Vatican II: Introduction to a new religion

 

On the occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, Catholics – bishops, priests and laity – met for a symposium at the University Institute of Saint Pius X October 4 and 5, 2002. They studied the texts of the Council, which sought to be pastoral and not dogmatic, in the light of the Tradition of the Church. The internal coherence of the conciliar doctrine was brought to the fore. They proposed the following synthesis of it.

Synthesis of the doctrine of Vatican II

1 – Novelty: Vatican II devised a new Christianity, worthy of the “new stage of history which the human race is involved in today” (GS, n° 4, §2), including things of a spiritual nature. It is – according to historians and sociologists – a different religion: despite the claim of an unchanged faith, it has been profoundly transformed by the spiritual “aggiornamento” which devastates and overturns the order of dogmas (UR n° 11, on the hierarchy of truths).

2 – The inversion of aims: The new relationship between the Christian and his God can be summed up in the idea of the “service of man”(GS, n° 3). Indeed, he is “the only creature on earth which God willed for itself” (GS, n° 24, §3). He appears – in the temporal sense – as “the center and crown of all things” (GS, n°12§1). He thus became an end for the Church herself, which is from now on defined as a “sacrament, or a sign and instrument” for man (LG n° 1). This idea of service of man inverts what is at the heart of religion, because the vocation of man is to put himself at the service of God, of the Church and of his neighbor, in charity.

3 – Conscience is the source of religion: Religious truth appears to the conscience of man (DH, n° 1 & 3) through his own reason (DH n° 1). Dei Verbum, which deals with the sources of faith, does not recall that we believe because of the authority of God, but presents faith as the existential response by man to the “dialogue of salvation”(DV n° 5) engaged by God (DV n° 2). In this document, the deposit of faith no longer appears in its objective and invariable content, but is transmitted in the “living tradition” (DV n° 12) through which “the Church constantly moves forward towards the fulness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in Her” (DV n° 8).

4 – A theology of celebration: The liturgy must become a privileged expression of this new religion. Henceforth, the Christian – consecrated by his baptism – is the subject of the sacred rite and the priesthood (LG n° 9-11). The fundamental theme of the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, the “active participation” of the faithful is not the fervent participation which Saint Pius X so desired, but that of the assembly as actor of the rite. The celebration is presented as a memorial, not of the Cross but of the Last Supper, where the assembly offers itself.

5 - The Church becomes a sacrament: “The Church of the Council” (Paul VI, closing speech, 7/12/65) wishes only to be “a sign” of the invisible presence of God among men (UR n° 2), renouncing her claim to be the unique way of salvation. In as much as sign, she is means (LG n° 1) to the service of the coming of the veritable Kingdom of God, which extends to the dimensions of the universe (LG n° 5). The doctrine of the Church-sacrament, classic since the Council, synthesises this theme. It takes us away from the reality of the Church, the visible society to which we belong through baptism, the profession of the Catholic faith and submission to legitimate pastors.

6 - Humanity presented as the Kingdom: Towards this kingdom the religions converge (NA passim). It coincides with the human race in its entirety, in so far as the latter tends towards unity (LG n° 1; GS n° 42 §3). The Church of the Council, with other public and private institutions should serve this growing unity, whose signs – veritable signs of the times, as John XXIII used to say – are “the socialization of all things” (the sharing of wealth), “the claiming of the rights of man” (GS n° 41, §3) and the common concern for spiritual values (ecumenism, inter-religious dialogue) (GS n° 42 §1) in the service of world peace. The traditional idea of Christendom (through the Social Kingship of Our Lord Jesus Christ) appears outdated, the Church officially rallying to the liberal vision of the secularisation of the State, which alone is capable of fostering the unity of mankind (cf. the political concordat of Paul VI with the Catholic States after the Council). This rallying appears to be the condition for Christian influence and conferred on the Church of the Council, a political function (GS n° 42, §2).
It should be noted that “the unity of mankind” is not a Christian idea, but a gnostic device that can be found in the Masonic tradition (Ramsay’s speech, 1737) and which Fr. Teilhard de Chardin made the subject of a theological study before the Council.

7 - The spiritual unity of mankind: Theologically, this notion of unity of mankind exists under the form of varying degrees of communion (UR n° 3). In order to favor the religious unity of mankind, the Church must repent of her past (UR n° 3 and GS n° 19,§3 and n° 21,§5) and enter into dialogue with all religious groups (cf. Paul VI, Ecclesiam Suam, 1964). It is no longer necessary to impose on them the conversion to the Catholic Church, since it is claimed that all Christians, even non-Catholics, are already united to Christ through Baptism (LG n° 15) and that the non-Christians are ordained to the people of God (LG n° 16) and possess in their religion the “seeds of the Word” (AG n° 11).

8 – Salvation: From the point of view of this historical growth of the unity of the human race, the Incarnation of the Son of God achieves “in some way” the identification of all men with Christ (GS n° 22 o.). The fundamental question of salvation or damnation loses its urgency. Henceforth the conciliar pastoral policy minimises Original Sin and the Fall of human nature. Salvation becomes a matter of conscience.


Conclusion

Vatican II appeared to be a radical break with Catholic Tradition.
Whereas the latter is totally centred on God, His praise and His service, it is no exaggeration to consider that the Council has laid the foundations for a new religion destined mainly to exalt the human person and achieve the unity of mankind.

The members of the symposium (62 contributors, 25 of whom were laymen) reaffirmed their unfailing attachment to the Catholic religion as it has been lived by the faithful and taught by all the popes up until the eve of Vatican II.


AG: Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church Ad Gentes
DH: Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae
DV: Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum
GS: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes
LG: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium
NA: Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions Nostrae Aetate
UR: Decree on Ecumenism Unitatis Redintegratio