Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Are we living in a post-Vatican II springtime? An alternative view

Gerald Warner in the Daily Telegraph here gives an alternative view about effect of second Vatican Council:

Fifty years on: time to revisit and reform the Second Vatican Catastrophe
Posted By: Gerald Warner at Jan 27, 2009 at 07:49:45 [General]
Posted in: Society , Religion
Benedict XVI, Second Vatican Council, Summorum Pontificum

Benedict XVI grows in stature as his reign progresses. To the momentous achievement of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, freeing the Tridentine Mass, he has now added the sagacious and just lifting of the excommunications imposed on the four bishops of the Society of St Pius X.

Although there was widespread scepticism about the validity of those censures, their lifting removes a roadblock to the restoration of the Church after the damage wrought by the Second Vatican Catastrophe. Not everyone is happy about the pardoning of the bishops. The staff of The Tablet are rumoured to be on suicide watch, while the malign spirit of those who, without any conscious irony, denominate themselves "liberals" was well illustrated by Gianni Gennari, an Italian journalist.

Gennari is a laicized priest, now married. Fighting back tears, he responded to news of the lifting of the excommunications: "It is a tragedy, the complete debacle of the Church!... I am disappointed, stunned, scandalised... In this case there is no place for the mercy of Christ"... Of course not. The Modernists have always excluded from any kind of mercy those faithful Catholics who adhere unreservedly to the Deposit of Faith. Anything that reduces the likes of Gennari to tears has to be good news.

Over the past few days, some blinkeredly optimistic souls have been trying - without much real hope - to persuade Catholics to "celebrate" the 50th anniversary of the announcement of the Second Vatican Council. This was the great "renewal", when the Holy Ghost inspired the Church to aggiornamento, or modernisation. What form has that Renewal taken?

In England and Wales in 1964, at the end of the Council, there were 137,673 Catholic baptisms; in 2003 the figure was 56,180. In 1964 there were 45,592 Catholic marriages, in 2003 there were 11,013. Mass attendance has fallen by 40 per cent. In "Holy" Ireland, only 48 per cent of so-called Catholics go to Mass. In France, there were 35,000 priests in 1980; today there are fewer than 19,000. Renewal?

In the United States, in 1965, there were 1,575 priestly ordinations; in 2002 there were 450 - a 350 per cent decline. In 1965 there were 49,000 seminarians, in 2002 just 4,700. Today 15 per cent of US parishes are without priests. Only 25 per cent of America's nominal Catholics attend Mass. Worse still is the erosion of faith among those who ludicrously describe themselves as Catholics. Among US Catholics aged 18-44 (the children of Vatican II) as many as 70 per cent say they believe the Eucharist is merely a "symbolic reminder" of Christ.

To describe this unprecedented collapse of the Church as "renewal" is insane; to attribute it to the operation of the Holy Ghost is blasphemous. The Catholic Church is in the same position as an alcoholic: until it admits to the problem, no cure is possible. The problem is Vatican II.

Pope Benedict himself has expressed reservations about at least one Council document. The only remotely celebratory response to the Council's 50th anniversary would be to appoint a commission of orthodox theologians to scrutinise all of Vatican II's documents and correct their errors. It is time to revisit and reform this council that has brought forth such poisonous fruits.

Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue of Lancaster calls Vatican II: A Magna Carta of the Holy Spirit
The Catholic Herald 23 January 2009 here:
Another more positive interpretation of VatII can be found here.


  1. My dear fellow blogger, well said. Well said indeed. Vatican II can certainly be taken, in almost every instance, in a very orthodox manner. But this often requires such mental gymnastics as to be possible only for the trained theologian, and it is utterly impossible for the average layman to come away as anything but confused.

    The Spirit of Vatican II = Ambiguity that allows the liberals to do any darned thing they please in the name of the Council and who can correct them? The word of the documents? That won't work because it's too murky. Rome? That seldom works because of collegiality and the abandonment of Papal authority.

    Yep, Vatican II has created a mess in the Church. Great men such as Cardinal Ottaviani and Archbishop Lefebvre gave warnings that were ignored by the "progressives," and well into John Paul's Papacy, there were continued accolades for the Inspired Council that brought the Church into a New Springtime.

    Give me a break. If this is springtime, God help us when winter comes.

  2. Now now Aristotle, don't you realise that it was the new revolution towards child-centred education during the late 1960's which caused change in catecetical education - which caused decline in faith of young people.
    This of course does not explain fall away in faith of the older generation who had not been through school in 70's and 80's.
    Perhaps their change was caused by the landing on the moon in the late 1960's. This caused a revolution in man's understanding on his place in the universe. But it was nothing at all to do with changes brought by Vatican II.
    Welcome to the springtime - you just wait for winter.

  3. Many thanks for your comments guys. I've just looked up Aristotle's blog and taken a quote from Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope of course):
    Pope Benedict XVI, Gloriously Reigning

    "For fostering a true consciousness in liturgical matters, it is also important that the proscription against the form of liturgy in valid use up to 1970 should be lifted. Anyone who nowadays advocates the continuing existence of this liturgy or takes part in it is treated like a leper; all tolerance ends here. There has never been anything like this in history; in doing this we are despising and proscribing the Church’s whole past. How can one trust her present if things are that way? I must say, quite openly, that I don’t understand why so any of my episcopal brethren have to a great extent submitted to this rule of intolerance, which for no apparent reason is opposed to making the necessary inner reconciliations within the Church." -- Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, God and the World

  4. Anonymous, it's hard to see what's written in sarcasm in your words and what is meant to be taken as written. So I'm going to take it all as written, and you can chide me later for my lack of understanding of your craftily written paragraphs.

    First of all, you admit the loss of faith of the older generation, who had not been schooled in the 1970s and 1980s. Why don't you make the causal connection between this and the loss of faith of the younger generation, their sons and daughters? You can't lay that at the doorstep of bad catechism classes when the primary responsibility for passing on the Faith is that of the parents.

    Let's think of how those people felt (and many are still around who can verify this): The Mass that they had known, their grandparents had known, their ancestors to ancient times had known, was thrown out of the churches almost overnight.

    This Mass, which had long been considered the greatest treasure of the Church, was disregarded for novelty. But you say, and rightly, "Vatican II didn't mandate this." I grant that. As a matter of fact, Vatican II called for a reform of the existing liturgy, the retention of Latin in the rite, etc.

    What Vatican II did, however, was to create a new atmosphere of novelty and experimentation. The Church, that ancient and most venerable institution, had "updated" her way of thinking and expressing dogmas. You cannot underestimate the power of this change.

    The Church had spoken in authoritative and unmistakable terms throughout her whole existence, and then suddenly she seems to falter and backtrack, to admit the salvation of non-Catholics, to speak of the "more or less good and praiseworthy" elements in every religion (which previous Popes had refused to admit), to talk of tinkering with the Mass, to promote religious liberty (which prior Popes had called "insanity"), to assert that the Muslims worship the same God as we, even though they deny the Most Blessed Trinity, and the list goes on and on.

    All of this followed by the abandonment of the ancient Mass was just too much for those raised in the old Church to swallow. Of course it led to widespread loss of faith and a "spirit" of the Council where experimentation and novelty were the "in" things to do.

    How could the priests be told not to experiment with the new Mass when that's in essence what it was, an experiment? It had no mark of permanence to it, and to this day it does not have that mark. It could be tossed out the door of the Church tomorrow if the authorities so wished. (Let us hope that they soon so wish.)

    I spoke with a gentleman who had a unique story. He had left the Church in the 60s just before the Council, and he was not reconciled to the Church until the late 1990s. In that time, he had totally shut the Church out of his life and hadn't even as much as watched any news regarding it. He didn't know what the Second Vatican Council was! He also didn't know anything about a "new Mass."

    So imagine his shock when the voice of his heart began to call him back to the Faith: he walked into a Catholic Church that he had attended as a teenager and the liturgy (and theology) had so changed that he couldn't recognize it. He was utterly shocked and grieved. Interestingly, he left the building and thought that the Church had been purchased by protestants. He later found out that this wasn't the case and was told of all of the changes in the Church. Imagine his shock! Had it not been for a very strong dose of God's grace, he could have very easily left that church so disgusted that he never would have come back.

    Well imagine the shock of having something like this imposed overnight, which is what happened! As I have said, we can't always blame it on the "letter" of the Council, but we can often blame it on the "spirit" of the Council. This spirit directly and inevitably resulted from the very misguided effort of the Council Fathers to seem "relevant" to the modern world and to change the Church's vocabulary, which had been painstakingly built up over the course of 2,000 years of heresies and the resistance to them.

    Vatican II should be accused of this and none other. There is a clear causal connection between its documents and the widespread loss of faith that we see in the Church today. Those who deny this have their heads in the sand or, as is sadly often the case among so many bishops today, actively deny the Church that came before Vatican II and wish its apparent death to be made official.

    Those who try to defend the Council by appealing to its "letter", which as I admit can often be taken finally in an orthodox manner (with some strenuous mental gymnastics), are missing the point entirely. The "spirit" of Vatican II is a valid spiration of this misguided, amoeba-like, sponge-ish council. But it is not a valid work of the Spirit of God, Who never sews confusion and discord. This being the case, and the Council being primarily pastoral in nature, and seeing as how it has not accomplished anything but a pastoral disaster, it should be likewise primarily disregarded.

  5. Sorry for the misunderstanding Aristotle, I actually wrote my last piece very tongue in cheek - having a bit of fun.
    But I was repeating ideas - one about child-centred education which proponents of the virtue and benefits of Vatican II have voiced to me.
    I would like to see evidence if there is any, as you claim, that "There is a clear causal connection between its documents and the widespread loss of faith that we see in the Church today."

    I don't see how this can be done or has been done. I would like to see some evidence, if there is any. Best wishes Anon

  6. Though you might like this quote. Has to do with moves of traditional Anglicans towards Catholic Church:
    Cardinal Dias, who favours welcoming traditionalist Anglicans into the Catholic Church, bluntly told the Anglican Communion's 650 bishops that they are heading towards "spiritual Alzheimer's" and "ecclesial Parkinson's".

    "By analogy, (Alzheimer's and Parkinson's) symptoms can, at times, be found even in our own Christian communities. For example, when we live myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions, we could well be suffering from spiritual Alzheimer's. And when we behave in a disorderly manner, going whimsically our own way without any co-ordination with the head or the other members of our community, it could be ecclesial Parkinson's."


  7. One could reasonably suggest that this is an instance of post hoc ergo propter hoc if there was no observable correlation between the symptoms of the current crisis and the changes of emphasis and the novel teachings contained in the documents of Vatican II. For example, it cannot be denied that there is a dearth of both adult conversions and missionary activity on the part of practising Catholics. It is very hard not to agree that this was in great part brought about by Vatican II's enthusiasm for the ecumenical movemenent in documents such as Unitatis Redintegratio which are very hard to reconcile with previous documents of the Magisterium relating to ecumenism such as Satis Cognitum and Mortalium Animos, to name but two. If the need for conversion and entry into the Catholic Church is downplayed then is it so surprising that there are fewer converts and Catholics no longer have missionary zeal? The likelihood that the new enthusiasm for ecumenical dialogue - in marked contrast to previous non-infallible teachings of the Magisterium - and the slump in conversions are not related is very small indeed. In fact, the burden of proof lies overwhelmingly on those who wish to demonstrate that there is no relationship of causation between these two.