Introibo ad Altare Dei
Clarity of interpretation of Vatican II and the intrinsic risks for failures
Jack P. Oostveen
Scientific and Practicing Civil Engineer
Emeritus Ass. Professor on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering
Emeritus Guest Professor on Problem Solving Theory and Training
President of the International Federation Una Voce 2006-2007
Vice-President of the International Federation Una Voce 2005-2006 / 2007-2013
Version d.d. 09.11.2015
- General approach
- A suitable comparison to the daily professional work by engineers [Problem Solving]
- General rules
- Norms of theological interpretation
- There was no specific problem to resolve and that the Council was convoked without indicating to it any specific problems or programs
- Could the Church not have taken a positive step into the new era?
- A failure analysis, that not only affects the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, but also Dignitatis Humanae and Nostra AEtate
- State’s neutrality and Teaching of Tolerance by Pius XII
- Speaking of religion solely in a positive way, disregarding the sick and distorted forms of religion which, from the historical and theological viewpoints, are of far-reaching importance.
Analyse of Dignitatis Humanae
- Dignitatis Humanae, Depositum Fidei and Lex Credendi
- Dignitatis Humanae and the Liturgy
- Religious freedom and the exercise of the free will
- Teaching of Tolerance by Pius XII
- State’s neutrality
- State’s neutrality, conscience and human dignity
- State’s neutrality and the search into the Holy Tradition and Doctrine
This article consist of three parts which have to be considered as a triptych on interpretation of Vatican II. –
The first part is considered as the main-panel and is focussed on Vatican II and its interpretation with regards to the hermeneutics of renewal, of reform in continuity [note 01]. It contains both, some arguments and a proposal for clarity. Hopefully this will lead to more clearness on the interpretation of Second Vatican Council and by that a recognition of the Church-wide problems due to the effects of the hermeneutics of rupture and discontinuity that has blinded the view on the Church doctrine and life so much due to its erroneous interpretation. This clarity might contribute to the Year of Mercy. –
The second part has to be considered as painted on the backside of the two side panels. It is therefore only visible if the triptych is closed. This part is focussed on remarkable statements by Pope Benedict XVI during the last year of his Pontificate, such as [note 02]: (1) no specific problem to resolve, (2) the expectation to shape the future world, (3) vague expressions ‘today’s world’, ‘modern era’ or ‘modern world’ and a failed analysis, (4) developments of philosophical thought and the understanding of the States and (5) speaking of religion solely in a positive way.
By analysing and discussing these statements in the light of ‘Problem Solving’ it becomes clear that each of these statements holds one or more risks for failure by which the real problem behind Vatican II as well as its interpretation becomes visible. Therefore it becomes understandable why Vatican II could be kidnapped so easily by the ideology of the hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity. This ideology rejects Church life before Vatican II, with even some of its proponents going so far as reject Church Doctrine. Such understanding is necessary to learn how deep the false interpretation has permeated and influenced Church–life by its erroneous measures, despite so many well-meaning Council Fathers, Bishops, Priests, Religious and Faithful. This insight might have a contribution to the Year of Mercy, especially regarding the mercifulness inside the Church.
Despite the fact that the pastoral Council expressed many important elements for an understanding of the “world” and made significant contributions to the question of Christian ethics, a failed analysis is intrinsically connected to a failed search into the Truth and will always lead to imperfecties and incorrect solutions that will fail in reality, sooner or later.
|In order to prevent any misunderstanding as well as for a proper understanding of expressions like failed and risks for failures regarding a Council the following definitions are useful to consider (these come from the professional engineering discipline of failure analysis):
In analyzing the Council and its documents it is clear that an ULS failure cannot exist, because that would attach the infallibility of the Depositum Fidei. Even if the documents are full of ambiguities due to imperfections in the free will of the individual Council Fathers, the Holy Spirit is guaranteeing that these documents can always be interpreted well in the light of Doctrine and Faith.
The third part of this article is painted on the front of both side-panels and contributes to the Clarity of the interpretation of Vatican II on the main panel taking into account the problems manifested by the risks mentioned in the second part. Therefore it is dealing with an example regarding to the proposed Clarity of the interpretation of Vatican II. Evidently these consequences might require a renewed and better search into the sacred tradition and doctrine of Church the treasury of which the Church continually brings forth new things that are in harmony with things that are old [note 03] and above all a correct analysis at the level of the changing reality of the modern world, including an objective definition of the modern world itself as well as the contemporary man, all in the light of Faith.
This example appliesv to Dignitatis Humanae.
Since the Clarity of the interpretation of Vatican II as well as the risks for failure which appear to be actualized, seems to me to be very important, I cannot in good conscience remain silent about this. Is not one required to search for the Truth and, having found it, always to speak about it, whether in season or out of season?
I have written this article as faithfully and as possible from my experience as a professional engineer and scientist, trained in thinking analytically. I ask the reader’s indulgence to read my views on what follows regarding inconsistencies that I perceive to exist between several Magisterial Church documents, which have serious consequences for a proper interpretation of the documents of the Second Vatican Council.
See also: a letter to the CDF
In his address to the curial collaborators at Christmas 2005 Pope Benedict XVI condemned the wide spread hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity and placed the hermeneutic of renewal, of reform in continuity in the foreground. In this way Pope Benedict XVI showed us the correct direction of the interpretations of Vatican II while at the same time he initiated renewed discussions.-
However, it has to be considered that the condemnation of the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture by Pope Benedict XVI was preceded over 33 years earlier by a speech of the Blessed Pope Paul VI to the Cardinals on June 23th 1972. Blessed Pope Paul VI highlighted in that speech his concern with the following words: … an emergency which We cannot and must not keep hidden: in the first place a false and erroneous interpretation of the Council, which would want to break with the tradition, even as regards the doctrine, an interpretation which goes so far that the pre-conciliar Church is rejected and one is allowed to consider a ‘new’ church, as it were reinvented from the inside, as regards the constitution of the Church, her dogma, custom and law [unofficial translation, see for the original text in Italian note 04].-
These words spoken by Blessed Pope Paul VI seem to be a clear description of what Pope Benedict XVI has called the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture. Notably, in the same week on June 29th 1972 Blessed Pope Paul VI also said in his homily: … from some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.
Furthermore it is also Blessed Pope Paul VI who remarked already in 1966 It would not be the truth for anybody to imagine that the Vatican Council II represented any kind of break, interruption, or ‘liberation’ from the teaching of the Church, or that it authorized or promoted any kind of accommodation or conformism with the mentality of our times, in its negative or ephemeral aspects[note 05].
Then in 2012 Pope Benedict XVI in his preface to his collected works on the 2nd Vatican Council has renewed the condemnation of the ideology of the hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity:
The Council Fathers neither could nor wished to create a new or different Church. They had neither the authority nor the mandate to do so. It was only in their capacity as bishops that they were now Council Fathers with a vote and decision-making powers, that is to say, on the basis of the Sacrament and in the Church of the Sacrament. For this reason they neither could nor wished to create a different faith or a new Church, but rather to understand these more deeply and hence truly to ‘renew them’. This is why a hermeneutic of rupture is absurd and is contrary to the spirit and the will of the Council Fathers.
On 14th February 2013 in his address to the parish priests and clergy of the Diocese of Rome on the subject of Vatican II, Pope Benedict XVI mentioned the existence of two Councils, the real Council and a shadow–council of the mass media. This shadow-council had reported the real Council subjectively and interestingly one-sided only in the rupture and discontinuity. In this way the mass media had strongly influenced the way in which the real Council has been received by the faithful all over the world.-
Remarkably, while Pope Benedict XVI put the responsibility for the false receipt of the real Council into the hands of the shadow-council, he also mentioned a direct intervention by the Pope within the real Council. Pope Paul VI had to prevent a text to be approved on the Scripture that was strongly influenced by a spirit that considers the Scripture as complete, everything is found there; consequently there is no need for Tradition, and so the Magisterium has nothing to say”. Furthermore Pope Benedict XVI stated: “It was obvious that the media would take the side of those who seemed to them more closely allied with their world ……… born from a vision of the Council detached from its proper key, that of faith. And the same applies to the question of Scripture: Scripture is a book, it is historical, to be treated historically and only historically, and so on [note 06].
Obviously in this case the erroneous text that had to be prevented by the Pope was not the responsibility of the shadow-council because forces also were at work within the real Council that had influenced these text opposing the Faith for which the Pope urged himself to intervene, like in the case of the Nota Praevia addendum to Lumen Gentium.
From the words by Blessed Pope Paul VI in 1966 and 1972 as well as Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 and 2013 it has to be concluded that the emergency about which Blessed Pope Paul VI spoke in 1972 had already started directly after Vatican II and is still present today, otherwise the addresses by both Popes would be made without any actual references and thus meaningless. It may be have also even prepared during the Council itself.
Additionally, in 1976-1977 the Blessed Pope Paul VI had ordered the then Archbishop Gagnon to search how far the Church enemy has infiltrated the Church’s Curia, the report that has been stolen out of the safe of the Secretariat of State the day before it should have been presented to the Blessed Pope Paul VI. Some other facts such as the wide spread opposition on the encyclical Humanae Vitae (Blessed Pope Paul VI: 1968), the indult Quattor ad hinc (Saint John Paul II: 1984), the Motu Proprio’s Ecclesia Dei (Saint Pope John Paul II: 1988) and Summorum Pontificum (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: 2007) reminds us of the influence of the ideology of hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture on church life
Furthermore, also the resistance against Pope John Paul II’s will to follow the positive advice by a special committee of cardinals for world-wide free celebration of Traditional Latin Liturgy (1986-87) as well as a number of restoring encyclicals are clear examples of the ruptures by this erroneous hermeneutic.
Finally, also His Holiness Pope Francis has confirmed the principle of the hermeneutic of renewal, reform in continuity by more than once calling Archbishop Agostino Marchetto the best interpreter of Vatican II.-
However, despite of all these Papal warnings, as described by Archbishop Agostino Marchetto in 2010: the false and erroneous interpretation of Vatican II, frequently availing itself of the sympathies of mass media and also being one trend of the modern theology that vituperates as anti-conciliar anyone who departs from their monopoly-line of the Council’s interpretation [note 07]; a situation has been created that affected so many innocent and well-meaning faithful (Cardinals, Bishops, priests and laity) by misleading them over all these years, indeed for a period of almost a whole generation. Thus the People of God, and above all the ‘little’ ones, are confused, disoriented and aimless.–
It appears in the light of Clarity of the interpretation of Vatican II the answer to the Council Fathers of the Notification [note 08] added to Lumen Gentium has not been fully satisfactory. Obviously the only official document published after the Notification concerning the interpretation of Vatican II is the 1988 Protocol between the then Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for Doctrine of Faith, and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Superior General of the Fraternity St. Pius X, [note 09] signed on 5 May 1988 and which has been rejected the very next day by Mgr. Lefebvre. However despite this rejection up to now the doctrinal declaration provided in this document is still in effect for each individual priest or priestly group coming from the SSPX who wish to reconcile themselvesn in full communion with the Church. –
Among other things in the doctrinal declaration it states that (ad 2) the doctrine, contained in number 25 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium (LG) of the Second Vatican Council on the ecclesial Magisterium and the adherence which is due to that magisterium, as the only point of Vatican II that has to be accepted [note 10]. (ad 3) Regarding all other points taught by the Second Vatican Council or concerning later reforms of the liturgy and law, and which seem to able to be reconciled with the Tradition only with difficulty, one has to commit oneself to have a positive attitude of study and of communication with the Holy See, avoiding all polemics.
All the documents of Vatican II can be considered as subject for study and critical discussion by all faithful, priests and laity, except LG 25. Evidently, no further explanation has been given how to interpret Vatican II. Nothing can be found about the hermeneutical rules to bring Clarity of the interpretation of Vatican II specifically.
– Regarding the official protocol issued by the Congregation for Doctrine of Faith on 5 May 1988 the Congregation of Institutes for Consecrated Life (CICL) demonstrated very recently a double standard that fully contradicts the 1988-Protocol [note 09] using a vague accusation against the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate labelling them as: a crypto-Lefebvrian and Traditionalist drift.
Referring to the address at a meeting of the Union of Religious of Catalonia [3-4 May 2014] by the Secretary of the CICL, his Excellency Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo [note 11], states that: the CICL is particularly concerned with this matter: we are seeing true deviations. Especially since not a few institutes give not only a pre-conciliar, but even an anti-conciliar formation. This is inadmissible, it is to place oneself outside of history. It is something that worries us greatly in the Congregation
Furthermore the Secretary of the Congregation for Consecrated Life explained that fidelity to Vatican II is a central component to modern religious life: For the consecrated, the Council is a point that cannot be negotiated.; He affirmed that those who search into the reforms of Vatican II all the ailments of religious life deny the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church.
Therefore the Secretary of the Congregation seems to deny the free study of the documents of Vatican II according the 1988-Protocol and declares the pastoral reforms of Vatican II, which certainly are results of interpretations of the documents, as being dogmatic by calling it: the presence of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Regardless, the Congregation for Institutions of Consecrated Life is suppressing the Franciscan Friars nowadays for participating in this renewed discussion that has been initiated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. They argued as such that the Pastoral Council of Vatican II in itself as well as all interpretations afterwards should be a dogma that can no longer be discussed. This seems to be an exclusive example of an act strongly influenced by the ideology of hermeneutics of discontinuity and failure as described by Archbishop Agostino Marchetto: … the false and erroneous interpretation of Vatican II ….. being one trend of the modern theology that vituperates as anti-conciliar anyone who departs from their monopoly-line of the Council’s interpretation [note 07]–
As conservative religious the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate were participating in the discussion about the interpretation of Vatican II from the view of the hermeneutic of renewal, reform in continuity since 2005. They were indeed actively involved herein even by organizing a Conference in 2010 The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: A Pastoral Council – Historical, Philosophical and Theological Analysis. A conference in which Mgr. Brunero Gherardini, prof. Roberto De Mattei, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Don Nicola Bux and Bishop Athanasius Schneider participated [note 12].
Thereby the Friars have never doubted the authority of the 2nd Vatican Council as they always have been respectful to the Supreme Magisterium. Why these double standards regarding Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate and the theological discussions on the interpretation of Vatican II?-
See also the correspondences on this topic
When the Congregation of Institutes for Consecrated Life (CICL) put the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate by decree under a Commissioner, that decree by the CICL itself, does not concern the Liturgy. The topic of Liturgy has been added by His Holiness Pope Francis himself as a free decision and can be distinguished by the following two statements [note 13]:
- the Holy Father Francis has decided that every religious of the Congregation of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate is obliged to celebrate the liturgy according to the Ordinary Rite
- and that, in the event, the use of the Extraordinary Form (Vetus Ordo) must be explicitly authorized by the competent authorities, for every religious and/or community that requests it.
Hereby His Holiness Pope Francis has used the plural form competent authorities, which indicates that more than one authority has been stated to have that competency, and it does not solely rest in the hands of the internal authority of the Apostolic Commissioner.
His Holiness Pope Francis did not set out any specific restrictions or conditions for granting of such permission to the individual religious or communities of the Franciscan Friars, neither did the Congregation by issuing this decree. Furthermore His Holiness Pope Francis did not explicitly suspend the authority of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. While the Apostolic Commissioner is the internal authority, according to the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum the PCED is the first external authority with competence in this area. Therefore, if the Apostolic Commissioner refuses to give the explicit authorization, the Friars have the right to seek permission from Pontifical Commision Ecclesia Dei (PCED).
Evidently, it may be considered that during the audience of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate with His Holiness Pope Francis on 10th of June 2014 His Holiness spoke explicitly his will that the requirement for explicit permission added to the decree of the CICL by him was in response to the complaint by a small number of friars that they would be forced to celebrate the Mass according to the Extraordinary Form. He stated that all friars would be/are free to celebrate the Form of their choosing, albeit at this time with special permission for the Extraordinary Form. Recognition and acceptance of this being the case would lead to a final and peaceful resolution that is in harmony with the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.-
Herewith the words of the Holy Father Pope Francis, as reported by Andrea Tornielli in La Stampa on 23rd June 2014, stated [note 14], that he … did not want to deviate from the line of Benedict XVI, and reiterated that the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate remained free to celebrate the old mass, even if for the moment, in light of the controversies surrounding the exclusive right to use that missal – an element that did not constitute part of the founding charisma of the institution – they required a discernment with the superior and with the bishop if it concerned celebrations in parish churches, sanctuaries and teaching houses. The Pope explained that there must be freedom, both for those who wish to celebrate with the old rite, and those who wish to celebrate with the new rite, without the rite becoming an ideological banner.
Despite this will of the Holy Father anyone can observe how the Franciscan Friars have been threatened by both, the Commissioner and his general secretary Father Bruno. Although both have explicitly said that the Extraordinary Form of the Liturgy is/was not that real problem, they still refused permits to celebrate or to attend the Liturgy according their wish as Holy Father Pope Francis stated.
The Congregation of Institutes for Consecrated Life (CICL) seems to agree with such. Evidently, the will of the Holy Father is non-issue for them. Why is it still forbidden for the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate to celebrate or to attend the Liturgy in that Form they wish? Why may all other faithful do so as given by the Church law, formulated in the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum? Why should it be wrong for some faithful friars to celebrate or to attend the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Liturgy and not for others? Why such double standard on the Liturgy? –
Obviously to support and strengthen the mentioned vague accusation against these Friars more false charges are voiced like bad management of the temporary goods [note 15]. This charge concerns the fact that the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate were in transition from an extraordinary to an ordinary situation regarding the management of the temporary goods to bring that management into a non-profit organisation (NGO). This managed by lai, spiritual supporters children of the friars, who also represents the sponsors of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate. Such an ordinary situation, where laity manage the temporal goods, since the rule of Saint Francis states that Franciscans do not own temporal goods, was generally in use before Vatican II as well as today by many Franciscans worldwide.
However, because the last signatures concerning this transition was dated between the date of the decree by the CICL and the date one month later, that the Apostolic Commissioner took over the management of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, the accusation was formulated by the Apostolic Commissioner as follows: … concerns the transfer of the control of movable and immovable goods of the Institute to members of the laity, persons known to be spiritual children or relatives of the Founder, Fr. Stefano M. Manelli, as well as to the parents of various sisters. These transfers were made after the appointment of the Apostolic Commissioner, and thus manifest the intention to embezzle funds away from the control of the Holy See and to deprive the Institute of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate of the necessary means for the maintenance of religious and, especially, for the works of the apostolate, and in particular of the missions [note14]. While on one hand during this mentioned period superior general Father Manelli was still in full charge, on the other hand what principally could be wrong with such transition from an extraordinary to the ordinary situation? Why should it be forbidden to live as Franciscans without properties, like so many Franciscans in the past and today worldwide? Why such double standards on Church life?-
It was striking that this complaint came forwards after the lay-board of the NGO had refused to cooperate with the Apostolic Commissioner in re-allocating the temporal goods for purposes contrary those appointed by the sponsors, while the Apostolic Commissioner had forbidden precisely those purposes for which the sponsors had given their gifts [note 16].
Such double standards are confusing the faithful. What may be discussed and what may not be discussed in finding truth. Should a part of the truth be excluded from the Church life, and therefore it may not be lived or even not discussed? Are some faithful (priests and laity) excluded to have part of these discussions, while others have even hardly no restrictions?
Because of all these double standards that can be brought together in the interpretation of Vatican II, faithful, priests and laity, have a right to clarity with respect to the Truth. It is necessary that such clarity on this matter would be provided by the Holy See. Such Clarity would not only benefit the faithful, but would also bring justice and peace, where we find so many conflicts between well-meaning faithful. It certainly would contribute to peace and mercifulness inside the Church, just at the beginning of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
Therefore a proposal for such Clarity of the interpretation of Vatican II has been provided below.
See also: attachment A of the letter to the CDF
Regarding the hermeneutics of reform, of renewal in continuity as the norm for the interpretation of Vatican II as Pastoral Council, a suitable comparison has to be performed concerning the distinguished levels by looking at the diagnostical approach of Problem Solving as used in Scientific and Practical Engineering. Here it is clear that the distinguished levels are most fundamental and common with regard to resolving a problem, whereas the kind of problem, technical or pastoral, is not relevant. This comparison also shows the importance of problem analysis to define the real problem as well as the general risks for failure that are sometimes manifest only in the fullness of time.
Furthermore the proposal contains seven distinct rules. The first two rules (rule 1 and rule 2) are mainly taken from the Notifications [note 04] and of general character. The following five rules (rules 3 to 7) concern the norms of theological interpretation as well as the pastoral approach of the Second Vatican Council, based on the hermeneutics of reform, of renewal in continuity taught by Pope Benedict XVI.
The third rule concerns distinguishing between the two levels (rule 3), the fourth rule deals with the level of the changes of the ‘modern world also called Today’s World or modern times (rule 4) while the fifth rule reflects the level of the Depositum Fidei (rule 5). Rule 6 however concerns a good understanding of the term continuity, while rule 7 deals with the general attitude during such discussion, as given by the Protocol of 5 May 1988 between the then Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for Doctrine of Faith, and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre [note 09].
It has to be stated explicitly that it is not the intention to block theological discussions but to allow it in a such way the Truth can be found, without being blocked by dominating opinions or ideologies using wrong arguments. As a scientist I am aware of the importance of free discussions in finding the Truth.
A suitable comparison with the daily professional work by engineers [Problem Solving]
The work by engineers concerns problem solving in the actual reality of the world where solutions have to be found in accordance with the unchangeable natural laws of truth. In case of engineering practice the unchangeable natural laws of truth are dependent on the specific domains, but mostly physically or structurally oriented, however no-one can change such natural laws as for example the laws of conservation. Herewith the two levels distinguished by Pope Benedict XVI concerning Hermeneutics of reform, of renewal in continuity can be recognised by which a suitable comparison may be considered with the pastoral character of the Vatican Council that also concerns problems observed in the actual reality of the world that has to be solved by using the ‘unchangeable‘ Depositum Fidei.
The complex problems that engineers, physicians and others have to face cannot be solved without characterizing the real problem itself. Although most problems are known by subjective observation that something is bad or that some goods are lacking, one has to analyse if those observations are the real problems or only symptoms by which the real problem has been manifested. And because generally more people are involved the problem has to be well defined, by which all domain-experts can speak the same language, understanding each and can take part in the discussions. After the problem analysis has shown us the real problem, the search for a solution can start. Often more than one solution can be found, where after further analysis is required to select the optimal best solution. The better the problem analysis, the better the problem could be characterized and solved and the better it will lead to the optional best measures that need to be taken. Hereafter the final solution has to be worked out for implementation. That means not only the design of the final solution but also the measures as well as the rules how to realise such design in the actual reality of today. To realise such, means that the design as well as all measures and rules that have to be in accordance with the natural truth recognised by the several distinct knowledge domains. This knowledge consists not only of scientific knowledge, but also experiences and opinions and has to be directed by good will to find the best solution. However during the realisation in the actual reality mostly a number of unforeseen sub-problems occur that have to be solved too. Therefore a dynamical problem analysis is needed for a final good result.
Finally if by the aim of the necessary effort the problem has been resolved, a period of satisfaction starts by which one can have the benefit and profit of the results that has been brought into the actual reality. The more effort needed to resolve a problem, the more satisfaction will be received by resolving it. However it is a real danger that the problem to be solved will be replaced as a target by a desire for satisfaction. Such an addiction to satisfaction leads to blindness with respect to the actual problem.
The same distinctions between the two levels mentioned by Pope Benedict XVI can be seen at work. On one hand there are the problems in the actual reality, which have to be analysed at the level of continuous change of the modern world. On the other hand there is the higher level, which is the level of the continuity of our natural knowledge of the truth that cannot be denied. In general on one side these laws of truth can be distinguished with certainty into scientific and experimental truths as well as opinions and presumptions, while on the other hand the truth can be distinguished by the philosophical, physical -structural, chemical and so on- psychological, economical, sociological and all kinds of aspects of the natural laws as the knowledge of the truth, which due to research and scientific discussions develop only by organic growth.
Based on this level of natural knowledge, problem analysis takes place using the available knowledge of the truth to find the best solution(s) as well as defining the measures to regulate the developments at the underlying level of the changing of the modern world in order to solve a problem.
However, if such problem analysis fails or even partly fails, the given solution will never solve the problem optimally. Such failed analysis is intrinsically connected to a failed search into the Truth and will always lead to imperfect solutions that will fail in the reality, sooner or later. Evidently such failed analysis is even creating a risk on worsening the problem more and more if additional measures are still lacking or inadequate. Thereby we have to take into account that although the effects of failure are not always directly visible, they will certainly become visible sooner or later.
- Because of the pastoral character of Vatican II the interpretation of the documents published by this Council can be the subject of theological discussions respectful of the supreme Magisterium, except on those subjects in matters of Faith and Morals that have been defined and openly declared by the Council as binding on the Church
- At Vatican II the Pope and the Council Fathers did not define and openly declare any matters of Faith and Morals as binding on the Church;
- Therefore Vatican II has not that specific divine assistance which is typical for such infallible dogmatic definitions on Faith and Morals by the supreme Magisterium, and therefore the documents published contain solely the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church which can be subject to theological discussion respecting the hierarchy of the Church Teachings on Faith and Morals, respectful of the supreme Magisterium and according to
the norms of theological interpretation[note 04]
- Due to the pastoral character of Vatican II the
norms of theological interpretation
- have to be in accordance with the
Hermeneutic of renewal, of reform in continuity
- as taught by the Magisterium of Pope Benedict XVI;
- Therefore discussions on the interpretations can be found on two levels: on one hand at the level of the infallible
- and on the other hand at the level of the changes in the modern world.
- Hereby, concerning the level of the underlying changed reality of the modern world, several distinguished aspects of the modern world have to be analysed and characterized in the light of tradition and the Church’s teachings;
- Such analysis and characterization of the modern world only touches on Faith and Morals and can not be an element of the
- Therefore, such a characterization can undoubtedly be fallible and capable of alteration;
- Such fallibility carries the risk of an imperfect characterization of the underlying changed reality of the modern world, and thereby also the risk of incorrect decisions and/or measures as to the implementation of the
- with all consequences regarding the resulting effects.
- Regarding this topic, a comparison with the following case has to be considered strongly. Hereby an example has been given from the physician’s point of view characterizing some potential problems regarding the pastoral character of the Council:
- A physician has to make a diagnosis of his patient’s physical problems to discover the type of illness. Such an act is in fact a fallible act of problem solving at the level of the changing world.
- Thereafter, the physician has to decide what the best medicine is to restore the patient’s health and then he prescribes this medicine to his patient. In doing this, he is in fact searching for the best solution at the level of truth. Although such search for the truth would be in full accordance with the diagnosis, if the diagnosis – problem analysis – have failed, certainly such a medicine is presenting a high risk and can worsen the patient’s condition and may even cause his death.
- Thus a new problem has appeared here: how self-sufficient will the physician be,
will he be able to acknowledge his imperfection by recognize his failed diagnosis or not?
- Regarding the level of the
- no discussion should take place concerning the infallible content itself unless it is a matter of organic development of doctrine.
- Such discussion regarding organic growth leads to a better understanding of the Faith and can never be contrary to the
- According to
…, it searches into the sacred tradition and doctrine of the Church the treasury out of which the Church continually brings forth new things that are in harmony with the things that are old
- discussions can take place about the effectiveness of alternatives taken from the
- , and that evidently such discussions do not touch the infallibility of the
- itself and can therefore be a subject of discussion.
- Regarding the term continuity a distinction has to be made in relation to the distinguished levels
- That the continuity regarding the level of the
- can only be in one direction leading to a better understanding the Faith and can never be contradictory.
- That the continuity regarding the level of the modern world can be observed as working in two opposite directions.
- That interchanges between these two opposing directions exist by continuous processes characterized by certain counterpoints called conversion if turning towards the Faith, while it is a loss of Faith if it turns into the contrary direction.
- That, therefore, what objectively determines the specific character of a pastoral act is not simply its continuity, but its intrinsic orientation towards or away from the
- as the law of Faith, such that the pastoral approach must never be in contradiction to the
- That Conciliar and Papal decrees, whether or not infallible, are not inspired texts such as the Gospel and the Epistles of the Apostles.
- Therefore such decrees are human descriptions of Revelation and that in contrast to the special assistance of the Holy Spirit during the teaching by the Apostles, in the case of such decrees a gracious collaboration is required with regard to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, a collaboration in which the free will of men is respected, even if it is imperfect.
- Such decrees can fail, because it is not necessarily infallible or dogmatic in itself.
- As long as the total or partial inaccuracy of a text is not clearly demonstrated, non-infallible pronouncements of the Magisterium retain their authority, but that, in order to demonstrate the accuracy or inaccuracy of some texts and/or their interpretation the Council documents need to be the subject of theological discussions, however, always with respect to the supreme Magisterium.
In order to read the Council documents with a pastoral character with genuine continuity and always with full respect to the supreme Magisterium one has to distinguish between:
- statements concerning the characterization at the level of the changing reality of the modern world in the light of Faith which are in principle fallible and might be imperfect leading to incorrect measures;
- statements belonging to the level of the
- which are infallible in themselves;
- statements concerning the implementation of the
- which (IIIa) might have been explored insufficiently or (IIIb) might be based on incorrect characterizations at the level of the changing reality of the modern world but leaving the
- as such intact.
While the statements under (II) affect the infallibility of the Depositum Fidei itself, the statements under (I) and (III) undoubtedly do not at all. But the statements (I) and (III), might have failed and therefore validly subject to critical discussions.
The proposal for Clarity of the interpretation of Vatican II presented here is showing that in accordance with the hermeneutics of the reform, of the renewal discussions on the interpretation of Vatican II can take place. Hereby distinction has to make between discussions (1) at the level of the changing reality of the modern world, (2) the exploration of the Depositum Fidei and (3) its implementation into the changing reality of the modern world. None of these topics is touching the infallibility of the Depositum Fidei itself and should be discussed freely.
In addition to the first warning in 1966 and the concrete condemnation by Blessed Pope Paul VI 1972 in his address to the Cardinals, Pope Benedict XVI found a need to renew that same condemnation in 2005 and repeating it in 2012. Evidently and despite the good intentions of most involved, according to the homily by Blessed Pope Paul VI June 29th, 1972, from some cracks the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God a number of Curial collaborators, Bishops and even Cardinals seems still to be influenced strongly by that false ideology of the hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity that could have festered in the Church for such a long period of about 50 years. Such can be observed by the resistance regarding the restauration of the Traditional Latin Liturgy as well as some encyclicals with more traditional teaching, that even is taking place inside the Curia. Such is also recognizable by the way of rejecting Church life as well as the Church teachings from before the Second Vatican Council.
The documents of Vatican II as well as the measures taken after the Council have to be studied regarding the continuity with the Tradition of the Church to identify and to isolate the influence of the hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity. Thereby the search into the Depositum Fidei has to be done critically but carefully as stated by Dignitatis Humanae (DH_1) …, it searches into the sacred tradition and doctrine of the Church the treasury out of which the Church continually brings forth new things that are in harmony with the things that are old.
The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate can be seen as typical victims of the double standards of the false ideology that rejects the Church-life from before Vatican II without any discussion that departs from the monopoly-line of the Council’s interpretation which is even presented as indisputable. There is no discussion desired that might unmask the bad measures influenced by that false ideology. It is therefore more than confusing to see how the Friars of the Immaculate have been punished for their studies of the Council documents as well as by organizing a Conference (2010) all founded on the hermeneutic of the reform, of renewal in continuity, and therefore critical to the generally accepted interpretation that was so strongly influenced by the hermeneutics of rupture and discontinuity. Such punishment stands in full contrast to the coming Year of Mercy
Besides the problem on Clarity of the interpretation of Vatican II, the following problem has also been manifested: Why are so many well-meaning Cardinals, Bishops and Faithful rejecting the Church from before Vatican II? Why do they call on Vatican II to reject, isolate or even punish so many well-meaning faithful because these faithful feel themselves attached to the Church, the Tradition or the Liturgy of before Vatican II?
Such cannot be explained as being fruits of the Council or simply by the existence of a shadow-council. Evidently, nowadays, about 50 years after the Council’s closing a deeper source has to be considered.-
To get more insight and understanding about these questions the preface by Pope Benedict XVI to his collected works on the 2nd Vatican Council [note 17] seems to be a key for finding an answer to such question. This preface that has to be considered as a rare article on the inside view of Vatican II, will therefore be analysed here after: Vatican II and the risks for failure.
This chapter concerns some statements by Pope Benedict XVI in the preface to his collected works on the 2nd Vatican Council [note 02 (German – original text) and note 17 (English-translation by the English Dept. of Radio Vaticana – full text)]. As mentioned by the English Dept. of Radio Vaticana this preface is a rare article on the inside view of Vatican II by Pope Benedict XVI and should be considered as highly important.
It cannot only be understood as a recollection of an event that took place about 50 years ago, by a then relatively young theologian adviser of Cardinal Fring of Cologne and peritus of the Council. Pope Benedict XVI has also deliberately expressed himself with the power of his Pontificate: he signed that preface as Pope Benedict XVI and not as the theologian Joseph Ratzinger. The importance of this preface seems to culminate at the end by a renewed condemnation of the ideology of the hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity [note 17 ad 6].
The Council Fathers neither could nor wished to create a new or different Church. They had neither the authority nor the mandate to do so. It was only in their capacity as bishops that they were now Council Fathers with a vote and decision-making powers, that is to say, on the basis of the Sacrament and in the Church of the Sacrament. For this reason they neither could nor wished to create a different faith or a new Church, but rather to understand these more deeply and hence truly to “renew them”. This is why a hermeneutic of rupture is absurd and is contrary to the spirit and the will of the Council Fathers.
Pope Benedict’s preface contains some even more remarkable statements about Vatican II that strongly question the interpretation of that Council. In addition to the above the following important subjects can also clearly identified:
- That there was no specific problem to resolve and that the Council was convoked without indicating to it any specific problems or programs [note 17 ad 1],
- Could the Church not have taken a positive step into the new era? A question that touches the real expectations of the Council [note 17 ad 2],
- A failed analysis that affects not only the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, but unexpectedly and more specifically also Dignitatis Humanae and Nostra AEtate [note 17 ad 3],
- The doctrine of tolerance developed in detail by Pope Pius XII had to be replaced by a ‘development’ of philosophical thought and understanding of the modern state [note 17 ad 4].
- Nostra AEtate speaks about the religion solely in a positive way, disregarding the sick and distorted forms of religion which, from the historical and theological viewpoints, are of far-reaching importance” [note 17 ad 5]
What do such statements mean, especially if they are stated by a Pope during his Pontificate?
Evidently, none of the highlighted subjects from the preface by Pope Benedict XVI can be considered as concerning the infallible Depositum Fidei itself. Therefore being part of the characterization at the level of the changing reality of the modern world, the effects of these statements will be analysed here. And because from the point of view of Problem Solving each of these topics seems to be connected with a number of risks for failures. Risks that are intrinsically connected to the nature of these topics and that obviously seemed to have deeply influenced the interpretation of Vatican II.
These five distinct subjects have been highlighted as most important to analyse. –
There was no specific problem to resolve and that the Council was convoked without indicating to it any specific problems or programs
The statements on this subject are marked by ad 1a to 1i in note 17. To analyse this topic the following quotes, by which Pope Benedict XVI has summarized the announcement and the convocation of Vatican II by Saint Pope John XXIII [note 18], have to be distinguished:
- there was no specific problem to resolve;
- it might once again be a force to shape the future;
- various episcopates undoubtedly approached the great event with different ideas.
These all refer to the level of the changing reality of the modern world and evidently are not part of the infallibile Depositum Fidei.
- there was no specific problem to resolve
In January 1959 Saint Pope John XXIII made an announcement in which he referred to the battle between the Church and the Prince of Darkness in general [note 18 ad 1-3] and in which he spoke about an observed problem, that: distracts from the search of higher goods, weakened the energies of the spirit, leading to a relaxation of structure of discipline and of ancient order with serious prejudice to that which constituted the strength of Church and her children against the history of Christianity that have always led to fatal and sad divisions, to spiritual and moral decadence and to the ruin of nations [note 18 ].
To resolve that problem he then suggested to recall certain ancient forms of doctrinal affirmation and of wise provision of ecclesiastical discipline, which in the history of the Church in an epoch of renewal yielded fruits of extraordinary efficaciousness, through clarity of thought, through the solidarity of religious unity, through the living flame of Christian fervour in which we continue to see, even in regard to the well-being of life here on earth, abundant riches from the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth (Gen. 27:28) [note 18 ad 5]. So he announced the organization of an Ecumenical Council to be held in the Vatican and within his Pontificate for solving that specific problem.However, nearly 3 years after the announcement, in December 1961, Saint Pope John XXIII published the convocation for that Ecumenical Council which includes a statement that the aforementioned problem has been resolved, thus: Then, if we turn our attention to the Church, we see that it has not remained a lifeless spectator in the face of these events, but has followed step by step the evolution of peoples, scientific progress, and social revolution. It has opposed decisively the materialistic ideologies which deny faith. Lastly, it has witnessed the rise and growth of the immense energies of the apostolate of prayer, of action in all fields. It has seen the emergence of a clergy constantly better equipped in learning and virtue for its mission; and of a laity which has become ever more conscious of its responsibilities within the bosom of the Church, and, in a special way, of its duty to collaborate with the Church hierarchy. Thus, though the world may appear profoundly changed, the Christian community is also in great part transformed and renewed. It has therefore strengthened itself socially in unity; it has been reinvigorated intellectually; it has been interiorly purified and is thus ready for trial [note 18 ad 6 and ad 7].
Therefore Pope Benedict XVI is fully correct by saying that there was no specific problem to resolve [note 17 ad 1a].
- it might once again be a force to shape the future
According the convocation after observing that the problem has been resolved, Saint Pope John XXIII makes an effort to pronounce indeed a very optimistic expectation due the resolved problem: In the face of this twofold spectacle — a world which reveals a grave state of spiritual poverty and the Church of Christ, which is still so vibrant with vitality —we, from the time we ascended to the supreme pontificate, despite our unworthiness and by means of an impulse of Divine Providence, have felt immediately the urgency of the duty to call our sons together, to give the Church the possibility to contribute more efficaciously to the solution of the problems of the modern age. [note 18 ad 8] and In this way, the beneficial influence of the Council deliberations must, as we sincerely hope, succeed to the extent of imbuing with Christian light and penetrating with fervent spiritual energy not only the intimacy of the soul but the whole collection of human activities [note 18 ad 10].
Herewith Pope Benedict XVI was factually correct by confirming such general expectation it might once again be a force to shape the future [note 17 ad 1b].
- various episcopates undoubtedly approached the great event with different ideas
Finally this convocation mentioned some questions to be answered Before deciding the questions that had to be studied in view of the forthcoming Council, we wished to hear beforehand the wise and enlightened opinions of the College of Cardinals, of the episcopate of the whole world, of the sacred congregations of the Roman Curia, of the general superiors of orders and religious congregations, of Catholic universities, and of ecclesiastical faculties. This work of consultation was carried out within a year, and there emerged clearly from this the points that had to be submitted to a thorough study. [note 18 ad 12].
And again Pope Benedict XVI has summarized the convocation correctly by stating: various episcopates undoubtedly approached the great event with different ideas and It was the episcopates of Central Europe – Belgium, France and Germany – that came with the clearest ideas [note 17 ad 1c].
Furthermore, besides the points mentioned by Pope Benedict XVI the following should also demand our attention, namely what Saint Pope John XXIII said about these questions from local episcopates: We then instituted the different preparatory’ organizations to which we entrusted the arduous task of drawing up the doctrinal and disciplinary projects, which we intend to submit to the Council. We finally have the joy of announcing that this intense work of study, to which the cardinals, bishops, prelates, theologians, canonists, and experts from all over the world have given their valuable contribution, is now nearing its end [[note 18 ad 13]
Despite Saint Pope John XXIII stating in the Convocation that the problem, he has mentioned in the announcement, has already been resolved at the moment of the Convocation, and that the Church would now benefit from the fruits of this resolved problem, he still went ahead and convoked the Council. From the point of view of Problem Solving a number of irregularities can be seen as risking the emergence or development of new problems and/or worsening (unrecognized) existing ones. Some examples:
- On the one hand, if an observed problem has been resolved no new measures are needed for solving that specific problem.
Therefore convoking a Council, which is in essence a specific instrument for resolving Church-wide doctrinal and disciplinary problems, should not be necessary anymore. On the other hand the planned or suggested measures for solving such initial problem which had not yet been brought into effect, have in fact been proved by experience to be not essential or necessary for solving that specific problem.
Evidently, by bringing such measures nevertheless into effect yet, risks generating new problems and failing measures will be introduced.
- The fruits of the Holy Spirit working in and through the Church is indeed a general effect of satisfaction after resolving a specific problem. By nevertheless convoking a Council these fruits themselves became a target of the Council for determination and regulation. This could cause a risk for blindness regarding the real work of the Holy Spirit. Due to such blindness the work of the Holy Spirit is then considered in a restricted way for the specific pastoral subjects of the Council only.
And because a Council is in essence an instrument to solve Church-wide doctrinal and/or disciplinary problems, another risk will arise by which the work of the Holy Spirit that is considered to be restricted by the results of such Council are threatened as absolutely as the results of a “normal” (dogmatic) Council that has resolved doctrinal and disciplinary problems.
|This risk for failure of Vatican II seems to be actualized by the hermeneutic of the rupture and discontinuity which can be so strongly recognized by the fundamentalist way the work of the Holy Spirit has been considered so evidently restricted to a one-sided interpretation of the Council’s pastoral documents, while it consequently rejects the Church from before Vatican II. Such has created a false pastoral orthopraxis, which they considered as absolute as.
Hereby some are going so far as to silence Orthodoxy/Tradition if that is not confirming that orthopraxis, while others are even going further by rejecting Orthodoxy/Tradition and invoking a so-called Council’s Spirit as being the Holy Spirit. They are arguing that the Holy Spirit does not stop working at the end of the Council and is therefore always working in continuity regarding that false pastoral orthopraxis. However, inconsequently, they deny the continuity of the work of the Holy Spirit by rejecting the Church from before Vatican II.
- Because the Council was not needed anymore, answering questions brought in by some local episcopates to discuss and be answered, could be done by local Synods or even directly by the Holy See. However by convoking the Council, these questions of local origin became aims for regulating the fruits of the Holy Spirit by the Council. This has a two fold effect. Firstly the local questions are perceived as Church-wide problems. Evidently, such a situation can be viewed as giving rise to additional risks due to the imbalance between the local and Church-wide aspects. Secondly it is restricting the target of the Council with regard to the aforementioned risk on blindness for the work of the Holy Spirit that therefore is considered in an even more restricted way to these specific subjects of the Council only.
Considering the Convocation by Saint Pope John XXIII a well-balanced preparatory proposal could have been expected: We then instituted the different preparatory’ organizations to which we entrusted the arduous task of drawing up the doctrinal and disciplinary projects, which we intend to submit to the Council. We finally have the joy of announcing that this intense work of study, to which the cardinals, bishops, prelates, theologians, canonists, and experts from all over the world have given their valuable contribution, is now nearing its end. [note 18 ad 13]. However the Council Fathers rejected all preparatory proposals within the first session of the Council a result of which was that the risks of problems from an imbalance between the local and Church-wide aspects were raised.
As reported by Pope Benedict XVI on 14th February 2013 in his address to the Parish Priests and Clergy of the Rome Diocese: The Bishops said: no, let’s not do that. We are bishops, we ourselves are the subject of the Synod; we do not simply want to approve what has already done, but we ourselves want to be the subject, the protagonists of the Council and No, we do not simply want to vote for pre-prepared lists. We are subject. Then, it was necessary to postpone the elections, because the Fathers themselves wanted to begin to get to know each other, they wanted to prepare the list themselves. And so it was.
Such a pride by a majority of the Council Fathers should have been allarming. Bishops, not trusting the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church, but claiming that work by and through themselves only. This made the risk for failure by blindness regarding the work of the Holy Spirit more then extremely high.
Whatever the individual motives were to reject the preparatory proposals, it is anyway an act by free will of the individual Council Father, that are always respected by the Holy Spirit, even if the free will is imperfect. Therefore do we have to consider the rejection of all balanced preparatory documents with about 3 years effort of as the work of the Holy Spirit or as tolerated by the Holy Spirit? Or do the preparatory teachings go against the Holy Spirit? Evidently such a Pastoral Council might have been at risk of being influenced by the imperfect will of man strongly, even if these man are Periti, Bishops or Cardinals.
Thus despite the good will of Saint John XXIII in trusting his advisers and the lack of kwoledge about the risks in his decision to convoke a Council after the specific problem has been observed as resolved, Saint Pope John XXIII clearly introduced an additional number of risks, as mentioned above.
Furthermore, regarding the theory and practice of Problem Solving it has also to be considered that the observation in 1959 was estimated inaccurately by Saint Pope John XXIII. The observed problem could be a symptom only by which the real problem had manifested itself. In such a case it is very well possible that such a symptom might become invisible due to the enthusiasm by which the announcement of the Council had been received. However this does not mean that the real problem was actually nominated or even resolved. The real problem had to be defined firstly by an intensive problem analysis. And because in this case the Council was not focussed on the existence of such unrecognized real problem it could not resolve that problem. Therefore, evidently, the possibility for such problem to continue to proliferate during and even through the Council became a real risk on ambiguity of the Council’s documents.
The statements on this subject are marked as ad 2a, 2b and 2c in note 17. Evidently this statement concerns the general expectation of the work of the Holy Spirit in and through the Church as an effect of the resolved problem as mentioned in the convocation by Saint Pope John XXIII.
In reference to the following quotation, this subject concerns the level of the changing reality of the modern world without touching the infallibility of the Depositum Fidei itself and therefore this might be a subject for theologian discussion.
This point touches on the real expectations of the Council. The Church, which during the Baroque era was still shaping the world, had from the nineteenth century onwards visibly entered into a negative relationship with the modern era, which had only then properly begun. ‘Did it have to remain so?’ ‘Could the Church not take a positive step into the new era?’ [note 17 ad 2b].
By this statement Pope Benedict XVI touches the very optimistic expectation due to the work of the Holy Spirit as a result of the resolved problem as stated in the Convocation by Saint Pope John XXIII. Pope Benedict XVI is indicating hereby that the expectation of the Council was marked by questions like Did it have to remain so? ‘Could the Church not take a positive step into the new era?’.
However, because a negative response to such questions would contradict the expectations, obviously no other response could be given than a positive one. Although such pre-programmed response should have been nuanced more than with only YES or NO, these questions expresses an intrinsic risk on a prejudice creating a blind spot regarding the truth. Evidently this prejudice is strenghtening the aforementioned risks that consequently rejects the Church from before Vatican II and is therefore responsible for the general attitude by which: negative references to the ‘new era’, ‘modern world’ or ‘today’s world’ are not allowed. And from such prejudice it is a small step to the so-called ideology of the hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity that considers the Church before Vatican II as negative and thereby rejects the Church and Church life pre-Vatican II.
Both the Blessed Pope Paul VI and Pope Benedict XVI condemned the hermeneutic of the rupture and discontinuity and Blessed Pope Paul VI did extremely explicit so. The condemnations has also been confirmed by Pope Francis by calling Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, more than once, the best interpreter of Vatican II. Therefore, faithful – priests and laity – should have the right to discuss and criticize all statements of the Vatican II that bears the influences due to the prejudice, which considers that negative references to the ‘new era’, ‘modern world’ or ‘today’s world’ were and still are not allowed
A failed analysis, that not only affects the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, but also Dignitatis Humanae and Nostra AEtate
The statements on this subject are marked as ad 3a – 3d in note 17. In reference to the following quotation, this subject concerns the level of the changing reality of the modern world without touching the infallibility of the Depositum Fidei itself and therefore this might be a subject for theological discussion.
Behind the vague expression ‘today’s world’ lies the question of the relationship with the modern era. To clarify this, it would have been necessary to define more clearly the essential features that constitute the modern era. ‘Schema XIII’ did not succeed in doing this. Although the Pastoral Constitution expressed many important elements for an understanding of the ‘modern world’ and made significant contributions to the question of Christian ethics, it failed to offer substantial clarification on this point. [note 17 ad 3a] —
With this statement the Ordinary Magisterium of Pope Benedict indicates that the analysis about the modern world has failed. That means that with regard to the Council’s goal the most essential analysis that touches concretely to the aggiornamento had failed. While precisely this point was indeed the true core of all expectation of the Council.
This is comparable with a failed problem analysis in engineering activities or a failed diagnosis by a physician. Evidently such a failed analysis could lead to bad solutions and measures that might worsen the situation [note 19] and [note 20]. Similarly thereto, it has to be realized that in case of a bad diagnosis by a physician, the solution even can lead to the death of the patient. Therefore, obviously the failure of such an analysis could impact all the pastoral intentions of Vatican II.
What is striking here is the logical consistency with the previously mentioned prejudice. After all, because a prejudice is intrinsically connected to a blind spot with respect to the Truth, consequently such an analysis cannot but fail. This consistency proves the profound seriousness of the statements by Pope Benedict XVI.
Therefore by writing Unexpectedly, the encounter with the great themes of the modern epoch did not happen in the great Pastoral Constitution, but instead in two minor documents, whose importance has only gradually come to light in the context of the reception of the Council [note 17 ad 3b] Pope Benedict XVI is showing the very truth about the fundamental and seriousness of the failed analysis which is of course fortunately at the level of the changing reality of the modern world. The logics of general and fundamental analysis must be either correct or not, and therefore the same analysis can never be both; if that analysis has failed regarding one or as in this case even more Council documents, then that same analysis may be expected to have failed for the whole, i.e., the aggiornamento. Of course it clearly affects some documents more than others.
Furthermore by issuing the Nota Praevia – how to read and understand a specific part of Lumen Gentium – evidently it is a matter of fact that Blessed Pope Paul VI had recognized the existence of ambiguity in the Council documents implicitly. Otherwise the Nota Praevia has been issued unnecessarily.
So as a logical effect, all decisions and measures based on such failed analysis, and thereby also the ambiguity, might be taken erroneously and therefore bear a great risk of failing on pastoral targets and measures in reality. Therefore, because false interpretations due to the ideology of hermeneutics of rupture and discontinuity have festered in Church life so long, in part due to the goal of the secular press – even during and after the Council -, it has caused much conflicts and suffering among the faithful. Consequently this failed analysis has evidently affected the Church life as well as the modern world.
Therefore one has to recognize the reality of the effects of the hermeneutic of failure and discontinuity on the actual life of the Church. This was mentioned first by Blessed Pope Paul VI in 1966 already shortly after the Council [note 06] and then later again, but more pronouncedly on June 23rd 1972 when he highlighted his concern to the Cardinals with the following words: … an emergency which We cannot and must not keep hidden: in the first place a false and erroneous interpretation of the Council, which would want to break with the tradition, even as regards the doctrine, an interpretation which goes so far that the pre-conciliar Church is rejected and one is allowed to consider a ‘new’ church, as it were reinvented from the inside, as regards the constitution of the Church, her dogma, custom and law. [Unofficial translation, see for the original text in Italian [note 04]. This concern he repeated within the same week in his homily on June 29th 1972: … from some crack the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.?
To solve this problem a correct and substantial clarification about the essential features that constitute the vague expressions new era, modern world or today’s world including what has been called contemporary man in the light of Faith and without any prejudice is still needed. However, today’s main problem for coming to that real solution has to be considered as a new problem caused by not-acknowledging the influence of the failed analysis on the fallible level of the changing reality of the modern world due to the hermeneutic of failure and discontinuity. It may be helpful to state the problem by analogy: how self-sufficient will the diagnosing physician be? Will he be able to acknowledge his own failure and recognize his own false diagnosis or not and through recognition of his own guilt, the worsening the condition or even the death of his patient?
Obviously, as long as such an acknowledgment does not take place in a manner of mutual mercy, the life of the Church will continue to be in a battlefield due to internal conflicts and unmerciful suppression of faithful’s consciences.
Fortunately, thanks to the work of the Holy Spirit, who respects the free will of man -even if it is imperfect-, the ideology of the hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity that considers the Church before Vatican II as negative, and rejects the Church and Church life before Vatican II did not succeed in destroying the Church. But evidently this ideology has disturbed a lot.
The statement on this subject is marked as ad 4 in note 17. Here it is stated that the doctrine of the tolerance as Pius XII had developed in detail appeared not sufficient considering the development of philosophical thought and the self-understanding of the modern state.
Here Pope Benedict XVI makes clear that the rejection of the Doctrine of Tolerance was not based on any doctrine of Faith taken from the infallible Depositum Fidei but only on how the modern state has understood itself, as well as a philosophical mind-set. In other words that rejection is based on a fallible characterization at the level of the underlying changing reality of the modern world that understands the state as being neutral. Such a conclusion is evidently fallible and might be wrong. Referring to the address by Pope Benedict to the collaborators of the Curia at Christmas 2005 he stated: In the period between the two World Wars and especially after the Second World War, Catholic statesmen demonstrated that a modern secular State could exist that was not neutral regarding values but alive, drawing from the great ethical sources opened by Christianity [note 01].
Here in fact he is witnessing against the ideology of the state’s neutrality. Evidently in the light of the recent effects of this ideology this subject has to be discussed freely with regard to the documents of Vatican II.
Obviously regarding some recent developments of how modern states practice their so-called neutrality, where in contradiction to such neutrality it cannot be denied that all men who embodied the state’s structure – no-one excluded – is acting according a spiritual mind-set about good and evil, about justice and injustic, and so on. And precisely those politicians who claims their neutrality of the modern States as strongest, it can be observed that these politicians have replaced their mind-set from the Christian norms into subjective ideologicaly and materialistic inspired norms, firstly bit by bit but then faster and faster and thereby nowadays they even embed the ideology in the state’s laws.
Because this subject has influenced the declaration Dignitatis Humanae strongly, it will be discussed in more detail in Vatican II and the ‘hermeneutics of reform, renewal in continuity’.
Speaking of religion solely in a positive way, disregarding the sick and distorted forms of religion which, from the historical and theological viewpoints, are of far-reaching importance.
The statement on this subject is marked as ad 5 in note 17. Pope Benedict XVI could not express himself more clear by this statement In the process of active reception, a weakness of this otherwise extraordinary text has gradually emerged: it speaks of religion solely in a positive way and it disregards the sick and distorted forms of religion which, from the historical and theological viewpoints, are of far-reaching importance; for this reason the Christian faith, from the outset, adopted a critical stance towards religion, both internally and externally.
As the document Nostra AEtate is based solely on such a positive view of religion, disregarding the other side of the Truth, it cannot be used for any decision or measure without an extremely high risk of failing in practice, and making the situation much worse than before. Not any decision can be made well if it is not based on the full truth, therefore this subject must be discussed freely, especially regarding the lack of Truth.
Evidently if His Holiness Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI during his Pontificate by this preface wrote such an in-depth critical article on Vatican II why such should be forbidden to faithful. All the subjects mentioned by Pope Benedict XVI are sub-ordinated to his final point concerning the renewing of the condemnation of the hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity <ahref=”#ad6″>[note 17 ad6]. Thereby, the subjects mentioned here show the very need for an open and clear theological debate to save Vatican II and the way it has to be interpreted with regard to the Tradition: the Church teachings and Church life before Vatican II. The Truth has to be found, because of the high risks on actualization of the failures by a schism due to the ideology of the hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity.
Therefore to save Vatican II such debate may not be suppressed for the future and must necessarily go into the very depth and the heart of Vatican II, the aggiorgamento like Pope Benedict XVI did. Thereby critical sounds regarding Vatican II, its documents as well as the measures taken after the Council has to be accepted as long as they do not touched the Depositum Fidei itself. Hereby the fallible aspects of the documents of Vatican II, especially the characterizations at the level of the changing reality of the modern world as well as the way the Council was interpreted by rejecting the Church teachings and -life from before Vatican II has to be subjects for such discussion.
It has to be said that according the topic there was no specific problem to resolve and that the Council was convoked without indicating to it any specific problems or programs the high risk has been realized, regarding the fundamentalist manner by which the work of the Holy Spirit has been reduced into a false pastoral orthopraxis based on the interpretation of the Council’s pastoral documents that rejects the Church from before Vatican II. Hereby a distinction has to be made between the many well-meaning faithful, priests, Bishops and even Cardinals and those who were subjected to the real problem of the Church that was not acknowledged by Saint Pope John XXIII.
And precisely because Vatican II was not focussed on that real problem –known as Modernism and condemned in the past by so many Popes–, that real problem had been permitted the possibility to continue to proliferate during the Council as well as thereafter. Especially with the aim of the mass media by which anyone who departed from their monopoly-line of the Council’s interpretation was vituperated as anti-conciliar, a false facade has been created by what has been called by Pope Benedict XVI the hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity that rejects the Church teaching of before Vatican II, which has mobilized and misused so many innocent and well-meaning faithful.
In view of the conclusion that the faithful can rightfully discuss and criticize statements based on the prejudice negative references to the ‘new era’, ‘modern world’ or ‘today’s world’ are not allowed as well as statements based on the failed analysis of the ‘new era’, ‘modern world’ or ‘today’s world and the hermeneutic of failure and discontinuity. Therefore it is so sad to see how the Institute of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate has to suffer so much and so unmercifully by those who are so strongly influenced by the hermeneutic of failure and discontinuity by practicing the prejudice that negative references to the ‘new era’, ‘modern world’ or ‘today’s world’ are not allowed.
Referring to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, how can the Church celebrate the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, while it is punishing their own children so unjustly, brutally and so unmercifully?
This is a loud cry for justice that demands:
- Clarity of the interpretation of Vatican II according the hermeneutics of reform, of renewal in continuity;
- the acknowledgement of the effects on Church’s life, of the failed analysis due to the hermeneutic of rupture and discontinuity.
Firstly, the soft spot of the hermeneutical approach has to be exposed. By the hermeneutic of the reform, renewal in continuity it is clear that due to the pastoral intention of the Second Vatican Council two levels of the reality have to be distinguished, like mentioned by Pope Benedict XVI <a=href=”#note01″>[note01]. The first level concerns the Faith, the infallible Depositum Fidei. The second level consists of underlying changing reality with changes in social and political life, as well as changings based on technical and scientifically knowledge, understanding as the today’s world, the modern world or “new era. As for pastoral reasons to regulate the human activities the Depositum fidei has to be projected on the underlying changed social and political life, the continuity can be found within the Depositum Fidei while the reform and renewal concerns the way the Depositum Fidei has been projected on the underlying changing reality.
Thereby the soft spot can be found, namely, as the vision regarding the underlying changing reality of the modern world; a vision which – lying outside the domain of the ‘Depositum Fidei’ – can undoubtedly be altered and fallible. Both, but especially this fallibility carries the risk of an incorrect characterization of that underlying changed reality, and thereby also a risk of incorrect decisions as to the implementation of the ‘Depositum Fidei and all consequences thereof.
Concerning this soft spot some remarkable points can be acknowledged in the history concerning the interpretation of the Council, which are of great importance:
- The publication of the Nota Preavia, which has been attached to the document Lumen Gentium. This Nota Preavia, which explains how to read certain chapters of Lumen Gentium, would not have been published if the text of Lumen Gentium should be clear and not have been ambiguous in itself.
- June 23rd 1972, Pope Paul VI announced in a speech to the Cardinals his concern with the following words: … an emergency which We cannot and must not keep hidden: in the first place a false and erroneous interpretation of the Council, who would want to break with the tradition, even as regards the doctrine, an interpretation which goes so far as the Church is pre-conciliar rejected and allowed one considers a ‘new’ church, as it were reinvented from the inside, as regards the establishment of the Church, the dogma, the use and the law. [note 04]. And within one week thereafter, at the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul (June 29th, 1972), Pope Paul VI spoke publicly the famous words: … that from somewhere or other, the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.
- At Christmas 2005 after about 33 years the words of Pope Paul VI were still actual and had been repeated by Pope Benedict XVI at his speech to the Curia: On the one hand there is an explanation, which I want to mention ‘hermeneutics of rupture’. This often has the cooperation of the mass media, and also a part of modern theology has made use of here. [note 01]
Thus, while during the Council Pope Paul VI had factually confirmed the potential ambiguity of at least in one part of the texts of Vatican II by publishing the Nota Praevia, in his speech to the Cardinals by mentioning the false interpretations he confirmed in fact that such ambiguity had been actualized in 1972. The fact that Pope Benedict XVI had to repeat the condemnation of these false interpretations in 2005 and 2012 respectively shows us the seriousness of that ambiguity, even after so many years.
Secondly the preface by Pope Benedict XIV concerning the Second Vatican Council ([note 02] in German and [note 17] in English) made clear that the Council was strongly taken in by the prejudice of not to speak negatively about the ‘new era’, modern world or today’s world.
It is this prejudice that has acted as a blind spot and through which the analysis regarding the ‘new era’, modern world or today’s world has failed. This failure has been confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI in the case of Gaudium et Spes and was additionally carried over to Dignitatis Humanæ and Nostra Ætate <a=href=”#note02″>[note02]. This analysis therefore, must be either correct or not, the same analysis can never be both. Therefore, if that analysis has failed in some of the Council documents then the same analysis may be expected to have failed for the whole, i.e., the “aggiornamento”.
Moreover this failed analysis is responsible for an incorrect characterization of the underlying changed reality. Accordingly, as the logical consequence of the words by the magisterium of Pope Benedict XVI, the risk signalled in the first part appears to have been confirmed.
From these two aforementioned aspects it may be concluded that:
- due to the blind spot by the prejudice of not to speak negatively about the ‘new age’ or ‘modern times’, the Council did not search deeply enough into ‘the holy tradition and the doctrine of the Church the treasury out of which the Church continually brings forth new things that are in harmony with the things that are old’(DH-1);
- due to the prejudice of not speaking negatively about the ‘new age’ or ‘modern times’ the characterization of the changed reality of the modern world may be incorrect;
- considering the documents of the Second Vatican Council, in a real continuity one has to distinguish between (1) the statements belonging the Depositum Fidei which may be explored too insufficiently, (2) the statements concerning the characterization of the underlying changed reality which may be incorrect and (3) the statements concerning the implementation of the Depositum Fidei which may be based on an insufficient exploration of the Depositum Fidei as well as on an incorrect characterization of the underlying changed reality. While the first type of statements affects the infallibility of the Depositum Fidei itself, the last two types [(2) and (3)] undoubtedly do not affect the infallibility of the Depositum Fidei at all.
With regard to the introduction, the general threat of Vatican II seems to show an incorrect characterization of the changing reality of the modern world and therefore an insufficient exploration of the Depositum Fidei. Looking below in more detailed fashion at Dignitatis Humanae as an example, the most important aspects can be summed up here:
- Dignitatis Humanae, Depositum Fidei and Lex Credendi
- Dignitatis Humanae and the Liturgy
- Religious freedom and the exercise of the free will
- Teaching of Tolerance by Pius XII
- State’s neutrality
- State’s neutrality, conscience and human dignity
- State’s neutrality and the search into the Sacred Tradition and Doctrine
Firstly the subject of religious freedom has been brought in by the Bishops of the United States of America regarding the specific situation in the United States of America with regards to the libertarianism. However because the American theologian John C. Murray SJ had the key role in writing this declaration it could be doubted if this declaration was well balanced. The Americans have in fact answered their own questions. Now this specific American problem has been projected on the entire Church as if it would be the fruits of the Holy Spirit
Secondly the declaration on Religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, starts with the following characterization of the human dignity:
- A sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man,
- and the demand is increasingly made that men should act on their own judgment, enjoying and making use of a responsible freedom, not driven by coercion but motivated by a sense of duty.
- The demand is likewise made that constitutional limits should be set to the powers of government, in order that there may be no encroachment on the rightful freedom of the person and of associations.
- This demand for freedom in human society chiefly regards the quest for the values proper to the human spirit. It regards, in the first place, the free exercise of religion in society.
While indeed this characterization raised points related to the dignity of the human person, because these points are associated with the gift of mind, free exercise of the will and related responsibility. But how to understand by ‘a sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man’?
What does ‘contemporary man’ mean within this context? What should be the difference between the contemporary man in the antiques, in the middle ages, the renaissance and nowadays? Finally in all time one is speaking about contemporary man, therefore what does this term mean by declaring ‘a sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man’?
Such sounds like a superiority of todays contemporary man above that of all other periods. This ambiguity seems to be the result of a failed analysis of the “modern world” at the level of the changing reality of the modern world
Furthermore in fact the first two points can be compared to the analysis by Pope Leo XIII in Diuturnum Illud (1881): … the masses demanded not only too large, more than a fair measure of freedom … and … an all-cutting measure bridle depression which is given by very many for the only true freedom. …. This judgment of Pope Leo XIII seems to be opposed to the characterization by the Council Fathers of Vatican II. The characterization in DH-1 considers the rightful and fair demands of equal rights to the demands whereas one is over-demanding. No distinction has been made in the light of Faith with regards to the condition of the human dignity, neither between men of good or bad will, can be found. Therefore this characterization creates the impression of full indifferentism.
Regarding the third point in fact by such characterization false religions are described as having equal rights comparing to the True Religion. No distinctions has been made, such leads to a full indifferentist practice.
To prevent such indifferentism the Council Fathers had tried to neutralize it by adding a search into ‘the holy tradition and the doctrine of the Church the treasury out of which the Church continually brings forth new things that are in harmony with the things that are old’ (DH-1) by making the following statements in the second section of DH-1: …, the council professes (1) its belief that God Himself has made known to mankind the way in which men are to serve Him, and thus be saved in Christ and come to blessedness. We (2) believe that this one true religion subsists in the Catholic and Apostolic Church, to which the Lord Jesus committed the duty of spreading it abroad among all men. (3) Thus He spoke to the Apostles: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have enjoined upon you (Matt. 28: 19-20). On their part, (4) all men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and His Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it. This Vatican Council likewise professes its belief that it is upon the human conscience that these obligations fall and exert their binding force. (5) The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it makes its entrance into the mind at once quietly and with power.
This search into the Depositum Fidei is speaking to the faithful and all the men of good will, reminding them or the moral obligation of the mission to bring all people through the Church to God as well as the moral obligation of all men to listen and to follow their human conscience in finding the Truth, especially in what concerns God and his Church, which is finally a case of free will. Evidently this expression is neutralizing some of the indifferentist statements in the first section of DH-1 only implicitly. With any good will one can understand this quote from the Depositum Fidei as stating that a false religion has no objective rights to exist and all people have to search for the true religion. In that case the two sections of DH-1 are in contradiction to each other presenting in fact an ambiguous text that at one hand confirms and on the other hand denied the indifferentist characterization of the human dignity as well as the problem of equal rights for the true and false religions. –
Therefore, although this phrase of the Depositum Fidei is in itself correct and infallible, it is not enough to neutralize the indifferentist characterization and the inequality between the true and false religion as given by the first section of DH-1. Furthermore looking at the way the indifferent characterization of the changed reality is referred to repeatedly throughout the entire document, this single statement from the Depositum Fidei cannot neutralize the indifferentism. Additionally a deeper search into the Depositum Fidei to characterize the human dignity in the light of Faith without any ambiguity can be found by the Lex Credendi of the first part of the second Offertory prayer in the Sacred Liturgy in use at the Council O God, Who wonderfully formed the dignity of human nature, and more wonderfully restored it <a=href=”#note21″>[note 21]. Herewith a real and concrete distinction between the ‘wounded human dignity’ and the wonderfully restored human dignity’ could be find. Furthermore from the divine teachings i.c. the history of salvation as well as from every day human experience the distinction between men of good and bad will should be well known. This should be evident after the several massacres during the last two centuries by both the liberal and socialist ideologies starting with the French revolution.
It seems that DH-1 is a result strongly influenced by the prejudice not to speak negatively about the changing reality of the modern world, i.c the contemporary man.-
Considering that, because precisely this first part of the second Offertory prayer O God, Who wonderfully formed the dignity of human nature, and more wonderfully restored it has been removed from the Sacred Liturgy with the liturgical reform of 1970 <a=href=”#note22″>[note 22], the specific doctrine of Faith as expressed by this prayer has been placed outside the actual Lex Credendi. Whereas the actual Lex Credendi could be considered as the short-term memory of the Depositum Fidei the aforementioned distinction can easily disappear from faithful memory. Should such be a co-incidence or should it be a result of a false ideology not to speak negatively about the modern world? Anyway in relation to the interpretation of the Dignitatis Humanae, it is inevitable that hereby, as a result, the underlying indifferentism in that document has been strengthened. –
That regarding the Liturgy not only this point has undergone such change can evidently be seen by the list given by Prof. Fiedrowicz referring to various authors [note 23]: … the prayers of the classic Rite contain and preserve many thoughts that have weakened or disappeared completely in the revised version, although they belongs to the Catholic faith -the Depositum Fidei – include: (1) the renunciation of earthly and (2) the desire for the eternal, (3) the sovereignty of Christ over the world and society, (4) the fight against heresy and schism, (5) the conversion of unbelievers, (6) the need to return to the Catholic Church and the pure truth; (7) earnings (8) wonders (9) appearances of the saints (10) God’s wrath against sin, and (11) the possibility of eternal damnation.
According the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum the Lex Credendi of both liturgical forms, before as well as after the reform of 1970, have the same Lex Credendi of the Roman Liturgy expressing the Depositum Fidei. However the way that same Lex Credendi has been expressed by both liturgical forms are different.
Therefore due to this drastic and very consistent adaptation on even eleven topics of the Lex Credendi of the Latin Liturgy the actual Lex Credendi of the reformed Liturgy seems to function as a kind of censorship to let these topics of the Depositum Fidei disappear or weaken systematically. Such ideological background has been confirmed by L.Pristas [note 22] whereas she mentioned the policy changed by Dumas whereas the Church universal of the present day becomes Church of our time and objective expressions present-day precepts or customs has become the subjective expression present-day needs. Hereby the failed analysis of the modern time and today’s world is at work.
Had the aforementioned distinction been made more consistently, the result would have more closely resembled the ‘tolerance-teachings’ of Pope Pius XII and thereby visibly expressed continuity with the past. Moreover, when one treats this distinction without reservation, then the entire text of DH-2 appears to strongly resemble ‘the tolerance doctrine’. Perhaps the distinction between both sections of DH-2 [note 03] stands out better by making a distinction between the right of religious freedom in the first section and the right to exercise an act of free will as far as such could be tolerated concerning the second section of DH-2.
Only such a distinction can explain the difference between the first and second sections. The first section states that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself” and “this right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right., while the second section states that the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature and is concluded by the following citation: In consequence, section the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it and the exercise of this right is not to be impeded, provided that just public order be observed. Therefore evidently Dignitatis Humanae is speaking in the second section of DH-2 about another type of religious freedom than mentioned in the first section.
Furthermore in the second section of DH-1 the council professes its belief that God Himself has made known to mankind the way in which men are to serve Him, and thus be saved in Christ and come to sanctifiction, that all men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and His Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have enjoined upon you (Matt 28: 19-20. The council has repeated this belief in the first part of the second section of DH-2 also.
Thus Dignitatis Humanae is on one hand confirming the indifferentism by the way the world of today has been characterized while at the same time the indifferentism is denied by the Depositum Fidei and on the other hand DH-2 is consequently speaking about religious freedom as being only one conception, while objectively two types of religious freedom, excluding each other’s, are described here. This is really ambiguous.
Religious freedom cannot be a civil right on the one hand and on the other be restricted by the public order. The latter should be subjective and dependent on who is actually responsible for the public order. Certainly these two distinct approaches human dignity can only be recognised by taking into account the restored and wounded human dignity.
If the aforementioned distinction between the wounded and the in Christ wonderful restored Dignitatis Humanae had been made more consistently, the result would have more closely resembly the Tolerance-teachings of Pope Pius XII and thereby visibly expressing continuity with the past. However in the already mentioned 2012 foreword by Pope Benedict XVI it is stated that the teaching of the tolerance as Pius XII had developed in detail appeared not sufficiently considering the development of philosophical thought and the way of understanding of the modern state [note 02]. Here Pope Benedict XVI makes clear that the rejection of the Teachings of Tolerance is not based on any doctrine taken from the infallible Depositum Fidei but on how the modern state has understood itself as well as a philosophical mind-set. In other words that rejection is based on a characterization at the level of the underlying changing reality.
Dignitatis Humanae does not mention the state as neutral explicitly. However implicitly this document considers the state as neutral in which it does not take into account the distinction between the wounded and restored human dignity as mentioned above and which leads to an indifferent view of the state. Therefore this document rejects the teaching of the tolerance that Pius XII had developed in detail: Government therefore ought indeed to take account of the religious life of the citizenry and show it favour, since the function of government is to make provision for the common welfare. However, it would clearly transgress the limits set to its power, were it to presume to command or inhibit acts that are religious.
Because this opinion concerns a view at the level of the changed reality, and therefore it is outside the Depositum Fidei and in potency could be considered as a prejudice which can lead to a fallible characterization of the changed reality.
In case of the state’s neutrality, the modern world is considering the following view: The state is the absolute and highest authority which should be neutral in her acting power.
Dignitatis Humanae seems to mention this view of the state’s neutrality.
Thus according to such a view the persons bearing the responsibility for the power of the state and determining the direction in which the state is moving towards, would have to be neutral. Therefore according this view of the State’s neutrality these persons cannot follow their own conscience in striving to the best for all according their faith or ideology. And precisely not being able to follow their conscience is contrary to the human dignity, whereas it does not matter if it is wounded or restored.
Here we even see a dualistic practice whereby the requirement for being neutral should be valid for Catholic statesmen only and not for the liberals or socialists. Therefore, obviously, all Catholic doctrines are being forbidden in the public domain as not being neutral in contrast to the liberal and socialist doctrines.
However, a state is existing through a sample or a group of persons living together in the same area, by which one part of that group is leading the other part according to some specific rules and hierarchical structures. And because the state is fundamentally a composed entity existing of -or better said embodied by- persons. The properties or attitude of such entity depends on the individuals, the actual structure (type of hierarchical system) as well as the actual binding relations between the individual composing entities i.e. the property of the individual persons (good or bad, loving or hateful, trustful or untrustful, peaceful or violence). Anyway without persons forming the state’s body, the state can never exist.
- Therefore, if the state itself should be considered as neutral, the persons bearing the responsibility for the power of the state and determining the direction in which the state is moving towards, are giving the colour of the state. Thus, because of the state’s neutrality the state is not giving a colour to the persons exercising the power of the state, but these persons are giving the state its colour. And these persons have to follow their own conscience for striving to the best for all according the human dignity. Therfore these persons they cannot be neutral at all. Like for all people, independent of their religious or ideological background, all persons excersizing the power of the state are responsible for their choice between good and evil, between justice and injustice, to honour God or not, like all other men. Therefore the state embodied by men cannot be neutral as in the aforementioned view.
Obviously, a state, which is in itself neutral, will change by colour each time the executive power of the state is changing, a colour determined by a wounded human dignity or by the restored human dignity. This is like the old era of the Roman Empire. Depending on the emperor periods of tolerance and periods of suppression of Christianity were alternating, until the emperor himself converts to Christianity. And looking at the modern times with, for example during the last century the tyranny by the National and International Socialistic States (Germany and Russia respectively) as well as the Liberal states it is all the same. Depending on the colour of the acting state’s power and the way the state’s power is suppressing the rest of the persons belonging to such a state, the state becomes its colour.
This second view of the state’s neutrality that consider the neutrality of the State as an empty skeleton is therefore in accordance with the human dignity while the first is not. The supporters of the first view are blaming that the second view on the state’s neutrality is not neutral, because the persons who are acting the executive power of the state are not neutral. However how much neutrality can be found among these supporters, at the moment they have the executive power?
This way of speaking can also be observed in the speech by Pope Benedict XVI on Christmas 2005: In the period between the two World Wars and especially after the Second World War, Catholic statesmen demonstrated that a modern secular State could exist that was not neutral regarding values but alive, drawing from the great ethical sources opened by Christianity. [note 17] By this statement in fact Pope Benedict XVI has testified to the view that the colour of the State is determined by who is embodying the executive power of the state, which confirms that the so-called neutrality of the State does not exist.-
Looking at teachings by the Apostle Johannes when the Roman governor, ostentatiously pretending that he had the power of releasing and of condemning, our Lord Jesus Christ answered: Thou shouldst not have any power against me unless it were given thee from above. (Joh. 19:11) and Saint Paul to the Romans, when subject to the authority of heathen princes, is lofty and full of gravity: There is not power but from God from which, as from its cause, he draws this conclusion: The prince is the minister of God. (Rom. 13: 1, 4) [note 25]. Besides these two examples of teachings more can be found in the Encyclical Diuturnum Illud on the origin of Civil Power by Pope Leo XIII [note 25]. These teachings from the Depositum Fidei are confirming in contrast to Dignitatis Humanae that persons are carrying the power of the state and that these persons are personally responsible for the use of their power to God.
Furthermore, regarding men’s activities in general, these can never be neutral, one must make a choice pro truth or against, pro mercy or against, pro justice or against, pro-life or against, pro-family or against, pro Christ or against, one has to make that choice each time again. It does not a matter if one is a member of the executive power of the state or not.
Despite all references made by the Council, however even due to the bias not to speak negatively about today’s world, their search into the was not done to the depth required. In this way an incorrect characterization of the human dignity has been used. Furthermore it appears that an incorrect characterisation of the modern era has been made, i.e. the neutrality of the modern secular State does not exist.
Obviously, Dignitatis Humanae paragraph 03 and what follows is mainly an elaboration of the consequences from the first two paragraphs and has therefore to be reviewed critically based on the consequences of the correct characterization of human dignity in the light of Faith, distinguished by the wounded and the wonderfully restored human dignity, as well as the correct characterization of the modern secular State, also in the light of Faith.
Regarding the pastoral character of Vatican II a proposal has been presented in chapter 2 for gaining more Clarity of its interpretation. Evidently due to the difficulties from that interpretation, like using double standards, suppressing the liturgical and religious-life to which faithful or religious are attachedo, suppressing discussions to find the truth in dialogue and so on, indicates that the Notifications added to Lumen Gentium did not work.
This is confusing especially regarding the arguments relying on Vatican II that reject the Church from before Vatican II. By the analysis in chapter 3 it came forwards that such was a real risk caused by the manner the Council was announced and convoked. That risk consequently rejecting the Church from before Vatican II has been evidently realized.
Obviously, regarding the extra-ordinary Synod of 2014 as well as the coming ordinary Synod of the Family (2015), the proposals by Cardinal Kasper means that the aforementioned risk does not stop by rejecting the Church from before Vatican II only, but that such is ongoing by putting the orthopraxis not only above the orthodoxy, but even rejects the orthodoxy. The fact that even a Cardinal is proposing such and thereby suggesting that it would be according the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit after Vatican II is making Blessed Pope Paul’s words in his homily in 1972 so seriously relevant: from some cracks the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God
- Therefore firstly the analysis of the today’s world or modern times, that according Pope Benedict has failed, has to be renewed including the analysis of the contemporary man and his needs as well as the moden States. All has to be done in the light of Faith
- Thereafter all interpretations of Vatican II as well as the measures based on these interpretations that obviously have been influenced by these false interpretations have to be evaluated in the light of Faith and Tradition and renewed if needed, especially on the following topics and aspects:
- All characterizations on the fallible level of the changing reality of the modern world;
- The search into the Depositum Fidei;
- The specific choices taken from the search into the Depositum Fidei.
In chapter 4 -as an example- such has been done for the Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae.
Evidently the characterization of human dignity, which is at the fallible level of the changing reality of the modern world was not done well in the light of Faith and is therefore indifferent. The search into the Depositum Fidei was not done in the depth required. Therefore it did not satisfy and could not neutralize the indifferentist characterization of human dignity. Furthermore due to that indifferentism no distinction was made regarding the one term of religious freedom that has been used for two different types of freedom that are mutally exclusive.
However taking into account the distinction between the wounded and the restored human dignity in accordance with the light of Faith and by calling the first description in DH-2.1 Religious Freedom and the second description in DH 2.2 Tolerance the second chapter of Dignitatis Humanae is in fact confirming the Teaching of Tolerance developed in detail by Pope Pius XII.
However at the fallible level of the changing reality of the modern world it has been suggested by using a fallible philosophy that the modern secular State should be neutral. While in the light of Faith and with regard to human dignity all men have a free will to choose between good and bad, between justice and injustice, between mercy and mercilessness, also the men that embody the State, evidently such neutrality cannot exist.
The rest of the declaration on Religious Freedom, paragraph 3 and following, should be rectified according the consequences of the corrections in the first two paragraphs as well as with regard to a renewed analyses of the modern secular state.