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Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council

Roman Debates
on the eve of
Vatican II’s
golden jubilee

Fifth Sunday of October 2011:
Feast of Christ the King


The Society is presently studying the preamble given by the Roman authorities which, as the official Press Release indicates, “leaving open to a legitimate discussion the study and the theological explanation of expressions or particular formulation present in the texts of the Second Vatican Council and of the subsequent magisterium.”

These open discussions have escalated in these last months in the eternal city. Cardinal Cottier1 is attacking the historian Morini2 who held that the Church of Vatican II wanted to return to the tradition of the first millennium. Cottier warns against the idea that the second millennium would have been a period of decadence for a Church becoming distant from the Gospel.

Ceccanti3 addresses the traditionalist issue of the contradiction between Vatican II praising the liberty of religions and the previous condemnations of liberalism by the popes of the 19th century. He pretends to solve the dilemma by explaining that the previous Popes had condemned the continental absolutist liberalism (of the French Revolution), whereas Vatican II is promoting the pluralist liberalism (of the Anglo-Saxon model).

Another pro-Vaticanist, Fr. Cantoni,4 former SSPX priest, wrote Reform in Continuity: Vatican II and the Anti-Conciliarism. This book is directing his critiques against his former master, Bruno Gherardini,5 one of these “anti-conciliarists” who wrote a first book begging to have a debate around the tenets of Vatican II, and especially on the ambiguous meaning of “tradition”. Gherardini, who is to write a more forceful critique, is still considered by the Civilta Cattolica as having a “sincere attachment to the Church”. Yet, he does not mince his words about the judgment of Benedict XVI, guilty of exalting the Council to the point of “being prevented from seeing Vatican II with eyes more penetrating and less dazzled.”

On the side of the critics, Roberto de Mattei6 has launched his book, The Second Vatican Council: A Story Never Written, which has gained a prestigious historical prize. He is vividly opposed in the daily Italian Corriere della Sera by Melloni,7 for putting together a bunch of anti-conciliarist pamphlets, unworthy of our consideration.

And again, another book (by Gnocci and Palmaro8) addresses the post-conciliar dysfunctional Church, with the romantic title: The Sleeping Beauty: Why the Church has Entered in Crisis with Vatican II. Why it will Awake. Meanwhile other writers are taking the opposite view, opening the debate to a larger public.

It is rather encouraging to witness the controversy over the conciliar era broaden its front and coming from Rome. Fireworks are already sending sparks from all sides, on the eve of the golden jubilee of the opening of the Council.


1 Cardinal Georges Cottier, a Dominican who has served as the Pro-Theologian for the Pontifical Household since 1990.

2 Enrico Morini, a professor of history at the University of Bologna who has written several books on ecclesiastical history and culture. Recently he has contributed some insightful comments regarding the current debates about Vatican II; cf. here and here for details.

3 Stefano Ceccanti, a Catholic intellectual and Italian senator.

4 Fr. Piero Cantoni, who left the Society in 1981 because he refused the principle that the New Mass is intrinsically evil.

5 Msgr. Bruno Gherardini; cf. here and here to read about his recent critiques.

6 Roberto de Mattei, a prominent Italian political philosopher and historian. His recent award-winning book, Il Concilio Vaticano II: una storia mai scritta, has been hotly debated.

7 Alberto Melloni, a historian and author, particularly on the subjects of Vatican II and Pope John XXIII.

8 Alessandro Gnocchi and Mario Palmaro, authors of La Bella Addormentata (Sleeping Beauty).

A traditional family
A traditional family

Same-Sex Marriage goes against basic rights of children

Fourth Sunday of October 2011:
Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Gay activists are promoting the idea that marriage is simply the committed union of two adults and should therefore include gay couples. In a country dominated by lobbies and freedom of expression, how can one best respond to defend marriage? This is the challenge met by San Francisco’s group called Catholics for the Common Good.


William B. May offers a novel approach to the reality of marriage in secular (Godless) society: 

Marriage is the reality that unites a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union… We call it a 'reality-based' approach¾reality, as an antidote to relativism. We're looking at the reality of marriage from the perspective of the child.


Defenders of marriage need to expose the false premise behind gay activists arguments, which understands the nature of marriage simply as a bond between two adults. This view fails to account for another essential feature of marriage: the purpose of ensuring that children know, and are cared for by, their biological parents.


A lot of us think of marriage in terms of the adult perspective, and the benefit for adults. That's a private interest¾and that's not what marriage really is. Marriage is more than that. It's a communion of persons. And when we look at it from the perspective of the child, it's the heart's desire of every person¾without exception¾to be united with, and to know, the man and woman that they came from. That's part of who we are.


May said this conflict would represent a clash between the public interest of all children¾in the recognition and promotion of the type of union in which they have a right to be raised¾and the private interest of homosexuals involving an essentially different type of relationship. Thus, the question of how society defines marriage has “nothing to do with gays and lesbians” as such. “It has everything to do with the human rights of the child, which are currently not being defended,” May observed. “Everyone without exception has a mother and father. Every child in an alternative family is in a state of privation, lacking the connection with their mother or father or both.”


In a court document from the Obama administration, involving a case to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, the Justice Department states: “The government does not contend that there are legitimate government interests in creating a legal structure that promotes the raising of children by both their biological parents.”


That is startling,” May said. “And that's the endgame. Basically, the government is opposing marriage that unites a man and a woman with each other and any children born from their union.” Not only the state, but “every institution in society,” would then be “bound under the law” to ignore the most compelling public purpose for marriage, as a safeguard for children's rights. “It will affect parishes,” “it'll affect every organization in society.”


It is an urgent task in the San Francisco archdiocese where May is based. During the last 20 years, he pointed out, “the Catholic population has increased by 12 percent¾but marriages are down by 50 percent. And that's happening across the country: 41 percent of children are born to unmarried mothers.” We are dealing with a radical and intransigent Obama administration which is simply lining up to the Communist agenda of the mid XXth century USSR, which systematically pulverized families. Basic truths are rarely discussed in a culture that exalts the individual, and works to obscure any connection between sex and procreation. How can one not tremble to foresee that the destabilization of the most basic human structure will have a domino effect on the health and stability of all other societies, State included.

Bishop Kevin Farrell
Bishop Kevin Farrell

Interview With Bishop Farrell, Secretary of the Vatican's Unity Council

Third Sunday of October 2011:
Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Q: What are the goals of this council?


Bishop Farrell: The council was set up just before the Second Vatican Council as an instrument through which Pope John XXIII wanted to bring into the discussions of the Second Vatican Council his concern for the unity of the Churches. And the Second Vatican Council played a very active part in educating the bishops about the true nature of the Church and our true relationship to all the baptized, who were always considered to be just outside the Church.


During the four years of the council, the bishops learned, through their discussions, that with all of the baptized of different communities, we have a real, though incomplete, but real communion.


Q: Pope Benedict XVI has made this ecumenical dialogue¾particularly with the Russian Orthodox Church¾a priority of his pontificate. Why is this a priority for this Pope?


When Pope Benedict XVI says that yes, the dialogue with the Orthodox Churches is a priority, this is clear and if you ask me why I will simply say because they are so close to us. We have the same faith, we have the same sacraments, we have the same apostolic succession; therefore we absolutely consider that every one of their bishops and their priests are true bishops and true priests. In that we have a closeness that we do not have with any other Christian community.


Q: Where have we not made the bridge? Where is it that we have not been able to reach unity?  It has been one thousand years of separation…


Bishop Farrell: It will take a long time to learn to live with one another, truly recognizing one another as brothers and sisters in the same Church. Ecumenism is not like intergovernmental or international politics where you have a common goal and you can make compromises on how to get there. Ecumenism is discovering what God wants and how he wants it. Now, we know that Christ's will for the Church is unity. We know that this unity has been broken almost from the very beginning.


Our ecumenical effort has to do, above all, with communion. Communion means participating, sharing in all of those gifts, all of those graces that Christ has transmitted to the Church through the Holy Spirit. Ecumenism is a matter of all of us being better recipients of all that Christ wants to come alive in his Church. As you can see it is a very profound and very difficult question. It involves not just thought, not just theology, it involves above all living the Christian life. It involves above all how deep our faith is.


The day we will be able to sit together with the Orthodox and say there is nothing further that divides us, we are together, and we will be actually making an act of faith. It is not just a question of agreements here and there between church people; it means that the whole body of the Church has to assimilate this greater fidelity to Christ and to the Gospel. There is an enormous amount of work to be done.


Our Comments: As an antidote to the ever blurred modernist, sentimental, ambiguous approach to ecumenism, nothing can be more revigorating than the words Cardinal Ottaviani addressed during a session of the preparation of Vatican II Council.

The first (principle behind the schema De Ecclesia) is that Christ has wished that the salvation of all men be realized by union with His own theandric (divine and human) Person, but He has also wanted that, here below, this union be realized only within a social organism, which He called His Church. The second (principle) is that there is no real distinction between the visible Roman Catholic Church and the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church.1

From what Cardinal Bea said, certain assertions are particularly harmful. I clearly understand his zeal, since he has been entrusted with the Secretariat for non-Catholics, and he will endeavor to let the Council keep the door wide open to them. But there are limits! We must not say that, as soon as someone is baptized, he becomes a member of the Mystical Body, although he is not a member of the Church. It is dangerous to affirm this… The Catholic Church and the Mystical Body are identical… On the one hand, the [theological] Commission has taken the greatest care to show that only Catholics are really members of the Church (the consequences of the opposite doctrine are truly formidable and would shed doubts as to the ecumenical [universal] and infallible character of the Council Vatican II). On the other hand, the Commission has endeavored to expose clearly that not all the ties between the sons of the Church and the separated brethren have been broken.2


1 Acta, Series II, Vol. II, pars III p. 988; in Église et Contre-Église (II Congrès théologique de Sisinono, 1996). Publications du Courrier de Rome, Versailles, 1996, p. 121

2 Ibid. p. 996; p. in Eglise, p. 123.

The strongest letter in defense of marriage ever addressed by Catholic hierarchy to United States' President

Second Sunday of October 2011:
Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

The opposition to same-sex marriage took a significant turn lately with a letter from Archbishop Dolan, President of the USCCB to President Obama in which Dolan urges the President to end his Administration’s “campaign against DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), the institution of marriage it protects, and religious freedom.”


Last month, the Justice Department has shifted from not defending DOMA… to actively attacking DOMA’s constitutionality… Mr. President, your Administration’s actions against DOMA and the values it stands for contrast sharply with your excellent Mother’s Day and Father’s Day proclamations issued earlier this year. It is especially wrong and unfair to equate opposition to redefining marriage with either intentional or willfully ignorant racial discrimination, as your Administration insists on doing.


Our profound regard for marriage as the complementary and fruitful union of a man and a woman does not negate our concern for the well-being of all people but reinforces it. While all persons merit our full respect, no other relationships provide for the common good what marriage between husband and wife provides. The law should reflect this reality.


Our federal government should not be presuming ill intent or moral blindness on the part of the overwhelming majority of its citizens, millions of whom have gone to the polls to directly support DOMAs in their states and have thereby endorsed marriage as the union of man and woman. Nor should a policy disagreement over the meaning of marriage be treated by federal officials as a federal offense—but this will happen if the Justice Department’s latest constitutional theory prevails in court. The Administration’s failure to change course on this matter will, as the attached analysis indicates, precipitate a national conflict between Church and State of enormous proportions and to the detriment of both institutions.

We cannot but congratulate the head of the USCCB for speaking so sharply on a question with huge stakes, which could incriminate most United States citizens for defending the most basic natural right on earth. We can hardly blame the Archbishop for raising shallow arguments simply because that they are addressed to a very progressive Administration which fears neither God nor His Law, following a déjà vu communist agenda.


Yet, would not such a letter be the ideal occasion for the Catholic hierarchy to remind the United States authorities of the existence of the said Natural Law and of the objective morality on sexuality, instead of being on the defensive. This approach, very conciliar-like, builds the defense of the family upon the most shallow pillars of human and religious freedom, which explains why the bishops “recognize the immeasurable personal dignity and equal worth of all individuals, including those with same-sex attraction, and we reject all hatred and unjust treatment against any person.” While it is certainly proper to reject all hatred of persons as persons, we still need to clearly state the difference between sin and virtue.


The ambiguity, of Vatican II and the United States text, lie in equating the dignity of the person as such with the dignity of the virtuous actions of the person. With this yardstick, the devil, simply for being an angel created by God, would deserve much more dignity than Our Lady! One is heading for tough times ahead when one cannot call a spade a spade, and when the very defenders of the Natural Law feel paralyzed to defend its application to marriage as being only between a man and a woman.


With 430 Catholic bishops over 195 United States dioceses, 70 million registered members, the Catholic Church represents 22 percent of the United States population. About a year before the major elections, this should give some thought to the White House. Yet, it is highly improbable that the radical ideology reigning there will use proper reason for the sake of the true common good.

Cardinal Koch

Cardinal Koch: successor of controversial Cardinal Kasper, in the “advanced” Commission for the Unity of Christians, objects to obliteration of the traditional Mass

First Sunday of October 2011:
Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Cardinal Koch indeed claimed that the disappearance of the traditional Roman Mass could be equated to an attempt to obliterate the scandal provoked (as said the Apostle) by the Cross of Christ. For the sake of ecumenism, as it was often said?


Except that, paradoxically, this disappearance was also a catastrophe on the point of view of the image offered by the Catholic Church in relation to the Orthodox, Anglicans and numerous Lutherans. The more one wishes to please man (this is well known), the less we deserve their interest if not their esteem?

The participants in the Angelicum Colloquy on the theme of the extraordinary form of the Roman liturgy heard him explain that if the defenders of the liturgical reform had justified the Novus Ordo by its ecumenical spirit, this could not be expected by the Usus antiquior simply because this latter is the guarantee of theological continuity.

Yet, the cardinal went further:

Formerly one spoke naturally of the Eucharist as of the “sacrifice of the Mass”. Today, this vision is less frequent, or simply forgotten if not utterly put aside. No dimension of the Eucharistic mystery has been more contested after Vatican II than the definition of the Eucharist as a sacrifice—both the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and sacrifice of the Church—, to the point that we may fear that this fundamental data of Catholic faith in the Eucharistic be totally forgotten.

He concludes that we should return to the liturgy of the Fathers “turned towards the Lord.”

It is interesting to notice that, as Angelicum Colloquy was abundantly commented on by the L’Osservatore Romano, the latter had obliterated the comments of the disturbing prelate contesting the obliteration of the Mass of All Time.

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