1. What is Vatican II?
Vatican II is a disastrous council which was called by John XXIII much to the surprise of everyone, as the Church was in amazing health and thriving at the time. It should be noted that John XXIII, shortly after he became pope, “went to the Holy Office (charged with guarding against heresy) and looked up his own file. There was a note attached to it: "suspected of Modernism.’” That basically says it all. John XXIII was responsible for allowing the left wing council fathers take it over, even agreeing with their absurd suggestion to scrap all but one of the schemas he had orthodox churchmen draw up in preparation. The only schema he kept was the disastrous schema on the Mass authored by Abp. Anibale Bugnini, who would later be exiled to Iran after evidence was revealed that he was a Freemason. As Archbishop Lefebvre explains:
I was nominated a member of the Central Preparatory Commission by the pope and I took an assiduous and enthusiastic part in its two years of work. The central commission had the responsibility of checking and examining all the preparatory schemas which came from the specialist commissions. I was in a good position therefore to know what had been done, what was to be examined, and what was to be brought before the assembly.
This work was carried out very conscientiously and meticulously. I still possess the seventy-two preparatory schemas; in them the Church’s doctrine is absolutely orthodox. They were adapted in a certain manner to our times, but with great moderation and discretion.
Everything was ready for the date announced and on 11th October, 1962, the Fathers took their places in the nave of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. But then an occurrence took place which had not been foreseen by the Holy See. From the very first days, the Council was besieged by the progressive forces. We experienced it, felt it; and when I say we, I mean the majority of the Council Fathers at that moment.
We had the impression that something abnormal was happening and this impression was rapidly confirmed; fifteen days after the opening session not one of the seventy-two schemas remained. All had been sent back, rejected, thrown into the waste-paper basket. Archbishop Lefebvre, “An Open Letter to Confused Catholics”, Ch. 14.
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2. Did Vatican II define any new dogmas or condemn any heresies?
No. The left wing Council fathers hated the very ideas of dogma or heresies, most likely not even believing in either of them. Pope John XXIII once remarked: "I am only infallible if I speak infallibly but I shall never do that, so I am not infallible.” Many of the periti, special advisors to the bishops, had previously been censured by the Holy Office, so they obviously had no interest in condemning themselves. The most obvious evil of the time to condemn in the early 1960’s would have been the genocidal Communism of the day, but Vatican II was completely silent on this evil. As Archbishop Lefebvre recalled:
A dogmatic council would have filled a great need. I remember Cardinal Wyszinsky telling us: “You must prepare a schema upon Communism; if there is a grave error menacing the world today it is indeed that. If Pius XII believed there was need of an encyclical on communism, it would also be very useful for us, meeting here in plenary assembly, to devote a schema to this question.”
Communism, the most monstrous error ever to emerge from the mind of Satan, has official access to the Vatican. Its world-wide revolution is particularly helped by the official non-resistance of the Church and also by the frequent support it finds there, in spite of the desperate warnings of those cardinals who have suffered in several of the Eastern countries. The refusal of this pastoral council to condemn it solemnly is enough in itself to cover it with shame before the whole of history, when one thinks of the tens of millions of martyrs, of the Christians and dissidents scientifically de-personalized in psychiatric hospitals and used as human guinea-pigs in experiments. Yet the Council kept quiet. We obtained the signatures of 450 bishops calling for a declaration against Communism. They were left forgotten in a drawer. When the spokesman for Gaudium et Spes replied to our questioning, he told us, “There have been two petitions calling for a condemnation of Communism.” “Two!” we cried, “there are more than 400 of them!” “Really, I know nothing about them.” On making inquiries, they were found, but it was too late.
As for dogma, declaring Our Lady the Mediatrix of all Graces would have been great idea, but instead the Council refused to even give Our Lady her own document, though it was proposed.
...the Eighth Chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, Lumen Gentium: The Role of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the Mystery of Christ and the Church . This chapter was appended to the constitution on the Church by a vote of 29 October 1963, in which the Council Fathers, by a small majority, (1,114 in favour, 1074 against) decided not to issue a separate document on the Blessed Virgin Mary, as had been originally planned.
Ironically, most of the errors of Vatican II had been previously condemned by Pius XII in the encyclical Mediator Dei in 1947.
3. Was Vatican II merely a “pastoral” council?
Yes. As Cardinal Ratzinger stated in 1988:
The truth is that this particular council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet so many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of super-dogma which takes away the importance of all the rest." --El Mercurio, July 17, 1988
4. Are Vatican II’s teachings infallible and binding, or fallible and optional?
They are definitely fallible as even Barron’s website admits that Vatican II defined nothing infallibly. The only sections of Vatican II that are infallible are the rare instances where the Council restated previous infallible doctrine. As for “optional” many teachings of the Council are optional because they were never mandated upon the faithful, however anything taught by the Council that was contrary to previous councils or papal teaching (aka Tradition) is not optional to believe or follow as we know it to be false by the previous infallible teaching of the Church. Likewise, the parts of Vatican II which affirm previous Catholic teaching are indeed binding, but the parts which contradict Tradition cannot, by their very nature, be binding. This is common sense.
5. Did Pope Paul VI say that Vatican II was ordinary, pastoral, and fallible?
There are those who ask what authority, what theological qualification, the Council intended to give to its teachings, knowing that it avoided issuing solemn dogmatic definitions backed by the Church's infallible teaching authority. The answer is known by those who remember the conciliar declaration of March 6, 1964, repeated on November 16, 1964. In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided proclaiming in an extraordinary manner any dogmas carrying the mark of infallibility.” (General Audience, December 1, 1966, published in the L'Osservatore Romano 1/21/1966)
"Differing from other Councils, this one was not directly dogmatic, but disciplinary and pastoral."- Pope Paul VI, August 6, 1975, General Audience
6. Are Catholics free to ignore, disparage, or reject Vatican II?
Yes, because parts of it contradict Traditional Catholic doctrine and it has resulted in an unprecedented and continuing crisis and cause of confusion in the Church.
When, at the end of the sessions, we asked Cardinal Felici, “Can you not give us what the theologians call the ‘theological note of the Council?’” He replied, “We have to distinguish according to the schemas and the chapters those which have already been the subject of dogmatic definitions in the past; as for the declarations which have a novel character, we have to make reservations. Vatican II therefore is not a Council like others and that is why we have the right to judge it, with prudence and reserve. I accept in this Council and in the reforms all that is in full concordance with Tradition. - Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, An Open Letter to Confused Catholics, Ch. 14.
Hence we can clearly comprehend why these doctrines are not even part of the Church's authentic teaching, because the bishops expressed no intention to hand down the Deposit of the Faith; on the contrary, their spokesmen expressed their intention to come to terms with the modern world and its values, long condemned by true Catholic churchmen as being intrinsically un-Catholic. Therefore, the documents of Vatican II have only a Conciliar authority, the authority of that Council, but no Catholic authority at all, and no Catholic need take seriously anything Vatican II said, unless it was already Church doctrine beforehand.” Fr. Pierre Marie, editor of the French Traditional Dominicans' quarterly, Le Sel de la Terre
7. Could parts of Vatican II’s doctrine be removed or reversed in the future?
Absolutely. Nothing in Vatican II that is novel is in any way infallible or irreformable.
It is canonically possible for a future pope to annul the outcome of the council, as it was merely a pastoral council. Cardinal Ratzinger affirms the same saying that " Not all valid councils, after being tested by the facts of history, have shown themselves to be useful councils; in the final analysis, all that was left of some was a great nothing." Raymond Taouk, “What Are Catholics to Think of Vatican II.”
8. Is Vatican II in continuity with tradition, or a rupture?
A rupture. Vatican II broke with Tradition on ecumenism, religious liberty, and collegiality. A more detailed look can be found here.
...if Vatican II truly did not represent a point of rupture, what is the reason for speaking of a pre-conciliar Church and a post-conciliar church, as if these were two different entities, defined in their essence by the Council itself? And if the Council was truly in line with the uninterrupted infallible Magisterium of the Church, why is it the only Council that poses grave and serious problems of interpretation, demonstrating its ontological heterogeneity with respect to other Councils?” - Archbishop Carlo MariaViganò
9. Did thinkers behind Vatican II deliberately use ambiguity to change Church teaching?
Absolutely. This is no secret.
During the course of the sittings we several times wanted to define a concept; but we were told: “We are not here to define dogma and philosophy; we are here for pastoral purposes.” What is liberty? What is human dignity? What is collegiality? We are reduced to analyzing the statements indefinitely in order to know what they mean, and we only come up with approximations because the terms are ambiguous. And this was not through negligence or by chance. Fr. Schillebeeckx admitted it: “We have used ambiguous terms during the Council and we know how we shall interpret them afterwards.” Those people knew what they were doing. Archbishop Lefebvre, “An Open Letter to Confused Catholics.”
These 'timebombs' were ambiguous passages inserted into the official documents by the liberal periti or experts - passages which would be interpreted in an untraditional, progressivist sense after the Council closed." (Michael Davies, Liturgical Timebombs, Rockford, Ill: Tan Books, 2004, pg. 23).
10. Did Vatican II forbid Latin, Gregorian Chant, pipe organs, and ad orientem worship in the Mass?
No. It didn’t need to. After the Novus Ordo was promulgated, the bishop’s conferences approved vernacular translations of the Novus Ordo and nearly every Mass was said in the vernacular. Bishops’ conferences also approved guitars and modern instruments and hymns and promptly rolled out the Cranmer tables so the priest could face the people in order to entertain. Vatican II was cited for all of these changes which were not contradicted in any way by the Vatican II popes, but rather allowed.
11. Does supporting the Traditional Latin Mass mean you have to reject Vatican II—or vice versa?
Yes. The two are not reconcilable. The Traditional Latin Mass is based on the Traditional Catholic Faith. Vatican II in some places contradicts this theology and in other places makes its clear teachings ambiguous. It was also the Council that provided the grounds to replace the Traditional Mass with the Novus Ordo.
The accompanying critical study of the Novus Ordo Missae, the work of a group of theologians, liturgists and pastors of souls, shows quite clearly in spite of its brevity that if we consider the innovations implied or taken for granted which may of course be evaluated in different ways, the Novus Ordo represents, both as a whole and in its details, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass as it was formulated in Session XXII of the Council of Trent. The "canons" of the rite definitively fixed at that time provided an insurmountable barrier to any heresy directed against the integrity of the Mystery. Letter from Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci to His Holiness Pope Paul VI
September 25th, 1969
12. Did Vatican II cause the erosion we are seeing the Church—clerical corruption, the rise of the “nones,” the drop in vocations, the lack of belief in the Real Presence?
[I]t is impossible to maintain it is only the later applications of the Council that are at fault. The rebellion of the clergy, the defiance of pontifical authority, all the excesses in the liturgy and the new theology, and the desertion of the churches, have they nothing to do with the Council, as some have recently asserted? Let us be honest: they are its fruits! - Abp. Lefebvre, An Open Letter to Confused Catholics.
Certainly the results of Vatican II seem cruelly opposed to the expectations of everyone, beginning with those of Pope John XXIII and then of Pope Paul VI. Expected was a new Catholic unity, and instead we have been exposed to dissension which, to use the words of Pope Paul VI, seems to have gone from self-criticism to self-destruction. Expected was a new enthusiasm, and many wound up discouraged and bored. Expected was a great step forward, and instead we find ourselves faced with a progressive process of decadence that has developed for the most part precisely under the sign of a calling back to the Council, and has therefore contributed to discrediting it for many. The net result, therefore, seems negative. I am repeating here what I said ten years after the conclusion of the work: it is incontrovertible that this period has definitely been unfavorable for the Church." --Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, December 24, 1984, L'Osservatore Romano
The Church finds herself in an hour of anxiety, a disturbed period of self-criticism, or what would even better be called self-demolition [auto-destruction]. It is an interior upheaval, acute and complicated, which nobody expected after the Council. It is almost as if the Church were attacking itself. We looked forward to a flowering, a serene expansion of conceptions, which matured in the great sessions of the council. But ... one must notice above all the sorrowful aspect. It is as if the Church were destroying herself.” Pope Paul VI, December 7, 1968, Address to the Lombard Seminary at Rome
We have the impression that through some cracks in the wall the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God: it is doubt, uncertainty, questioning, dissatisfaction, confrontation.... We thought that after the Council a day of sunshine would have dawned for the history of the Church. What dawned, instead, was a day of clouds and storms, of darkness, of searching and uncertainties". Pope Paul VI, June 29, 1972, Homily during the Mass for Sts. Peter & Paul, on the occasion of the ninth anniversary of his coronation in his response to Vatican II
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