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Monday, October 10, 2022

A Snapshot of the Church before Vatican II: How Today’s Crisis Cures the Pre-Conciliar Ills

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A Snapshot of the Church before Vatican II: How Today’s Crisis Cures the Pre-Conciliar Ills

“And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to His purpose, are called to be saints.” (Romans 8:28)

During his interview of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano at the 2022 Catholic Identity Conference, Michael Matt asked about Francis’s statements that Traditional Catholics “reject Vatican II”: “shouldn’t all Catholics ‘reject the Council’ as it was presented to the world, according to Benedict, by the media?” Archbishop Vigano’s reply would presumably distress Francis and his collaborators:

“In this Bergoglio is perfectly right: Catholics who want to remain faithful to Tradition reject Vatican II precisely because it is alien and opposed to Tradition, which is the norm of Faith.”

 

Although Francis has tried his best to make it clear, some faithful Catholics still do not accept the reality that certain parts of Vatican II itself are opposed to what the Church has always taught. This is the case despite the fact that we have admissions from the Council’s progressive architects that they intentionally included ambiguities and previously condemned ideas into the Council documents. These architects and their followers have spent the past sixty years exploiting those heterodox passages to advance their anti-Catholic initiatives.

As vital as it is to recognize how Vatican II caused so many of the problems we have seen since its close, it is perhaps even more profitable to appreciate the profound failure of Vatican II to address the maladies afflicting the Church prior to the Council. Most of us know of the egregious decision to avoid condemning Communism, which alone would render the Council tremendously defective. Beyond this, though, the Church itself was in great need of a restoration that the Council never delivered.

The villains can have their Vatican II innovations, grotesque “churches,” interfaith religious gatherings, and Pachamamas. We have — and will never relinquish — the Catholic treasures.

In his Spiritual Journey, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre described the way in which World Wars I and II paved the way for Vatican II, which he described as World War III:

“At the close of a long life (for I was born in 1905 and I now see the year 1990), I can say that it has been marked by exceptional world events: three world wars, that which took place from 1914 to 1918, that which took place from 1939 to 1945, and that of the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965. The disasters caused by these three wars, and especially by the last of them, are incalculable in the domain of material ruins, but even more so in the spiritual realm. The first two paved the way for the war inside the Church, by facilitating the ruin of Christian institutions and the domination of Freemasonry, which has become so powerful that it has deeply infiltrated the governing body of the Church with its Liberal, Modernist doctrine.”

If the first two World Wars paved the way for Vatican II, evidently there was need to restore certain aspects of the Church. This was even more necessary in light of the fact that the Church had been infiltrated by enemies of Catholicism.

Henry Sire described these enemies of the Church’s traditional teaching in his Phoenix from the Ashes:

“The 1930s had not been a time of notable theologians, but after 1945 a strong movement of original theology began to appear, especially in France. The most distinctive example was given by Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, SJ, with his mystical interpretation of the evolutionary view of the world. More in the line of conventional theology was the programme of ressourcement led by Fr. Henri de Lubac, SJ, and Fr. Yves Congar, OP; this set out to re-examine doctrine in the light of the earliest Christian fathers, Greek as well as Latin. . . . A counterpart of this innovative school of theology showed activity in Germany, where the writings of Fr. Karl Rahner, SJ, also attracted suspicion in the climate of the time. . . .  In 1950 the fate they experienced was to be condemned by Pope Pius XII’s encyclical Humani Generis. Without naming authors or imposing penalties, the pope forbade the teaching of the doctrines he mentioned.”

Despite this condemnation, these men exerted considerable influence over Catholic thinking, as evidenced by the fact that they and their followers played a dominant role at Vatican II. Archbishop Lefebvre mentioned the impact of Rahner and Congar in particular in his They Have Uncrowned Him:

“Fr. Congar is not one of my friends. A periti at the Council, he was, with Karl Rahner, the principal author of the errors that I have not ceased combatting. He wrote, among others, a little book entitled Archbishop Lefebvre and the Crisis in the Church.”

How was Archbishop Lefebvre able to spot and resist their errors? As he described in his Open Letter to Confused Catholics, he had been blessed to avoid their gradual influence while he was stationed in Africa:

“How have all these bishops been able to metamorphose themselves in this manner? I can only see one explanation: they were always in France and they let themselves become gradually infected. In Africa I was protected. I came back the year of the Council, when the harm had already been done. Vatican II only opened the gates which were holding back the devastating flood.”

He had heeded the counsels of the popes and always remained on guard against the Modernist errors. As he knew (and taught his priests), if error is allowed to stand unopposed, eventually it will infect even the bishops. Unfortunately, far too many bishops were already infected on the eve of Vatican II.

When John XXIII announced the Council in 1959, the Modernist sickness had already spread throughout much of the Church, and many of the putative physicians were largely incapable of applying the necessary remedies.

Naturally, the damage went far beyond the bishops. In a 1969 speech in Paris (from A Bishop Speaks), Archbishop Lefebvre described the way in which the Church’s enemies infiltrated the seminaries:

“What can account for the success of subversive forces in penetrating every sphere, particularly in our seminaries? Alas! Clandestine documents were already being circulated there. They no longer wished to learn the doctrine of St. Thomas, and professors were beginning, without superior authority, to deliver personal courses of lectures. Most bishops were unable to discover what was being taught in their seminaries. Slowly but surely, this was already beginning in the time of the revered Pope Pius XII.”

These subversive forces caused so many of the problems in the Church, which suggested the real need for a holy council; but these subversive forces also made such a council almost impossible to call.

As Fr. Dominique Bourmaud described in his One Hundred Years of Modernism, both Pius XII and his predecessor, Pope Pius XI, recognized the risk of calling a council. Fr. Bourmaud quoted Cardinal Billot’s explanation (from1923) of the peril of calling a council during Pius XI’s pontificate:

“The most serious reason, the one which seems to me an absolute argument for responding in the negative: the reopening of a council is desired by the worst enemies of the Church, namely, the modernists, who — according to the most reliable evidence — are already preparing to take advantage of the Estates General of the Church to launch a revolution, a new 1789, object of their hopes and dreams. We fear lest they introduce methods of discussion and of propaganda more in conformity with democracy than with the traditions of the Church.”

They feared that the Modernists might use a council to cause even more damage in the Church.

John XXIII either ignored or underestimated these risks and, in any case, felt inspired to call the Second Vatican Council. When he announced the Council in 1959, the Modernist sickness had already spread throughout much of the Church, and many of the putative physicians were largely incapable of applying the necessary remedies.

Because of the Council, faithful Catholics now have to fight for the Faith, increasingly having to defend it against the bishops (including one dressed in white) who seek to destroy it.

In his classic Iota Unum, Professor Romano Amerio relates that although most Council Fathers involved with Vatican II’s central preparatory commission (established by John XXIII to prepare for the Council) were optimistic, at least one Father saw the situation in a much more realistic (and dim) light:

“I do not approve of the description of the state of the Church given here with such exuberance, more in hope than in truth. Why, and in comparison with what period, do you speak of an increased religious fervor? Should not statistical facts, as they are called, be kept before us, from which it is clear that the worship of God, Catholic belief and public morals are, among many people, collapsing and indeed almost in ruins? Are not men’s minds alienated from the Catholic religion: the state of being separate from the Church, philosophy from the dogmas of faith, the investigation of the world from reverence for the Creator, technical discoveries from conformity with moral order?”

Given these weaknesses among Catholics, it would have been reasonable to seek some catalyst for change, such as a council. But the risks that prompted Pius XI and Pius XII to avoid calling a council were even more pronounced in 1959. In hindsight, how can we avoid the conclusion that John XXIII’s decision to call the Second Vatican Council was ill-advised?

And yet . . . Professor Amerio related another aspect of John XXIII’s preparation for the Council, which gives us a stunning look at how the Council might have solved many of the problems we see in the Church today. As he described, John XXIII established a Roman Synod in 1960 as “a solemn forerunner of the larger gathering, which it was meant to prefigure and anticipate.” In the Roman Synod’s documents we see elements of true restoration:

“The texts of the Roman synod promulgated on 25, 26 and 27 January 1960 constitute a complete reversion of the Church to its proper nature . . . The synod in fact proposed a vigorous restoration at every level of ecclesial life. The discipline of the clergy was modeled on the traditional pattern formulated at the Council of Trent, and based on two principles which had always been accepted and practiced. The first is that of the peculiar character of the person consecrated to God, supernaturally enabled to do Christ’s work, and thus clearly separated from the laity (sacred means separate). The second, which follows from the first, is that of an ascetically education and a sacrificial life, which is differentiating mark of the clergy as a body, though individuals can take up an ascetical life in the lay state. . . . The Pope also ordered that the Catechism of the Council of Trent should be republished, but the order was ignored.”

Despite the concerns that prompted Pius XI and Pius XII to avoid calling a Council, and despite the pessimism expressed by the Council Father cited above, there was still enough grace, truth, and holy wisdom for the Roman Synod to propose such salutary means of restoration.

The Roman Synod documents also spoke of the liturgy:

“The liturgical legislation of the synod is no less significant: the use of Latin is solemnly confirmed, all attempts at creativity on the part of the celebrant, which would reduce the liturgical action of the Church to the level of a simple exercise of private piety, are condemned, The need to baptize infants as soon as possible is emphasized, a tabernacle in the traditional form and position is prescribed, Gregorian chant is ordered, newly composed popular songs are submitted to the approval of the bishop, all appearance of worldliness is forbidden in churches by a general prohibition of such things as the giving of concerts and performances, the selling of pictures or printed matter, the giving free rein to photographers and the lighting of candles by all and sundry (one ought to get the priest to do it). The ancient sacred is re-established regarding sacred places, forbidding women entry to the altar area.”

The unfathomable tragedy of the 1969 liturgical reform is somehow even worse when we consider what the Roman Synod proposed as the appropriate reforms, less than a decade earlier.

As we read through these descriptions of the work of the Roman Synod, we sense not only the tragedy of what was lost in the Council but also some idea of how God is drawing great good from the crisis in the Church. For the most part, our Traditional Catholic communities are now living the reforms sought by the Roman Synod. And, because we have experienced the disastrous effects of Modernism, we are learning to insist on truth and completely reject error.

The enemies want to push us all into their anti-Catholic, one world religion, but they have instead reignited the fires of Faith that give us the Notre Dame de Chrétienté Pentecost Pilgrimage, and the growing desire to give everything for God and His Church. Deo Gratias!

Without the monumental crisis brought about by Vatican II, what else could have spurred the great reforms we see today in our Traditional Catholic communities? The Council failed; but it brought the Church’s enemies into the open and gave them power to persecute faithful Catholics, which has helped to purify and strengthen those communities that have resisted the Conciliar changes.

Because of the Council, faithful Catholics now have to fight for the Faith, increasingly having to defend it against the bishops (including one dressed in white) who seek to destroy it. This fight gives us a greater appreciation and love for the treasures of Catholicism, and the trials purify our Faith. Thus, in many ways, the crisis caused by John XXIII’s apparently ill-advised decision to call Vatican II has been the catalyst for so many communities within the Church to undergo the essential reforms that the infiltrators have tried to block. The enemies want to push us all into their anti-Catholic, one world religion, but they have instead reignited the fires of Faith that give us the Notre Dame de Chrétienté Pentecost Pilgrimage, and the growing desire to give everything for God and His Church. Deo Gratias!

Today the picture is more clear than ever. The part of the Church that followed the reforms of Vatican II has degraded into the worst nightmares of Pius XI, Cardinal Billot, and Pius XII. Meanwhile, the part of the Church that followed what the Church has always taught has given honor and glory to God, and garnered the hatred of men like Francis, Roche, and Cupich, who would have been recognized as heretical enemies of the Church by most Catholics prior to Vatican II.

The villains can have their Vatican II innovations, grotesque “churches,” interfaith religious gatherings, and Pachamamas. We have — and will never relinquish — the Catholic treasures that should have been secured for all Catholics at Vatican II. May the Blessed Virgin Mary help us to do all we can to cooperate with God’s grace to hasten the Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart, which will indeed secure these Catholic treasures for the entire Church. Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us!

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Last modified on Monday, October 10, 2022
Robert Morrison | Remnant Columnist

Robert Morrison is a Catholic, husband and father. He is the author of A Tale Told Softly: Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale and Hidden Catholic England.