Little catechism of the Second Vatican Council (Part Two)

by Fr. Pierre-Marie, O.P.

Dominican in Avrillé

From Le Sel de la terre 93, Summer 2015

Introduction (continued)

Insofar as popes and bishops spoke at the Council, should not one then obey and accept Vatican II?

The council Fathers decided to adopt “forms of inquiry and literary formulation of modern thought”1, i.e., the “new theology”2 founded on modern philosophy. Now, this philosophy is subjective: truth does not come from outside; it comes, at least in part, from the knowing subject. But if truth does not come from outside, the hierarchy cannot impose it: so, the Council inaugurated a new type of magisterium, a living and dialoging magisterium that has lost its binding aspect.

Why did the council Fathers adopt this new theology?

Since they wanted to adapt the teaching of the Church to the modern world, they had to find a way to modify this teaching. The solution was to adopt modern subjectivist philosophy, according to which, as we have said, truth comes, at least in part, from the knowing subject. And consequently it evolves with it. What was true yesterday (e.g., that the Church cannot adopt religious liberty) is not true today3.

So, thanks to this new theology, one could perform an updating of the Church and reconcile it with the modern world.

Are there calculated ambiguities in the Council?

Father Schillebeeckx himself affirms this in the Dutch review De Bazuin (23 January 1965)4:

A theologian of the doctrinal commission—to whom, already during the second session, I had expressed my disappointment in the face of the minimalism on papal collegiality—responded to me, to calm me down: “We will explain it in a diplomatic way, but after the Council we will draw the implicit conclusions.”

Were there external influences on the Council?

The power of the media exerted a very strong influence. It was the fear of this influence which made Pius XI and Pius XII abandon their projects to reconvene a council to pursue the work interrupted by the First Vatican Council.

There was also a more discreet but nonetheless real influence due to the more or less secret agreements with the Orthodox, Protestants, Jews, Communists, and Freemasons5.

—With the Orthodox and the Communists: For inviting Orthodox observers to the Council, John XXIII committed to not condemn communism6.

—With the Jews: Jewish leaders secretly received, at the Community Center of Peace at Strasbourg during the winter of 1962-1963, Father Congar O.P., sent by Cardinal Bea in the name of John XXIII, on the brink of the Council, to ask what the Jews expected from the Catholic Church7; Cardinal Bea himself secretly visited the Jewish American Committee at New York, 31 March 1963, with the same aim8.

—With the Protestants and Freemasons: In September 1961 Cardinal Bea secretly met in Milan the pastor Willem A. Visser’t Hooft, secretary general of the Ecumenical Council of Churches (very masonic organization of Protestant origin). Later, 22 July 1965, the same Ecumenical Council of Churches published the list of its seven requirements regarding religious liberty: all of them were satisfied by the Council in the document Dignitatis humanæ9.

[End of the introduction]

(Catechism to be continued)

  1. John XXIII, Gaudet Mater Ecclesia, 11 October 1962 (from the Italian text [Komonchak translation]). The same text in: John XXIII – Paul VI, Discours au Concile, Paris, le Centurion, 1966, p. 64.
  2. This expression signifies the neo-Modernist  theology of the 1940s. See Fr. Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., “La nouvelle Théologie où va-t-elle?“, Angelicum 23 (1946), p. 126-145, translated in Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, “Where Is the New Theology Leading Us?,” trans. by Suzanne M. Rini, Catholic Family News Reprint Series #309.
  3. Cardinal Ratzinger, “Magistère et théologie”, ORLF, 10 July 1990, p. 9: “In the details related to the contents, [the anti-Modernist decisions of the Church] were outmoded, after having fulfilled their pastoral need at a certain time.”
  4. Ralph M. Wiltgen, The Rhine Flows into the Tiber, Charlotte, North Carolina, TAN Books, 2014, p. 288-9, reports it in a slightly different manner.
  5. Regarding these secret agreements, see Abbé Matthias Gaudron, Catéchisme catholique de la crise dans l’Église, 5e éd., Le Sel, Avrillé, 2012, question 26.
  6. “Cardinal Tisserant received formal orders to negotiate the agreement and supervise its exact execution during the Council. Each time that a bishop would raise the question of communism, the cardinal, from his table where he presided, would intervene” (Msgr. Roche, Itinéraires 285, p. 157). There was in 1962 an agreement between the Vatican and Moscow according to which, in exchange for the presence at the Council of schismatic Russian observers, it would refrain from speaking of communism. See on this subject Le Sel de la terre 53 (summer 2005), p. 68-70; Le Sel de la terre 62 (autumn 2007), p. 189-194; Jean Madiran, «L’accord Rome-Moscou», Itinéraires n° 280, February 1984 and n° 285 of July-August 1984, p. 151-160; Sì sì no no, 15 September 1984.
  7. “The Jews, held after almost twenty centuries in the margin of Christian society, often treated as subordinate, enemies, and decides—demanded their complete rehabilitation. Issuing directly from the Abrahamic stock, from where Christianity came, they asked to be considered like brothers, partners of equal dignity, of the Christian Church.” Lazare Landau in n° 1001 of Tribune Juive (of 25-31 December 1987).
  8. See Sel de la terre 34, p. 196: «Comment les juifs ont changé la pensée catholique» (Joseph Roddy, Look, 25 January 1966).
  9. “During the last council session, the bishop of Monaco, Msgr. Rupp, in a very short discourse, asked that the Council be content with taking up these seven requests and of confirming them with its own authority […]. In reality, the Council did not do it. Not only did it make these seven requests its own, in equivalent terms, but it solidly justified them […].” Msgr. Willebrands, in Vatican II – La liberté religieuse, collection Unam Sanctam, Paris, Cerf, 1967, p. 241-242.