Outside the Vatican II Council, no
In the last
section, we have examined the meaning of the terms used by Archbishop
Mueller in his argument for the ‘hermeneutic of the reform in
continuity’ as the only one in line with the faith, because of its
link with the “integral
Tradition and the Magisterium.”
Opposed to the traditional understanding of these terms, there was a
modernist vision which called for a caveat on the part of readers.
Indeed there is anguis in herba  when Archbishop Mueller,
speaking of the integral magisterium, adds:
expression is the Council presided over by the Successor of St.
Peter as Head of the visible Church. Outside this sole orthodox
interpretation unfortunately exists a heretical interpretation, that
is, a hermeneutic of rupture (found) both on the progressive front
and on the traditionalist one. Both agree on refusing the Council…
traditionalists in their not wanting to get there, as if it was the
winter of Catholicity.
Thus, to repeat ourselves, his argument is the following:
(Major) Whoever does not accept the integral
magisterium of the Church is heretical.
(Minor) But the SSPX refuses Vatican II, part of the
integral Church teaching.
(Conclusion) Therefore, the SSPX is heretical.
Now that we have
addressed the major which we accepted in the Catholic but not
modernist understanding of its terms, we wish in the present section
to tackle the minor,
and object to some
texts of Vatican II because they oppose traditional Church teaching.
1. The value of
Vatican II after the Council?
authorities, and not the least of them, have brought forward the huge
importance of the late Council. In 1976, Pope Paul VI wrote to
Archbishop Lefebvre that “Vatican II was in a certain way more
important than the Council of Nicea”.
Msgr. Ocariz, about a year ago, gave a lengthy article
which gave the impression of a rebuttal from Rome to our SSPX
theological commission on the themes of magisterium and tradition.
Like Archbishop Mueller, although he admits the absence of dogmatic
definition, he concludes that the charism of truth and the magisterial
authority of Vatican II was so present such that:
…to refuse them to the episcopal corps assembled cum
Petro et sub Petro in order to teach the universal Church would
be to deny a part of the Church’s very essence.
He then explained the different degrees of assent to be
given according to the truths set forth by the magisterium: the
infallible definitions demand the faith under pain of heresy; the
other Church teachings demand ecclesiastical assent; other texts with
no specific Church teaching demand no such assent.
Brandmuller admitted that
"There is a huge
difference between a great constitution," like the Vatican II
constitutions on the Church, the liturgy and divine revelation,
"and simple declarations," like the Vatican II declarations on
Christian education and the mass media, which corroborates the
evaluation of Msgr Ocariz.
2. Did Vatican
II enjoy the charism of infallibility?
When we say that
a Council enjoys the charism of infallibility, we mean that it is
endowed a priori with the power of the Holy Ghost to teach
infallibly Church doctrine. As we have seen above, there are two ways
of expressing an infallible statement in the Church magisterium:
Did Vatican II
fit in any of these expressions so as to deserve a priori the
charism of infallibility?
There is no
doubt that Vatican II did not enjoy such charism on the grounds of
solemn or extraordinary magisterium. At least twice (December 7, 1965;
January 12, 1966) Pope Paul VI said that the Council “did not wish
to define any point of doctrine through extraordinary judgments”,
and “avoided to pronounce solemn dogmatic definitions which would
engage the infallibility of the ecclesiastical magisterium.”
Was Vatican II
part of the universal ordinary magisterium which would give it ipso
facto the seal of infallibility? As we mentioned in part II, the
term ‘universal’ used by Vatican I (and Pius IX) meant specifically
that the Church bishops were scattered throughout the world. It is
this dispersion which together with the unity of doctrine which is the
criteria of apostolicity and truth of this doctrine. Needless to say a
council gathering is the opposite of the episcopal body dispersed
through the planet.
exclusion of this de jure charism of infallibility does not
preclude the possibility that, de facto and really, Vatican II
was utterly infallible. For this, it would suffice that Vatican II
repeat traditional Church doctrine, that is, a teaching constantly
taught by the universal Church, and there is no doubt that many
Vatican II texts are traditional. The question we need to address is
whether Vatican II, in fact and in concreto, was integrally