July 23, 2019

Paolo Pasqualucci (signer of three of the 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. Pasqualucci seeks to establish that Vatican II is massively contrary to received Catholic tradition. I took on a dozen of these points, in order to show how very weak these anti-Vatican II arguments really are, and how orthodox the Council is. Here are my twelve critiques:

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Related Reading:

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Dialogue on Vatican II: Its Relative Worth, Interpretation, and Application (with Patti Sheffield vs. Traditionalist David Palm) [9-15-13]
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Photo credit: CNS photo / L’Osservatore Romano: 20 September 2012: Pope St. John XXIII leads the opening session of the Second Vatican Council in St. Peter’s Basilica Oct. 11, 1962 [Flickr / CC BY 2.0 license]
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July 22, 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:

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14. The unheard of novelty of the introduction into the Liturgy of the principle of creativity, again in SC, paragraphs 37-40, theoretically under the control of the Holy See, often purely “theoretical”. This principle has always been opposed down the centuries by the entire Magisterium, without exceptions, as a disastrous thing to be avoided in the most absolute way, and many consider this principle to be the real cause of the current liturgical chaos.

15.  The principle of creativity is corroborated by the wide and entirely new competence given to the Bishops’ Conferences in liturgical matters, including the faculty of experimenting new forms of worship (SC 22 § 2, 39, 40); this is contrary to the constant teaching of the Magisterium, which has always reserved all competence in liturgical matters to the Supreme Pontiff, as the maximum guarantee against the introduction of liturgical innovations.

This is the accusation against Sacrosanctum Concilium, with regard to these sections:

D) Norms for adapting the Liturgy to the culture and traditions of peoples

37. Even in the liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters which do not implicate the faith or the good of the whole community; rather does she respect and foster the genius and talents of the various races and peoples. Anything in these peoples’ way of life which is not indissolubly bound up with superstition and error she studies with sympathy and, if possible, preserves intact. Sometimes in fact she admits such things into the liturgy itself, so long as they harmonize with its true and authentic spirit.

38. Provisions shall also be made, when revising the liturgical books, for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions, and peoples, especially in mission lands, provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved; and this should be borne in mind when drawing up the rites and devising rubrics.

39. Within the limits set by the typical editions of the liturgical books, it shall be for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to specify adaptations, especially in the case of the administration of the sacraments, the sacramentals, processions, liturgical language, sacred music, and the arts, but according to the fundamental norms laid down in this Constitution.

40. In some places and circumstances, however, an even more radical adaptation of the liturgy is needed, and this entails greater difficulties. Wherefore:

1) The competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, must, in this matter, carefully and prudently consider which elements from the traditions and culture of individual peoples might appropriately be admitted into divine worship. Adaptations which are judged to be useful or necessary should then be submitted to the Apostolic See, by whose consent they may be introduced.

2) To ensure that adaptations may be made with all the circumspection which they demand, the Apostolic See will grant power to this same territorial ecclesiastical authority to permit and to direct, as the case requires, the necessary preliminary experiments over a determined period of time among certain groups suited for the purpose.

3) Because liturgical laws often involve special difficulties with respect to adaptation, particularly in mission lands, men who are experts in these matters must be employed to formulate them.

[. . .]

2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established. [sec. 22]

[. . .]

In this instance, we have a case of flawed implementation of the council’s directives: the infamous “spirit of Vatican II.” I shall cite at length from “True Development of the Liturgy” (Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith [then secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments in Rome, First Things, May 2009):

How much of the postconciliar liturgical reform truly reflects Sacrosanctum Concilium , the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on Sacred Liturgy? . . .

[H]owever much the popes who guided this event insisted on the need for a true spirit of reform, faithful to the essential nature of the Church, and even if the council itself produced such beautiful theological and pastoral reflections as Lumen GentiumDei VerbumGaudium et Spes, and Sacrosanctum Concilium, what happened outside the council—especially within the society at large and the circle of its philosophical and cultural leadership—began to influence it negatively, creating tendencies that were harmful to its life and mission.

These tendencies, which at times were even more virulently represented by certain circles within the Church, were not necessarily connected to the orientations or recommendations of the documents of Vatican II. Yet they were able to shake the foundations of ecclesial teaching and faith to a surprising extent. Society’s fascination with an exaggerated sense of individual freedom—and its penchant for the rejection of anything permanent, absolute, or otherworldly—had its influence on the Church and often was justified in the name of the council. . . .

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger had this to say on the ever increasing spirit of relativism: “Already during its sessions and then increasingly in the subsequent period, [the true council] was opposed by a self-styled “Spirit of the Council,’ which in reality is a true “anti-spirit’ of the council. According to this pernicious anti-spirit, everything that is “new’ . . . is always and in every case better than what has been or what is. It is the anti-spirit according to which the history of the Church would first begin with Vatican II, viewed as a kind of point zero.” . . .

Liturgists had also tended to pick and choose sections of Sacrosanctum Concilium that seemed to be more accommodating to change or novelty, while ignoring others. Besides, there was a great sense of hurry to effect and legalize changes. Much space tended to be provided for a rather horizontalist way of looking at the liturgy. Norms of the council that tended to restrict such creativity or that were favorable to the traditional way seemed to be ignored.

Worse still, some practices that Sacrosanctum Concilium had never contemplated were allowed into the liturgy, such as saying the Mass versus populum , Holy Communion on the hand, altogether giving up on Latin and Gregorian Chant in favor of the vernacular and songs and hymns without much space for God, and extension beyond any reasonable limits of the faculty to concelebrate at Holy Mass. There was also the gross misinterpretation of the principle of “active participation” (actuosa participatio). . . .

What is most clear to any reader of Giampietro’s True Development of the Liturgy is that, as Cardinal Ratzinger stated, “the true time of Vatican II has not yet come.” The reform has to go on. The immediate need seems to be that of a reform of the Missal of 1969, for quite a number of changes originating within the postconciliar reform seem to have been introduced somewhat hastily and unreflectively, as Cardinal Antonelli himself repeatedly stated. The change must be made to fall in line with Sacrosanctum Concilium itself, and it must indeed go even further, keeping with the spirit of our own times.

Cardinal Robert Sarah: prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, also has made it clear that liturgical abuses ran contrary to the true nature of Sacrosanctum Concilium:

Certainly, the Second Vatican Council wished to promote greater active participation by the people of God and to bring about progress day by day in the Christian life of the faithful (see Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 1). Certainly, some fine initiatives were taken along these lines. However we cannot close our eyes to the disaster, the devastation and the schism that the modern promoters of a living liturgy caused by remodeling the Church’s liturgy according to their ideas. They forgot that the liturgical act is not just a PRAYER, but also and above all a MYSTERY in which something is accomplished for us that we cannot fully understand but that we must accept and receive in faith, love, obedience and adoring silence. And this is the real meaning of active participation of the faithful. . . .

Many Catholics do not know that the final purpose of every liturgical celebration is the glory and adoration of God, the salvation and sanctification of human beings, since in the liturgy “God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 7). Most of the faithful—including priests and bishops—do not know this teaching of the Council. Just as they do not know that the true worshippers of God are not those who reform the liturgy according to their own ideas and creativity, to make it something pleasing to the world, but rather those who reform the world in depth with the Gospel so as to allow it access to a liturgy that is the reflection of the liturgy that is celebrated from all eternity in the heavenly Jerusalem. As Benedict XVI often emphasized, at the root of the liturgy is adoration, and therefore God. (“Adapting the Liturgy to Our Decadence,”The Catholic Thing, 4-19-17)

Fr. Peter M. J. Stravinskas highlighted the same stark contrast between Sacrosanctum Concilium and the liturgical confusion that followed:

When people talk about liturgy in the contemporary Church, they tend to begin with the Second Vatican Council, which is about a century too late. Sacrosanctum Concilium, the conciliar Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy did not emerge full-blown from the brow of Zeus; rather, it was the culmination of a century-long liturgical movement, “canonized” by Pope St. Pius X and especially by Pope Pius XII in Mediator Dei. . . .

Sacrosanctum Concilium did not come up with a new vision of divine worship; it merely solidified the aspirations of liturgical scholars and the Magisterium of the previous hundred years. Very often when Vatican II is mentioned, especially in regard to liturgy, people start to talk about “the changes” effected there. Truth be told, that document was not about “changes,” which is why we read the following:

That sound tradition may be retained, and yet the way remain open to legitimate progress careful investigation is always to be made into each part of the liturgy which is to be revised. This investigation should be theological, historical, and pastoral. Also the general laws governing the structure and meaning of the liturgy must be studied in conjunction with the experience derived from recent liturgical reforms and from the indults conceded to various places. Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing. (n. 23)

In other words, no “changes” were to be made, unless they were manifestly necessary. And so, the Council Fathers insisted on the maintenance of Latin, except for the readings and homily; called for the restoration of the prayer of the faithful and offertory procession, and for an expanded lectionary, so that the faithful might receive a greater exposure to the Word of God. That’s it. . . .

In the list of items I delineated for you a few minutes ago, I trust you noticed that there was no mention of: Mass facing the people; altar girls; extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion; Communion in the hand; a total vernacular liturgy. In most instances, these practices were introduced by would-be reformers in direct defiance of existing liturgical norms. When corrected, these “reformers” continued on their merry way, absent discipline from bishops. In other words, disobedience was rewarded. Some time back, I asked a bishop who had been a Council Father for all four sessions of the synod, what his confreres would think of these changes not authorized by the Council. He gave the stark reply: “They would be horrified.” . . .

In the past few years, Ratzinger’s mantle of reform has been assumed by the Guinean Robert Cardinal Sarah. Two works of his are particularly valuable: God or Nothing and The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise. He was appointed by Pope Francis in 2014 to serve as the prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Although Francis does not have much of a liturgical sense or appreciation, it is interesting that he told Sarah he wanted him to pursue the vision sketched out by Ratzinger. Which he has done – in spades. He has spoken forcefully and convincingly about the need: to return to the celebration of Holy Mass with priest and people facing the same direction – liturgical East; to restore generous amounts of Latin; for Holy Communion to be administered on the tongue to one kneeling. (“Liturgical Vision vs. Liturgical Visions: Vatican II, Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Sarah,” The Catholic World Report, 3-15-18)

 

July 22, 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:

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13. As far as the Liturgy is concerned, notable perplexity is raised by the way in which the Holy Mass is defined in the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium On the Sacred Liturgy (SC 47, 48, 106), where it seems to favor the notion of “a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten” and a “memorial” in place of a propitiatory sacrifice (which obtains mercy [propitiatio] before God for our sins). Article 106 describes “the paschal mystery” (a new, obscure, and unusual name for the Holy Mass) in this way: it is the day of the week when “Christ’s faithful are bound to come together into one place so that, by hearing the word of God and taking part in the Eucharist, they may call to mind the passion, the resurrection and the glorification of the Lord Jesus, and may thank God who has begotten them again through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, unto a living hope (1 Pet 1:3)” (SC 106). This manner of speaking seems to present the Holy mass essentially as a memorial and as a “sacrifice of praise” for the Resurrection, in the manner of the Protestants. Furthermore, the definition of the Holy Mass in SC makes no mention of the dogma of transubstantiation or of the nature of the Holy Mass as a propitiatory sacrifice. Does this not fall into the specific error solemnly condemned  by Pius VI in 1794, when he exposed the heresies of the Jansenists, declaring that their definition of the Holy Mass, precisely because of its silence on transubstantiation, was “pernicious, unfaithful to the exposition of Catholic truth on the dogma of transubstantiation, and favorable to the heretics”(DS 1529/2629)?

This piece of typical reactionary propaganda is clearly warmed-over, recycled Michael Davies. Much of reactionary polemics (like atheist and anti-Catholic Protestant disinformation) is simply repetition of established boilerplate / talking points.

We’ve reached the point in this series where it is becoming downright silly and ridiculous. Things are being denied (in terms of their supposedly being absent from Vatican II documents) that any computer-savvy five-year-old could find in a word-search in 20 seconds. So here we go again with claims of a document supposedly denying something, when in fact it teaches it over and over. Let’s take each skeptical, cynical accusation in turn.

Does Sacrosanctum Concilium deny the Sacrifice of the Mass? Does it Protestantize the Mass and make it an empty memorial? Simple searching quickly exposes such claims as absolutely ludicrous. The word “sacrifice” appears in the document nine times. If the intent were to flat-out deny this aspect and revolutionize the Catholic understanding of the Mass, why would it be there at all?

Perhaps a less ambitious and serious claim would be that it is not mentioned enough. The problem with that is that there is no end to subjectively deciding “how much is enough.” The Bible, for example, contains very little about the virgin birth of Jesus: just a couple of mentions. It has equally little regarding original sin. It has nothing at all directly or explicitly about the Immaculate Conception and Bodily Assumption of Mary and nothing whatsoever about which books ought to be in the canon of the Bible.

Technically, the Bible doesn’t meticulously lay out or describe the process involved in the doctrine of transubstantiation, for that matter. It simply equates the consecrated elements with the Body and Blood of Christ (Real, Substantial, Physical Presence). It never describes a transformation of the elements. It assumes the change, and uses phenomenological language — still describing the consecrated elements as “bread” (as I argued and documented in a recent paper against sedevacantists).

Does it follow that, therefore, the Bible denies all these things? No, not at all; not in the slightest. But Sacrosanctum Concilium does mention the Sacrifice of the Mass nine times (and therefore assumes transubstantiation as part of the prior premises of the Sacrifice of the Mass. Don’t just take my word for it. Here are the passages (highlights in blue and footnotes in green):

2. For the liturgy, . . . most of all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church. (Introduction, sec. 2)

His purpose also was that they might accomplish the work of salvation which they had proclaimed, by means of sacrifice and sacraments, around which the entire liturgical life revolves. (Ch. I, sec. 6)

[cf.: For the liturgy, “through which the work of our redemption is accomplished,” [1] . . . (Introduction, sec. 2) ]

7. To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, “the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross” [20], but especially under the Eucharistic species. (Ch. I, sec. 7)

[Council of Trent, Session XXII, Doctrine on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, c. 2.]

[cf.: From that time onwards the Church has never failed to come together to celebrate the paschal mystery: reading those things “which were in all the scriptures concerning him” (Luke 24:27), celebrating the eucharist in which “the victory and triumph of his death are again made present” [19], . . . (Ch. 1, sec. 6) ]

[Council of Trent, Session XIII, Decree on the Holy Eucharist, c.5.]

10. Nevertheless the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; at the same time it is the font from which all her power flows. For the aim and object of apostolic works is that all who are made sons of God by faith and baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of His Church, to take part in the sacrifice, and to eat the Lord’s supper. (Ch. I, sec. 10)

We learn from the same Apostle that we must always bear about in our body the dying of Jesus, so that the life also of Jesus may be made manifest in our bodily frame [31].

[Cf . 2 Cor. 4:10-11.]

This is why we ask the Lord in the sacrifice of the Mass that, “receiving the offering of the spiritual victim,” he may fashion us for himself “as an eternal gift” [32]. (Ch. I, sec. 12)

[Secret for Monday of Pentecost Week.]

47. At the Last Supper, on the night when He was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity [36],

[Cf. St. Augustine, Tractatus in Ioannem, VI, n. 13.]

a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us [37]. (Ch. II, sec. 47)

[Roman Breviary, feast of Corpus Christi, Second Vespers, antiphon to the Magnificat.]

. . . the sacrifice of the Mass . . . (Ch. II, sec. 49)

55. That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended. (Ch. II, sec. 55)

Furthermore, we find the following language, which is plainly referring to the Sacrifice of the Mass:

The Church, therefore, earnestly desires that Christ’s faithful, when present at this mystery of faith, should not be there as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration. They should be instructed by God’s word and be nourished at the table of the Lord’s body; they should give thanks to God; by offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest, but also with him, . . . (Ch. II, sec. 48)

Pasqualucci wants to argue that the document denies the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ? The words propitiation or propitiatory do not appear, but so what? The ideas are still present (just as trinitarianism is massively indicated in Scripture, while the word “trinity” never appears). Propitiation is simply a 50-cent theological word.

It never appears in the New Testament (RSV). It appears exactly once in the Old Testament (Wisdom 18:21). KJV, however, has it six times (three in each Testament). RSV uses “expiation” all three times in the New Testament passages where KJV translates “propitiation.” So it seems to be a bit of an antiquated word (not an antiquated idea; just the word!).

But if Pasqualucci insists that the concept or even reference to the word is entirely absent, he is wrong, for Chapter I, section 7, cited above, references “Council of Trent, Session XXII, Doctrine on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, c. 2” in its footnote. And that magisterial utterance does explicitly mention and explain it:

CHAPTER II.

That the Sacrifice of the Mass is propitiatory both for the living and the dead.

And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propitiatory and that by means thereof this is effected, that we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, if we draw nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, with a sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence. For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the grace and gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins. For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different. The fruits indeed of which oblation, of that bloody one to wit, are received most plentifully through this unbloody one; so far is this (latter) from derogating in any way from that (former oblation). Wherefore, not only for the sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities of the faithful who are living, but also for those who are departed in Christ, and who are not as yet fully purified, is it rightly offered, agreeably to a tradition of the apostles.

In fact, Sacrosanctum Concilium cites the only portion of this document in which propitiatory is mentioned at all. As we can see, it is about God’s mercy and forgiveness and grace. The latter word appears eleven times in Sacrosanctum Concilium; for example: 

the renewal in the Eucharist of the covenant between the Lord and man draws the faithful into the compelling love of Christ and sets them on fire. From the liturgy, therefore, and especially from the Eucharist, as from a font, grace is poured forth upon us; and the sanctification of men in Christ and the glorification of God, to which all other activities of the Church are directed as toward their end, is achieved in the most efficacious possible way. (Ch. I, sec. 10)

In order that the Christian people may more certainly derive an abundance of graces from the sacred liturgy, . . . (Ch. I, sec. 21)

The reasoning is similar as regards the alleged absence of transubstantiation in the document. The word may not be present; but the concept is. For one thing, it is presupposed in all of the references above to the Sacrifice of the Mass, and Jesus’ one sacrifice on the cross “again made present” (Ch. 1, sec. 6). That means His Body and Blood are literally, sacramentally, physically present after consecration, which means that the elements have been transformed, which is, of course transubstantiation. All of the doctrines work together as a whole.

There are three references to Jesus’ “body” or “Body and Blood” present after consecration (II, 47; II, 48 [“nourished at the table of the Lord’s body”], II, 55). It’s similar to biblical language about the Holy Eucharist; for example:

1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (RSV) The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? [17] Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 

Pasqualucci’s accusation here, thus “proves too much.” Using his “reasoning” St. Paul would also be a eucharistic heretic because after all, he never mentioned the transformation of transubstantiation, did he? And no one (including Jesus) does that in Scripture. It’s presupposed. And that is the case here. But footnote 19 refers to Trent, Session XIII, Decree on the Holy Eucharist, c.5. Here it is:

CHAPTER V.

On the cult and veneration to be shown to this most holy Sacrament.

Wherefore, there is no room left for doubt, that all the faithful of Christ may, according to the custom ever received in the Catholic Church, render in veneration the worship of latria, which is due to the true God, to this most holy sacrament. For not therefore is it the less to be adored on this account, that it was instituted by Christ, the Lord, in order to be received: for we believe that same God to be present therein, of whom the eternal Father, when introducing him into the world, says; And let all the angels of God adore him; whom the Magi falling down, adored; who, in fine, as the Scripture testifies, was adored by the apostles in Galilee.

The holy Synod declares, moreover, that very piously and religiously was this custom introduced into the Church, that this sublime and venerable sacrament be, with special veneration and solemnity, celebrated, every year, on a certain day, and that a festival; and that it be borne reverently and with honour in processions through the streets, and public places. For it is most just that there be certain appointed holy days, whereon all Christians may, with a special and unusual demonstration, testify that their minds are grateful and thankful to their common Lord and Redeemer for so ineffable and truly divine a benefit, whereby the victory and triumph of His death are represented. And so indeed did it behove victorious truth to celebrate a triumph over falsehood and heresy, that thus her adversaries, at the sight of so much splendour, and in the midst of so great joy of the universal Church, may either pine away weakened and broken; or, touched with shame and confounded, at length repent.

As every Catholic knows, we are not worshiping merely pieces of bread and wine. We’re worshiping Jesus made present. Again, this presupposes transubstantiation. This makes sense because the two previous chapters of Trent, Session XIII dealt specifically with transubstantiation:

CHAPTER III.

On the excellency of the most holy Eucharist over the rest of the Sacraments.

The most holy Eucharist has indeed this in common with the rest of the sacraments, that it is a symbol of a sacred thing, and is a visible form of an invisible grace; but there is found in the Eucharist this excellent and peculiar thing, that the other sacraments have then first the power of sanctifying when one uses them, whereas in the Eucharist, before being used, there is the Author Himself of sanctity. For the apostles had not as yet received the Eucharist from the hand of the Lord, when nevertheless Himself affirmed with truth that to be His own body which He presented (to them). And this faith has ever been in the Church of God, that, immediately after the consecration, the veritable Body of our Lord, and His veritable Blood, together with His soul and divinity, are under the species of bread and wine; but the Body indeed under the species of bread, and the Blood under the species of wine, by the force of the words; but the body itself under the species of wine, and the blood under the species of bread, and the soul under both, by the force of that natural connexion and concomitancy whereby the parts of Christ our Lord, who hath now risen from the dead, to die no more, are united together; and the divinity, furthermore, on account of the admirable hypostatical union thereof with His body and soul. Wherefore it is most true, that as much is contained under either species as under both; for Christ whole and entire is under the species of bread, and under any part whatsoever of that species; likewise the whole (Christ) is under the species of wine, and under the parts thereof.

CHAPTER IV.

On Transubstantiation.

And because that Christ, our Redeemer, declared that which He offered under the species of bread to be truly His own body, therefore has it ever been a firm belief in the Church of God, and this holy Synod doth now declare it anew, that, by the consecration of the bread and of the wine, a conversion is made of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood; which conversion is, by the holy Catholic Church, suitably and properly called Transubstantiation.

Therefore, there is no denial of transubstantiation in this document at all. It’s presupposed (e.g., “He is present . . . under the Eucharistic species”: Ch. I, sec. 7), and concepts that presuppose it (most notably, the Sacrifice of the Mass) are explicitly laid out and endorsed.

Three months before Vatican II ended, Pope St. Paul VI explicitly reaffirmed Catholic eucharistic doctrine in his encyclical Mysterium Fidei (3 September 1965). It mentions transubstantiation seven times and enthusiastically endorses it. Here is a relevant excerpt:

However, venerable brothers, in this very matter which we are discussing, there are not lacking reasons for serious pastoral concern and anxiety. The awareness of our apostolic duty does not allow us to be silent in the face of these problems. Indeed, we are aware of the fact that, among those who deal with this Most Holy Mystery in written or spoken word, there are some who with reference either to Masses which are celebrated in private, or to the dogma of transubstantiation, or to devotion to the Eucharist, spread abroad opinions which disturb the faithful and fill their minds with no little confusion about matters of faith. It is as if everyone were permitted to consign to oblivion doctrine already defined by the Church, or else to interpret it in such a way as to weaken the genuine meaning of the words or the recognized force of the concepts involved.

Nor is it allowable to discuss the mystery of transubstantiation without mentioning what the Council of Trent stated about the marvelous conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood of Christ, speaking rather only of what is called “transignification” and “transfiguration,” or finally to propose and act upon the opinion according to which, in the Consecrated Hosts which remain after the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass, Christ Our Lord is no longer present…

To avoid misunderstanding this sacramental presence which surpasses the laws of nature and constitutes the greatest miracle of its kind we must listen with docility to the voice of the teaching and praying Church. This voice, which constantly echoes the voice of Christ, assures us that the way Christ is made present in this Sacrament is none other than by the change of the whole substance of the bread into His Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into His Blood, and that this unique and truly wonderful change the Catholic Church rightly calls transubstantiation. As a result of transubstantiation, the species of bread and wine undoubtedly take on a new meaning and a new finality, for they no longer remain ordinary bread and ordinary wine...[10]

No other eucharistic doctrine is present in Sacrosanctum Concilium simply because the word transubstantiation doesn’t appear. The doctrine is reaffirmed by citing Trent’s authoritative proclamations on the topic. All Pasqualucci does is cite a few sections of the document that sound to unsuspecting ears like examples of the false assertions he is making, while ignoring the abundant material (supplied above) that demolishes his pseudo-“argument.”

It’s the heretics and theological liberals and atheists who habitually argue like this, with regard to Scripture and Catholic documents alike. It’s a disgrace for an orthodox Catholic to do so.

Lastly, we see that in pre-Vatican II papal encyclicals devoted to the Eucharist or the liturgy, transubstantiation is not particularly highlighted, and sometimes even absent. For example, Mediator Dei (On the Sacred Liturgy) by Ven. Pope Pius XII (1947), mentions the word exactly once, in a document of 26,622 words (about half as long as an average-sized book), and the word propitiation appears only twice (73).

In the section where transubstantiation appears (70), the context is the Sacrifice of the Mass: exactly what Sacrosanctum Concilium highlights; and in the very sentence where it’s mentioned, we find the phrase, “the eucharistic species under which He is present” which is quite similar to the present document’s phraseology, “He is present . . . under the Eucharistic species” (Ch. I, sec. 7): itself reflective of Trent’s constant eucharistic descriptions (see above). This is why I contend that Sacrosanctum Concilium presupposes transubstantiation.

In Pope Leo XIII’s Mirae Caritatis (On the Holy Eucharist, 1902), the word transubstantiation never appears; nor does propitiation or propitiatory.

Are we to believe, then, that Pope Leo XIII denies transubstantiation, because he never used the word in this encyclical, and that Ven. Pius XII is guilty of minimizing its importance (whereas Pope St. Paul VI uses it seven times in his encyclical contemporaneous with Vatican II)? By the “reasoning” and the “logic” of Pasqualucci, this would follow. It would mean that Paul VI (whom Taylor Marshall, in his book, Infiltration, has described as a “radical cardinal” and “crypto-Modernist”) was explicitly “pro-transubstantiation” far more than Ven. Pius XII and Leo XIII. Not exactly the “reactionary” outlook, is it . . .?

To use an analogy, St. Paul, in eight of his thirteen epistles (2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Titus, Philemon) St. Paul (it may be surprising to learn) never uses the words Scripture or Scriptures. Does that “prove” that he doesn’t accept its authority? No, because in the other five of his epistles, he uses the word 14 times.

Even more strikingly, St. Paul never once mentions the Blessed Virgin Mary, or “the mother of Jesus” or “his mother” etc. (an argument used by Protestants against Catholic Mariology). She’s only mentioned once by name in the New Testament outside of the Gospels (Acts 1:14): though Revelation 12 is clearly about her. Does that mean that the epistles and the early Christians (including the most eminent apostles) therefore denied Mariology and all the doctrines that Catholics believe about Mary the mother of Jesus? No.

The Eucharist and Holy Communion aren’t mentioned in the New Testament, apart from the Gospels, a few passing references in Acts (2:42, 46; 20:7, 11), and St. Paul’s only relevant passages in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11. This means that it’s not mentioned by the first pope, St. Peter, St. John, St. James, or the book of Hebrews. Does it follow, therefore, that all those apostles deny transubstantiation? No. 

We can play these silly word games (following Pasqualucci’s and Davies’ “reasoning”) all day long. They don’t prove anything.

***

Photo credit: [Max PixelCreative Commons Zero – CC0 license]

***

July 19, 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:

*****

12.   [On] the question of the nota theologica of the documents of Vatican II, Msgr. Gherardini (and certainly he is not the only one) does not consider it to be a dogmatic council, because it neither defined dogmas nor condemned errors, not even in the two constitutions specifically named “dogmatic”, and it expressly declared that it was not dogmatic but, on the contrary, pastoral (see the Notifications in the Appendix to LG:  “Taking conciliar custom into consideration and also the pastoral purpose of the present Council, the sacred Council defines as binding on the Church only those things in matters of faith and morals which it shall openly declare to be binding.”) But in fact there are not dogmatic definitions in any conciliar document on “matters of faith and morals.” However the apologists of the Council claim it exudes a new type of “infallibility”, somehow implicit in the same pastoral nature of the documents. But this is impossible because the dogmatic character of a pronouncement of the extraordinary Magisterium must result from certain, comprehensible and traditional signs and cannot be “implicit”.

“On Adhesion to the Second Vatican Council” (Msgr. Fernando Ocariz BrañaL’Osservatore Romano, 12-2-11):

[I]t is not pointless to recall that the pastoral motivation of the Council does not mean that it was not doctrinal – since all pastoral activity is necessarily based on doctrine. But, above all, it is important to emphasise that precisely because doctrine is aimed at salvation, the teaching of doctrine is an integral part of all pastoral work. Furthermore, within the Documents of the Council it is obvious that there are many strictly doctrinal teachings: on Divine Revelation, on the Church, etc. As Blessed John Paul II wrote: “With the help of God, the Council Fathers in four years of work were able to produce a considerable collection of doctrinal statements and pastoral norms which were presented to the whole Church” (Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum, 11 October 1992, Introduction).

Assent Owed to the Magisterium

The Second Vatican Council did not define any dogma, in the sense that it proposed no doctrine with a definitive act. However, even if the Magisterium proposes a teaching without directly invoking the charism of infallibility, it does not follow that such a teaching is therefore to be considered “fallible” – in the sense that what is proposed is somehow a “provisional doctrine” or just an “authoritative opinion”. Every authentic expression of the Magisterium must be received for what it truly is: a teaching given by Pastors who, in the apostolic succession, speak with the “charism of truth” (Dei Verbum, n. 8), “endowed with the authority of Christ” (Lumen Gentium, n. 25), “and by the light of the Holy Spirit” (ibid.).

This charism, this authority and this light were certainly present at the Second Vatican Council; to deny this to the entire episcopate gathered to teach the universal Church cum Petro and sub Petro, would be to deny something of the very essence of the Church (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae, 24 June 1973, nn. 2-5).

Naturally not all the affirmations contained in the Conciliar documents have the same doctrinal value and therefore not all require the same degree of assent. The various levels of assent owed to doctrines proposed by the Magisterium were outlined in Vatican II’s Constitution Lumen Gentium (n. 25), and subsequently synthesised in the three clauses added to the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed in the formula of the Professio fidei published in 1989 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Blessed John Paul II.

Those affirmations of the Second Vatican Council that recall truths of the faith naturally require the assent of theological faith, not because they were taught by this Council but because they have already been taught infallibly as such by the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. So also a full and definitive assent is required for the other doctrines set forth by the Second Vatican Council which have already been proposed by a previous definitive act of the Magisterium.

The Council’s other doctrinal teachings require of the faithful a degree of assent called “religious submission of will and intellect”.

“A Pastoral and Dogmatic Council” (Randall Smith, The Catholic Thing, 7-19-14):

We all have things that bother us more than they probably should. For me, one of those things is when I hear someone describe the Second Vatican Council as a “pastoral, not a dogmatic” council. “So you haven’t actually gotten around to reading any of the documents, then, I take it,” I’m always tempted to reply.

The numbers alone tell the tale. Of the fifteen official documents of the Second Vatican Council, three have the title “Constitution.” Two of these have the title “Dogmatic Constitution,” the one on the Church (Lumen Gentium) and the one on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum). Then there were three “declarations”: one on Christian education (Gravissimum Educationis), one on the relationship of the Church to non-Christian religions (Nostra Aetate), and one on religious freedom (Dignitatis Humanae). Along with these, there were eight “decrees” on: (1) the mission activity of the Church, (2) the ministry and life of priests, (3) the apostolate of the laity, (4) the training of priests, (5) the renewal of religious life, (6) the pastoral office of bishop, (7) ecumenism, and (8) the Catholic churches of the Eastern Rite.

Notably, only two of these documents (out of fifteen) contain the word “pastoral” in their titles: The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) and the Decree Concerning the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church (Christus Dominus). And both of those are “doctrinal” through and through.

Now look, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not arguing that the Second Vatican Council wasn’t in important ways pastoral. The problem, rather, is the dichotomy some people like to set up – which the Council clearly didn’t – between “pastoral,” on the one hand, and “dogmatic,” on the other, as though these were two very different ways of being “religious.” To set up this sort of dichotomy in the Council is not only to violate the “hermeneutics of continuity” with the Church’s centuries-old tradition that Pope Benedict has insisted upon. It is to attribute to the Council a rupture in a “hermeneutics of continuity” with itself. . . .

Vatican II was a great pastoral council precisely because it was a great dogmatic council. Thinking you can give adequate pastoral care without proper doctrinal formation is like thinking you can do heart surgery without the wisdom gained in medical school.

“Vatican II Was First-Class” (Charlotte Hays, National Catholic Register, 10-10-12):

Critics have accused the Second Vatican Council of many things, but Cardinal William Levada says one criticism in particular lacks any credibility — the claim that Vatican II was in any way a “second-class council” whose teachings, therefore, aren’t binding on Catholics.

Cardinal Levada, who stepped down in June as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, refuted this notion . . .

The claim, made by followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, is based on the idea it was “merely” a pastoral council that didn’t define dogma.

“It is true to say that Vatican II was by intention a ‘pastoral’ council,” Cardinal Levada told his CUA audience, “[because] it was decided a priori that its broad scope of ecumenical dialogue (with other Christians) and interreligious dialogue (with other religions) and with the society of the ‘world’ did not call for the formulation of new dogmas to correct errors of faith, as was the case in previous councils.”

But this did not make it any less authoritative than the rest of the 21 ecumenical councils that have occurred during the Catholic Church’s 2,000-year history, the American cardinal stressed.

“One cannot infer that the Council’s teachings are not ‘doctrinal,’” he said. “Teaching the gospel of life and salvation is the chief ‘pastoral’ task of bishops; it is doctrinal in its principles and pastoral in its applications. So, too, the teaching of the ‘universal ordinary magisterium’ — the apostolic College of Bishops, together with their head, the Pope — should not be considered ‘second-class teaching’ or ‘optional’ and not necessary to accept.” . . .

“Rather than pastoral or doctrinal, we should say of the Council that it was pastoral and doctrinal.”

“A cliché, a council, and, finally, Pope Francis” (John W. O’Malley, America, 7-7-16):

From the moment the Second Vatican Council opened, it has consistently been described as a pastoral council, sometimes so insistently and unthinkingly that the expression has become a cliché. The word cliché implies that while the description might well express a truth, it at the same time trivializes the council and produces yawns. . . .

The cliché as currently understood tends to trivialize the council, principally by implying, at least for some commentators, that the council’s decrees are less substantial, more contingent, more subject to reform or even dismissal than those from the supposedly great doctrinal councils of the past. Vatican II, like certain beers and soft drinks, is council lite—no heavy calories! . . .

[I]f we judge a council’s dignity and gravitas by the number and importance of its doctrinal decrees, does not Vatican II really qualify as a council lite or council not-so-serious? After all, Vatican II did not define a single doctrine. In Vatican II there are no dogmas in the sense of solemn definitions, like the definition of papal infallibility of Vatican I. Yes, that is true. Vatican II did not define a single doctrine, but that does not mean it was not a teaching or doctrinal council. (Every dogma is a doctrine, but not every doctrine is a dogma.) The council did not define any doctrines because it adopted a mode of discourse different from that operative in councils that produced definitions, most notably Vatican I.

Not defining certainly does not necessarily mean that the council’s more important teachings are less binding or less central to the Christian religion, solemnly approved as they were the largest and most diverse gathering of prelates by far in the entire history of the Catholic Church and then solemnly ratified by the supreme pontiff, Paul VI. We must remember, moreover, that the “Constitution on the Church” and the “Constitution on Divine Revelation” are specifically designated as “dogmatic constitutions.” If, indeed, we look at the number and importance of Vatican II’s teachings, the council is not council lite but the very opposite. . . .

Vatican II was pastoral through its teachings, that is through its doctrine. . . .

“Reading the Documents of Vatican II” (Marcellino D’Ambrosio, Crossroads Initiative, 8-6-18):

A decision was made before the first document was written that the audience of this council, the readership to which the documents were to be addressed, was not just the academics and clergy. No, the vocabulary of the documents was to be biblical, not scholastic, the style pastoral, not academic, so that the council’s teaching would be accessible to all literate Christians, indeed, even to all people of good will. The documents of Vatican II have since been poured over by experts of all kinds, and indeed should be. Their content is indeed rich and profound. Yet it must be remembered that first and foremost this is was a pastoral council and its documents are like pastoral letters written to encourage, nourish, and enlighten the sheep. . . .

[W]e must stop and correct a serious misconception. Many rightly note that Vatican II did not define any new dogmas as did many previous Councils, such as Nicaea, Trent, and Vatican I. It is also true that Vatican II was primarily a “pastoral” council.

Yet it is most decidedly NOT true that Vatican II offers us no serious doctrinal teaching and therefore its authority is not to be taken too seriously. Calling two of its constitutions “dogmatic” makes it very plain that this council does indeed teach doctrine in a most serious way. And while it does not define new dogmas, it passes on, reaffirms, clarifies and develops revealed doctrine in the most authoritative fashion possible short of an infallible definition. The response of the faithful must be “the religious submission of intellect and will” to this important expression of the Church’s Universal Episcopal Magisterium which is an expression of the Papal Magisterium as well, since the successor of Peter signed each one of its documents.

***

Photo credit: [Max PixelCreative Commons Zero – CC0 license]

***

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:

*****

11.  In the Decree On Religious Liberty Dignitatis Humanae (DH), a concept of “religious liberty” is affirmed which does not seem to distinguish itself from the secular concept of the same, which is the fruit of the idea of tolerance, the origins of which are in Deism and the Enlightenment. Such a concept appears not to conform to the doctrine of the Church and is a harbinger of indifferentism and agnosticism.

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)! . . . 

The claim is made that . . . the Council contradict[s] 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.

Fr. Brian W. Harrison has also again done excellent work in refuting this objection to Dignitatis Humanae, in his tour de force article, Dignitatis Humanae: a Non-Contradictory Doctroinal Development” (Living Tradition; Roman Theological Forum, March 2011). I shall cite it at length (I won’t indent: everything below are his words; footnotes incorporated in green):

***

As is well known, the perception that the doctrine enshrined in these magisterial documents, and indeed, in the Church’s universal and ordinary magisterium since the patristic era, is irreconcilable with that of DH has been a major factor in the SSPX’s continued resistance to Vatican Council II. . . .

I. First of all, certain important hermeneutical distinctions need to be kept in mind:

(a) between Church doctrine (teaching proposed as true for all times and places) and Church law or prudential policy judgments (adaptable according to different historical/cultural circumstances).

(b) between a Vatican II Declaration such as DH and more authoritative conciliar documents, such as Dogmatic Consti­tutions. Conciliar declarations (of which there are two others, Nostra Aetate and Gravissimum Educationis, on inter-religious dialogue and Catholic education respectively) are not meant to be read as if they proposed universal, timeless and unchangeable doctrine from start to finish. All three of them begin with a few basic general doctrinal principles of this sort, and then go on to lay down practical norms and other comments that the Church considers appropriate as present-day applications of, and reflections on, those principles.

(c) between affirming a right to do X and affirming a right to immunity from coercion in doing X. In a purely juridical or legal document setting out only what is and is not to be prohibited and punished by human positive law, this distinction would be inapplicable, even meaningless. But in a theological, doctrinal document such as DH, which in the first place considers moral rights and duties, and only secondarily their implications for human law codes, the distinction is crucial. DH carefully specifies that what it affirms as the natural right to religious freedom is only the second kind of right. A theological affirmation that there is a human right to do X simply means that X is itself a kind of action which is objectively morally upright and justifiable – one that does not, as such, deserve censure or disapproval from either God or man. But to affirm a right to immunity from human coercion in doing X – that is, a right not to be prevented by human authority from doing X – does not necessarily imply that X is objectively good behavior. It is simply a reflection of the important distinction between sin and crime; that is, it recognizes the limited jurisdiction of government when it comes to penalizing the errant behavior of citizens. St. Thomas recognized long ago that it is not the function of human law (civil authority) to outlaw and punish any and every kind of sin.3

[Cf. Summa Theologiae, Ia IIae, Q. 96, a. 2.]

And he answered negatively the question as to whether Muslim or Jewish parents could justly be prevented by Catholic governments from teaching their children their respective non-Christian religions. (In practice, of course, such prevention would mean removing these children from their parents’ custody altogether.) Aquinas said this would be unjust, because the right of a father over his family in this case prevails against the alleged right of government to intervene in favor of the true religion.4

[Cf. Summa Theologiae, IIa, IIae, Q. 10, a. 12.]

Does that mean St. Thomas is saying or implying that there exists a “right to teach one’s children false doctrine” – doctrine contrary to the revealed truths such as the Incarnation and Trinity? Not at all. There is only a right not to be prevented by government from doing so.

[. . .]

(d) Finally, we need to avoid the fallacy of assuming that if we say a government should tolerate a certain activity, we are implying or presupposing that it has a right, in justice, to repress that same activity if it wishes to do so. Again, in a purely juridical document, that right might perhaps be implied. But not in theological discourse, in which the first of the above propositions by no means entails the second. In the context of such discourse, saying that a ruler tolerates activity A simply means that, while disapproving of A, he decides not to repress it even though he disposes of enough physical force (police or military), and perhaps the permission of his country’s existing positive law, to do so. Whether or not he would also have the right (in the sense of the moral authority) to repress A is a distinct question. In some cases he would, in others he wouldn’t. So critics of Vatican II are setting up a false dichotomy when – as often happens – they claim to discern an implicit contradiction between DH’s language of “rights” in civil society for those practising various different religions and the traditional papal language that spoke of mere civil “tolerance” for non-Catholic religious activity. The distinction made in (c) above also needs to be kept in mind here. It follows from all this that the respective concepts of having a right not to be prevented by the State from carrying out religious activity A (which is the language of DH), and of being tolerated by the State in carrying out A (the language of the pre-conciliar magisterium) are not at all logically incompatible. And precisely because they are compatible, it would not be oxymoronic to combine the conciliar and pre-conciliar ways of speaking in one expression, affirming that persons can sometimes have a natural “right to be tolerated” by government in carrying out A.

II. Note also that, according to DH 1, the religious freedom affirmed in this document leaves “intact”, or “whole and entire” (Latin integram) the “traditional Catholic doctrine concerning the moral duty of individuals and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ”. Now, the word “societies” here certainly includes civil or political communities as such. This was clarified in words that were personally approved and mandated by Pope Paul VI, and then read out by the relator (official spokesman for the drafting committee) to the assembled Fathers who were about to vote on this final draft of DH. The relator told them that this and other last-minute additions to the text were a response to the concerns expressed by some Fathers about apparent doctrinal inconsistency between the declaration they were being asked to approve and “ecclesiastical documents up till the time of the Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII”, especially the “insistence” of these documents on “the moral duty of public authority (potestas publica) toward the true religion”. The relator then pointed out to the Fathers that the revised text, by virtue of the final amendments to articles 1 and 3, “recalls [this duty] more clearly”. As a result, he said, “it is manifest that this part of the doctrine has not been overlooked”.5

[“. . . ex quo patet hanc doctrinae partem non praetermitti” (Acta Synodalia, IV, VI, 719).]

Therefore, any interpretation of DH that has it contradict the doctrine of previous popes cannot reflect the mind of the Church as to the true meaning of the Declaration.

III. Keeping in mind the preceding hermeneutical criteria, we can now set out very briefly a case for non-contradiction. Two of the three doctrinal propositions of DH in its key paragraph (article 2, paragraph 1) are not usually contested by the declaration’s traditionalist critics. These brethren are troubled little, if at all, by the Council’s vindication of immunity from human coercion for non-Catholics in their private religious activity, or by its assertion that no one is to be coerced into acting against their conscience in religious matters. What troubles these critics in DH #2 is its teaching that, “within due limits”, no one may be prevented from acting publicly in accord with their conscience in religious matters. This assertion, they claim, is unorthodox and irreconcilable with previous papal teaching, in spite of its recognition that the right to such freedom for public activity is not unlimited.

Now, taking into account the elaboration of those “due limits” which we find in article 7 of the Declaration, this controverted teaching of DH can be synthesized as the following proposition:

P: It is unjust for human authority (Catholic or non-Catholic) to prevent people from publicly acting in accord with their conscience in religious matters, unless such action violates legal norms, based on the objective moral order, that are necessary for safeguarding: (a) the rights of all citizens; (b) public peace; and (c) public morality. (These three factors are said to make up collectively “the basic component of the common good”, otherwise termed “a just public order”. It is important to be aware that DH defines “public order” in terms of these three.)

Now, if indeed P contradicts traditional Catholic doctrine in the way critics of Vatican II claim it does (i.e., by allowing too much civil freedom in religious matters) then the pertinent traditional doctrine would have to have been the following:

P1 It is sometimes just for human authority (Catholic or non-Catholic) to prevent people from publicly acting in accord with their conscience in religious matters even when such activity does not violate any of the three general norms (a), (b) and (c), specified in P.

But P1 was not in fact the Church’s traditional doctrine. It cannot be found – in those words or others implying the same thing – in the pre-conciliar magisterium, ordinary or extraordinary. For the popes of earlier times who sometimes exhorted Catholic rulers to repress all public manifestations of non-Catholic religions would certainly have answered affirmatively, had they been asked whether such manifestations violated one or more of the three norms set out in proposition P above. (We will return to this point below.) Ergo, DH does not contradict the Church’s traditional doctrine.

[. . .]

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which can be seen as giving us an authentic commentary on the meaning of DH, reinforces this by asserting, with a footnote reference to Leo XIII’s encyclical Libertas, that “[t]he right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error” (#2109).

[. . .]

Indeed, other approved traditional theologians (e.g., Suárez, Von Ketteler, and even Pope Gregory the Great) foreshadowed Vatican II to some extent by saying that Catholic civil authorities are obliged by the requirements of justice(not merely of prudence) to tolerate the worship of at least unbaptized monotheists – mainly Jews and Muslims – carried out in synagogues, mosques, or other places of public worship.6

[According to such theologians, neither civil nor ecclesiastical Christian authorities have any jurisdiction over the unbaptized in their religious activities, as long as these do not include practices contrary to what is knowable by reason and natural law, such as idolatry and polytheism. The Jews were considered ‘off limits’ for Christian authorities for an additional reason, namely, that their providential continued existence as a distinct religious community left them as living witnesses – independent of, and even hostile to, the Church herself – to her own historical origins and to the historical truth of both Old and New Testaments.]

[. . .]

Vatican II’s position is not so liberal as to deny that under certain past circumstances, the public manifestation of erroneous religious ideas and practices could have been, as such, a justly punishable threat to the common good of society (that is, it would jeopardize the rights of other citizens, and/or public peace, and/or public morality).

In short, the pre-conciliar and conciliar doctrines respectively are not so ‘absolute’ as to exclude and contradict each other. The perennial common thread in the Church’s doctrine, from ancient times until now, has been that, on the one hand, those persons outside the Church, especially those presumed to be invincibly ignorant of the truth of Catholicism, have a right to some degree of civil religious freedom (e.g., at the very least, non-Christians should never be coerced into baptism and Church membership, and should enjoy civil freedom to teach their religion privately to their own children), but that on the other hand, the State also has the right to impose some limitations on the spread of harmful and dangerous ideas in the interests of the common good of society. So there are two poles here, ‘positive’ and ‘negative’, that need to be kept in equilibrium: respect for erring consciences (toleration) and the need to prevent the spread of the most dangerous propaganda.

The difference between old and new has basically been a gradually changing emphasis in the Church’s position. Traditionally she emphasized more the ‘negative’ end of the spectrum – the State’s right to repress error; and from the mid-20th century on, she emphasizes more the human person’s right to immunity from coercion. Changes of emphasis, however – even to the extent of making the rule what was once the exception – are not contradictions. What we have here, rather, are changing prudential judgments as to where to find the right balance between necessary freedom and just restraint.

***

Photo credit:  Burning of Jan Hus at the stake, from Matthäus Merian (1593-1650), Historische Chronica…, Frankfurt am Main 1630 [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

***

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]

***

July 17, 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:

*****

8.  The same Constitution Dei Verbum seems to eliminate the usual distinction between Tradition and Scripture (DV 9-10).

9.   The concept of Tradition is never expressly defined; its relationship with Scripture is not made clear (DV 9), nor its relationship with the Tradition of the “Eastern Churches” (Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum 1). In addition, there appears a concept of a “live” or “living tradition” (DV 8) which is nebulous and ambiguous, since, as Msgr. Gherardini emphasizes, “it lends itself to introducing every sort of novelty into the Church, even the most contradictory, as expressions of her life.”

#9 is easily disposed of and need not detain us very long. This is simply development of doctrine, which is expressly stated in section 8 of Dei Verbum:

This tradition which comes from the Apostles develop in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. (5) For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (see Luke, 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through Episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. 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.

Development of doctrine has a long and noble, orthodox pedigree (as I’ve documented), including St. Vincent of Lerins, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas. Pope St. Pius X condemned evolution of dogma, which is an entirely different thing from (Newmanian) development of doctrine. This holy pope enthusiastically endorsed Blessed Cardinal Newman’s thinking on development. For much more on this whole area, see my web page and book about it.

Of course legitimate Catholic tradition is living. That this has to even be argued at all is a great marvel and sad thing. It is the dead traditions of men that Jesus and Paul vigorously condemned. Jesus used phrases to describe this dead tradition in contrast to true sacred tradition, such as “your tradition,” “precepts of men,” “tradition of men” (see, e.g., Mt 15:3-9 and Mk 7:8-13). St. Paul draws this same distinction in Colossians 2:8 (“. . . empty deceit, according to human tradition, . . . and not according to Christ“).

#8 is quite a sweeping (and absurd) judgment about a beautiful portion of the Second Vatican Council: a statement that is as good and eloquent as any regarding the Catholic rule of faith, the “three-legged stool” of Bible, Tradition, and Church. Here it is, with the footnotes inserted, in green:

9. Hence there exists a close connection and communication between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture. For both of them, flowing from the same divine wellspring, in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end. For Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit, while sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity, so that led by the light of the Spirit of truth, they may in proclaiming it preserve this word of God faithfully, explain it, and make it more widely known. Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed. Therefore both sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of loyalty and reverence. (6)

[cf. Council of Trent, session IV, loc. cit.: Denzinger 783 (1501).] [link to Trent, Session IV]

10. Sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church. Holding fast to this deposit the entire holy people united with their shepherds remain always steadfast in the teaching of the Apostles, in the common life, in the breaking of the bread and in prayers (see Acts 2, 42, Greek text), so that holding to, practicing and professing the heritage of the faith, it becomes on the part of the bishops and faithful a single common effort.  (7)

[cf. Pius XII, apostolic constitution, “Munificentissimus Deus,” Nov. 1, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950) p. 756; Collected Writings of St. Cyprian, Letter 66, 8: Hartel, III, B, p. 733: “The Church [is] people united with the priest and the pastor together with his flock.”]

But the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on, (8)

[cf. First Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chap. 3 “On Faith:” Denzinger 1792 (3011).]

has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, (9)

[cf. Pius XII, encyclical “Humani Generis,” Aug. 12, 1950: A.A.S. 42 (1950) pp. 568-69: Denzinger 2314 (3886).]

whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ. This teaching office is not above the word of God, but serves it, teaching only what has been handed on, listening to it devoutly, guarding it scrupulously and explaining it faithfully in accord with a divine commission and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it draws from this one deposit of faith everything which it presents for belief as divinely revealed.

It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the one Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls. [from the Holy See translation]

There is plenty here that distinguishes between Scripture and tradition. Similarities are stressed, but differences are also present (they are not presented as identical, at all):

“close connection and communication between

“in a certain way merge into a unity and tend toward the same end

“Sacred Scripture is the word of God inasmuch as it is consigned to writing under the inspiration of the divine Spirit”

“sacred tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity”

“. . . the word of God, whether written or handed on, . . . ”

“sacred tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others

each in its own way . . . contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.”

In particular, I would highlight the sentence: “Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed.” This certainly expresses a sharp contrast between Sacred Scripture and sacred tradition. What would be some examples of doctrines which are not in Scripture at all (at least not explicitly or beyond all question)? The canon of Scripture, and the Bodily Assumption and Immaculate Conception of Mary are three: so I would contend.

The Bible never mentions which books ought to be included in the Bible. That was determined by Church tradition. Dei Verbum mentions this in section 8: “Through the same tradition the Church’s full canon of the sacred books is known . . .” Not all books are self-evidently inspired or self-evidently canonical. Sometimes, authors were not even aware that they were writing Holy Scripture (or that their writing was inspired by the Holy Spirit).

The Bible mentions a few examples of persons who went to heaven (like Enoch and Elijah) without having died (even bodily), so there are arguments for the Assumption from analogy, and Revelation 12 arguably strongly implies it, too, but there is no express statement of Mary’s Assumption.

Likewise, there is no explicit indication for Mary’s Immaculate Conception. It’s an inference. One can build a linguistic argument for Mary’s sinlessness (the essential idea of the Immaculate Conception) from Luke 1:28, and other analogies can be drawn, but there is no verse even remotely stating or even implying, “Mary was immaculate and sinless and also free from original sin from the moment of her conception.” But the Immaculate Conception, like the Assumption, is harmonious with biblical revelation. It doesn’t contradict anything in it. Catholics believe that the course of sacred tradition and centuries of pondering on Holy Scripture have revealed both doctrines to be true.

Therefore, it’s obvious on these grounds and others, that sacred tradition can be (and is, in Dei Verbum) distinguished from Sacred Scripture, since there are doctrines that were primarily or solely developed by the former and not explicitly present in the latter.

Arguably, Dei Verbum 9-10 draws a greater distinction between Scripture and Tradition than Trent, Session IV, in the sentence I have already focused on: “Consequently it is not from Sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything which has been revealed.”

Trent didn’t phrase it that starkly. It simply affirmed: “this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions . . .” It didn’t explain the exact relationship between the two. Vatican I cited this portion verbatim and didn’t really add to it. It was left for Vatican II to express more articulately (and in my humble opinion, in a more beautiful and moving manner). Vatican II made more clear both the distinction between sacred tradition and Sacred Scripture, and the commonalities.

The notions of “same divine wellspring” or “one sacred deposit of the word of God” was expressed in essence by St. Augustine (354-430):

Remember that one alone is the discourse of God which unfolds in all sacred Scripture, and one alone is the word which resounds on the lips of all the holy writers. (Enarrationes in Psalmos, 103, IV, 1: PL 37, 1378; cited by Pope Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini [2010], 18, footnote 64)

In fact, neither Trent nor Vatican II definitively dealt with the exact relationship between Scripture and tradition. Trent — contrary to much anti-Catholic polemics — did not dogmatize the “partim-partim” interpretation (i.e., that Catholic truths are revealed partly in Scripture and partly in tradition). Nor did Vatican II dogmatize the material sufficiency viewpoint. Catholics were free, then as now, to hold either.

Moreover, the idea of the “word of God” being a larger category, including both Scripture and tradition, was taken (as indicated by the footnote) straight from Vatican I in 1870: Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic Faith, Chapter III: “Of Faith”:

Further, all those things are to be believed with divine and Catholic faith which are contained in the Word of God, written or handed down, and which the Church, either by a solemn judgment, or by her ordinary and universal teaching (magisterium), proposes for belief as having been divinely revealed.

Fr. Brian W. Harrison wrote about how nothing regarding the Catholic doctrine of tradition and the rule of faith had essentially changed between Trent and Vatican II. There is no discontinuity — let alone rupture — here. Neither council closed discussion on the issue, and neither went to the “extreme” of partim-partim, on the one hand, or required material sufficiency of Scripture on the other:

[S]ome Fathers were anxious to have a more general and explicit statement to the effect that Scripture and Tradition are two independent ways by which the one deposit of faith is transmitted to us. The essential question at issue was once again that of the ‘material sufficiency’ (or insufficiency) of Scripture. All the Council Fathers were agreed that Tradition must be taken into account when interpreting the Scriptures. But are all Catholic beliefs (prescinding from those concerning Scripture itself) at least materially contained in Scripture? Since it became clear quite early on that there was no possibility of arriving at a consensus on this disputed point, the drafting Commission, which was divided within itself over this issue, decided to avoid carefully either one opinion or the other, so as to leave the matter completely free for further discussion by theologians.

Nevertheless, a significant minority of Fathers continued to urge strongly that the text should explicitly dissociate the Church’s position from the ‘sola Scriptura’ principle of the Reformation; and as the debates drew to a close in September 1965, 111 Fathers asked the Commission to insert between the words diffundant and Quapropter in article 9 (dealing with the relation between Scripture and Tradition) a clause asserting that not every Catholic doctrine could be directly proved from Scripture. . . .

[B]y specifying Tradition as our means of knowing the complete canon of Scripture, the text clearly leans toward the view — although without rigorously implying it — that this revealed truth, at least, comes to us exclusively through Tradition. . . .  Thanks to Pope Paul’s timely intervention, however, the final text stressed that the Church’s “certainty” about her articles of faith does not always come from “Scripture alone.” Without the insertion he requested, the text might well have been open to the ‘protestantizing’ interpretation that the Church may need to revise her certainty regarding a number of doctrines — including even solemnly defined ones such as the Blessed Virgin’s bodily Assumption or the legitimacy of venerating images — which, by common consent, are not taught clearly or explicitly in Scripture. We can thus see in Paul’s intervention in the conciliar proceedings an important historical instance of Peter ‘confirming his brethren in the faith’ (cf. Lk. 22: 32) . . . (“Paul VI on Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium,” Roman Theological Forum: Living Tradition, November 2013)

In conclusion, Vatican II did not subvert the usual course of doctrinal development with regard to tradition and the rule of faith at all. It simply continued the ongoing theological analysis of the relationship between Scripture, tradition, and the Church.

***

Photo credit: Eadwine the Scribe at Work, c. 1147, anonymous; Canterbury, England [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

***

July 16, 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:

*****

7.   Paragraph 11.2 of the Dogmatic Constitution On Divine Revelation Dei Verbum may be interpreted as if implying the denial of the dogma of the absolute inerrancy of the Sacred Texts, because it affirms that “the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation.” The expression “without error” can in fact be interpreted as referring only to the “truth” revealed “for our salvation” [nostrae salutis causa]; that is, only regarding religious and moral precepts only.

Here my work is done for me, in an article by Fr. Brian W. Harrison (himself a traditionalist), entitled “The Truth and Salvific Purpose of Sacred Scripture, According to Dei Verbum, Article 11″ (Roman Theological Forum, July 1995). He thoroughly demolishes the above interpretation of the text, in this marvelous piece of traditional defense of Vatican II.

His stellar and in-depth work on this question is a wonderful illustration of a maxim that I would apply to this entire series of mine: “Yes, there were theological liberals / modernists / dissidents at Vatican II, but God saw to it that their nefarious efforts to undercut Catholic tradition and orthodoxy failed, and that the final texts were orthodox.” Here is a prime example of that very thing. God was and is in control, and the liberals were a tiny minority.

All of the words below are his (I won’t bother to indent everything), excepting the very end, where I cite footnote 5 from Dei Verbum 11.2; footnotes will be in green, and incorporated into the flow of the text. Line breaks imply a break in the text:

*****

In the Vatican II Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, we find in article 11 a relatively short but very vital sentence regarding the consequences of the Bible’s divine inspiration. It is significant that the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in reproducing this sentence, places it in the context of a section (“Inspiration and the Truth of Sacred Scripture,” Nos. 105-108) which begins by stressing the Bible’s divine authorship over its human authorship. The first words in No. 105 are italicized: “God is the author of Sacred Scripture.” The sentence of Dei Verbum, §11, which interests us is then quoted in No. 107: “Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures.”

[ . . .]

In other words, the Council is saying that our salvation is the purpose God had in mind in giving us biblical truth – and this is certainly what the Church has always taught.

[ . . .]

The other last-minute change agreed on by the Commission is not only less obvious, but has been sadly neglected in the commentaries of liberal post-conciliar theologians. Nevertheless, this amendment – or rather, group of amendments – is of vital importance. Further quotations from the Fathers and the Church’s Magisterium were included in footnote 5 at the end of the key sentence, 10 in order to provide an authentic interpretation.

[Footnote 10: This is note 31 in W.M. Abbott (ed.), The Documents of Vatican II (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1967), p. 119.]

These quotations, as will be shown, make it clearer than ever that Vatican II cannot legitimately be understood as being open to the view which the German-speaking bishops had previously advocated, namely, that Scripture can err in matters of science and history. I say “clearer than ever,” because, even before these final additions were made, the quotations already included in footnote 5 from the great biblical encyclicals Providentissimus Deus of Leo XIII (1893) and Divino afflante Spiritu of Pius XII (1943) plainly rule out Scriptural errors in these or any other matters. These already-existing footnote references are worth considering. From Divino afflante Spiritu the following passage had already been quoted:

The first and greatest care of Leo XIII was to set forth the teaching on the truth of the Sacred Books and to defend it from attack. Hence with grave words did he proclaim that there is no error whatsoever if the sacred writer, speaking of things of the physical order, “went by what sensibly appeared” as the Angelic Doctor says, speaking either “in figurative language, or in terms which were commonly used at the time, and which in many instances are in daily use at this day, even among the most eminent men of science.” For “the sacred writers, or to speak more accurately – the words are St. Augustine’s – the Holy Spirit, Who spoke by them, did not intend to teach men these things – that is, the intimate constitution of visible things – which are in no way profitable to salvation”; which principle “will apply to cognate sciences, and especially to history,” that is, by refuting, “in a somewhat similar way the fallacies of the adversaries and defending the historical truth of Sacred Scripture from their attacks.” Nor is the sacred writer to be taxed with error, if “copyists have made mistakes in the text of the Bible,” or, “if the real meaning of a passage remains ambiguous.” Finally, it is absolutely wrong and forbidden “either to narrow inspiration to certain passages of Holy Scripture, or to admit that the sacred writer has erred,” since divine inspiration “not only is essentially incompatible with error but excludes and rejects it as absolutely and necessarily as it is impossible that God Himself, the supreme Truth, can utter that which is not true. This is the ancient and constant faith of the Church. 11

[Footnote 11: Encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu, 30 September 1943, EB 539 (emphasis added). This is §3 of the English translation used here, found in Rome and the Study of Scripture (Grail Publications, 1953), pp. 79-107, which is reproduced in Claudia Carlen (ed.), The Papal Encyclicals 1939-1958 (McGrath Publishing Co., 1981), pp. 65-79. I have altered this translation in one expression, rendering intimam adspectabilium rerum constitutionem more literally as “the intimate constitution of visible things.”]

It is certainly arguable that by the last sentence in this quotation Pope Leo XIII, and Pope Pius XII who is quoting and confirming him, are in effect proclaiming that the absolute freedom from error of Sacred Scripture – including its treatment of science and history – is an infallible, de fide teaching of the ordinary Magisterium. 12

[Footnote 12: Cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, §25.]

The footnote to Dei Verbum, §11, which we are considering also referred already – that is, before the final amendments – to the paragraph EB 124, from Providentissimus Deus, which, in addition to the points quoted by Pius XII in the above passage of Divino afflante Spiritu, contains another admonition which is also highly pertinent to the conciliar debates over the difficulties raised by apparent errors in scientific or historical matters:

For the system of those who, in order to rid themselves of these difficulties, do not hesitate to concede that divine inspiration regards the things of faith and morals, and nothing beyond, because (as they wrongly think) in a question of the truth or falsehood of a passage, we should consider not so much what God has said as the reason and purpose which he had in saying it – this system cannot be tolerated. 13

[Footnote 13: This is from §20 of the English translation in The Tablet, 83 (January 6, 1894), reproduced in Carlen (ed.), op. cit., volume with 1878-1903 encyclicals, pp. 325-339. Before Leo XIII published his magna carta for biblical studies, the papal Magisterium had never intervened explicitly regarding the precise extent of biblical inspiration and inerrancy, with the result that there was honest uncertainty about this even among a few great and orthodox theologians. No less than Cardinal Newman, in 1883, became involved in a famous debate in the pages of The Nineteenth Century, after venturing the opinion that the least important statements in Scripture might not be divinely inspired, and hence, not immune from error. An Irish bishop-theologian, Dr. Healy, rebutted Newman on the basis of the consensus of the Fathers and Doctors. Today nobody has heard of Healy, but it was recognized after the publication of Providentissimus Deus that on this point he had been right and Newman wrong. Cf. J. MacRory, “The Nature and Extent of Inspiration,” The Irish Ecclesiastical Record, Vol. XVI, March 1895, pp. 193-208.]

What, now, were the additional authoritative statements included in the final version of the Vatican II footnote which made it even clearer, as we have said, that the Council was not to be understood as allowing for the view that Scripture can err on certain matters? As regards science, the main additional reference was to the paragraph EB 121 of Providentissimus Deus, part of which had already been cited indirectly in the footnote by virtue of its inclusion in the paragraph EB 539 from Divino afflante Spiritu which we have reproduced above. But, as well as what Pius XII had selected from that paragraph of his predecessor’s encyclical, it contains a passage in which Leo XIII confirms St. Augustine’s explicit negation of the possibility of any scientific error in Scripture:

No real dissension will ever arise between the scientist and the theologian, provided each stays within the proper bounds of his discipline, carefully observing St. Augustine’s admonition ‘not to assert rashly as known what is in fact unknown.’ But if some dispute should arise, the same Doctor sums up the rule to be followed by the theologian: ‘If they have been able to demonstrate some truth of natural science with solid proofs, let us show that it is not contrary to our Scriptures; but if they maintain anything in any of their treatises which is contrary to Scripture (that is, to the Catholic Faith), let us believe without hesitation that it is completely false, and, if possible, find a way of refuting it.’ 14

[Footnote 14: “Nulla quidem theologum inter et physicum vera dissensio intercesserit, dum suis uterque finibus se contineant, id caventes, secundum S. Augustini monitum, ‘ne aliquid temere et incognitum pro cognito asserant.’ Sin tamen dissenserint, quemadmodum se gerat theologus, summatim est regula ab eodem oblata: ‘Quidquid, inquit, ipsi de natura rerum veracibus documentis demonstrare potuerint, ostendamus nostris Litteris non esse contrarium; quidquid autem de quibuslibet suis voluminibus his nostris Litteris, idest catholicæ fidei, contrarium protulerint, aut aliqua etiam facultate ostendamus, aut nulla dubitatione credamus esse falsissimum‘” (EB 121 – present writer’s translation).]

The other added reference from Providentissimus Deus is the passage EB 126-127. In the first of these two paragraphs Pope Leo cites Augustine and Gregory the Great to the effect that God takes full responsibility for everything written in Scripture, so that “those who claim that anything false can be contained in authentic passages of the Sacred Books either pervert the Catholic notion of divine inspiration, or make God Himself the author of error.” 15

[Footnote 15: “Consequitur, ut qui in locis authenticis Librorum sacrorum quidpiam falsi contineri posse existiment, ii profecto aut catholicam divinæ inspirationis notionem pervertant, aut Deum ipsum erroris faciant auctorem” (Providentissimus DeusEB 126 – present writer’s translation).]

In the second paragraph, EB 127, the Pope refers to an obvious corollary of this absolute freedom from error, namely, the necessary absence of self-contradiction in Scripture. Vatican II thus makes its own Leo XIII’s appeal for exegetes to continue following the example of the Fathers and Doctors in painstakingly striving to reconcile apparent contradictions which might be found in the Bible. This is further unmistakable evidence that the Council’s teaching on the truth of Scripture does not allow for the existence of historical errors in the Bible, because the majority of apparent or alleged contradictions within Scripture are in fact to be found in its historical books. The key sentence reads:

All the Fathers and Doctors were so utterly convinced that the original versions of the divine Scriptures are absolutely immune from all error that they laboured with no less ingenuity than devotion to harmonize and reconcile those many passages which might seem to involve some contradiction or discrepancy (and they are nearly always the same ones which today are thrust at us in the name of modern scholarship). 16

[Footnote 16: “Atque adeo Patribus omnibus et Doctoribus persuasissimum fuit, divinas Litteras, quales ab hagiographis editæ sunt, ab omni omnino errore esse immunes, ut propterea non pauca illa, quæ contrarii aliquid vel dissimile viderentur afferre (eademque fere sunt quæ nomine novæ scientiæ nunc obiiciunt) non subtiliter minus quam religiose componere inter se et conciliare studuerint” (EB 127 – present writer’s translation). It is sad to note that the accuracy of Pope Leo’s parenthesized remark was unwittingly verified by the spokesman for a whole group of bishops at Vatican II (cf. n. 4 above).]

[. . .]

In short, when we take into account the official explanations of the text, Pope Paul VI’s intervention and the reason for it, and the significance of the footnotes, the true meaning of Dei Verbum, §11, becomes clear. We cannot take the reference to “salvation” as implying that some things affirmed by the inspired writers in Scripture are not there “for the sake of our salvation,” and so may contain errors. Rather, the Council means to reaffirm the perennial teaching of the Popes, Fathers and Doctors, namely, that every affirmation of those writers – on any subject whatever – has God for its principal author, and is therefore endowed with both the qualities under discussion: necessary truth and salvific relevance. Even seemingly unimportant statements of fact (many historical details in the Old Testament, for instance) are there “for the sake of our salvation”: not because, when taken in isolation, they always tell us something we must know or practice in order to gain eternal life (faith and morals or “revelation” in the strict sense); but because cumulatively they make up larger narratives which teach us the story of God’s interaction with his chosen people, culminating in the sending of His Son as the incarnate Savior. In this sense, all biblical history is salvation history.
*
[. . .]
*
[I]t goes without saying that the teaching of article 11 of Dei Verbum on biblical inerrancy needs to be considered in conjunction with what is said in article 12 about the importance of discerning the inspired writer’s true intention and the literary genre he is employing. If there are solid arguments drawn from literary criticism to show that a non-historical genre is being used in a particular book or passage – for instance, the expression of didactic teaching in the garb of narrative prose – then, clearly, not all the individual propositions in such prose have to be defended as historically true. However, this principle of ‘non-historical genres,’ like the use of narcotic drugs, is something which should be resorted to only sparingly and in small doses if it is not to be transformed rapidly from a procedure which promotes health into one which destroys it.
*
[. . .]
*
Closely related to the question of literary genres is that of what Vatican II means, precisely, by emphasizing that it is only what the biblical writers truly “affirm” which is guaranteed to be free from error. “Affirm” as opposed to what? Certainly the Council cannot mean (as some commentators seem to suppose) that only what the inspired authors “affirm,” as opposed to what they merely “state,” is immune from the possibility of error. The absolute and categorical rejection of all error which Leo XIII and Pius XII insist upon, along with their insistence that inspiration cannot be “narrowed to certain passages,” in effect rules out the opinion that, while an inspired author cannot indeed err when he makes an affirmation (assertio), he may lapse into error when he makes a mere statement (enuntiatio); that is, when he writes that something is, was, or will be the case with less emphasis or deliberation than is characteristic of a full-fledged affirmation. For God is equally the author of all Scripture, and He can no more be the author of erroneous statements than of erroneous affirmations. God does not – indeed, cannot – make minor mistakes in passing, or when He is speaking of matters of secondary importance. . . .
*
[I]n the paragraph immediately preceding that sentence on biblical inerrancy whose meaning we are discussing in this essay, the Council recalls that the Magisterium has explicitly disqualified, as a proposed means of solving apologetic problems, any appeal to an alleged distinction between a biblical author’s “affirmations” and his mere “statements.” In clarifying what we are to understand by the de fide truth that the books of the Old and New Testaments, “entire and in all their parts … have God as their author,” the conciliar Fathers refer us in the footnote to two decisions (of the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1915 and the Holy Office in 1923) which state that, according to “the Catholic dogma of the inspiration and inerrancy of the Sacred Scriptures, … everything affirmed, stated, or implied by the sacred writers must be held as affirmed, stated or implied by the Holy Spirit.” 49
*
[Footnote 49: “… dogmate item catholico de inspiratione et inerrantia sacrarum Scripturarum, quo omne id, quod hagiographus asserit, enuntiat, insinuat, retineri debet assertum, enuntiatum, insinuatum a Spiritu Sancto.” Cf. DS 3629, EB 420 (415 in 1994 edn.) and EB 499, respectively, cited in n. 1 to Dei Verbum, 11, (emphasis added in translation). (The latter passage cites and reaffirms the former.) Apart from these strictly dogmatic considerations, the practical exegetical difficulty of determining with any certainty which of an author’s propositions should be considered “affirmed,” and which merely “stated,” would in any case render this distinction wide open to abuse. To the addictive habit of ‘genre abuse’ among Catholic exegetes we should soon have to add that of ‘affirmation abuse.’]
*
This is also implicit in Vatican II’s express assertion in the main text (quoting Leo XIII) that although the inspired writers acted as “true authors,” they wrote down “all those things and only those things which God wanted.” And God could no more “want” a false “statement” to be written down than a false “affirmation.” . . .
*
[W]hen physical or historical matters are in question, one cannot require from the Bible, as a condition of its inerrancy, the same kind of precision in detail, or exactitude in terminology, as one would require in a textbook of natural science or history – particularly a modern academic text.
*
[. . .]
*
The teaching of Vatican Council II in Dei Verbum, 11, is thus in complete harmony with the traditional Catholic understanding of the revealed truth that the books of Scripture are inspired by God and free from all error. When properly understood, this teaching also clarifies the hermeneutical criteria which need to be kept in mind in order to defend this dogma in its traditional sense. It is unfortunate and ironic that some scholars who are quick to claim the backing of Vatican II for their opinion that the biblical authors sometimes err (at least in their ‘statements’ if not in their ‘affirmations’ or ‘teachings’) are found to defend this opinion by appealing to that very text which anticipates and refutes it: the text, that is, which reminds us that, since biblical truth was given to us “for the sake of our salvation,” and not in order to teach us natural science or history for their own sakes, Sacred Scripture cannot fairly be judged to be in error when it sometimes presents historical or scientific truth in a less complete, less detailed, more popular, or more imprecise (i.e., merely approximate) fashion than would be acceptable in modern texts dedicated formally to those disciplines.
*****
Footnote 5 from Dei Verbum 11.2:
5. cf. St. Augustine, “Gen. ad Litt.” 2, 9, 20:PL 34, 270-271; Epistle 82, 3: PL 33, 277: CSEL 34, 2, p. 354. St. Thomas, “On Truth,” Q. 12, A. 2, C.Council of Trent, session IV, Scriptural Canons: Denzinger 783 (1501). Leo XIII, encyclical “Providentissimus Deus:” EB 121, 124, 126-127. Pius XII, encyclical “Divino Afflante Spiritu:” EB 539.
*
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Photo credit: Page from the Epistle to Titus in a Gutenberg Bible (c. 1455). The Bodleian Libraries, Oxford [Wikimedia Commons /  Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license]
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July 15, 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:

*****

6.  The definition of the Church given by LG 8.2 and later specified in LG 15, UR 3 and UR 15.1, affirms that the Church of Christ “subsists” in the Catholic Church and also that “many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward Catholic unity.” This is an entirely new definition, which seems to extend the concept of the Church of Christ to also include all the heretics and schismatics, thus exposing itself to the accusation of heresy in the formal sense, because it implies the negation of the dogma of the unicity of the Roman Apostolic Catholic Church (the one and only true Church of Christ) for salvation.

I cite the Wikipedia article,Subsistit in:

According to some, to say the Church of Christ “subsists in” the Catholic Church introduces a distinction between the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church. Catholic teaching had traditionally, until then, stated unequivocally that “the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing”, as Pope Pius XII expressed it in his 1950 encyclical Humani generis, 27). The teaching of Pope Pius XII on the identity of the Mystical Body and the Catholic Church in Mystici corporis was solemn, theologically integrated, but not new.

A supposed reversal of Mystici corporis by the Ecumenical Council, which incorporated virtually all teachings of Pius XII in over 250 references without caveats, would have not only been a rejection of a major teaching of the late Pontiff. It would have raised serious questions regarding the reliability and nature of Papal teachings on such essential topics like the Church. It would have also constituted a major attack on the most recent encyclical teachings of the then reigning Pope Paul VI, who had just issued his inaugural encyclical Ecclesiam suam, on “The Church”. Paul VI quoted Mystici corporis from Pius XII verbatim: . . .

Therefore, the Church states that the phrase “subsists in” of Vatican II does not undermine the preceding manner of expressing the identity of the “Church of Christ” and the “Catholic Church”, since, as John XXIII said when he opened Vatican II, “The Council… wishes to transmit Catholic doctrine, whole and entire, without alteration or deviation” (speech of 11 October 1962).

Pope Paul VI when promulgating the Constitution, said the same.

[Footnote:  “There is no better comment to make than to say that this promulgation really changes nothing of the traditional doctrine. What Christ willed, we also will. What was, still is. What the Church has taught down through the centuries, we also teach.” (Speech at the promulgation of the Constitution on the Church and the Decrees on the Eastern Churches and Ecumenism): 11-21-64]

The Council teaches that Christ “established… here on earth” a single Church “as an entity with visible delineation… constituted and organized in the world as a society”, a Church that has “a social structure” that “serves the spirit of Christ” in a way somewhat similar to how “the assumed nature, inseparably united to him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation”. It is this concrete visible organized Church, endowed with a social structure, that the Council says “subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him.” [Lumen gentium, 8]

In another document promulgated on the same day (21 November 1964) as Lumen gentium, the Council did in fact refer to “the Holy Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ” (Decree Orientalium ecclesiarum, 2). Here the traditional conventional expression “is” is used, whose clarity can be used to interpret the potential ambiguity of the other phrase.

It is also to the Catholic Church, not to some supposed distinct “Church of Christ”, that has been entrusted “the fullness of grace and of truth” that gives value to the other Churches and communities that the Holy Spirit uses as instruments of salvation, [Unitatis redintegratio, 3] though the Church of Christ is not said to subsist in any of them.

In fact, the Council combined the two terms “Church of Christ” and “Catholic Church” into a single term, “Christ’s Catholic Church” in its Decree on Ecumenism, promulgated at the same time as its Constitution on the Church. [Unitatis redintegratio, 3] ]

We saw in the previous installment that “no salvation outside the Church was reiterated by Vatican II in Lumen Gentium and is quite as intact as it ever was:

14. This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism (124) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. (Ch. II, 14.1-2)

Footnote:

124 Cf. Mk. 16:16; Jn. 3.5.

 

Catholic apologist Nick Hardesty comments:

The Second Vatican Council is merely wishing to clarify that the Church’s teaching on this (and there have been many strict expressions of it, besides what we see from Florence) is not meant to condemn those who are non-Catholic through no fault of their own. It’s important to point out that Lumen Gentium is not the first time we find a broad expression of the teaching on salvation outside the Church.

Pius IX, in Quanto Conficiamur Moerore of August 10, 1863, taught:

7. [. . .] There are, of course, those who are struggling with invincible ignorance about our most holy religion. Sincerely observing the natural law and its precepts inscribed by God on all hearts and ready to obey God, they live honest lives and are able to attain eternal life by the efficacious virtue of divine light and grace. Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.

8. Also well known is the Catholic teaching that no one can be saved outside the Catholic Church. Eternal salvation cannot be obtained by those who oppose the authority and statements of the same Church and are stubbornly separated from the unity of the Church and also from the successor of Peter, the Roman Pontiff, to whom “the custody of the vineyard has been committed by the Savior.” [. . .]

On August 9, 1949, the Holy Office condemned (here) the error of Leonard Feeney who held that those who failed to enter the Church formally, even with no fault of their own, could not reach salvation. The decree says (numbering is mine):

12. [. . .]Therefore, that one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is necessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing.

13. However, this desire need not always be explicit, as it is in catechumens; but when a person is involved in invincible ignorance God accepts also an implicit desire, so called because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wishes his will to be conformed to the will of God.

Pius XII had said that a man can be “ordered to the Church by a certain desire and wish of which he is not aware,” that is, the one contained in the good dispositions mentioned by the Holy Office (cf. Mystici Corporis, no. 103)

(“No Salvation Outside the Church: Council of Florence vs. Second Vatican Council”, Phat Catholic Apologetics, 10-23-12)

Matthew 23:23-24 (RSV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.  [24] You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”

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Photo credit: [Max PixelCreative Commons Zero – CC0]

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July 12, 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:

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5.  The notion of the Church contained in the tortuous article 1 of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium stands out [as different from the Tradition], presented as “a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race,” without any mention of the supernatural end of the Church, that is the salvation of souls, the one thing that justifies her existence.

This is sheer nonsense. It’s as if Dr. Pasqualucci is reading a different document from the rest of us: seeing things in it that aren’t there, and not seeing what is in fact there. Words have to be interpreted in context: immediate context, context of the entire document, and the larger doctrine and Sacred Tradition of the Church.

Here is Chapter I, section 1. Highlighted in blue is the portion that Dr. Pasqualucci objects to. In green are the parts that precisely discuss what he claims is missing: the “supernatural end” or mission of the Church: “the salvation of souls”:

1. Christ is the Light of nations. Because this is so, this Sacred Synod gathered together in the Holy Spirit eagerly desires, by proclaiming the Gospel to every creature, (1) to bring the light of Christ to all men, a light brightly visible on the countenance of the Church. Since the Church is in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race, it desires now to unfold more fully to the faithful of the Church and to the whole world its own inner nature and universal mission. This it intends to do following faithfully the teaching of previous councils. The present-day conditions of the world add greater urgency to this work of the Church so that all men, joined more closely today by various social, technical and cultural ties, might also attain fuller unity in Christ.

Footnote:

1 Cf. Mk. 16:15.

Mark 16:15 (RSV) And he said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.”

I feel like that old commercial: “where’s the beef?”  Didn’t he read the green-highlighted parts? How can he possibly make the claim that he does? In this case, the elements that he decries as not present are all over the place in the very same paragraph from which he chose one “objectionable” clause of one sentence. It’s like Twilight Zone . . .

Now I have to spend time (feeling quite silly at the necessity), searching the document for these elements that Dr. Pasqualucci doesn’t see, in his apparent blindness to the innumerable “pro-traditional” aspects of Lumen Gentium, and his seeming inability to exercise the extraordinary function of the word-search.

The word “salvation” appears in the document and its footnotes 44 times. I can’t and need not (for brevity’s sake) post all 44, but I will highlight the ones most relevant to this refutation:

Just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and persecution, so the Church is called to follow the same route that it might communicate the fruits of salvation to men. (Ch. I, 8.3)

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So it is that that messianic people, although it does not actually include all men, and at times may look like a small flock, is nonetheless a lasting and sure seed of unity, hope and salvation for the whole human race. Established by Christ as a communion of life, charity and truth, it is also used by Him as an instrument for the redemption of all, and is sent forth into the whole world as the light of the world and the salt of the earth. (95)

Israel according to the flesh, which wandered as an exile in the desert, was already called the Church of God. (96) So likewise the new Israel which while living in this present age goes in search of a future and abiding city (97) is called the Church of Christ. (98) For He has bought it for Himself with His blood, (99) has filled it with His Spirit and provided it with those means which befit it as a visible and social union. God gathered together as one all those who in faith look upon Jesus as the author of salvation and the source of unity and peace, and established them as the Church that for each and all it may be the visible sacrament of this saving unity. (Ch. II, 9.2-3)

Footnotes:

95 Cf. Mt. 5:13-16.

96 Neh. 13:1; cf. Deut. 23:1 ff; Num. 20:4.

97 Cf. Heb. 13:14.

98 Cf. Mt. 16:18.

99 Cf. Acts 20:28.

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All men are called to be part of this catholic unity of the people of God which in promoting universal peace presages it. And there belong to or are related to it in various ways, the Catholic faithful, all who believe in Christ, and indeed the whole of mankind, for all men are called by the grace of God to salvation. (Ch. II, 13.4)

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14. This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism (124) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

They are fully incorporated in the society of the Church who, possessing the Spirit of Christ accept her entire system and all the means of salvation given to her, and are united with her as part of her visible bodily structure and through her with Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. (Ch. II, 14.1-2)

Footnote:

124 Cf. Mk. 16:16; Jn. 3.5.

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Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, “Preach the Gospel to every creature”, (130) the Church fosters the missions with care and attention. (Ch. II, 16)

Footnote:

130 Mk. 16:16.

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

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17. As the Son was sent by the Father, (131) so He too sent the Apostles, saying: “Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world”. (132) The Church has received this solemn mandate of Christ to proclaim the saving truth from the apostles and must carry it out to the very ends of the earth. (133) Wherefore she makes the words of the Apostle her own: “Woe to me, if I do not preach the Gospel“, (134) and continues unceasingly to send heralds of the Gospel until such time as the infant churches are fully established and can themselves continue the work of evangelizing. For the Church is compelled by the Holy Spirit to do her part that God’s plan may be fully realized, whereby He has constituted Christ as the source of salvation for the whole world. By the proclamation of the Gospel she prepares her hearers to receive and profess the faith. She gives them the dispositions necessary for baptism, snatches them from the slavery of error and of idols and incorporates them in Christ so that through charity they may grow up into full maturity in Christ. Through her work, whatever good is in the minds and hearts of men, whatever good lies latent in the religious practices and cultures of diverse peoples, is not only saved from destruction but is also cleansed, raised up and perfected unto the glory of God, the confusion of the devil and the happiness of man. The obligation of spreading the faith is imposed on every disciple of Christ, according to his state. (21*) Although, however, all the faithful can baptize, the priest alone can complete the building up of the Body in the eucharistic sacrifice. Thus are fulfilled the words of God, spoken through His prophet: “From the rising of the sun until the going down thereof my name is great among the gentiles, and in every place a clean oblation is sacrificed and offered up in my name”. (135) (22*) In this way the Church both prays and labors in order that the entire world may become the People of God, the Body of the Lord and the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and that in Christ, the Head of all, all honor and glory may be rendered to the Creator and Father of the Universe. (Ch. II, 17 [complete] )

Footnotes:

131 Cf. Jn. 20:21.

132 Mt. 2:18-20.

133 Cf. Acts 1:8.

134 I Cor. 9:16.

135 Mal. 1:11

(21)* Cfr. Benedictus XV, Epist. Apost. Maximum illud: AAS 11 (1919) p. 440, praesertim p. 451 ss. Pius XI, Litt. Encycl. Rerum Ecclesiae: AAS 18 (1926) p. 68-69. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Fidei Donum, 21 apr. 1957: AAS 49 (1957) pp. 236-237.

(22)* Cfr. Didache, 14: ed. Funk I, p. 32. S. Iustinus, Dial. 41: PG 6, 564. S. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. IV 17, 5; PG 7, 1023; Harvey, 2, p. 199 s. Conc. Trid., Sess. 22, cap. 1; Denz. 939 (1742).

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24. Bishops, as successors of the apostles, receive from the Lord, to whom was given all power in heaven and on earth, the mission to teach all nations and to preach the Gospel to every creature, so that all men may attain to salvation by faith, baptism and the fulfilment of the commandments. (161) (Ch. III, 24.1)

Footnote:

161 Cf. Mt. 28:18; Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 26:17 ff.

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Upon all the laity, therefore, rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all men of each epoch and in every land. Consequently, may every opportunity be given them so that, according to their abilities and the needs of the times, they may zealously participate in the saving work of the Church. (Ch. IV, 33.4)

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For besides intimately linking them to His life and His mission, He also gives them a sharing in His priestly function of offering spiritual worship for the glory of God and the salvation of men. For this reason the laity, dedicated to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and wonderfully prepared so that ever more abundant fruits of the Spirit may be produced in them. (Ch. IV, 34.2)

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Rising from the dead (240) He sent His life-giving Spirit upon His disciples and through Him has established His Body which is the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation. (Ch. VII, 48.2)

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. . . the Church, in which the divine Redeemer works salvation, . . . (Ch. VIII, 54)

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Matthew 13:13, 15 “. . . seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. . . . [15] For this people’s heart has grown dull,”

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Photo credit: Christ Giving the Keys to St Peter (1598), by Bernardo Castello (1557-1629) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

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