Tag Archives: Pope Paul VI

Cardinal Pell says he ‘never really approved’ of Benedict XVI’s decision to resign

…Pell described John Paul II as “one of the greatest popes in history, of course,” and praised Benedict’s “prodigious intellect,” adding that “I knew him [Benedict] better than all of the other two popes”

…Despite working closely with Francis for five years, Pell has often been perceived as at odds with key initiatives of this papacy, including the pope’s more welcoming approach to divorced and remarried couples and LGBTQ Catholics, and his prioritization of fighting climate change.

During the interview, Pell said that Francis has the “great gift of empathy and sympathy.”

When asked to respond on why some conservative Catholics are hostile to Francis, the cardinal said he believes some “wonder just what is being taught” at the moment, although he did not elaborate on specific issues.

“Pope Francis has a great gift, like Jesus did, of reaching out to those on the peripheries and sinners,” Pell said, “and that can and has confused people.”

“But we are where we are,” the cardinal added. “The papacy is something, I believe, is willed by Christ and we have to respect the office, reverence the man and obey the papal directions.”

… Read it all

— Cardinal Burke provides update on his recovery from COVID-19

“For my part, I am trying to grow in patience,” said Burke. “My principal challenges, at the present, are regaining certain fundamental physical skills needed for my daily living, and overcoming a general fatigue and difficulty in breathing, which are typical for those who have suffered the contagion of the Covid-19 virus.” 

Dogmatics Clarified, 2007: Second Vatican Council doctrine of the Church

Prescinding from any questions regarding the wisdom of calling the Council in the time and manner it did, regarding the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, and its Decrees on Ecumenism, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2007 clarified confusions, showing again that the Holy Spirit protects the Church from dogmatic errors through the end of time. SH.

See also the CDF’s Declaration, Dominus Iesus, 2000

“… Among the many new contributions to the field [of Ecclesiology], some are not immune from erroneous interpretation which in turn give rise to confusion and doubt. A number of these interpretations have been referred to the attention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Given the universality of Catholic doctrine on the Church, the Congregation wishes to respond to these questions by clarifying the authentic meaning of some ecclesiological expressions used by the magisterium which are open to misunderstanding in the theological debate.


First Question: Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?

Response: The Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine, rather it developed, deepened and more fully explained it.

This was exactly what John XXIII said at the beginning of the Council1. Paul VI affirmed it2 and commented in the act of promulgating the Constitution Lumen gentium:

“There is no better comment to make than to say that this promulgation really changes nothing of the traditional doctrine. What Christ willed, we also will. What was, still is. What the Church has taught down through the centuries, we also teach. In simple terms that which was assumed, is now explicit; that which was uncertain, is now clarified; that which was meditated upon, discussed and sometimes argued over, is now put together in one clear formulation”3. The Bishops repeatedly expressed and fulfilled this intention4.

Second Question: What is the meaning of the affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?

Response: Christ “established here on earth” only one Church and instituted it as a “visible and spiritual community”5, that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all the elements that Christ himself instituted.6 “This one Church of Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic […]. This Church, constituted and organised in this world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him”7.

In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium ‘subsistence’ means this perduring, historical continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church8, in which the Church of Christ is concretely found on this earth.

It is possible, according to Catholic doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of sanctification and truth that are present in them.9 

Nevertheless, the word “subsists” can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the symbols of the faith (I believe… in the “one” Church); and this “one” Church subsists in the Catholic Church.10

Third Question: Why was the expression “subsists in” adopted instead of the simple word “is“?

Response: The use of this expression, which indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church. Rather, it comes from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are “numerous elements of sanctification and of truth” which are found outside her structure, but which “as gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity”11.

“It follows that these separated churches and Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church”12.

Fourth Question: Why does the Second Vatican Council use the term “Church” in reference to the oriental Churches separated from full communion with the Catholic Church?

Response: The Council wanted to adopt the traditional use of the term. “Because these Churches, although separated, have true sacraments and above all – because of the apostolic succession – the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of which they remain linked to us by very close bonds”13, they merit the title of “particular or local Churches”14, and are called sister Churches of the particular Catholic Churches15.

“It is through the celebration of the Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches that the Church of God is built up and grows in stature”16. However, since communion with the Catholic Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome and the Successor of Peter, is not some external complement to a particular Church but rather one of its internal constitutive principles, these venerable Christian communities lack something in their condition as particular churches17.

On the other hand, because of the division between Christians, the fullness of universality, which is proper to the Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him, is not fully realised in history18.

Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the title of “Church” with regard to those Christian Communities born out of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?

Response: According to Catholic doctrine, these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery19 cannot, according to Catholic doctrine, be called “Churches” in the proper sense20.

The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ratified and confirmed these Responses, adopted in the Plenary Session of the Congregation, and ordered their publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 29, 2007, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

William Cardinal Levada

+ Angelo Amato, S.D.B.
Titular Archbishop of Sila

[1] John XXIII, Address of 11 October 1962: “…The Council…wishes to transmit Catholic doctrine, whole and entire, without alteration or deviation…But in the circumstances of our times it is necessary that Christian doctrine in its entirety, and with nothing taken away from it, is accepted with renewed enthusiasm, and serene and tranquil adherence… it is necessary that the very same doctrine be understood more widely and more profoundly as all those who sincerely adhere to the Christian, Catholic and Apostolic faith strongly desire …it is necessary that this certain and immutable doctrine, to which is owed the obedience of faith, be explored and expounded in the manner required by our times. The deposit of faith itself and the truths contained in our venerable doctrine are one thing, but the manner in which they are annunciated is another, provided that the same fundamental sense and meaning is maintained” : AAS 54 [1962] 791-792.

[2] Cf. Paul VI, Address of 29 September 1963: AAS 55 [1963] 847-852.

[3] Paul VI, Address of 21 November 1964: AAS 56 [1964] 1009-1010.

[4] The Council wished to express the identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church. This is clear from the discussions on the decree Unitatis redintegratio The Schema of the Decree was proposed on the floor of the Council on 23.9.1964 with a Relatio (Act Syn III/II 296-344).  The Secretariat for the Unity of Christians responded on 10.11.1964 to the suggestions sent by Bishops in the months that followed (Act Syn III/VII 11-49). Herewith are quoted four texts from this Expensio modorum concerning this first response.

A) [In Nr. 1 (Prooemium) Schema Decreti: Act Syn III/II 296, 3-6]

“Pag. 5, lin. 3-6: Videtur etiam Ecclesiam catholicam inter illas Communiones comprehendi, quod falsum esset.
R(espondetur): Hic tantum factum, prout ab omnibus conspicitur, describendum est. Postea clare affirmatur solam Ecclesiam catholicam esse veram Ecclesiam Christi” (Act Syn III/VII 12).

B) [In Caput I in genere: Act Syn III/II 297-301]

“4 – Expressius dicatur unam solam esse veram Ecclesiam Christi; hanc esse Catholicam Apostolicam Romanam; omnes debere inquirere, ut eam cognoscant et ingrediantur ad salutem obtinendam…
R(espondetur): In toto textu sufficienter effertur, quod postulatur. Ex altera parte non est tacendum etiam in aliis communitatibus christianis inveniri veritates revelatas et elementa ecclesialia”(Act Syn III/VII 15). Cf. also ibid pt. 5.

C) [In Caput I in genere: Act Syn III/II 296s]

“5 – Clarius dicendum esset veram Ecclesiam esse solam Ecclesiam catholicam romanam…
R(espondetur): Textus supponit doctrinam in constitutione ‘De Ecclesia’ expositam, ut pag. 5, lin. 24-25 affirmatur” (Act Syn III/VII 15). Thus the commission whose task it was to evaluate the responses to the Decree Unitatis redintegratio clearly expressed the identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church  and its unicity, and understood this doctrine to be founded in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium.

D) [In Nr. 2 Schema Decreti: Act Syn III/II 297s]

“Pag. 6, lin. 1- 24: Clarius exprimatur unicitas Ecclesiae. Non sufficit inculcare, ut in textu fit, unitatem Ecclesiae.
R(espondetur): a) Ex toto textu clare apparet identificatio Ecclesiae Christi cum Ecclesia catholica, quamvis, ut oportet, efferantur elementa ecclesialia aliarum communitatum”.
“Pag. 7, lin. 5: Ecclesia a successoribus Apostolorum cum Petri successore capite gubernata (cf. novum textum ad pag. 6, lin.33-34) explicite dicitur ‘unicus Dei grex’ et lin. 13 ‘una et unica Dei Ecclesia’ ” (Act Syn III/VII).
The two expressions quoted are those of Unitatis redintegratio 2.5 e 3.1.

[5] Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8.1.

[6] Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis redintegratio3.2; 3.4; 3.5; 4.6.

[7] Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen gentium, 8.2.

[8] Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Mysterium Ecclesiae,1.1: AAS 65 [1973] 397; DeclarationDominus Iesus, 16.3: AAS 92 [2000-II] 757-758; Notification on the Book of Leonardo Boff, OFM, “Church: Charism and Power”: AAS 77 [1985] 758-759.

[9] Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Ut unum sint, 11.3: AAS 87 [1995-II] 928.

[10] Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic ConstitutionLumen gentium, 8.2.

[11] Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic ConstitutionLumen gentium, 8.2.

[12] Second Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 3.4.

[13] Second Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 15.3; cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter Communionis notio, 17.2: AAS, 85 [1993-II] 848.

[14] Second Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 14.1.

[15] Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 14.1; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Ut unum sint, 56 f: AAS 87 [1995-II] 954  ff.

[16] Second Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 15.1.

[17] Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter Communionis notio, 17.3: AAS 85 [1993-II] 849.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Cf. Second Vatican Council, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 22.3.

[20] Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration Dominus Iesus, 17.2: AAS 92 [2000-II] 758.

Updated 9/8/21

Canceling Pope Benedict

       See also First Things, Burying Benedict by Matthew Schmitz

Intro, Inside the Vatican magazine

 “Pope Benedict XVI is very old now, and lives mostly in silence and prayer.

    “Therefore, he is no longer able to defend himself against attacks on his thought as he once did, quite effectively, in his own words, with his own strength of heart, mind and soul.

    Yet the 94-year-old Benedict has just come under a very strong attack: his view of the old liturgy as a treasury of faith that is right for Catholics to continue to have access to (expressed in his 2007 decree Summorum Pontificum), is under direct, intense attack.

    It is under attack, first of all, in the document issued July 16 under the signature of Pope Francis (but prepared by others), entitled Traditionis custodes.

    But it is also under attack in many interpretations of that document in the six weeks since it was published.

    Moreover, Benedict’s view that the Second Vatican Council must be interpreted in continuity with prior Church doctrine, not as a departure from that doctrine (a rupture with that doctrine)… as providing an opportunity for that unchanging life and doctrine to be more accessible to modern men and women… is also being attacked.

    In other words, Benedict is being directly attacked, doctrinally, and he is not answering a word.

    Benedict, to put it bluntly, is in a profound way being “canceled,” even while he is still alive, and is offering no defense.

    But if Benedict were to defend himself, he could hardly do better than an anonymous priest does eloquently in the Rorate Caeli essay republished below.

    It is a pity that we do not know the name of the priest who wrote this essay, because he speaks with a profound sensus fidelium (“sense of the faithful”), that sense of the Catholic faith which causes a reader or listener to say, “Yes, this is what the Catholic faith teaches, this is what we believe.”

    The essay has that magisterial quality — the magisterial quality that the “sense of the faithful” has. — Inside the Vatican

It is long, but, if you take it slowly, in pieces, it is well worth reading. [The passages in bold-face are bold-faced by the editor of the Rorate Caeli website].—RM  

    Here is the essay:

Canceling Pope Benedict: Reflections on a recent article and the “hermeneutic of rupture”

    August 27, 2021

    Rorate has received this excellent essay by “A Concerned Priest” and is pleased to share it with our readers. It is one of the best analyses to date of the impossible theological premises on which Pope Francis has enacted his campaign against the survival of the traditional rites of the Church.

    Professor Martin Madar has written in La Croix (August 9, 2021) a revealing article concerning the larger project represented by Traditionis Custodes. It bears the title “Pope Francis should correct his predecessor on another point.”[0 — the article is behind a paywall]     The project here is one to which all Catholics, especially bishops, should pay close attention because it reveals what is really at stake in the current debates about the future of the traditional Mass.

    It is not so much the individual author who matters: he stands in for an ecclesiastical party that is very prominent today; were it otherwise, Catholics outside the ivory tower could just ignore this article and others like it.

    Here we have yet another rearguard attempt to achieve the permanent institutionalization of the “hermeneutic of rupture” which Benedict XVI had dedicated his pontificate to combatting.

    We are told in this article that with his motu proprio, “Francis defended both the liturgical reform of Vatican II and the council’s ecclesiology,” but that “to be more thorough…Francis should correct a document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) from 2007, which asserts that Vatican II did not change the doctrine on the church.”

    In the rest of the article we can easily see the point: the author seems to bang his fist on the table and insist, But, yes! Vatican II really did change everything! Nothing can be the same anymore! You can’t believe like they did before the Council and you can’t worship like they did the before the Council!

    Although the author slams those he calls “Lefebvrists,” it seems not to occur to him that he shares their basic thesis that “Vatican II changed everything,” disagreeing only on whether the change was good or bad.

    We shall return later to the attention paid by the author concerning the clarification made by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2007 and why he opines that it must be overturned. But first, some general considerations. In Catholicism today there are essentially three ways to grapple with the implications of the Second Vatican Council for the life of the Church going forward.

    First, there is the more extreme (which does not necessarily mean false) traditionalist “rupturist” view which identifies outright contradictions between the teaching of Vatican II and that of earlier councils or popes, and which sees this rupture as a bad thing whose possibility can only be explained by the fact that the Council did not define dogmas or invoke the charism of infallibility on its teachings [1] and was thus theoretically capable of falling into error. In such a thesis, the resulting situation presses hard upon but does not destroy the indefectibility of the Church, which necessarily presupposes continuity in the Church’s (infallible) teachings.

    Second, there is the progressivist “rupturist” view, which also sees an essential difference between pre- and post-Vatican II Catholicism, viewing this as a good thing and going so far as to see the Council as a New Pentecost or even, as one might say today, a Great Reset.

    The putative contradiction between pre-conciliar and post-conciliar teaching on things like ecumenism or religious liberty is not a problem to be solved but a rupture to be celebrated, since it portends the hoped-for change in other doctrinal spheres such as those of sexual morality or women’s ordination. For them, Vatican II opened the door to a new Church and we need to walk right through it and push back hard when anyone tries to shut the door.

    Then there is a third view, which emphasizes the fundamental continuity in the Church before and after Vatican II [2]. It takes as its premise the notion that there cannot be a “new” Church; to suggest otherwise is to destroy the very foundations of Catholicism.

    The overriding project of the Ratzinger pontificate was to combat “rupturist” ecclesiology. Pope Benedict’s liturgical initiatives—especially Summorum Pontificum—must be seen in this light.

    Yes, like John Paul II before him, he was also interested in finding the most just pastoral accommodation for the “rightful aspirations” of the “Catholic faithful who feel attached to some previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition” [3] and in establishing this pastoral solution on a firm legal basis; yes, he was keenly interested in the question of the liturgy in its own right and saw that the new liturgy itself was not likely to be celebrated reverently, in visible continuity with the historic Roman Rite, unless it were to be infused with the ethos of the old [4].

    But even more than that, Benedict XVI wanted concretely to oppose a widespread notion which has become such an unacknowledged assumption of Catholic life over the last half century. As he said in one of his papal audiences:

After the Second Vatican Council some were convinced that everything was new, that there was a different Church, that the pre-conciliar Church was finished and that we had another, totally ‘other’ Church—an anarchic utopianism!” [5].

    Even from his time as cardinal-prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger saw clearly that opposition to the pre-Vatican II liturgy was more about opposition to the pre-Vatican II Church than it was about aesthetics or liturgy as such.

    He put his finger on the problem when he said: “‘A sizable party of Catholic liturgists seems to have practically arrived at the conclusion that Luther, rather than Trent, was substantially right in the sixteenth century debate… It is only against this background of the effective denial of the authority of Trent, that the bitterness of the struggle against allowing the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missal, after the liturgical reform, can be understood. The possibility of so celebrating constitutes the strongest, and thus (for them) the most intolerable contradiction of the opinion of those who believe that the faith in the Eucharist formulated by Trent has lost its value,’ which is why he promoted the practical solution he did: ‘in order to emphasise that there is no essential break, that there is continuity in the Church, which retains its identity, it seems to me indispensable to continue to offer the opportunity to celebrate according to the old Missal, as a sign of the enduring identity of the Church.’” [6]

    That is what was, and is, really at stake: the enduring identity of the Church.

    This is not to say that those who prefer the New Mass call into question the Church’s defined (and thus irrevocable) Eucharistic doctrines; but it is to say that those who ideologically oppose the traditional Mass do tend to call into question the Church’s defined doctrines.

    What the new rite expresses obscurely, the old rite expresses limpidly and unmistakably, which is why no one who rejects the dogmas of Trent can feel at home in the old Mass.

    It must be stamped out if the revolution is to succeed.

    Those who may prefer the new forms, all the while continuing to adhere to the perennial Catholic religion (unlike the committed neo-modernists), need to understand that the war against the traditional Mass is also a war against the Catholic faith itself.

    The “post-conciliar Church” does not have to be a new religion, but the crisis is that its most ardent partisans make it into one, and claim that theirs is the only plausible interpretation.

    Benedict, again, fought against this tendency, since it undermines the Church’s own self-identity.

    As he once wrote to the world’s bishops: “Some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life” [7].

    Any truly Catholic hermeneutic (rule of interpretation) necessarily has to take this defined principle as its working premise: “That meaning of the sacred dogmas is ever to be maintained which has once been declared by Holy mother Church, and there must never be any abandonment of this sense under the pretext or in the name of a more profound understanding” [8].

    That is a dogma of an ecumenical council.

    The pressing problem in the Church today, then, is not: Do traditionalists accept Vatican II, but rather: Do the anti-traditionalists accept everything that came before Vatican II? [9]

    The common lot of people attending Latin Masses today do “accept Vatican II,” inasmuch as it was legitimately convened and concluded by legitimate popes; yet they are not willing to let “accepting Vatican II” be a pretext or an occasion for rejecting or neglecting what came before Vatican II. And this is the real reason for the rage of the anti-traditionalists.

    When Pope Francis states in his letter accompanying Traditionis Custodes that the decision of Pope Benedict to issue Summorum Pontificum “was above all motivated by the desire to foster the healing of the schism with the movement of Mons. Lefebvre,” he is notoriously misrepresenting the truth. A pope can do many things, but changing history is not one of them. The still-living(!) legislator of Summorum Pontificum has contradicted Francis’s claim.

    Just a few short years ago, Benedict stated explicitly: “The reauthorization of the Tridentine Mass is often interpreted primarily as a concession to the Society of Saint Pius X. This is just absolutely false! It was important for me that the Church is one with herself inwardly, with her own past; that what was previously holy to her is not somehow wrong now” [10].

    Only one of these two popes can be right about his claim, and basic human logic indicates that the one who issued Summorum knows what his own motives actually were.

    This is the whole crux of the matter: the Church is one with herself inwardly.

    Traditionis Custodes, therefore, does not merely call into question Pope Benedict XVI’s entire theological legacy, but—what is far more serious—calls into question the Church’s own self-understanding. If the premises of Traditionis Custodes are true, then Catholicism loses the inner coherence and historical continuity which are a consequence of the principle of non-contradiction and which are essential to the plausibility of the Church’s claims to be the authorized teacher of divine revelation.

    Now, back to that article in La Croix. How does it privilege the hermeneutic of rupture?

    The year 2007 must have been a bad year for people like Dr. Madar, because not only was Summorum Pontificum published, but also the lamented document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    This is the double sin which Pope Francis must efface if he is to be the dutiful servant of the cause of rupture.

    Here is how Madar characterizes Benedict’s double sin: “It is hardly an accident that these two documents were issued within days of each other. Rather, they indicate that Pope Benedict was aware of a close connection between the council’s reform of the liturgy and its ecclesiology. Perhaps he was even responding to those who argued that the liturgy had to change because the ecclesiology had changed. What we hear from Benedict via CDF, however, is that the ecclesiology did not really change. Between the lines, the message seems to be that it would not be correct to restrict the use of the unreformed rite on the account that it is incompatible with the council’s ecclesiology and that its use severs the link between the lex orandi (the rule of prayer) and the lex credendi (the rule of belief).”

    The 2007 responsum from the CDF is noteworthy in several respects.

    First of all, the document in question is a response to dubia received by the Holy See about some questionable teachings arising in some quarters on the basis of appeals to certain texts of the Council.

    The Holy Office, acting in concert with the pope, whose duty it is to “confirm thy brethren” in the faith [11], thus showed itself solicitous to fulfil its role of preserving the unity of the faith.

    That is why “the Congregation wishes to respond to these questions by clarifying the authentic meaning of some ecclesiological expressions used by the magisterium which are open to misunderstanding in the theological debate” [12].

    This approach is obviously a marked contrast to Pope Francis’s persistent refusal even to concede an audience to the Eminent authors of the dubia they submitted concerning the interpretation of Amoris laetitia, and its “expressions…which are open to misunderstanding.”

    Second of all, the responsum contains five articles (dubia and responses), whereas Madar only addresses the first one, which rather generically states that the “Second Vatican Council neither changed nor intended to change this doctrine [concerning the Church].”

    The dubium had asked, “Did the Second Vatican Council change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?”

    Because he is mostly concerned by the “close connection between the liturgical reform of Vatican II and its ecclesiology,” Madar focuses in his article on the “People of God” ecclesiology promoted by Vatican II, supposedly in rupture with the different ecclesiology attributed to the medieval and Tridentine periods.

    In fact, however, as the other four articles of the responsum show, the CDF document is not so much concerned with this internal ecclesiological question that so interests Madar (and certainly at different moments in Church history one aspect or the other of the Church’s doctrine concerning herself may have been emphasized), as it is with reasserting the Church’s understanding of her own identity, in contradistinction with non-Catholic bodies, since many people have understood Vatican II as renouncing the traditional idea that the Catholic Church is the “one true Church” founded by Jesus Christ.

    Though of less concern for the article in La Croix, because the liturgical implications are not as obvious, the question of whether Catholic dogma about the identity of the true Church has changed is obviously essential for addressing the “rupturist” project overall.

    The pre-Vatican II doctrine was very clear: as recently as 1950 a pope could teach plainly, “the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing” [13], and recent books like those by Ralph Martin [14] and Eric Sammons [15] have shown that the eclipsing of this truth in the minds of Catholics since Vatican II (whether intended or not) has crippled evangelizing efforts.

    The responsum is trying to address the question of why the Council (in Lumen Gentium 8) used the expression “subsists in,” rather than the more readily understandable “is,” when speaking of the identity of the Catholic Church concretely existing now with the Church founded 2000 years ago by Jesus Christ. (Actually, though, we should not forget that the Council did also use the more conventional word “is” when defining the Church in another document: “The Holy Catholic Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, is made up of the faithful who are organically united in the Holy Spirit by the same faith, the same sacraments and the same government” [16].)

    The responsum makes clear that the Council’s intention was to find one handy verb which would both reaffirm the identity of the Catholic Church as the Church founded by Christ and teach that certain “elements of sanctification and truth” can be found in communities outside the visible confines of the Church—elements which belong by right to the Catholic Church but which can nonetheless be occasions of grace for those who are non-Catholics in good faith.

    Without wishing to reopen debates here about whether the subsistit in really was the most opportune way to express these truths (and without judging the success of the CDF’s attempt to justify this change of expression as having “developed, deepened and more fully explained” Catholic teaching), a correct understanding of the point Lumen Gentium is trying to make can be assisted by this insight from Cardinal (John Henry) Newman: “We do not think it necessary to carp at every instance of supernatural excellence among Protestants when it comes before us, or to explain it away; all we know is, that the grace given them is intended ultimately to bring them into the Church, and if it is not tending to do so, it will not ultimately profit them; but we as little deny its presence in their souls as they do themselves; and as the fact is no perplexity to us, it is no triumph to them.” [17]

    In other words, on this point, as on others, the optimism of Vatican II can benefit by being tempered by a dose of realism.

    What frustrates Madar most about the corrective provided by the CDF in 2007 is the very assertion that Vatican II did not change any doctrine.

    For him it is important to assert that “the council’s ecclesiology represents a micro-rupture with the preconciliar ecclesiology.”

    To bolster his desire to overturn forever the supposedly clericalist ecclesiology of the Tridentine era in favor of a more democratic ecclesiology, he appeals to a well-known Notre Dame dissident: “The council’s renewal of liturgy was a logical and necessary follow-up to its renewal of ecclesiology.

    It could not have been otherwise.

    As Richard McBrien observes, ‘How could the council have spoken of the whole Church as the People of God, and then have allowed the Church’s central act of worship to remain a clerical rite, in an unintelligible language, with little or no meaningful role for the rest of the faithful?’”

    Latin Mass-going Catholics do not object to a theology of the Church drawing on the concept of the People of God, with its traditional biblical resonances.

    There is no contradiction between an ecclesiology that draws attention to the Church as the People of God and the celebration of the old Mass, which Madar denounces as “clericalist,” even though Vatican II emphasizes that “the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood…differ from one another in essence and not only in degree” [18]

    The Old Testament antecedent of the People of God was clearly hierarchical, and this too sheds light on the New Testament Church, as we see in the rich typology of the traditional rites of ordination.

    So, Latin Mass-going Catholics do not object to the contributions that Vatican II can make to the theology of the Church; what they do object to, as all Catholics must, is the desire of the “rupturists” to banish the ecclesiology of Trent and Vatican I and Leo XIII and Pius XII in order to push a Marxist and overly horizontal interpretation of the People of God, and then on that basis to preclude the celebration of the inherited liturgy.

    As one would expect, when Vatican II speaks of the Church as the “new People of God” [19], it cites a well-known line from the New Testament: “those who believe in Christ…are finally established as ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people…who in times past were not a people, but are now the people of God’” [20].

    Protestants had already falsified the import of this verse by overlooking the fact that when God constituted His People under the former alliance, He used almost identical words: “you shall be to me a priestly kingdom, and a holy nation” [21].

    When the Lord God constituted the people of Israel, He also gave them their sacred hierarchy, their Temple cult, and their minute and fastidious ritual—a liturgy which La Croix would certainly denounce as “a clerical rite…with little or no meaningful role for the rest of the faithful.”

    However, the People of God does not exist in opposition to an inherited and carefully articulated liturgy; it is constituted by the possession of such a liturgy!

    Even under the New Covenant, priests are also part of the People of God, and Vatican II states, “older should likewise endeavor to understand the mentality of younger priests, even though it be different from their own” [22].

    The sledgehammer approach of Traditionis Custodes seems to indicate that many members of the geriatric Vatican II generation have not made peace with this teaching and that they still recoil unsympathetically in horror from the cassocks and Latin Masses which are part of the natural habitat of the younger clergy today.

    The People of God surely also includes the “young persons” referred to by Benedict XVI, who “have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them” [23].

    Oddly enough, those who most vociferously promote a democratic view of the Church are often the ones most inclined to defend the clericalist power structure of the Bergoglio Vatican, in which a narrow court of fawning sycophants disregards the sentiments of the “little people” and imposes rigid norms from on high.

    Ideologues who have latched onto their own idea of Vatican II are pathologically incapable of responding to Vatican II’s prophetic invitation to read “the signs of the times” [24].

    One of those signs is that fact that, since the imposition of the liturgical reform, the overwhelming majority of the “People of God” who were supposed to be the beneficiaries of this new user-friendly liturgy glowingly described in Dr. Madar’s article have in fact stopped coming to Mass at all, and of those who do come, most do not believe in the Real Presence or that the Mass is a true propitiatory sacrifice.

    On the other hand, another sign of the times is the attraction felt by people born in the 1980s, ’90s and 2000s for a liturgy that connects them to their Catholic past. Does their voice not matter? Are not all sheep worth smelling?

    Far from being a threat to the legacy of Vatican II properly understood, the restoration of the traditional Latin Mass provides the visible reaffirmation that the Church is at peace with herself, and it is only in the context of such a pax ecclesiastica—a necessary self-confidence—that any Council can be properly received.

    The establishment of this peace was the life’s work of Benedict XVI; and far from serving the interests of Vatican II, the hermeneutic of rupture in fact makes its reception untenable.

    By asking Pope Francis to push this hermeneutic even further, Madar and his ilk are showing their hand and exposing the entire conciliar experiment to failure.

    Whether or not Madar and others of his ilk who are trying to push the waning Bergoglio pontificate in an even more explicitly rupturist view like it or not, any renewal in the Church today is going to have to accept as a given not only the “legitimacy” of Vatican II as a validly convened Council, but also the immutability of Catholic doctrine. 

    How precisely the authority of Vatican II fits into this picture is and will be for the foreseeable future a subject of debate among orthodox bishops and theologians. Vatican II was a “real” Council, but was it not in some ways also a “different” type of Council, as both partisans and critics suggest?

    Since Catholic doctrine precludes that this difference could create a “new” Church (or recover a putatively pure pre-Constantinian Church that had been lost for centuries), it is impossible to appeal to Vatican II to legitimize a rupture with what came immediately before. If there were such a rupture, that would speak against the Council and not in favor of the rupture!

    Although Ratzinger himself certainly wanted on the whole to “save” Vatican II with his “hermeneutic of continuity” [25], he did also hint at the possibility that the only way to integrate Vatican II may also be, in a way, to relativize it, in the sense of receiving it only in relation to the Tradition that came before and not the other way around.

    As he pointed out already in 1988: “There are many accounts of it which give the impression that, from Vatican II onward, everything has been changed, and that what preceded it has no value or, at best, has value only in the light of Vatican II. The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. 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 many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of ‘super-dogma’ which takes away the importance of all the rest.” [26]

    Evaluations will differ as to how effective Pope Benedict’s solution was ever likely to be.

    By trying to save the conciliar “project,” perhaps he was ultimately trying to fix a gaping wound with a band-aid.

    Maybe the providential fallout over Traditionis Custodes is that the bishops of the Church, who on the whole are as startled and disoriented as everyone else by Pope Francis’s rigid and unpastoral motu proprio, will start to ask questions that for decades have been preemptively disqualified before the discussion could even begin.

    Is Vatican II, very much a product of its times, really the most solid basis for renewal in the Church of the twenty-first century?

    Does its juridical legitimacy as a Council really mean that all its pastoral orientations are effective or that none of its doctrinal formulations may be tainted with ambiguity?

    Given the catastrophic collapse of every single Catholic indicator over the last fifty years, are we not permitted to ask if there may be some causal relationship between the tree and the fruits?

    As one American bishop recently observed: “I’d like to point out that there is a difference between accepting the validity of the Second Vatican Council and believing that it has failed in its objectives” [27].

    No Catholic—be he layman, theologian or bishop—should even start to absorb Vatican II until he has, for example, digested the Catechism of the Council of Trent and the great encyclicals of popes like Leo XIII, Pius X and Pius XII, and maybe even spent time with the much maligned classic pre-Vatican II theology manuals [28].

    When Vatican II itself tells us that the Council “leaves untouched (integram) traditional Catholic doctrine” [29], it stands to reason that no one can adequately receive the Council to whom that “traditional Catholic doctrine” is not already second nature.

    One reason that the “hermeneutic of rupture” has enjoyed so much success and has been undergoing such a quasi-official recrudescence under Pope Francis is that so many of those whose reflexes are soundly Catholic but who simply accept Vatican II as a “given” do not have the solid foundation provided by the anterior doctrinal Tradition of the Church, which would be necessary for them to contextualize Vatican II and to oppose the errors of this hermeneutic of rupture.

    Unwittingly, even many of the orthodox have accepted as if by osmosis the idea that Vatican II, unlike any earlier council, really does represent a “new beginning.” Regardless of how sanguine one is about the pastoral reforms of Vatican II or how hesitant one is about the occasional ambiguities in its wordy documents, that is one idea that must absolutely be exorcised if the Church is to survive. There can be no new beginning!

    The article in La Croix tells us: “To retire the experiment of Summorum Pontificum more thoroughly, Pope Francis should revisit the question of whether Vatican II changed the doctrine of the church.” But Summorum Pontificum is not the experiment that needs retiring.

    Articles like Madar’s—and, fundamentally, Traditionis Custodes itself—do more to discredit Vatican II in the eyes of Catholics than even the most strident traditionalist critique, because their premise is one that the Catholic conscience can never accept: the idea that the Church can contradict herself and still be herself.

    Madar’s title suggests that one pope should “correct” his predecessor, and this premise is perhaps more correct than he knows. If the Catholic Church is to survive at all—which is a foregone conclusion, given the divine promises—then it is certain that a future pope will have to correct Pope Francis and put to rest forever the progressivist hermeneutic of rupture.

    For, when a pope needs correction, it is not because he has maintained Tradition but because he has departed from it. 

    That was the criterion employed in the seventh century by Pope Leo II when he condemned his predecessor Pope Honorius, “who did not purify this Apostolic Church by the doctrine of the apostolic tradition, but rather attempted to subvert the immaculate faith by profane treason” and because he “allowed the immaculate rule of the apostolic tradition that he had received from his predecessors to be stained” [30].

    The fact that even relatively feeble reaffirmations of the immutability of Catholic dogma under the Ratzinger pontificate—like in the 2007 CDF document we have been considering or the earlier Dominus Jesus of 2000—still provoke such a state of panic in the “rupturist” class shows that they feel their revolution is in jeopardy as long as there are still reminders of the old religion.

    They have to change ideas and wipe out everything that reminds people of the old ones, because that is how revolutions work.

    What every orthodox Catholic needs to understand—even if he personally does not prefer to worship according to the old rite—is that in the bloody civil war tearing apart the Church today, the defence of the traditional liturgy is now the battleline in the defence of the Catholic faith itself, since the traditional liturgy is the visible reminder of the “before” time—the visible reminder that the Church did not begin in 1962.

    A. M. D. G. [“Ad majoram Dei gloriam” — “To the greater glory of God.”]


    [0] The article is behind a paywall.

    [1] In a doctrinal note preceding the conciliar constitution Lumen gentium, an interpretive key is provided by this declaration already given by the Theological Commission of the Council on March 6, 1964: “Taking conciliar custom into consideration and also the pastoral purpose of the present Council, the sacred Council defines as binding on the Church only those things in matters of faith and morals which it shall openly declare to be binding. The rest of the things which the sacred Council sets forth, inasmuch as they are the teaching of the Church’s supreme magisterium, ought to be accepted and embraced by each and every one of Christ’s faithful according to the mind of the sacred Council. The mind of the Council becomes known either from the matter treated or from its manner of speaking, in accordance with the norms of theological interpretation” (emphasis added). At his general audience on January 12, 1966, after the Council had been closed, Pope Paul VI reiterated this proviso: “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.”

    [2] This view covers something of a spectrum, depending on just how sanguine one is about the contributions of Vatican II or how concerned one is about its “points of doctrine which, perhaps because they are new, have not yet been well understood by some sections of the Church” (John Paul II, Ecclesia Dei Adflicta, 5.b, emphasis added). . One the other hand, the sheer verbosity of this Council compared to every other Council in history, combined with the fact that it did not define any dogmas or issue any anathemas, with the precise language that both dogmatic definitions and anathemas require, opens the possibility that the Council could here and there contain ambiguities and even quite serious ones—all the more reason to apply to this Council a hermeneutic of continuity (or better yet, a hermeneutic of continuity by means of correction with Tradition), rather than a hermeneutic of rupture. When one encounters an ambiguity without having already absorbed the Tradition, in practice that ambiguity is likely to lead one into error.

    [3] Ecclesia Dei Adflicta (July 2, 1988), 5.c.

    [4] The meaning of the expression “Roman Rite” is very different for Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. For Benedict, it is a descriptive term: the Roman Rite as it slowly developed in history and became something that was passed down before being codified at the time of Pope Pius V after the Council of Trent. For Pope Francis, the Roman Rite is a purely juridical reality—something popes can simply create or discard as they see fit. Ratzinger’s view is this: “The Pope is not an absolute monarch whose will is law, but is the guardian of the authentic Tradition, and thereby the premier guarantor of obedience. … That is why, with respect to the Liturgy, he has the task of a gardener, not that of a technician who builds new machines and throws the old ones on the junk-pile” (“The Organic Development of the Liturgy,” 30 Days, 2004, no. 12), whereas Pope Francis feels able to make the mind-blowing statement that after a continuous usage of centuries, the historic Roman Rite is in 2021 quite simply not part of the Church’s lex credendi. This statement, like others in Traditionis Custodes, is contradicted explicitly by a claim of Ratzinger/Benedict which is much more grounded in reality: “There is no doubt, on the one hand, that a venerable rite such as the Roman rite in use up to 1969 is a rite of the Church, it belongs to the Church, is one of the treasures of the Church, and ought therefore to be preserved in the Church” (Fontgombault Conference, 2001, emphasis added). Since Pope Benedict clearly stated that the old rite “was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted” (letter Con Grande Fiducia, July 7, 2007), this means that Pope Francis is being disingenuous when he speaks of “the decision to suspend the faculty granted by my Predecessors” (emphasis added); in fact, Summorum Pontificum did not simply “grant a faculty” so much as it acknowledged a reality! The ecclesiological—and even ecumenical—implications of the differences between the views of Ratzinger and Bergoglio are striking, because Papa Francesco has an absolutist view of the papacy in which the pope has the power to change even reality and questions of fact. The repugnance with which Orthodox Christians and Protestant “fellow travellers” must regard such a parodied display of papal absolutism is not difficult to imagine. The Vatican II decree on ecumenism states: “All in the Church must preserve unity in essentials. But let all, according to the gifts they have received enjoy a proper freedom, in their various forms of spiritual life and discipline, in their different liturgical rites, and even in their theological elaborations of revealed truth” (Unitatis Redintegratio, , 4).

    [5] General Audience, March 10, 2010.

    [6] Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, in Alcuin Reid, ed., Looking Again at the Question of the Liturgy with Cardinal Ratzinger: Proceedings of the July 2001 Fontgombault Liturgical Conference (Saint Michael’s Abbey Press, 2003), pp. 20 and 149, emphasis added. Luther objected especially to the prayers of the Offertory and the Canon of the Roman Mass, as these prayers unmistakably express Catholic doctrine concerning the sacrificial nature of the Mass. The excision of these prayers in the liturgical reform raises uncomfortable questions.

    [7] Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church, March 10, 2009.

    [8] Vatican Council I, Dei Filius, cap. 4, 14.

    [9] One of the tragic ironies of Traditionis Custodes is that Pope Francis, in his quest for unity, focuses on supposed breaches in unity caused by those attached to the traditional Mass but passes over in complete silence the very real disunity coming from the growing schism in Germany, the diversity of pastoral practices occasioned by his own Amoris Laetitia, the scandal of celebrity priests and even some bishops who promote LGBT ideology in rejection of Church teaching, etc. Pope Francis has tolerated or even actively abetted these offenses against unity, something everybody knows, even if many bishops are afraid to acknowledge this publicly. Even if some caustic traditionalists occasionally fall into faults against charity which are unfortunately encouraged by social media, it is not a bad tone which undermines the unity of the Church, but error, , since all Catholics are bound to be united in the profession of the same (immutable) faith. To the extent that doctrinal error goes unchecked, to that extent the unity of the Church is undermined.

    [10] Last Testament in His Own Words, Ignatius Press, 2017, pp. 201-202 (emphasis added). Already in 2001, Cardinal Ratzinger had stated: “Personally, I was from the beginning in favour of the freedom to continue using the old Missal, for a very simple reason: people were already beginning to talk about making a break with the pre-conciliar Church, and of developing various models of Church—a preconciliar and obsolete type of Church, and a new and conciliar type of Church. This is at any rate nowadays the slogan of the Lefebvrists, insisting that there are two Churches, and for them the great rupture becomes visible in the existence of two Missals, which are said to be irreconcilable with each other. It seems to me essential, the basic step, to recognise that both Missals are Missals of the Church, and belong to the Church which remains the same as ever” (Looking Again at the Question of the Liturgy, pp. 148-9). If anything, Pope Benedict’s decision to liberate the traditional Mass in Summorum Pontificum was, far from being a “concession” to the Society of Saint Pius X, rather a challenge to their way of thinking, with its emphasis on the rupture effected at Vatican II and through the reforms subsequently carried on in its name. One of the ironies of Traditionis Custodes is that, in qualifying the Novus Ordo as the “unique [i.e., only] expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite,” Pope Francis is implying that the reformed liturgy expresses a different theology than that expressed by the liturgy which the Church had used for many centuries—and which the Church had defended against the accusations of heretics. Whereas Pope Benedict made a noble attempt at demonstrating the basic continuity of the Church before and after Vatican II, Pope Francis is implicitly lending comfort to the theses of the more “extreme” traditionalists. If there really is such a rupture, then Pope Francis has perhaps made a very damning admission.

    [11] Luke 22:32.

    [12] Responses to Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church(June 29, 2007), Introduction.

    [13] Pius XII, Humani Generis,, 27.

    [14] Will Many Be Saved? What Vatican II Actually Teaches and Its Implications for the New Evangelization, Eerdmans, 2012.

    [15] Deadly Indifference: How the Church Lost Her Mission and How We Can Reclaim It, Crisis Publications, 2021.

    [16] Orientalium Ecclesiarum, 2. The external bonds of unity which are constitutive of the true Church mentioned here are globally the same as those specified by Pius XII in his great encyclical on the Church: “Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed” (Mystici Corporis, 22).

    [17] Certain Difficulties Felt by Anglicans in Catholic Teaching,, Lecture 3, 5, emphasis added. John Henry Newman has been canonized by Pope Francis himself and is often hailed as a precursor of Vatican II, although many scholars, like Stanley Jaki, dispute this overly facile attribution.

    [18] Lumen Gentium, 10, emphasis added.

    [19 Lumen Gentium, 9.

    [20] I Peter 2:9-10.

    [21] Exodus 19:6.

    [22] Presbyterorum Ordinis, 8.

    [23] Letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum, July 7, 2007

    [24] Gaudium et Spes, 4. The Council refers on multiple occasions to the necessity of discerning the “signs of the times.” It is interesting that the Holy See, in a highly clericalist vein, sent its heavily skewed survey about the Latin Mass in 2020 only to the world’s bishops (many of whom said they did not even receive it), as opposed to consulting the People of God in general. (For that matter, while paying lip service to the authority of bishops, Pope Francis in fact ties their hands, as he did in 2016 when taking away their discretion in the erection of clerical and religious societies of diocesan right, in a way that treats bishops more as branch managers of Catholic Church, Inc., than as successors of the Apostles with true jurisdiction over their dioceses.) This strange lacuna goes directly against the teaching of Vatican II: “They [the clergy] must willingly listen to the laity, consider their wants in a fraternal spirit, recognize their experience and competence in the different areas of human activity, so that together with them they will be able to recognize the signs of the times” (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 9). Many lay intellectuals, musicians, architects, students, and parents in the traditional movement have plenty of insights they can share with the hierarchy, in keeping with this invitation extended by Vatican II. The traditional laity would be delighted if Pope Francis and his Curia would “consider their wants in a fraternal spirit.” Whereas Summorum Pontificum made provisions for the faithful to contact their priest, then their bishop, then the Holy See itself in order to find practical ways to facilitate their aspirations, Traditionis Custodesharshly closes the door on the People of God and even orders bishops to see to it that “groups” of such faithful are not even allowed to form!

    [25] In the famous Address to the Curia on December 22, 2005, Benedict uses the expression “‘hermeneutic of reform,’ of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us,” adding that the Church “is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God” (emphasis added), but in 2007 he did also adopt the expression “hermeneutic of continuity” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 3, n. 6).

    [26] Address to the Bishops of Chile, July 13, 1988.

    [27] Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, interview with Catholic World Report, July 27, 2021. On this question of whether an ecumenical council can fail to achieve its goals, Joseph Ratzinger once stated, speaking specifically of Lateran Council V, which preceded the outbreak of the Protestant Reformation by a few years: “Not every valid council in the history of the Church has been a fruitful one; in the last analysis, many of them have been a waste of time,” and the Council he refers to carried on its work “without doing anything effective to prevent the crisis that was happening” (Principles of Catholic Theology, p. 378).

    [28] Rusty Reno, in his article “Theology after the Revolution,” First Things, May 2007, notes that “Ressourcement does not work if students have neither context nor framework in which to place the richness and depth of the tradition … without a standard theology, the Church will lack precisely the sort of internally coherent and widespread theological culture that is necessary for understanding and employing bold new experiments and fruitful recoveries of past traditions.”

    [29] Dignitatis Humanae, 1; the word integram has the sense of whole and entire, undiminished. The context here is Catholic teaching on religious liberty: “Therefore it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.” See, for example, the writings of Professor Thomas Pink for one interpretation plausibly seeking continuity between pre-conciliar teaching on religious liberty and the teaching of Dignitatis Humanae.

    [30] Quoted by Claudio Pierantoni in, Lamont and Pierantoni, eds., Defending the Faith Against Present Heresies, Arouca Press, 2021, pp. 237-8, emphasis added.

    [End, anonymous article from Rorate Caeli]

The Credo Of The People of God

Credo Of The People Of God
Pope Paul VI – 1968

With this solemn liturgy we end the celebration of the nineteenth centenary of the martyrdom of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, and thus close the Year of Faith. We dedicated it to the commemoration of the holy apostles in order that we might give witness to our steadfast will to be faithful to the deposit of the faith[1] which they transmitted to us, and that we might strengthen our desire to live by it in the historical circumstances in which the Church finds herself in her pilgrimage in the midst of the world.

We feel it our duty to give public thanks to all who responded to our invitation by bestowing on the Year of Faith a splendid completeness through the deepening of their personal adhesion to the word of God, through the renewal in various communities of the profession of faith, and through the testimony of a Christian life. To our brothers in the episcopate especially, and to all the faithful of the holy Catholic Church, we express our appreciation and we grant our blessing.

Likewise, we deem that we must fulfill the mandate entrusted by Christ to Peter, whose successor we are, the last in merit; namely, to confirm our brothers in the faith.[2] With the awareness, certainly, of our human weakness, yet with all the strength impressed on our spirit by such a command, we shall accordingly make a profession of faith, pronounce a creed which, without being strictly speaking a dogmatic definition, repeats in substance, with some developments called for by the spiritual condition of our time, the creed of Nicea, the creed of the immortal tradition of the holy Church of God.

In making this profession, we are aware of the disquiet which agitates certain modern quarters with regard to the faith. They do not escape the influence of a world being profoundly changed, in which so many certainties are being disputed or discussed. We see even Catholics allowing themselves to be seized by a kind of passion for change and novelty. The Church, most assuredly, has always the duty to carry on the effort to study more deeply and to present, in a manner ever better adapted to successive generations, the unfathomable mysteries of God, rich for all in fruits of salvation. But at the same time the greatest care must be taken, while fulfilling the indispensable duty of research, to do no injury to the teachings of Christian doctrine. For that would be to give rise, as is unfortunately seen in these days, to disturbance and perplexity in many faithful souls.

It is important in this respect to recall that, beyond scientifically verified phenomena, the intellect which God has given us reaches that which is, and not merely the subjective expression of the structures and development of consciousness; and, on the other hand, that the task of interpretation — of hermeneutics — is to try to understand and extricate, while respecting the word expressed, the sense conveyed by a text, and not to recreate, in some fashion, this sense in accordance with arbitrary hypotheses.

Put above all, we place our unshakable confidence in the Holy Spirit, the soul of the Church, and in theological faith upon which rests the life of the Mystical Body. We know that souls await the word of the Vicar of Christ, and we respond to that expectation with the instructions which we regularly give. But today we are given an opportunity to make a more solemn utterance.

On this day which is chosen to close the Year of Faith, on this feast of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, we have wished to offer to the living God the homage of a profession of faith. And as once at Caesarea Philippi the apostle Peter spoke on behalf of the twelve to make a true confession, beyond human opinions, of Christ as Son of the living God, so today his humble successor, pastor of the Universal Church, raises his voice to give, on behalf of all the People of God, a firm witness to the divine Truth entrusted to the Church to be announced to all nations.

We have wished our profession of faith to be to a high degree complete and explicit, in order that it may respond in a fitting way to the need of light felt by so many faithful souls, and by all those in the world, to whatever spiritual family they belong, who are in search of the Truth.

To the glory of God most holy and of our Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in the aid of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, for the profit and edification of the Church, in the name of all the pastors and all the faithful, we now pronounce this profession of faith, in full spiritual communion with you all, beloved brothers and sons.

We believe in one only God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, creator of things visible such as this world in which our transient life passes, of things invisible such as the pure spirits which are also called angels,[3] and creator in each man of his spiritual and immortal soul.

We believe that this only God is absolutely one in His infinitely holy essence as also in all His perfections, in His omnipotence, His infinite knowledge, His providence, His will and His love. He is He who is, as He revealed to Moses,[4] and He is love, as the apostle John teaches us:[5] so that these two names, being and love, express ineffably the same divine reality of Him who has wished to make Himself known to us, and who, “dwelling in light inaccessible”[6] is in Himself above every name, above every thing and above every created intellect. God alone can give us right and full knowledge of this reality by revealing Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in whose eternal life we are by grace called to share, here below in the obscurity of faith and after death in eternal light. The mutual bonds which eternally constitute the Three Persons, who are each one and the same divine being, are the blessed inmost life of God thrice holy, infinitely beyond all that we can conceive in human measure.[7] We give thanks, however, to the divine goodness that very many believers can testify with us before men to the unity of God, even though they know not the mystery of the most holy Trinity.

We believe then in the Father who eternally begets the Son, in the Son, the Word of God, who is eternally begotten; in the Holy Spirit, the uncreated Person who proceeds from the Father and the Son as their eternal love. Thus in the Three Divine Persons, coaeternae sibi et coaequales,[8] the life and beatitude of God perfectly one superabound and are consummated in the supreme excellence and glory proper to uncreated being, and always “there should be venerated unity in the Trinity and Trinity in the unity.”[9]

We believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. He is the Eternal Word, born of the Father before time began, and one in substance with the Father, homoousios to Patri,[10] and through Him all things were made. He was incarnate of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was made man: equal therefore to the Father according to His divinity, and inferior to the Father according to His humanity;[11] and Himself one, not by some impossible confusion of His natures, but by the unity of His person.[12]

He dwelt among us, full of grace and truth. He proclaimed and established the Kingdom of God and made us know in Himself the Father. He gave us His new commandment to love one another as He loved us. He taught us the way of the beatitudes of the Gospel: poverty in spirit, meekness, suffering borne with patience, thirst after justice, mercy, purity of heart, will for peace, persecution suffered for justice sake. Under Pontius Pilate He suffered — the Lamb of God bearing on Himself the sins of the world, and He died for us on the cross, saving us by His redeeming blood. He was buried, and, of His own power, rose on the third day, raising us by His resurrection to that sharing in the divine life which is the life of grace. He ascended to heaven, and He will come again, this time in glory, to judge the living and the dead: each according to his merits — those who have responded to the love and piety of God going to eternal life, those who have refused them to the end going to the fire that is not extinguished.

And His Kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, who is Lord, and Giver of life, who is adored and glorified together with the Father and the Son. He spoke to us by the prophets; He was sent by Christ after His resurrection and His ascension to the Father; He illuminates, vivifies, protects and guides the Church; He purifies the Church’s members if they do not shun His grace. His action, which penetrates to the inmost of the soul, enables man to respond to the call of Jesus: Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect (Mt. 5:48).

We believe that Mary is the Mother, who remained ever a Virgin, of the Incarnate Word, our God and Savior Jesus Christ,[13] and that by reason of this singular election, she was, in consideration of the merits of her Son, redeemed in a more eminent manner,[14] preserved from all stain of original sin[15] and filled with the gift of grace more than all other creatures.[16]

Joined by a close and indissoluble bond to the Mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption,[17] the Blessed Virgin, the Immaculate, was at the end of her earthly life raised body and soul to heavenly glory[18] and likened to her risen Son in anticipation of the future lot of all the just; and we believe that the Blessed Mother of God, the New Eve, Mother of the Church,[19] continues in heaven her maternal role with regard to Christ’s members, cooperating with the birth and growth of divine life in the souls of the redeemed.[20]

We believe that in Adam all have sinned, which means that the original offense committed by him caused human nature, common to all men, to fall to a state in which it bears the consequences of that offense, and which is not the state in which it was at first in our first parents — established as they were in holiness and justice, and in which man knew neither evil nor death. It is human nature so fallen stripped of the grace that clothed it, injured in its own natural powers and subjected to the dominion of death, that is transmitted to all men, and it is in this sense that every man is born in sin. We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original sin, is transmitted with human nature, “not by imitation, but by propagation” and that it is thus “proper to everyone.”[21]

We believe that Our Lord Jesus Christ, by the sacrifice of the cross redeemed us from original sin and all the personal sins committed by each one of us, so that, in accordance with the word of the apostle, “where sin abounded grace did more abound.”[22]

We believe in one Baptism instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Baptism should be administered even to little children who have not yet been able to be guilty of any personal sin, in order that, though born deprived of supernatural grace, they may be reborn “of water and the Holy Spirit” to the divine life in Christ Jesus.[23]

We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church built by Jesus Christ on that rock which is Peter. She is the Mystical Body of Christ; at the same time a visible society instituted with hierarchical organs, and a spiritual community; the Church on earth, the pilgrim People of God here below, and the Church filled with heavenly blessings; the germ and the first fruits of the Kingdom of God, through which the work and the sufferings of Redemption are continued throughout human history, and which looks for its perfect accomplishment beyond time in glory.[24] In the course of time, the Lord Jesus forms His Church by means of the sacraments emanating from His plenitude.[25] By these she makes her members participants in the Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, in the grace of the Holy Spirit who gives her life and movement.[26] She is therefore holy, though she has sinners in her bosom, because she herself has no other life but that of grace: it is by living by her life that her members are sanctified; it is by removing themselves from her life that they fall into sins and disorders that prevent the radiation of her sanctity. This is why she suffers and does penance for these offenses, of which she has the power to heal her children through the blood of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Heiress of the divine promises and daughter of Abraham according to the Spirit, through that Israel whose scriptures she lovingly guards, and whose patriarchs and prophets she venerates; founded upon the apostles and handing on from century to century their ever-living word and their powers as pastors in the successor of Peter and the bishops in communion with him; perpetually assisted by the Holy Spirit, she has the charge of guarding, teaching, explaining and spreading the Truth which God revealed in a then veiled manner by the prophets, and fully by the Lord Jesus. We believe all that is contained in the word of God written or handed down, and that the Church proposes for belief as divinely revealed, whether by a solemn judgment or by the ordinary and universal magisterium.[27] We believe in the infallibility enjoyed by the successor of Peter when he teaches ex cathedra as pastor and teacher of all the faithful,[28] and which is assured also to the episcopal body when it exercises with him the supreme magisterium.[29]

We believe that the Church founded by Jesus Christ and for which He prayed is indefectibly one in faith, worship and the bond of hierarchical communion. In the bosom of this Church, the rich variety of liturgical rites and the legitimate diversity of theological and spiritual heritages and special disciplines, far from injuring her unity, make it more manifest.[30]

Recognizing also the existence, outside the organism of the Church of Christ of numerous elements of truth and sanctification which belong to her as her own and tend to Catholic unity,[31] and believing in the action of the Holy Spirit who stirs up in the heart of the disciples of Christ love of this unity,[32] we entertain the hope that the Christians who are not yet in the full communion of the one only Church will one day be reunited in one flock with one only shepherd.

We believe that the Church is necessary for salvation, because Christ, who is the sole mediator and way of salvation, renders Himself present for us in His body which is the Church.[33] But the divine design of salvation embraces all men, and those who without fault on their part do not know the Gospel of Christ and His Church, but seek God sincerely, and under the influence of grace endeavor to do His will as recognized through the promptings of their conscience, they, in a number known only to God, can obtain salvation.[34]

We believe that the Mass, celebrated by the priest representing the person of Christ by virtue of the power received through the Sacrament of Orders, and offered by him in the name of Christ and the members of His Mystical Body, is the sacrifice of Calvary rendered sacramentally present on our altars. We believe that as the bread and wine consecrated by the Lord at the Last Supper were changed into His body and His blood which were to be offered for us on the cross, likewise the bread and wine consecrated by the priest are changed into the body and blood of Christ enthroned gloriously in heaven, and we believe that the mysterious presence of the Lord, under what continues to appear to our senses as before, is a true, real and substantial presence.[35]

Christ cannot be thus present in this sacrament except by the change into His body of the reality itself of the bread and the change into His blood of the reality itself of the wine, leaving unchanged only the properties of the bread and wine which our senses perceive. This mysterious change is very appropriately called by the Church transubstantiation. Every theological explanation which seeks some understanding of this mystery must, in order to be in accord with Catholic faith, maintain that in the reality itself, independently of our mind, the bread and wine have ceased to exist after the Consecration, so that it is the adorable body and blood of the Lord Jesus that from then on are really before us under the sacramental species of bread and wine,[36] as the Lord willed it, in order to give Himself to us as food and to associate us with the unity of His Mystical Body.[37]

The unique and indivisible existence of the Lord glorious in heaven is not multiplied, but is rendered present by the sacrament in the many places on earth where Mass is celebrated. And this existence remains present, after the sacrifice, in the Blessed Sacrament which is, in the tabernacle, the living heart of each of our churches. And it is our very sweet duty to honor and adore in the blessed Host which our eyes see, the Incarnate Word whom they cannot see, and who, without leaving heaven, is made present before us.

We confess that the Kingdom of God begun here below in the Church of Christ is not of this world whose form is passing, and that its proper growth cannot be confounded with the progress of civilization, of science or of human technology, but that it consists in an ever more profound knowledge of the unfathomable riches of Christ, an ever stronger hope in eternal blessings, an ever more ardent response to the love of God, and an ever more generous bestowal of grace and holiness among men. But it is this same love which induces the Church to concern herself constantly about the true temporal welfare of men. Without ceasing to recall to her children that they have not here a lasting dwelling, she also urges them to contribute, each according to his vocation and his means, to the welfare of their earthly city, to promote justice, peace and brotherhood among men, to give their aid freely to their brothers, especially to the poorest and most unfortunate. The deep solicitude of the Church, the Spouse of Christ, for the needs of men, for their joys and hopes, their griefs and efforts, is therefore nothing other than her great desire to be present to them, in order to illuminate them with the light of Christ and to gather them all in Him, their only Savior. This solicitude can never mean that the Church conform herself to the things of this world, or that she lessen the ardor of her expectation of her Lord and of the eternal Kingdom.

We believe in the life eternal. We believe that the souls of all those who die in the grace of Christ — whether they must still be purified in purgatory, or whether from the moment they leave their bodies Jesus takes them to paradise as He did for the Good Thief — are the People of God in the eternity beyond death, which will be finally conquered on the day of the Resurrection when these souls will be reunited with their bodies.

We believe that the multitude of those gathered around Jesus and Mary in paradise forms the Church of Heaven, where in eternal beatitude they see God as He is,[38] and where they also, in different degrees, are associated with the holy angels in the divine rule exercised by Christ in glory, interceding for us and helping our weakness by their brotherly care.[39]

We believe in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are attaining their purification, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church; and we believe that in this communion the merciful love of God and His saints is ever listening to our prayers, as Jesus told us: Ask and you will receive.[40] Thus it is with faith and in hope that we look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Blessed be God Thrice Holy. Amen.


1. Cf. 1 Tim. 6:20.
2. Cf. Lk. 22:32.
3. Cf Dz.-Sch. 3002.
4. Cf E
5. Cf I Jn. 4:8.
6. Cf I Tim. 6:16.
7. Cf Dz.-Sch. 804.
8. Cf Dz.-Sch. 75.
9. Cf. ibid.
10. Cf Dz.-Sch. 150.
11. Cf Dz.-Sch.76.
12. Cf Ibid.
13. Cf Dz.-Sch. 251-252.
14. Cf Lumen Gentium, 53.
15. Cf Dz.-Sch. 2803.
16. Cf Lumen Gentium, 53.
17. Cf Lumen Gentium, 53, 58, 61.
18. Cf Dz.-Sch. 3903.
19. Cf Lumen Gentium, 53, 58, 61, 63; Cf Paul Vl, Alloc. for the Closing of the Third Session of the Second Vatican Council: AAS LVI [1964] 1016; Cf. Exhort. Apost. Signum Magnum, Introd.
20. Cf Lumen Gentium, 62; cf Paul Vl, Exhort. Apost. Signum Magnum, p 1, n. 1.
21. Cf Dz.-Sch. 1513.
22 Cf Rom. 5:20.
23. Cf Dz.-Sch. 1514.
24. Cf. Lumen Gentium, 8, 5.
25. Cf Lumen Gentium, 7, 11.
26. Cf Sacrosanctum Concilium, 5, 6; cf Lumen Gentium, 7, 12, 50.
27. Cf Dz.-Sch.3011.
28 Cf Dz.-Sch. 3074.
29. Cf Lumen Gentium, 25.
30. Cf. Lumen Gentium, 23; cf Orientalium Ecclesiarum 2, 3, 5, 6.
31. Cf Lumen Gentium, 8.
32. Cf Lumen Gentium, 15.
33. Cf Lumen Gentium, 14.
34. Cf Lumen Gentium, 16.
35. Cf Dz.-Sch. 1651.
36. Cf Dz.-Sch. 1642,1651-1654; Paul Vl, Enc. Mysterium Fidei.
37. Cf S.Th.,111,73,3.
38. Cf I Jn. 3:2; Dz.-Sch. 1000.
39. Cf Lumen Gentium, 49.
40. Cf Lk. 10:9-10;Jn. 16:24.

Credo Of The People Of God