Reactionary Louie Verrecchio’s Three Lies About Vatican II

Reactionary Louie Verrecchio’s Three Lies About Vatican II June 19, 2019

I’ve written about radical Catholic reactionary Louie Verrecchio (words in blue below) three times before, though only on Facebook (one / two / three). His quasi-schismatic extremism and serious error regarding Vatican II is laid out in his “About” page from his aka Catholic website. He has followed the same sad path that Taylor Marshall, Peter Kwasniewski and other reactionaries are now also following:

For years, I was warmly welcomed as a presenter in Catholic parishes and dioceses throughout the United States, primarily on the topic of Vatican Council II – delivering talks at large archdiocesan conferences, parish level events, and at workshops designed specifically for deacons and directors of religious education.

My writing was disseminated via several Catholic media outlets, both diocesan and private. I was a frequently invited “guest expert” on conservative Catholic radio networks, and even made an appearance on EWTN. . . . 

What happened?

I discovered (by the grace of God) that we’ve been misled with respect to the Second Vatican Council and robbed of our rightful Catholic inheritance, both doctrinal and liturgical, ever since.

In other words, I now realize that the conciliar documents, in spite of whatever faithful expressions are to be found therein – the same upon which I focused in the Harvesting the Fruit series – are polluted with ambiguities, contradictions and outright errors: Like an entire lump spoiled by a little leaven, the text of Vatican II, far from being solid nourishment for the soul, is downright poisonous.

As such, I believe that I am duty bound to warn others that accepting the Council whole and entire, as if it’s a gift from Above, will undoubtedly lead to a loss of Catholic faith.

Even more succinctly, he opined in an article dated 3-15-18:

The reality is, folks, Vatican II is not to be numbered among the ecumenical councils of the Church – because it contains dangerous errors, of course . . . the phony ecumenical council ‘Vatican II,’ . . . ersatz Council . . .

Here I will be examining some absurd criticisms he made against Vatican II in his article entitled, “Liturgical Reform Gone Wild: Is Vatican II blameless?” (1-22-14). Ironically, in this piece he is roundly criticizing Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, who was then defending the Second Vatican Council (and has since ceased doing so and essentially descended to Verrecchio’s viciously self-contradictory position.

[B]y the grace of God, I decided to view the conciliar text in the light of all that preceded it and not just the past 40 or so years, at which point, I was forced to ponder some important questions:

– Is it really true, as the Council suggests, that Christ uses not just the Catholic Church as a means of salvation, but also heretical communities too numerous to number? (Unitatis Redintegratio)

– Are the children of the Church, as the Council suggests, really one in Christ with those who reject Him, deny His sacred divinity, and scoff at His glorious resurrection? (Nostra Aetate)

– Does mankind really have, as the Council suggests, a God-given right to worship idols? (Dignitatis Humanae)

Clearly, the Catholic response to each of these questions is a resounding no!  

Let’s examine these three claims in turn, and see how they hold up against demonstrable facts.

1) Unitatis Redintegratio (Decree on Ecumenism: 11-21-64) stated:

[T]he separated Churches and Communities as such, though we believe them to be deficient in some respects, 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 fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

Nevertheless, our separated brethren, whether considered as individuals or as Communities and Churches, are not blessed with that unity which Jesus Christ wished to bestow on all those who through Him were born again into one body, and with Him quickened to newness of life – that unity which the Holy Scriptures and the ancient Tradition of the Church proclaim. For it is only through Christ’s Catholic Church, which is “the all-embracing means of salvation,” that they can benefit fully from the means of salvation. (3; my italics and bolding)

Note how this inclusion in the “means of salvation” is firmly rooted in the fullness of the Catholic Church and the doctrine of “no salvation outside the Church”: which was reaffirmed by Vatican II. This is an old question: dealt with by Augustine over 1500 years ago, in his writings about the schismatic Donatists. The debate was whether their baptism was a valid sacrament or not. St. Augustine and the Church held that they were valid. He dealt with this issue in great detail in his book On Baptism, Against the Donatists (Book VI):

1. It might perhaps have been sufficient, that after the reasons have been so often repeated, and considered, and discussed with such variety of treatment, supplemented too, with the addition of proofs from holy Scripture, and the concurrent testimony of so many passages from Cyprian himself, even those who are slow of heart should thus understand, as I believe they do, that the baptism of Christ cannot be rendered void by any perversity on the part of man, whether in administering or receiving it. And when we find that in those times, when the point in question was decided in a manner contrary to ancient custom, after discussions carried on without violation of saving charity and unity, it appeared to some even eminent men who were bishops of Christ, among whom the blessed Cyprian was specially conspicuous, that the baptism of Christ could not exist among heretics or schismatics, this simply arose from their not distinguishing the sacrament from the effect or use of the sacrament; and because its effect and use were not found among heretics in freeing them from their sins and setting their hearts right, the sacrament itself was also thought to be wanting among them. But if we turn our eyes to the multitude of chaff within the Church, since these also who are perverse and lead an abandoned life in unity itself appear to have no power either of giving or retaining remission of sins, seeing that it is not to the wicked but the good sons that it was said, “Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained,” John 20:23 yet that such persons both have, and give, and receive the sacrament of baptism, was sufficiently manifest to the pastors of the Catholic Church dispersed over the whole world, through whom the original custom was afterwards confirmed by the authority of a plenary Council; so that even the sheep which was straying outside, and had received the mark of the Lord from false plunderers outside, if it seek the salvation of Christian unity, is purified from error, is freed from captivity, is healed of its wound, and yet the mark of the Lord is recognized rather than rejected in it; since the mark itself is often impressed both by wolves and on wolves, who seem indeed to be within the fold, but yet are proved by the fruits of their conduct, in which they persevere even to the end, not to belong to that sheep which is one in many; because, according to the foreknowledge of God, as many sheep wander outside, so many wolves lurk treacherously within, among whom the Lord yet knows them that are His, which hear only the voice of the Shepherd, even when He calls by the voice of men like the Pharisees, of whom it was said, “Whatsoever they bid you observe that observe and do.” Matthew 23:3 (ch. 1, sec. )

But I think that we have sufficiently shown, both from the canon of Scripture, and from the letters of Cyprian himself, that bad men, while by no means converted to a better mind, can have, and confer, and receive baptism, of whom it is most clear that they do not belong to the holy Church of God, though they seem to be within it, . . . (ch. 3, sec. 5)

To the declaration of Polycarp of Adrumetum, that “those who declare the baptism of heretics to be valid, make ours of none effect,” we answer, if that is the baptism of heretics which is given by heretics, then that is the baptism of the covetous and murderers which is given by them within the Church. But if this be not their baptism, neither is the other the baptism of heretics; and so it is Christ’s, by whomsoever it be given. (ch. 10, sec. 15)

The Council of Trent taught the same after the Protestant Revolution:

If anyone says that the baptism which is given by heretics in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, with the intention of doing what the Church does, is not true baptism, let him be anathema. (Decree on the Sacraments / On Baptism / Canon IV)

This baptism (which is Catholic, regardless of who administers it) regenerates and saves, according to Holy Scripture:

Acts 2:38 (RSV) And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins;

1 Peter 3:18-21 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit; in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

Acts 22:16 And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.’

Romans 6:3-4 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (cf. Romans 8:11, 1 Cor 15:20-23, Col 2:11-13)

Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Mark 16:16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit,

The Catholic Church agrees! Thus Servant of God Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ (my mentor), in his wonderful Modern Catholic Dictionary, stated that “Baptismal Graces” include all of the following things:

The supernatural effects of the sacrament of baptism. They are: 1. removal of all guilt of sin, original and personal; 2. removal of all punishment due to sin, temporal and eternal; 3. infusion of sanctifying grace along with the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit; 4. incorporation into Christ; and 5, entrance into the Mystical Body, which is the Catholic Church; 6. imprinting of the baptismal character, which enables a person to receive the other sacraments, to participate in the priesthood of Christ through the sacred liturgy, and to grow in the likeness of Christ through personal sanctification. Baptism does not remove two effects of original sin, namely concupiscence and bodily mortality. However, it does enable a Christian to be sanctified by his struggle with concupiscence and gives him the title to rising in a glorified body on the last day.

All of this occurs in Protestant trinitarian baptism, because it is a true and valid baptism. Therefore, Protestants do indeed participate in the “means of salvation” (“through Christ’s Catholic Church”): not just through baptism, but in other ways as well. A (first) marriage between two baptized Protestants is also considered to be a sacrament by the Catholic Church, and it, too, contributes to and makes possible, salvation (as all sacraments do).

2) Verrecchio asserts that Nostra Aetate (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions: 28 October 1965) makes an assertion that Catholics are one in Christ with those who reject Him, deny His sacred divinity, and scoff at His glorious resurrection”. This is quickly disposed of. The document makes no such claim. Words mean things. As far as I can tell, he is referring to this portion:

Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles. making both one in Himself. (sec. 4)

Does this mean and imply that Jews and Christians (i.e., Judaism and Christianity) are on exactly the same plane, and are doctrinally one? No. One must take into consideration the context. The meaning is explained by the footnote 8 that follows, citing Ephesians 2:14-16 (I shall use the RSV):

For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility,  [15] by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, [16] and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. 

Again, in context, St. Paul is not referring to Jews who rejected Christ and refused to accept Jesus as Messiah and become Christians. He’s talking about Gentiles who decided to forsake paganism and become Christians, alongside Jews like Paul and Peter, who have become “completed Jews” and accepted Christianity. In other words: all are Christians in this context. Paul is not expressing some imagined “indifferentist ecumenism.” Nor is Nostra Aetate.

Remember, the Ephesians were Gentiles, not Jews. It was a city in Asia Minor (Turkey). And so Paul was expressing to them (the Ephesian Christians) how they could unify with Jewish Christians in One Body:

Ephesians 2:11-13 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands — [12] remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. [13] But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. 

Ephesians 2:18 for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 

Nostra Aetate is, therefore, referring in this passage to Gentile and ethnically Jewish Christians (the Ephesians): not adherents of Judaism and Christians being supposedly “one in Christ.” The same document also states:

Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself. (2)

It is, therefore, the burden [Abbott and Flannery: duty] of the Church’s preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God’s all-embracing [Flannery: universal] love and as the fountain from which every grace flows. [Flannery: source of all grace] (4)

Verrecchio engages in wholesale dishonesty. Its pathetic. So many times, simple consultation of context and a fair reading will immediately disabuse [open-minded] people [who are seeking truth] of silly and false notions.

3) Lastly, Verrecchio believes that  Dignitatis Humanae (Declaration on Religious Freedom: 7 December 1965) granteda God-given right to worship idols”. My friend and fellow Catholic apologist Tim Staples thoroughly disposes of this in an excellent article, “Religious Liberty” (Catholic Answers, 1-9-15):

Our Lord himself removed all doubt concerning man’s freedom when he revealed that as God from all eternity he willed to gather “Jerusalem” as his own, but they refused him:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not (Matt. 23:37)! . . . 

There are some few among Catholics who vehemently object to the above-cited declaration from DH 2. The claim is made that this and other similar statements from the Council contradict earlier Magisterial teachings of the Church that condemn “religious freedom,” and so, must be considered heretical.

And one can certainly see how a surface reading of Magisterial statements . . . could be so construed . . . Pope Leo XIII, in his Encyclical Letter, Libertas, 42, June 20, 1888, is also used to this end:

From what has been said it follows that it is quite unlawful to demand, to defend, or to grant unconditional freedom of thought, of speech, or writing, or of worship, as if these were so many rights given by nature to man. For, if nature had really granted them, it would be lawful to refuse obedience to God, and there would be no restraint on human liberty. It likewise follows that freedom in these things may be tolerated wherever there is just cause, but only with such moderation as will prevent its degenerating into license and excess. And, where such liberties are in use, men should employ them in doing good, and should estimate them as the Church does; for liberty is to be regarded as legitimate in so far only as it affords greater facility for doing good, but no farther.

Two points in Response

1. These declarations of the Holy See [Dave: he had also cited Pope Gregory XVI’s Encyclical Letter, Mirari Vos, from 1832] condemn an absolute religious freedom that casts off all constraints of Natural Law and Church authority. This is essentially different from what DH is speaking about. Notice, DH 2 includes key phrases like, ”within due limits,” and “provided that just public order be observed,” to emphasize limitations on religious liberty. There is not even a hint of its approval of what Pope Gregory XVI called “indifferentism,” or what Pope Leo XIII called “unconditional freedom…”

2. The Council Fathers were careful to define what the Church means by “religious freedom” in the context of DH.

This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power…

By “religious freedom,” the Council meant men “are to be immune from coercion.” This is absolutely consonant with Catholic teaching.

And notice as well the Council spoke of the evil of coercion by human power. This in no way means man is not bound by God’s law, or by divine authority. That was not even a consideration here. In other words, Vatican II is not presenting a “right to error,” or a “right to blaspheme.” It is presenting a negative right—a right to not being coerced.

And this is not to say God, or any divine authority, coerces either when it comes to man responding to God’s gracious invitation to come to him. God has given man freedom to either choose him or reject him, as I said above. But it is to emphasize the context of DH. The fathers of the Council were responding to the problem of earthly despots or any political authority that would attempt to coerce with regard to matters religious.

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Photo credit: Enokson (9-30-11) [Flickr / CC BY 2.0 license]

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