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The review of Roberto de Mattei’s The Second Vatican Council I should have written! September 4, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, disaster, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, history, Papa, reading, sadness, Society.

I never really got around to dwelling on Robero de Mattei’s seminal work, The Second Vatican Council: an unwritten history.  I moved onto other things, and never gave it the in depth review and analysis is deserved. I did do a couple of posts, but the work really deserved much more.

Thankfully, Boniface at Unam Sanctam Catholicam has written the post I should have.  He explains in depth the numerous qualities that make this book probably the best single volume on the Second Vatican Council.  Although de Mattei is a very solid Catholic, he doesn’t need to engage in traditional polemics to establish the many grave problems surrounding the Council, and, in particular, the personalities that dominated it. HeSecond Vatican Council - An Unwritten Story-800x800 just quotes the personalities themselves. Rather than belabor the point, I’ll just get to my extensive excerpts of Boniface’s post, adding emphasis and comments as usual:

The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story is a total vindication of the traditionalist critique of the Council and its relation to the current state of the Church. Using only documentary evidence – including records of Council proceedings, texts of interventions by the Council Fathers, personal correspondences of John XXIII and Paul VI, and personal diaries of the periti – Dr. Mattei reconstructs the tumultuous days leading up the Council and thoroughly documents the thoughts and aspirations of the Council Fathers as the event that was Vatican II exploded on the world stage.

This is where Mattei’s book has its greatest value: in revealing the intentions, thoughts and opinions of the participants in the Council. Reading the words of the actual Fathers on this subject demolishes a lot of canards about the Council. For example, it is often asserted that the ambiguity of the Council documents is an accusation made by Traditionalists who seek to blame the Council itself for the Church’s problems; however, the comments of the Council Fathers themselves reveal that even while the Council was in session, ambiguity and vagueness were serious concerns for many of the participants in the Council (see here). [I would add that numerous recent statements from Curial Cardinals themselves point up this deliberate ambiguity.  From Cardinals Koch to Kaspar to Canizares-Llovera, all have either contradicted one another on the Council or pointed out its ambiguities. If Cardinals cannot agree, what is a lowly lay person to think?]
novamissaAnother example: it is commonly asserted that the Council itself was carried out in perfect continuity with previous ecumenical councils and the problems came only with a hijacking of its implementation. However, Mattei’s book reveals that the participants in the Council viewed it even then as something revolutionary, from the first meetings of the first session when the Fathers revolted to throw out the documents prepared by the Theological Commission, to their replacement of the heads of all the commissions with liberals, to their setting up of a permanent body of four Cardinals that effectively served as a meta-commission to organize all the other commissions and push them towards liberal ends [These four mostly Germanic Cardinals – Dopfner, Frings, Suenens, and Konig – were very liberal, even radical.  Their vision of the Church was inspired almost entirely by Karl Rahner’s modernism. That is a point Fr. Ralph Wiltgen makes in The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber – that because the Germanic episcopal conferences dominated the Council, and they in turn relied almost entirely on Rahner for guidance, what really developed was that much of the conciliar documents became dominated by the thoughts of one man, and not a very good one at that – Karl Rahner, SJ.  It is also important to note that the rhetoric of the progressives at VII was inherently revolutionary and warlike, speaking of “victories,” “battles,” “enemies,” etc.] We learn that it was not a liberal who first proposed interpreting the Council in light of its “spirit”, but Paul VI himself who first referred to the “spirit of Vatican II” in his opening address of the Fourth Session in September of 1965; it was not dissenting bishops who did away with Latin, but Paul VI who first celebrated Masses in the Italian vernacular in 1965 and urged his bishops to imitate him. It was a corbusierdominant clique of the Council Fathers themselves who asked for vernacular, versus populum Masses, cultural Masses, and many other deviations. Yes, this book demolishes the argument that the problems did not come until implementation; the problems were present at the outset. [And, as I wrote yesterday, these “problems” didn’t just magically appear at Vatican II, they were the result of years of liturgical “experimentation” tending towards revolution and modernist agitation.  But de Mattei does make clear that some of the “radical interpretations” of Vatican II came from the highest levels of the Church, including Pope Paul VI.  He was very much on board with the liturgical reform/abuse movement from well before Vatican II, which is a prime reason why Pope Pius XII refused to make him a cardinal. Pope Paul VI pushed for and strongly encouraged some of the more lamentable aspects of the “reform” of the Mass that occurred, under his very specific direction and involvement, after VII, including those items mentioned above.  This is a point Fr. Anthony Cekada makes clear in his book – the Vatican archives themselves reveal that Pope Paul VI carefully reviewed pretty much every document the Concilium (the group led by freemason Fr. Anibale Bugnini to manufacture the new Mass) produced, and that his handwritten notes are all over the documents.  That pretty much explodes the myth held by some VII apologists, that Bugnini, et., al., somehow “pulled a fast one” on Paul VI with the Novus Ordo. Completely untrue. Paul VI was involved in its production in a detailed manner.]
gods-ecstacy-scaled10001Also of note is the manner in which several theologians come off as not just questionable but as total heretics. Sure, we already knew about Kung and Rahner, but even some of the more “respectable” theologians are outed for the heretics they were. For example, Yves Congar, whom Scott Hahn has praised many times and often cites as a source, comes off as a radical heretic in his desire to undermine papal primacy and redefine the nature of the Church,[see comments on collegiality below]  even invoking Martin Luther at the tomb of St. Paul, “who had wanted to reaffirm the Gospel for which Paul had struggled” (pg.487). I was appalled at some of the statements from Congar’s diary quoted in the book. Jean Danielou and Henri de Lubac also are revealed as hypocrites, dissenters and heretics – and this not by any insinuations of slander by the author, but by the words of these theologians themselves. Mattei as an author does not need to make any argument; he allows these periti to hang themselves by simply citing their own words. [All true, true, true.  I was shocked by many statements from Congar’s diary that de Mattei included in his book.  They weren’t just heretical, they revealed a very immoral, very vindictive, very troubled man. In their private thoughts, expressed in letters to friends or diaries, the extreme radicalism of these men, and their desire to essentially re-create the Church from scratch in an ecumenist, modernist mold, is wildly apparent. I at one time started a series on the words of the “fathers” of Vatican II, but stopped after de Chardin.  But, I hope to take that up again. de Mattei’s book will serve as a central source in that effort.  I will say now that de Mattei’s book makes clear that almost all the most influential figures at Vatican II were disciples of the modernist Teilhard de Chardin. ]
We also see that the controversial issues today were not necessarily the controversial issues then. While post-Conciliar critiques have focused on the liturgy, there was really not that much debate at the Council about liturgical matters. The most controversial subject was undoubtedly the Council’s teaching on “collegiality”, which many conservative bishops believed was in flat contradiction of Vatican I and was plainly invented in 1962. [It has not been discussed as much, outside the SSPX, because the revolutionaries did not get nearly so much as they wanted in terms of collegiality.  They wanted to somehow undo the dogmatic statements of Vatican I and greatly limit the power of the papacy.  There has been a resurgence in the rhetoric of “collegiality” and “synodality” in recent months, ever since March 1 or so.  The progressives are all atwitter, giddy that their vision for collegiality (essentially, transferring most authority in the Church to the national episcopal councils, which the progressives largely control) will finally be implemented.]More debate was held on this question than any other, with the concept of religious liberty as expounded in Dignitatis Humanae coming in second (a tidbit I found awesome was that Karol Wojtyla found grave problems with the religious liberty schema and thought the concept of truth found therein was too disassociated with Christ, who is truth). Communism also looms large in the debates, with the vast majority of the Council Fathers asking for a condemnation of communism and Paul VI categorically refusing it. [John XXIII refused, as well. That was, it certainly appears, due to a secret deal made between John XXIII and the KGB-led Russian Orthodox Church, to get a couple of Russian Orthodox bishops to observe the Council.  That deal required a less “militant” attitude towards the Soviet Union and communism than had been extant under previous Popes, especially Ven. Pope Pius XII, and thus the number 1 desire of pre-conciliarthe-glee-of-smashing-idols-calvinists-in-a-catholic-church-1 popes regarding the Council – that it make some statement condemning the horrid evil of communism – was consistently blocked at the papal level.]
One of the fundamental themes of Mattei’s work is the teachings of the Second Vatican Council as theology versus the Second Vatican Council interpreted as an event. Mattei argues that the failure of the conservative/traditional bishops to halt the liberal onslaught was due to the fundamental inability of the conservative bishops to understand that Vatican II as an historical event, a defining occurrence in the history of the Church that was widely viewed as the beginning of a new epoch. [This is the modernist/progressive interpretation of the Council, the “second and greater Pentecost,” (such hubris!) the “council of the media” according to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.]  The conservative Council Fathers, naturally interpreting Vatican II in continuity with previous Councils, focused excessively on the strict theological meaning of the wording of various documents, ultimately making noble and profound objections to the ambiguities of the texts, but never fully grasping the nature of the revolution that the Council unleashed. They did not understand the manner in which the liberals wanted to use the Council, at least not until it was too late. And why would they? No Council in the Church’s history had ever been used in such a way – what Benedict XVI referred to as a “meta-council.” Paradoxically, the conservative bishop’s view of the Council in continuity with tradition rendered them incapable of perceiving the vastness of the looming threat………. [Not entirely true. There was a conservative opposition that became cohesive during the second session of the Council in the fall of 1963, but even back in the first session, there was strong opposition.  But when matters came to a head, and a decision had to be made on which direction to follow in some conciliar debate or, even more importantly, matter of procedure (remember those four progressive cardinals who pretty much 1566_Dutch_Calvinist_Iconoclasmdominated the Council mentioned above), the two conciliar popes almost invariably ruled in favor of the progressives. It all really started in the first session, when John XXIII agreed to allow the very orthodox preparatory schemas to be more or less dumped, in favor of documents cobbled together during the Council itself. That signal decision, and the decision to name four progressive cardinals to direct the conciliar efforts, left the Catholic bishops in a very bad spot, from the very beginning.]
….We all know there is a liberal narrative of the Council, what Benedict called the “Council of the Media”; but there is also a conservative narrative, one which tries to absolve the Council itself of all possible wrongdoing and place the blame squarely on post-Conciliar innovations. That narrative is no longer plausible after reading this book. [I fully agree.  I don’t think that conservative narrative ever stood up to close scrutiny, it has _65598738_de43always depended on ignorance of the acts of the Council and the conciliar documents themselves, and, even more, prior councils. When one gains a knowledge of how prior councils were conducted, and the documents they produced (with their clear formulae and denunciations of anathemas), Vatican II stands out in very marked contrast.  But, we have the saving grace that Vatican II, as both John XXIII and Paul VI repeatedly declared, was merely a pastoral, non-dogmatic council.] I highly recommend it for any student of the Council, and I want to emphasize again that this book is not a polemic, not some Traditionalist attack – everything I said above is deduced simply from the speeches and writings of the Council Fathers, which this book reproduces en masse and hence becomes an indispensable resource for this important period in ecclesiastical history. It is not inexpensive, but it is certainly worth the money. When I finished the book, I was sorry it was over.  It was that good.
———————End Quote———————-
I agree with all Boniface has to say.  It is truly a seminal, career-defining book.  It should be read by all Catholics.  As I said, I hope to revisit this book several times in the upcoming days and weeks. Hopefully, in posts that are not quite so long!


1. RC - September 5, 2013

So, basically it is a miracle from the Holy Spirit that Church teaching was never changed? I can only imagined that these guys tried as hard as they possibly could to officially change Church teaching.

When I was converting, the bad Popes and bad times in the Church were what proved to me that the Catholic Church was the true Church because Church teachings never changed. In the next 100+ years, will this be a time period in the Church that will prove to converts that the Catholic Church is absolutely the One True Church, because it did survive this time period without changing doctrine?

tantamergo - September 5, 2013

“So, basically it is a miracle from the Holy Spirit that Church teaching was never changed?”

More and more, I am thankful for that. Yes. Nail on head.

2. Janet Baker - September 5, 2013

Hello, hail the Tantum Ergo! I haven’t visited in a while and am cheered to find you still slugging it out in Dallas. This post made me perk up–mainly because I cannot help but muse that I’ve been trying to tell you each point you’ve related as made by de Mattei for, it seems like years. Because I learned them from de Mattei, and Romano Amerio, and Henri Fesqui, Wiltgen, and Cecada’s book on the changes to the oraciones in the novus ordo, not to mention Lefebvre’s works, so notably They Have Uncrowned Him, et alles–am spelling these names from my bookcase two feet from this desk, and they are old books. However, I admit to being shrill and silly, plain womanish, in my posts (I’m referring to those you read at thewhitelilyblog, and over which we exchanged comments) and easily ignored by good, busy men. I don’t care, I’m glad you are addressing the issue, so glad. But we do need to move forward in our response, as in demanding to our bishops–every day, with demonstrations and letters and I wouldn’t even mind setting myself on fire–that the liberal texts in the constitutions be excised. I mean, Tantum, the case is made. It’s been made. We have to go to step two now. Please God let the next papacy be prepared to begin the healing, and for that to happen, we must work the ground now, as this post begins to do. But only begins, and time is so short! Those texts, those poison bits, have been identified, just google Gleize Ocariz and you will find chapter and verse, along side of the citation of the traditional teaching they reverse. We can forget the silliness of the rest of the texts, we can focus on ecumenism, religious liberty, and collegiality, as SSPX has done. By the way, I do have something to say that de Mattei and the rest, excepting Lefebvre, do not say, and that only a person such as myself politically active all her life, could say: that the other crosses we are bearing here now, abortion, the falling fertility, the falling markets in response to the falling fertility, the open warfare on the poor, the open warfare on women, the predatory lending, the corruption, homosexual marriage and the end of sacramental marriage, pornography on your local bus, the death of our hopes and dreams, the end of love itself, are the consequences of the same Council. Lefebvre said that the decision to abandon the restoration, that is, the social necessity of the Reign of Christ in society, would cause civic chaos. Two short words that stretch infinitely over that chasm of suffering caused in the day to day lives of the flock abandoned by their Church. We have to move forward in this struggle and poor SSPX is waiting for good men such as yourself to do so.

tantamergo - September 5, 2013

It’s good to hear from you again, JB. I recall some of your comments from the past getting to some of these points, yes, but, as I think I said at a time, it takes a while to process and accept all this. I don’t think a person can go from perplexed Novus Ordo person to raging traddy in just a few days! And raging is said jokingly.

SSPX may be in the future for many of us. I have great sympathy for the Society. I’ve never had recourse to go to a Society chapel or church. One local issue is that the only chapel is very far away, and only has Mass once a week. I think also, there is a tendency to sell the Fraternity short. There is an idea that the Fraternity never discusses the Council, or is forbidden to. Both are false. They simply do so in different, less openly confrontational ways. But I’ve learned much regarding the problems of the Council, things I’ve still yet to see in any book, sometimes very subtle but also very important things, from Fraternity priests.

I wish you very, very well. I will continue the struggle to my utmost.

Janet - September 5, 2013

Bless your heart, Tantum, you’ve made me cry.

tantamergo - September 5, 2013

Standby one.

tantamergo - September 5, 2013

Well, I hope it wasn’t in a bad way!

3. RC - September 5, 2013

Here’s a million dollar question for you tantam. What are your thoughts of going to Mass at an SSPX chapel? It seems the answers are all over the place.
I live in Denton, so I am way closer to Our Lady of Fatima in Sanger than I am to Mater Dei, and I prefer the TLM 100% over the OF, so I would not be going in defiance of Rome, just cause I’m tired of banality…Thoughts?

tantamergo - September 5, 2013

Tough, tough question. The CDF has been deliberately vague on the validity of SSPX Masses for satisfying one’s Sunday obligation. But I think the preponderance of opinion is that it DOES satisfy the Sunday requirement. Having said that, I personally am not at the point where I feel I could go to an SSPX chapel. I don’t think conditions are that dire, and we have at least acceptable alternatives. I know MD is far, but, so long as its around, I personally probably won’t go to an SSPX chapel.

But, who knows what the future holds. I never condemn SSPX, because I understand their position and fear they may turn out to be both very right, and very necessary. I think that makes me a chicken, and maybe a hypocrite. I’m just not there, yet.

RC - September 5, 2013

I have not been either, I cant seem to bring myself to go as well. So I go to Our Lady of Lebanon or St. Sophia.

I wanted to get your opinion of something else too. I have been reading some of the prophesies of Anne Catherine Emmerich and was wondering if you think that some of her visions (or a lot) are referring to our time? There seem to be so many things that are comparable between her visions and the “church of nice.”

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