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A remarkable new book on Vatican II June 28, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, General Catholic, Latin Mass.

A new book, from a theologian with impeccable credentials and with forwards from a sitting bishop (Mario Oliveri, bishop of Albenga and Imperia in Italy AND Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, former secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and now Archbishop of Colombo), puts forward an interpretation of Vatican II that would have, in years past, been treated with as much contempt as anything coming out of SSPX.  That it is being published by a Pontifical Right organization (Franciscans of the Immaculate) is even more remarkable.  The book, The Ecumenical Vatican Council II: A Much Needed Discussion clarifies much of the nature of the council and the documents it produced.  Those attracted to tradition will find much to like; progressives, not so much.  Some excerpts, with my comments following at times:

In all truth Modernism hid itself under the cloak of Vatican II’s hermeneutic…The new rite of Holy Mass practically silenced the nature of sacrifice making of it an occasion for gathering together the people of God…the eucharistic gathering was given the mere sense of sharing a meal together…After having said all of this about Vatican II, if someone were to ask me if, in the final analysis, the modernist corruption had hidden itself within the Council documents themselves, and if the Fathers themselves were more or less infected, I would have to respond both yes and no…But yes as well, because not a few pages of the conciliar documents reek of the writings and ideas of Modernism–this can be seen above all in Guadium et Spes….

Let me say immediately that not even a single dogmatic definition included in the intentions of LG or the other Vatican II documents. The Council–we do well not to forget this–could not have even proposed one since it had refused to follow along the lines traced out by other Councils…This means that none of its doctrines, unless ascribable to previous conciliar definitions, are infallible or unchangeable, nor are they even binding: he who denies them cannot, for this reason, be called a formal heretic…….It is licit, therefore, to recognize a dogmatic nature in Vatican II only where it re-proposes dogmas defined in previous Councils as the truth of Faith.

My comment – this is an incredibly important point.  As Pope Benedict XVI and many others have pointed out, there have been many, far too many people in the Church who view Vatican II as a complete utter break with the past – there was the Church before Vatican II, and the Church after it, and the two are almost totally unrelated, in their minds, except for the name.  Both this author and Benedict XVI have maintained that this is utterly false – that there can be no discord between the pre-VII and post-VII Church.  As Pope St. Pius X dogmatically defined, all innovations and renovations in Church doctrine must be in union with that doctrine already defined.  What this means, practically, is that if someone tries to tell you that we have to have a sloppy, irreverent liturgy, or bad music, or to water down Catholic doctrine, “because VII says so,” they are completely wrong.   These statements are very strong statements of support for Benedict XVI’s hermeneutic of continuity – Vatican II must be seen in the light of, and as an extension and addition to, all previous Church doctrine.

The Council, therefore, in spite of its basic arguments, became imprisoned by the distress of the ‘temporary’ and the tyranny of the ‘relative….

[A] reform is not necessarily a development; it could actually be its opposite….

the signing of insane agreements like that on ‘justification’ which leaves out the articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae upon which Luther had founded his reform…frenzied ecumenism [even]…official declarations of the saving efficacy of non-Catholic professions of the Christian faith and even Judaism…How many times the very men, into whose hands Jesus had entrusted the sacred deposit of the Faith, solemnly and pompously said ‘no’ to this or that doctrine, like the Marian Coredemption, because otherwise it will prejudice ecumenical dialogue. It was as if to say, ‘There is no other truth or value besides ecumenical dialogue.’…

This is an enormous statement, as well. There is tremendous confusion within the Church on doctrine, what Catholics believe.  Because some of the documents of Vatican II were written in such an incredibly nebulous way, interpretations have been possible that make ecumenism seem to be the highest goal of Catholicism.  This is a fundamental error.  In addition, much of the ecumenism has been difficult to reconcile with established doctrine, with the Church seeming to compromise on core doctrinal issues like justification in order to reach some meaningless agreement with a protestant sect.  True ecumenism must lead to Rome, as Cardinal Levada recently stated

‘I would not even be ready to believe in the Gospel, if the authority of the Catholic Church were not to compel me to do so’…[quoting St. Augustine]…Tradition, in the last analysis, is the very life of the Church; its action upon the Church comes about through an iter or sacramental or institutional guaranteed by the Holy Spirit…..  Scripture is not, strictly speaking, the living Word of God; it is the witness and memorial of Gods Word. For this reason Scripture is sacred and venerable; yet it does not have the saving efficacy of the other instruments of salvation….Scripture is divinely inspired, Tradition is divinely assisted; both of them pass on the ‘Good News’ of the saving mystery…

Yet another critical issue.  Many of the changes, specifically to the liturgy, that occurred in the Church after Vatican II were made ostensibly to ‘get back to what the early Church was doing,’ or to get closer to some portion of Scripture.  We have been told that Communion in the hand, versus poplum, the Mass as a meal, etc., were practices of the early Church, and to be more ‘authentic’ Christians, we had adopt those practices.  First of all, making such changes seems a tacit admission that the protestant sects were correct in their critique and the Mass as it had evolved over centuries was somehow ‘inauthentic.’  Leaving that gaping chasm of an issue aside, these actions largely ignored the very substantial role that Tradition plays in the doctrine of the Church.  We as Catholics stand not only on Sacred Scripture, but on Sacred Tradition, as well, because many if not most of the practices of the Church were not formally written down and codified until hundreds of years after the death of Christ.  The Church has always taught that Sacred Tradition is instrumental in the organic development of doctrine, and yet after Vatican II many came to believe that hundreds of years of Tradition in the form of the Liturgy should be scrapped and the Mass completely reshaped.  There seems to have been a powerful assumption, shared by some council fathers but especially the periti, the experten, the young priests and theologians who took the documents produced by Vatican II and then turned those broad and often nebulous guidelines into a new Mass, that the Mass formulated at Trent was some kind of artificial construct, and that it needed great amendment to be both more representative of early Christian worship and especially more ecumenical.  I’m not saying the Novus Ordo is not a valid Mass, but…..the horrid decline in the Church that has occurred throughout Europe and North America in the meantime has often been associated with a less than inspiring Mass.

There is much more at the original site and here, on the anthropocentric philosophy behind so many of the council documents.  Go check it out

This had to have some high approval to get published.  This is a statement.

To order the book, follow the instructions below. 

You can get this important book written by Msgr. Bruno Gherardini by emailing cm.editrice@immacolata.ws

This is the Catholic publisher.  You simply email them and give your address, saying you want the book.  They will send it. The person manning that email address speaks fluent English but the printed  invoice that comes with the book is in Italian and furthermore lacks an  address (see below, however). They will send you the book and the invoice in euros, and you will end up checking the day’s exchange rate (just google exchange rate and fill in the blanks), and then sending a check (or money order you can get at the post office) for the appropriate amount to Italy, there being no mention of PayPal or Visa-readiness (however, when you email them, you might ask–popularity of this work may have changed the situation). The price is presently (May 2010) ten euros, plus 8,70 euros for shipping.  That’s how they write it, with a comma where we’d have a period, in English. At the exchange rate in effect in May,  2010, that came out to 23.00 and change, and that rounds up nicely to anything you’d care to donate for this effort on their part in support of truth. I gave thirty bucks and now that I think about it, I ought to be ashamed to be so stingy, since this book is another very important step in the right direction and so, of course, the forces of hell are against it.

The mailing address provided upon inquiry, since it is not printed on the invoice, is

83040  FRIGENTO  (AV)


1. thewhitelilyblog - June 29, 2010

I can’t agree with your comment that this book represents a support for Benedict’s hermaneutic of continuity! It is quite the contrary! The work explicitly rejects it, as well as the hermaneutic of rupture, and the point of the book is to suggest a different hermaneutic, The hermaneutic of theology.

Let’s not be bogged down by the use of the word hermaneutic. It is a Greek word (it means ‘walking around’) for a rhetorical tool to facilitate the investigation of any particular topic. There is a hermaneutic of physical characteristics, for example, that any beginning student of geology can apply to a particular topic that yields information useful in the formation of a thesis regarding a substance. How big is it? How big are its atoms? What is its atomic weight? What color does it reflect? And so forth and so on. There are ‘hermaneutics of fashion’ as weighty as a ‘hermaneutic of hexes,’ a recent post on my own blog ‘walking around’ the newly viral idea that the Vatican is possessed. Hermaneutics are not a tool of the Holy Spirit and they do not yield any kind of perfect analysis. Benedict’s hermaneutic for discussing the Council is perfectly consistent with his approach to just about everything: stress the positive, ignore the negative, and hope for the best. This is his approach to Obama, for example. And of course every time he stresses the word ‘continuity’ those who packed the documents of the Council with the exact opposite of continuity cheer.

Nor does the hermaneutic of rupture serve, because it lumps those who WANT rupture with tradition with those who REJECT rupture with tradition but wish it recognized that rupture did indeed happen. Gherardini most certainly agrees with the latter, but is proposing a new hermaneutic, the hermaneutic of theology. That is the thesis of the entire book and it would not do well to infer that he “agrees with” or “supports” Benedict in regard to the selection of the scalpel used to get at the infection. Whether or not Vatican II was infallible, whether or not is has some tradition in it, whether or not modernist ideas are cleverly concealed throughout the thing, Gherardini wants it discussed from the point of view of Catholic doctrine. As does SSPX. As should we. Let’s pray that happens, and let’s ditch the hermaneutic of continuity as particularly un-useful.

By the way, you have my own exact words, from the White Lily Blog, in your section on how to purchase this book. I had to actually go through the experience in order to get those tips on ordering, so it is mine own. Since you didn’t use quotes, a reader can’t know that. They might end up blaming you for bad directions! So perhaps you might have used quotes for that section as well. I invite you back to the White Lily Blog for some other observations on these extremely interesting topics.

tantamergo - June 29, 2010

First, my apologies for bad blog etiquette. No slight was intended, and I did link to your discussion of Msgr. Gherardini’s book, but I should have made it known that the instructions for how to order the book were from your blog. I do appreciate your effort, without your blog I would not have known how to order the book. I have to cram in time to blog whenever I can, and I make too many mistakes because of that lack of time.

I haven’t read the book. My analysis, such as it is, was based on excerpts published at your site and two others. I don’t disagree with what appears to be Msgr. Gherardini’s major point, which is that the documents produced at Vatican II need a great deal of clarification and re-examination. There are too many places where the documents can easily be read to contradict Church doctrine (even dogma) established at prior councils or through the OUM. I was attending a catechist training class last night, and the subject of Vatican II came up. He stated that there was a great deal of internal tension both within the documents of Vatican II themselves, and between documents of Vatican II and previously established doctrine of the Church. As a descriptive, that is accurate on a surface level, but it is also shameful in the sense that this tension, or seeming discontinuity, has led to great division within the Church.

Another topic discussed last night was whether one was required, out of charity, to engage in fraternal correction with a self-professed Catholic who supports abortion on demand. That is to say, if one is “personally” pro-life, but has a friend who is pro-abort, are we required to correct that person. My view is yes, of course, and I stated last night that Acquinas makes it plain this is so, but there were people arguing that Vatican II established such a primacy of individual conscience that we have no right to try to tell someone that they are wrong. The priest present explained that this primacy is only operative only so long as one is in accord with the doctrine of the Faith, but there are very many people who take a different view, which has caused the Church to suffer through endless scandals.

I don’t make too big a torch out of the ‘hermeneutic of rupture/continuity.’ It’s a nice turn of phrase, wherein I think some of the antagonistic schools of thought in the Church can be examined. There are those who think Vatican II is a dramatic rupture with the past in the Church. This cannot be. As for whether Pope Benedict XVI just hopes the problems of Vatican II and its implementation will go away, I don’t know if I agree with that statement. I don’t know if we, outside the curia, can understand what he has to operate against. My sense is that he would like very much to re-examine Vatican II as Msgr. Gherardini suggests, but I don’t know that he feels he can do so at present. Fr. Z thinks the Church was close to full on schism thirty years ago, and many of those people are still around.

My apologies, again.

Dominus vobiscum,

2. Steve B - June 29, 2010

Great post, Tantamergo!

I’ve had this very book by Msgr. Gherardini on my “books to get/read” list for quite a while now – since Fr. Z first posted on it way back on Sept. 25, ’09:


Since you, Tantamergo, have already ordered this book, perhaps I can borrow it from you once you are finished with it? That way, I can spend my $ on other books wrt the Council & the Liturgy and we won’t have duplicate libraries! 😉

It’ll be a very interesting book to read, for sure – especially, to see if we will concur with the comments above by Ms. Baker above from The White Lily Blog. Without reading Msgr. Gherardini’s book, I don’t quite understand why he would be opposed to Pope Benedict’s “hermeneutic of continuity” approach to the Conciliar documents, but we’ll leave that for another day….

I DO agree whole-heartedly with the mindsets of Msgr. Gherardini and the SSPX that the Vatican II documents DESPERATELY need to be re-deliberated, extensively clarified, and any/all “loopholes” firmly and permanently closed. The “spirit of Vatican II” has wielded its destructive effects upon the Church for FAR too long already. Thanks be to God that the SSPX and the Vatican have begun those very doctrinal discussions! I pray almost every day that their ongoing discussions will:

a) utlimately bring the SSPX back into a full and visible communion with Rome, and

b) that the fruits of their discussions will have a multitude of positive benefits for the entire Church.

Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

Steve B
Plano, TX

tantamergo - June 29, 2010

I shall share the book with you, but it will probably be some time before I get it. I agree with all parties on the grave need for some serious rehashing and further explanation of Vatican II. As the documents stand, they cause far more questions than they answer, and in some cases seem to point to a discontinuity with prior councils and infallible documents. I would like to think that the Vatican/SSPX talks will delve into these matters in great depth, and result in clarification, but sources close to the talks have played down expectations for this. I think Bishop Fellay said that while many issues are being discussed, he doesn’t think there will be a quick resolution to many, if any, of the open issues. I do think there may be some move to “regularize” SSPX within the next few years, if Benedict XVI remains Pope, at least as far as Sacraments are concerned. I pray it will be licit again to satisfy one’s Sunday Mass obligation in an SSPX chapel, even though there isn’t one near us!

3. thewhitelilyblog - June 29, 2010

Tantum Ergo–you are completely forgiven. It was easy, because of your rendition of the struggles in which you engage. Well done, and keep on! Keep on engaging in them!

I don’t know why you write, “There are those who think Vatican II is a dramatic rupture with the past in the Church. This cannot be.” First, isn’t ‘dramatic’ too loose a term? And second, there have been ‘mistakes’ within the Church. I am remembering an article in Angelus magazine about certain unfortunate statements, or formulations, by popes that were re-done either within their lifetimes or afterwards. I do not know everything there is to know about infallibility! (That could easily be my web ‘signature’!!) I’ll try to find it. But meanwhile, where do you get the idea that Vatican II absolutely could not contain any errors? The whole point of it not being a dogmatic council means that it did not go through the theological vetting procedures that would insure its doctrinal orthodoxy. That was deliberate, I understand.

In any case, I am delighted to have discovered such a fine blog in the heart of Texas, and am bookmarking you, and wish you so much wellness! When you read the book, write me and lets talk! That you have found that “there were people arguing that Vatican II established such a primacy of individual conscience that we have no right to try to tell someone that they are wrong” is all the evidence we need that this discussion must take place, clarification must be achieved, the Church must come out again with both fists.

God love you! (That sounds way better with a Texas accent!)

tantamergo - June 29, 2010

I think you misunderstood – I don’t think Vatican II doesn’t contain any errors. I think there are numerous inconsistencies with established Church doctrine – there should be no ‘tension’ with what came before Vatican II. What cannot be is the rupture – there can be no rupture in the doctrine of the Church. I cannot abide by those who think that VII somehow redefined the Church and swept away what was believed before. I don’t recall the encyclical, but didn’t Pope St. Pius X “formalize” this principle, that every Catholic doctrine must be an organic development of what came before – in union with it, as it were?

Thanks for your kind words. I’ve only been a Catholic 11 years, and the first several were wasted, but I’m doing my best to learn the Faith. I assisted at my first EF Mass just this last weekend. I have a strong attraction to Tradition (and Thomism!), but I have very much to learn.

Steve B - June 30, 2010

Hey Tantamergo,

I’ve recently started reading a new book by one of your and my favorite Catholic apologists – John Salza’s “The Mystery of Predestination”. Definitely, no lite fare….

Your comment above wrt being attracted to Thomism caught my eye, especially wrt Salza’s latest book. In a nutshell, Salza touts St. Thomas Aquinas extensively as having presented THE “best” – and virtually as the “official” – position of the Church on the theology of Predestination.

Why am I bringing this up? Because, in reading the Introduction and the 1st chapter of Salza’s book, I’m finding that I really don’t buy his many/most of his arguments. Kinda shocking, given how Salza hit homerun after homerun in 3 of the “Biblical Basis” books of his that I have read (I have only yet to read his BB book on the Papacy).

Perhaps we can discuss this sometime too?

Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

Steve B
Plano, TX

tantamergo - June 30, 2010

We can take that up tomorrow at lunch. Does that mean you disagree with the Thomist view of predestination?

I think as an apologist, Salza is brilliant. As a theologian, he gets on shaky ground, like with his defense of geocentrism. As I believe I mentioned before, if geocentrism is true, he has to believe that every single extra-orbital space mission ever flown has been faked, because they all depend on a heliocentric model of the solar system, and even on the motion of the arms of the Milky Way galaxy to plot their courses to Mars, Jupiter, the Moon, or wherever. But, I look forward to talking with you about it.

thewhitelilyblog - June 30, 2010

Tantamergo, I got myself covered in texts this morning looking for the answer to your question about when and where adherence to tradition was made a formality etc. I found St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, 1-2: “Now I recall to your minds, brethren, the Gospel that I preached to you, which also you received wherein also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold it fast, as I preached it to you.” I also re-read SSPX Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta’s report on the important pre-condition to the discussion between SSPX and the Vatican, that “the most important thing [of all the ground rules established] . . . . is that the only common criterion possible for these discussions is the anterior Magisterium. I repeat: the only common criterion possible, the sole criterion that we accept and that is a condition sine qua non for these discussions, is the magisterium prior to the Second Vatican Council, the Magisterium of all time, Tradition.”

And then I found in Archbishop Lefebvre’s Open Letter to Confused Catholics (126-127) mention of Pius XII’s teaching, in promulgating the doctrine of the Assumption, that this doctrine was included in the deposit of Revelation and already existed in the texts revealed to us before the death of the last Apostle. That we cannot bring anything new into the field, we cannot add a single dogma, but only express it more clearly, more beautifully, more loftily.

Apparently this is one of the teachings VII calls into question, and BXVI’s insistence on the use of a hermaneutic of continuity–and for this reason it shouldn’t be neglected as I foolishly recommend!–was to signal his own teaching on this idea, that no, we cannot add one thing. He is answering that camp. And yet his own insistence on this idea was met in the modernist camp by more same ole same ole, simply by asserting, without proof, that the Council does come from Tradition, so there! Gherardini mentions just such a one in his preface about the culture of celebration that obscures an examination of the Council, citing “Vatican II, Renewal within Tradition” (University Press, 2008) as a book that asserts over and over that the consiliar documents simply ‘interpret’ Tradition and are fully in line with It. (One of the authors is on the theological faculty of Ave Maria University in Florida.)

If I come across THE definitive answer, I will come back and put it.

Honey, we all have so much to learn, and so much to pray for, and sacrifice for. I came back to the Church after thirty years away because I married a Wrong Guy, and the smoke of liberalism most certainly entered my lungs–well, it was the smoke of something anyway! Now I’m trying to make up for it. But you know, Gherardini says that he couldn’t cover all the documents himself, that it would take dozens of theologians many years to unravel everything Vatican II put forward. I think that’s why Bishop Fellay said the talks between SSPX and the Vatican could take generations. They are filming them all, did you know that? I am glad it doesn’t depend on the likes of me. My best contribution is probably to give up sweets and pray the rosary like mad. But one can’t help being drawn into the discussion! I am glad you have found the traditional mass, but where are you going? I tried going to an ‘indult’ site but they stand about and chat inside the church after mass, showing their real beliefs rather brazenly, and the sermons clinched it.

tantamergo - June 30, 2010

It was in Pascendi Dominici Gregis that Pope St. Pius X stated that all doctrine of the Church must be in union with that already established – there can be no discontunity, there can be no novelty that is not an organic development of what the Church has already infallibly established. This is why I have some trouble with Natural Family Planning and Humanae Vitae in general – it makes a break from the primary aspect of marriage being procreative, to making the unitive aspect at least equal, if not superior. Thanks for your research, I have a few books from Angelus Press but not Archbishop Lefebvre’s book to confused Catholics (I may get that at some point.) I can understand why SSPX wants the doctrinal discussions to start from the Magisterium as it existed up until 1962, because there is some that many would like to see as ‘magisterial’ that is of that rupture that Pope Benedict XVI has referenced. I know that there are many Catholics who consider themselves to be very orthodox who go to great lengths to try to defend Vatican II and state that it was only its misapplication or misinterpretation that was the problem – I think this book from Msgr Gherardini may start to point the way for people to be more critical of the Council itself.

For a long time in the Church, criticizing the Council, or questioning its authority (since it wasn’t a dogmatic council, just an ‘ecumenical’ one), would get you branded a sedevacantist or Lefebvrist or whatever other epithet would quickly end discussion. Now, this isn’t right, but those who perhaps make their living from the Church or who have something to lose by being branded as such, have been very reticent to do so. They like their jobs. That’s not an excuse, but perhaps an explanation.

Where I attended EF Mass is a pretty devout Catholic group. There were two women in the choir who insisted on having an unfortunately loud discussion after Mass while I was trying to pray, but the sermons are very good. You can find many of them on http://www.audiosancto.org. This parish is the only alternative for EF Mass in the diocese, and even the nearest SSPX chapel, which I would not attend at this point except on a weekday, is 80 or so miles away. In fact, there are only a very few parishes in Texas that offer EF Mass, and the Dallas/Ft. Worth area probably has about the lowest EF Mass to Catholic population ratio of any major US diocese at this point. There has been much hostiliy to Latin here, even Novus Ordo Latin. I and some others have been trying for some time to get a daily Latin Mass offered in the part of Dallas we live in, just one Mass a week, to no avail. Pray for us, please.

You have me at a disadvantage. Where are you at?

4. bob - June 29, 2010

“Let me say immediately that not even a single dogmatic definition included in the intentions of LG or the other Vatican II documents. The Council–we do well not to forget this–could not have even proposed one …………………………….This means that none of its doctrines, unless ascribable to previous conciliar definitions, are infallible or unchangeable, nor are they even binding: ……………….….It is licit, therefore, to recognize a dogmatic nature in Vatican II only where it re-proposes dogmas defined in previous Councils as the truth of Faith.”

This says what the Council is not, what it did not do or accomplish. So what did it do? What was it, if it proclaimed no new dogma or settled any theological dispute. Pope JPII sang the praises of the Council for years. It was a theme of his papacy. Does anyone know, has any Church document ever told us what the Council did, what its purpose was? “Aggiormento? Opening windows to fresh air” Very high expectations were set. Then after the disaster set in we were told it was to be expected for forty years. Times up!

thewhitelilyblog - June 30, 2010

Many people cite John XXIII’s opening address to the Council as the clearest statement — I think you were actually making reference to it in your ‘open window’ phrase. They did a number on us for sure, saying that it was ‘only pastoral,’ no need to be examined by thelogians, and then, as Gherardini points out, making an Absolute of it in every way possible in the years subsequent (pate 30). Yes, time’s up, gentlemen. Now let’s get back to the Restoration, please.

5. Timothy - July 1, 2010

This book can also be ordered through the Academy of the Immaculate, a traditional Catholic apostolate in the USA.

Copies of Msgr. Gherardini’s book are $25 each plus shipping. Mike Coffey, FTI can be contacted for orders directly at mimike@pipeline.com or 1-888-906-2742.

I spoke with Mr Coffey this morning, which was a pleasure, and he has stock on hand.

tantamergo - July 1, 2010

Thanks very much!

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