Thomas A. Droleskey
Ambiguity had no place in the history of the Catholic Church until the documents of the Second Vatican Council began to be issued, starting with Sacrosanctum Concilium, on December 1, 1963. The ambiguity of the documents issued by the Second Vatican Council stands in stark contrast to the clarity and precision of the documents issued by the previous councils of the Church. The two councils that preceded Vatican II, the Council of Trent and Vatican I, were marked by dogmatic pronouncements on the Faith that bound all Catholics in perpetuity in all places. The Second Vatican Council binds no one to anything. Indeed, the novelty of ambiguity contained within its documents so muddies the waters of the Council's "true intent" that even those who participated in the proceedings of Vatican II and helped to shaped the documents disagree to this day about the meaning of the documents. One thing is clear to anyone who has the vision to see: the Second Vatican Council has been unambiguously harmful to souls.
Our Lord told us that men are known by their fruits. The fruits of the Second Vatican Council are, among many other things, confusion, disarray, scandal, the loss of souls to the Faith, a de facto spirit of religious indifferentism, the rise of a completely new form of the Mass that breaks more sharply with the Mass of the Roman Rite than had the pre-revolutionary changes that were implemented in 1956 and 1962 and 1965, the abandonment of the Church's exercise of her rights pertaining to the Social Reign of Christ the King, and a toleration of doctrinal dissent and liturgical irreverence while those clinging fast to the authentic patrimony of the Church have been labeled as "disobedient" and "schismatic." Disobedient and schismatic to what? To a Council whose documents are impossible to define and whose pronouncements bind no one to anything?
One of the other rotten fruits of the Second Vatican Council has been the needless divisions that have occurred among believing Catholics concerning what constitutes loyalty to the Church's magisterium. Both "conservative" and "traditional" Catholics love Our Lord and will the good of His Holy Church. However, the devil has used the Second Vatican Council and its messy aftermath to pit believing Catholics against one another, sometimes in pitched battles. Those who consider it an offense to the ecclesial sense to put into question anything said or done by the Supreme Pontiff have aimed pointed arrows in the direction of Catholics who have resisted the unambiguously harmful novelties of the past forty to fifty years. Traditional Catholics have found it necessary to counter those attacks with countless examples from Church history to demonstrate that fidelity to the Church does not mean a reflexive embrace of everything said and done by the Successor of Peter. Entire manuscripts have been written to demonstrate the disparity between the language of the conciliar documents (and the messages of the postconciliar popes) with dogmatic decrees and papal encyclical letters prior to 1958.
The presence of such sharp divisions among people who do not dissent from one article contained in the Deposit of Faith is not of God. It is from the devil. Popes have abdicated their responsibility to correct error and to remove bishops who have not disciplined wayward priests and theologians and teachers in their own dioceses. Indeed, the postconciliar popes have all too frequently promoted such bishops to the College of Cardinals as they countenanced wholesale denials of Divine Revelation.
One priest, who shall remain nameless, told a story at lunch following the conclusion of the Christian Law Institute Conference in El Paso, Texas, on November 24, 1996, of how he sought to put information into the hands of Pope John Paul II concerning the heterodoxy of an Australian prelate who was about to receive a cardinal's red hat. The prelate was elevated to the College of Cardinals nonetheless. And this is to say nothing of the likes of the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin and Godfried Cardinal Daneels and Roger Cardinal Mahony, among many others, who were permitted to wreak their devastation upon the Faith time and time and time again without a word of rebuke from the Holy See. Traditionalists have been rebuked frequently. Dissenters? Rarely.
It was just a few months ago that one of the chief dissenters within the Church, Father Hans Kung, who was removed from his position as a teacher of theology at the University of Tubingen twenty-six years ago this month but who remains in good standing as a priest of the Catholic Church, had a four-hour dinner with Pope Benedict XVI. Father Kung is a promoter of a one world religion. Any word of condemnation about that from the Holy Father? No, theological dissent is a mater of "dialogue," not a matter to be disciplined firmly by means of excommunication. It is to traditional Catholics alone that such odious labels as "schismatic" and "disloyal" and "extreme" and "radical" must be applied as they merely adhere to that which Catholics have always believed and worship as Catholics of the Roman Rite had always worshiped prior to the first wave of substantial changes that took place in the Mass in 1956 and thereafter.
Many well-meaning priests and theologians have sought to discover the "true meaning" of the Second Vatican Council. Some of these priests produced catechisms and catechetical programs based on their attempt to reconcile the documents of the Second Vatican Council with the Church's authentic patrimony. As well-intentioned as these efforts were, however, the plain fact of the matter is none of them are definitive. The spirit of the Second Vatican Council is so fungible that even those seeking to reconcile the conciliar documents to the Church's authentic patrimony find themselves disagreeing with each on certain key points (such as the meaning of the word "subsists" in Lumen Gentium, the extent of the novelties contained in Gaudium et Spes, the eclipsing of the immutable doctrine of the Social Reign of Christ the King in Dignitatis Humanae, the rise of an "ecumenism" without precedent in the history of the Church, the limits extant on Biblical research in Dei Verbum). The ambiguity that has caused even believing Catholic scholars to disagree with each other has resulted also in creating a permissive spirit amongst dissenting Catholics to deconstruct the Faith entirely, making the Hegelian/Chardinian spirit of an "evolutionary God" Who has no immutable essence in Himself or immutable truths to impart the norm for Catholic preaching and education in many places here and around the world.
Some have said that the Second Vatican Council was called to complete the work of the First Vatican Council, whose proceedings were interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 and the fall of the Papal States to the Freemasons of the Italian Risorgimento. Alas, the late Pope John XXIII, a theological liberal, placed restrictions on the work of the Council he convoked: there could be no mention or condemnation of Communism (so as to make possible the presence of "observers" from the heretical and schismatic Russian Orthodox Church) and there would be no condemnations of theological errors. The Second Vatican Council was to be an "opening up to the spirit of the world," a spirit that comes from the devil and leads souls to Hell, it should be noted.
Those who defend the "necessity" of Pope John XXIII's convening an ecumenical council of the Church on the grounds that it had to complete the work of Vatican I overlook the fact that most of the work left undone by that council was completed by Popes Leo XIII, St. Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI, and Pius XII. The ambiguous--and thus harmful--documents of the Second Vatican Council are superfluous at best and contradictory of the work that had preceded their issuance at worst. It is time that someone propose the work of the pre-conciliar popes as the true completion of the work of the First Vatican Council, a "Counter Second Vatican Council," if you will.
Consider the following:
Pope Pius XII's Mystici Corporis made Lumen Gentium unnecessary
Pope Leo XIII's Providentissimus Deus made Dei Verbum unnecessary.
Pope Gregory XVI's Mirari Vos and Pope Leo XIII's Inscrutabili Dei Consilio and Humanum Genus and Sapientiae Christianae are the antitheses of Gaudium et Spes.
Pope Leo XIII's Satis Cognitum and Pope Pius XI's Mortalium Animos is the antithesis of the
Pope Pius XI's Divini Illius Magistri made
Pope Pius XI's
Ad Catholici Sacerdotii made
Presbyterorum Ordinis unnecessary.
Pope Leo XIII's Immortale Dei, Libertas, Sapientiae Christianae, Tametsi Futura Prospicientibus and Pope Pius XI's Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio, Quas Primas, and Divini Redemptoris conflict substantially with Dignitatis Humanae.
Pope Saint Pius V's Quo Primum and Pope Pius XII's Mediator Dei made Sacrosanctum Concilium unnecessary.
Pope Leo XIII's Orientalium Dignitas made
Orientalium Ecclesiarum unnecessary.
Pope Pius XI's Rerum Ecclesiae made Ad Gentes unnecessary.
Pope Pius IX's Syllabus of Errors and Pope Saint Pius X's Pascendi Dominici Gregis are the antitheses of Pope John XXIII's Opening Address to the Second Vatican Council in 1962 and Pope Paul VI's Closing Address in 1965.
In other words, most of the work done in ambiguous--or highly questionable-terms by the Second Vatican Council had been done well before-hand in clear, unambiguous terms by previous popes. There was no need to "muddy the waters" of what had been defined in clear terms before. Readers know full well what was meant in the decrees of previous councils and in the encyclical letters and pronouncements or previous popes. It is said now that Pope Benedict XVI wants to have a "reinterpretation" of the Second Vatican Council in light of Tradition. How long will it take for some pope to see the wreckage of souls of the past forty to fifty years and come to the realization that it is all the result of the ambiguity of the Second Vatican Council and of the synthetic liturgy produced in its wake?
Much like his predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI uses ambiguity of language quite frequently himself.
The Holy Father, using the writing of Saint Augustine as a reference point, said the following in his General Audience address of November 30, 2005:
We want to commend to St. Augustine a further meditation on our psalm . In it, the Father of the Church introduces a surprising element of great timeliness: He knows that also among the inhabitants of Babylon there are people who are committed to peace and the good of the community, despite the fact that they do not share the biblical faith, that they do not know the hope of the Eternal City to which we aspire. They have a spark of desire for the unknown, for the greatest, for the transcendent, for a genuine redemption.
And he says that among the persecutors, among the nonbelievers, there are people with this spark, with a kind of faith, of hope, in the measure that is possible for them in the circumstances in which they live. With this faith in an unknown reality, they are really on the way to the authentic Jerusalem, to Christ. And with this opening of hope, valid also for the Babylonians -- as Augustine calls them -- for those who do not know Christ, and not even God, and who nevertheless desire the unknown, the eternal, he exhorts us not to look only at the material things of the present moment, but to persevere in the path to God. Only with this greater hope can we transform this world in a just way.
St. Augustine says it with these words: "If we are citizens of Jerusalem ... and we have to live on this earth, in the confusion of the present world, in the present Babylon, where we do not live as citizens but are prisoners, it is necessary that we not only sing what the Psalm says, but that we live it: This is achieved with a profound aspiration of the heart, fully and religiously desirous of the Eternal City."
And making reference to the "earthly city called Babylon," he adds: In it "there are people who, moved by love for it, contrive to ensure peace, temporal peace, without nourishing another hope in their hearts than the joy of working for peace. And we see them make every effort to be useful to the earthly society. However, if they are committed with a pure conscience in these tasks, God will not allow them to perish with Babylon, having predestined them to be citizens of Jerusalem, on the condition, however, that, living in Babylon, they do not seek pride, outdated pomp and arrogance. ... He sees their service and will show them the other city, toward which they must really long and orient all their effort" ("Esposizioni sui Salmi" [Commentaries on the Psalms] 136, 1-2: "New Augustinian Library," XXVIII, Rome, 1977, pp. 397, 399).
Some have said in recent days that the Holy Father was not attempting to say that nonbelievers will be saved outside of the Catholic Church, that he knows full well the mind of Saint Augustine, whose writings on the exclusive nature of supernatural Faith in the Catholic Church are very clear and well-known. It could not possibly be, some say, that the Holy Father meant to leave the salvation of nonbelievers as an open question. How do those who contend such a thing know that this is true? Pope Benedict XVI is a disciple of Hans Urs von Balthasar, who taught the heresy of universal salvation. Why would a pope even bring up such a subject as the fate of nonbelievers at a General Audience attended by people who are not in the least bit familiar with the actual thought and beliefs of Saint Augustine? A person without any knowledge of the authentic thought of Saint Augustine would come away from the November 30, 2005, General Audience of the Holy Father confused (at best) about the fate of nonbelievers and/or convinced (at worst) that nonbelievers are saved. No one who knows the Holy Father's consistent embrace of Modernist theologians throughout the course of his entire priestly career can assert seriously and with a straight face that the Holy Father believes completely and unequivocally in the doctrine that outside of the Catholic Church there is no salvation. Alas, the ambiguity begotten of the Second Vatican Council and sustained by each pope in the past forty years makes it possible for people to will to believe in the incredible.
If the Holy Father took seriously the doctrine of outside of the Catholic Church there is no salvation then he would be pleading with those outside of the Church to convert to her in order to be saved. However, the Holy Father has not done so when addressing Protestant groups. He did not do so in Cologne,
Germany, on August 19, 2005, when addressing Protestants. He eschews "proselytism" with the Jews and with the heretical, schismatic members of the various Orthodox churches. He has not mentioned one word about conversion when addressing Mohammedans. How can one contend seriously that Pope Benedict XVI believes that those outside of the Catholic Church, both Protestant and Jews and Mohammedans and others, are not in peril of losing their souls for all eternity. One who believed that souls are at risk would move Heaven and earth to plead with them to convert as soon as possible to the life-giving font that is the Catholic Church.
Alas, one can only read the ambiguity of Pope Benedict XVI's November 30, 2005, remarks in light of his refusal to seek the conversion of non-Catholics to the true Faith. One must know the mind of the current Holy Father, not project into his mind one's own clear understanding of the teaching of Saint Augustine. Pope Benedict XVI demonstrated without any question at all his refusal to invite those outside of the Church into her bosom when addressing Methodists yesterday, Friday, December 9, 2005:
It gives me great joy to welcome you, representatives of the World Methodist Council, and to thank you for your visit. I remain most grateful for the prayerful presence and support of Methodist representatives at the funeral of Pope John Paul II and at the celebration marking the inauguration of my pontificate.
Forty years ago this week, Pope Paul VI addressed the ecumenical observers at the end of the Second Vatican Council. During this encounter he expressed the hope that differences between Christians could be resolved, "slowly, gradually, loyally, generously." Now we have to reflect upon the friendly relations between Catholics and Methodists, and upon the patient and persevering dialogue in which we have engaged. Indeed, there is much for which we can today give thanks.
Since 1967, our dialogue has treated major theological themes such as: revelation and faith, tradition and teaching authority in the Church. These efforts have been candid in addressing areas of difference. They have also demonstrated a considerable degree of convergence and are worthy of reflection and study. Our dialogue and the many ways in which Catholics and Methodists have become better acquainted have allowed us to recognize together some of those "Christian treasures of great value." On occasion, this recognition has enabled us to speak with a common voice in addressing social and ethical questions in an increasingly secularized world.
I have been encouraged by the initiative which would bring the member churches of the World Methodist Council into association with the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, signed by the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation in 1999. Should the World Methodist Council express its intent to associate itself with the Joint Declaration, it would assist in contributing to the healing and reconciliation we ardently desire, and would be a significant step toward the stated goal of full visible unity in faith.
Dear friends, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and mindful of God's great and abiding Mercy throughout the world, let us seek to foster a mutual commitment to the Word of God, to witness and to joint prayer. As we prepare our hearts and minds to welcome the Lord in this Advent season, I invoke God's abundant blessings upon all of you and on Methodists throughout the world.
There is no ambiguity in those remarks, I must admit. The Holy Father clearly sees no urgency to invite Methodists to convert to the true Church so that they might partake worthily of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the God-Man, Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, in Holy Communion. The Holy Father believes that it is possible for non-Catholics to get to Heaven without having been nourished worthily by Our Lord Himself in Holy Communion. Remember, the Pope said in August that the murdered Protestant syncretist, "Brother" Roger Schutz, had attained eternal joy even though he never converted to the Catholic Faith and had no desire to convert to the Catholic Faith, as Mr. John Vennari of Catholic Family News confirmed with speaking with a representative of the "ecumenical" Taize community a few months ago.
Contrast Pope Benedict XVI's words to the Methodists with Blessed Pope Pius IX's Iam Vos Omnes, issued on September 13, 1868 (I am indebted to Mr. Mark Stabinski of the Saint Anthony of Padua Mission of the Society of Saint Pius X in Fairfield, New Jersey, for providing me with the text of this hard-to-find Apostolic Letter):
Apostolic Letter of His Holiness, Pope Pius IX, to all Protestants and other Non-Catholics at the convocation of the Vatican Council, September 13, 1868, that they may return to the Catholic Church.
Surely you all are aware that We, who have been raised up, though without any merit, to this Chair of Peter, and therefore to the head of the supreme government and care of the entire Catholic Church of Jesus Christ Our Lord, have thought it opportune to call to Us the Venerable Brothers of the Episcopate of all the world, and to reunite them, in the coming year, in an Ecumenical Council; for preparation, with the same Venerable Brothers, calling you to share Our pastoral solicitude, those provisions which will prove more suitable and more incisive to dissipate the darkness of many pestilent errors which, wherever, with added damage of the soul, every day are more affirmed and triumph, and to always give more consistency and to diffuse in the Christian people, entrusted to Our vigilance, the kingdom of the true faith, of justice and of authentic peace of God.
Reposing full confidence in the most tightly bound and most amiable pact of union which in a marvelous way binds to Us and to this Seat the same Venerable Brothers, what testimony the unequivocable tests of fidelity, of love and of obedience towards Us and towards this Our Seat, [they] have never omitted to offer in the course of all Our Supreme Pontificate, we nourish the hope that, as it has happened in ages past through other General Councils, so also in the present age, this Ecumenical Council of Ours will produce, with the help of divine grace, copious and most joyous fruits for the greater glory of God and for the eternal salvation of men.
Sustained therefore by this hope, solicitous and urged by the charity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who offered His life for the salvation of all the race of men, it is not possible for us to pass by the occasion of the future Council without turning Our paternal and Apostolic word again to all those who, even if they acknowledge Jesus Christ the Redeemer and boast of the name of Christian, do not profess the totality of the true faith of Christ and are not in the communion of the Catholic Church. This being the case, we propose with all zeal and Charity to admonish, exhort, and beseech them for this reason to seriously consider and reflect whether the way in which they continue is that which is indicated by that same Christ the Lord: which is the way that leads to eternal life.
Nobody will certainly be able to doubt or deny that this Jesus Christ, to the end that the fruits of His Redemption might be applied to all the race of men, has built here on earth, upon Peter, the only Church, which is one, holy, catholic and apostolic; and that He has conferred upon her the power necessary to preserve whole and inviolate the deposit of faith; to transmit this same faith to all peoples, tribes, and nations; to call [elect] to unity in this Mystical Body, through baptism, all men, for the purpose of preserving in them, and perfecting, that new life of grace, without which no one can merit and obtain eternal life; wherefore this Church, which constitutes the Mystical Body, will persist and prosper in her own stable and indefectible nature until the end of the ages, and offer to all Her sons the means of salvation.
Whoever thus gives proper attention and reflection to the situation which surrounds the various religious societies, divided amongst themselves and separated from the Catholic Church - which, without interruption, from the time of Christ the Lord and of His Apostles, by means of her legitimate sacred Shepherds, has always exercised, and exercises still, the divine power conferred upon Her by the Lord - it will be easy to convince [them] that in none of these societies, and not even in all of them taken together, can in some way be seen the one and Catholic Church which Christ the Lord built, constituted, and willed to exist. Neither will it ever be able to be said that they are members and part of that Church as long as they remain visibly separated from Catholic unity. It follows that such societies, lacking that living authority established by God, which instructs men in the things of the faith and in the discipline of the customs, directing and governing them in all that concerns eternal salvation, they continuously mutate in their doctrines without that mobility and the instability they find one end. Everyone therefore can easily comprehend and fully reckon that this is absolutely in contrast with the Church instituted by Christ the Lord, in which the truth must always remain constant and never subject to change whatsoever, deposited as if it were into a warehouse, entrusted to be guarded perfectly whole. To this purpose, it has received the promise of the perpetual presence and the aid of the Holy Spirit. No one then ignores that from these dissentions [disagreements] in doctrines and opinions derive social divisions, which find their origin in these innumerable communions and which are always and increasingly diffused with grave damage[s] to the Christian and civil society.
Therefore, whoever recognizes that religion is the foundation of human society must be moved to confess what great violence has been wrought in civil society by the discrepancy of principles and the division of religious societies which fight amongst themselves, and with what force the refusal of the authority willed by God for governing the convictions of the intellect of men through the direction of the actions of men, as much in private life as in social life, has provoked, promoted and fed the lamentable of the things and of the times which agitate and plague [afflict] in this way nearly all peoples.
It is for this reason that so many who do not share “the communion and the truth of the Catholic Church” must make use of the occasion of the Council, by the means of the Catholic Church, which received in Her bosom their ancestors, proposes [further] demonstration of profound unity and of firm vital force; hear the requirements [demands] of her heart, they must engage themselves to leave this state that does not guarantee for them the security of salvation. She does not hesitate to raise to the Lord of mercy most fervent prayers to tear down of the walls of division, to dissipate the haze of errors, and lead them back within holy Mother Church, where their Ancestors found salutary pastures of life; where, in an exclusive way, is conserved and transmitted whole the doctrine of Jesus Christ and wherein is dispensed the mysteries of heavenly grace.
It is therefore by force of the right of Our supreme Apostolic ministry, entrusted to us by the same Christ the Lord, which, having to carry out with [supreme] participation all the duties of the good Shepherd and to follow and embrace with paternal love all the men of the world, we send this Letter of Ours to all the Christians from whom We are separated, with which we exhort them warmly and beseech them with insistence to hasten to return to the one fold of Christ; we desire in fact from the depths of the heart their salvation in Christ Jesus, and we fear having to render an account one day to Him, Our Judge, if, through some possibility, we have not pointed out and prepared the way for them to attain eternal salvation. In all Our prayers and supplications, with thankfulness, day and night we never omit to ask for them, with humble insistence, from the eternal Shepherd of souls the abundance of goods and heavenly graces. And since, if also, we fulfill in the earth the office of vicar, with all our heart we await with open arms the return of the wayward sons to the Catholic Church, in order to receive them with infinite fondness into the house of the Heavenly Father and to enrich them with its inexhaustible treasures. By our greatest wish for the return to the truth and the communion with the Catholic Church, upon which depends not only the salvation of all of them, but above all also of the whole Christian society: the entire world in fact cannot enjoy true peace if it is not of one fold and one shepherd.
Given at Rome, from St. Peter, on the 13th of September, 1868; in the 23rd year of Our Pontificate.
The contrast, dear readers, cannot be more clear, can it? Pope Benedict XVI imparts his "blessings" upon people in need of conversion without telling them that they must convert to be saved. Pope Pius IX beseeched Protestants "with insistence to hasten to return to the one fold of Christ; we desire in fact from the depths of the heart their salvation in Christ Jesus, and we fear having to render an account one day to Him, Our Judge, if through some possibility, we have not pointed out and prepared the way for them to attain salvation."
The Second Vatican Council has consigned such consistent Catholic exhortations to the Orwellian memory hole, thus condemning souls to walk this earth in darkness and confusion in preparation for eternal Hellfires when they die. Ambiguity leads souls to Hell. Catholic clarity leads souls to conversion and a lifetime of repentance and penance in preparation for the moment of their Particular Judgments. It is time for the Holy Father to abandon all pretense of "properly interpreting" what has been a disaster for the Church in her human elements and to return exclusively to the language of Tradition, both in doctrine and in worship.
May our own prayers and penances, especially during this season of Advent, expedite the day when some pope will consecrate Russia to Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart and thus bring an end definitively to the errors of Modernity in the world and Modernism in the Church.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint Jude, pray for us.
Saint Rita, pray for us.
Saint Philomena, pray for us.
Pope Saint Pius V, pray for us.
Pope Saint Pius X, pray for us.
Saint Juan Diego, pray for us.
Saint Melchiades, pray for us.
Saint Nicholas, pray for us.
Saint Peter Canisius, pray for us.
Saint Edmund Campion and all of the English Martyrs, pray for us.
Blessed Jacinta, pray for us.
Blessed Francisco, pray for us.