexuality to make it less judgmental and more welcoming. Others see evidence of a push by the pope for intercommunion with Protestants. Or it could be something else.
    One thing is clear: since Vatican II, novelty reigns. Prelates in the highest positions propose changes to what we all presume are unchangeable doctrines. Sometimes their attitude seems to be, “We won’t change the doctrine; we’ll just change the wording or interpretations of a few documents, or change disciplines for pastoral reasons.” But how can doctrine be opposed to practice, and vice versa? That is schizophrenic. And contrary to truth.


    My instinct is to avoid criticizing or questioning the hierarchy, to trustingly follow the pope, and accept with docility practices encouraged and teachings pronounced by competent authorities. It is only with great hesitation that I ask questions about these things. I was pushed up against the wall by continuous liturgical abuse, which forced me to investigate the source of these problems and consider how to respond. All I seek is to be united with the Church and her visible head, the Pope.
    I don’t want to be distracted by news coming out of Rome and other places of strange teachings and activities in the hierarchy. I want to focus on working out my own salvation and properly living my state in life. Yet aren’t all the baptized called to read the signs of the times? As an individual Catholic, and as the head of a household, I need to figure out how to live the faith in our particular context.
    Ignorance is not bliss; it is perilous for a soul. There is no need to fear the truth.
    To summarize, what I have come to realize is that my specific personal experiences over the years are not isolated incidents of liturgical abuse and erroneous teaching, but are part of a systemic corruption or alteration of the faith for many in the Catholic Church. This corruption and agitation for change preceded Vatican II (many popes up to Pius XII warned of the evils of modernism inside the Church and of efforts by Freemasons, communists, and other enemies outside the Church), but Vatican II was the spark that caused an explosion of innovation and heterodoxy.
    The error of Modernism is now dominant, and its fruits are confusion and apostasy. The strange teachings and bad liturgy I have been exposed to for years in mainstream “Novus Ordo parishes” are not the result of individual priests gone rogue, but the consequence of a Church-wide catastrophe of decades of bad formation, deficient catechesis, an invasion of worldliness, and fads of heterodoxy, all of which have gone unaddressed and uncorrected.
    In my view, the solution is straightforward, but that does not mean that it is easy. We must do what Catholics have done during other crises, such as the Arian heresy and times of persecution: pray, hold fast to the traditions we have received, and participate only in faithful worship. Ignore strange doctrines, and avoid liturgies where things offensive to God may take place.
    I hope my fidelity to the Church is not in doubt. As for this series of essays, I hope I have my facts straight; I know I may be mistaken in my analysis and conclusions, or I may misunderstand things, and I am open to correction. My sole desire is to live and die as a good Catholic. In our time, there is terrible disorientation and conflict within the Barque of Peter, but that is no reason to abandon ship.