(Rorate Caeli) - Cardinal Brandmüller: "There is a huge difference between a great constitution," like the Vatican II constitutions on the church, the liturgy and divine revelation, "and simple declarations," like the Vatican II declarations on Christian education and the mass media. "Strangely enough, the two most controversial documents" for the SSPX -- those on religious freedom [Dignitatis humanae] and on relations with non-Christians [Nostra aetate] -- "do not have a binding doctrinal content, so one can dialogue about them," the cardinal said. "So I don't understand why our friends in the Society of St. Pius X concentrate almost exclusively on these two texts. And I'm sorry that they do so, because these are the two that are most easy to accept if we consider their canonical nature" as non-binding, he said...THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: This is probably old news for most of my readers, but it echoes what I've been saying on this blog for years now. (Nice to know I'm in good company.) The Second Vatican Council is an inferior council all together, and that's not my assessment, but the assessment of two popes (Paul VI and Bendedict XVI). It is a PASTORAL council, not a doctrinal council. In that the fathers of the council, for whatever reason, deliberately chose NOT to attach a note of infallibility to any document or statement from the council. This is extremely significant, because it means that while their full pastoral authority was in use, their chrism of infallibility was not. This makes the whole council inferior to previous Church councils, such as Vatican I and Trent, in which the note of infallibility was used.
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What does this mean to you and me as average Catholics? It means simply this. We should look at Vatican II as a template for new Catechism books, and not much more than that. It means when we read Vatican II documents, and catechisms associated with it, we should do so in the full context of Vatican I and Trent. This is because Vatican II has no meaning outside of Vatican I and Trent. It is a pastoral council, explaining what the previous councils mean. Outside of this context, Vatican II has no meaning at all.
The reason why the pope is open to debate with the SSPX on the pastoral issues of religious freedom and relations with non-Christians is precisely because they are PASTORAL issues! They are not dogmatic issues at all. So that means they are open for debate among those qualified to debate such things, and as far as the pope is concerned, the leaders of the SSPX are most certainly qualified to discus it and debate it. It would also appear that disagreement over these PASTORAL issues is not sufficient cause to warrant separation from the Church or a lack of authentic canonical status within the Church.