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How Vatican II differed from other councils July 9, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Basics, disaster, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, reading, sadness, scandals, secularism, the return.

I started reading a new book the other day, one I’ve long had but which wound up in storage. I actually bought this book when I first caught fire in the Faith, but for various reasons never got around to reading it, principly because it’s been sitting in a box in a storage locker for the past 6 years!  514Vw66Z1XL__SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_

Nevertheless, I had retrieved it from storage and started to read it. The book is The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America by David Carlin. I’ll be honest, I read the first 50 or so pages of the book, and then put it back on the shelf, which is something I almost never do. I stopped reading in this case, however, because the book promised to reveal little I didn’t already know from superior sources, and because I could not agree with one of the author’s key suppositions early in the book, one of the three foundational principles upon which the book is based. I may return to the book later, but for now, especially coming off reading a dozen or more very heavy duty and impeccably researched books on the subject, I decided not to continue.  That is a very rare event for me – I am a stubborn book-reader, even sticking with marginal or bad books, just to get them over with.

Nevertheless, I quit.  The point of divergence was Carlin’s claim that Vatican II was really nothing different, that the Church has always been doing two key things that sort of defined the Council: “changing doctrine,” and changing the Mass.

Triumph of the Church_ANDREA DA FIRENZEIn the first case, Carlin is simply, absolutely, wrong. What he terms “changing” doctrine, prior to Vatican II, really meant clarifying and, on rare occasions, formally codifying as Dogmas, those doctrines already universally held. The two examples he cites, the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption, are both perfect examples of this.  Both Blessed Pope Pius IX in the first case, and Venerable Pope Pius XII in the second, surveyed the bishops of the world to ascertain whether both doctrines were universally held before formally declaring them Dogmas. When the answers returned as overwhelmingly in agreement with the formal act of definition, the Dogmas were proclaimed. Thus, Catholics did not have some “new” truth unleashed on them – they merely had codified that truth which had always been almost universally held.  Reading Dom Prosper Gueranger, he makes plain that these definitions were met with universal acclaim and joy by laity and clergy alike.

What many people fail to understand, even very conservative Catholics, is that the Church is One.  The Church is One not only in terms of space, but also in time. Thus, what the Church believes to be Truth today, must have been Truth yesterday, and will be tomorrow.  Christ is also One, and the Church is Trinity_pious picture2His Mystical Body.  There can be no separation. There can be no “new truth.”  So, while it is true that, especially in the early Church, certain dogmas like the nature of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity took some time to formally define, the Church never taught error in this regard, and in fact, fought many battles to preserve Truth. It is also true that whatever doctrines/dogmas which took some time to formally elucidate were always held in nascent form and discernible by reason from the twin pillars of the Faith of Scripture and Tradition.

Carlin’s other claim is that the Mass has always been changing.  Here he is on somewhat firmer ground, but not much.  Yes, the Mass did change especially in the early Church, and there were perhaps a dozen or so variants in use in the High Middle Ages, but the differences in these Masses were frequently trivial. He trots out the old, discredited canard that the Council of Trent “created” a new revision of the Mass, which is utterly false. What Trent did is codify the Gallico-Roman form of the Latin Rite (which was the predominant Mass then in use) as the universal standard, while allowing some venerable Rites, at least 200 years old (like the Ambrosian and Mozarabic Rites) to remain.  Trent did make a few very minor changes as part of this standardization, but most of these were virtually invisible to the man in the pews.  What Carlin fails to note is that the development of the Mass had always been organic – that is, small changes accrued over time, coming typically from the bottom up, in various dioceses or monasteries around the Church, which gradually over the course of decades or centuries became a bit different from another Mass offered elsewhere.Christ Light of the World_pius picture

Vatican II was totally, radically different. For one, the scope of the changes made to the Novus Ordo were orders of magnitude larger than those made in any previous revision of the Mass. This was the total destruction of the former Rite, and the fabrication of a totally new Rite on the spot. The changes were totally inorganic: they were imposed in rather brutal fashion from above by the highest Church authority, made virtually overnight and by a small cabal of self-anointed experten, with dozens of Propers literally thrown together overnight, some of which may even have been written by protestants (it is known with certainty that many of the banal prayers of the post-VII Liturgy of the Hours were written by protestant “advisers”).  What is more, while Trent left venerable old Rites in place, the Traditional Latin Mass was declared “abrogated,” even though in reality it wasn’t, and such is essentially impossible, anwyay.  For 20 odd years, the TLM was virtually extinct in the canonically regular Church.  But the biggest factor was the enormous, massive nature of the changes, many of which were not even specified by the Council (but, there is an argument they could be inferred from various parts of the Conciliar text, and that argument has varying degrees of merit).  Essentially, the faithful were told that the Mass they had always known and, for the most part, dearly loved, was deficient, bad, even, stultifying, and ineffective of Grace.  They were told how much they hated Latin and how they had never understood anything.  Given that the Mass was the core of the experience of the Faith most Catholics had, both the changes, and the campaign to “sell” them by discrediting the old Mass, caused many Catholic heads to untitledspin so far, they unscrewed themselves and fell off.  In essence.

Again, with respect to Doctrine or “teaching,” Vatican II made such comprehensive, all-encompassing declarations, in a manner never before seen, most Catholics were led quite easily to believe that the Council did, in fact, “change” many beliefs previously held.  Now, much of this was the work of the progressive faction at the Council and their media allies, in their quest to radically transmogrify the Faith into a construct amenable to the dominant cultural sexular paganism, but the fact remains that in the 2000 year history of the Church, there has never been another Council like Vatican II.  Vatican II was the first Council that failed to specifically define any Doctrine, or condemn any error. Vatican II was written with a language and style utterly unlike any Council that preceded it, or really any official Church iconoclasm-detailproclamation, for that matter.  In the subjects it covered, in the manner in which it “spoke,” in what it left out (like the formal condemnation of communism that was the #1 request in the pre-conciliar survey of the world’s bishops for items to address at the Council) – Vatican II was simply unheard of in the history of the Church.  It was such a radical shift from what Catholics – observant or not – had experienced previously, that it is little surprise that the progressives had no difficulty at all in selling their vision of “newchurch” to the faithful.  And it is little wonder the vast majority eagerly latched onto that “newchurch” bandwagon, only to fall off into the inevitable disinterest and apostasy that was its only possible destination.

I appreciate Carlin’s effort, and the book is very positively reviewed, but after admittedly only a few pages, I just felt like I had read the same analysis, done much better, in other books.  Books like The Desolate City, Iota Unum, The Second Vatican Council: an unwritten history, The Great Facade, etc,. etc. I think I may also be worn out on the topic, for the time being.  Carlin does present some great statistical data throughout the book, such as the statistic that people over-report their Mass attendance in polls, because people tend to over-report all expected “good” behavior in polls. Thus, Mass attendance in the US is not the self-reported 25%, but more like 10-15%, which actual diocesan data reveals. But I think we as the Church are not well served by pretending that Vatican II is some super-council that trumps everthing that came before, or that it is eminently reconciliable with Tradition, or that the changes in the Mass were nothing unusual.  I don’t think any of these views can be fully justified at this point.



1. David - July 11, 2013

Tantamergo, have you read or skimmed The Faithful Departed? It’s about the decline of the Archdiocese of Boston from the 1960’s until the scandals came to light in 2002. The author even tells a story at one parish there in the 1980’s where in place of the second reading an article from the New York Times was read. Talk about a major liturgical abuse.

2. Chris Edwards - July 11, 2013

I read it recently because Michael Voris had Carlin on his “Miked up” blog talk radio show two times in a row to discuss the book. Voris highly recommended it and I thought he was a fascinating guest. I’ll grant that maybe he’s not correct about VII and the changes in the Mass, but the scope of the book is much broader than that. Carlin is a sociologist and ex-politician and may not be as knowledgable as some about Vatican II. He presents a historical and cultural analysis of the Catholicism in the U.S. It’s more about societal impacts on the church, and how the church has succumbed to the influences of cultural relativism in the U.S. There’s a good discussion of why an indifferentist, overly ecumenical approach has damaged the church, which I highly recommend to the the bishops and their chanceries.

He’s also written a short book called “Homosexualism versus Catholicism” which is worthwhile.

Chris Edwards - July 11, 2013

I looked at the books you mentioned – just the brief descriptions on Amazon, and I think they cover a little different ground than Carlin’s. I would probably learn from reading them how the church disintegrated from within. Carlin’s emphasis is a bit different: current external enemies such as modernism, the sexual revolution (the personal liberty principle), etc.

tantamergo - July 11, 2013

I hope I did not give the impression that I am bashing the book. I disagree with his assessment of VII and his description of certain historical points on the Church – and these are to me very significant points – but I imagine it has a great deal good to say. I know his statistical data is great. It really documents the collapse.

But, my focus is very Church-specific. I tend to discount theories that involve external factors in analyzing the collapse in the Church, because the Church has overcome worse in the past. The reason things are so bad today is, to my mind, due primarily to internal Church factors, and that all stems from the revolution in the Church that started in the 40s and 50s, when the modernists gained overwhelming influence. I disagree with his premise that VII was nothing very different and that external factors were primarily responsible for the collapse. Because I think that, I think the situation more “fixable” than he does. All that is required is a return to orthodoxy. While millions will definitevely “fall away” (in truth, they already have), millions more will be edified into a much greater faith.

But most of all, I’m beat down on the subject. I’ve been studying it intensively for the last 1 1/2 years. I need a change of pace. At least slightly. I’m sure I’ll read the book eventually.

3. Decrees and Declarations (Vatican II in Plain English) | WWW.DBESTREVIEW.COM - July 13, 2013

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