Reconsidering Vatican II

In May 1964, in the middle of the Second Vatican Council, I published a book, The Open Church, an optimistic assessment of the changes in the Catholic Church that I believed the council would produce. I had written it in white-hot haste in my room at the Pensione Baldoni in Rome during a six-week period from the beginning of December 1963 until January 15, 1964 — at the rate, therefore, of about 90 pages per week. That was in a time before word processors, when my trusty portable typewriter (a pale green Royal) was my prize possession. Some days I wrote with gloves on because it was so cold inside the unheated room, and I kept three professional typists busy on various drafts as chapters piled up.

The day I delivered the manuscript to my New York publisher is etched blood-red in my memory. Grim news from home brought me down from the optimistic “spirit of Vatican II.” That shock helped me see in Vatican II the seeds of potential tragedy. “All things human, given enough time, go badly,” I wrote in the book’s frontispiece.

My younger brother Rich, a Holy Cross missionary priest to whom I felt as close as a twin, had been declared missing after a week of rioting among Hindus and Muslims in what is now Bangladesh. The rivers were full of floating bodies. Although his religious superiors scheduled a funeral for him, it was many years before we could obtain firsthand accounts and learn for certain that he was dead. He had taken his bicycle on a mission of mercy, and after he crossed a river on a ferry, a small band of young river pirates fell upon him. Their motive was probably robbery. When he resisted (my brother would resist), they slew him with a knife. He was 28.

The mood at the Second Vatican Council, however, during its four hectic and exciting autumns from 1962 through 1965, was focused not on martyrdom and death but on buoyant hope. Although the victorioius majority of Church reformers styled their conservative foes as “the Party of Triumphalism,” the reformers themselves — and I included myself among their allies — were not without their own spirit of triumphalism. The reader will detect much hubris in The Open Church.

When I arrived in Rome in the autumn of 1963, I certainly did not intend to write a book. I was a 29-year-old graduate student in history and philosophy of religion at Harvard University. I had just married Karen Laub, a printmaker and assistant professor at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, and we decided to use our entire wedding purse to take a leave of absence to be at the council. I was doing freelance reporting for the National Catholic Reporter and Commonweal, two lay Catholic journals, and for any British, Dutch, and other publications that would run my work. The local trattoria offered us a cut rate, and the owner (out of a fondness for Karen) poured us a free glass of Sambuca after every evening meal.

The correspondent for Time magazine that year was the famous Robert Blair Kaiser, and he had won prizes both for overseas reporting and for his book on the first session of the council in 1962. A former seminarian like me, he welcomed Karen and me into his friendship. He later confided to me that he had to leave Rome because of some personal troubles. Unable to complete his contract for a book on the second session, he asked me if I would be willing to take his contract over and said he would recommend it to the publisher, Macmillan. I said, “Sure.” I had no idea how to do a book like that, but it had always been my dream to try.

One strength I had that most reporters lacked was years of theological training. From the autumn of 1947, when I was 14 years old, until the end of December 1959, I had studied happily like my brother in the seminaries of the Holy Cross fathers, including two years of theology at the Gregorian University in Rome from 1956 to 1958. Had I continued my studies, I would have been ordained a priest in May 1960. I had gone through a long struggle before I left the seminary. Just before the end, the darkness I had been experiencing lifted, and I thought I would be ordained as scheduled. But even then, in the peace that I felt, an inner certainty grew that the priesthood was not my vocation.


Present at the Creation

Much that I wrote in The Open Church I learned at the feet of older masters, who one by one died or retired during my years at the Greg. It was a privilege to be present during an axial shift at the center of the Church, having had to master the way of thinking that dominated in Rome for many generations and then to be present four years later at the council that “opened the windows” for the whole Church. My classmates and I experienced in the classroom, in the transition from Sebastian Tromp to Bernard Lonergan and Juan Alfaro, from Francis Hürth to Josef Fuchs (and, across town, Bernard Häring), what the whole Church was to experience four years later at the council.

Journalistically (I worked for Time magazine during the third session in 1964), it was much easier to portray the sheer novelty of the council than to portray its continuities with the past. The news business is in the business of news — novelty — and the public does not go to the press for solid scholarship. Important realities are often distorted, and history itself is significantly falsified. For instance, the era before the council was more like a golden age in Catholic history than the dark age described to an eager press by the post-conciliar “progressives.” There were many glaring deficiencies in it — pointed out in my book — and yet it was in many respects healthier and more faithful to the gospels than much that came later in the name of “progress” and “openness.”

Once the passions of those participating in the council rose — the reader will feel them rise in The Open Church — the victorious majority (the progressives) acquired a vested interest both in stressing new beginnings and in discrediting the leadership and the ways of the past. That emphasis shifted the balance of power in the Church into their hands. To them accrued the glory of all things promising, new, and not yet tried; to their foes accrued the blame for everything wrong. The more power wrested from the old guard, the more massive the power acquired by the reformers. The more the past was discredited, the greater the slack cut for new initiatives and new directions. The politics of the post-conciliar Church in the United States and some parts of Northern Europe became an unfair fight.


Obliterating the Past

Within a decade of the end of the council, every major institution in the American Church and in many others was dominated by the progressives under the sway of “the spirit of Vatican II.” That spirit sometimes soared far beyond the actual hard-won documents and decisions of Vatican II. It was as though some took the Church to be “dis-incarnate,” detached from flesh and history — detached, that is, from Rome and the Vatican, and so far as possible from any concrete local authority. Detached, too, from past tradition and the painful lessons of the past.

It was as though the history of the Church was now to be divided into only two periods, pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II. Everything “pre” was then pretty much dismissed. For the most extreme, to be a Catholic now meant to believe more or less anything one wished to believe. One could be a Catholic “in spirit.” One could take Catholic to mean the “culture” into which one was born rather than a creed making objective and rigorous demands. One could imagine Rome as a distant and irrelevant anachronism, embarrassment, even adversary. One way of putting this is that “nonhistorical orthodoxy” (the cult of an “eternal” Church) was driven out from the center of the Church, only to be replaced in not a few hearts by “neodoxy,” the love of the newest trend. Thus, those we used to call at Vatican II the “prophets of doom” turned out to have had in some respects prudent foresight. As world-weary Romans say, “The odds favor pessimism.”

It is not too much to say that Pope John Paul II rescued Vatican II from disaster. His total awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit at the council, the new Pentecost, suffused Karol Wojtyla’s every action as archbishop, then cardinal, of Krakow and later as universal pastor of the Church. He brought back a sense of incarnation, concreteness, discipline, and practicality, and was an indefatigable theoretician. He gave a thorough and authoritative interpretation of Vatican II.

In a nutshell, Archbishop Wojtyla proposed the following principles for the development of the council (and continued to do so as pope): that the chief ideologies and intellectual currents of modernity are exhausted; that the world needs and seeks a new and authentic universal humanism; and that it is just this humanism that the Church was called into existence to offer. Our Creator and Father wills a civilization of friendship. The Church must open itself to the world, shouting the good news of this highest calling. The Church is the forerunner of human destiny. It must be, to borrow the apt title of George Weigel’s 1999 biography of John Paul II, a “witness to hope.”

Despite the manifest faults, sins, and weak minds of many of us during and after the Second Vatican Council, the Holy Spirit did preside over it and brought the world immense fruits through it. Without the council, we could never have had the enormously important pontificate of John Paul II, and perhaps not the long-hidden but energetic stirrings of Eastern Europe that erupted so magnificently in 1989, the year that showed international communism to be tinkling brass, whistlingly empty.

And yet the very pope who presided (brilliantly, by the way) over the final three sessions of the council, Paul VI, said publicly some few years afterwards that “the smoke of Satan” had filtered into the work of the council, and blown up a mirage of the spirit of Vatican II that had subverted the letter of what the Holy Spirit had wrought, blown the barque of Peter far off course, and tossed her about on stormy seas. A spirit of radical individualism and hatred for the way things had been swept through religious community after religious community, through colleges and universities, through the ranks of priests (and even some bishops, although the latter were more constrained by their close ties to Rome), and eventually through the educated laity. Thus “Vatican II Catholicism” was born. It has not yet been dispassionately evaluated, and its colossal failures have not been weighed against its much-praised successes.

The Good of Vatican II

But new readers of The Open Church would not be well-served if I did not place into perspective the events I recorded in 1963. For instance, at the end of Chapter 15, I wrote:

On the evening of October 30, a nearly full moon bathed St. Peter’s square in such brilliance, such serenity, as was worthy of the greatest day in Roman Catholic history since 1870.” On that day the central vote of Vatican II was taken, indicating a powerful consensus of the assembled 2,100 bishops in favor of a renewed emphasis on the supreme authority of the entire college of bishops united around the world with the pope, thus stressing the collegiality of all bishops, including their center, their servant, and their leader, the bishop of Rome.

How has that final sentence in that crucial chapter held up over these last four decades? Very well, I think.

Without that emphasis on the collegiality of the bishops around the world, there would scarcely have been the effort to select a non-Italian bishop — a Pole from the Eastern bloc — in those dangerous years of the late 1970s when the Soviet empire still seemed to be expanding in Angola, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Yemen, and elsewhere, and the world feared “nuclear winter.” The internationalization of the Roman curia and the regular participation of bishops from around the world in synods, commissions, and committees would not as likely — or at least as quickly — have occurred. Again, even as John Paul II dramatized the international pastoral role of the bishop of Rome by a steady, relentless round of visits to his brother bishops in country after country, each of the public Eucharists in every country he visited celebrated a highly visible collegiality with all the bishops of that country and of many other countries besides. The theology of collegiality first signaled by the consensus of the fathers of the council in five dramatic votes on October 30, 1963, has been witnessed in highly dramatic visual symbols by billions around the world.

Thus, in public perception, the Catholic Church at the beginning of the 21st century is in many ways more vital, more dynamic, and more important than it was at the beginning of 1700, 1800, or 1900. The U.S. ambassador to Italy wrote to Washington circa 1864, and with morose delectation, that he was most assuredly witnessing the last days of the Roman papacy. By the end of the 20th century, U.S. presidents, the most consequential of world leaders, were eager to be televised with the pope, and as frequently as possible, in order to bask in his moral authority and the aura of dynamism that surrounds him. None of this is likely to have happened apart from Vatican II.


What Went Wrong

The other side of the ledger must also be added up — or, rather, subtracted. Consider the United States. From 1950 to 1965, religious orders of priests, brothers, and sisters had been growing more rapidly than they ever had in history. Partly because of the baby boom that followed World War II, the demand for new Catholic parishes and new Catholic schools had been furious. Catholic colleges and universities had been expanding rapidly, and vital organizations such as Young Christian Students, the Catholic Family Movement, Young Christian Workers, and cells of lay Catholics committed to Catholic Action, the Legion of Mary, the Family Rosary Crusade, and a multitude of other societies and organizations had been pouring out pamphlets and books of the latest scholarship and activist initiatives from around the world. Catholic morale was sky-high.

University students with intellectual ambitions were enthralled by visions of the “Catholic Renaissance” of the 20th century and were avidly discussing Louis Pascal Guéranger, Romano Guardini, Paul Claudel, Graham Greene, Heinrich Böll, Jose Gironella, Ignazio Silone, and Christopher Dawson. Catholic parishes were alive with novenas, benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Forty Hours, and “parish missions” preached by visiting Passionists or Redemptorists capable of conjuring up such visions of hell and heaven, sin and grace as the New York Times doesn’t dream of. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen had the most-watched show on Sunday night television, and Walter Kerr was the best drama critic around. Harvard — the Harvard Divinity School, no less — was soon to install a chair of Catholic studies. J.F. Powers, Edwin O’Connor, and Flannery O’Connor were enjoying national success. Seminaries and convents were not big enough to hold all the new recruits. Those were great years to be Catholic in America.

In 1940, there were just over two million students in Catholic elementary schools. By 1965, that number had grown to 4.5 million — in other words, the numbers had more than doubled in 25 years. The numbers of high-school students had grown even more rapidly. The years 1945, 1960, and 1965 showed, respectively, enrollments of 300,000, then 500,000, then 700,000. Bishops kept begging religious orders of nuns for more teachers. When the Second Vatican Council closed in 1965, there were more than 104,000 sisters teaching in Catholic schools in the United States

Then disaster hit. By 1995, the number of teaching sisters had fallen to 13,000. Most of the orders of sisters began losing numbers after the council like water through a sieve. In just five years, by 1970, almost 20,000 sisters had left their vocations. By 1995, another 70,000 had fled, and the total number of sisters in the United States had shrunk from 180,000 in 1965 to less than half that number, 89,000.

The few orders that maintained traditional structures and practices are doing much better, and some are even vigorous. The “progressive” orders have virtually committed suicide. So rapidly and unwisely did they abandon their primary corporate purposes, lose their institutional sense of community and discipline, leave behind hallowed traditions and practices, walk away from clear lines of authority and responsibility in favor of such will-o’-the-wisps as “flexibility,” and pursue new gospels such as self-realization, that their cohesion, their very essence and purpose simply dissolved. Much the same thing has happened among religious orders of men and among the diocesan clergy.

I particularly regret the advice I gave to nuns in articles in Commonweal and the Saturday Evening Post (“The New Nuns”) during the 1960s. I deserve to be shamed for some of the things I wrote about experimental liturgies, about dissent in the Church, and about the spirit (much too little about the carefully formulated letter) of Vatican II. I fancied myself a leader among the younger reformers, a witness to the events at Vatican II, part of a new breed that would accomplish great things. If I did not do worse damage, it is largely because after 1965 I turned my attention to problems of unbelief in the secular world and to issues of public policy, believing that there were plenty of theologians around to worry about the inner life of the Church. My purgatory is bound to be very long and very painful, even if all it were to consist of would be the humiliating contemplation of my past words and deeds.


What’s Still Right

On still other fronts, what has happened to the grand project of the “open church”? John Paul II’s work in frank dialogue with Jews was one good evidence of solid accomplishment. His visits to the synagogue in Rome and to Israel, his words at Auschwitz and at Yad Vashem, his conversations with Jewish survivors from his boyhood home, Wadowice — all these touched Jewish friends of mine and writers in the public press deeply. So did his appeals for human rights to Augusto Pinochet in Chile and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines. John Paul II did not hesitate to upbraid the powerful, including the United States and its presidents. In Cairo, Beijing, and elsewhere, he opposed the cultural elite of a communications age — journalists, commentators, feminists, secularists, and anti-Christians of all stripes and formidable powers — in calling abortion and euthanasia moral evils of a horrifying sort. Most of all, the pope urged truth within the Church and repentance for many heretofore unadmitted sins of its members, including bishops and popes.

Moreover, there is lively, not to say furious, argument within the Church (and between the Church and the surrounding culture) on almost everything. The Church in America is not dying of terminal indifference; passions run high, and arguments cut even deeper. Most Catholics, left and right, really do love the Church. They have also, alas, learned to be fearful of one another during the past 40 years. The reformers were far from generous toward the conservatives whom they roundly defeated when they took over virtually all the institutions within the American Church. From Vatican II on, most liberal Catholics abandoned the practice of tolerance toward conservatives, having learned to refer to them in tones of mockery. By contrast, the besetting sin of conservatives, now that after generations of dominance they find themselves a defeated minority, is a peculiar sort of resentment born of a feeling of powerlessness.

In no other period in my life have so many theological disputes been conducted so broadly and openly in the secular press, in the religious press, and in public debates as in the years from 1961 until now. In such an era, theologians need to develop their own mechanisms for guarding the data entrusted to them. If theologians watch over their own ranks, bishops and Rome will not have to intrude. An open church cannot be built if those with the crown jewels — the data of revelation — do not hold these life-giving data precious. The truths of the faith are essential for a true humanism.

The excruciating experience of our past bloody century and the exhaustion of so many competing ideologies have perhaps fashioned for us a more precise language for articulating this faith tradition than was available to earlier ages. We have acquired a sharper historical consciousness and perhaps an even fuller sense of collision with all the different cultures of earth. Perhaps, too, these searing times have taught us a richer language of interiority and consciousness than the tradition had felt need of before. Thus, Karol Wojtyla found in phenomenology richer terms for expressing interior dimensions of the person and community than are to be found in St. Thomas Aquinas. He had needed to draw on such terms to understand his own inner life during the Nazi, then the communist, occupation of Poland.

My final point is to underline how redolent with memory this work of my youth still is to me. I can remember the smells of burning chestnuts in the streets of Rome, the taste of Sambuca after dinner with Karen, the excitement of the press conferences every early afternoon, the perfect October air in St. Peter’s Square with the great dome glinting in the sunlight. It was a wonderful time to be alive. Since an ecumenical council happens only once in a century, I am glad to have been present at this one, a great and history-changing outpouring of the Spirit, and just plain fun.

Michael Novak


Michael Novak held for many years the George Frederick Jewett Chair in Religion and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute and is now a trustee and visiting professor at Ave Maria University. He is a philosopher, theologian, and author, as well as the 1994 recipient of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion. He has been an emissary to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. He has written over twenty-seven books on the philosophy and theology of culture, especially the essential elements of a free society. He also founded Crisis Magazine with Ralph McInerny in 1982.

  • Henryk

    Considering the history of Poland during the Second World War one has to acknowledge that Poland was occupied not by the “Nazis”, but by Germany. One must not dissociate the crimes of the Second World War from Germany and German nation. Otherwise the falsification of history occurs quite easily. As a result, the American press is rife with references to “Polish concentration camps”. Additionally, I would like to attract the attention of the author of the article to the fact that Poland was occupied AT THE SAME TIME by Germany AND Soviet Russia in September 1939. The arrival of the Red Army to Poland from the east in 1944 came as a second occupation when the Polish allies (Great Britain and USA) sold Poland to Stalin during the Yalta conference in 1943.

  • Pammie

    The following was taken from a website and I couldn’t decide where the best place to post it as it has validity in explaining the horrors of Vat II and the paedophilia episodes as well.

    Saint John Eudes said that when God is angry with His people, He sends them bad priests as a chastisement.

    Here is what he wrote in his book, The Priest, His Dignity and Obligations:

  • Tom

    The notion that Paul VI presided “brilliantly” over Vatican II is a non-starter for me. I can’t forget what he did to the Holy Mass and to the Church generally.

    Of course, Nostra Aetate is still right and will always be right, but that could have been done without a council.

    As far as collegiality goes, I think it’s wise to remember what Cardinal Ottaviani said about the Apostles fleeing when Jesus was arrested. The same is true of most of the bishops whenever there’s a crisis or they need to take a stand. Then the Pope is all alone.

    And now that the pontificate of John Paul II is beginning to be re-assessed, let’s not romanticize the notion that he rescued Vatican II from disaster. His fascination with Modernity was not much of a rescue, nor did he rescue the Liturgy from the excesses of the ’60s and ’70s.

    I think the era of Vatican II finally ended in 2005, with the death of John Paul II. In many ways, the period from 1963-2005 was an aberration, a time that in many ways I’m glad we’re done with.

  • Annely

    I will always remember my quiet and gentle father who became passionate in conversation only when discussing the changes in the Church after Vatican II. I don’t believe he ever got over the changes in the liturgy, from the loss of Latin, to the removal of the tabernacle, to the replacement of sacred music with banal and often appalling new music during Mass.

    As kids, we could never fully understand his passion on the subject of Vatican II. Many years later, I can now appreciate my father’s frustration, anger, and discouragement over the “loss” of the Church he had known so long. He never left the Church of course, but I somehow feel that he considered himself a stranger, an outsider, as did many people I’m sure.

    I must admit I sometimes feel the same way too. Just as my father felt his Church had been “hijacked” by individuals who wanted to remake it into some other image, so have I come to see certain aspects of our Church as having been “hijacked” to accommodate someone’s own point of view. One of these is the seminaries, the other is catechesis.

    The takeover of some of our seminaries after Vatican II by those who viewed them as a social experiment instead of a sacred place of priestly formation has been nothing short of disastrous. And the substitution of watered-down religious textbooks for the earlier substantive ones has resulted in several generations of poorly catechized Catholics who do not know their faith.

    I see a glimmer of hope, though, as the pendulum swings ever so slowly back in a few areas: improved seminaries; devotions and perpetual adoration coming back into the parishes; and now the hope of our Pope’s liturgical changes coming next year.

    The author refers to “the besetting sin of conservatives, now that after generations of dominance they find themselves a defeated minority, is a peculiar sort of resentment born of a feeling of powerlessness.” Maybe. However, as I think of my father who suffered so much and spent a lifetime mourning the loss of the Church he knew, I do not view this as a sin of resentment, but rather as a refusal to roll over and simply accept the destruction of the things one holds dear.

    Our faithful Pope Benedict is one who has not given up. He is the driving force for having the pendulum slowly swing back. I am grateful that many silent sufferers in the Church have never given up, and have never allowed the memory of the beautiful sacraments, liturgy, and devotions to be forgotten.

    St. Paul inspires us with the knowledge that it is important to “fight the good fight” and “finish the race.” I would like to think that this is exactly what my father did.

  • georgie-ann

    that i was able to meet some examples of what must have been a glorious golden age of pre-Vatican II intellectual types,…i wouldn’t even know how to begin to describe them,…their faith and discourses were so real and alive and inspirational,…i’m eternally grateful to God for having allowed me to meet them,…

  • Aaron

    Mr. Novak mentions several times here how the goal of the progressives who dominated the Council was to detach the Church entirely from Tradition. “Obliterating the Past,” he headlines it. Not “adjusting for the age,” or even “modernizing,” but “obliterating.” Strong words.

    That’s why I have a hard time taking the “Vatican II was a great gift of the Holy Spirit, as long as you read the documents in the light of Tradition” argument too seriously. Those documents were written by people who had rejected tradition, who wanted to erase from memory everything that went before 1962. Are we supposed to believe they were just stupid, and accidentally wrote documents faithful to tradition when they were trying to do the exact opposite? Or did the Holy Spirit force them to write things they didn’t intend?

    Saying that you can read something a certain way doesn’t mean that’s the intended meaning or the meaning most sensible people are likely to take from it. When George Michael came out with his song “I Want Your Sex” in the 1980s and radio stations banned it, he claimed that it could be interpreted as a love song from a man to a wife. Sure, it could be read that way, since it doesn’t actually say “I want your extra-marital sex,” but everyone knew he was full of it.

    Notice how light Novak’s “Good of Vatican II” section is. First there’s some poetic stuff about the moon or something. Then he claims A) that a Council that he says gave progressives far more power was somehow responsible for choosing a more orthodox pope (that Holy Spirit tricking them again?); and B) that we somehow know said pope was a better pontiff than we would have gotten otherwise. Then he asserts that an increased emphasis on collegiality was a good thing, with no supporting evidence thereto. Then he points out that world leaders still want to be photographed with the pope, which speaks to the cult of personality that developed around Pope John Paul II, but there’s no evidence that any of those leaders want more than a photo-op. When was the last time a world leader came away from a papal visit with a changed policy?

    That’s pretty thin gruel on the pro side to stack up against the destruction he lists on the con side.

    I enjoyed this article, though, because it really shows how much people of that generation were caught up in the idea that they were destined to make everything new and better. Even someone like Novak, who later grew up and became more conservative, looks back on that ideology with nostalgia. He’s honest enough to admit that it didn’t work out very well, but he wants to believe that their pure efforts were railroaded or imperfectly instituted, not that their basic ideology was arrogant and misdirected and doomed.

  • I am not Spartacus…h…m…Joseph Cardinal Frings attacked The Holy Office publicly and the liberals at Council erupted in applause in support of the attack.

    Man oh man, did the liberals ever hate Ottaviani; probably even more than they loved Teilhard de Chardin.

    And the attack on The Holy Office happened after the Liberals rejected nearly all of the carefully crafted Schema that had been drafted during the longest and most carefully prepared for Council in the history of the Church.

    (I guess the Holy Spirit was opposed to that careful planning and was more interested in charismaticism).

    The Liberals (who now call themselves progressives) won the Council in a total rout and the revolutionary riot that followed the Council resulted in the death of the Immemorial Mass and massive world-wide declines in every single objective measurable Catholic statistic.

    And the much-praised collegiality has failed miserably. NOBODY is ever responsible for ANYTHING and EVERYTHING Rome “Mandates” can be, and routinely is, reflexively gainsaid; if not openly laughed at.

    I too believe the Holy Spirit presided at that Council (as he does at all validly-convoked/conducted ecumenical councils) and so that is why it a pastoral council at which around 3% of The Fathers there did not sign Dignatatis Humanae (and who knows how many other documents) but were allowed to depart the Council fully in union with the Pope.

    So, if The Council Fathers could remain fully in union with Rome while refusing to sign as least one Conciliar Document, just how binding is that Council?

    Dear Mr Novak. It takes a real man to publicly admit errors. Kudos

  • Young Priest

    Just a thank you for writing this, the context you give to the events of the Council, the balance you provide, and some hope for a way forward!

  • TheOldCrusader

    “I don’t believe he ever got over the changes in the liturgy, from the loss of Latin, to the removal of the tabernacle, to the replacement of sacred music with banal and often appalling new music during Mass.”

    Annely: My father didn’t either. But his response was to ignore what was going on in front of him and stolidly pray his rosary.

    “That’s pretty thin gruel on the pro side to stack up against the destruction he lists on the con side.”

    Aaron: Not only is it thin, but it seems a bit circular.

    VII was a success because it gave us JPII. But JPII was needed to keep VII from being a disaster.

    Alright, JPII began the process of disaster recovery that is being admirably carried on by BXVI.

    Providing a disaster to allow people to show their talents is hardly a reason to celebrate.

    By that standard the firebombing of Dresden was a really great idea because it gave so much scope for rebuilding. I mean, that was really inspired work where they used high powered computing to figure out how to put the cathedral back together.

  • Daniel Latinus

    While there are a few things I can take issue with in this article, I am glad that Michael Novak wrote it, and I am glad for his mea culpas. I think it will go a long way to healing the Church.

    Maybe what Dr. Novak needs to do is prepare a new edition of The Open Church, and add comments on how things actually turned out.

  • thetimman

    I would parse the good that came out of Vatican II somewhat differently. Here is my list of all the good things the Church gained from the council:

  • I am not Spartacus

    ,to me at least, is symbolic of their liberal rejection of Tradition so they could impose a revolution within the Church in their attempt to make the church more acceptable to the world.

    Here is a copy+ paste with a little background info that I earlier referred to. Initially, I chose to omit the fact that it was a young Peritus, Fr. Ratzinger, who wrote Josef Cardinal Frings’ attack on The Holy Office.

    Ratzinger is in fact a liberal veteran of Rome

  • Jerald Franklin Archer

    Some believe Vatican 2 produced some good, and some aspects, the opposite. I will keep my observations on what it has produced to a simple assessment:

    Before Vatican 2, I cannot see where there was a need for any changes. The “modernist fever” was produced by the times in which it occured and is fully understandable why the Church would think they must “get with the program”. Any changes in something that has been around and proven to work seem a little strange to start with. I do not want to say it was a failed experiment, as it actually produced results that were no foreseen at the time.

    So there was Vatican 2.

    The change in the Holy Sacrifice of Mass was to be one of “improvements” so that it was more appealing to people of the day, not just Catholics. Over time many abuses crept in and cost the Church many faithful parishioners to leave Her. The results of Vatican 2 were a complete de-solmnization of the Sacrifice of the Mass, which resembled a Protestant tent meeting in some parishes. Some of these liberties produced desecration of the Eucharist without even a thought. This Vatican 2 idea started to look bad. The music was irreverent and banal and some priest took it as a opportunity to “show off” to their parishioners by dressing up in theme costumes to attract more parishioners. Now it was getting a little scary.

    The changes made in the sanctuary were evident of the mentality of the whole affair. The homilies became political appeals and opinion forums where anyone could (and seemed encouraged ) to speak. I would visit some parishes and actually have to ask where the confessional was or the holy water fount could be located. In some cases, I had to ask if the church was Catholic! Vatican 2 was not called that this should have been the results. Confusion was rampant everywhere. Changes now were necessary in order to preserve the very sanctity of the Church.

    Just in time to save the Church, on September 14, 2007, the recent motu proprio of Benedict XVI goes into effect.

    Traditional Catholicism was difficult to find for awhile, but after the new Pope was instituted (Benedict XVI), it seems that a resurgence of traditional practices came to the front. They seemingly seemed “new” to some, and I have actually seen many give much thanks to God for such a turn around. At a Extraordinary form of Mass, one really knows why they are there and who they are worshipping. The Latin is no problem, but rather enhances the experience by the necessity of following along in the missal.

    Time seems to stop. There is no doubt where the Holy Eucharist is located. When one leaves (if they really paid attention)they go away knowing they have encountered what it really means to be Catholic. The experience is found nowhere else on earth. Older parishioners have returned after a long absence. I notice more younger people there, and this is a very good sign. What attracts them? There is no rock music or dancing. The Gregorian Chant is more popular than any folk song (it never goes out of style). If you don’t know the words to the tune, just look in the missal. Quiet sanctity pervades the very place, and although it is quiet, one is always anxious to help anyone follow the Mass if they are new. If you want changes for the better, promote it, I always say.

    Now, it seems, all has come full circle, and I suspect that the two ends will soon meet to complete a circle that was better left alone, than it was to be “improved”. How does one improve that which was already perfect?

  • Aubrey

    Thank you for a revealing article Mr. Novak. Thank you also for your belated acknowledgment of personal responsibility. That by itself makes you a stand-out among many of that time.

    Previous comments have already addressed the somewhat circular nature of your proposed causality about VII and JPII. Those comments were spot on.

    I can’t help but see Mr. Novak’s article in light of the movie, “Dude, Where’s My Car.” The movie, for those who are unfamiliar with this genre of idiocy, is about two pot-smoking stoners who wake up after a night of partying and struggle to find their car. Their search for their car leads them on a journey of discovery involving street gangs, ex-girl friends, a transgendered stripper and aliens from outer space. (Notice the similarities already with the Catholic church of today)

    I can’t help but hear voice out-takes of Ashton Kutcher’s voice while reading the article: “Dude, sorry Dude about burning down your Faith. I’m really sorry for splashing the gasoline about before I plugged in the toaster oven. Dude, immolation is such a bummer! But look at the bright side, the smell of roasted marshmallows gives me a certain sense of nostalgia for the event. Dude, it was fun.”

    My point here is that the supposed tone of wistful apology rings hollow. Mr. Novak describes the conservatives in terms of ‘resentment.’ However, the resentment that I’ve witnessed hasn’t been among the young conservatives with whom I spend time. The resentment I hear is in the voices of the sisters of now dead orders, and the voices of priests who left the priesthood for marriage and who failed to find the same transcendence in everyday life.

    Strange that he should describe the conservatives as a minority. He should check again who is left standing in the pews. Who among the progressives still knows how to say a rosary. Who among the progressives spends time in Eucharistic adoration?

    Can you imagine the catechisis of a child of progressives. I meet them all the time. They are experimenting in equal proportions with Buddhism and American Idol.

    And I love Mr. Novak’s little sentence of transference,”Then disaster hit.” And Mr. Novak fast forwards to the state of the Church in 1995 — 30 years after VII! The disaster didn’t ‘hit’ 30 years later. There was no tsunami delayed by 30 years. The disaster hit in 1965, and the fruits of VII were unarguably clear 30 years later. When the progressives broke from Tradition, they also broke from Truth. There we have witnessed the embodiment of one of the great laws of nature: Things of God, of Truth improve with age, things of man, rot.

    And the there’s the sentence, “Most Catholics, left and right, really do love the Church.” The problem with this sentence resides in the very definition of “Church.” Depending on the day of the week and who you are talking to among the progressives the idea of the “Church” varies widely. They make it up as they go along or rather as they are “informed by their conscience.” Yes, progressives love their version of the church. Their version of the Church has been abridged and formatted for the television viewing audience.

    What’s ironic is that Mr. Novak mis-interprets the “exhaustion of so many competing ideologies” as the source for “a more precise language for articulating faith tradition” and not as the inflection point of transition back from progressivism.

    Mr. Novak has failed to realize that this “exhaustion” in fact marks the start of the post VII renaissance. This renaissance, however, is in remedy to VII and not part of the “Age of Aquarius” that VII visited onto the Church. This renaissance is a renewal of profound depth as it is anchored directly in scripture as read from the heart of the Church.

    With the Catechism and the orthodox bishops that Benedict XVI is appointing, we are witnessing the continued thaw from the sterile winter of progressivism. Truth and Beauty are ascendant once more within the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Ken

    Sorry, I am still looking in this piece for an actual “good” to come out of Vatican II.

    The closest I see above is “John Paul II’s work in frank dialogue with Jews was one good evidence of solid accomplishment.” And, according to Novak, this “touched Jewish friends of mine and writers in the public press deeply.”

    The Catholic Church is about converting and saving souls, no? Are there any actual positive RESULTS that have come from Vatican II?

  • Siobhan

    Well, I guess a thank you, Mr. Novak, for your acknowledgement that your misguided zeal resulted in so much destruction is the expected response? Sorry, no can do. What he has written in this article is sadly inadequate. I agree with the “Daniel Latinus” post. Mr. Novak needs to write a sequel to “The Open Church” in which he explores in depth the sad consequences of what he expoused in it.

  • Aubrey

    Dear Ken and Thetimman,

    Two questions to ponder regarding Vatican II:
    1) Didn’t the Church need to adjust its approach to the world by using modern media in order to better preach the Good News? Isn’t that was Vatican II was supposed to be about?

    What about how readings of Old and New Testament in mass today carry us through the Bible every three years. This came out of Vatican II.

    2) What caused the Church to fall apart so quickly after Vatican II? Think of what happened in 30 short years. Was the structure so strong at the time that it could dis-integrate (the hyphen is an intentional emphasis) so quickly?

    Was it merely the liturgical abuses?
    Was it the pitiful Eucharistic prayers that were introduced?
    Was the piss-poor discernment and formation of so many of our seminarians?
    Was it the seduction of much of the Church by things of this age — Liberation Theology, Feminism, etc.?
    Was the orientation of the priest during mass and the emphasis on ‘gathering’ versus ‘worship’?
    Was it removing the tabernacle from the center of the church?
    Was it the pathetic music that was substituted for great music of the 10 centuries that preceded Vatican II?

    Or, are all of these merely symptoms of some root cause? Did you notice the list of thinkers that Mr. Novak mentioned and those that weren’t mentioned? Mr. Novak mentioned some of the great thinkers of his age. What was missing was the Old and New Testaments.

    I would suggest that the root cause of all of the dis-integration of Vatican II was derived from a lack of fidelity, a lack of faith, and a lack of intimate knowledge of scripture.

    I would submit that catholic intellectual tradition had lost it’s mooring to scripture a hundred years (or more) before Vatican II. Without that what hope is there to withstand the natural dislocation that comes with an ecumenical council and even more so with such a council during the 1960’s! Truly, the poor souls that have been knocked overboard from the Church were lost because they lacked the very thing that the Church is meant to instill, they were lost because they never were truly anchored to their faith.

    I’d be curious as to what other think were the root cause(s).

  • Brennan

    “I’d be curious as to what other think were the root cause(s).”

    Good question, Aubrey. I tend to agree strongly with Cardinal Ratzinger’s assessment:

    “The ecclesial crisis in which we find ourselves today depends in great part on the collapse of the liturgy.”

    or “Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi”, the law of prayer is the law of belief.

    Also, I have never bought that the Church prior to Vatican II must have been weak (albeit sinful) otherwise there would not have been such a sudden collapse in every area of Church life after Vatican II.

    It reminds me of a a championship basketball team one year which is playing strong, even if not perfectly. The next year a new coach comes in and starts coaching the same players that had won the championship the year before. The coach decides that the team really does not need to run drills or practice layups anymore. Nor do they need to run plays or practice passing. That is all so old fashioned! Instead why not watch TV and eat bon bons instead?

    Lo and behold this same championship team starts getting trounced by every single team it meets. Now, does this mean that in reality the team was actually weak the year before and this was finally exposed? Or maybe that the coach should not have jettisoned any significant practicing without replacing it with something even close to being as good?

    Your call.

  • georgie-ann

    look at everything else that was changing for the society in the 50s and 60s technologically,…the whole society was being seduced/distracted by the television (especially) & movie entertainment industry,…becoming “hooked” on sitting in one’s own living room for hours and hours at a time, mesmerized by all the suggested “things of interest” and, of course, commercial goals,…the average mind-set of the average person, “potential consumer,” was in the process of being co-opted by these very strong messages that glued one to one’s seat,…

    as far as i’m concerned, never before in history had people been so effectively taken away from the real on-going interactions and obligations of daily life with themselves and very real others in their neighborhoods, churches, families, playgrounds, etc.,…

    we became a distracted society, losing our fundamental attachments and faithfulness to one another,…now living ever increasingly in fantasy, and failing to differentiate between the truth and imagination,…

    a cartoon “God” became all that was needed, as long as the “set” stayed “turned on,”….

    truly a tragedy of very major proportions,…

  • I am not Spartacus

    that the world needs and seeks a new and authentic universal humanism;

    The world seeks that?

    and that it is just this humanism that the Church was called into existence to offer.

    I missed out on hearing/reading about that Teaching that that is why Jesus established His Church. A link explicating that claim would be helpful.

    The Church must open itself to the world, shouting the good news of this highest calling.

    Prior to the revolution at council, the Catholic Church had been doing that for 100 scores of years. There was all manner of successful evangelisation and the idea there was not is simply a threadbare propagndistic mantle meant to cloak the revolution in a practical response to what the world needs.

    The only thing missing from these claims is some background music…

  • Glenn M. Ricketts

    My reaction to Novak’s piece is basically the same as when it first appeared in Crisis several years ago: gratified, but still puzzled as well. Yes he acknowledges that things went wrong, terribly wrong, and accepts a fair measure of his own responsibility for helping to make it all happen. WHY, though, did they go wrong? It was a golden moment, a fantastic time to be alive, great things were being done, Paul VI presided “brilliantly” over the whole affair …… and then “disaster hit.” The most Novak seemsd to do is to note the fact of the disaster’s occurance, and to lament its destructive effects. But where did it come from? If the Church’s prospects were so glittering and positive, how could this have happened? Was it purely due to influence of the secular world, or did the prevalent assumptions, attitudes and official enactments of Vatican II itself help to break the dam? That’s why I find “reassessment” to be a very curious title for this piece, since I don’t see where Novak “reassess” the council at all. Nowhere does he offer any slight hint that the uncritical embrace of the modern secular culture – which even at the time had taken such ominous turns – or the often balmy idealism of documents such as “Gaudium et Spes – may have led the Church seriously astray. And I find utterly baffling the assertion that John Paul II “rescued” the true message of the Council from this misdirection: to my mind, at least, the late pontiff most often exemplified the relentless, obligatory optimism which has made it so difficult to actually “reassess” the Council in any objective manner. While I’m grateful, as I said, for Novak’s acknowledgement that things are not peachy, I hope he will take the time to write that piece which takes an honest look at the Council itself, rather than simply saying that a good thing has not worked as we had all hoped.

    Glenn M. Ricketts

  • Brandon

    It is interesting that you should make note of the issue of Scripture (and other issues that were festering before Vatican II). Monsignor Ronald Knox voiced similiar complaints in the decade or so before Vatican II. Father Benedict Groeschel has also spoken about the “Good Old Days” and notes that most people then didn’t own a missal…sure you had the hard core folks in the pews with book in hand, but the majority just did their own thing while the Mass was going on…saying the Rosary, Novenas or what have you, stopping to look up at the Concecration and then going up for Communion. Was this poor catechesis? Is that why this was what was going on? Why weren’t more people paying attention to the Liturgy? These and other questions were the reason why Vatican II was called…Say what you want, but Reform was needed.

  • Jean Langley Sullivan

    As an adult,in the autumn of 1963, after several years of independent investigation of the Catholic Church’s doctrine and worship, and much prayer, I sought formal instruction in preparation to become a member of the Roman Catholic Church.
    My instruction was provided by a Jesuit priest, and was as rigorous, challenging and thorough as I could have hoped. When we were both satisfied that I fully knew what I was asking, we proceeded to baptism. As a practicing Catholic, I went on to grow in love for the reverence and beauty of the Church’s liturgy, the coherence and rationality of the theology, the breath and depth of the lives of the saints and mystics. In it all I found the Trinity: God’s fatherly love, Jesus’ Way, Truth and Light, and the Holy Spirit’s gentle guidance. I felt “at home” in a way I had never before.

    I had no way of guessing on that beautiful baptismal day what destruction Michael Novak, and all those who agreed with him, would have in store what I had come to so deeply appreciate.

    All these years later do I feel sorrow? Yes. But not resentment. I believe Jesus teaches that we are put on earth to love. And not to judge. I do not mean my words as in any sense as a “judgement”. But in his “reconsideration”, I don’t think Mr. Novak even comes close to grasping what he and those who thought and acted as he did have done.

    Mindy Thomson Fullilove has describes the traumatic experience of enduring similar destruction as “root shock: the traumatic stress reaction to the destruction of all or part of one’s emotional echosystem”. That is what those of us who were members of the Catholic Church before the changes initiated by Vatican II have experenced as Mr. Novak and those who agreed with him, worked their will.

    Our “root shock” is not just the loss of traditions with a little “t”, popular devotions, cultural identities. We lost an “echosystem” of rational reflection: a way of construing events, a basis for choosing among 10,000 tiny and the few big choices that present themselves life. An “echosystem” of emotional support and sustenance that helped make the inevitable tragedies of life endurable and surmountable.

    It was from the “Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” that that this “echosystem” drew its life. The Mass experienced as moments of com-union, both deep and mysterious. A time of encounter with God, before whom our reverent, silent, awe-filled attention reflected recognition of what was occurring.

    In the fields, stiff wheat stalks break before the wind. Wiser buckwheat stalks humbly bend to await the wind’s passing and then spring up again. Some of us are “buckwheat” people. A sanctuary lamp is still lit beside the tabernacle in our hearts. The times require that we bend low, close to the earth, and wait. Mr. Novak, and those who have destroyed so much in their zeal to change what they could not appreciate, will pass over us. And over the Church we love.

  • I am nolt Spartacus

    Father Benedict Groeschel has also spoken about the “Good Old Days” and notes that most people then didn’t own a missal

    No kidding. For most of the time Holy Mother Church has existed as The Ark of Salvation, the majority of its treasured passengers were illiterate.

    Cathedrals were their decorations of scenes from Salvation History; Sacred Art adorning its inside with similar scenes of Salvation History; Statuary depicting heroic local Saints; the Sacred and Solemn actions of The Vested Priest inside the Sanctuary before an Altar; all were catechisms realised in Architecture and Art and Solemn ceremonies.

    And of course there were the Sermons..

    But, nobody owned a Missal..So?

  • I am not Spartacus

    That was both beautiful and bracing. Thank you. Do you have your own blog?

  • Pammie

    I thought the same thing IANS. Ms Sullivan that was beautiful!

  • Jean Langley Sullivan

    No, “I am not Spartacus”, I do not have my own blog.

    I sm really grateful to have had the opportunity to comment on Michael Novak’s article. And glad what I wrote seemed worthwhile to you.

    I am a daily reader of the articles presented on the “Inside Catholic” website, and the comments posted in response to them. Among those comments I appreciate the cogency of yours especially.

  • I am not Spartacus

    that the world needs and seeks a new and authentic universal humanism; and that it is just this humanism that the Church was called into existence to offer

    120. Q. Why did Christ found the Church?

    A. Christ founded the Church to teach, govern, sanctify, and save all men.

    “Teach” religion. “Govern” in things that regard salvation. “Sanctify,” make good. “Save” all who wish to be saved.

  • I am not Spartacus

    Your writing is prosaic and piercing. It is far superior to my cranky outbursts but I thank you for the kind words nevertheless.

    All these years later do I feel sorrow? Yes. But not resentment. I believe Jesus teaches that we are put on earth to love. And not to judge.

    I not only continue to experience resentment and anger, I judge those who claimed to have read the signs of the time correctly as wildly wrong and I hold the Hierarchy responsible for the absolute worldwide collapse of Catholicism.

    They are the ones who wrecked it and it is they alone who can repair what was destroyed and until we Catholics have a Pope who does not build his Papacy on Vatican Two, we are destined to live in a very tenuous union with our local Bishop and Pope as very unwelcome members of the Catholic Church Jesus established.

    We live in the Ecclesiastical equivalence of Anarcho-Tyranny (google Sam Francis + Anarcho- Tyranny)All manner of heretical BS can be spread by liberals with virtually no corrective discipline being applied (Karl Keating observed that in his 26 years as Prefect of The CDF, Card Ratzinger took 24 disciplinary actions) but The Traditional FSSP was quickly, and harshly, dealt with based upon petty and petulant complaints made by a handful of its members. And the actions taken by The Church were contrary to FSSp’s original Charter agreed to by The Church).

    There is no guarantee the next Pope will even tolerate those of us who love the Immemorial Mass and the Traditional Sacraments.

    Make no mistake about it. We are not liked by The Catholic Church.

  • Brandon

    Yes, illiteracy was prevalent for centuries…so was local superstition and a host of other things that hindered a proper realization of the Faith. Why were the Laity divorced from the Liturgy in that way? Never mind the “they should of been following along in the Missal”…Some were, but many more weren’t…was that a problem of Catechesis? I mentioned Monsignor Knox, read his biography and the problems he had with his Bible Translation and what he had to say about Catholic Apologetics at that time…there were problems, and to say that there weren’t is deluded. Was Pope Pius XI wrong for permanently forfeiting the Papal States? The Church cannot remain a fly in amber. You seem to be incapable of seeing any good fruit, when all one has to do is look outside of the West…the “Traditionalist” movement is ridiculously Euro-centric.

    Trads” like to claim the victim/outcast mantle, but the truth is most Catholics don’t give them a second thought. The Benedictine reforms will go forward without you, and it’s unfortunate that you’ve chosen this path…as sad as Hans Kung as noted in another article.

  • Jean Langley Sullivan

    Dear “I am not Spartacus”,
    I do not experience your comments as “cranky outbursts” but rather as indignant cries from the heart. Echos, perhaps, of Jesus’ outrage at those who desecrated his Father’s house with their sleazy buying and selling.

    I know that some members of the Catholic Church do not welcome those of us who cannot join in their enthusiasm for contemporary styles of worship, will not defend their dissent from doctrine, or engage with them in automatic opposition to any guidance that originates in Rome. I have personally and painfully experienced their rejection.

    I suppose my response to this ill-treatment is tempered somewhat by a “t’was ever thus” perspective. When in the long history of the Catholic Church were there not divisions and controversies? And bitterly vicious conflicts among its members? I don’t know why religious committment seems to sometimes bring out the worst in some people, but it does, doesn’t it? All down the ages.

    Sometimes I find it helpful to search out in the Scriptures what they can tell us of how Jesus related to the Temple and synagogues of his time. And to the persons who presided over them, and to those who worshiped in them. Could it be more clear that he did not consider most of them models to be emulated? The exceptions to this were the humble, the nobodies, the undesirables. The “back pew people”. Those who stood afar off in awareness of their need for mercy, and those who unnoticed made their small but proportionately heroic contribution to the treasury. These unwelcomed ones Jesus praised. Could it be wrong to hope that in the present day reality there is hidden a truly great opportunity to become one of those “back pew people” Jesus appreciated?

    The Catholic Church I joined so many years ago made the awareness that we had come to Mass to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament so much easier. Choirs and organ music invited us to “Ponder nothing earthly minded” as we knelt at the altar rail to await the priest and acolyte’s approach. All sweet mystery. “Panis Angelicus”, bread of angels, played us back to our pews. All soaring joy. Now? not so much. Shuffle along in line, make a sign of the cross and bob your head, mutter “Amen”, hold out your hands, quick step to the side to commune, and then shuffle along back to your pew, all to piano thumping, guitar twanging, banal ballad accompaniment.

    Others have turned my parish church into something almost unrecognizable to me with its theater-in-the-round, barren auditorium, “horizontal-worship”, noisy overactivity, and poorly rendered music. But, in the midst of all of that, Jesus still invites me to come to him, to receive him, to “take and eat”, and be healed and loved and nourished by him… one more time. And I am thankful. So inexpressibly thankful.

    I don’t understand the “why” of what has happened to the Church. So much of it is so painful. But somehow I’m o.k. with having had to become an out of step, behind the times, pliantly patient, “buck wheat” stalk in the contemporary Church. Just one of the none too welcome “back pew people”. The paradoxes of Jesus teachings about who will enter his kingdom reassure me. That, and that he said no matter what he would be with us until the end of time.

  • Don L

    I sense that the article references of conservative/ traditional vs liberal/ progressive as merely some kind of (political)preference -somewhat like which style suit is in fashion, is naive, when in fact, it was about the very soul of Catholicism -what it is, and what it requires of God’s people that was at stake, and as we look back – what was corrupted.

    The result of the “progressive” victory is the loss of so many – the contamination of the priesthood – the resultant casual moral practices of today’s Catholic (electing a pro-infanticide president [53%] and honoring him at Notre Dame) at the very least; the appearance of the contamination of the USCCB by some pro-gay – Marxist leaning, ACORN, justice and peace types, the lose of the sense of personal sin with questions of the soft sacrilige of non-confessional” Communion recipients, the programmed destruction of catechesis, the “we’re all going to heaven “teaching” approved by silent bishops.

    The toll of lost souls from Vat II is massive and generational and it isn’t about left /right political preferences within the Church.It has a much more deadly diabolical nature to it and to reduce it to moral equivalence is in itself wrong.

  • I am not Spartacus

    The Church must open itself to the world… shouting the good news of this highest calling

    For Two Thousand years we Catholics have been taught that our mortal enemies are The World, The Flesh, and The Devil (in that order).

    And, yet, to this day, the idea the Catholic Church was correct to open itself to the world, despite all the clear and present destruction, is not only defended it remains the guiding principle of Catholicism for far too many.

    It truly is difficult to conceive of anything crazier than these ideas.

    For Two Thousand years the Catholic Church had faithfully discharged its Commission/Mission and yet, suddenly, like a bolt out of the blue, in the 1960s, after previous Popes had considered and rejected the idea of a Council because of the number of modernists in the Hierarchy, The Hierarchy decided there would be a new Pentecost (why just two, let’s have a thousand Pentecosts) and we were told that everything was different and we had to open ourselves to the enemy.

    Yeah, we opened ourselves to the enemy but world leaders want to be photographed with the Pope, so, we’ve got that going for us; which is nice.

  • I am not Spartacus

    You repeatedly leave “not” out of my screen name.

    I wish I had a more imaginative opponent, but, one has to take what one gets smilies/smiley.gif

    Following The Revolutionary Council, a Freemason was appointed as the Lead Architect of the project to construct The Revolutionary Mass that was imposed upon all of us by Pope Paul VI and that Revolutionary Mass has not improved Doctrinal or Theological Literacy in a way measurable that I have ever seen.

    In fact, it was within the past five years that The American Bishops – 67% of whom were involved in actively protecting homosexual predator priests and moving them from Parish to Parish – confessed that they had neglected Catechesis for forty years.

    So what If their Duties are to Teach, Rule, and Sanctify?

    How can there be time to do that when so much time and energy is spent accepting homosexuals into Seminaries, bestowing the Sacrament of Holy Orders on them and then shifting them to a different Diocese once they are identified as predators preying on innocent adolescent male sheep.

    And it has been during Pope Benedict’s Papacy that The Catholic Church has issued strictures guaranteeing we will continue to accept homosexuals into Seminaries which guarantees future adolescent male sheep will be the innocent prey for these predatory perverts.

    As regards your last sentence, I have no idea what it means.

    I do know I have not severed the Bonds of Unity in Worship, Doctrine,and Authority (I remain Catholic) and as far as this goes: Trads” like to claim the victim/outcast mantle… I will cite FR. Zuhlsdorf who, for years, served on The Ecclesia Dei Commission and reports just how cruel towards Trads were Ambishops who refused to grant them the Indult Mass.

    Some writer (I forget who now) correctly observed that Bishops showed more compassion for the sex criminal homosexual perverts in the priesthood than they did for faithful Catholics petitioning to have their legitimate aspirations met per the Pope’s various Motu Proprios re The Immemorial Mass.

  • Brandon

    …That right there merely demonstrates my point.

  • georgie-ann

    one of the wonderful things about God is His ability to love ALL of His children, even when they seem to be unable to appreciate one another,…therefore, rejoice, if you have the certainty of God’s love, and that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life,…let God worry about the rest/others,…(-:

    humans are “dealing with” finite decks, and can only be, of necessity, partial,…whereas God’s Love is Infinite,…

  • I am not Spartacus

    . By the end of the 20th century, U.S. presidents, the most consequential of world leaders, were eager to be televised with the pope, and as frequently as possible, in order to bask in his moral authority and the aura of dynamism that surrounds him. None of this is likely to have happened apart from Vatican II.

    Except for the fact it did happen, you could have been onto something.

    Pope Benedict XV’s efforts to prevent world war one were not only recognised by the vapid President Woodrow Wilson, but the Pope’s Peace Plan was specifically rejected by the lunatic.

    Destined-to-be-Canonised, Pope Pius XII was cited by The NY Times as a lonely voice in the world and the sole moral authority in the world.

    AS I recall, both of them were Popes prior to Vatican Two.

    Why can’t those of the 1960s, who felt ashamed of the Catholic Church for whatever reason ,(the world didn’t like us, the world was scandalised by The Holy Office and men like Peritus, Fr Ratzinger, were shamed by that)ever admit they were wrong to have attempted a new Pentecost and why can’t they admit the pastoral council was a failure?

    I mean everyone can smell its rotten fruit.

    Why was there a need for a new Mass?

    I suspect there was a need for a revolutionary Mass because there was a new revolutionary theology. I don’t think the reason a new Mass had to be concocted was solely to please Protestants. There had to be another reason.

    Here is a copy + paste from Mediator Dei:

    On this subject We judge it Our duty to rectify an attitude with which you are doubtless familiar, Venerable Brethren. We refer to the error and fallacious reasoning of those who have claimed that the sacred liturgy is a kind of proving ground for the truths to be held of faith, meaning by this that the Church is obliged to declare such a doctrine sound when it is found to have produced fruits of piety and sanctity through the sacred rites of the liturgy, and to reject it otherwise. Hence the epigram,

  • I am not Spartacus

    I think we had a New Mass imposed upon us because we have a New Theology. And this New Theology has not only given birth to a New Mass, it has given Birth to entries in The Catechism which scandalise me.

    In the Catechism, there is one person, and one person only, specifically identified as one who gave scandal.

    Jesus Christ.

    2284…The person who gives scandal becomes his brother’s tempter.

    2285…Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others….

    588 Jesus scandalized the Pharisees

    589 Jesus gave scandal above all when he identified his merciful conduct toward sinners with God’s own attitude toward them

    There will come a time in the future when Pope and Bishops will grow weary of the New Theology; there will come a time in the future when Pope and Bishops become weary of the Catholic Church bowing and kneeling before one of its mortal enemies, the World; there will come a time in the future when Pope and Bishops flat out reject accepting homosexuals as Priests; there will come a time in the future when a Pope will issue a New Catechism correcting the obvious errors and weaknesses in the current Catechism; there will come a time in the future when Pope and Bishop will jettison the New Mass; there will come a time in the future when a Pope (despite Card Ratzinger’s claim that such a thing just could not happen now) will issue a new Syllabus of errors.

    It won’t come during my lifetime. That is abundantly clear.

    But. The time will come. In the meantime, I am thankful the SSPX will be fully and formally reconciled with the Pope and The Catholic Church having accepted all of their conditions.

    He has already agreed with their long-held position that the Immemorial Mass was always capable of being offered by any priest anywhere at any time.

    He has agreed to lift the excommunications.

    He will agree the SSPX can continue to question the Vat Two novelties.

    He will agree The SSPX will be granted exclusive rights to use only the 1962 Missal.

    Watching the world and the modernists taking scandal at that will be pure joy.

  • Brandon

    …it isn’t a scandal, it’s great that the SSPX want to be reconciled with the Church, and that the Holy Father is willing to work past their disobedience and rebellion for full union again. The Church is moving forward, and that is the point I was trying to make before…you are just as fossilized and embittered as Hans Kung…just at the two ends of the polar extremes. You don’t get it, and you don’t seem to want to get it…and that’s unfortunate.

    Most “Trads” have had a seige mentality for so long that they can’t see the forest for the trees. Any defense of any aspect of Vatican II is seen as “Modernism” and the ears and brain shut off. You say the SSPX will be fully reconciled…that will depend on whether or not they will abandon the sinful pride many of their number have accumulated over the years…I pray they don’t slap this Pope in the face again, like they did in the 1980s. Some will reconcile, some won’t…if they choose the outer darkness than that is on them. I welcome the talks because perhaps finally we’ll be able to settle this nonsense and move forward.

    if you want to continue to cut and paste and filibuster threads that is on you. It’s sad you have an antagonistic viewpoint, but maybe if you go back and look at the documents themselves. I’ve yet to hear a credible complaint about the documents themselves teaching “heresy.”

  • Brandon

    No Doubt, and God’s Love is infinite.

    This blog/website is forum as you know…I Am Not Spartacus and others have espoused the “Trad” position and denounce the Pauline Missal/Vatican II or what have you on a regular basis. While there are legitimate criticisms to be made, there is a rancor lurking there that has done harm to the Church. It is that spirit that I am against. The very notion of the “Traditionalist” label is absurd to me, because any Practicing Catholic is a “Traditionalist”…it is part of the air we breath.

    This Pope wants to move forward, and at the same time repair the ruptures with Tradition that were created in the “Orgy of Change” that came to be after the Council.

    I guess I’m one of those “Reform of the Reform” guys…the one who is denounced as a stealth Modernist by the “Trads” and as a reactionary who would “interpret” Vatican II out of existence by those who would have us become the other wing of the Anglican Communion.

  • William H. Phelan

    Fascinating, isn’t it? The Vatican “team’ meeting with the SSPX “team” just introduced a Thomist to their team as the SSPX side has three Thomists. We can be assured that the discussion will be coherent. The SSPX is in no great hurry to rejoin(?) the Church as they never left. The Church, as is evident in the numbers Novak cites, collapsed. Catholics like me (I am 70) who witnessed the entire history over the last fifty years,are finally tired of witnessing the crews cleaning up this car wreck on our street and we turn to our homes for the evening Rosary or to our Traditional chapels for Sunday Mass in our 1962 missals. How many souls are in Hell due to the influence of Mr. Novak and others of his ilk? There but for the Grace of God go I. Amen.

  • Jean Langley Sullivan

    Dear Brandon,
    As you say “While there are legitimate criticisms to be made, there is a rancor lurking there that has done harm to the Church. It is that spirit that I am against.” I am against that too.

    If in the attempt to respond to Mr. Novac’s article, my words conveyed a spirit of rancor I regret it. What I was trying to do was to convey the sense of painful disorientation someone like me who loved the Catholic Church as she found it is experiencing as a member of it now.

    “This Pope wants to move forward, and at the same time repair the ruptures with Tradition that were created in the “Orgy of Change” that came to be after the Council.” I join you in believing that he does want to do both of those. My use of the pliant “buck wheat stalk” versus rigid “wheat stalk” metaphor was an attempt to show the value of taking a patient and resilient approach to the slow process of that repair.

    I don’t count myself among those who cling to the past any more than among those who have no sense of it’s significance. But I do count myself among those who above all else want to “love one another”. In some circumstances that becomes very hard. But it never becomes less than what matters most.

  • Brandon

    Again, this demonstrates how Euro-centric the “Trad” movement is. Africa and Asia for the most part have no shortage of priests, sir…nor do they have shortage of enthusiasm or orthodoxy…in fact they are sending some priests to help us out.

  • Brandon

    I don’t deny that those who wanted to continue in the old practices were mistreated…that is a matter of record. I sympathize with some of the views expressed by self described “Traditionalists”…I would like a more forceful and clear assertion of what Vatican II means and doesn’t mean. I would like to see a less mealy mouthed approach to True Ecumenism, as opposed to False Ecumenism…Mortalium Animos is quite clear. And I would like to see the Great Commission given greater emphasis, the Church’s missionary nature re-asserted with more vigor.

    But as I said…what I’m against.

  • georgie-ann

    no problem,…i think i basically am agreeing with you,…

    i haven’t seen much indication that the attitude-carrying-trads have an understanding of the points that people make about the rancor that they seem to so obviously justify and savor expressing,…these emotions appear to be very “bonding” and identifying for them,…

    but, for me, there is something very important “missing” from this complex of attitudes,…something precious that i have learned to expect as a special fruit of the Catholic Mass,…something that i will not compromise expecting as being an “essential” part of a spiritually “true” testimony,…

    there appears to be a kind of impervious character to their broodings,…so, not much point in “banging one’s head against the proverbial wall,”…

    “to each his own,”…and may God’s Love be effectively over us all,…

  • Bill Russell

    In reply to Brandon-
    It is quite just to point our the “eurocentrism” of those who call themselves “Trads.” Some revel in a false nostalgia, asking “How did anything so good go so bad?” Of course, if it had been so good, it would not have gone so bad. – We see the past thought rose-colored glasses. The corruption of the present was not unknown before Vatican II, but it was concealed. However, the same sort of delusion obtains in the romantic notion of Catholic Africa. While there is much promise there, there also is much corruption. We have had serious moral problems with African clergy coming to the US, notwithstanding the exemplary African priests who also serve here. There is widespread misrule in Africa as in the West – including bishops who have been disgraced. In the reform of the Church Universal, we should brace ourselves for news of widespread abuses in Africa which is no different from the rest of the world.

  • Jean Langley Sullivan

    In response to Bill Russell:
    “…those who call themselves “Trads…” Some persons no doubt do lable themselves as “Trads”.

    I can’t imagine why they would want to, but its their choice. I suppose then there must be the corresponding lable for those who disagree with them and who also wish to lable themselves? “Progs” perhaps?

    “Some revel in a false nostalgia, asking “How did anything so good go so bad? Of course, if it had been so good, it would not have gone so bad. We see the past thought rose-colored glasses.”

    Quite true often. But not always. It is possible to recognize that the past was as corrupt as the present and still experience the present corruption as painful in new ways and greater degrees.

    Some might point to the contemporary access to information and polemic (much of it misinformation and ill-informed polemic) as the signal difference between the bad old days and the bad new days. They might say that, although there is “nothing new under the sun”,including corruption, much of the corruption there was was much more easily ignored before the advent of 24 hour cable “news” programing featuring the “chattering class”, the “History” Channel’s colorfully entertaining attempts to debunk Christianity’s tenents, and the “humor” programs, animated and otherwise, which feature mockery of religious belief as a regular part of their presentations. It is more difficult to protect naivety today, no doubt. Still does exist intentionally ignorant, emotionally driven, falsely glorifying nostalgia for the pre-VaticanII days aplenty in some quarters.

    But not all nostalgia is rose colored revisionistic romanticism.

    Being a practicing Catholic before Vatican II was not as some describe it. Back then not everyone mumbled their Rosary during the Mass and rushed to be the first out of the parking lot.
    Those who did probably experience the contemporary Sunday Eucharistic Service in their local parish church as a vast improvement over the Mass they yawned through and were eager to have end.

    Converts as well as Catholics born into the Church too recently to have experienced Catholic worship and culture before Vatican II have nothing with which to make personal, experiential comparison between what prevails now versus what prevailed then.

    But some of us do. And find the experience of what has supplanted the experience of being a practicing Catholic before Vatican II a very thin gruel indeed.

    Only a foolish person thinks you can “put the toothpaste back into the tube”. There is no “turning back the clock”. But there is hope for something more realistically possible. I would dare to say even probable. A recognition of what is now missing and its return to our Catholic worship and to the life together that flows from it.

  • Brandon

    Africa and Asia have its own sets of problems…some of which have caused consternation for Rome. I brought that up to make the point that the Priest/Religious/Laity Shortage is not Church wide and to rebut the numbers game that “Trads” like to play when blasting Vatican II.

    Nobody should view anything with “Rose colored glasses.” Another commentator in another article on this website quoted Monsignor Ronald Knox, noting that the Church is “Mixed Bag.” This is true with anything, and a truism that should not be forgotten.

  • meg

    I dislike being called a “Trad” – not sure why, it’s not openly derogatory. I guess because it’s trivializing, like many labels are. Also, “Trad” is a bloggy term used only on the internet, which indicates that the person using it has culled their information solely from the internet and lacks any practical experience with the Latin mass itself, sort of like armchair quarter-backing.

    If I had never experienced the new mass it would certainly be unfair of me to judge it by what I have read on the internet alone, no? But this is what consistently happens in the case of the Traditional mass.

    The new mass is everywhere – I would guess over 99% of all masses said are the new mass. Therefore, most of us, and I include myself here, know it very well; we have known many priests, heard thousands of their sermons, been to weddings, funerals, communions etc.

    It bewilders me that so many who criticize the Traditional mass have very limited experience with it. To fully understand the position of those who love the Latin mass it is essential to experience it – not once but often enough to become familiar with it; to have meaningful conversations with a good holy Traditional priest; perhaps to get to know people who love this mass and find out why.

    Vatican II is a highly nuanced subject which deserves careful consideration – we’re not talking about the Yankees vs. the Mets here. To debate Vatican II intelligently requires knowing BOTH sides: the one we all already know pretty well, and the one that more than 99% of Catholics know virtually nothing about.

  • meg
  • I am not Spartacus

    I welcome the talks because perhaps finally we’ll be able to settle this nonsense and move forward

    First of all, thank you for using IANS.

    As to settling the nonsense, I am with you on that but we are not in agreement with what constitutes nonsense.

    When he was a Josef Cardinal Ratzinger, he made it clear that the Immemorial Mass was about Pluralism within Unity not a restoration.

    I do not expect any restoration from anyone in the Hierarchy directly associated with the Vatican Two Council. They have too much personally invested in defending and promoting that Pastoral Council. And, they honestly adhere to the New Theology.

    I have not one Iota Unum of doubt that the New Theology, having been tried and proven to have failed, will be abandoned as a prudential error.

    There is no doubt whatsoever that we have a New Theology we had to have a New Mass:

  • I am not Spartacus

    The only way I could agree with you more is if you had written more.

    In fact, right now I am intellectually bonding with you while morally justifying and personally identifying with your angry ignorant rancorous attitudes.

    Being a trad is not only naughty. It is flat out fun, innit?

  • I am not Spartacus

    There was a heedless and unfounded optimism; the capsizing of perspective, which no longer came from above towards what was below, but vice versa with a perspective starting from an unlimited confidence in man; the clouding of the sacred; a false and dangerous irenicism; the spirit of good nature and cooperation with opposing forces; the deconsecration of, and simultaneously, the adoration of certain aspects of creation – above all, of freedom. The Trojan horse was not, properly speaking, the collection of the conciliar documents, but the ideas of certain pressure groups which succeeded in infiltrating the conciliar hall and determining the line of the progressive maturation which consequently flowed out into the post-conciliar culture. The ‘sin’ of the Council Fathers, therefore, at least the vast majority of them, was not of the formal type ‘of full recognition and deliberate consent’, but rather the material sin of ‘lack of recognition’, of levity, of superficial and exaggerated optimism, of good faith on a personal level.

  • meg

    Anyone who misunderstands the pre-1960 practice of rosary, novenas etc. during mass (that’s you Brandon) should go to the website recommended by IANS. It is a very thorough explanation of why the method of hearing the mass changed with the novus ordo and why although it is a legitimate method it is not the only method, is not necessarily the best method, and is actually inferior in many ways.

    Many who came of age post-Vatican II need to read up before dismissing the Traditional mass. The mass wasn’t invented in 1965. The last 40 years are but a blip in the history of the Catholic church. If you are unsatisfied, have sadness or unanswered spiritual longings you owe it to yourself to look into the old mass.

    For readings about how the Vatican II council was manipulated, start with Michael Davies.

    Thanks to IANS for the link.

  • I am not Spartacus

    FYI The Catechism of Perseverance by The Abbe Gaume on The Sacrifice of The Mass.

    I haven’t had a chance to look through the link (I can’t imagine it has all four volumes online) but I do think this is one of the great Catechisms of all time. I was blessed to have run into this four volume collection in a used book store in Saco, Maine about 20 years ago.

    The collection I bought used to be in the Holy Redeemer College Library in Washington D.C.

    These were the sort of invaluable texts that were ditched by many Colleges, Universities, Seminaries, Convents etc after Vatican Two. Out with the classic Theology and in with the New Theology.

    There is no doubt that the new catechism is applying the New Theology to Jesus and The Jews when it teaches “Jesus gave scandal..” and …”placed the religious authorities of Israel on the horns of a dilemma…” and that the Sanhedrin had a “tragic misunderstanding” of Him and that Jesus’ trial was a “historical complexity”, etc etc etc.

    I’m sorry, but the entire tenor of those entries make excuse after excuse after excuse for the actions of the Jews vs Jesus and it is only Jesus who is said to have given scandal – which elsewhere the Catechism teaches is a sin.

    I guess Jesus did not fulfill a million prophecies that The Jews knew by heart and I guess Jesus gave scandal and that nobody ought think The Jews could have ever been expected to have accepted The Messiah given what Jesus did.

    As for the destruction of the City of Deicide, I guess the destruction of Jerusalem had not a thing to do The Descent of The Holy Ghost who convinced the world of sin and I guess The Descent of the Holy Ghost being treated with indifference by The Jews had nothing to do with the destruction of the City of Decicide. (See Dom Gueranger’sThe Liturgical Year Volume VIII, Paschal Time, pages 237-23smilies/cool.gif.

    And yet I am, continually and repeatedly, told that nothing has changed.

    Look, I can read old and ancient Catechisms/Texts and clearly see there is a radical difference between what was taught and believed then and what is taught and expected to be believed now and I am not one of those who surrenders to the command to stop believing my lying eyes.

    To be a Catholic now means that I has been left to figure-out these things for myself as there IS clearly a radical difference between Classic Theology and The New Theology and until someone can explain it all to me I will stick with what I was raised with and I will continue to rely upon the classic Catechisms and texts.

  • I am not Spartacus
  • Brandon

    Who said I dismiss the Traditional Mass? I don’t think anybody in this thread is dismissing the Traditional Mass…I sure don’t.

    I don’t misunderstand what was going on, I understand…I just happen to think that the old idea of “Hearing the Mass” is no longer a good idea. Lay people need to understand the Liturgy fully and know it. Latin is important, but it isn’t enough. That doesn’t make us “Co-priests” and it certainly doesn’t degrade the role of priest. Pay, Pray and Obey is no longer tenable, and in my view not desireable. You said so yourself that that is a legitimate position, that you happen to disagree with it…fine.

    If the Liturgical Reforms had stopped with the 1965 Missal would that have satisfied you?

    To IANS: You will have to be a little more specific, as I have looked at the Trent Catechism, Baltimore Catechism and the new Catechism and haven’t noticed any “contradictions.”

    The Jews need Jesus too, and this has not changed. You might bristle at how mealy mouthed the Church is about it, and that is a legitimate criticism. Nothing has changed, at least on paper and officially. Perhaps your issue is with emphasis, how the Church tip toes around the issue when addressing Jews and Muslims…and that is a fair criticism. I don’t see why we shouldn’t proclaim Christ even to them. But then again we are talking about means, not the end.

    Has the Church officially proclaimed that Jesus was wrong in his prophecy about Jeruselem? Or is it the writings of a well meaning but misguided PC Cleric with Holocaust guilt feelings who doesn’t want to hurt Jewish sensibilities? You see, I can differentiate between the two.

  • meg

    Since you mentioned the liturgy, there’s so much fascinating stuff out there that would interest you written about the changes in the liturgy.

    Some pertinent quotes from those who lived through/contributed to Vatican II:

    From Msgr. Klaus Gamber, described by Cardinal Ratzinger as “the one scholar who, among the army of pseudo-liturgists, truly represents the liturgical thinking at the center of the Church” (and Wiki calls him one of the “academic inspirations behind Summorum Pontificum”):

    “In the end, we will all have to recognize that the new liturgical forms, well intentioned as they may have been at the beginning, did not provide the people with bread, but with stones…Much more radical than any liturgical changes introduced by Luther, at least as far as the rite was concerned, was the reorganization of our own liturgy – above all, the fundamental changes that were made in the liturgy of the Mass…”

    From Father Joseph Gelineau, a member of Bugnini’s Consilium and described by Bugnini as “one of the great masters of the international liturgical world”:

    “Let those who like myself have known and sung a Latin-Gregorian High Mass remember it if they can. Not only the words, the melodies, and some of the gestures are different. To tell the truth it is a different liturgy of the Mass. This needs to be said without ambiguity: the Roman Rite as we knew it no longer exists. It has been destroyed.”

    Just to clarify, this guy was saying this triumphantly – Bugnini’s followers cried when the Pope issued his motu proprio.

    “The history of the Liturgical Movement of the 20th Century is a very complex subject.”

    So says the author of the arsorandi blog recommended by IANS. You’ve mentioned the liturgy several times – I think this blog would interest you. And please find some Michael Davies to read.

  • I am not Spartacus

    More than once I have identified a major error in the Catechism concerning Jesus and scandal.

    The Catechism teaches that Jesus gave scandal. The Catechism teaches that the type of scandal Jesus gave is a grave sin.

    As the Theologian, Bill Belichick, teaches; “It is what it is.”

    The Catechism went out of its way, page after page, explaining how it was the Jews were put on the horns of a dilemma by Jesus, how we can understand their attitude towards Jesus, the historical complexity of the trial, etc etc.

    But, when it comes to Jesus and scandal, what the Catechism teaches, objectively, is blasphemous heresy.

    And it does no good for folks to claim there is such a thing as Direct and Indirect Scandal because the Catechism does not make those distinctions which it was required to make after taking the unwise decision to teach that Jesus gave scandal.

    Spirago-Clarke, The Catechism Explained,page 386; 2. He commits a still greater sin who destroys the spiritual life of his neighbor, either by tempting him to evil or by giving scandal “…And he who gives scandal is guilty of murder. Nay, even of a greater sin than murder, because the life of the soul is of far more value than the life of the body

    Objectively, it appears as though the Catechism authors (who wrote this section?)were more concerned in defending the Jews than they were concerned with taking every precaution possible that what they wrote about Our Lord and Saviour could not possibly be misconstrued.

    I bought the Catechism when the official version first became available and I, literally, while cursing, threw the Catechism to the floor when I read that section.

    And then when I read the entries on scandal, I almost torched it. How’n’hell could these sections have passed muster?

    Objectively, the Catechism teaches that Jesus sinned when it teaches that Jesus gave scandal and that to give scandal is a sin.

    It can not be explained away. It must be corrected with an apology made to all Christians, especially Christian Catholics.

  • John Mann

    Between the lines, I read in Mr. Novak’s article a great sadness. Yes, surely, there were successes in Vatican II but the great failures, particularly the astonishing, make that monumental, decline of the Church after 1965 points, ultimately, to failure. In fact so many of the successes of Vatican II listed in the article seem to point to the greatness of JP II and not necessarily “the Church”. There’s a risk of a cult of personality that says “Yes, he was great and where would the Church have been without him”. Well, here we are. That is not a swipe at Holy Father Benedict. He is wonderful. But our Church has been so weakened. Vatican II, perhaps, made us a “friendlier” Church but also a less confident Church. The Church is uncertain of its message and, ultimately, is uncertain of the truth because that IS its message. People looking for the truth hear a trumpet that is both weak and disonant. The great loss that Vatican II created was the loss of a Catholic culture that both supported and lifted her members. The bedrock of Catholic culture was the liturgy (the old liturgy) and Catholic pious traditions. Those “things” were what made us Catholic. Without them we lost our identity and have been wandering sheep for the last 40 years. I agree with a previous writer that restoration must come, if not from a traditional order, then certainly, at least, from the restoration and re-discovery of tradition. Most especially in the liturgy.

  • Brandon

    You will have to give me the specific passage with number in the Catechism, because I’m not seeing it in my copy. To the Jewish authorities Christ was certainly being Scandalous, pointing that out isn’t a reason for uproar, if that is the issue. I will have to look at the context of the passage. I certainly hope this isn’t an instance of you LOOKING for things to rend your garments over, because of your dislike of the Post-Vatican II era.

    To John Mann: So it isn’t a question of the Council itself, but what came after?

  • I am not Spartacus

    You will have to give me the specific passage with number in the Catechism, because I’m not seeing it in my copy.

    I already posted, in red, excerpts from the entries with their identifying numbers

  • Brandon

    …and it was just as I said…it was in reference to the Pharisees, and that THEY believed Jesus was Scandalous. Certainly in their system he was. Context is everything, IANS.

  • I am not Spartacus

    You simply made-up an explanation that completely and totally changes what is written in The Catechism.


    it teaches…

    JESUS GAVE SCANDAL. TWICE it teaches that.

    I understand the natural desire to pretend that what is really written in The Catechism is not what is really written.

    What is written in the Catechism is a rank material blasphemous heresy and what you, wrongly, substituted, does not exist – except as our shared desire those entries were actually written in such a manner.

    One can either pretend a problem does not exist or be a man and face-up to a massive and inexcusable error in a Universal Catechism.

  • Brandon

    It is you who is seeing what you want to see, because this Catechism was written by Modernist usurpers, right?

    Read the previous entries before your out of context citations to get what is being discussed.

  • I am not Spartacus

    You refuse to acknowledge what is written in The Catechism.

    You appeal to context as a way of avoiding what the Catechism states, two times; that Jesus gave scandal. I suspect that is because, although it had never occurred to you before, you now see how indefensible such entries are because it has been pointed out to you.

    I too wish the Catechism had not made such an execrable error but it does nobody any good to try and claim it does not, clearly and repeatedly, teach that Jesus gave scandal and that to give scandal is a grave sin.

    As it stands, The Catechism gives grave scandal and these entries must be rescinded, rewritten, and republished along, with an apology from the Church to all Christians and especially to Christan Catholics.

    Those who wrote those statements, and those who approved them caused great scandal and they owe all Christians an apology.

    There is no use in prolonging this fruitless exchange.

  • Brandon

    Especially here. This is fruitless, because you are determined to find fault with this Catechism, and with the Church since Vatican II…as I said before, it is unfortunate your contempt has blinded you to rational examination of the text.

  • meg

    I just reread this piece and I think John Mann kind of nails it – there is a sadness behind it, as well there should be. The Vatican II council promised that not only would lapsed Catholics return home, but that Protestants would join the Catholic church in droves. Not only did lapsed Catholics not return, but Protestants failed to join the Church in any significant number. Most importantly, more than half of Church going Catholics stopped going to Mass at all. Horrifying.

    Men of the Church should be interested primarily in 2 things – doing God’s will and saving souls. The Vatican II council made communion with our separated brethren – Protestants – and, in turn the saving of Prostestant souls, the priority. In their time they were going to settle this problem, once and for all. This is man taking into his own hands what is God’s work alone; it could not be a success.

    They invited Protestant leaders from the varying sects to sit in on the debates as observers. Behind closed doors these observers were invited to share their opinions about the changes in the Mass; these opinions were thoughtfully considered and often applied. This in itself is beyond belief. Protestant leaders were very pleased with the result. This could not have been possible if they thought these changes would cause their own followers to defect to the Church.

    The council “softened” the Mass to appeal to Prostestants following the advice of – who else? – Protestants. That this was not – could never be – following God’s will must be understood by all faithful Catholics. The preoccupation with bringing Prostestants into the fold – instead of strengthening the faith of actual Catholics – was what allowed the ambiguities in, ambiguities purposely placed in the documents to be manipulated later with catastrophic results.

    The only explanation possible for those catastrophic results is that the new Mass virtually cuts Catholics off from the supernatural. If the supernatural were present in any real sense it would be irresistable and draw people in as it always did until Vatican II.

    All due respect to Michael Novak, his closing words in this piece – “just plain fun” – reveal much about just exactly was wrong with the “spirit” in Rome back in the mid-60’s.

  • John Mann

    I don’t claim to be an expert on Vatican II. I’ve heard many priests whom I respect greatly discuss the good that was in the writings and documents of Vatical II. I can’t claim to have read them. However, the ways in which the Church changed after Vatican II, probably in ways that the council neither expected nor called for, were disastrous. Vat II seemed to give anyone with a progressive bent the license to make changes in the “spirit of Vatican II”. Bottom line is that once the Mass could be changed, to something in many ways unrecognizable from what it had been, then anything could change. In the heat and insanity of the 60’s and 70’s, no more needed to be said. The Church’s willingness to throw so much of 2000 years of tradition out the window and to let the new creation sort of make itself up on the fly showed an extraordinary lack of understanding of human nature. This from the organization that should know more about human nature than any other. An extraordinary disaster.

  • Lionel Andrades
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