|The Second Vatican Council|
(Rorate Caeli) - The great novelty comes from the Roman side. Le Figaro has learned that the Holy See could, for the first time, admit that these aspects fought by the "Integrists" are not considered as "essential" to the Catholic faith to the point of keeping outside the Church those who do not admit them. And that what has been foundational to the Catholic faith for twenty centuries is the sole [aspect] considered fundamental for communion with the Holy See, and not the interpretation from the last Council to this day.THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: If the report is accurate, (and we must always question that when it comes to inside Vatican information), than in actuality this would not surprise me. Both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Paul VI specifically said the Second Vatican Council was "pastoral" in nature, and by extension, it "remain[s] on a [more] modest level" than previous Church councils (read more here). Both popes openly stated the Council defined no dogma at all.
Great autonomy of action
Another consequence: the Holy See, after it is verified tomorrow that Bishop Fellay and his faithful share the essence of the Catholic faith - which remains a demand and a sine qua non condition for Rome -, would propose to them a juridical solution so that the Fraternity of Saint Pius X is from this point forward considered a Catholic entity and not foreign to the ecclesial body anymore....
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So if what we have in Vatican II are purely "pastoral" documents, which should of course be taken seriously, and nothing new was dogmatically defined by Vatican II, than by extension, any group of Catholics who choose to ignore the council, but instead cling to the pre-conciliar teaching of the Church, cannot be held liable for heresy. If they're not heretics, and they subscribe to all the pre-conciliar teachings of the Church, than by definition, they are Catholic, whether they chose to accept Vatican II or not.
I'm sorry but that's just how it has to be. If the Second Vatican Council bishops chose to attach a note of infallibility to any one of the documents produced, than we would have a whole different story. That would change everything. But in fact, they did not do this, and as Pope Paul VI pointed out, that was intentional. So if Vatican II taught nothing new, than technically speaking, Catholics don't have to accept it, or so it would seem. Or they can accept part of it. Or they can accept all of it. It seems almost arbitrary. Sorry, but that's the nature of pastoral teaching when it has no infallibility attached to it. Based on what Pope Paul VI said, echoed by Cardinal Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, it was as if Vatican II was more of a "Super Synod" than an actual "Church Council." As far as I know, no previous Church Council neglected to include an infallible document of some sort.
So what are we to make of Vatican II? I've read the documents and I personally see no problem with any of them, because you see it all depends on the context in which you read them. As Pope Benedict XVI pointed out, it's the difference between the "hermeneutic of continuity" verses the "hermeneutic of rupture." If the Vatican II documents are interpreted within the context and continuity of previous Church teaching, than they make fairly good sense. If however, one were to interject one's own fanciful context, or if one were to jettison all previous Church teaching, so as to interpret the Council in a vacuum, as a stand-alone catechism that is super-dogmatic, than we run into all kinds of problems. This is what Pope Benedict XVI has warned us against, and indeed it is this very "hermeneutic of rupture" that has caused so many problems in recent decades, in effect causing Archbishop Lefebvre (founder of the SSPX) to reject the Council outright. For Lefebvre, and the bishops he illicitly consecrated (including Fellay), the Second Vatican Council was to be judged on the fruit it produced, not necessarily by the intent of the Council fathers. They saw the dogmatic ambiguity of Vatican II documents as an open door to all the filth in the world, and so they challenged these documents on their face value, calling into question their very authority. Unfortunately, it looks like while their solution was extreme, and reckless, the premise of their basic argument may have been sound. If the SSPX takes up this offer, it will send shockwaves through the entire Catholic Church, because it will codify in action what Pope Benedict XVI has been saying all along, in continuity with what Pope Paul VI said. Namely that the Second Vatican Council is just pastoral, and that it cannot be interpreted authoritatively unless it is done so in context with all previous Church teaching, changing absolutely not one iota of it. In other words, if the SSPX accepts this offer, it will codify in action a joint Vatican-SSPX refutation of every Modernist heresy and innovation ever created over the last four decades! I guarantee, this will not go over well in the most liberal dioceses in Europe, and could cause some not-so-minor problems here in North America. It is for this reason I welcome it.