An Authentic Understanding of Vatican II

Pope Benedict XVI

In my last essay, entitled "Resistance" I gave a birdseye view of the problems in the Church today, as well as a concrete plan for how to protect the catholicity of your family, how to survive in the inevitable collapse of the Catholic Church that is coming, and how to fight back against the rise of Modernism in the Church. Today, however, I want to zero-in on one aspect of that previous essay, namely the speech given by former Pope Benedict XVI just before his retirement into seclusion. With each passing day since then, these words merit more attention. Please watch the video below. (Turn on the closed-caption for subtitles in English.) The full text of this section of the speech will follow in BLUE, and the entire speech can be viewed HERE...


Transcript from the Vatican...

I would now like to add yet a third point: there was the Council of the Fathers – the real Council – but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council apart, and the world perceived the Council through the latter, through the media. Thus, the Council that reached the people with immediate effect was that of the media, not that of the Fathers. And while the Council of the Fathers was conducted within the faith – it was a Council of faith seeking intellectus, seeking to understand itself and seeking to understand the signs of God at that time, seeking to respond to the challenge of God at that time and to find in the word of God a word for today and tomorrow – while all the Council, as I said, moved within the faith, as fides quaerens intellectum, the Council of the journalists, naturally, was not conducted within the faith, but within the categories of today's media, namely apart from faith, with a different hermeneutic. It was a political hermeneutic: for the media, the Council was a political struggle, a power struggle between different trends in the Church. It was obvious that the media would take the side of those who seemed to them more closely allied with their world. There were those who sought the decentralization of the Church, power for the bishops and then, through the expression "People of God", power for the people, the laity. There was this threefold question: the power of the Pope, which was then transferred to the power of the bishops and the power of all – popular sovereignty. Naturally, for them, this was the part to be approved, to be promulgated, to be favoured. So too with the liturgy: there was no interest in liturgy as an act of faith, but as something where comprehensible things are done, a matter of community activity, something profane. And we know that there was a tendency, not without a certain historical basis, to say: sacrality is a pagan thing, perhaps also a thing of the Old Testament. In the New Testament it matters only that Christ died outside: that is, outside the gates, in the profane world. Sacrality must therefore be abolished, and profanity now spreads to worship: worship is no longer worship, but a community act, with communal participation: participation understood as activity. These translations, trivializations of the idea of the Council, were virulent in the process of putting the liturgical reform into practice; they were born from a vision of the Council detached from its proper key, that of faith. And the same applies to the question of Scripture: Scripture is a book, it is historical, to be treated historically and only historically, and so on.

We know that this Council of the media was accessible to everyone. Therefore, this was the dominant one, the more effective one, and it created so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering: seminaries closed, convents closed, banal liturgy … and the real Council had difficulty establishing itself and taking shape; the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council. But the real force of the Council was present and, slowly but surely, established itself more and more and became the true force which is also the true reform, the true renewal of the Church. It seems to me that, 50 years after the Council, we see that this virtual Council is broken, is lost, and there now appears the true Council with all its spiritual force. And it is our task, especially in this Year of Faith, on the basis of this Year of Faith, to work so that the true Council, with its power of the Holy Spirit, be accomplished and the Church be truly renewed. Let us hope that that the Lord will assist us. I myself, secluded in prayer, will always be with you and together let us go forward with the Lord in the certainty that the Lord will conquer. Thank you!

-- Pope Benedict XVI, February 14, 2013, Meeting with Parish Priests and Clergy of Rome, source

Father Joseph Ratzinger is seen with French
Dominican Father Yves Congar during the
Second Vatican Council in 1962.
I would like to stress here that this was Pope Benedict XVI, not the "Pope Emeritus." He said this just days before his official retirement, while he was still officially the pope. It has the weight of his magisterial teaching. Granted, yes I know, it's not infallible, but I'm not appealing to infallibility here. What I am appealing to is the theme of his papacy and the inside information about the Council that he openly gave to us. Remember, Pope Benedict XVI was there! He, as Father Joseph Ratzinger, was seen as one of the "liberal theologians" at the Second Vatican Council. It's ironic that he was considered "liberal" in 1962, when by the time of his papacy (2005 - 2013) he was seen as one of the most traditional and conservative popes of recent history. Once, when asked why he changed from liberal to conservative, Ratzinger replied that he didn't change at all. In fact, he said, he has remained exactly the same as he was in the early 1950s and 60s. It was the Church around him that changed radically.

This change is what he laments in the speech above. As a key player in the Second Vatican Council, Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) gave the whole world an inside peek at what was really going on. I believe he did this for our benefit so we (the faithful) can see what the Conciliar Fathers were trying to accomplish, versus how the Modernists in the Church and the press hijacked the message. He wanted to show us how "we the faithful" were robbed of what the Conciliar Fathers intended to give us all along, and how we could go forward to take back the authentic heritage of Vatican II that is rightfully ours. In this revelation, however, Pope Benedict XVI took the mystery out of what happened, and he assured us that no matter how powerful the Modernists (both in the Church and the press) seem to be now, they cannot succeed. The real message of the Second Vatican Council is slowly starting to break through, thanks in part to his pontificate, and it will continue to break through in the years ahead. What the Modernists (both in the Church and the press) have done will fail, and it's already failing. Their defeat is inevitable because what they are trying to accomplish is not only against what the Second Vatican Conciliar Fathers intended, not only is it against the nature of the Church, not only is it against nature itself, but it is against Jesus Christ, who is God Almighty. So their defeat is assured.

While I am a traditional Catholic, this is where I part ways with a lot of traditionalists. (Apparently, I've taken a healthy dose of Vitamin B16.) Vatican II is not the problem! That's the message Pope Benedict XVI was trying to convey to us throughout his entire pontificate. The problem was (and is) MODERNISM! The Modernists were there before the Council. The Modernists were there during the Council. The Modernists were there after the Council. The Modernists did everything they could, both inside and outside the Council, to distort and pervert the message of the Council. Looking back on it, in retrospect, we know that many of the Modernists were faithless homosexuals in the hierarchy of the Church. In retrospect, we know these faithless Modernists in the Church, were using the Modernists in the media outside the Church, to project a message that would later allow them to radically change and alter the Catholic Church in a way that would be more friendly to their radical Modernist agenda. Yes, I will admit that Vatican II was flawed, in that it was horribly vague in some areas, and sadly lacked key elements that would have crystalised the intent of the Conciliar Fathers, particularly its speculated condemnation of communism, but I insist that Vatican II also created roadblocks to Modernism as well. The Council laid down some roadblocks, which said to the Modernists in the Church, we will go this far but no further.  Sadly, those roadblocks were ignored in many places after the Council, but they still exist, and they do carry the weight of Conciliar authority. What are some examples?

Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them. -- Sacrosanctum Concilium, 54

In accordance with the centuries-old tradition of the Latin rite, the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in the divine office. But in individual cases the ordinary has the power of granting the use of a vernacular translation to those clerics for whom the use of Latin constitutes a grave obstacle to their praying the office properly. -- Sacrosanctum Concilium, 101

In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendour to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things. -- Sacrosanctum Concilium, 120

The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services. -- Sacrosanctum Concilium, 116

Here we see some examples, directly from Vatican II, which explicitly state that the use of the Latin language is to be retained in liturgical worship, at least insomuch as the regular parts of the mass (the ordinary of the mass) where the people should be able to respond in Latin. Furthermore, the pipe organ is to remain the primary instrument of the liturgy in the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, and Gregorian Chant should be the primary form of music heard at mass. Lastly, all priests and bishops should be familiar enough in Latin to say their required Divine Office in Latin, except in rare circumstances where permission is given to do otherwise by the local bishop.

Yes, that's Vatican II folks.

It sounds like it comes straight out of a traditionalist's handbook, doesn't it? When was the last time you saw a local Catholic parish look anything like what Vatican II commanded above?

I do hope this shocks you. I hope this astounds you. I hope this makes you understand something very important. The Conciliar Fathers at Vatican II were trying to stop the Modernists not enable them. In particular, with Sacrosanctum Concilium they were saying to the Modernists, and the world, "we'll give you this much but no more." Now look around and what do you see? You see a Modernist-influenced Catholic Church that has, for the most part, completely ignored the Second Vatican Council.

In a recent interview, I did with the Catholic podcast Men With Chests, the show host (Sam Bolton) deftly characterised my view of Vatican II as a series of dykes and dams designed to stop the tsunami of Modernism that was about to overtake the entire Western world. I agreed with that characterisation, and I added that had Vatican II not happened, the damage would have been significantly worse.

Already plans were underway to translate the Traditional Latin Mass (Missal of Saint Pius V) into vernacular languages. Yours truly as seen one example of this, authentic and approved by Church authorities, tucked away in a closet in a chancery office. I was shown this early 1960s translation by a priest, who shall remain nameless, and allowed to take it home for a week to thoroughly examine it. This altar missal was old and covered in dust. It crackled as I opened the binder. I read the contents in page after page. It was awful! The translation was in modern English. It was shoddy and a bit childish. This is what would have happened to the beautiful Missal of Saint Pius V had the Novus Ordo (Missal of Blessed Paul VI) not been introduced in 1970. Everything we see now would still be going on, but it would be happening with the old mass instead, translated and transformed, into something it was never intended to be. Imagine that, if you dare, all the modern innovations and abuses, common to the Novus Ordo mass, in a translated old mass. That's what was coming to the Catholic Church in the early 1960s. Vatican II, and the Missal of Blessed Paul VI, diverted it until it could be dealt with later -- in our time.

That force Ratzinger would later call the "Council of the Media" obscured the authentic Second Vatican Council, together with faithless prelates within the Church, so as to twist what the Conciliar Fathers actually said, making it appear that they said the exact opposite. What the Conciliar Fathers actually said, was "this much and no more." But what the Council of the Media said was "this much and so much more!" This gave way to the diabolical phrase so frequently used in the Church -- the "spirit of Vatican II." So many innovations and abuses were committed under the guise of the "spirit of Vatican II" that it caused one American bishop to muse: "The so-called 'spirit' of the council is a ghost or demon that must be exorcised if we are to proceed with the Lord’s work" (Bishop Walker Nickless, Diocese of Sioux City, Ecclesia Semper Reformanda, October 2009).

Father Joseph Ratzinger (future Pope Benedict XVI), foresaw all of this and its inevitable effect on the health of the Church. In a 1969 German radio broadcast, Ratzinger offered his thoughts about the future of the Catholic Church. It has since become known in many Catholic circles as "The Ratzinger Prophecy"...

“The future of the Church can and will issue from those whose roots are deep and who live from the pure fullness of their faith. It will not issue from those who accommodate themselves merely to the passing moment or from those who merely criticize others and assume that they themselves are infallible measuring rods; nor will it issue from those who take the easier road, who sidestep the passion of faith, declaring false and obsolete, tyrannous and legalistic, all that makes demands upon men, that hurts them and compels them to sacrifice themselves. To put this more positively: The future of the Church, once again as always, will be reshaped by saints, by men, that is, whose minds probe deeper than the slogans of the day, who see more than others see, because their lives embrace a wider reality. Unselfishness, which makes men free, is attained only through the patience of small daily acts of self-denial. By this daily passion, which alone reveals to a man in how many ways he is enslaved by his own ego, by this daily passion and by it alone, a man’s eyes are slowly opened. He sees only to the extent that he has lived and suffered. If today we are scarcely able any longer to become aware of God, that is because we find it so easy to evade ourselves, to flee from the depths of our being by means of the narcotic of some pleasure or other. Thus our own interior depths remain closed to us. If it is true that a man can see only with his heart, then how blind we are! 

“How does all this affect the problem we are examining? It means that the big talk of those who prophesy a Church without God and without faith is all empty chatter. We have no need of a Church that celebrates the cult of action in political prayers. It is utterly superfluous. Therefore, it will destroy itself. What will remain is the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church that believes in the God who has become man and promises us life beyond death. The kind of priest who is no more than a social worker can be replaced by the psychotherapist and other specialists; but the priest who is no specialist, who does not stand on the [sidelines], watching the game, giving official advice, but in the name of God places himself at the disposal of man, who is beside them in their sorrows, in their joys, in their hope and in their fear, such a priest will certainly be needed in the future. 

“Let us go a step farther. From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge — a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Along-side this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize the sacraments as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship.

“The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. One may predict that all of this will take time. The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain — to the renewal of the nineteenth century. But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

“And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.

The abuses that came from the Council of the Media, via Modernist moles (faithless clergy) within the Catholic Church, are what brought this upon us. They twisted the message of Vatican II so much that most dioceses today virtually ignore Vatican II in practical application. They follow instead the Council of the Media or the "spirit of Vatican II" which has nothing to do with Vatican II at all. Father Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) predicted all this would happen, and he predicted it would decimate the Church as it was known in the 1960s. However, he also predicted that in spite of this, faithful Catholics would prevail, because faithful Catholics would eventually implement Vatican II the way it was meant to be implemented. In 1969 he surmised that the Modernists in the Church would destroy themselves, and in doing so, they would reduce the size and influence of the Catholic Church significantly. This is a testimony to how much influence the Modernists already had in the Church, going back not only to the 1960s but also the 1950s and 40s as well! The influence of Modernism was massive in the pre-Conciliar Church and was moving forward at full speed regardless of the Council. Had the Council not happened, all the innovations we've seen (and worse) would have happened anyway during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. We would be in the middle of the Modernist revolution in the Church right now, instead of nearing the end of it.

What Pope Benedict XVI did with his pontificate was give us an inside look (just a peek) at what Vatican II is supposed to be. His groundbreaking documents Summorum Pontificum and Anglicanorum Coetibus give us a taste of his vision of the Council. It's a traditional-form of ecumenism that focuses on concrete unity with willing converts and preserving the sacred heritage of the Catholic Church. In Summorum Pontificum he stated that the Traditional Latin Mass was never banned and that Catholics have always had the right to celebrate it. This goes directly against what many Modernists priests and bishops told us in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. In Anglicanorum Coetibus he created an apostolic constitution for groups of traditional Anglicans that sought unity with Rome under Catholic orthodoxy. With both documents, he was able to create islands of refuge for all Catholics, where they could find traditional liturgy, orthodox teaching, and a vision of what the real Vatican II Church should look like. All throughout his pontificate, he demonstrated, both by word and action, what the post-Conciliar liturgy ought to be. He celebrated mass ad orientem on occasion, arranged the altar in the traditional way, and insisted on everyone at his masses receiving communion on the tongue. Gradually, he changed the focus of sacred music and moved everything back in a more traditional direction. Had he been given another eight years as pope, it's reasonable to believe he would have gone much further.

Alas, the internal corruption of the Modernists in Rome eventually drove him out of the papacy. He retired of his own free will (his words) because he no longer had the strength to resist them. A younger, more energetic, pope was needed. We can debate the wisdom of that decision for centuries, and I suspect that many will.

In the end, he knew he could only go so far. He gave us a glimpse of what the Conciliar Fathers intended with Vatican II, and he ought to know. He was there! He was an important figure there too. He represented the "liberal" faction of Vatican II, and if there is anything I want you to take away from this essay it is this. Father Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) represented the most far-reaching "liberal" faction of the Council. The true and authentic Vatican II was never meant to be any more "liberal" than Pope Benedict XVI. Ratzinger showed us the way forward, now it's up to us to move forward. We must build on the vision he gave us because no other vision is sufficient. The Modernist vision is destroying the Church and fulfilling "The Ratzinger Prophecy" (see above). The Traditionalist vision ignores what Vatican II was intended to be, wanting to dispose of the Council entirely, and this hands the Modernists a victory of another kind. The only vision of Vatican II that works is the one Ratzinger gave us. If we ignore it, we have nothing.

That ought to leave an impression on you. So I end this essay with a provocative question that is not meant so much to indict leaders of the past as it is to challenge leaders of the future.

If Vatican II was never meant to be any more liberal than Pope Benedict XVI, then who were these people running the Catholic Church for the last fifty years and what were they up to?

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Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books and a columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of 'CatholicInTheOzarks.com.' Your support is what makes essays like this possible. This essay and all of Shane's Internet resources come to you (ad-free) thanks to the generosity of benefactors. Please consider becoming a benefactor.

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