Vs. Pasqualucci Re Vatican II #8: Lumen Gentium & Collegiality

Vs. Pasqualucci Re Vatican II #8: Lumen Gentium & Collegiality July 18, 2019

[see the Master List of all twelve installments]

Paolo Pasqualucci (signer of three of the endless reactionary-dominated “corrections” of Pope Francis), a Catholic and retired professor of philosophy of the law at the University of Perugia, Italy, wrote “‘Points of Rupture’ of the Second Vatican Council with the Tradition of the Church – A Synopsis” (4-13-18), hosted by the infamous reactionary site, One Peter Five. It’s an adaptation of the introduction to his book Unam Sanctam – A Study on Doctrinal Deviations in the Catholic Church of the 21st Century.

Pope Benedict XVI, writing as Cardinal Ratzinger, stated that the authority of Vatican II was identical to that of the Council of Trent:

It must be stated that Vatican II is upheld by the same authority as Vatican I and the Council of Trent, namely, the Pope and the College of Bishops in communion with him, and that also with regard to its contents, Vatican II is in the strictest continuity with both previous councils and incorporates their texts word for word in decisive points . . .

Whoever accepts Vatican II, as it has clearly expressed and understood itself, at the same time accepts the whole binding tradition of the Catholic Church, particularly also the two previous councils . . . It is likewise impossible to decide in favor of Trent and Vatican I but against Vatican II. Whoever denies Vatican II denies the authority that upholds the other two councils and thereby detaches them from their foundation. And this applies to the so-called ‘traditionalism,’ also in its extreme forms. Every partisan choice destroys the whole (the very history of the Church) which can exist only as an indivisible unity.

To defend the true tradition of the Church today means to defend the Council. It is our fault if we have at times provided a pretext (to the ‘right’ and ‘left’ alike) to view Vatican II as a ‘break’ and an abandonment of the tradition. There is, instead, a continuity that allows neither a return to the past nor a flight forward, neither anachronistic longings nor unjustified impatience. We must remain faithful to the today of the Church, not the yesterday or tomorrow. And this today of the Church is the documents of Vatican II, without reservations that amputate them and without arbitrariness that distorts them . . .

I see no future for a position that, out of principle, stubbornly renounces Vatican II. In fact in itself it is an illogical position. The point of departure for this tendency is, in fact, the strictest fidelity to the teaching particularly of Pius IX and Pius X and, still more fundamentally, of Vatican I and its definition of papal primacy. But why only popes up to Pius XII and not beyond? Is perhaps obedience to the Holy See divisible according to years or according to the nearness of a teaching to one’s own already-established convictions? (The Ratzinger Report, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1985, 28-29, 31)

For further basic information about the sublime authority of ecumenical councils and Vatican II in particular, see:

Conciliar Infallibility: Summary from Church Documents [6-5-98]

Infallibility, Councils, and Levels of Church Authority: Explanation of the Subtleties of Church Teaching [7-30-99]

The Bible on Papal & Church Infallibility [5-16-06]

Authority and Infallibility of Councils (vs. Calvin #26) [8-25-09]

The Analogy of an Infallible Bible to an Infallible Church [11-6-05; rev. 7-25-15; published at National Catholic Register: 6-16-17]

“Reply to Calvin” #2: Infallible Church Authority [3-3-17]

“On Adhesion to the Second Vatican Council” (Msgr. Fernando Ocariz Braña, the current Prelate of Opus DeiL’Osservatore Romano, 12-2-11; reprinted at Catholic Culture) [includes discussion of VCII supposedly being “only” a “pastoral council”]

Pope Benedict on “the hermeneutic of reform, of renewal within continuity” (12-22-05)

The words of Paolo Pasqualucci, from his article, noted above, will be in blue:


10.  The new definition of episcopal collegiality in LG 22 does not seem reconcilable with the Tradition of the Church and undermines the right understanding of the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff. In fact it establishes something unheard of – two subjects of the supreme power of jurisdiction over the entire Church (the Pope by himself and also the College of Bishops with the Pope) and two differing exercises of the same jurisdiction (of the Pope by himself and of the College by itself with the authorization of the Pope): “The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles … is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head. This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff” (LG 22.2).

Here is the entire section 22 of Lumen Gentium, with footnotes incorporated in green (and my bolding):

22. Just as in the Gospel, the Lord so disposing, St. Peter and the other apostles constitute one apostolic college, so in a similar way the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are joined together. Indeed, the very ancient practice whereby bishops duly established in all parts of the world were in communion with one another and with the Bishop of Rome in a bond of unity, charity and peace, (23*)

[Cfr. Eusebius, Hist. ecl., V, 24, 10: GCS II, 1, p. 49S; cd. Bardy, Sources Chr. II, p. 69 Dionysius, apud Eusebium, ib. VII 5, 2: GCS 11, 2, p. 638 s.; Bardy, II, p. 168 s.]

and also the councils assembled together, (24*)

[Cfr. de antiquis Conciliis, Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. V, 23-24: GCS 11, 1, p. 488 ss.; Bardy, 11, p. 66 ss. et. passim. Conc. Nicaenum. Can. S: Conc. Oec. Decr. p. 7.]

in which more profound issues were settled in common, (25*)

[Tertullianus, de Iciunio, 13: PL 2, 972 B; CSFL 20, p. 292, lin. 13-16.]

the opinion of the many having been prudently considered, (26*)

[S. Cyprianus, Epist. 56, 3: Hartel, 111 B, p. 650; Bayard, p.154.]

both of these factors are already an indication of the collegiate character and aspect of the Episcopal order; and the ecumenical councils held in the course of centuries are also manifest proof of that same character. And it is intimated also in the practice, introduced in ancient times, of summoning several bishops to take part in the elevation of the newly elected to the ministry of the high priesthood. Hence, one is constituted a member of the Episcopal body in virtue of sacramental consecration and hierarchical communion with the head and members of the body.

But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head the Roman Pontiff and never without this head. (27*)

[Cfr. Relatio officialis Zinelli, in Conc. Vat. I: Mansi S2,1 109 C.]

This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman Pontiff. For our Lord placed Simon alone as the rock and the bearer of the keys of the Church, (156)

[Cf. Mt. 16.18-19.]

and made him shepherd of the whole flock; (157)

[Cf. Jn. 21:15 ff.]

it is evident, however, that the power of binding and loosing, which was given to Peter, (158)

[Mt. 16:19.]

was granted also to the college of apostles, joined with their head. (159) (28*)

[Mt. 18:18, 28:16-20.]

[Cfr. Conc. Vat. 1, Schema Const. dogm. 11, de Ecclesia Christi, c. 4: Mansi S3, 310. Cfr. Relatio Kleutgen de Schemate reformato: Mansi S3, 321 B – 322 B et declaratio Zinelli: Mansi 52 1110 A. Vide etiam S. Leonem M. Scrm. 4, 3: PL 54, 151 A.]

This college, insofar as it is composed of many, expresses the variety and universality of the People of God, but insofar as it is assembled under one head, it expresses the unity of the flock of Christ. In it, the bishops, faithfully recognizing the primacy and pre-eminence of their head, exercise their own authority for the good of their own faithful, and indeed of the whole Church, the Holy Spirit supporting its organic structure and harmony with moderation. The supreme power in the universal Church, which this college enjoys, is exercised in a solemn way in an ecumenical council. A council is never ecumenical unless it is confirmed or at least accepted as such by the successor of Peter; and it is prerogative of the Roman Pontiff to convoke these councils, to preside over them and to confirm them. (29*)

[Cfr. Cod. Iur. Can., c. 227.]

This same collegiate power can be exercised together with the pope by the bishops living in all parts of the world, provided that the head of the college calls them to collegiate action, or at least approves of or freely accepts the united action of the scattered bishops, so that it is thereby made a collegiate act.

It’s much ado about nothing yet again . . . True, the doctrine has been more highly developed, but nothing heterodox or untrue has been added to the prior understanding.  Conciliarism: the notion that ecumenical councils were supreme and higher in authority than popes, was a medieval heresy, that have dealt with at length three times (one / two / three).

Vatican II collegiality, on the other hand, is simply historic Catholic ecclesiology: ecumenical councils ratified and accepted or partially condemned by popes (popes having the final say). That’s how it has always been. Papal infallibility was, of course, already firmly and forever clarified and defined at Vatican I in 1870. See my related papers (and one book):

Pope Silvester and the Council of Nicaea (vs. James White) [August 1997]

Conciliar Infallibility: Summary from Church Documents [6-5-98]

Infallibility, Councils, and Levels of Church Authority: Explanation of the Subtleties of Church Teaching and Debate with Several Radical Catholic Reactionaries [7-30-99; terminology updated, and a few minor changes made on 7-31-18]

The Analogy of an Infallible Bible to an Infallible Church [11-6-05; rev. 7-25-15; published at National Catholic Register: 6-16-17]

The Bible on Papal & Church Infallibility [5-16-06]

Council of Nicea: Reply to James White: Its Relationship to Pope Sylvester, Athanasius’ Views, & the Unique Preeminence of Catholic Authority [4-2-07]

Infallibility: Dialogue with a Traditional Anglican [10-6-08]

Papal Participation in the First Seven Ecumenical Councils [4-22-09]

Popes & Early Ecumenical Councils (vs. Calvin #16) [6-15-09]

Authority and Infallibility of Councils (vs. Calvin #26) [8-25-09]

Books by Dave Armstrong: Biblical Proofs for an Infallible Church and Papacy [2012]

“Reply to Calvin” #2: Infallible Church Authority [3-3-17]

Of particular relevance to this discussion is my paper, The Papacy and the Aid of Conciliarity (or, Collegiality) (How Popes Routinely Consult Bishops, Priests, and Laity Prior to Momentous Decrees). This shows how collegiality (either formal or informal) had already been taking place in practice, long before Vatican II. I cite it at length:

Servant of God Fr. John A. Hardon, S. J. my mentor, wrote some interesting things about collegiality in his book, The Catholic Catechism (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co., 1975, 219-221):
[A] new dimension has entered the picture in the past century, or rather an always present dimension received new emphasis and raises some new, even startling, implications for the future. Collegiality must now be seen as an aspect of apostolicity. It is the Church’s apostolicity seen from the standpoint of her social or collective, hence collegial, character.
. . . the apostles were not only called individually . . . they were also a collegial community . . .
We see them acting as a body during the novena of waiting for the spirit after Christ’s Ascension, when, on Peter’s initiative, they chose Matthias to replace Judas. We see them doing the same at the council in Jerusalem to settle the thorny problem of whether Christian converts had to follow the Jewish laws. . . .
For more than sixteen centuries, these forms of collegiality-in-practice were commonplace in the Church, yet the doctrine itself was only partially realized until the mid twentieth century and formalized under John XXIII and Paul VI. Several reasons may account for this, but one contributing factor was the dawn of the communications age . . .
I would like to note the historical fact of input to the pope in the matters of the two dogmatic definitions of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1854) and her Bodily Assumption (or Dormition, as the East refers to it, in 1950). In no way were these merely “top-down” (some would say, arbitrary) decrees.
The two popes (Blessed Pope Pius IX and Ven. Pope Pius XII) took into consideration the desires of not only bishops, but also priests and laypeople (sensus fidelium). Thus, in the widest sense of the term, these proclamations may be regarded as collegial in nature (though I’m sure our Eastern friends would note that the East was inadequately represented in the “polling”). Catholic theologian Alan Schreck observed:
In the hundred years before Pope Pius’ declaration, the popes had received petitions from 113 cardinals, 250 bishops, 32,000 priests and religious brothers, 50,000 religious women, and 8 million lay people, all requesting that the Assumption be recognized officially as a Catholic teaching. Apparently, the pope discerned that the Holy Spirit was speaking through the people of God on this matter. (Catholic and Christian, Ann Arbor, Michigan: Servant Books, 1984, 180)
Likewise in an article in the Catholic apologetics magazine This Rock (“Assumptions About Mary”, May/June 1992, 12-18; quote from p. 18), T. L. Frazier noted of the bishops consulted by Ven. Pope Pius XII:
[O]nly 22 replied negatively. Of the 22, only six doubted that the Assumption was a divinely revealed truth, the rest feeling that the time was not yet appropriate for such a definition.
Blessed Pope Pius IX, in his Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, (8 December 1854) in which he defined ex cathedra the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, noted the sought-after (overwhelming) consensus of the bishops:
Although we knew the mind of the bishops from the petitions which we had received from them, namely, that the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin be finally defined, nevertheless, on February 2, 1849, we sent an Encyclical Letter from Gaeta to all our venerable brethren, the bishops of the Catholic world, that they should offer prayers to God and then tell us in writing what the piety and devotion of their faithful was in regard to the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. We likewise inquired what the bishops themselves thought about defining this doctrine and what their wishes were in regard to making known with all possible solemnity our supreme judgment.
We were certainly filled with the greatest consolation when the replies of our venerable brethren came to us. For, replying to us with a most enthusiastic joy, exultation and zeal, they not only again confirmed their own singular piety toward the Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin, and that of the secular and religious clergy and of the faithful, but with one voice they even entreated us to define our supreme judgment and authority the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin. In the meantime we were indeed filled with no less joy when, after a diligent examination, our venerable brethren, the cardinals of the special congregation and the theologians chosen by us as counselors (whom we mentioned above), asked with the same enthusiasm and fervor for the definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God.
Consequently, following the examples of our predecessors, and desiring to proceed in the traditional manner, we announced and held a consistory, in which we addressed our brethren, the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. It was the greatest spiritual joy for us when we heard them ask us to promulgate the dogmatic definition of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mother of God.
Therefore, having full trust in the Lord that the opportune time had come for defining the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, which Holy Scripture, venerable Tradition, the constant mind of the Church, the desire of Catholic bishops and the faithful, and the memorable Acts and Constitutions of our predecessors, wonderfully illustrate and proclaim, and having most diligently considered all things, as we poured forth to God ceaseless and fervent prayers, we concluded that we should no longer delay in decreeing and defining by our supreme authority the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin. (from the posting on EWTN; footnote numbers excised).
After consulting theologians Bl. Pope Pius IX had consulted 603 bishops and 546 (91%) had responded affirmatively. Four or five thought it couldn’t be defined, 24 were “inopportunists” (i.e., believed that the time was not right, independently of the truth of the doctrine), and ten wanted a more indirect definition. . . .
[T]he dogmatic proclamation of the infallibility of the pope was itself a conciliar decree; not a papal decree.
Blessed Pope Pius IX could have made the decree himself, just as he had proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception 16 years earlier. And even if he had done so, it would have been in deep consultation with bishops and priests, as was the case with the dogmatic, ex cathedra decree that he did make (as shown in my previous reply). But he didn’t do so. It was the council that did it. . . .
Church historian Latourette gives us some numbers to ponder:
On the preliminary vote of the question of approval of the declaration of infallibility, 451, or three-fourths, were in favour; 88, between a sixth and a seventh, were flatly opposed; and 62, slightly more than a tenth, approved with reservations. Ninety-one bishops abstained from voting. (Ibid., 282)
By my math, that is 692 bishops. 65% were totally in favour. If we add “approval with reservations,” the total “yay” vote is 513 out of 692, or 74%. Those “flatly opposed” were only 13% of the whole. This is the “voice of the bishops” and the “Mind of the Church”.
Pope St. Paul VI again decisively intervened, for the sake of those who were concerned that the wording in this document watered-down the authority of the pope (I don’t see it myself — see my bolded excepts in the section under consideration, above –, but some did, and “better safe than sorry”). A nota paevia, or Preliminary Note of Explanation was added to the end, and if there was any doubt on the matter, there certainly was none left after these clarifications (all bolding my own):

3. The College, which does not exist without the head, is said “to exist also as the subject of supreme and full power in the universal Church.” This must be admitted of necessity so that the fullness of power belonging to the Roman Pontiff is not called into question. For the College, always and of necessity, includes its head, because in the college he preserves unhindered his function as Christ’s Vicar and as Pastor of the universal Church. In other words, it is not a distinction between the Roman Pontiff and the bishops taken collectively, but a distinction between the Roman Pontiff taken separately and the Roman Pontiff together with the bishops. Since the Supreme Pontiff is head of the College, he alone is able to perform certain actions which are not at all within the competence of the bishops, e.g., convoking the College and directing it, approving norms of action, etc. Cf. Modus 81. It is up to the judgment of the Supreme Pontiff, to whose care Christ’s whole flock has been entrusted, to determine, according to the needs of the Church as they change over the course of centuries, the way in which this care may best be exercised—whether in a personal or a collegial way. The Roman Pontiff, taking account of the Church’s welfare, proceeds according to his own discretion in arranging, promoting and approving the exercise of collegial activity.

4. As Supreme Pastor of the Church, the Supreme Pontiff can always exercise his power at will, as his very office demands. Though it is always in existence, the College is not as a result permanently engaged in strictly collegial activity; the Church’s Tradition makes this clear. In other words, the College is not always “fully active [in actu pleno]”; rather, it acts as a college in the strict sense only from time to time and only with the consent of its head. The phrase “with the consent of its head” is used to avoid the idea of dependence on some kind of outsider; the term “consent” suggests rather communion between the head and the members, and implies the need for an act which belongs properly to the competence of the head. This is explicitly affirmed in n. 22, 12, and is explained at the end of that section. The word “only” takes in all cases. It is evident from this that the norms approved by the supreme authority must always be observed. Cf. Modus 84.

It is clear throughout that it is a question of the bishops acting in conjunction with their head, never of the bishops acting independently of the Pope. In the latter instance, without the action of the head, the bishops are not able to act as a College: this is clear from the concept of “College.” This hierarchical communion of all the bishops with the Supreme Pontiff is certainly firmly established in Tradition.

So we see the successor of St. Peter, the Supreme Pontiff and Head of the Catholic Church, acting again as Peter did: guiding and making sure that everything was correct and orthodox. Why there would be any doubt as to the teaching here, and its harmony with sacred tradition, is the profound mystery. How much clearer can words be? Where is the so-called “ambiguity” in this instance? It’s as if reactionary critics are looking all over the sky on a clear summer day at high noon, unable to find the sun.

2 Timothy 4:3-4 (RSV) For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, [4] and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.


Photo credit: Pope St. Paul VI makes Fr. Joseph Ratzinger a Cardinal: 27 June 1977 [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]


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