Rorate Caeli links to this article by Kenneth Wolfe in the Washington Post on the occasion of the the 50th Anniversary of the convocation of the Second Vatican Council. Until the dust settles on what is left of the Church, rocked as it has been for fifty years, I don't think we can reflect often enough on the revolution foisted on the Church in the name of this Council. We need to know what happened, to be armed with knowledge of the truth, to address the current situation and to do the works of evangelization and apologetics.
Vatican II at 50
by Kenneth J.Wolfe
Fifty years ago today the Second Vatican Council began with a clear
indication of who had gained control of the Catholic Church’s direction.
From the Latin Mass to meatless Fridays to the concept of salvation,
numerous components of the faith were set to be reformed, led mostly by
clerical academics who had served on preparatory commissions. So
powerful were they that Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, a conservative who
headed what is now the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (which
the future Pope Benedict XVI would later lead), was vocally heckled and
silenced by his participating colleagues.
As described to journalist Robert Moynihan by Monsignor Brunero
Gherardini, who attended the council and lives at the Vatican, Cardinal
Ottaviani was addressing the 2,000 assembled bishops in October 1962:
“As he speaks, pleading for the bishops to consider the texts the curia
has spent three years preparing, suddenly his microphone was shut off.
He kept speaking, but no one could hear a word. Then, puzzled and
flustered, he stopped speaking, in confusion. And the assembled fathers
began to laugh, and then to cheer...” This was on day three.
It turns out, according to Monsignor Gherardini, that it was Cardinal
Achille Lienart, a leading liberal from France serving on Vatican II’s
board of presidency, who cut Cardinal Ottaviani’s microphone. Ottaviani
would later author a major critique of the vernacular Mass that came out
of the council, a plea to Pope Paul VI that fell on deaf ears.
Some of the reformist-oriented clergy participating in the Second
Vatican Council would eventually rise through the ranks of the Catholic
Church. Karol Wojtyla (the future John Paul II), who was a young
archbishop in Cracow, was seen as the liberal counterweight to Cardinal
Stefan Wyszynski, who was the conservative, yet popular, primate of
Poland. Father Joseph Ratzinger (the future Benedict XVI), was the
periti (theological expert) for Cardinal Joseph Frings of Cologne,
writing the cardinal’s speeches for the council, including one calling
Cardinal Ottaviani’s Vatican office too traditional and authoritative.
Even though Raztinger had been ordained a priest over a decade ago, his
attire throughout the Second Vatican Council was a secular business suit
The results of holding a council during prosperity in order to
modernize the institution quickly became disastrous. While countless
priests, brothers and nuns quit, most Catholics stopped attending Mass
and the remaining Catholics largely embraced dissent. Even Pope Paul VI,
who led most of Vatican II, reflected 10 years after the council’s
opening with an infamous observation that “from some fissure the smoke
of Satan has entered the temple of God.”
Fast-forwarding, the Latin Mass has made a comeback, in part because
of the rightward-drifting Pope Benedict. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, head of
the church in the U.S., writes about restoring meatless Fridays and
fasting. And the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), a traditionalist order
of priests, has forced the Vatican to address the substance of the
Second Vatican Council. Religious liberty and the Mass are at the heart
of the talks, including whether the SSPX is permitted to simply ignore
these pastoral (as compared to dogmatic) writings. Ecumenism, which was
called “the enemy of the Immaculata” by Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a
Franciscan priest killed in a Nazi concentration camp, is being weighed
and discussed after 40 years of visits to mosques, temples and other
non-Catholic houses of worship with little conversions as a result. To
contrast, when Pope Pius XII negotiated with the chief rabbi of Rome,
the rabbi converted to Catholicism and chose Pius’ name of Eugenio as he
Defenders of the Second Vatican Council from a center-right
perspective have insisted that nearly all negative indicators of the
Catholic Church have stemmed from the “spirit of the Council.” As
seminaries continue to close (all but one remains in Ireland), parishes
continue to merge and convents are redeveloped, a key question ought to
be what tangible, positive results have occurred in those five decades.
No one has been able to point to an actual statistical benefit of
Vatican II and its 16 documents. Ironically, the only current growth in
vocations is in religious orders such as the Priestly Fraternity of
Saint Peter that reject the new Mass and most of the liberalizations of
Fifty years later, the greatest accomplishment that can be said for
the Second Vatican Council is Pope John XXIII’s stated goal to “throw
open the windows of the Church.” Yet from conversions to Mass
attendance, it has produced nothing measurable in the upward direction.
Perhaps traditionalist Catholics, led by the SSPX, are onto something
when they call into question the council itself. Their solution is for
the pope to simply erase all 16 Vatican II documents and restore the
liturgy, teachings and discipline in place before the collapse of all
that was considered good and holy in 1962.