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Is the SSPX heretical?


Archbishop Mueller
Archbishop Mueller

Part 1  |  Part 2  |  Part 3 | Part 4

Outside the Vatican II Council, no salvation?


3. Novelties in Vatican II teaching

Fr. Gleize has made an extensive study of the problems with Vatican II, particularly in his reply to Msgr. Ocariz, A Crucial question. First, Vatican II was a unique council in that it refused to engage the solemn magisterial infallibility. It also intended to study and expound doctrine, said John XXIII, not only “according to the literary formulations” but also “following the research methods of modern thought.” But this intent to express the faith by following the principles and methods of a new school of thought opposed to very foundation of reason and faith were condemned 15 years earlier in Humani Generis (#15):

…that will permit of dogma being expressed also by the concepts of modern philosophy, whether of immanentism or idealism or existentialism or any other system. Some more audacious affirm that this can and must be done, because they hold that the Mysteries of Faith are never expressed by truly adequate concepts, but only by approximate and ever changeable notions, in which the truth... is necessarily distorted.

On at least four points, the teachings of the Second Vatican Council are obviously in logical contradiction to the pronouncements of the previous traditional Magisterium. This is the doctrine on religious liberty (Dignitatis Humanae #2), on the Church (Lumen Gentium #8), on ecumenism (Lumen Gentium #8; Unitatis Redintegratio #3), on collegiality (Lumen Gentium #22). Hence, it is impossible to interpret them in keeping with the other teachings contained in the earlier documents of the Church’s magisterium. Vatican II has thus broken the unity of the magisterium, to the extent that it has broken the unity of its object.

4. Other disturbing questions

It is hardly a secret any longer that many dealings took place before the Council. De Mattei, in his History Never Written on the Council, explains at great length the meeting at Metz of Cardinal Tisserant with Nikodim, where he pleaded with the Communists to send the Orthodox bishops in exchange for silencing any condemnation of Communism. Cardinal Bea likewise embarked upon an extended world tour to meet with Protestants to ask them what they wanted from the Council, and the Secretariat (soon promoted to the rank of a Commission) for the Unity of Christians– which became their platform and de facto the Trojan horse used to bring down the Holy City’s walls.

Many of the watered-down teachings of Vatican II are the fruit of these promises with this Commission. The Roman authorities asked the Jews and the Freemasons what they wanted. They demanded respectively that the term ‘Deicide’ applied to their race be deleted and that religious liberty be consecrated.

These arrangements raise some questions which, someday, the pope will have to address. Would Nicea have been an authentic Catholic magisterium if the papal legates had asked Arius what he required of the Council? Would Trent have turned out to be an authentic Catholic Magisterium if the bishops had asked Luther and Calvin what texts they wanted to have authenticated?

De Mattei is not short of arguments to explain the power struggle at the Council, which gave the upper hand to the modernistic Rhine alliance.Wiltgen likewise expresses it clearly in his book entitled The Rhine flows into the Tiber. This avant-garde wing was dominated by neo-modernists like Kung, Schillebeeckx, de Lubac, Congar, but was really dominated by the arch-heretic Rahner. This explains also why, because of the resistance of the conservative wing, many texts are filled with ambiguity, and sometimes contradiction, because they had to reach a compromise, at the expense of uniformity, let alone at the expense of truth!

The same author, de Mattei, relentlessly asks whether the Council can be properly understood without being placed in its historical context, both antecedent and subsequent. For him, the reception of the Council as an era of Christian Revolution speaks volumes as to what the conciliar popes, fathers and texts meant it to be. A historian would find it an enigma to pretend that the makers of Vatican II had no intention and no means to stop the effervescence of doctrinal and liturgical novelties which erupted then and there.

Thus, the post-Council is emblematic of a rupture with the past. And this becomes problematic for the ‘hermeneutic of continuity.’ Pope Benedict indeed wonders: “Why was the reception of the Council, in great parts of the Church, reached with such difficulty?... The problems of the reception came from the confrontation of two opposite hermeneutics.” This double hermeneutic is proof enough that, far from clarifying the doctrine, this Council has at least obscured it. Iota Unum (#48) explains that the very fact conservative theologians strive to disculpate the Council from equivocity is a sign that something is not quite right!

5. Contrary magisterial teaching

Finally, some incoherence is readily perceived if one peruses the Council texts and compares them with Church Tradition. Is it impertinent to wonder whether we can speak of continuity in the magisterium when one accepts the following propositions side by side?

Tradition Vatican II

The Church of Jesus Christ is only the Catholic Church

and is not only the Catholic Church.

The truth in religious matters is the Catholic faith alone

and is not the Catholic faith alone.

The dissident churches are not proper churches,

and the dissident churches are, although in a way distinct from the Catholic, true churches.

Souls can be sanctified within the dissident communities despite of them,

and souls can be sanctified in them and thanks to them.

Man has in principle no right to religious freedom to propagate error in countries (although this could be tolerated),

and Man has in principle a right to religious freedom and to non-Catholic propaganda.

Human nature is not the foundation of any right to religious freedom and

human nature is the foundation of the right to religious freedom.

Outside the Church there is no salvation,

and outside Vatican II there is no traditionalist salvation.

6. Does the SSPX reject all Council teaching?

It would be plain calumny to pretend that the SSPX rejects the entire teaching of Vatican II. Bishop Fellay has stated that the Society accepts 95% of its teachings. Why would the rejection of a small portion of Council teaching cause a rift with Rome so as to preclude a canonical status whereas other Church institutes (and theologians, bishops and cardinals)  in good standing reject many more essential Vatican II teaching? Rejection of the authority of Vatican II cannot be the answer.

These same liberal institutes in good standing with Rome also bluntly deny certain doctrines of the Catholic Church. They reject Catholic teaching, full stop. The SSPX, on the other hand, does not claim that the Church magisterium is false. Instead, it claims that some of conciliar assertions contradict other magisterial teachings that have greater authority.

Is it that the SSPX falsifies the meaning of these pronouncements? This claim is not easy to sustain, because these earlier pronouncements gave rise to extensive theological work of interpretation. What do these pronouncements actually teach if it is not what the SSPX say that they teach?

On the other hand, the conciliar texts do not offer much as to the meaning of these previous pronouncements. For example, Dignitatis Humanae simply states that its teaching "leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ." This offers no explanation of the content of this doctrine.

So when Archbishop Mueller explains that Vatican II is the highest expression of Catholic magisterium, he is perhaps invoking the principle of collegiality or of democracy that number makes the truth, or something along those lines. This was the problem which, time and again, Bishop de Galarreta (head of the SSPX theological commission) had to face with the Roman theologians: “Do not bring Vatican II in the argument. For us, Vatican II is the problem, not the solution!” The Roman theologians discussed with the SSPX the validity of certain conciliar texts but they fell into the sophism of begging the question. For them, the Vatican II doctrine must be judged by the Church magisterium… of Vatican II.

A final word

For many priests, the new Council created a diabolical dilemma: how to remain faithful to two councils [Vatican I and Vatican II] which differed so clearly the one from the other? The Council presented Catholics with a problem so unusual that they only managed to sidestep it by a certain blindness and surrender of the reason. The only viable solution seems the one given by Archbishop Lefebvre which was to adhere firmly to the magisterium of all time (“Eternal Rome” versus the “Modernist Rome” of this time), until such time as the pope, Christi claviger,[1]would believe in his Power of the Keys and make use of it.


1 Latin for “the bearer of Christ’s keys”. © 2013                    home                    contact