Off the Rails: Was Vatican II Hijacked?

In this Crisis Magazine classic, James Hitchcock says that while the Second Vatican Council was itself orthodox, much of what followed was not. Here’s why.

Most Catholics in 1959 probably didn’t even know what an ecumenical council was. And yet, here it was. Pope John XXIII announced that the goals of the Second Vatican Council would be “the renewal of the spirit of the Gospel in the hearts of people everywhere and the adjustment of Christian discipline to modern-day living” — a proclamation that was on the face of it ambiguous. How was authentic renewal to be achieved? How should essential discipline be adjusted to modern culture?
John was a relentless optimist, inclined always to look for good in the world, disinclined to scold, and deeply convinced that he had been called to help bring about a new Pentecost in the Church. He further believed that the Counter-Reformation era, characterized both by defensiveness inside the Church and aggressiveness toward those on the outside, was over. The council made only an oblique reference to the fact that the 20th century had already seen a persecution of Christians more severe than any in the entire history of Catholicism.
The Church was apparently flourishing during John’s pontificate. By contrast with what would come later, its members were unusually serious, devout, and moral. But such a Church could be criticized as fostering formalism, a neglect of social justice, and an overly narrow piety, and it’s likely that John XXIII thought that a new Pentecost could build on this foundation to reach still higher levels.
In his opening address to the council, John affirmed the infallibility of the Church but called on it to take account of the “errors, requirements, and opportunities” of the age. He regretted that some Catholics (“prophets of gloom”) seemed unable to see any good in the modern world and regarded it as the worst of all historical periods. The dogmas of the Church were settled and “known to all,” so the conciliar task was to explore new ways of presenting them to the modern world.
The preparatory commissions for the council were dominated by members of the Curia, who were inclined toward precisely such a pessimistic view. When the council opened, there were objections to those commissions, with the result that the council fathers were allowed to approve new schema prepared by some of their own. In some ways this procedural squabble was the most decisive event of the entire council, and it represented a crucial victory for what was now called the “liberal” or “optimistic” party, guaranteeing that the council as a whole would look on its work as more than a mere restatement of accepted truths. There was an officially endorsed spirit of optimism in which even legitimate questions about the wisdom of certain ideas were treated as evidence of lack of faith.
The intellectual leadership of the council came mainly from Western Europe, the most influential prelates being Bernard Alfrink of the Netherlands, Leo Jozef Suenens of Belgium, Achille Lienart of France, Julius Doepfner and Joseph Frings of Germany, and Franz Koenig of Austria. Those five countries, along with the rest of Europe, possessed an ancient tradition of Catholicism, and they had nourished a vigorous and sophisticated Catholic intellectual life.

As theological questions arose, the council fathers almost automatically deferred to the opinions of these European prelates, who were in turn influenced by men recognized as the most accomplished theologians of the age — Henri DeLubac, Jean Danielou, and Yves Congar in France; Edward Schillebeeckx in the Netherlands; Karl Rahner and Joseph Ratzinger in Germany.
But in many respects the Church in those five nations — with the possible exception of the Netherlands — appeared less than robust (judging, for example, by rates of church attendance and religious vocations). Indeed, the vigorous intellectual life of those countries was colored by a certain sense of crisis — the need to make the Faith credible to modern men. By contrast, the Church in the British Isles, Southern Europe, and the United States, to say nothing of the Third World, lacked dazzling intellectual achievements but appeared to be relatively hearty.
Most council fathers therefore seemed to have felt little urgency about most of the questions that came before them. For many, the discussions involved issues that, before now, hadn’t even been considered, such as making the liturgy and religious life more “relevant.” But an unquestioned faith that the Church would always be preserved from error, along with the leadership of John XXIII and Paul VI, led most of the delegates to support the schema that were finally forged from the debate. No decree of the council provoked more than a small number of dissenting votes. Ironically, in view of the later claim that the council brought about the democratization of the Church, deference to authority was a major factor in determining how most of the fathers voted.
Creating Radicals
John XXIII announced Vatican II as a “pastoral” assembly, but there were growing differences of opinion as to what exactly that meant. Pious, instinctively conservative prelates might think of encouraging Marian devotions or kindling zeal for the foreign missions. The dominant group, however, moved the council toward dialogue with the modern world, translating the Church’s message into a language modern men understood.
The council fathers always strove to remain balanced. To take what are now the most fiercely debated issues, they imagined no revisions in Catholic moral teaching about sexuality, referring instead to “the plague of divorce” and to the “abominable crime” of abortion. Deliberately childless marriages were deemed a tragedy, and the faithful were reminded of the Church’s condemnation of artificial birth control.
At the same time, the fact that practically every aspect of Catholic belief seemed to be under discussion had results that John XXIII probably didn’t intend. Famously, at one point he removed the subject of contraception from the floor of the council and announced that he was appointing a special commission to study the issue — an action that naturally led some to believe the teaching would indeed be revised. When Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae in 1968, liberals were outraged that he rejected the commission’s recommendation to permit some forms of birth control and accused him of betraying the council.
The council fathers each had periti, or advisers, on matters of theology and canon law, and some of them were very influential, both in shaping the thought of the prelates whom they advised and in working behind the scenes with like-minded delegates and other periti. In explaining the theological revolution that occurred almost immediately after the council, some orthodox Catholics speculate that a well-organized minority intended from the beginning to sabotage the council and that they successfully planted theological time bombs in the conciliar decrees — doctrinal statements whose implications were deliberately left vague, to be activated later. But there’s little evidence of this.
It’s characteristic of revolutions that they are rarely planned ahead of time. Rather, they arise from the sudden acceleration of historical change, caused by the flow of events and the way in which people relate to those events. There is no evidence that anyone came to the council with a radical agenda, in part because such an agenda would have been considered hopelessly unrealistic. (Some liberals actually feared that the council would prove to be a retrogressive gathering.)
A major factor in the postconciliar dynamic was the reformers’ own heady experience of swift and unexpected change. For example, in 1960 no one would have predicted — and few would have advocated — the virtual abandonment of the Latin liturgy. But once reformers realized that the council fathers supported change, it became an irresistible temptation to continue pushing farther and faster. What had been thought of as stone walls of resistance turned out to be papier-mâché.
The council itself proved to be a “radicalizing” experience, during which men who had never met before, and who in some cases had probably given little thought to the questions now set before them, began quickly to change their minds on major issues. (For example, Archbishop — later Cardinal — John F. Dearden of Detroit, who was considered quite rigid before the council, returned home as an uncritical advocate of every kind of change.) When the council was over, some of those present — both periti and bishops — were prepared to go beyond what the council had in fact intended or authorized, using the conciliar texts as justification when possible, ignoring them when not (as recounted, for example, by Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, who was in charge of liturgical reform after the council, in his book The Reform of the Liturgy). Aware that the council didn’t support their agenda, they quickly got into the habit of speaking of the “spirit” of the council, which was said to transcend its actual statements and even in some cases to contradict them.
The Role of the Media
While the council was still in session, it occurred to some that it was less important what that body actually said and did than what people thought it said and did. Thus as early as the first session, in 1962, there was an orchestrated propaganda campaign to present the deliberations and define the issues in particular ways and to enlist the sympathies of the public on behalf of a particular agenda. Certain key journalists became “participant-observers,” meaning that they reported the events and at the same time sought to influence them — the chief practitioners being “Xavier Rynne” (the pen name of the Redemptorist historian Francis X. Murphy), who wrote “Letter from Vatican City” for the New Yorker magazine, and Robert Blair Kaiser, who reported for Time.
Such reports were written for a largely non-Catholic audience, many of whom were unsympathetic to the Faith, and the thrust of the reporting was to assure such readers that the Church was at long last admitting its many errors and coming to terms with secular culture. Most Catholics probably relied on these same sources for their understanding of the council and so received the same message.
The key reason why postconciliar “renewal” often went wrong is the almost incredible fact that the hierarchy in the early 1960s made almost no systematic effort to catechize the faithful (including priests and religious) on the meaning of the council — something about which many bishops themselves seemed confused. “Renewal experts” sprang up everywhere, and the most contradictory explanations of the council were offered to Catholics thirsting for guidance. Bishops rarely offered their flocks authoritative teaching and instead fell into the habit of simply trusting certified “experts” in every area of Church life. Indeed, before the council was even over, several fallacious interpretations were planted that still flourish today.
Even the best journalistic accounts were forced to simplify the often subtle and complex deliberations of the council fathers. But there was also deliberate oversimplification for the purpose of creating a particular public impression. The media thus divided the council fathers into heroes and villains — otherwise known as liberals and conservatives. In this way, the conciliar battles were presented as morality plays in which open-minded, warm-hearted, highly intelligent innovators (Cardinal Alfrink, for example) were able repeatedly to thwart plots by Machiavellian reactionaries (Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani of the Holy Office). It was a morality play that appealed to the prejudices of many Westerners of the mid-20th century. It also had a real if immeasurable influence on many bishops, who soon discovered that being viewed as “progressive” would gain them a favorable press, while the opposite would make them into public villains.
For understandable reasons, vastly disproportionate attention was lavished by the media on such things as the vernacular liturgy and the end of mandatory Friday abstinence, since concrete practices could be easily dealt with journalistically and such practices had long helped to define the differences between Catholics and others. Catholics who understood almost nothing of the theological issues of the council came to understand that its “real” purpose was repealing rules that had become burdensome and old-fashioned.
But in another sense the attention lavished on such things was not disproportionate, because in a sacramental Church “externals” are the doorways to the spirit. In theory it perhaps ought not to have mattered whether nuns wore habits, but in practice the modification, then the total abandonment, of those habits marked the beginning of the end of religious life as it had existed for centuries. For many people the distinction between essentials and nonessentials was almost meaningless. If Catholics were no longer forbidden to eat meat on Fridays, why could they not get divorced, especially given the widespread conviction that the purpose of the council and of “Good Pope John” was to make people comfortable with their faith?
Many of the council fathers, after they returned to their dioceses, seemed themselves to be in a state of confusion over what they’d done. Only a relatively few — some orthodox, others less so — had a clear and consistent understanding. For most, the postconciliar period proved to be a time of rudderless experimentation, as Catholics groped to understand what the council had mandated. For many people the one sure thing, amid all the postconciliar uncertainty, was the fact of change itself; in an odd way it seemed safest to do or believe almost the opposite of what Catholics had previously been taught.
The Scars of Renewal
Underlying the council were two different approaches to reform — approaches that were not contradictory but that required serious intellectual effort to reconcile. One wasressourcement(“back to the sources”), a program of renewing the Church by returning to its scriptural and patristic roots (DeLubac, Danielou, and Hans Urs Von Balthasar all held to this). The other was aggiornamento (“updating”), by which the supposed demands of contemporary culture were the chief concern (Hans Küng, Schillebeeckx, and to some extent Rahner, were all proponents). Kept in balance during the council itself, these two movements increasingly pulled apart afterward and resulted in the deep conflicts that continue to the present.
A prime example of the postconciliar dynamic at work was the “renewal” of religious life. Cardinal Suenens wrote the influential book The Nun in the World, enjoining sisters to come out of their cloisters and accept the challenges of modern life. Whatever might be thought about them as theological principles, such recipes for “renewal” also promised that those who adopted them would experience phenomenal revitalization, including dramatic numerical growth, and for a few years after the council the official spirit of naive optimism won out over the “prophets of gloom.”
The most famous instance of such renewal in the United States was that of the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Los Angeles. Their program of aggiornamento had all the ingredients required at the time — intense publicity from an overwhelmingly favorable media, a prestigious secular “expert” (the psychologist Carl Rogers), picturesque experiments with nontraditional behavior (encounter groups), and a reactionary villain (James Cardinal McIntyre) portrayed as the only obstacle to progress. Not until it was too late did anyone ask whether the IHM Sisters, along with countless others, were simply abandoning their vocations completely.
A tragic dimension of the conciliar period was precisely the irrelevance and ultimate failure of the exciting intellectual programs that emanated from what were then the five most influential Catholic nations. For a very brief period, Dutch Catholicism made a bid to give the universal Church a working model of renewal, before “the Dutch Church” imploded and sank into oblivion. Rates of church attendance and religious vocations may have been worrisomely low in Belgium, France, and Germany in 1960, but the bishops of those countries probably couldn’t imagine how much lower they would fall. In ways not recognized 40 years ago, it’s now clear that the strategy of countering secularism by moving closer to the secular culture just doesn’t work.
The partisans of aggiornamento became the first theologians in the history of the Church to make systematic use of the mass media, entering into a working alliance with journalists who could scarcely even understand the concept of ressourcement but eagerly promoted an agenda that required the Church to accommodate itself to the secular culture. Strangely enough, some theologians, along with their propagandist allies, actually denied the Church the right to remain faithful to its authentic identity and announced a moral obligation to repudiate as much of that identity as possible. “Renewal” came to be identified with dissent and infidelity, and Catholics who remained faithful to the Church were denounced as enemies of Vatican II.
This occurred at the most fundamental level, so that the authority of the council itself was soon relativized. The notion that a council would claim for itself final authority in matters of belief came to be viewed by liberals as reactionary. Vatican II was thus treated as merely a major historical epiphany — a moment in the unfolding history of the Church and of human consciousness when profound new insights were discovered. According to this view, the council’s function was not to make authoritative pronouncements but merely to facilitate the movement of the Church into the next stage of its historical development. (For example, the Jesuit historian John W. O’Malley in 1971 proposed that certain conciliar texts could be legitimately ignored as merely reflective of intellectual immaturity, timidity, and confusion on the part of the council fathers.)
After the council, the concept of “the People of God” was reduced to a crude form of democracy — doctrine as determined by opinion polls. The liturgy ceased to be a divine action and became a communal celebration, and the supernatural vocations of priests and religious were deemed to be obstacles to their service to the world.
Nothing had a more devastating effect on postconciliar Catholic life than the sexual revolution, as believers began to engage in behavior not measurably different from that of non-believers. Priests and religious repudiated their vows in order to marry, and many of those who remained in religious life ceased to regard celibacy as desirable. Catholics divorced almost as frequently as non-Catholics. Church teachings about contraception, homosexuality, and even abortion were widely disregarded, with every moral absolute treated as merely another wall needing to be breached.
Off the Rails
Ultimately the single best explanation of what happened to deflect the council’s decrees from their intended direction is the fact that as soon as the assembly ended, the worldwide cultural phenomenon known as the “the Sixties” began. It was nothing less than a frontal assault on all forms of authority.
Bereft of catechesis, confused by the conciliar changes, and unable to grasp the subtle theology of the conciliar decrees, many Catholics simply translated the conciliar reforms into the terms of the counterculture, which was essentially the demand for “liberation” from all restraint on personal freedom. Even as late as 1965 almost no one anticipated this great cultural upheaval. The measured judgments of Gaudium et Spes, the council’s highly influential decree on the Church and the modern world, shows not a hint of it.
Had the council met a decade earlier, during the relatively stable 1950s, it’s possible that there could have been an orderly and untroubled transition. But after 1965 the spirit of the age was quite different, and by then many Catholics were eager to break out of what they considered their religious prison. Given the deliberately fostered popular impression that the Church was surrendering in its perennial struggle with the world, it was inevitable that the prevailing understanding of reform would be filtered through the glass of a hedonistic popular culture. Under such conditions it would require remarkable steadfastness of purpose to adhere to an authentic program of renewal.
The postconciliar crisis has moved far beyond issues like the language of the liturgy or nuns’ habits — even beyond sexual morality or gender identities. Today the theological frontier is nothing less than the stark question of whether there is indeed only one God and Jesus is His only-begotten Son. It is a question that the council fathers didn’t foresee as imminent and, predictably, the council’s dicta about non-Christian religions are now cited to justify various kinds of religious syncretism. The resources for resolving this issue are present in the conciliar decrees themselves, but it’s by no means certain that Church leaders have the will to interpret them in final and authoritative ways. Forty years after the council, serious Catholics have good reason to think they’ve been left to wander the theological wilderness.
This article originally appeared in the June 2004 issue of Crisis Magazine.

James Hitchcock


James Hitchcock is Professor of History at St. Louis University. He is the author of many books including The Supreme Court and Religion in American Life (Princeton) and, most recently, The History of the Catholic Church: From the Apostolic Age to the Third Millennium (Ignatius, 2012).

  • Austin

    Vatican II produced much chaos [and some good]. Traditionalists complain about it quite a bit, but of course, it should be remembered that virtually all of the men attending and making decisions were Bishops, not laymen. As we are so often told “The Church is not a democracy.” I wonder if the laity had even a little bit of input, would things have gone better?

  • Laura K

    The problem was not that laity (and women) were forbidden to add to the body of knowledge, because non-clerical experts did have a great deal to add to the council.

    The problem with the council is that Catholics today are largely ignorant of what the Council actually said. They are beautiful and inspirational documents that deserve every thinking Catholic’s attention.

  • Mark

    This morning while listening to Fr. Corapi on Relevant Radio, I heard him say that the word “conscience” appears 72 times throughout Second Vatican Council documents but never alone. It appears either as a “well formed” conscience or a “poorly formed” conscience.

    Because an entire generation was so poorly catechized (including myself with 16 years of Catholic education), and the notion that “conscience” alone can determine truth, many Catholics today believe that sin is no longer that which offends God, but rather, that which makes “me” feel guilty.

    Control freaks are often motivated by insecurity and insecurity is often the flip side of the coin of pride.

  • Steve


    Could you, or anyone, recommend some documents in particular? Thank you

  • Sir Michael

    I know I have been many times blest.

    Perhaps one great blessing I did not realize at the time is when as a child my parish had weeks of instruction right during mass on the changes of Vatican II and why mass and various rules and practices were now changing. I began as an altar boy when we still had Latin Mass. Many of the changes of Vatican II made perfectly good sense to me. Understanding what is going on better by the Liturgy being in English is obvious (though the sprinkling of Latin in use today does tug at my child’s heart.) Some changes need an explanation for many Catholics even today – why is it okay to eat meat on Friday after all those years? Well, that was a rule of practice, one of obedience to Church authority. It was not based on a moral theology that eating meat on Friday was per se wrong; it was wrong because of the disobedience. In contrast, abortion is always morally wrong in every age, for example. It is necessary to understand what is practice – which is changeable – and what is the Canon of the Church – which is base on faith and morals, and not up to the whim of the Pope or the Bishop.

    It is perhaps part of the loss of the education system generally that so many Catholics don’t know “their” faith. This is particulary apparent when talking with a Catholic who has left the church to be “fed” (or whatever) in a protestant denomination and what is said is an expression of ignorance. That said, however, if you simply pay attention at mass you wil find the heart and soul of our faith. (How can you leave the Eucharist?) Many Catholics would benefit from the investment in time and the small cost of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. OTOH, the Baltimore Catechism I learned is still true: Who made me? God made me. Why did God make me? To know Him and Love Him and Serve Him in this world and to be with Him in the next.

  • John2

    Some Vatican II recommendations. Latin name first (then English name).

    The four Constitutions are the “biggies”
    1. Dei Verbum (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation)
    2. Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church)
    3. Gaudium et Spes (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World)
    4. Sacrosanctum Concilium (Constitution on Sacred Liturgy)

    Order depends on what you want to read first. Obviously, if it’s liturgy, start with item 4.

    The three declarations are also important. I suggest you read the constitutions first, but let your interest be your guide.
    1. Dignitatis Human

  • Louise Gonya

    Thank you so much for the wonderful explanation of what happened in our Holy Catholic Church. In some ways even the misunderstandings of these documents in a most bizarre way have served the need for catechesis. We are no longer a ‘simple’ people who believed for the sake of believing. Pieces like this draw serious minded Catholics in for a clearer ‘look see’ and I for one have not been dissappointed EVER by the Church and oddly enough at her struggles.

    We indeed are fortunate who have been baptized into Christ’s Holy Catholic Church but must continue to evangelize using truth as our book. Thank you thank you for your brilliant overview.


  • Mark

    It is possible that Vatican II was a tool issued
    for a complicated future, not the immediate situation.
    No one who lived during V2 could have seen the
    dangerous turn our moral culture would take. Not all church
    problems are as a result of V2; but the license and freedom
    of our culture and the abuse of V2 exposed “us” as being in
    error, not V2.

  • JP

    “The smoke of satan has entered the sanctuary of the Church.” This statement made by Paul VI is actually a confirmation of the fact that their are those within the Church, and undoubtetly, principal players in the spurious ‘interpretation’ of the docs of Vat II, who have a well orcherstrated and far-sighted agenda, which is orientated toward the disintegration of the faith. The evidence for this can be seen in our seminaries, our schools, and indeed in the Church itself. I am not intending to be pessimistic here, but the facts speak for themselves, we need to wake up.

  • Rick Gibson

    Like most Catholics today, I have only a few childhood memories of the Pre-Vatican II church. The largest single change, of course, from the lay perspective is the translation of the Mass into English. I can still remember some of the Latin. Was this a good change? I am not sure. On the one side, it is obviously better to have the sacred words be understandable, which they were not to most of us in Latin. On the other hand, we lost a good deal of the dignity, mystery and sanctity of the Mass.

    And the translation of the Mass into English is the only concrete change of which I am aware that was even arguably a good idea. What other changes were there? Well, maybe I need educating on this, but I am aware of two broad types of change that came out of Vatican II.

    First, we have the theologians view that Vatican II properly reconciled the Faith with the modern world. I have read some of the things Benedict wrote about this. Of course, I believe that he believes this, but I can not see it myself. What changes? How was the faith reconciled with the modern world? I am a pretty literate guy and I cannot point to a single change that was positive.

    Second, we have the tidal wave of attack on the Church that took Vatican II as its battle cry. When I was growing up, the general attitude was that Catholics need not be loyal to bad and evil Popes such as Paul VI, but that we should be loyal to the next Pope, the Pope who has not yet been elected, who will finally carry out the will of Vatican II that all of the medieval nonsense of the Church will be dumped and that we would become just like the secular culture.

    It has been a long way back from this attitude, and much of the American Church has obviously not yet made the journey. Thank God, as always, for John Paul the Great, who, in my opinion, not only helped to defeat Communism in Eastern Europe but who saved the Church. Had he not been pope, I think the Church would have gone on in the “spirit of Vatican II”, would have become utterly secular and would now be as close to death as the “mainstream” Protestant churches are.

    But what did John Paul II stand for? Again, this is a lay opinion, but my perception was that he stood for the absolute and total rejection of the “spirit of Vatican II” and the complete and total re-affirmation of the Faith.

    This essay argues, and I think it has a point, that Vatican II was never intended to be an attack on the faith. OK, what then WAS Vatican II? What was its point? From where I sit, it was a complete and total disaster.

  • Carlist

    Has it ever crossed anyone’s mind that the papers of Vatican II were ambiguously written to ensure “Misunderstanding”?

    Previous Councils had a device to handle this problem in advance, i.e. clarifying “anathemas” following documentary texts.

    Whatever one’s position on Florence, Trent of Vatican I there was no doubt as to what their decrees said or meant.

    There was a question regarding this lack during the Council’s procedures but those who brought it up were dismissed, almost out of hand, since VII was a “pastoral” and not a “dogmatic” Council.

    Well we’ve had almost half a century to ruminate about incoherent pastoral directions!

  • Frank

    Mr. Hitchcock,

    I believe you may have missed the point. The Church could have remained as a bulwark against the coming cultural onslaught of the 1960s; as has been Her role throughout history. Instead, the progressive prelates (whose own local churches were failing) insisted that the Church join the rest of the world in the debauchery. I can hear Our Lady of Fatima now – “I told you so!” God usually laughs when we make plans; not this time.

  • Ricardo

    I cannot agree with your last sentence:

    Forty years after the council, serious Catholics have good reason to think they’ve been left to wander the theological wilderness.

    We had the Council explained through the magisterium of Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. For me, particularly John Paul II’s encyclicals were in large part an interpretation and an explanation of the Council.

  • Ricardo

    One question (I really don’t know about this one):

    How much of what you are complaining is the specifically American experience of Vatican II?

    How much of what you are saying becomes true if you replace “catholics” above by “american catholics”?

    (I am portuguese, my hometown is Fatima, so my experience of post-vatican II is quite different)

  • Francesca

    Which Catholic periti were laymen or women?

  • R.C.

    It seems to me that the difference between someone who misunderstands the teachings of Vatican II, and someone who understands them, is that the former assumes the possiblity of discontinuity and contradiction.

    If you see Vatican II as a continuation of all that had gone before, then you will understand that none of what it said can possibly contradict anything that any prior council or teaching had taught.

    The sole exceptions are matters of discipline (e.g. meat on Fridays), and these are only permitted to be exceptions because, by definition, matters of discipline (a.) are not matters of truth, but of policy in response conditions which may change; and, (b.) are changeable even though they are obligatory while they remain in force.

    Therefore if the Catholic Church previously taught that something was true in matters of faith or morals, it obviously is not a discipline and cannot change and all aspects of Vatican II must be interpreted as not contradicting it.

    Put another way, if a practice which previously was obligatory is no longer obligatory, then that practice must, all along, have been a discipline dependent on changing circumstances, rather than a practice founded on dogmatically defined unchanging truths. But only such items as have been changed can be viewed this way; the set of all things defined as changeable disciplines is equal to the set of all things the Church has declared to be disciplines by requiring different practices at different times or in different places, plus the rather smaller (probably NULL) set of practices which have been formally defined as changeable disciplines even though they’ve been universal church practice in all eras and remain so.

    Those who commit abuses “in the spirit of Vatican II” are those who view it as a revolution, as a change which declared false that which was previously declared true, or vice versa.

    But interpreting Vatican II in the context of history, is as important as viewing each passage of Scripture in the context of all Scripture. Reading Vatican II without keeping Trent in mind is like reading “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters

  • CatholicGuy

    Great article. I just wanted to clarify something that was not that clear in some of the reader comments. Vatican II did not relieve catholics of the obligation to do abstain from meat on Friday. It does however allow for the local bishops to provide for a substitution, which they did in the US.

    See #1251-1253 of the code of canon law:

    Here is the interpretation by the US bishops conference (see paragraphs 18-2smilies/cool.gif:

    So you can either abstain from meat on friday, do another appropriate form of penance, or do both.

  • Laura K

    Has it ever crossed anyone’s mind that the papers of Vatican II were ambiguously written to ensure “Misunderstanding”?

    That would be an uneducated assumption. Vat. II was directly influenced by its two popes, John XXIII and Paul VI. Paul in particular emphasized dialogue — both dialogue within the church and dialogue of the Church with the world. This emphasis becomes clear once you read the documents, especially Gaudium et Spes. In crafting the documents, the Fathers had to work quickly, but they worked hard specifically that their ideas would be understood across many cultures and languages.

    One of the tragedies of the post-Vat.II world is that so much more was specifically asked of bishops, priests, religious, and laity, but Vat. II was not meant to stand in isolation as an authority. It was a call to arms against a increasingly hostile and secular world. From the Council the Catholic Church was called to regroup, as they were after the Council of Trent, and for Catholics, by the sacramental power that gives us authority to evangelize, to rededicate the Church to the cause of Christ. But the Church was already under attack. The late 60’s were turbulent years and people didn’t know and weren’t taught. It’s probable that without the Council, the 70’s and 80’s would have been even worse. We certainly wouldn’t have the tools to make the recoveries we have been making.

    After every Council there is a period of unrest while the barque lurches and regains its footing. But the Councils happen specifically in periods of unrest. If we believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church, especially during Ecumenical Councils, we need not come to any conclusions that Vat. II was designed to sabotage the Church. The Council is a tool for us now in our day. We should not fear it as something liberal, unorthodox, and foreign to God’s plan for His people.

  • Arturo Vasquez

    Here’s an idea: if one council out of a couple of dozen is causing so much confusion and trouble, why not just ignore it? Is the Catechism of the Catholic Church the “new and improved” version of the Roman Catechism? Is the Pauline rite the “new and improved” version of the old Mass? Are we all bound to accept the “Catholic Church 2.0”, marching in lock step with ecclesiastical marketers trying to “push the brand” as the pious “Papist street team”. If there are confusing practices and confusing documents that came out of this council, stick to the things that aren’t confusing, even if they were written more than fifty years ago. Old doesn’t mean outdated.

  • Kevin

    The great Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once remarked that “the first fifty years after a council belong to Satan”. The Council of Nicea was actually followed by an INCREASE in Arianism, which clearly wasn’t the intent of that Council. None of this delegitimizes the oouncil, but only shows that there are those who will try to twist its words to suit their own purposes. Eventually, through people like Athanasius and John Paul II, who taught the truth with love as well as clarity, the truth wins out and everything else is shown to be nothingness.

  • Carlist


    Again, I return to my original point i.e. why weren’t “anathemas” used to guarantee correct interpretation of the Council’s documents?

    This simple procedure would have prevented four decades of angst along with procedural and theological confusion.

    I do agree with your assessment that the Council was called to dialogue with the “Modern World” but unfortunately on the “Modern” world’s terms, in essence a white flag flown to the “Enlightenment”.

    Aquinas succombed to Descartes and Kant. Rahner replaced Borromeo!

    Case closed!

  • Vicky G

    The documents of Vatican II are largely open-ended. They sound orthodox if you filter the words from an orthodox standpoint, but if you are “itching for change” as many of the priests who reacted to the Council were, you can create your own ending to the sentences and paragraphs.

    In the years since the Council, many Church directives have the addendum, “except as determined by the local bishop.” For instance, the GIRM states that the congregation is to kneel after the Lamb of God in the Mass, unless otherwise directed by the local bishop. This assures that those bishops who wish to oppose the will of the Church and of the Pope may do so. And consequently, many parishes throughout the country stand rather than kneel at this portion of the Mass.

    Another aspect of the Council often hailed as beneficial is the use of the vernacular for the Mass. Yes, English or the local language is more easily understood, but this change away from Latin also necessitates translation which is never exact and which can easily be formulated to twist and the deny the original by a clever translator.

    A good example of this type of misbegotten translation is in the Gospel for Palm Sunday (since the same translators have also reworked the Bible). Now the two thieves who flanked Christ are not called thieves, but revolutionaries. The point being that Christ was also a revolutionary rather than the Son of God sent for the purpose of redeeming mankind.

    Many priests add or subtract from the words of the Mass at will. The net effect of this is an ever-changing Mass and in the long run, a subtle change in doctrine. Our local priests, Jesuits, sometimes use the words of the Mass to innovate and thereby cast doubt on Catholic belief, often the divinity of Christ, a little heresy they have learned from their mentor, Karl Rahner who propagated the idea that Christ evolved in a divine being by virtue of his life as a man.

  • Faithful

    John XXIII was an apostate. Have the courage to admit the truth. Vatican II devastated the Catholic Church as we can all see today.

  • Dave Rules

    Does this not lend itself to the conclusion that one of the only ways that the Catholic Church survives its very tumultuous current existance, is to have ANOTHER pentacost within the it? A Vactican III.

    Pope Benedict was amongst the creators of Vatican II, so who better than he to know what went so terribly wrong within it?

    I pray that his true greatness, which is hidden at this point, be that he begins the process of a third Vatican council. May John Paul the Great help shed God’s graces on Benedicts oversight. More people have to come to Jesus through the church. It is the ONLY purpose of it all…..

  • Joseph J. Wagner


    I think Vatican II did more damage than good. Keeping Fridays as a meatless day should be recommended, but only recommended. What I don’t like is the lessening of the importance of our devotions to the Saints, especially the Blessed Mother. Many churches do not have her statue on the Main Alter-this is disturbing to me. Venerating the BVM and requesting her intercession is important. The blessed trinity is No 1 and always will be, but, if I am praying for Mary’s help, I can’t believe Jesus will feel slighted.


    Joseph J. Wagner

  • ben joyce

    I am convinced that Vat II must been seen in its proper context and that context is the great apostasy spoken of in Thess. and then the book of Rev. The great contest that Sr. Lucia of Fatima spoke of with Fr. Fuentes (’57 or was is Walsh in’46?)had to take place, the fight was on. Either the devil or God would win and it will be forever.
    Pope Leo XIII’s vision in 1884 of legions of demons covering the earth and Satan being given “100 years” to test humanity had their “blitzkrieg” at Vat II.
    Obviously the third secret of Fatima kicks in around it’s reported release date 1960! (“because then it will be more clear” said Sr. Lucia) A few months after Vat II was convoked by Pope John XXIII.

    Cardinal Ciappi (JPII’s spiritual advisor) stated that the third secret involved “apostasy from the top”. If Pope John had released the 3rd secret, Vat II would have been stopped dead in its tracks or greatly revised. It appears to me that Pope John and the 7 out of nine curia members who advised him not to release it, had an agenda that was different than that of the Virgin Mary. Look what happens, they get a freemason (Bugini) to write a new Mass for us and vocations drop 90%, and Mass attendance drops to 25% from 75% and the confessionals are empty.

    A lot of bishops and Cardinals and two Popes didn’t really know what they were doing but the freemasons did. Of course the Church will win, its guaranteed, but after the battle we will see what the Blessed Mother tells Fri. Gobbi, (Zach. ?8:13) “I’ll bring a third through the fire”

    Of great interest to me; I heard a show on EWTN concerning Garabandal where the Blessed Mother states: “The second vatican council will be seen in the future as the greatest council in history” I thought “Wow!” What does she mean? Greatest as in good? or Greatest as in Contest/disaster??

    To answer this, I can make an analogy. The greatest gathering of the apostles was the Last Supper. What happened? We got the Mass, that’s great, but we got betrayal too. Judas left and spoke with the Jews. Then Jesus entered his passion, was curcified and died. Likewise, Vatican II is the “last supper” for the mystical body of Christ. It is being tortured beatin and crucified.

    How did we get Vatican II? John XXIII called it, and Paul VI finished it. How did we get those two popes? By the way I AM NOT A ACEDEVACANTIST! According to three sources the conclaves of ’58 and ’63 were “interfered with by “an international organization” Those sources are Malachi Martin, U.S. intelligence (freedom of information act ’74)and Mr. Scortesco, president of the “Noble Guard” (charged with conclave security). After Mr. Scortesco revealed his information in an Italian magazine in 1988, within a month he was found burned alive in bed! Another man named Peccorelli who printed the (alleged) names of many freemasons in the Vatican, a short time later he was found shot in the mouth and dumped in a trash can. It is reported that Cardinal Tisseraunt left the conclave in ’63 (mortal sin) and spoke to B’nai B’rth by phone. threats were made to the conclave. The Judas repetition.

    When will it all turn around? I think not until “the Warning” spoken of at Garabandal, Medjugorje, Fr. Gobbi, and others (?psalm 18 or is it 19). At Medjugorje it is RUMORED that the 9th secret states that the Church will seem like it’s dead. (like Jesus on the cross?). Mari-Loli at Garabandal states:

    that the Warning will not happen until conditions are at their worst. there will be a sudden and catastrophic expansion of communism.

    The Pope will go to Russia and when he returns, hostilities will break out across Europe.

    The Blessed Mother told Loli, “everything will happen when communism comes back” (1962) The priest interviewing her asked, “you mean communism goes away for a while?”. Loli answered, “She didn’t say anything about that”

    The Blessed Mother told the seers about how they will forget about this apparition in the future, “You will forget like the Church is forgetting” Did the Church forget about tradition during Vatican II?

    The Warning spoken of by the seers of Garabandal was revealed to them during the “night of screams” Mari Loli describes intense thirst, fire and grouping of water where getting water only makes the fire worse. This description is similar to many readings I find concerning Purgatory. Visionaries have stated that the Warning will bring the sensations of Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell to everyone at the same time depending on ones sinful situation that he deserves.

    Only at this time, it seems, that the Church will really triumph.

  • Charles

    I am an old Catholic (76) and the tragedy of Vatican II was totally unnecessary. The church did NOT need reform. Before Vatican II the church faithful had discipline, piety and were instilled with strong faith and respect for the clergy. Receiving the body and blood of Christ was a profound experience and not fast food as it is today. You received communion kneeling and with reverence. You did not receive communion if you were not in a state of grace. Confession was essential. The end result of Vatican II is Priest abuse, abortion, homosexuality, same sex marriage
    and all the daily immorally that occurs due to liberalism. Satan dwells in the church today because Vatican II opened the door and welcomed him in.

  • John T Di Nitto

    I am in full agreement with this marvelously written article. What was written here is precisely what happened. Although I was only a teen during Vatican II I had already been well schooled by Catholic Nuns and a very devout mother. My beliefs were steeped in traditional Catholic understanding and in no way did I adapt to the absurd and awkward events that followed the Council. I’ve been praying and waiting patienty for the Church to return our Faith to us intact in Truth as Jesus taught it to His Apostles and as our Dogman and Traditions have dictated

  • Chris Spencer

    I am a recent convert. I was baptised in the methodist “church” and other then my baptism had no religious teaching or guidance growing up. I lived my life as most do in the secular society of today and held that most Christians were ignorant of science, and therefore “reality”. I was full of pride and self-knowledge. I was completely wrapped up in the lie of todays society.

    A wonderful thing happened about 3 years ago though. Jesus spoke to my heart at the lowest time in my life. When he spoke to me the Catholic Church was were I went for my anwsers. The Universal Church that can trace it’s roots right back to our Lord himself. In the past three years my life has taken a drastic change and my view of the world is much different now.

    I love my parish and my RCIA teacher, but whats being taught is very luke warm and wanting. I learned virtually nothing about our faith from RCIA. I’ve learned most of it from reading St. Agustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, G.K. Chesterton, Pope Benedict XVI, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and of course the Bible. Thank God for EWTN and Father Corapi as well. There are people in my parish who behave and treat their faith with little or no respect and use Vatican II as their excuse.

    Today if I want to find information about Catholism I search for it in documents pre Vatican II because thats where I’ve found the Truth, thats where the Lord has lead my heart. I thirst for direction, but I have found very little within my parish, I’ve had to find it else where.

    May the light of Christ forever shine down upon you all.

    In nomine patris, et filii, et spiritus sancti.

  • Anne Marie

    James Hitchcock is a brilliant analyst. I have seen his writings for years. It is my heartfelt belief that those of us who are old enough to have seen the “before and after” have the greatest vantage point. The schemas described in the opening paragraphs were a huge starting point for chaos after the council. They left open the possibility of various interpretations because of the ambiguities and vagueness. See what St. John Bosco prophesied about the time after the council, and his vision of the ship under attack. More insight comes from the visions of Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich. The two volume work of her life and visions is an amazing read.

  • katie

    But the Church was already under attack. The late 60’s were turbulent years and people didn’t know and weren’t taught. It’s probable that without the Council, the 70’s and 80’s would have been even worse. We certainly wouldn’t have the tools to make the recoveries we have been making.

    After every Council there is a period of unrest while the barque lurches and regains its footing. But the Councils happen specifically in periods of unrest. If we believe that the Holy Spirit guides the Church, especially during Ecumenical Councils, we need not come to any conclusions that Vat. II was designed to sabotage the Church. The Council is a tool for us now in our day. We should not fear it as something liberal, unorthodox, and foreign to God’s plan for His people.

    Vatican ii started in the late 50’s when the church was still fairly strong , when catechesis was taught throughout with vigor.
    The biggest threat to the world and the church at that time was communism and that something was totally neglected by the council, something that should have been addressed but passed over ( Pact of Metz). No one can tell me that we ‘needed’ a council that was pastoral and then totally ignore the number one enemy of the church. The schemas were hijacked by the modernists and used to open the church to her enemies. The church had been and still is infiltrated by those wishing to destroy Her. I believe the council was used by God to cleanse His Church of such enemies and that is the only reason I can see that good came out of the council. During JPii reign, he was famous for saying the church had a “new springtime” and tried to convey to us that everything was rosy. Either he was clever as a fox or he was duped. The only ones that called the council for what is was , were the traditionalists. They got it right from the beginning and should be commended but sadly are still persecuted by their own church leaders. So now there are those who preach from their soapboxes telling us that the council has been misinterpreted? After 40 years, they are telling us now? Give me a break!

  • Kevin V.

    I attend the Extraordinary form of the Latin liturgy and it’s very clear to me when I must attend the ordinary form that it is a different religion. Perhaps this wasn’t intended, perhaps its not “in the documents”, but it is a reality that plain for anyone to see.

  • Jane

    My past goes back to the 40’s, when one enter Church, no one
    talk, only to God! There was respect! Children were taught to
    behave! Now our Masses are a free for all. It feels like a
    so sorry so many born in the Sixties and later will never experience
    the beauty of the OLD MASS. Things needy change, but IT
    could have been accomplish on a one by one basic. Vatican 1 threw out the baby in the baby water. Satan could not kill
    the church from the outside, so he had his apostle enter through the inside, this he accomplish before the sixties, so when Vatican one and two came along he was ready to move. Now the Catholic church is no longer one and the same, teaching the same, BUT A MESS WHERE YOU CAN ENTER A CATHOLIC IN ONE DIOCESE EVERY THING IS DONE ONE WAY, A nother DIOCESE EVERY THING IS DONE ANOTHER WAY, IT IS NO LONGER UNIVERSAL! Peoria Il.

  • Annie

    I am old enough to remember when the changes occured since I was about 11-12 years old. When the mass first changed into English, parts of it were still in Latin. The altar rails, statues, tabernacle were still all the same. The quiet reverence was still there.

    I do think that having the mass in English is better. It’s the freewheeling changes that were made within 10 years after that which are the problem. It was like a free for all. Silly streamers and banners, party time in church instead of quiet, people who thought they had to “run the show” with singers up front instead of the choir loft, liturgical prancing, etc. If you read an autobiography/biography of Pope John 23rd it seems like what he wanted was for people to be able to participate i.e. respond the the parts in the mass in their own language that only the altar boy responded to before. Instead, people hijacked the mass to create their own thing. Yes, there were even masses with pizza and coke for communion in some settings. Then came the silly handholding, which reminds me of the ring around the rosy childhood game.

    I understand some of the reasoning for making churches simpler – there was a feeling in the 60’s that churches were too ornate and all that money could be used for social causes instead. However, that doesn’t justify wrecking beautiful churches that were already in place.

    I don’t really miss the Latin – what I miss is the reverence and quiet. I miss the altar rails (if you find a church that has one you will see it is actually more efficient to distribute communion at the rail). I miss the devotions (some churches do still have them).
    I don’t miss the silly head covering requirement – let’s see, forgot your hat or little lace thing – just attach a kleenex on your head with a bobby pin. That was idiotic. I do miss seeing people decently dressed in church (and I don’t mean they have to wear their Easter finest but flip flops, short shorts, low cut tops, etc. are not appropriate). When it was hot outside (and our churches did not used to have air conditioning) people mostly went to the earlier masses to solve the problem.

    When I returned to church after many years of being away, I hardly recognized the mass. Fortunately I found a few churches that are more traditional. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t go to church at all.

  • Tom Larsen

    James Hitchcock’s summary of Vatican Council II omits one question. Think about it, “Why did Jesus lead the Church this way?” The late Fr. Malachi Martin, who was present at VCII, asked this question and suggested some answers. The Church is totally Christ’s: His pope, His Mass, His loving bride, His flock, His teaching authority. I think some little “t” traditions have been pulled away revealing some to have faith and others to be lacking. Let’s pray. (Oremus.) May the Church lead the whole world into eternal life to worship, adore, and glorify God forever.

  • Juliana V.

    Just a note of clarification: The Novus Ordo Mass is not simply a translation of the ancient Liturgy of the Church into the vernacular. It is a newrite as the name implies. Therefore, a Latin Novus Ordo Mass is not the same as the Traditional Latin Mass (now called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite). If the changes in the Liturgy had been principly of translation, traditionalists would not have been so appalled nor would they have been so persecuted. In fact, there are many other significant changes in the NO Mass in addition to the condensing, deleting, rearranging, and new language of the Canon of the Mass. The most obvious of these other changes are the priest facing the people instead of leading the congregation towards God (facing the Tabernacle “liturgical east”), the Canon spoken out loud (remember how the Israelites never spoke the name of the Lord? It was too holy …) and the new lectionary which lost much more than it gives. To compare the Ordinary of the two Masses of the Roman Rite, see this link:

  • pete

    I accept everything of this article. BUT IT IS NOT SUFFICIENT. Why? BECAUSE SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT, rather than merely well done historical reasoning is what is needed, AND WHAT POPE JOHN XXIII ERRED IN AT THE TIME must be the standard. John 23rd RIGHTLY perceived that IN EUROPE there had ALREADY been a DRIFTING AWAY from CATHOLICISM BY ALMOST ALL THE CULTURAL ELITES OF SOCIETY. His sudden inspiration was to call the Council in Jan ’59
    This he believed came from the Holy Spirit, BUT LOOKING AT IT WITH SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT, especially in the MANY BAD FRUITS (despite many good things), this is HIGHLY DOUBTFUL. Rather, as Hitchcok alludes, IT CAME FROM HIS OWN SUNNY OPTIMISM. More importantly, HEAVEN had already given a PLAN FOR WHAT AILS CATHOLICISM AND THE WORLD: PUBLIC PROPHETIC MESSAGES OF THE MOST SERIOUS NATURE, through PRIVATE revelations: Fatima,Divine Mercy,as the main ones. BUT when after calling the Council the Pope read the 3rd Part of the Fatima Secret which was supposed to be revealed in ’60,HE DIDN’T LIKE WHAT HE READ AND BURRIED THE MESSAGE IN THE ARCHIVES. THIS IS THE HEIGHT OF POOR DISCERNMENT: he preferred his own inspiration to the APPROVED MESSAGES from HEAVEN via Our Lady! ADD TO THIS: the secret aggreement with the Soviets not to condemn Communism (Montini’s idea) in order to get the Russian Orthodox to send delegates. HEAVEN RESPONDED THE VERY NEXT YEAR WITH OUR LADY APPEARING AT GARABANDAL,(’61-5) which occurred EXACTLY PARALLEL TO THE COUNCIL. Of course Heaven knew what was coming in terms of the great social revolutions of the ’60s. But the entire Church was distracted by a SPIRIT OF REVOLUTION WITHIN it, first very small as in all revolutions, then taking over everwhere.LACK OF VIGILENCE BY THE ENTIRE HIERARCHY, MOST ESPECIALLY BY THE INEPT and at crucial points unsure PAUL VI, with very few exceptions allowed the revolution to swell. EXAMPLE: When Paul VI met the Patriarch Athenagoras in Jerusalem in ’69, the latter WARNED him NOT TO CHANGE THE LITURGY, just to TRANSLATE IT. This AP SUCCESSOR TO THE APOSTLES WITH THE GRACE OF HIS VOCATION ironically echoed what Pope Nicholas the Great in person approved for SS Cyril and Methodius!IT WAS IGNORED. Paul VI rather agreed to follow (the secret mason Bugnini’s advice to place sons of the Prot. Revolt in influential positions. THE HEIGHT OF SPIRITUAL FOLLY. Yes this Pope FINNALLY came out with Humani Generis (5 yrs too late), by which time the Faithful had already decided on their own.This Pope HAD LITTLE PASTORAL EXPERIENCE, and it showed. He was naive (optimistic) at the same time as being unsure and somewhat helpless when the storm broke.
    CONCLUSION: Spiritual discernment looking at all this would by the FRUITS conclude that the 2 Pontiffs FOLLOWED A HUMAN SPIRIT OF OPTIMISM, AND NOT A SUPERNATURAL ONE THAT WOULD HAVE GIVEN PRIORITY TO DIVINE PROPHECY SUITED TO OUR TIMES TROUGH PRIVATE REVELATION. THE FAILURE TO PERCEIVE what God is saying to the Churches STILL BLINDS THE HIERARCHY HERE (cf O.L. of America, whose dire predictions of what would happen if ignored are RIGHT ON 50yrs later)AND IN THE VATICAN (cf the lame interpretation of the 2000 revealing of the Vision of Fatima AS REFERRING TO THE PAST, when the persecution of the Church is breaking out all over the globe NOW!.

  • Maggie

    Ever think that the dark one came as an “Angel of Light….? When something is good it bears much fruit. So, did Vatican II bear a lot of wondcerful fruit?

  • Ed

    I agree that the laity has been drifting like a rudder-less derelict since the end of Vatican II. A tragic aftermath of the Council was the unprecedented exodus of religious women, the stalwarts who had been the educators of generations of Catholic children. While parochial schools continued to provide quality education, something fundemental changed. As the nuns left, so did the Baltimore Catechism. Today, post Vatican II adults have a very skimpy foundation of the basics of their faith. While they are aquainted with social issues such as capital punishment and abortion, many seem to be lost when asked questions about what makes Catholics different from other Christians. Why does the Curch require me to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation? What is the theological reasoning behind banning divorce for Catholics? What is a mortal sin anyhow and why? (When was the last time you heard a homilist address hell and why we may end up there?)

    Most of us ended our formal Catholic education when we completed our instructions for Confirmation. Cosequently we understood the education we did get through the eyes of a child. We were not mature or sophisticated enough to interpret Catholic teaching as an adult would. So it is necessary that our education be continued. How better to do this than at weekly Mass. I would like to see pastors develope a program where one Sunday each month be devoted to educating the laity in the Faith in place of the usual homily.

    Only by educating the faithful can we bring about the renewal that Vatican II promised but didn’t deliver. Only education can give us the answers to why being a Catholic is a unique gift which sets us apart from others. An educated Catholic is a strong Catholic. And strength is sorely need today.

  • anthonypadua

    What I find unfathomable about the Second Vatican council is how a pastoral and disciplinary council (both Popes John and Paul VI said that nothing dogmatic would be put forth by the council) seems to have had a dogmatic character for the past 40 years. People cower to every single document and writing put forth, whereas it has no dogmatic authority over any Catholic.

    It may, therefore, be rejected out of hand, every last word of it. For my own part, I’ve ignored it during the past 40 years and shall continue to do so. I’m fortunate enough to be able to hear the Traditional Latin Mass every morning, 7 days a week. There’s no heterodoxy from the pulpit, no stupid jokes, no banal sermons, no hand-holding, Kumbaya-singing “musicians.” I don’t know how folks in the parishes can stand all the nonsense they have to endure Sunday after Sunday.

  • Bernie

    I attend the Extraordinary form of the Latin liturgy and it’s very clear to me when I must attend the ordinary form that it is a different religion. Perhaps this wasn’t intended, perhaps its not “in the documents”, but it is a reality that plain for anyone to see.

    You are correct. It is two different religions. The new mass was written by six protestant ministers! Go to a protestant church some Sunday and observe and listen carefully. You will see absolutely no difference from the modern catholic mass. The catholic church has been protestanized. When I went to catholic school in the early 60’s I was taught that protestanism was heresy. The math is very simple if most catholics would just take out their calculators!

  • ben joyce

    The root cause of the breakdown is the effective denial of Church Dogma of:

    Outside the Church there is no Salvation

    This denial leads to “liberalism” ie one religion is good as another- all can end in salvation. this is a lie, condemned by Pope Pius IX 1800’s. this is why the faith is not defended. What for? “The protestants can be saved and they don’t have to go to confession. they can even get divorced a couple of timeS and everthing’s cool”

  • Paul White

    There is a new book that is a rewrite of Pascendi Dominici Gregis for the Catholic laity. Its much easier to understand than the original and has been endorsed by Msgr. Franco who was the head of the English division of the Congregation of the Clergy in Rome for 24 years.

    You can find it at

    There are other books for Catholic Apologetics as well

  • Paul White
  • Robertz

    Annie, from what I have read the head covering requirement is still a requirement. The new canon stated that anything not directly removed as worded in the new, or overwritten with a replacement in the new, is still in place that was contained in the old. People thought that it was no longer a requirement in the new because it didn’t say anything about it; but that only means that it is still a requirement (especially since it is biblical). Again, this is only what I have read second hand and I could be wrong. Today with all of the abuses and wrongdoings, head covering is probably the least of our problems. It would take a very great effort to enforce it with the rampant feminism that views humility as anathema. I am not old enough to have seen anything (decades off) of pre-Vatican II, but I have heard some mention that in some parishes extra head coverings (clean ones of course) were available for those who may have forgot or for some other reason.

  • Randy Goodlett

    I am in agreement with just about all that I have read on Vatican II and in most of the comments therafter.

    The second to last one…which states that only Catholics will get to heaven is a bit over the top. Jesus states that whoever follows him and abides in his teachings will gain entry into the heavens and there are some of the protestant and evangelist denominations who will thus gain access into heaven. So will anyone who lives a moral life and, when he dies and meets Jesus and knows who He is… and accepts Him as his Lord and Savior.

    We seem to forget those who have had legitimate near death experiences and who do travel to the spiritual realm and back again do bring back much. For they come to know the absolute truths and they have free will to make clear decisions about where they go and if they were never exposed to the Truths while on earth…they too do have a shot at getting into heaven. Our Church is not an exclusive club. It is the one church that still holds true to the absolute truths and as such, it is the easiest way (with the aid of the sacraments) to enter into heaven. But it is not the only way and I trust my Bishop and my vatican trained priests to have told us the truth on that.

    That being said, I do want to reiterate what “pete” and another had to say about the visionaries and their messages. For though there are many in the church who would and will not validate some of these messages, those of us who know scirpture and our catecism and those of us who do take the time to pray for discernment and who do begin to be blessed with signs from the Holy Spirit can validate the authentic ones. Thus the Medjugorge ones are valid and extremely important…as are those from some of the other visionaries like Christina Gallegher.

    When someone is getting these blessed messages from the heavens, warning us of the great evils that approach us today…we can be assured that Satan will try to discredit them and to cloak these messages. Somewhere in the text on Vatican II above, it mentions that the results were exactly opposite of the intentions. Whatever Jesus has given us as the absolute truths, satan is active in promoting the exact opposite…because he literally IS the exact opposite of the Light (true darkness).

    Yes, Satan is at work within the Roman Catholic Church and there are those who would replace the traditions and many of the truths with the modern day secular lies and hereseys. Our church represents the culture of life and respect for all of the stages in ones life. The devil is of the culture of death and convinces so many of the “elitists” that we as a world are overpopulated and that wars and abortion and euthinasia and controlled diseases are the tools to reducing the earths population down to a “sustainable development of 1 billion people” These are real programs that are being secretly implemented to carry out these “new world order” ideas and the heavens have been warning us about them. This massive genocide that will be committed with deranged programs as proposition 20 (for the radical reconfiguring of the United States) and others and these gloalists will use every new tool (Global warming lies, worldwide abortion upon demand, identity enforcement (where not only farm animals will be computer chipped but also humans) they can muster to effect this change.

    If anyone doesn’t get that we have now elected an openly socialist President who has strong communist leanings and who is trying to reverse many policies and who will do away with our freedoms and our liberties as he nationalizes all of our key industries and they don’t get that satan is behind this…then they have lost the ability to discern these things. Our Blessed Mother Mary has been warning us of these things and yet many still sleep.

    I am going to offer one najor solution that will go against the tide of liberalization of our church and this does come from both the messages to one of the Medjugorge Visionaries (Marija) and from the leader of the Caritsa community down near Birmingham, Alabama. Until we return to treating the Sabbath day as HOLY…our prayers will continue to be less than effective. Millions are praying for an end to abortion and a stoppage to the gay marriage movement and yet these sinful practices and more continue to gain support. Why? Because when we do not honor one of the ten commandments, we don’t honor them all. We need to get back to giving the Sabbath day to the Lord and to refraining from going to ANY commercial enterprise on that holy day. To force someone else to work on the sabbath day is to force them to break that commandment and God didn’t offer us a rule to apply to some and not to others.

    We have lost our discernment in this regard and we can no longer see some of the things we must do because of this and Satan’s biggest attack now coming at all of humanity deals with “materialism” and our “comfort zones” and we have crowded out God with our love of “things” and things that make us feel good. This leads to narcissism and self absorption and us becoming our own Gods and no longer feeling the need for a Savior. Satan has his best attack going on…for this time he is almost entirely invisible and we as a whole cannot see the need for reconcilliation and for communion with our Lord and Savior. IF we do want to turn this country around…prayer and fasting and taking in the eucharist weekly (or better yet, daily) will do this…but only when we first honor Him by keeping the day he set aside for us as Holy. It is the very key to turning all of this around.

    Pittsburgh, PA is experiencing a revival. I am involved with two mens programs…the Catholic Mens Fellowship and the Emmaus program. The first gets us back to the scriptures and our catecism and the magesterium. The second is a most powerfull weekend retreat that has men going in luke warm and coming out 48 hours later literally on fire for the Lord. I am so blessed to be a part of both and I see these and other tools as the necessary counter forces to the liberalism that is destroying our nation and our faith and winning more and more converts to an ultimate eternal suffering in darkness or to purgatory.

  • FAC

    Thank you for this excellent article. As an American Catholic I am one of those brokenhearted for the Church I knew as a child pre-Vatican II. Before the changes that were introduced I loved all things Catholic, but especially the Mass, the Eucharist and our beloved nuns. Now, 45 years later, at Mass I look around at the empty pews and listen to lay people massacre the Word of God in the readings and the priest who will not address sin but tells us all to love everybody else, every single Sunday, and above all seems bored and distracted while saying Mass. He chastises us for not accepting illegal immigrants (as if he knows our hearts!) but speaks nary a word about abortion or euthanasia, or even the reverence required during Mass. Worse yet are those priests who add innovations by way of their own wording to parts of the Mass and cannot preach the Resurrection. And people continue to stay away in droves. I know Our Lord continues to come at the words of consecration, but if all of this is a suffering for me, how much more a brutal crucifixion for Him? Vatican II was indeed the means by which Judases were able to gain control and destroy much. Many, many souls have been lost. It is tantamount to Pearl Harbor, or 9/11; a sneak attack that signaled the beginning of a protracted war with countless casualties. It truly makes me weep.

  • Paul

    I have very vague memories of the Latin Mass, as I was only about 10 or so when they changed over to English. I do remember though the devotion of the people in the pre-Vatican II days. My parents, which were clearly not the “more Catholic than the Pope” kind of Catholics, still got us kids up early to attend an extremely early Sunday Mass (if memory serves me right it was around 6am), if we had somewhere to go early Sunday morning. We were not allowed to miss Mass on Sunday. That was before Saturday afternoon Masses.

    I remember very gradually the atmosphere of the Church changed. The altar rails were retained after the Mass changed to English, but a few years later, they were removed. The irreverant lines going to Confession where you stood up to receive Communion was introduced. At first, you still recieved on the tongue. Then the plague of the “extraordinary” ministers of the Eucharist came, and soon after communion in the hand.

    The day of feeling “special” as a Catholic because we could not eat meat on Fridays was lost. All that was distinctly Catholic about the church seemed to go by the wayside. I must say, that the interior of most Catholic churches these days are relatively indistinguisable from most Protestant churches.

    I miss the old church of my very early childhood. I miss it with all my heart.

  • K. Bernadette

    The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit, she did not make an error with Vatican II. And frankly, to say she did means she’s probably wrong about everything else too.

    As a non-Catholic I found the Latin Mass incredibly boring! I was a baptised Christian the few times I went to that Mass, I was looking for something deeper. What I found was rote boring ritualism. Though now as a Catholic I truly appreciate it. I know that I would have had serious issues with coming into the Church before Vatican II. The NO mass can be done right and is leading a lot of Evangelical Christians into the fold. Christians who do become orthodox and sensitive to liturgical abuses and other wrongs in parishes.

    God has his plans, His will is done on His time! Quit complaining on the interweb and get out and do something if you want change.

  • Ms. Texas Catholic

    I would like to know how many of those who lament changes brought about after the Second Vatican Council actually try to live like it never happened BUT IN ALL WAYS — NOT JUST THE CONVENIENT WAYS. For example, my parents say that when they were growing up and before the Council there WAS A FAST FROM MIDNIGHT SATURDAY NIGHT/SUNDAY UNTIL YOU RECEIVED COMMUNION ON SUNDAY FROM ALL FOOD INCLUDING WATER. I ASKED IF THIS WENT FOR CHILDREN TOO AND THEY SAID YES. How many people out there still do this? If you don’t and you say you like the pre-VATICAN II way of doing things, it is my personal opinion that you might just be a big giant hypocrite. How about WEEKLY CONFESSION — FOR LAY PEOPLE! My parents say everyone was encouraged to engage in this practice. (FYI In case anyone had different experiences elsewhere my parents’ experiences were mainly in the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio.) Many people like to talk about how great Latin is — but it isn’t really difficult at all to sit through a Latin Mass, especially if there is a lot of beautiful music to listen to while you’re attending. It isn’t difficult to receive communion kneeling at a communion rail — I grew up doing it (during the Sixties – and that church still has its rails). It isn’t difficult to wear a veil or a hat to Church if you’re a female (been there done that as a child during the Sixties). P.S We also wore gloves — even in the heat in an UN-AIRCONDITIONED CHURCH IN TEXAS. I see lots of girls with veils at church but no-one wears the gloves anymore. Why not? Just too much of an effort I guess. It isn’t even that difficult to go meatless on Fridays — I remember it well. I isn’t that hard and I’ve never even liked seafood. My parents have also told me that when they were growing up it was MEATLESS WEDNESDAYS AS WELL AS FRIDAYS. All I’m saying is that I am VERY SICK AND TIRED OF THE PRE-VATICAN II “CAFETERIA CATHOLICS.” You heard right — I’m calling at least some of you pre-Vatican II groupies “CAFETERIA CATHOLICS” — because YOU seem to pick and choose which pre-Vatican II practices are “worth” reviving — which ones are “morally better” to practice. And you seem always to pick the easiest ones. Perhaps some of you are very young and don’t know the totality of what went on in the Church before your time. Better do some extra homework if you want to get it right. And don’t just do the easy, “fun” and “glamorous” things. Try the overnight fast from midnight — including no water, or some of the other more difficult things like weekly confession for laity or MEATLESS WEDNESDAYS AS WELL AS FRIDAYS. I think some of those difficult things were what probably made for some of the good things of the pre-Vatican II Church — NOT JUST LATIN MASS AND HATS ON LADIES. Think about it — better yet pray in Latin AND fast and do penance about it. Pax vobiscum.

  • Thomas

    It is easy to know if Vatican II was of God or not.

    If it was of God, it would have produced peace.

  • Robertz

    I agree that the Church’s doctrine concerning salvation is a sensitive topic. We need to keep it in mind while at the same time not out right offending people that would then refuse to consider the full Truth. The ordinary means of salvation is found only in the fullness of the Christian faith (unfortunately having to be restrained with the label of ‘Catholic Church’ as if it is just one among many valid groups).

    The Church recognizes that others may be saved by extraordinary means, such as the thief upon the cross. Christianity is not denominational in nature. You have only the Truth, the Gospel, the Word. The ‘Catholic Church’ is not really a denomination that one can just freely choose among others according to one’s liking. It is the Christian one, holy, catholic, apostolic Church. A person can accept the whole Truth that resides in Christianity, or accept some parts while not accepting others either intentionally or out of ignorance. Many of our protestant friends were raised with a bias against the Church without ever being made aware of the fullness of Truth, even the nature of the Church itself. Only God knows the nature of a person’s ignorance, and will judge accordingly. Even then, that individual’s salvation comes through from the Church (Christ head of Church), it’s Faith and Truth in and from Christ.

    If I understand Church teaching correctly, extraordinary salvation is available for those outside of the church who are not deliberately with sufficient knowledge (known by Christ) remaining in heresy and/or schism.

    As we all need to be reminded, including myself more so than others, 1 Corinthians 13 (while of course not regarding less the rest of scripture), when keeping in mind this particular doctrine of salvation when conversing with protestants and others.

    “1 If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And if I should have prophecy and should know all mysteries, and all knowledge, and if I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And if I should distribute all my goods to feed the poor, and if I should deliver my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; 5 Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil;

    6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

    11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child. 12 We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known. 13 And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity.”

  • ben joyce

    I can’t get over the following “Ex Cathedra” statement. This is top shelf teaching from the Chair of Peter. NOTHING can contradict it. Never a dull moment with this stuff around.

    “unless before death they are joined with her” is key. The “good protestant” with all his good works and duties of a Christian soldier is damned if he does not change before death.

    Meditate on the following Ex Cathedra statement. What is the Holy Spirit trying to tell you? Is the Holy Spirit capable of accurate communication? Did Vatican II imply that nearly the opposite is true?

    If you can find an Ex Cathedra statement with error in it, than truely the Catholic religion is a false religion.

    the key is that NO ONE is allowed to die ignorant or is you do die ignorant it is because you refused the light.


  • CTR

    Has it ever crossed anyone’s mind that the papers of Vatican II were ambiguously written to ensure “Misunderstanding”?

    That would be an uneducated assumption.

    With all due respect Laura, if Carlist’s quote is an uneducated assumption then yours in naive. You might do well to investigate for yourself the dark and purposeful outside influences that attempting to steer the Council. The Holy Spirit ultimately foiled their plan but the seeds of mischief remain. Christ’s promise was that the gate’s of hell would not prevail not the the Church would feel no effect of those attacks.

  • John

    Just a quote from Anne Catherine Emmerich’ This is Babel The Mass in many languages’

  • observer

    THE Council will finally come to its intended meaning – by the True Holy Spirit – after the purification and the new era of the Holy Eucharist to come (as Pope John Paul II alluded to as well as warned). After all, Jesus told us that without Him we could do nothing – but they sure tried.

    How ironic that a council deemed “pastoral” could result with so many “pastors” relinquishing just that duty. Somehow they left behind their bothersome yipping dogs and their staffs with the hooks!

  • observer

    BUT IN ALL WAYS — NOT JUST THE CONVENIENT WAYS. For example, my parents say that when they were growing up and before the Council there WAS A FAST FROM MIDNIGHT SATURDAY NIGHT/SUNDAY UNTIL YOU RECEIVED COMMUNION ON SUNDAY FROM ALL FOOD INCLUDING WATER. I ASKED IF THIS WENT FOR CHILDREN TOO AND THEY SAID YES. How many people out there still do this? If you don’t and you say you like the pre-VATICAN II way of doing things, it is my personal opinion that you might just be a big giant hypocrite. How about WEEKLY CONFESSION — FOR LAY PEOPLE!

    Wow! Talk about obsessive reconstructionists – from even the consevative point of view! There was not a mandated fast from water. Secondly the fast was changed to 3 hours BEFORE the council. Thirdly children weren’t required to even attend weekly mass before the age of seven which was considered the age of reason. And weekly confession may have been suggested (which should probably be every day in the current milieu!) but was not mandated.

    Up until 1953, the midnight fast was the general rule, with very few exceptions. Pope Pius XII, in his 1953 Apostolic Constitution Christus Dominus, reduced the midnight fast in limited circumstances. The text of Christus Dominus details those circumstances.

    By his 1957 motu proprio Sacram Communionem, Pope Pius XII extended the mitigation of the midnight fast to a three hour fast, so from that time, Catholics generally only had to fast from solid food and alcoholic drink for three hours, and one hour for other liquids. Natural water did not break the fast under the 1953 midnight and any water did not break the three hour fast under the 1957 rules.

    Here is part of what His Eminence Alfred Cardinal Ottaviani said in his commentary on Sacram Communionem (emphasis supplied):

    According to the august intention of the Holy Father, the laws governing the Eucharistic Fast, adapted to the demands of the times, are now made simple and understandable even to the mentality of children.

    It is sufficient to abstain for three hours from solid foods and alcoholic liquids and for one hour from non-alcoholic liquids. There is no longer any problem of morning or evening, of distances to be traveled to get to church, nor of strenuous labor or late hours.

    There is no longer an obligation to consult a confessor to see if one fulfills the conditions to use the permission. It is no longer a matter of concessions which apply to certain categories of persons, but a law which applies to all the faithful everywhere.

    The exhortations made at the end of the Motu Proprio, precisely because they are only exhortations, leave people free to conform to the new law or to observe the full fast, as has been done until now, out of devotion or for spiritual mortification. It is a question of desiring to obtain greater merit, but no longer that of keeping an obligation.

    The formula which confirms that water does not break the Eucharistic Fast (at first it was said to be aqua naturalis) leaves one to understand that it refers to water in general and in the common sense of the word even mineral water, carbonated or chemically purified water.

  • John

    I left the Latin Rite and entered the Byzantine Rite because of the liturgical abuses that are still rife in the American Catholic Church. I grew up in the Latin Rite and was raised in a relatively devout, though flawed, home. My grandparents suffered tremendously when the rite changed from Latin to English. I watched my former Catholic School mates leave the Church in droves. I hungered for the consolation of the old devotions like Benediction, which I remembered from childhood. The devotions were thrown over the side after Vatican II, even though they contributed greatly to communicating something of the awesome mystery and sacredness of God. I watched priests experiment with the liturgy in ways that were painful to experience, and at times I doubted the validity of the consecration. I’m sure there were many times that I received only bread instead of Christ. I watched abuses perpetrated on the Eucharist by the ridiculous practice of using “extraordinary ministers” while the priest sat in his chair and “presided” over the Liturgy. I watched good priests, loyal to the Faith, shunted off to the side while liberal (radical) reformers were exalted and promoted. I was aware of priests and religious that promoted ideas and actions contrary to the Faith, and no amount of complaining to the local Ordinary would result in any discipline or change for the better. I hung on to my Faith because there was nowhere else to go, and I knew that somehow Jesus would honor fidelity and preserve a remnant to carry on.

    I’ve always thought that the council was hijacked. The people in the pews did not want reform. The local pastors did not want reform. The intelligencia and “progressives” wanted reform so that they could experiment at will. God have mercy on their souls. They are the architects of this disaster. The council robbed me and many others of our right to have our Faith passed on to us intact in all of its beauty and splendor. Our consolation is that the Lord is in control and is the Master of History. He will bring great good out of this time of present darkness in the Church.

    Dr. Hitchcock, thank you for being a voice of reason and truth.

  • Bill McEnaney

    I wish Vatican II’s defenders would remember what Pope Pius XII wrote when he was still Monsignor Pacelli: “I am worried by the Blessed Virgin’s messages to Lucy of Fatima. This persistence of Mary about the dangers which menace the Church is a divine warning against the suicide that would be represented by alteration of the faith, in her liturgy, her theology and her soul . . . . I hear all around me innovators who wish to dismantle the Sacred Chapel, destroy the universal flame of the Church, reject her ornaments and make her feel remorse for her historical past” (qtd. in Ferrara and Woods 60).

    Please reflect on those words if you ever feel the urge to champion the new Mass, today’s ecumenism, John Paul II’s papal apologies,inter-religious prayer meetings, or any other novelty that postconciliar popes, including Benedict XVI, have condoned.

    Ferrara, Christopher A., and Woods, Thomas E., Jr. “The Great Facade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church.” Wyoming: Thew Remnant Press, 2002.

    I don’t know about you. But to me, Pius XII’s prediction makes the “hermeneutics of continuity” seem questionable to say the least.

  • Jess Austin

    Hijacked? What happened to the Holy Spirit? You guys really need to do some deep reflection. You judge God’s action in history within the framework of your discredited ultra-right ideology and you have the temerity to say that the Vatican II was hijacked. You need to really examine your conscience.

  • Toni Fisher

    Latin is required during the Liturgy of the Eucharist – Pope Paul IV Mass. The American Church refuses to keep in the daily and Sunday Masses. Some day they will split with Rome because the American Church is scared to death to correct its sheep. They are afraid of offending people. Just look at the way people dress in a Catholic Church, then go to a Penteostal or Baptist Church; look at the people swinging their arms after receiving Communion. They could not possibly believe Christ is present. Why are Catholic Churchs closing in Mexico and El Salvador and Assembly of God churches increased to 1500? The Catholics are weak, the Bishops run and hide. Vocations are everywhere except in the U.S. The Holy Spirt has to work somewhere else because the U.S. has shoved Him out of every house, school, and Church. The Tabernacle is hidden in the churches in New Mexico – they have put them to the side. Good luck America.

  • True ROMAN Catholic

    Vatican II was NOT a dogmatic council. NO dogma came out of the council.It was only pastoral. We are NOT obligated to believe anything that came from it. If it was Dogmatic, then we would absolutely be bound to abide to the teachings and dogmas. The council was hijacked by liberal Bishops, liberal priests, and freemasons to destroy the Church from within. The Novus Ordo or New Mass was concocted by these liberals, freemasons, and six Protestant ministers. Yes, it is a fact that six Protestant ministers helped make up the New Mass. The liberals and progressives also are responsible for changing and messing with the Sacraments, which gives grave concern if the sacraments are even valid in the New Order. For a sacrament to be valid the correct matter, form, and intention need to be present. In the Sacraments of the New Order there is blatently obvious abuse of the sacraments. Vatican II was and is the reason the Church is in the condition it is today.

    This is to the person who said that the Holy Spirit guided this council. The Church is protected by the Holy Ghost in DOGMATIC teachings and councils. This was ONLY a pastoral council. NO dogma was made. Church teaching can change, BUT DOGMA WILL NEVER CHANGE. ST. Pope Pius V said in the DOGMATIC COUNCIL OF TRENT that the Mass, which was in Latin, was to be the Mass of ALL times and never to be changed. Vatican II created a New Mass. It is not the Mass of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

  • Jon_in_Charlotte

    A Gallup study shows that in 1955 approximately 74% of Catholics attended weekly Mass in the United States.

    At that time Catholics made up approximately 24% of the total population in the U.S..

    A CARA study reported that in 2007 23% of Catholics attended weekly Mass in the United States.

    At this time (2007) Catholics made up approximately 22% of the total population in the United States.

    So, the initial results (45 years) from the changes that occurred as a result of Vatican II, intended to broaden the Church, show a major decline in regular Mass attendedance and a modest decline in percentage of the Catholic population. An argument can be made that these percentages reflect a period of re-adjustment and that growth (the Fruit from Vatican II) will eventually occur, however, the CARA study shows a further distressing trend that suggests that further decline is inevitable.

    Of the 23% of Catholics that attend Mass weekly, reported in 2007, a large percentage is made up of persons born prior to 1960. 45% of Catholic seniors, born before 1943, attend Mass on a weekly basis compared to only 15% of Catholics born between 1961-1981. Over 30% of all Catholics born after 1960 rarely or never attend Mass. The report reveals that only 40% of Catholics born after 1943 attend Mass at least once a month.

    The study also reveals that among Catholics who attend Mass on a weekly basis that over 90% believe in the Divine Presence of the Holy Eucharist. Comparitively, 70% of Catholics who rarely or never attend Mass do not believe in the Divine Presence of the Holy Eucharist.

    So, the body of the U.S. Catholic Church appears to be relatively similar to the percentage of the population today as it was prior to Vatican II, however, the faith within the body is diminishing. And, as Catholic seniors pass away this destructive trend will progress.

    The fact is that those Catholics who were subjects to the traditions of a pre-Vatican II Church are, in general, the strongest members of the body of the Church. And, though many of this group may have a preference to the New Order Mass they have been afforded a different foundation to their Catholic faith in having been witness to the Latin Rite Mass. Even though the presentation of the Mass is different from their days as youths they still have an understanding to the reverence provided by the Latin Rite Mass. And, it is this loss of reverence that has become a cancer to the body of the Church.

    The truth is that the majority of Catholic grandchildren today have a lesser appreciation and respect for their religion than their grandparents. For example, as an individual, a grandparent, can electively choose to receive the Eucharist in their hands, but, they have the ability to recall their youth when they were taught to kneel before the priest and receive the Eucharist on the tongue. They learned how to be obediant and reverent when receiving our Lord. In receiving the Eucharist in a more casual form, in the hand from a eucharistic minister, the grandchild perceives the action less reverently and since that don’t have the knowledge of the traditional form they then are less likely to express an internal form of reverence when receiving our Lord.

    Less reverence leads to less belief which leads to less faith which leads to less religious practice. The less one practices religion the less developed their faith becomes which hinders belief which in turn hinders reverence. It is a cyclone of malformation.

    For all the supposed and prospective good that has been the result of the Vatican II council it must still be measured with these statistics, as they are presently the fruit of Vatican II.

  • Christian

    “We are bound by divine and Catholic faith to believe all those things which are contained in the word of God, whether it be Scripture or Tradition, and are proposed by the Church to be believed as divinely revealed, not only through solemn judgment but also through the ordinary and universal teaching office (Denzinger, n. 1792)”.

    It does not matter if it was pastoral or dogmatic, what matters is…was the teaching Catholic? Was it in comformity with what was always taught? Does it teach errors and promote them?

    If it does anything of the sort then a mass interdict with a false pontiff at the helm (a true Pope cannot teach error) that duped the bishops that supported V2 into excommunicating themselves draws the picture. There is no other explanation.

  • keep the faith

    Want to learn more about the Vll council and it’s aftermath? First read CRANMER’S GODLY ORDER by Michael Davies (rip) and then read everything else you can get your hands on by this marvelous and orthodox writer…he is easy to read and is absolutely right on concerning the Mass of all time and the new Mass designed by the Mason Bugnini.

  • Kevin

    The achievement of the renewal sought by Vatican II is manifest. Supporters wanted a return to the faith of the early Church, and that has happened. Instead of a billion-strong body of people practising Catholicism out of mere cultural habit, there is a tiny body of willing faithful who maintain belief in the Atonement and Redemption of God the Son and in all that the Holy Catholic Church teaches to be true.

  • Robertz

    Quote from John Salza

    [Trent – Canons on the Sacraments in General: – (Canon 4): “If anyone shall say that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary for salvation, but are superfluous, and that although all are not necessary for every individual, without them or without the desire of them (sine eis aut eorum voto), through faith alone men obtain from God the grace of justification; let him be anathema.” Decree on Justification – (Session 6, Chapter 4): “In these words a description of the justification of a sinner is given as being a translation from that state in which man is born a child of the first Adam to the state of grace and of the ‘adoption of the Sons’ (Rom.8:15) of God through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, our Savior and this translation after the promulgation of the Gospel cannot be effected except through the laver of regeneration or a desire for it, (sine lavacro regenerationis aut eius voto) as it is written: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter in the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). If he is outside the Church through no fault of his, that is, if he is in good faith, and if he has received Baptism, or at least has the implicit desire of Baptism; and if, moreover, he sincerely seeks the truth and does God’s will as best he can such a man is indeed separated from the body of the Church, but is united to the soul of the Church and consequently is on the way of salvation.” – From the Catechism of St. Pius X.”]

    The last sentence helps explain why the thief on the cross was saved and why it is theoretically possible for others, even though separated from the body of the Church.

  • ben joyce

    Pius X states:

    consequently is on the way of salvation.” – From the Catechism of St. Pius X

    on the way to salvation is NOT being saved. The dogma states (see above) that the saved must be joined to the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church BEFORE DEATH.

    IE not after

    What this MUST mean is that non catholics MUST become Catholic BEFORE they die, if they don’t they burn in Hell and all their good works and duties of a christian soldier are worthless unto salvation. (the dogma states this see above #42 reads like a blow torch (the Holy Ghost!)

  • John

    Does anyone read the last Catechism of John Paul II?
    There is point 841 which says (quote): “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”330″
    Now, even little children know that Muslims reject The Holy Trinity, the one and only God so that the above statement from Catechism is a plain lie.
    What this lie has to do with Vatican 2? Just see the number 330 at the end of the statement. It points to footnote 330 which states this lie is from the document called “Lumen Gentium” (16th paragraph) which is the official document of Vatican 2.
    Does anyone want to blaspheme that The Holy Spirit is the Author of that lie or of any lie? There is no doubt that Vatican 2 was licitly convoked by John XXIII. But works of Vatican 2 contain lies and so are not from The Holy Spirit but from the father of lies, the devil (John 8:44). It tells everything that almost all the bishops at Vatican 2, including most of the

  • John

    All Catholics should know that any doubt or dispute regarding any dogma, including dogma “Outside The Catholic Church there is no salvation.”, let alone its rejection is the sign of the shipwreck (loss) of the Faith and with it of membership in The Church and of salvation.

    If one wants to know how to defend the reasonableness of the dogma

  • observer

    “on the way to salvation is NOT being saved.”

    That’s what Purgatory is for. Who’s to say in God’s own knowledge and providence just who are saved even in their last silent moments due to His Divine Mercy. Read St. Faustina’s diary.

    “The fact is that those Catholics who were subjects to the traditions of a pre-Vatican II Church are, in general, the strongest members of the body of the Church.”

    Some are and some aren’t. In fact some of the converts from Protestant Evangelicals know more truthfully the teachings due to their serious study of the early Church Fathers. And most were taught to be real Catholic haters. On the other hand some who were raised in that pre-Vatican orthodoxy have completely left the Faith in immature reactionary responses. I know of a lot of good Catholic mothers in their late seventies and early eighties who still practice their faith, come to Eucharistic adoration regularly, have raised their children well but who easily fall prey to heterodox preaching and who are glad the rigidity and fear of old seem to have been abolished. I’ve even seen the same folks reading the Da Vinci Code during adoration time. Now they were definitely “subjects to the traditions of a pre-Vatican II Church”. It really comes down to the depth of understanding and seriousness of attitude at the time of their education. You have to truly seek in order to find – it isn’t just ordained because you happen to be born into it – as Jesus said, He could raise up “sons of Abraham” from stones when the people said they could not be accused of anything because they were “sons of Abraham”. People need ongoing catechesis which they haven’t received in the past 50 years – even those who were taught everything orthodox.

  • John

    No, also in Purgatory go only those who are saved i.e. only those who die as Catholics and have no stain of sin(s) on their souls (Ephesians 5:27; Joshua 22:17).

    But unlike those who go to Heaven directly those who go to Purgatory first and then to Heaven leave this world without satisfying for their debts completely (“forgive us our debts” – “Our Father”) so that they must satisfy for them in Purgatory.

    Had there been no Purgatory (Matthew 12:32) many souls would have ended up in Hell since nothing defiled in any possible way can enter Heaven (Apocalypse 21:27). And debt of sin is clearly a defilement. How merciful and just God is.

  • JJ

    In the Diocese of Saskatoon, SK, Canada, every priest celebrates Mass according to his own whims. The words are constantly changed, even at the Consecration. One wonders if the Mass is now valid. Such would have been unheard before Vatican II. Now, everyone is silent, even the local departing Bishop who appears to have encouraged it as a liturgist. The priest compete to see who is more creative in changing the words of the Mass that are close enough to the original words, but not the original words. Often those changed words totally change the meaning of the prayers. Here is Saskatoon, Satan has succeeded in prostenizing the Catholic Church. The true Catholic Church is no longer visible!

  • KTF

    Kevin, yes Vll did produce…but not a renewal of faith…it produced a bunch of “catholics” who were all about making the holy sacrifice of the Mass less and less in it’s liturgy and reverance. Yes there is a REMNANT left, and there will always be, those who will not fall for the “renewal” of the Faith…how it has been reduced and marginalized; the catechesis in the RCIA goes like this: “God is good and Jesus loves you and wants you to be happy”. (I know as I have been a sponsor in 6 different RCIA programs.)How do you spell renewal, when the statistics are absolutely appalling,when priests do not really believe. Check out the Jesuits and their core beliefs…I remember before Vll how they were looked up to and were the intelligencia of all orders…since Vll they are open to the world and all of it’s questioning on everything.

  • Jack

    The Church has had many councils, Vatican II is just one of many. There is no need to turn into some kind of golden calf that changed Christianity forever. It announced no new dogmas, was “pastoral” in its intent, and the documents themselves are much too long and subject to ambiguity. Let’s not make the mistake of Islam and pretend that the documents of Vatican II were dictated by God Himself.

  • Latin Mass attendee

    Many people have written that they like the change to English because they understand it. A solution: read a Latin/English missal. Every single word the priest says is translated right along side the Latin. No need to be in the dark, just read!

    I’m an oldie, and I can still remember the thrill of knowing as a child that children attending Mass in Viet Nam, France, South America, Africa, Formosa, Japan, etc. were all hearing the very same Mass exactly as I was hearing it if they were Roman Catholics. It gave me such a sense of universality and connection. I knew that if I traveled to these countries, I could bring my Latin/English missal and still follow the Mass perfectly and in union with them.

    I do not deny that Novus Ordo Mass IS a Mass, but I still find the beauty of the Mass as it evolved over the centuries, immencely beautiful and uplifting. It has inspired and formed so many of the Saints we pray to today. If you have never attended a Latin Mass and wish to try it USE THE MISSAL OR RED BOOK PROVIDED. The prayers are more than just beautiful and you will partake for one Sunday in a bit of the glorious Roman Catholic Church history still present today. You also may be surprised at how many young families attend.

  • Ms. Texas Catholic

    My parents were born in 1937 and 1939 respectively. Do the math. Before the 1953 (and 1957) changes they WERE CHILDREN! From age of reason (First Communion) until the teen years they attended Mass and received Communion as children. And fell under PRE-1953 and PRE-1957 rules.

    If you read what I said I never said weekly confession was mandated. I clearly state that it was encouraged.

    I would be interested to know how old you are and whether you have any actual experience of the church as far back as my parents. Personally I believe what they tell me of their experience. I assume your academic quotes are accurate. I have revised nothing. I have listened to my elders. You didn’t realize the ages of my parents. Please realize that there are plenty of seniors around and consider them when looking at dates on the rules and to whom they might have appliced.

  • ben joyce

    The Ancient Latin Mass which dates to at least 500AD and further back (It was only codeified at trent 1500’s)serves as an “impenetrible barrier to heresey” according to Cardinals Ottaviani and Oddi of the Divine office in the ’60s. The dogmas of the faith were embodied in the Old Latin Mass.

    In order to bring down the Catholic Church you have to knock out the foundation, or at least weaken it. The Dogmas of the faith (epecially, “Outside the Church there is no Salvation”) form the foundation of the Church, so to damage the foundation you trample the Dogmas. By making the people forget the Dogmas (like my generation with forgetting Outside the Church there is no salvation)they are no longer acknowledged or defended and the foundation is “pushed aside” assuring the collapse.

    Why did this happen in recent decades? To pave the way for the anti-christ and the “abomination of desolation entering the Holy Temple of God”. The latter from Thess. and Daniel refers to the obliteration of the Holy Sacrafice of the Mass. Many weakened Catholics will agree with the Protestants that the Host is only a meal, and not the Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
    As Malachi Martin said about the changes after 1960, “it was all planned” and I’m convinced the post ’60 phenomenon is the third secret of Fatima. To think otherwise you either uninformed or a little stupid.

    Also, about the silence of much of the Mass. A writer above mentions the utility of the missal. But just think all the people from before 1500 (approx)did not have a missal since there was no printing press. So you had peaseants all around Europe (and the world) who did not know latin and couldn’t even hear the priest (imagine being at a HUGE cathedral in 1125AD in the back of the Church during Mass, you didn’t know latin and you couldn’t hear the priest most of the time, the parts of the Mass were silent) yet the Mass and the Church thrived and expanded miraculously producing many saints in Butler’s book of the saints.

    Now in recent decades, just 12 years after the advent of Television and 40 years after radio, there is a clamoring to change the Mass? Not necessarily from the laypeople but some did. People wanted to be entertained, “me centered” rather than God centered.

    Now we have “Father Benny Hill” come out with Mass facing the people and he make all sorts of informal announcements and he even cracks jokes at the alter where the Holy Sacrafice of the Mass take place. this happens all the time now. Am I right? Ha Ha Ha! ???
    The Virgin Mary shows up a Medjugorje and says, “Satan is laughing at you”

    Bugnini the freemason and all his masonic helpers in the vatican were pretty smart. Notice, as Michael Davies states, the documents of Vatican II do not cite to have ANY changes is the Sanctuary (incase Modern Catholics don’t know, its the area around the alter where Eucharistic Ministers stand with miniskirts and breast cleavage revealed).

    What happened right after the council? Nearly everything in the sanctuary changed.

  • Christian

    …he believes the Church contains and can teach error. MD’s theology is difficult as it is erroneous. Either the Popes have supreme legislative authority given to them by Christ as Successor of St. Peter or they don’t.

    If the Church cannot teach errors, the sedevacantists are right because the “conciliar popes” and the Novus Ordo Sect have done things the Catholic Church has always said It could not do.

    If the Church could do these things, it would mean the Gates of Hell have prevailed…because the Church taught errors that would lead people to Hell. Thus, what one would have is an aped, counter “church” that merely usurped the Catholic name…

  • ben joyce

    I don’t think you can get too carried away with infallability which is based on Mt 16 “what you (Peter) say is bound on earth is bound in Heaven” (Jesus to Peter)

    when a Pope binds a teaching (doctrine) it is infallable which is the only guarentee of freedom of error. I don’t think it applies to statements that are of lesser rank.

    this does NOT mean that you can ignore non infallable teachings.

    three examples of popes teaching error that are commonly cited are
    Pope Honorus, Pope Liberius and Pope John XXII (Avignon)

    one of them under duress in jail signed a document supporting the Arian Heresy

    John XXII stated in a homily that the beatific vision was only granted After the Last Judgment. someone stood up at that Mass and yelled “heresy!” Pope John XXII recanted before he died.

    the other pope I can’t remember???

    None of the above examples were statements “ex cathedra”

    Don’t become an acedevacantist. It’s rediculous. Michael Davies wrote a good booklet on that subject. I think though he is dead wrong about Medjugorje.

  • Faithful

    All men are fallible including the Pope. Only God is infallible. The only time that decisions are infallible is when those making the decisions are guided by God. Judging by the disastrous results of Vatican II, the guidance of God was missing from that council.

  • Karl

    What does it matter, Mr. Hitchcock, when the Catholic Church does not defend marriages but rather welcomes adulterers who continue to persecute their own children and the innocent spouse they abandoned?

    Nothing matters when the Catholic Church has abandoned innocent spouses.

    I liked your article but it does not matter any more. Not really.

  • Christian

    Pope Liberius signed that document out of durress. There is a big difference between doing it out of durress and doing it to “teach” it.

    Pope Honorius I is at best a material/unseen heretic because he mentioned the “one will of Christ” to a prelate of the Church. He did not teach that to the Church nor propose it for belief; he did not teach the Church an error.

    Pope John XXII held an error regarding the Particular Judgement and taught it in a series of sermons. The Pope that succeeded him (coffee hasn’t kicked in so I can’t remember the name) defined it solemnly so that just means he just made an honest mistake. Big difference between an honest Catholic material error than the public apostasy we see today…

    There is a HUGE, MONUMENTOUS difference between durress, private (diaries, letters to an individual…that sort) correspondence, making an honest mistake vs. the flagrant, public, apostasies we see today.

    The sedevacantists are backed by the teaching of the Church…both infallibly, canonically, and by Her Saints.

  • ben joyce

    there is no example of a pope who (usually with a council) makes an ex cathedra proclamaition that has error.

    “All men a fallible” as seen above but by the promise of God the Church is protected against error when the pope proclaims by “Ex Cathedra” To deny this is to reject the dogmatic proclaimation at Vat I 1870, that states that the pope has the power of infallability. To reject this is heresy, you become a heretic, and as the dogma stated above in #42 states that heretics end up in hell.

  • Faithful

    God bless you Ben. I respect your great faith. The pope is just a man and all men are fallible. To suggest that the pope is infallible seems to me to border on idolatry. The pope is just a man…not a god.

    The proclamation of infallibility was made by fallible men so it is a mistake. I do believe, however, that in some instances very holy men and women, such as the saints, can be guided by God, and when they deliver the words that they receive from God…those words are infallible. Such holy men are extremely rare however, and not always to be found in the Church’s hierarchy.

  • Mark

    If you read the documents of Vatican II expecting to find continuity with the deposit of faith to that time, you will find it. If you read the documents expecting to find a rupture and a break with the past, you will find that.

    I put it to you that if you read the Holy Scriptures expecting to find the Catholic Faith you will find that; if you read them expecting to find a protestant/sectarian belief, you will find that as well (as is demonstrated amply by the existence of said groups).

    That error can be derived from the Holy Scriptures you all well know; why does it come as a surprise that it also can be derived from conciliar documents? The mere presence of error in understanding is not a proof of error in the source, as Holy Scripture attests.

    That blind guides are leading many into the pit is clear to see; but their blindness is because they have closed their eyes to the Light, rather than that the Light has gone out.

  • Christian

    If there is no rupture, then Mark, why did then “Cardinal” Ratzinger refer to Gaudiem et Spes as a counter-syllabus (Syllabus of Errors by Pius IX)? Why does Vatican II teach that false religions give glory to God and build up the Church (Unitatis Regretatio)? Why does Vatican II teach that the Church is incomplete in Her mission and not “One” (same document)? Why does the Church of Christ “subsist in” as opposed to “only found in” the Catholic Church (Lumen Gentium)? Why does it teach that man has the right to be wrong when Pius XI infallibly says otherwise (Dignatitis Humanae)? Why are their so many timebombs, ambiguities, awful Latin, call for revision of the Sacraments (the Church has always said She could not touch them!)? Previously condemned mortal sins as ok?

    When you realize that true Popes and true councils cannot be harmful disciplines, evil practices, “timebombs”, and ambiguous teachings…the rest is pretty easy. The Church cannot give errors. Period. Disbelieving that Benjamin makes you a heretic.

    We believe Vatican I with all of our hearts: we just believe they were never Popes to begin with because they’ve either been Masons and/or public apostates. It all adds up when one looks at Sacred Scripture, the warnings of the Fathers, and past Marian messages…

    What will it take for you to see that the Catholic name has been usurped?

  • Jacobitess

    ‘…Catholics speculate that a well-organized minority intended from the beginning to sabotage the council and that they successfully planted theological time bombs in the conciliar decrees — doctrinal statements whose implications were deliberately left vague, to be activated later. But there’s little evidence of this.

    It’s characteristic of revolutions that they are rarely planned ahead of time. Rather, they arise from the sudden acceleration of historical change…’

    I would not have expected a mind such as Hitchcock’s to have completely overlooked Toqueville’s account of the engineering behind the French Revolution. That was hardly a spontaneous tea party, but a revolt so well planned that the same bourgeois in charge before it were in charge after the fact. Not all corruptions are bumbles exploited by the media.

    As usual, conservative Catholics dismiss out of hand anything traditionalists have to say, regardless of how rational the argument or loyal it is to the millenia of the Church’s history. To love St. Pius X doesn’t necessarily make one a sede vacantist, nor does the sentiment that John XXIII and Paul VI were wilfully misguided. How is it that in the ‘oppressive’ and ‘misogynistic’ Middle Ages that Isabella of Spain was unafraid of confronting the Pope, even being a woman of devout piety, but this ‘updated’ and democratic’ era of Catholics wouldn’t dare to contradict a parish priest if he called Jesus a liberation theologian?

    We are asked to be childlike, and when a child is betrayed by a parent, he cries out honestly and forcefully, ‘Why?’ Such should be our attitude towards the Princes of the Church.

  • Tom Larsen

    In the Diocese of Saskatoon, SK, Canada, every priest celebrates Mass according to his own whims. The words are constantly changed, even at the Consecration. One wonders if the Mass is now valid. Such would have been unheard before Vatican II. Now, everyone is silent, even the local departing Bishop who appears to have encouraged it as a liturgist. The priest compete to see who is more creative in changing the words of the Mass that are close enough to the original words, but not the original words. Often those changed words totally change the meaning of the prayers. Here is Saskatoon, Satan has succeeded in prostenizing the Catholic Church. The true Catholic Church is no longer visible!

    The timeless Eucharistic sacrafice of God to God at Consecration for the forgiveness of human sin, is not valid if the form (prescribed words said by ordained priest) AND intention (heart of the priest) AND substance (unleaven bread and wine) are not all present. Talk to the priests about your concern to confirm your thoughts. Without validity, the Eucharist and grace is not present and the Mass is not obligatory. Go find a good priest and valid Mass in the visible Church and go there when you can. We need to pray for Saskatoon’s churches.

  • james hitchcock