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
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.