Crisis: Legacy of Pope John?

Crisis: Legacy of Pope John?

Blessed John XXIII – Part 2: Pope of surprises…

(Vatican  Radio)  Blessed John XXIII, born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli died exactly 50 years ago on the 3rd of June 1963, two months after the completion of his well- known encyclical  ‘Pacem  in Terris’. Pope John, now blessed, was elected to the See of Peter on the 28 October 1958 at the age of  77 and was considered by many to  be a sort of caretaker Pope.  But as it happens  he  was a Pope of surprises and during his  four and a half years as Roman Pontiff  launched the Catholic Church into one of the most momentous epochs by calling the Second Vatican Council. Click here to listen

So, what about it – was Pope John XXIII  “The Pope of surprises” or was he, rather, “The Surprised (if not “dismayed”) Pope” 50 years ago when he met his Maker? Was he reminded then of his opening address at the Council in which he remarked: In these days, which mark the beginning of this Second Vatican Council, it is more obvious than ever before that the Lord’s truth is indeed eternal. Human ideologies change. Successive generations give rise to varying errors, and these often vanish as quickly as they came, like mist before the sun.

The Church has always opposed these errors, and often condemned them with the utmost severity. Today, however, Christ’s Bride prefers the balm of mercy to the arm of severity. She believes that, present needs are best served by explaining more fully the purport of her doctrines, rather than by publishing condemnations. Read entire opening address here..

Talk about “famous last words”.

Just how much responsibility does Pope John XXIII bear for the current crisis in the Church? Has withholding the “arm of severity” to those in error, really helped further the Kingdom of Christ?

Comments (55)

  • Margaret Mary

    Pope John bears huge responsibility for the state of the Church now, and those words about “mercy” over “condemnation” are why.

    If he hadn’t set that weak tone then we may not have the lack of discipline now prevailing in the Church fifty years on.

    It’s like a parent who thinks explaining every reason for a rule to a spoilt child who doesn’t want to obey, is going to make them obey. It’s a long time since I’ve heard a parent say “because I say so” to a child who asks for an explanation why he is being asked to do or not do something. These parents (and Pope John XXIII) forget that it is true charity to correct and sometimes that has to be done in a way which would nowadays be considered harsh or severe.

    June 2, 2013 at 6:23 pm
  • Athanasius

    Well, I read somewhere ( can’t remember the saint) that it is to tempt the Holy Ghost to call an ecumenical Council unless to expound the dogmas of the Church and to address great errors of the time.

    Pope John had nothing like this on his mind when he announced the Council, to a very unhappy Roman Curia, I might add. Instead, he wanted to reverse nearly 2000 years of supernatural opposition of the Church to the trends of the world by making peace with the world, forgetting the words of Our Lord: “Do not think I have come to bring peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” And again: “My Kingdom is not of this world.”

    Now we see what that attempt at reconciliation with the world has done to Our Lord’s Church. It has made it a worldly Church whose prelates are more interested in social justice and human dignity than the salvation of souls.

    I really don’t think John XXIII realised the danger he was opening the Church up to when he announced his Council, and I have to say in all fairness that he insisted that Latin was to remain the language of the Liturgy. But, alas, he opened the doors, or rather “the windows” to let in “some fresh air,” as he called it, and a hurricane of secularism entered the Church and devastated her.

    If only he had chosen instead to consecrate Russia to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. But he didn’t believe what he read in the Third Secret and the rest, as they say, is history.

    June 2, 2013 at 6:54 pm
    • Josephine

      That is amazing that he didn’t believe what he read in the Third Secret. How do you know that? Is there a source somewhere, as I’d like to read exactly what he said?

      June 2, 2013 at 10:49 pm
  • Michelangelo

    Given his deathbed declaration “Stop the Council”, this would suggest he may have steered the boat to safer shores. Would Pope Paul VI not be held as responsible given that he allowed Satan’s smoke to pour into the Church?

    June 2, 2013 at 9:58 pm
  • Athanasius


    I read somewhere that there is no evidence that Pope John ever made that deathbed declaration. At any rate, Paul VI is certainly more responsible for the present crisis than John XXIII.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:08 pm
  • editor

    Part of the legacy of Vatican II is the influence exerted by dissident Catholic priests like Mgr Basil Loftus, who, as I’ve pointed out in the past, really “leftus” a long time ago.

    In today’s Scottish Catholic Observer he writes more baloney, this time in the Letters section, where he replies to a terrific letter from a priest in the previous week’s correspondence column, a Father Paul Brooks, bemoaning Fr Brooks’ letter and repeating his own Theology for the Brain Dead.

    Anyway, Athanasius’s letter – published in this week’s Scottish Catholic Observer – reads as follows…

    From Athanasius…

    Mgr. Loftus is not living in the real world if he still holds to the overly optimistic view of Pope John XIII that the Second Vatican Council was a “New Pentecost” for the Church (Article, May 17).

    The fact is that by 1972, barely seven years into conciliar reform, Pope Paul VI was already lamenting that “through some fissure in the walls the smoke of Satan has entered the Church and set her on a path of auto-destruction.”

    What has since followed can hardly be accredited to the Holy Spirit without great insult to the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity.

    It is common knowledge, for example, that unprecedented numbers of seminaries and religious houses worldwide have closed down in the fifty years since Vatican II, including all five seminaries in Scotland. Over the same period thousands of priests, monks and nuns have abandoned their vocations while new vocations have plummeted in Western nations by around 80% since 1965.

    Much of this can be traced back to that “looser liturgy” Mgr. Loftus refers to as a gift of the Holy Spirit, by which he means the New Mass of 1969.

    The chief architect of that Mass, Fr. Annibale Bugnini, declared in 1965 that it would be stripped of all that could be the shadow of a stumbling block to Protestants. He was as good as his word. What he produced was a liturgy that Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci declared to be a departure from the Catholic theology of the Mass. Cardinal Ratzinger was later to ratify this assessment when he said that the New Mass was a “banal, on-the-spot fabrication.”

    Besides the subsequent clown Masses…and many other such sacrileges that followed, there was the removal of altar rails and the illicit introduction of Communion in the hand and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

    None of these outrages are to be found in the documents of Vatican II or by order of any Pope. On the contrary, they have been acts of grave disobedience – not a hallmark of the Holy Spirit!

    On the moral front, US church statistics reveal that marriage annulments in that country alone rose from 338 in 1968 to 63,933 by 1991. Other valid statistics show that the larger part of the laity in the US and Europe no longer accept the Church’s teaching on abortion, contraception, co-habitation, priestly celibacy and homosexuality.

    Then there are the well documented sexual scandals of prelates, priests and religious, our own Cardinal O’Brien’s case being the latest to wound Christ’s Mystical Body. Sadly, there is insufficient space here to recount such a litany of filth in the Church.

    Suffice it to say Cardinal Ratzinger, in a 1984 interview with Jesus Magazine, was less inclined to attribute this unprecedented crisis to the Holy Spirit and more inclined to confirm it as the chastisement prophesied in the Third Secret of Fatima. Cardinal Luigi Ciappi, personal theologian to four Popes, including John Paul II, was more precise in this regard. He said the Third Secret announced “apostasy from the top down.”

    Is it any wonder, then, that the 25-line text of that Secret, known to begin with the words “In Portugal the dogmas of the Faith will always be preserved…” has not yet been revealed? It doesn’t quite chime with those looney liberals who stand amidst the rubble of a time-bombed Church announcing the “New Pentecost.” END.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm
    • Augustine

      I am unable to read the SCO for fear my eyes will fall on Msgr Loftus’ latest twisting of the Catholic faith.

      June 3, 2013 at 8:52 am
      • editor

        But, Augustine, if everyone who recognised his twisting of the Catholic Faith wrote in to complain and correct him, the hapless editor would have to take notice. She doesn’t seem to care that she’s responsible for publishing heresy – maybe the thought of losing readers would make a difference. If it’s the same people writing in all the time, she feels safe. We’re the odd eccentrics, followers of the “old religion” (as Henry VIII used to call it!)

        June 3, 2013 at 9:39 am
      • Augustine

        I have had a few exchanges with Liz Leydon on the subject of misleading the faithful. I’m afraid she doesn’t seem to understand the grave responsibility that she has before God as the editor of a Catholic newspaper.

        Two years ago I wrote a series of letters concerning the imprudent beatification of John Paul II and suggested that the magisterium (qua subject) needs to explain to the faithful how, for example, the late Pope taking part in an Animist (i.e. Voodoo) ceremony in Togoville in 1985 is compatible with a candidate for canonisation. I certainly am unable to reconcile this public and apparently unrepented violation of the First Commandment with the self-sacrifice of countless men, women, and children who chose death rather than make a single act suggestive of participating in pagan worship.

        Ronnie Convery wrote to deny that such an event ever took place (i.e. the Pope taking part in this ceremony) and that I was lying about the Roman Pontiff. When I responded with the proof from L’Osservatore Romano that described in detail what the late Pope did (namely, join the Animist priests in offering maize and water to the souls of unbaptised Togolese) Ms Leydon responded that as far as she was concerned “the subject [had] run its course”.

        Incidentally, I then wrote directly to Ronnie Convery and Archibishop Conti with a photocopy of the article in question and requested that Mr Convery might clarify in the SCO that I had not calumniated the late Holy Father but, instead, had merely quoted from the Vatican’s own newspaper.

        But, as you can imagine, I never heard from either of them.

        June 6, 2013 at 2:55 pm
      • editor

        I saw your terrific letters in the SCO, Augustine. Absolutely spot on.
        Yes, Liz Leydon seems hardened. God help her at her judgment.

        Ditto Cowboy Convery and + Conti

        June 6, 2013 at 6:54 pm
  • Josephine

    I read the letters in the Scottish Catholic Observer and the letter above is just excellent; since it was placed underneath Mgr Loftus’s letter, it will be the one that readers remember. I don’t think either the editor, Liz Leydon or Mgr Loftus himself realise that he is writing heretical material. It goes to show though how far gone from the Faith Catholics have become.

    June 2, 2013 at 10:52 pm
    • Athanasius


      Thank you for your kind comments about my letter. If you want to see just how heretical and far from the Catholic Faith Mgr. Loftus has travelled, then get yourself a copy of the Catholic Times (June 2) and read his article on Our Lady. I would go so far as to describe that piece as diabolical in origin. And not a single UK episcopal voice is raised to defend the Blessed Mother against this scandalous garbage disguised as Catholic theology.

      Nor is there any point in writing to the editor, Kevin Flaherty. I have done so many times in the past but he refuses to publish my letters. How anyone who calls himself Catholic could publish such a public assault on the Mother of God is beyond me. It is high time the Vatican ordered the removal of the word ‘Catholic’ from the ‘Catholic Times.’

      They would all do well to pay heed to these sobering words spoken by Sister Lucy of Fatima to Fr. Fuentes: “Let us remember that Jesus Christ is a very good Son and that He does not permit that we offend and despise His Most Holy Mother. We have recorded through many centuries of Church history the obvious testimony which demonstrates, by the terrible chastisements which have befallen those who have attacked the honor of His Most Holy Mother, how Our Lord Jesus Christ has always defended the honor of His Mother.”

      June 3, 2013 at 12:00 am
  • Josephine

    I’ve read him before on Our Lady and he’s terrible. He should quake with fear reading those words of Sr Lucy that you quote.

    June 3, 2013 at 1:37 pm
  • pius x

    I though it was Paul VI who ruined the Mass? Wasn’t it he who Ottovianni intervened against? Also, what was Nostra Ataete about? I thought it was when the Church recognised other denominations and religions. As I have said the Church did not recognise their legitimacy or authenticity, it merely recognised they were there, which we are also against. The Pope should stop meeting with other religious leaders. It freaks me out.

    Pius X

    June 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm
    • Firmiter

      Are you sure you really want to affirm that the Church did not recognise other Christian denominations prior to Vatican II? Pius XII, in keeping with all of his predecessors, certainly did recognise the authenticity of the Orthodox Churches which have a valid sacramental economy and therefore a valid apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist.

      What changed with Vatican II was a positive approach to non-Catholic Christianity, underlining those elements common to both Catholics and non-Catholics.

      June 3, 2013 at 9:20 pm
  • johnshacklefree

    I suspect that the text of the Third Secret of Fatima may have referred to a false council and if so perhaps John XXIII may have decided he had a better idea than Our Lady for benefiting the Church. I’ve also read claims that he was a communist. It was after this time that the Church decided to stop condemning communism prefering Ostpilitik amd diplomacy. We can see where that has taken us. I’ve also seen further claims that Cardinal Siri was truly elected in 1958. Apparently newspaper reports on the day reported white smoke after the first ballot and John XXIII was elected on the 4th. If so John XXIII would be an imposter. It is all shrouded in mystery but we do know that he refused to honour the commands of Our Lady and that makes him a traitor in my eyes.

    June 3, 2013 at 6:30 pm
    • editor


      I think I’m correct in saying that these claims of an imposter pope come from sedevacantist sites. Best avoided. They talk nonsense most, if not all, of the time.

      June 3, 2013 at 7:02 pm
    • Firmiter

      When I was growing up, one of my favourite TV programmes was Jackanory.

      June 4, 2013 at 5:48 am
      • editor

        There you go, that’s the difference between us – mine was “Late Call” !

        June 4, 2013 at 9:02 am
  • j.kearney

    I am reading through the documents of Vatican II at the moment. The Constitution on the Church was OK, but on the liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium was a nightmare. The document just announced there would be changes and laid down norms and principles to be followed by a subsequent Committee. A Vernacular Mass was never mentioned but there were to be some reforms to the Latin Mass. I am sure one thing the following Committee did not do and that was read Sacrosanctum Concilium. They just ignored it completely. As a faithful Catholic I do try very hard to see nothing wrong and interpret things positively but today in Gaudium et Spes , I just gave up and announced that in my view Section 30 telling us that we must all unite for the Common Good was nonsense. I will unite for the Kingdom of Heaven. I mentioned the mess pursuing the `common good` had left the Church in, it is a favourite term used by Liberals, a substitute for pursuing the Kingdom. I know I have still to come to the documents where we are told how wonderful the Moslem Faith is, and how us them and the Jews make up the great religions of the World. This myopic reaching out led to the blasphemy at Assisi. Whereas Councils are called when heresy is rife in the Church, Vatican II was called on the other hand to praise our heretical friends.

    June 3, 2013 at 7:57 pm
    • Firmiter

      Archbishop Bugnini himself said that his liturgical reform was based on a wide interpretation of Sacrosanctum Concilium.

      Concerning this document, I think that its importance has been overstated. Why? Because its pronouncements apply only to the Roman Rite which is one of several rites in force in the Church (albeit the most ancient and most important from a numerical point of view), all of which enjoy equal dignity.

      The trouble is that SC has been regarded by liturgists as almost infallible, which is very far from the case.

      June 3, 2013 at 9:12 pm
  • Firmiter

    Perhaps no modern Pope exemplifies the fact that men are masters of their own words, but not of the interpretations that others may put upon them, than John XXIII.

    It is very hard for people of my generation to evaluate him and his papacy because we necessarily come to them through the distorting prism of Vatican II and its aftermath, not least the events of 1968 which shook the foundations of Western culture and the effects of which are with us more than most of us know.

    From what I have read, John was a good and holy man, but with perhaps an underestimation of the effects of original sin on human nature. He was an optimist who thought that the future belonged to the Church if she could only explain herself and her teachings to the world. We must not forget that he, in common with many of his generation, had been utterly shocked at the devastation of World War II, following so closely on that of World War I. It was only natural that he would wish to inaugurate a new phase in the Church’s dealing with the world as a way to promote peace and understanding. Unfortunately, he was severely deluded.

    June 3, 2013 at 9:03 pm
    • Athanasius


      I agree with you that Pope John XXIII meant well but that his good intention was really a delusion. He would have done better to obey Our Lady’s request and put his own ideas on the back burner.

      I wonder if he would be so keen today to dismiss those “prophets of doom,” as he called them in 1960, who saw the danger signs in the Church and the world that he clearly missed?

      June 3, 2013 at 9:21 pm
  • editor

    Archbishop Lefebvre has set the ball rolling, but we’re going to need a few saints like this one to get the restoration of the priesthood up and running on the road to recovery from Pope John’s Council. And the sooner, the better…

    June 3, 2013 at 10:40 pm
  • Leo

    “We must shake off the imperial dust that has been accumulating on the throne of Peter since the time of Constantine.” – Pope John XXIII, quoted by Yves Congar, Le Concile au jour le jour, Deuxieme session, p 44

    “This transitional Pope has made the transition of the Church to the future.” – Karl Rahner SJ, speaking on the day of Pope Paul’s death, June 3, 1963 Dans les secrets du Conclave, L’ Actualite Religieuse, March 1995, p. 31

    We have much in much in recent years about the “hermeneutic of continuity” as well as the dangerous, ambiguous term “living tradition”. Some defenders of the Council have sought to blame the devastation of the last five decades on a “tsumani of secularism”. Pope Benedict, in the last days of his papacy offered what I can only describe, as an incredible explanation of the disaster, saying the “real Council” had not been implemented and taught, but instead the Church has been subjected to the media’s version, the “virtual Council”.

    “And we know that this Council of the media was accessible to all. So, dominant, more efficient, this Council created many calamities, so many problems, so much misery, in reality: seminaries closed, convents closed liturgy trivialized… and the true Council has struggled to materialize, to be realized: the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council.”
    – Pope Benedict XVI, 14 February 2013

    With all due respect to Pope Benedict, I think the evidence points elsewhere, in a direction which suggests that Pope John XXIII had a far greater influence on the Council than any amount of propagandists in the media. I certainly have no wish to judge to the mind or the motives of the Pope who convoked the Council. That said, the decisions he made, the actions he took, and the catastrophe that resulted is not a matter of opinion.

    What absolutely cannot be denied is the leniency and freedom that Pope John showed the main theologians responsible for promoting and preaching the New Theology, or reheated modernism, condemned by Pope Pius XII in Humani Generis, twelve years before the Council started.

    In case anyone feels inclined to start mumbling about paranoid and bitter traditionalist reactionaries, it might be best to make the point using the words of a couple of theologians who were anything but traditionalist. I hope the length of these quotes doesn’t unduly test everyone’s patience but they do speak in a rather disturbingly eloquent way:

    “Pius X was the Pope who confronted the modernist movement, understood as ‘the theoretical and practical subordination of Catholicism to the modern spirit.’ The crisis was contained, but problems remained, The movement’s studies continued to follow its irrepressible course, both from outside and within, at times meeting with resistance, problems, controls and restraints. Later the situation changed profoundly. There was John XXIII (1958-1963), the Council (1962-1965), aggiornamento…” (Yves Congar, Eglise Catholique et France modern, 1978, pp 37-38

    In this ‘ changed situation’, John XXIII rehabilitated various theologians formerly considered suspect by the Holy See or even condemned for heterodoxy. Some of them were exponents of the Nouvelle Theologie (New Theology). Philippe Levillan wrote: ‘Among the advisers (of the theological commission that prepared the Council) one noted the presence of Frs. Congar, de Lubac, Hans Kung, and others. The whole group of theologians implicitly condemned by the Encyclical Humani generis in 1950 had been called by Rome at the behest of John XXIII’ (La mecanique politique du Vatican II. 1975, P 77)

    Cardinal Congar confirmed the words of Levillain: ‘Fr de Lubac later told me that it was John XXIII himself who had insisted that we both become members of the commission (Jean Puyo interroge le Pere Congar- Une vie pour la verite, 1975, p. 124

    “Pius XII is reported to have said, ‘ I will be the last Pope to keep everything as it is now.’ And, in fact, John XXIII…conveyed a totally different image of the Papacy. The profound contacts established in the Council, the meetings, the information provided about many issues, the necessary advance of aggiornamento determined the end of what we call the unconditionality of the system..” – Yves Congar, La crisi nella Chiesa e Mons. Lefebvre, 1976, pp. 57-8

    “The Council destroyed what I would call the unconditionality of the system. What I understand by ‘system’ is a complete and very coherent body of ideas transmitted by the teachings of Roman Universities, codified by Canon Law, protected by the strict and quite efficient vigilance of Pius XII, with reports, admonitions , the submission of writings to Roman censors, etc, in short, a whole ‘system’. With the Council, this was broken up. Tongues were loosened. The underground elements surfaced: some, very classical, are valid; others perhaps are more reckless. In fact it was like a thaw.” Jean Puyo interrroge le Pere Congar, p. 220

    Here’s Hans Kung’s offering on the revolution and Pope John’s role. Not much evidence of media involvement here.

    “How can we have arrived, with regard to Vatican II, to this turnaround…if there had not been a long preparation before the Council, a sort of hibernation? John XXIII, a charismatic in the Seat of Peter, was the wick…How could he have unleashed this process unless, long before the Council, there had not been people both known and anonymous who gathered the material that made the spark from the flame? … Suspected, impeached, discredited, branded as heretics, persecuted and exiled by their brethren, shepherds and theologians in the Church, they” (the liberals) “carried on their work as best they could!

    “Many times only after decades, other times only after death, was there a gesture of gratitude shown towards them; some of them were rehabilitated only by Vatican Council II…That which a few started with modesty and insignificance, that which only slowly succeeded in taking hold amidst great efforts, has now developed and multiplied many times over: in the renewal of liturgy, of Church life in general…It has been proven that those harbingers were not people on the fringe, lonely outsiders, but rather the vanguard of an army which, though undoubtedly slow, had strongly determined to forge ahead, and army to some official representations of theology and the heads of the Church have shown themselves to be the rearguard.” – Hans Kung, Veracidade – O future da Ingreja, 1969, pp. 161-162

    That chilling last sentence merits a second read.

    In the year before the Council started Pope John XXIII spoke of “the Church of Christ, which is still so vibrant with vitality.” (Humanæ Salutis, Dec. 25,1961.)

    What would we have been spared and how much of that vitality would have remained if the “prophets of doom” had been listened to, and the modernist New Theology had been treated as the very grave threat that it represented to the Church?

    June 3, 2013 at 10:49 pm
  • Josephine


    Thank you for that great post, full of unbelievable quotes. I couldn’t agree more with you about Pope Benedict trying to blame secularism for the crisis in the Church when the real reasons are obvious to anyone who has read any or all of the remarks made by the dissidents you quote above.

    What you quote from Pope John near the end says it all, “In the year before the Council started Pope John XXIII spoke of “the Church of Christ, which is still so vibrant with vitality.”

    You wouldn’t think that reading about how everything before Vatican II was bad, and now everything is great. Do they think the people are stupid, that we don’t see the facts before us?

    June 4, 2013 at 10:38 am
  • editor


    I agree – great post. I especially marvel at this nonsense about the “hermeneutic of continuity” which you highlight. Tells you something when a pope will coin a new phrase in order to avoid using the word “Tradition”. I’ve never understood why Pope Benedict chose it – “hermeneutics” is the term associated with the principles (or rules) for study of the Bible, so it is a very odd word to choose to replace “Tradition”.

    June 5, 2013 at 8:15 am
    • Firmiter

      Hermeneutics is about the understanding and interpretation of linguistic and non-linguistic expressions (or ‘texts’ in the wider sense). It is far from restricted to Biblical studies, although many of its principles were established in this field.

      June 8, 2013 at 10:33 am
  • Leo


    It is indeed quite that extraordinary to see the dogged determination to defend what has happened since 1962. How anyone can continue to use words such as “New Pentecost”, “New Advent”, “New Springtime”, “Renewal” is beyond me. Looks like an attempt at continuity with the “New Theology”. I think destruction, devastation, disintegration, decomposition, and diabolical disorientation would be a more apposite lexicon.

    “Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot: they have changed my delightful portion into a desolate wilderness. They have laid it waste, and it hath mourned for me. With desolation is all the land made desolate; because there is none that considers in the heart.” – Jeremias 12:10

    I’m prepared to accept that many bishops, clergy and laity didn’t immediately appreciate the dangers of the omissions, ambiguities, contradictions, and novelties in the Council documents. Be that as it may, others certainly did know that things were not going to remain the same. I think we’re all familiar with the following words:

    “The Church has had, peacefully, its October Revolution.” – Yves Congar

    “Vatican II is the French Revolution of the Church.” – Cardinal Suenens

    “If it is desirable to offer a diagnosis of the text (Gaudium et Spes) as a whole, we might say that (in conjunction with the texts on religious liberty and world religions) it is a revision of the Syllabus of Pius IX, a kind of countersyllabus…Let us be content to say here that the text serves as a countersyllabus and, as such, represents, on the part of the Church, an attempt at an official reconciliation with the new era inaugurated in 1789.” Cardinal Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, pp. 381-382

    And let’s make no mistake, warnings have been ignored for a long time. Archbishop Lefebvre gave the following assessment to Cardinal Ottaviani in the year following the conclusion of the Council. The Archbishop pointed to the impending disaster with typical luminous clarity. It’s definitely worth a read.


    Your comment about the pope coining “a new phrase in order to avoid using the word ‘Tradition’” says it all really. Spot on. The irony has no doubt passed over a lot of heads. Also, your remark about the term “hermeneutics” is very informative. I don’t think anyone would dispute that Pope Benedict always knew the importance of words.

    And for all the talk about continuity and lack of rupture with traditional teaching, can anyone point to the use of traditional language by Pope Benedict, or indeed other Popes over the last fifty years. When have we last heard the words pertaining to Tradition as set out at Vatican I or in the Oath against Modernism, or by the Church Fathers and Popes of the past? How often have Catholics heard citation of the pre-Conciliar popes during the last five decades?

    It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Tradition has clearly become something of a dirty word since the Council. And the reason is very obvious- false ecumenism.

    June 5, 2013 at 10:30 am
    • j.kearney

      Yes, many good things hae been said and will be repeated. The problem is `How do we move on`. We have a situation where SSPX has been kept ouside the mainstream Church because Fellay would not give an acceptance of the Documents of Vatican II. But there are many within the mainstream Church who also are in disagreement but are never asked to accept the documents. To put it bluntgly the situation is ridiculous. If indeed the media interpretation of Vatican II won then how are we goig to turn things around and make the real Vatican II heard. Surely if Vatican II is pastoral no declaration of loyalty should be needed. There are new questions being asked about the SSPX. Since their faculties arfe not approved by the Bishop can they in their priestly ministry really forgive sin? I am not putting this forward to attack anyone simply pointing out that the difficulties unless tackled can only get worse. Many SSPX Churches are in diocese with new bishops with a traditional understanding. I beleive the bishop should approach them or they should approach the bishop. Such things have to be aired and chewed over and if some understanading is reached on the ground then Rome can be informed. I beleive this is the only way forward.

      June 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm
  • editor


    I agree with you about Vatican II – long before I went along to SSPX Masses I mouthed my refusal to accept the errors of Vatican II (ecumenism, collegiality etc) and nobody told me I was in schism. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

    However, I am dismayed to read your question about SSPX confessions and the validity thereof – I had an article on this very subject on our homepage for ages. Does anybody ever READ the news items up there?

    Anyway, the article was taken from The Remnant Newspaper and when I went just now to recover it, there was a second article on the same subject, by the same author, this time in reply to Fr Z and Jeff Mirus, of Catholic Culture. Read it here…

    I read the first article right through, but not this one, so if it does not answer your concerns, the original article certainly will – it’s linked within this latest commentary. Enjoy!

    June 5, 2013 at 7:22 pm
  • j.kearney

    Thanks, Editor. I put that in just to let you know that there were traditional circles in the Church now hopping around with this to further distance the SSPX. Shepherds should be seeking the lambs that are lost and not shoving them over the cliff. I will write to Bishop Egan about this idea of talks, he is at the moment one of the most faithful shephers in England. I believe there are two SSPX communities in his Diocese.

    June 6, 2013 at 2:02 pm
  • editor

    This piece should be entitled Delusion on a Grand Scale…

    Truly unbelievable – Vatican II brought growth and much fruit? On the same level as Trent? Gimme a break!

    June 7, 2013 at 12:29 am
  • j.kearney


    As ou read I was full of good intentions in my last response. There is an SSPX community in the Portsmouth Diocese at Highclere. So I looked them up. Unfortunately they were very enthusiastic about the meeting last weekend where it was decided to follow Biishop Fellay no more. And we had a video of Williamson on his favourite subject – the Jews. So there is no hope there. It is sad for there are nice people I met within the Community and just how much consultation there was is not certain. But approaching Bishop Egan now would be a waste of time.

    June 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm
    • Josephine

      That’s very sad, j,kearney, and I think it’s what is called an “own goal”. It’s very sad that the SSPX is splitting up. Are there any priests among the defectors?

      June 7, 2013 at 5:51 pm
      • j.kearney

        I did visit there once. There were two priests and one seminarian. They also have a school there run by nuns. I cannot understand why they do not see Williamson for what he is. I would have loved to have them under the bishop since they do have a large gound and lovely chapel and it would have been a wonderful place for processions and retreats.

        June 7, 2013 at 8:36 pm
  • Firmiter

    I really do think that it is naive to the point of stupidity to blame John XXIII, Paul VI or Vatcan II for the state of the Church today, although I am ready to accept that each of them played a part, greater or lesser as it may be.

    The Church, by her very nature, lives in the world. It would be utterly extraordinary if she were to remain untouched by the wider cultural processes going on about her.

    In order to have a full understanding of Vatican II, we must view it not only looking back from 2013 to 1965, but at least as far back as 1945, and probably back even further to the Modernist crisis of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    The Church after the condemnation of modernism (with which I wholeheartedly agree) was often a very confined space where expressions of individuality were often looked upon with suspicion. To take a very simple but telling example, this was when seminarians started being forced to go to bed with their soutanes and to remove them only when under the covers. It should be plain to all that, human psychology being what it is, it would not belong before there was a reaction against this. Another example could be the censuring by superiors of the correspondence of men and women religious. (Before anyone gets hysterical, I am not saying that those who imposed such stringent regulation of people’s lives were not in good faith. it is always a mistake to judge the past with the canons of the present. But certainly the longer this strict regimentation of the life of the Church went on, the more likely it was that there would spring up a reaction against it. The West before World War II, and for a certain time after it, was far more deferential to authority than we are today–post 1968, post-Watergate, post-clergy sex scandals–but dissent there was. And because this dissent could have no public expression, it just grew and grew under the surface until it was unleashed with almighty force at Vatican II.)

    Another major factor was Western culture in the wake of World War II. Not only had great swathes of Europe been destroyed by this war, but the war itself brough great social change and upheval (just think about the role of women, or the effect on a country like Britain of having what was effectively an American occupying army camped in her midst for most of the war, with all the social implications of this for what had hitherto been a very insular population). This led to a questioning as to its causes which effectively called into doubt all Western institutions, including the Church. This too would come to the fore at Vatican II.

    I could go on. For example, John XXIII’s papacy coincided in its last years with the presidency of John F. Kennedy. Are we really so naive to think that the youthful optimism that precipitated Kennedy to the Whitehouse was not going to impact the Church? That, for example, the rise of television and popular culture in general was not going to result in the calling into question of the Latin liturgy, to say nothing of the fact that this was going on against the background of a shift in sexual mores which was utterly without precedent in human history? (I always think that this clash of cultures is exemplified very well in the early scenes of the film ‘The Exorcist’, even if the original novel is from 1971.)

    John XXIII was naive in his expectations of the Council. I have conceded as much on another post. Paul VI was left to manage the Council when it had become clear that it was not just going to rubber stamp what Pope John had set out for it. But I do think that but for the prudence of Pope Paul, it could all have been much worse. (Never forget the ‘Nota Esplicativa Praevia’ to ‘Lumen gentium’, or the Creed of Paul VI, the latter pronounced in the face of the Dutch Catechism.)

    I was talking about these questions recently with a fellow priest. He thinks that the mistake was in calling the Council in the first place, but I fundamentally disagree. The last Council had been Vatican I (1869-1870) which is really not much more than an appendix to Trent (on and off from 1545 to 1563). John’s successor would have faced increasing demands for a Council and would have had to concede, perhaps with results that would have made Vatican II look tame.

    I think that it was even providentisl that Pope John called Vatican II when he did. If we wish to have a sample of what might have happened had he called it just six years later, just think about the reaction to Humanae Vitae (1968).

    June 8, 2013 at 11:37 am
    • j.kearney

      There is a great deal in what you say, yes, there were great cultural shifts in attitudes to authority and morals. This was led by profit making organisations who had power and influence to exploit and make money by changing people. Thus a booming sex industry grew up, and women encouraged into the workforce to be exploited. One wage would have bought a home in the fifties but in the sixties two salaries were necessary. The truth is the Church was not ready in so far as the education in the schools on the Catechism, certainly better than the nothing we have today, was still not enough to help the younger generation answer the questions they were suddenly faced with. What we needed was Catholic Apologetics, a real in depth study of `Why the Pope was Infallible`, why `we tturn to Mary`, `why adultery is wrong from a social point of view rather than just a personal one`. This education was not there and millions were taken from us. The Church through the Spirit should have been able to cope with any crisis, but she was not ready. Add to that that the enemies of the Church were installed in top jobs in the Vatican. Pope Paul VI, is a puzzle to me. If I say the Pope is infallible I think him. He allowed so many errors to go through, he even introduced the Novus Ordo, and that makes me furious, on the other hand he did as you say introduce the Great Credo of the People of God, and miraculously `Humanae Vitae`. I am puzzled. I can only put it down to the Holy Spirit protecting the Church despite him.

      June 8, 2013 at 4:40 pm
      • Christina

        On looking at the blog on my return from the Conference I was most interested in the exchanges between you and Firmiter, and I think that his post at 7.00pm on June 8 should be sent to every priest in these islands! However, if I have correctly understood you in your statement The truth is the Church was not ready……millions were taken from us, you are claiming that the Catholic body at the beginning of Vatican II was, to all intents and purposes, religiously illiterate. Forgive me if I have misunderstood. The truth is that religious illiteracy was not a characteristic of the immediately pre-conciliar Church. At no time in her history in the western world had the laity been better instructed in the truths of the faith, and better equipped to pass on those truths. I was there as school pupil, student and teacher, and I know what I’m talking about! However, that Catholic illiteracy is a characteristic of the post-conciliar church and a poisonous fruit of the Council, only a fool could deny.

        The pre-conciliar, adequately-instructed Catholic would add to Firmiter’s statement that The Church, by her very nature, lives in the world by saying that she is also not ‘of this world’, and would be familiar with James 1, 26-27 re keeping oneself ‘unspotted from this world’. I suspect that most of the poor seminarians, struggling to remove soutanes while hindered by blankets, would have understood the underlying lesson!

        The utter bewilderment of the well-catechised Catholic in the aftermath of Vatican II can hardly be imagined by those (now the great majority) who came later. To them the Church spoke through those immediately responsible for the care of their souls – their priests and bishops, many of whom expressed their own bewilderment from the pulpits and in their correspondence, while submitting to, and reminding us of, that unquestioning Catholic ‘obedience’ that until that time had been a sure anchor. We understand now that dissent had festered in the theological ‘intelligentsia’, unsuspected by most of us, clerical and lay, at least since the early C20th. I do not agree with Firmiter’s image of a great dam of dissent within the Church waiting to burst. I think rather, as Father Wiltgen shows in The Rhine Flows into the Tiber that the Council gave an unprecedented opening to the Devil, whereby the faithful were deceived by the greatest confidence trick of all time and the dissent of relatively few was enabled to spread like ‘the smoke of Satan’ througout the obedient Catholic body. Had the ‘spirit’ speaking to Pope John when he had his great ‘inspiration’ been the Holy Spirit, he would have pulled up the drawbridge. Instead, he opened the windows.

        June 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm
      • editor

        Brilliant and crystal clear comment, Christina. You’re sailing up the pay scale!

        June 11, 2013 at 12:27 pm
      • Christina

        Aw shucks!

        June 11, 2013 at 4:52 pm
    • Thurifer

      Interesting post Firmiter. This is only vaguely related. Here’s a youtube link of Kennedy’s Requiem Mass, said in Latin by Cardinal Cushing. You can hear him kind of mumble the Latin halfway in the video.

      June 9, 2013 at 1:46 am
  • Firmiter


    There is another factor which we have to take into consideration when talking about the ‘state’ of the Church which is the reality which St. Paul described as the Mysterium Iniquitatis, the Mystery of Iniquity.

    There are personal beings, Satan and his demons, who inhabit the spiritual realm and are literally hell bent on destroying the Church and those who adhere to Christ. For reasons both internal and external to the Church, Catholics are probably less defended now against the power of evil than at any other time in their history.

    We seem to live in a period in which the Devil has been unchained. We are now at the point where about twenty percent of pregnancies in the world end in abortion. (Just think about that. It is an incredible proportion.) There have been about 70 million abortions in the U.S. alone since abortion was legalized, and last year there were about twelve thousand in Scotland. This is a holocaust, human sacrifice offered on an untold scale. Look too at the attacks on the traditional family as same-sex marriage laws are being rushed on to the statute books of numerous countries.

    The Mystery of Iniquity has made great inroads into the zcurch of our time, not least among clergy and religious. I once asked an exorcist I met on the Continent if he thought Satan had in fact been unchained. He replied in the negative, saying that it only seems that way because there has been such a decline in the practice of orthodox Christianity, thus laying bare the ordinary activity of the Devil.

    One of the highest pastoral priorities for the Church is to begin to contrast the power of Satan explicitly, and this cannot come about without a return to preaching and teaching in an orthodox way about the four last things, as well as about the other truths of our faith. Without these, Christ loses all significance and from the Son of God made man becomes just a prophet and ultimately just a nice guy.

    Catholics no longer give any serious thought to God’s judgment. In their funeral Masses the priest more often than not wears white vestments, signifying that salvation is a foregone conclusion. We have made God in our own image, and since most of us are lazy, mediocre, unprincipled and inconstant, we think that God is the same.

    But God is not like us. He respects our God-given created liberty. He allows us to turn our back on Him if we so desire, even to the point of allowing us to enter into eternal damnation if so we choose. The would be no sense in God saving us against our will.

    June 8, 2013 at 7:00 pm
  • Athanasius


    Much of what you say I agree with, but not with your assessment that Vatican II really has nothing to do with the present crisis in the Church.

    The Church has seen many worldly upheavels in her 2000-year existence, many of which have threatened her existence and the lives of souls. But the Church being a divine institution met these challenges with her magisterial authority, teaching and instructing in the truth without compromise – “in season and out of season,” as St. Paul says.

    With Vatican II we saw a change of direction from the age old dogmatic position of the Church. Instead of declaring the truths of the Faith more forcefully at a time of world rebellion against God, the Modernists decided to engage in “dialogue.” Since Satan is the prince of this world, and since it is the first rule in exorcism that one does not enter into dialogue with the demonic, which spirits are far superior in intellect to man, the inevitable result was that the demonic influence entered the Church and set about her destruction from within.

    That’s what Pope Paul VI recognised when, in 1972, he lamented: “Through some fissure in the walls, the smoke of Satan has entered the Church and set her on a path of auto-destruction.”

    At no time in the history of the Church has there been a desire expressed by the Popes or in the dogmatic Councils to modernise the Church in order to accommodate the times. On the contrary, such an idea is foreign to the mind of the Church andis, in fact, condemned in various Papal Encyclicals as inevitably fatal in its effects on the Catholic Faith. With hindsight, we now see all too clearly the pre-conciliar wisdom of the Popes and Councils.

    As for Humanae Vitae. That is infallible declaration by Pope Paul VI, not at all the same as the non-infallible teachings of Vatican II. Hence, the same declaration would have been made by another Pope had Paul VI delayed it. The Holy Spirit protects the Church in these matters of universal faith and morals, so the world, no matter how rebellious, simply could not have altered that teaching. Nor will it ever be able to alter it.

    What may have altered, however, had Vatican II not opened the Church up to infiltration by the spirit of the world, is that the world would have kept a certain moral compass. Whether they admit it or not, the nations and their governments largely legislated in accordance with how the Catholic Church might react. This kept many of them in check for they feared the backlash of the power and authority of the Church. Once that was removed by Vatican II through the adoption of the “reconciliation” and “dialogue” approach, it was open season for the devil.

    It is a sad fact that there is little or no exercise of authority in the Church today, either in suppressing error within or challenging immorality without. Ours today is a “talking Church,” not a “teaching Church.” What this means is that the Church’s authorities dialogue while the enemies of God destroy. Yes, Vatican II has played a central role in the present apostasy, just as Our Lady foretold in the Third Secret of Fatima.

    June 8, 2013 at 10:59 pm
    • j.kearney

      Agreed. Authority was the approach of Jesus, not dialogue.

      June 9, 2013 at 7:49 pm
  • Miles Immaculatae

    At the CT conference one of the speakers said the best and simplest analogies of the Modern Crisis I have ever head:

    The Church is like an alcoholic (at least the human part), before the alcoholic admits they have an alcohol problem, they will never be healed and no therapy will ever work. The Church’s problem is Vatican II. Until it admits this, no therapy, like for example ‘the refrom of the reform’/ ‘hermeneutic of continuity’, will ever work.

    June 9, 2013 at 9:32 pm
  • Athanasius

    Miles Immaculate,

    Yes, that was a very good analogy. I heard the speaker at the Conference say that and thought it very profound. Unless they recognise the sickness, they can’t, or rather won’t apply the cure.

    June 9, 2013 at 10:10 pm
  • Athanasius

    In a recent interview with L’Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Walter Kasper, one of the most liberal prelates in the Church, made this astounding statement:

    “In many places, they had to find compromise formulas, in which, often, the positions of the majority are located immediately next to those of the minority, designed to delimit them. Thus, the conciliar texts themselves have a huge potential for conflict, open the door to a selective reception in either direction.”

    Well, what can we add to this? It proves everything Traditional Catholics have been saying for the past 50 years about the UnCatholic “spirit of Vatican II.”

    June 9, 2013 at 10:19 pm
    • Petrus

      Well said, Athanasius!

      June 10, 2013 at 8:38 am
  • Leo


    Thank you for highlighting those extraordinary and indeed damning words of Cardinal Kasper. That quote should be up in lights for the duration of this appalling crisis in the Church.

    Perhaps the following distinctly unambiguous words from one of the successors of Peter, might serve as an appropriate and succinct commentary:

    “When a document is clearly ambiguous or contradictory one must condemn the heretical statements as they appear, despite what contradictions and ambiguities they are camouflaged in…those who let heresies slip by because they are veiled in wilful ambiguity cannot be excused and allow the faithful to be led ‘by subtle errors to their eternal damnation.’” – Pope Pius VI, Auctorem Fidei, August 28, 1794

    June 10, 2013 at 11:22 pm
    • Athanasius


      Yes, absolutely!

      And Bishop Athanasius Schneider has called for an Index of Vatican II errors. Perhaps the time has come for the authorities in Rome to finally re-visit those documents with a view to exorcising all that obscures the truth.

      June 10, 2013 at 11:39 pm
      • Christina

        Love the deliberate mistake!!!

        June 11, 2013 at 12:18 pm
  • Leo


    I fear that Bishop Schneider and the rest of us might be waiting a while yet. That said, I think similar calls are going to be heard with increasing frequency. The more, the better.

    I know this is not new to regulars on this blog, but I think it is well worth recalling Archbishop Lefebvre’s prescient efforts to head off the grave dangers inherent in the use of ambiguous language in the Conciliar texts.

    I think it is completely reasonable to state that these ambiguities (modernist time bombs is a more descriptive term) were planted under the guise of the Conciliar texts being “pastoral”. Don’t anyone take my word for it. Here’s Father Rene Laurentin, a conciliar perito, one of the best known chroniclers of Vatican II and a journalist of La Croix:

    “Another ambiguity went through the whole Council itself: the one involving the word ‘pastoral’. This adjective, launched by John XXIII, was a success…Its usage remained vague and pragmatic during the first session…The wish was to find a solution for opposing tendencies: That which was ‘pastoral’ escaped the requirement for rigor that is posed by doctrine…” – L’Enjeu et le Bilan du Concile, 1966, pp359-360

    In the face of this danger to sound and unerring doctrine, Archbishop Lefebvre proposed the eminently reasonable safeguard “that each Commission should put forth two documents: one more dogmatic (that is, in scholastic language), for the use of theologians; the other more pastoral in tone, for the use of others, whether Catholic, non-Catholic or non-Christians.” – I Accuse the Council, p. 6.

    The former documents, whose purpose was “to eliminate all ambiguity and error”, would serve as the ‘official interepreter’, as it were, to the points in the pastoral documents. – Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, A Bishop Speaks, p. 16. The liberals weren’t best pleased of course, and “the proposal was met with violent opposition.”

    The Archbishop explained the reason:
    “Liberals and Progressives like to live in a climate of ambiguity. The idea of clarifying the purpose of the Council annoyed them exceedingly. My proposal was thus rejected.” – I Accuse the Council, p. 4

    As we all know, the Modernists aversion to, and dread of, the precise, rational and unambiguous language of Scholasticism has been recognised since Pope Saint Pius X combatted the “synthesis of all heresies.” The solid wall of protection offered by Scholastic Theology and Philosophy against attacks on the Deposit of the Faith, has of course been recognised for centuries. Another Pope who faced large scale heresy testified to this protection, in words which are very relevant when we consider the schemes and programs of Archbishop Lefebvre’s adversaries, and modern day revolutionaries.

    Pope Sixtus V, saw in Scholasticism “this tight and perfect cohesion between cause and effect, this symmetry and order resembling those of an army in battle array, these luminous definitions and distinctions, this solidity of argumentation and subtlety in controversy by means of which light is separated from darkness, truth distinguished from error, and the lies of heresy, deprived of the prestige and fictions enveloping them, are unveiled and laid bare.” – Triumphantis, 1588

    When have we heard such words from the See of Peter in the last five decades?

    (Note: The quote from Father Laurentin above and the words of Pope Sixtus are taken from a very informative book by Atila Sinke Guimaraes, entitled, In the Murky Waters of Vatican II. It deals with the whole issue of ambiguity during the Council in great detail.)

    June 11, 2013 at 1:21 pm
  • Athanasius


    The truth is that if the original schemata of the preparatory Commissions (three years of theological work) had been left in tact, then there would have been no ambiguity in the conciliar documents.

    That these schemas were rejected all at once in the First Session of the Council (October 13th, 1962 – think Third Secret of Fatima!), should be sufficient for any right thinking Catholic to realise that Vatican II was infiltrated by Modernists, architects of “the Synthesis of all Heresies.” Yet, what do we find instead? We find Popes and prelates celebrating that devastating event as if it were some New Pentecost. It is truly tragic, truly a “diabolical disorientation” the likes of which the Church has never before experienced in her hierarchy.

    June 11, 2013 at 2:19 pm
  • Leo


    Thanks for making that very important point about the original schemata. Their rejection really was a portent of what was to be unleashed later. Surely this ties in with your words on Saturday about Our Lady of Quito who spoke about the world-wide crisis in the Church in the late 19th Century culminating in a disaster for the Church, described by Her as occurring “shortly after the middle of the 20th Century.”

    As is widely known, Archbishop Lefebvre was a member of the Central Preparatory Commission. In Open Letter to Confused Catholics, p. 107, he wrote that the work of preparing the schemata “was carried out very conscientiously and meticulously” and that “in them the Church’s doctrine is absolutely orthodox. They were adapted in a certain manner to our times, but with great moderation and discretion.” No wonder the modernists wanted rid of them.

    The Archbishop also saw at first hand the clashes between the upholders of traditional Catholic teaching, under Cardinal Ottaviani, and the progressivists such as Cardinal Bea, notably at a meeting concerning the schemata concerning religious liberty, or more correctly put, religious tolerance.

    As explained in Romano Amerio’s classic book, Iota Unum (P. 82 onwards), in the course of the rejection of the original schemata, the Council’s rules were broken, under the authority of the Pope.

    The following is a rather neat summary of what happened up to November 1962.
    “Thus, according to John XXIII, the council was called by command of the Holy Spirit, and the council which John prepared was then promptly turned on its head by the same Holy Spirit, working through a French cardinal (Cardinal Achille Lienart). We now have an open confession of this repudiation of the council as originally conceived, from Fr. Chenu, one of the spokesmen of the modernizing school.” – Iota Unum, p. 85

    June 11, 2013 at 4:15 pm

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