Little catechism of the Second Vatican Council (Part Five) – The Four Constitutions (continued): Dei Verbum (on sources of Revelation)

Little catechism of the Second Vatican Council (Part Five) – The Four Constitutions (continued):  Dei Verbum (on sources of Revelation)

by Fr. Pierre-Marie, O.P.

Dominican in Avrillé


From Le Sel de la terre 93, Summer 2015

(continued,number 5)


The Four Constitutions

Section II

Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum - on the sources of Revelation


What are the principle errors contained this constitution?

This Constitution makes an important step toward Protestant theology in refusing to distinguish clearly the two sources of Revelation.  It speaks of a progress of Tradition and utilizes the expression “living Tradition”, in the manner of the Modernists.

How does DV alter the doctrine of the two sources of Revelation?

DV leaves aside the doctrine of the councils of Trent and Vatican I on the “two sources” of Revelation (Tradition and Holy Scripture), for making Tradition and the Magisterium converge into Scripture alone: “sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture […] in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. […They] form one sacred deposit of the word of God” (§ 9 and 10).

Note in the passage the expression “in a certain way (quodammodo)”: things are left in flux without daring to affirm the error frankly.  We will find elsewhere this manner of speaking.

It is an important step toward reconciling with the Protestant heresy that denies Tradition as the source of Revelation.

How does DV speak of a progress of Tradition?

According to the infallible doctrine of the Catholic Church, Revelation terminated with the death of the last Apostle1: There is thus no objective progress of the deposit of the faith (by new truths that would be revealed); at the most, there is a subjective progress (a more precise definition of truths contained in the deposit of the faith).

Without making this major distinction, DV admits a progress of Tradition: “Now what was handed on by the Apostles […] develop[s] [proficit] in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. […] For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.” (§ 8).

How did DV introduce the Modernist notion of living Tradition?

In paragraph 12, DV says that Holy Scripture should be read taking into account “living tradition of the whole Church“.

This is also an ambiguous expression which could ultimately receive an orthodox interpretation (the immutable Tradition received from the Apostles also continues today to be transmitted by the current, living Magisterium of the Church), but which evidently, in context, favors the Modernist idea of a Tradition that is living because it is the expression of the sense of the faith of the people of God, and thus susceptible to evolution.

It is this latter meaning that will be used after the Council: In the name of living Tradition, the Conciliar Church will try to excommunicate Msgr. Lefebvre2  and to justify the ‘hermeneutic of renewal in continuity’ (the claim that post-conciliar Church is in continuity with the Church before the Council, because there is a continuity of the living subject, even if there is discontinuity on the doctrinal plane3).

Are there other errors in DV?

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Vatican II, Le Sel de la terre 55 (pp. 26-38) indicated as contestable points:

* A false notion of Revelation described as a dialogue of salvation and a conversation with God (DV 2), not as a deposit of supernatural truths;

* A new approach to the faith (DV 5) considered as a total abandonment of the person to God is reconciled with the faith-trust of the Protestants or the faith-sentiment of the Modernists;

* The protestantization of the Holy Church and in particular the abandonment of the traditional notion of inerrancy of the Scriptures for the benefit of a truth relative to salvation (DV 11).4

It could also be added that DV encourages ecumenical translations of the Bible,5 which is an unheard-of novelty in the Church.

(To be continued)