Vatican II

Source; Unknown Author

“Since the Second Vatican Council the Roman Catholic Church has experienced an unprecedented crisis in her very identity, extending even to hitherto impregnable sacred doctrine and spirituality, her apostolic and missionary activity.”---Peter Kwasniewski

The influence of religion in western civilization, which seemed to be substantial for two decades after World War II, declined very sharply in the decades after Vatican II, making the region that had guided the council the most secular in the world.

Most of the previous 20 councils like and before Vatican II were convened to address error and proclaim new dogma. At the time of Vatican II in 1962, the church seemed quite healthy. Clerical scandals were rare, the level of priestly education and zeal was high And the laity was relatively well instructed in their faith.

Vatican II was established to inject more of the secular world into Catholicism, to engage the world while simultaneously throwing into question many of the doctrines and practices of the Catholic Church.  Vatican II ended up giving much of its attention to the internal life of the church, a scrutiny that resulted in a crisis of Catholic identity without historical parallel. In fact most of the bishops from Britain, southern Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States saw little urgency in many of the questions that came before them, and some expressed bewilderment as to why change was necessary at all. Those who understood almost nothing of the theological issues involved believe that the council’s real purpose was simply that of repealing rules that had become burdensome.

A system of rules and laws that provided people with concrete direction; and, once those rules were deemphasized, most people become morally confused. What resulted was the individual conscience turned into an absolute, and the traditional teaching of the church, that the conscience must be formed in accord with objective morality, was largely ignored. Consequentialism—essentially the historically catastrophic principle that the end justifies the means, easily became the basis for justifying their acts. Formal doctrine easily became an obstacle to the so-called living faith. Religious discipline, which had been at a high-level on the eve of the council, declined sharply, homosexuality in the priesthood came to be a serious problem.

Vatican II, in the Gaudium et Spes document, changed the emphasis of the Catholic Church from an individual orientation of virtue, sin and the effects, to a collective one of salvation through permeation of the world to Christian values. Liberation Theology, an ideological consequence of Vatican II, took that belief further by holding out the promise of Heaven on Earth if Original Sin was mitigated by a drive for an always vaguely defined social justice.

The result of course has been a fuzzy, watery, lowest common-denominator kind of thoughtless optimism were no demands are made, no tenets are required, merely a self-proclaimed membership in “spirituality”, where a “new type of humanity” could transform the world. “[Vatican II influenced] Catholics, like Communists, now believed in progress in this world and seemed to lose interest in what might await us in the next.” ---Piers Paul Reid. Never mind that the same promise of progress through  a “new type of humanity” fueled other 20th century movements that resulted in the deaths of over 150 million people and enslaved whole nations into godless gulags. This time it would be different, again!

As D.Q.  McInerny noted: “The anti-Thomistic movement that followed hard upon the Second Vatican Council had generally calamitous consequences.”  So, was Vatican II a mistake? Well, what has Catholicism experienced, on the ground so to speak, after Vatican II, which it hadn’t before?

Let’s see:

-A proliferation of practicing homosexuals in the priesthood

-Pro-abortion Catholics

-Rebellious bishops

-Liturgical mumbo-jumbo

-90% less Seminarians

-94% less teaching nuns

-66% less Seminaries

-50% less Catholic schools

-Americans in general are leaving Catholicism or abandoning religion.

-Sex-abuse scandals…to name just a few

And most importantly to this evangelizing religion: “The number of outsiders that Vatican II succeeded in attracting to the Church is small compared with the numbers of the faithful whom the V-II revolution and dissent have been sweeping away from Catholic belief” states Philip Trower. Only 2.6% of current Catholics are converts. A strong papacy, under John Paul II, (perhaps the most intellectually formidable man ever to ascend to the papacy) proved to be the only means of maintaining the unity of the church in the face of the centrifugal forces unleashed by Vatican II.

Summing up the pro-Vatican II view, in the words of George S. Johnson, is the claim that  Vatican II was necessary because: “…the Church in some respects had become rigid…Most Catholics did not understand that the Church is not just an institution but an evangelical movement…it needed to be called out of her Tridentine shell to an active engagement with the modem world…the Church was a juridical machine operated by the bishop of Rome…Over the centuries, the Church’s government had become top-heavy and centralized…Vatican II revived… collegial responsibility…”

The pro-Vatican II faction seems to be oblivious that in the wake of V-II the Church has experienced a severe identity crisis. There is almost no point of Catholic teaching that has not been called into question or repudiated since V-II. And without a clear and unified sense of herself and her mission how can the Church appeal to those who are searching for clear answers to life’s big questions? The fact is that their beliefs and actions shifted away from Catholic certainties and principles,  dissolving the very Catholic certainties and principles they rely and call on to achieve their goals. In fact the same Mr. Johnson even quotes Paul Claudel on that matter, saying that: “The problem with the fallen world is so enormous that only the Word can respond to it, bringing not an explanation but a presence…hope that a genuine implementation lies in our future.”  Yet the word they’ve distorted, the genuine they’ve diluted and the presence they’ve degraded.  And the effects are still being felt today.

Is the pro-Vatican II camp’s contortion of logic blind to its own philosophical flaws, or is it just an example of the wanting so much to believe its own deeply significant nonsense?  An intellectually honest person’s got to wonder if throwing more Vatican II type ideology at the Church will ever produce any significant positive results. True, there are a few things that Vatican II did that were good and necessary but, and this is very important, only a very few, the sum of which cannot outweigh or paper over the damage it has wrought. If the Church was in some respects rigid before Vatican II, perhaps what it needs these days is a cathartic dose of more rigidity. The Church needs a second coming, like the Council of Trent, as a form of Divine intervention. “There is a danger that the shift among Catholics from a preoccupation with eternity to an engagement with the world has now gone so far that it effaces the very idea of an afterlife and so distorts the teaching of the gospel and endangers the coherence of the Christian religion. It suggests that the lack of individual orientation loses focus on the Four Last Things [Death, Judgment, Heaven & Hell] and is one of the causes for the relative decline of the Catholic Church in the developed world.”—Piers Paul Reid.

Supposedly there's a rebellion within the Vatican by the conservative Cardinals who are very distressed at the direction the current pope is taking the church, that he's actually single-handedly changing, wearing the faith, the doctrinal faith, by pursuing even further the ideological direction of V-II. So far, no one has contributed more to the process of attempting correcting the problems created by Vatican II then Cardinal Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI. The bishops of themselves made little effort to communicate the council’s  meanings, Or correct the errors.

Certainly the results of Vatican II seem to have gone from self-criticism to self-destruction. Expected was a new enthusiasm, and many wound up discouraged and bored. The net result therefore seems to be negative…the change in ecclesial climate was becoming ever more evident…I tried to sound a first warning signal, but few noticed it…We can therefore affirm that there will be no renewal in the Church until there is a change of course and an abandonment of the errors adopted after V-II” ---Pope Benedict XVI

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