Saturday, July 28, 2007

In his exclusive interview with Vittorio Messori in 1985, Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect for the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) expressed how “Vatican II is in the strictest continuity with both previous councils…Whoever accepts Vatican II…at the same time accepts the whole binding tradition of the Catholic Church.” (Ratzinger Report, pg. 28)

Our beloved Holy Father also explained that it is absolutely incorrect to refer to "Pre-Vatican II" and "Post-Vatican II," as if there were changes in the Church's position in matters of faith and morals. This point is lost on both "liberals" and "conservatives" alike within the Church. Both camps have a skewed understanding of the Magisterial teaching of the Church:

By way of example, Mrs. Eleonore Villarrubia, mother of Louis Villarrubia ("Brother" Andre Marie of the Saint Benedict Center in Richmond, New Hampshire), wrote the following words to a Catholic lay woman named Ann Duclos a little while back:

"St. Benedict Center adheres to Catholic dogma as it has been taught for two millenia. Vatican II did not change doctrine. NO ONE can change doctrine. Vatican II was merely a pastoral council, not a doctrinal council. This is history and fact. The changes were brought about by liberal churchmen who undermined the church from within. This, too, is history."

Such an attitude (and many "traditional" Catholics share this view) betrays a profound ignorance of what an Ecumenical Council is and of the Church's gift of infallibility. The gift of infallibility is not restricted to ex cathedra statements and to dogmas explicitly so defined. Rather, it extends as well to the official teaching of the Church regarding all important questions of faith and morals.

Ecumenical Councils are solemn assemblies of the Bishops of the whole world which are called together by the Supreme Pontiff and which meet under his authority as the successor of Peter. As Lumen Gentium, No. 22 teaches: "There never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter's successor."

As the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 891 explains: "...The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium, above all in an Ecumenical Council."

Each Ecumenical Council provides us with a better understanding of the mind of Christ which is always present in the life of the Church and therefore may be viewed as a new element in the development of doctrine as well as another event which consolidates Catholic Tradition. This is why Pope Benedict XVI said that, "Whoever accepts Vatican the same time accepts the whole binding tradition of the Catholic Church."

Of course, there are those within the Church who are often described as "liberal" and who disregard those passages of Vatican II which they are uncomfortable with. For example, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, No. 36, tells us that, "..since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended.." But this same document tells us (again in No. 36) that: "Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites." And No. 54 of this same Vatican II document states: "In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and 'the common prayer,' but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to the norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution. Nevertheless, steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin those parts of the ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them."

And hasn't this teaching of Vatican II been largely ignored by those who sought to banish the Latin language altogether?

May we all strive to listen to the voice of Christ as He speaks to us through the Magisterium of His Church. There is no "Pre-Vatican II Church" or "Post-Vatican II Church." These empty slogans are often employed by unhappy individuals who want to promote their own agenda and who often possess a rather distorted idea of what the Church teaches.



frival said...

Well said, Paul. This is a post everyone should think about, even those of us who think we have it "right". It's nice to finally meet another blogger from NH!

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

frival, thank you for that. You know, we Catholic Bloggers from New Hampshire should start our own web ring.

God bless you,

Anonymous said...

As long as we listen to (and follow) the Magisterium, we are assured of being right. This because we are following the mind of Jesus rather than our own subjective opinions.

frival said...

Paul, that is a very interesting idea. We should look into that off-line. Email me at frival3 at gmail dot com if you want to pursue it.

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Will do the way, have you noticed (as Sanctus Belle has) that my webring code is obscuring the title of my last post?

I just don't see that when I view my Blog.

frival said...

Yes, I do notice that. It's justified at the top of the body column and overlaps the first 2 or so inches of text. I'm using Firefox 2.<mumble> - perhaps it's not an issue with either your version of Firefox or perhaps IE?

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Thanks frival....yes I use Internet Explorer. Wish I knew what to do about this. Will have to research it.

Thanks again...will email you tomorrow regarding possible NH Catholic webring.

Site Meter