Vatican II: Concilium contra Papa Pio XI aka Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti

Vatican II: Concilium contra Papa [Pio XI aka Ambrogio Damiano Achille] Ratti – Part One

Louie Verrecchio
February 11, 2016

Papa Pio XI aka Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti

The Second Vatican Council represents a departure from tradition so severe that Yves Congar, an influential figure among the architects of the revolt, once boastfully described it thus:

“The Church has had, peacefully, its October Revolution.”

In addition to being an assault against tradition in the most general sense, however, Vatican II was also in many ways an offensive against the legacy of Pope Pius XI in particular, beginning with the events leading up to its calling.

Writing in the inaugural encyclical of his pontificate, Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio, Pope Pius XI touched briefly on the possibility of reconvening the Vatican Ecumenical Council (now commonly known as the First Vatican Council or Vatican I), stating:

We scarcely dare to include, in so many words, in the program of Our Pontificate the reassembling of the Ecumenical Council which Pius IX, the Pontiff of Our youth, had called but had failed to see through except to the completion of a part, albeit most important, of its work. We as the leader of the chosen people must wait and pray for an unmistakable sign from the God of mercy and of love of His holy will in this regard.

In this, two important points demand our attention:

First, as Vicar of Christ and Head of the Church Militant, the Holy Catholic Church on earth, Pope Pius XI did not shy away in the least from identifying his flock, the children of said Church, as the “chosen people.”

Viewed through the eyes of tradition, the Holy Father’s statement is rather unremarkable, and yet after having been conditioned by fifty-plus years of theologically dubious pro-Semitic political correctness at the hands of faithless prelates, there can be little doubt that many a Catholic in our day would find these words perplexing at best, and perhaps even more likely, arrogant.

We’ll return to this topic momentarily.

Secondly, it is clear that Pope Pius XI did not imagine that the decision to reassemble, or not, the Vatican Council (which had yet to be formally closed) was simply a matter of administration and the purview of mere men. Rather, he understood that the gravity of the matter demanded faithful deferment to the Divine will; even going so far as to express a certain hesitance to act apart from “an unmistakable sign” from God!

Note well that the question here did not concern the calling of a new council, but rather the reassembly of an existing, albeit suspended, ecumenical council – one that was, like those that had preceded it, dogmatic in character; i.e., an act of the Supreme Magisterium clearly intended to define the faith and to bind the faithful.

Just months after the promulgation of his first encyclical, Pope Pius XI initiated a formal process of consultation with his cardinals on the matter of reassembling the council, beginning with a secret consistory held on 23 May 1923. [See Joseph Komonchak, Popes Pius XI and Pius XII and the idea of an Ecumenical Council)

Eventually, the process expanded to include input from the world’s bishops, but that “unmistakable sign” from God apparently never came to Papa Ratti; the materials collected during this period of inquiry were consigned to the private papal library, and the question was left to his successor.

The mindset of Pope Pius XII in the matter, and likewise his closest advisors, was similar to that of the previous pontificate; it was simply a given that a reconvened Vatican Council, should such a decision be made, would necessarily undertake the task of issuing definitions.

In an address given in October 1959, Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini, who was a protagonist in favor of reopening the Vatican Council under both Pius XII and John XXIII, said:

From the Vatican Council down to today, the Supreme Pontiffs, Leo XIII, St. Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI and Pius XII, day by day followed the developments of civic and social life in every area, intervening at appropriate times, with wondrous wisdom and heroic courage, to enlighten the minds and strengthen the wills of the shepherds of souls and of the faithful. The coming Council—should it [be believed] opportune–could stamp their principal teachings with that definitive value which would place them above and beyond all discussion. [ibid.]

You see, to the minds of faithful churchmen like Cardinals Ruffini and Ottaviani, who likewise favored the idea of a council (be it either a reassembly of Vatican I or a new council), the value of such a magisterial expression lied in what they presumed would be its dogmatic clarity – providing, to quote Cardinal Ruffini once more, “that definitive value which would place” the papal magisterium of the previous century “above and beyond all discussion.”

After entering into solemn consultation with their cardinals, and others, over a period of years in order to discern the relative wisdom of convening (or reassembling) a council for this very purpose, as we now know, both Pius XI and Pius XII thought the better of it.

Enter Pope John XXIII – a man whose treatment of this profoundly important matter stood in rather stark contrast to that of his predecessors; not only as it concerns the decision that was made, but just as importantly, the process of deciding.

While celebrating Holy Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls on January 25, 1959, with seventeen cardinals present, the “good Pope John,” as he was affectionately known by some, dropped a veritable bombshell by announcing his plan to convene the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.

The cardinals in attendance were stunned to say the very least. The new pope of less-than-90-days hadn’t bothered to consult them; much less did he undertake a process of discernment similar to that of his predecessors.

More shocking still, and unbeknownst to those who were present at the time, even as Pope John spoke, media outlets around the world were breaking news of the Council’s calling.

As a result, any intentions the cardinals may have had to consult with the Holy Father on the matter moving forward were effectively put to rest; by the time they left the church building, it was already too late to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

If not the result of a deliberate process of careful consideration, one wonders, what exactly was the impetus for calling the Council?

This, I’m afraid, remains a topic of some confusion; especially in the minds of those who prefer denial to anything that might sully the legend of the jovial Papa Roncalli.

Addressing the assembly of bishops on October 11, 1962, the Second Vatican Council’s opening day, Pope John recalled the day of its announcement some three years earlier, saying:

As regards the initiative for the great event which gathers us here, it will suffice to repeat as historical documentation our personal account of the first sudden bringing up in our heart and lips of the simple words, “Ecumenical Council.” We uttered those words in the presence of the Sacred College of Cardinals on that memorable January 25, 1959, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, in the basilica dedicated to him.

It was completely unexpected, like a flash of heavenly light, shedding sweetness in eyes and hearts … We might say that heaven and earth are united in the holding of the Council — the saints of heaven to protect our work, the faithful of the earth continuing in prayer to the Lord, and you, seconding the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in order that the work of all may correspond to the modern expectations and needs of the various peoples of the world.

If one were to take these words to heart, it would seem that the “unmistakable sign” for which Pius XI prayed had finally arrived, and unexpectedly so, just over half-a-century later, and this during the earliest days of a new pontificate no less.

Further solidifying this impression in the eyes of papal historians is a private journal entry dated September 16, 1959, wherein John XXIII writes of that infamous January day, “I was the first to be surprised at my proposal.” [Professor Roberto de Mattei, The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story (right), pg. 92]

The inspiration of the Holy Spirit… A surprise from Heaven… Completely unexpected…

It’s the stuff of a made-for-TV movie, but the question remains:

Is it truth, or is it fiction?

In a 1959 interview with the Italian Weekly, Epoca, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani spoke about the upcoming Council shortly after it was announced:

He [Roncalli] had spoken about it to me from the moment of his election. Or, rather, to be more precise, it was I who visited him in his little room at the conclave on the eve of the election. Among other things, I told him, “Your Eminence, it is necessary to think about a council.” Cardinal Ruffini, who was present at the conversation, was of the same mind. Cardinal Roncalli adopted this idea and later had this to say, “I have thought of a council from the moment when I became pope.” [ibid., pg. 96]

If Cardinal Ottaviani’s recollection is accurate, and there is every reason to believe that it is, Cardinal Angelo Roncalli had it in mind to call a council even prior to his elevation to the papacy.

If this alone isn’t enough to call into question subsequent claims of divine inspiration, consider the testimony of Abbé Roger Poelman concerning a conversation that he had with his mentor, Dom Lambert Beauduin – a close friend and confidant of Cardinal Roncalli.

As recalled by Poelman, Beauduin assured him even as Pius XII reigned:

He [the Holy Father] will die very soon. His successor will be Roncalli … You will see. He will hold a council and will do so in an ecumenical perspective. [ibid., pg. 87]

And then there is this diary entry, also written by the hand of Pope John XXIII (initially on January 15, 1959, and then curiously reentered on January 20, 1959):

In an audience with Secretary of State Tardini, for the first time, and, I would say, as though by chance, I happened to mention the word “council,” as if to say what the new pope could propose as an invitation to an enormous movement of spirituality for Holy Church and for the world … “Oh! Oh? [Tardini replied] That’s an idea, right? This is a luminous and holy idea. It comes right from heaven…”[ibid., pg. 87]

Apparently, the pope liked the sound of that “right from heaven” idea – so much so that he would later repeat it at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls just days later.

He may have perhaps even come to believe it, but whatever the initiative for convening Vatican Council II may have been, two things are now certain:

One, Roncalli’s council would not be a continuation of the previously suspended Vatican Council, and secondly, it would not stamp the expressions of “wondrous wisdom” contained in the papal magisterium that followed “with that definitive value which would place them above and beyond all discussion” as Cardinal Ruffini and other defenders of tradition had hoped.

In fact, this council and the pope who called it would take positions opposed to said wisdom; most notably as it concerns that of Pope Pius XI.

The following less-than-exhaustive list subjects and their treatment stand out as prime examples of a Concilium contra Papa Ratti worthy of closer examination:

The “Chosen People,” Ecumenism, Communism and Religious Liberty.

The “Chosen People”

As the previously referenced encyclical of Pius XI indicates, there was no question in the Holy Father’s mind (much less the sensus ecclesiae) as to who the “chosen people” are – they are the children of the Church; certainly not those who have rejected Christ.

Offensive though it may sound to certain post-conciliar ears even to the highest places in Rome, this is the case thanks to the Jews having relinquished their formerly chosen status by rejecting the Chooser:

“He who rejects me rejects Him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16)

In 1928, Pope Pius XI underscored the point when he “approved, confirmed, and ordered to be published” a decree of the Holy Office abolishing an association known as “Amici Israel” (Friends of Israel), the reasons for which we will discuss momentarily.

In this decree, the status of the Jewish people with respect to their relative “choseness” is made rather plain as evidenced in the following excerpt:

The Most Eminent Fathers [of the Holy Office], who are charged with safeguarding faith and morals, acknowledged before all else its [Amici Israel] praiseworthy intention of urging the faithful to pray to God and to toil on behalf of the Israelites’ conversion to the Kingdom of Christ. The Catholic Church has always been accustomed to pray for the Jewish people, who were the depository of divine promises up until the arrival of Jesus Christ, notwithstanding their subsequent blindness, or rather, because of this very blindness.

Moved by that charity, the Apostolic See has protected the same people from unjust ill-treatment, and just as it censures all hatred and enmity among people, so it altogether condemns in the highest degree possible hatred against the people once chosen by God, viz., the hatred that now is what is usually meant in common parlance by the term known generally as ‘anti-Semitism.’

In addition to putting the lie to allegations of a pre-conciliar Church that willingly institutionalized anti-Semitism, one does well to note the two key points of long-since settled Catholic doctrine that are mentioned:

– The “Israelites” (self-identified Jews) stand in need of conversion to the Kingdom of Christ; that is, the Holy Catholic Church, and she therefore considers it part and parcel of her mission to labor to that end.

– Upon the arrival of Jesus Christ, their long-awaited Messiah, the Israelites who were “once chosen” ceased to be so by virtue of their rejection of Him; likewise, they were at one time the depository of divine promises, but are no more.

As for the reasons given by the Holy Office (then under the Secretariat of Servant of God Cardinal Merry del Val) for abolishing Amici Israel, the decree cited its “plan of acting and communicating at variance with the sense of the Church, the mind of the holy Fathers of the Church, and the sacred liturgy.”

One such plan of acting that was central to the efforts of Amici Israel concerned a formal request, submitted by the organization to the Holy See, asking that the allegedly anti-Semitic prayer in the Good Friday liturgy for perfidiam Judaicam (the perfidious Jews) be replaced with one simply for plebem Judaicam (the Jewish people).

That proposal was denied; presumably for the selfsame reasons that were provided by the Holy Office in its decree abolishing Amici Israel itself.

Pope John XXIII took a different and decidedly contra Papa Ratti approach to the matter:

Whereas the latter invited the informed counsel of the Holy Office, the former took it upon himself to act unilaterally; one might even fairly say impetuously.

According to a brief history of the Good Friday prayer provided by Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB:

On Good Friday 1959 in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope John XXIII omitted the words perfidis and judaicam perfidiam, without having announced any reformist intentions beforehand. The Congregation for Rites (predecessor to today’s Congregation for Divine Worship) decided later in 1959 that henceforth these words were to be omitted.

One is hard pressed not to recognize in Pope John’s actions a regrettable precedent for the liturgically cavalier behavior demonstrated by the current Bishop of Rome; specifically as it concerns his treatment of the ritual washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday:

Introduce an on-the-spot liturgical innovation over and against what is prescribed in the Missal, only to have the abuse officially approved at a later date.

This highhanded, previously unannounced, revision of the Good Friday prayer wouldn’t be the only time Pope John XXIII would forgo the advisement of the Holy Office before acting on such gravely serious matters.

In fact, in pursuing his desire to supplant the Church’s traditional, doctrinally-founded, stance toward the Jews (as well as heretics and schismatics) in favor of adopting a more diplomatic posture, he would eventually come to treat the Holy Office as something of an adversary.

Upon being approached in March of 1960 by Cardinal Augustin Bea with the idea of creating a “Pontifical Commission to promote the unity of Christians,” Pope John, delighted with its ecumenical aims, replied:

Commissions have their own traditions. Let us call this new organism a ‘secretariat.’ That way you will not be connected to any tradition: you will be freer. [Professor Roberto de Mattei, The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story, pg. 131]

The move effectively granted the newly established secretariat an enviable degree of autonomy; placing it directly in service to the pope; thereby shielding it from the long arm of Cardinal Ottaviani, Secretary of the Holy Office, who also served as head of the Theological Commission that was charged with preparing texts for the upcoming council.

Several months later, in June of 1960, Pope John XXIII received in audience the French Jewish historian and activist Jules Marx Isaac, who the previous year had published the book, The Teaching of Contempt: Christian Roots of Anti-Semitism, wherein he audaciously called for a “reformulation of Christian teaching, preaching and catechesis.”

The allegations leveled by Isaac against the Catholic Church, made evident enough in the title to his book, met with the Holy Father’s sympathy.

Pope John then instructed Isaac to present his requests to Cardinal Bea, the scope of whose secretariat would eventually expand at the Council in order to undertake the “Jewish question” and other interreligious matters.

According to Professor De Mattei, the meeting between John XXIII and Jules Isaac had a profound impact on the pope, and was “the main inspiration for the document on relations between Christianity and Jews” of Vatican II, Nostra Aetate. [ibid., pg. 373]

Fast forward to today:

The immutable truths concerning the status of the Jewish people that Pius XI sought to safeguard, with due consideration given to the Holy Office’s wise counsel, were subsequently turned upside down in the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate) produced by Roncalli’s Council (then under the headship of his successor, Pope Paul VI).

So much had Bea’s secretariat succeeded in operating unconnected to any tradition, as was Pope John’s intent, Nostra Aetate is currently being leveraged in our day as justification for the entirely novel idea that the Church has no mission to the Jews, along with assurances that they continue to be “God ’s chosen and beloved people,” their salvation in no way put in jeopardy simply because they reject Jesus Christ! (See HERE)

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One comment on “Vatican II: Concilium contra Papa Pio XI aka Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti

  1. Vatican II: Concilium contra Papa [Pio XI aka Ambrogio Damiano Achille] Ratti – Part Two

    Louie Verrecchio
    February 12, 2016

    We continue with a look at those subjects the treatment of which stand out as prime examples of a Concilium contra Papa Ratti [Part One]:


    “On the 6th day of January, on the Feast of the Epiphany of Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the year 1928,” Pope Pius XI promulgated his Encyclical on Religious Unity, Mortalium Animos; inarguably the most important piece of papal magisterium of the last century on the topic of ecumenism.

    The Decree on Ecumenism of Vatican II, Unitatis Redintegratio, footnotes this supremely important reaffirmation of immutable Catholic doctrine precisely zero times, and the reason is rather obvious:

    The teaching expressed in Mortalium Animos, based as it is upon Scripture and Tradition, is a crystal clear condemnation of the ecumenical aims of the Second Vatican Council. In fact, it reads as if the Holy Father, Pius XI, had the specific activities of today’s Roman ecumenists in mind as he wrote.

    For instance, the Holy Father states:

    And here it seems opportune to expound and to refute a certain false opinion … For authors who favor this view are accustomed, times almost without number, to bring forward these words of Christ: “That they all may be one…. And there shall be one fold and one shepherd,” with this signification however: that Christ Jesus merely expressed a desire and prayer, which still lacks its fulfillment. [Mortalium Animos]

    Oh, how many times do our churchmen, including Pope Francis, misappropriate Our Blessed Lord’s prayer (as recorded in Gospel according to St. John, chapter 17) in support of their unbridled ecumenical aims!

    Pope Pius XI continues:

    For they are of the opinion that the unity of faith and government, which is a note of the one true Church of Christ, has hardly up to the present time existed, and does not to-day exist. They consider that this unity may indeed be desired and that it may even be one day attained through the instrumentality of wills directed to a common end, but that meanwhile it can only be regarded as mere ideal. [ibid.]

    This, my friends, is precisely the mindset of the disciples of Roncalli’s Council, who labor to encourage earthbound expressions of human cooperation under the guise of “Christian unity.”

    In truth, as Pope Pius XI states with unassailable precision, there is but one way to unity:

    The union of Christians can only be promoted by promoting the return to the one true Church of Christ of those who are separated from it, for in the past they have unhappily left it. To the one true Church of Christ, we say, which is visible to all, and which is to remain, according to the will of its Author, exactly the same as He instituted it. [ibid.]

    By contrast, how did the Council choose to proceed?

    In answer to this question, I can perhaps do no better than to provide firsthand testimony from someone who was involved from the earliest days of the newly established Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity, all the way to the Council’s conclusion and beyond:

    “No one can tell us this is the way they did it last year…” – Cardinal Augustine Bea

    Of even lesser concern still was the way Pope Pius XI “did it” back in 1928; with “it” meaning defend the Apostolic faith with “wondrous wisdom and heroic courage, to enlighten the minds and strengthen the wills of the shepherds of souls and of the faithful,” to quote Cardinal Ruffini yet again.

    The work of the Council with respect to ecumenism would be “a completely new tradition” indeed.

    Unitatis Redintegratio fails to suggest even once that the goal of authentic ecumenism is the conversion of heretics and schismatics to the one true faith; instead it issues more than ten calls for “dialogue” in order to “prepared the way for cooperation between” Catholics and all manner of self-identified “Christians” in supposed service to the common good.

    Pope Pius XI understood very well the grave dangers associated with such activities, and so he declared:

    It is clear that the Apostolic See cannot on any terms take part in their assemblies [those wherein Catholics join forces with the heretics and schismatics], nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises; for if they do so they will be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ. [ibid.]

    Today, with the Council’s winds in their sails, our churchmen do not hesitate to travel the world in order to take part in such interreligious services; in fact, all-too-often, it is the pope himself who leads the way.

    As for what is at stake in the matter, Pope Pius XI left no room for doubt:

    The Catholic Church is alone in keeping the true worship. This is the fount of truth, this the house of Faith, this the temple of God: if any man enter not here, or if any man go forth from it, he is a stranger to the hope of life and salvation. Let none delude himself with obstinate wrangling. For life and salvation are here concerned, which will be lost and entirely destroyed, unless their interests are carefully and assiduously kept in mind. [ibid. NOTE: Here Pope Pius XI quotes Lactantius, a fourth century Christian apologist]

    Did you get that?

    At stake here is nothing less serious than “the hope of life and salvation,” to which those outside the Church are “strangers.”

    As for the Council’s treatment of ecumenism under the direction of Cardinal Bea whose secretariat, let us recall, was given a mandate from Pope John XIII to operate unconnected to any tradition?

    It gave schismatics and heretics every reason to remain within their defective communities – outside of the fount of truth, the house of Faith, and the temple of God that is the Holy Catholic Church alone:

    The brethren divided from us also use many liturgical actions of the Christian religion … These liturgical actions must be regarded as capable of giving access to the community of salvation … For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them [the communities of the schismatics and heretics] as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Church.

    The question must be asked, if indeed the liturgical services and communities of the “brethren divided” are “means of salvation,” why should they depart from their comfortable confines in favor of the Catholic Church?

    The answer: There is no reason beyond mere preference.

    If the Council is to be believed, membership in the Holy Catholic Church versus a protestant community is rather like the difference between traveling by boat or by raft – regardless of choice, either one will suffice in reaching the desired destination; salvation.

    To be clear: Be not fooled by the qualifier “which derive their efficacy…”

    The reality is that the liturgies and the communities of the “brethren divided” have no efficacy as liturgies and communities. It is for this reason that Pope Pius XI, a truly Holy Father indeed, expressed a longing for the day when:

    Those who are separated from Us: if these humbly beg light from heaven, there is no doubt but that they will recognize the one true Church of Jesus Christ and will, at last, enter it, being united with us in perfect charity. [ibid.]

    May we live to see the day when Our Lord will grant us a faithful pope who loves the “brethren divided” enough to speak likewise.


    “On the feast of St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church, on the 19th of March, 1937,” Pope Pius XI issued the Encyclical Divini Redemptoris in order to “expose once more in a brief synthesis the principles of atheistic Communism as they are manifested chiefly in bolshevism.”

    Note well that the condemnation of Communism to follow was not an entirely new initiative, but rather an attempt to “once more” warn the faithful of its dangers.

    Why reiterate this warning then?

    As the Holy Father explains, it was necessary in order to counteract “the insidious deceits with which Communists endeavor, all too successfully, to attract even men of good faith.”

    Pope Pius XI could have hardly spoken more clearly in describing the Communist menace:

    Communism offers the world as the glad tidings of deliverance and salvation! It is a system full of errors and sophisms. It is in opposition both to reason and to Divine Revelation. It subverts the social order, because it means the destruction of its foundations; because it ignores the true origin and purpose of the State; because it denies the rights, dignity and liberty of human personality. [ibid.]

    Leaving no room whatsoever for misunderstanding, the Sovereign Pontiff ordered the bishops throughout the world to protect their flocks from any temptation to believe that they may fruitfully cooperate with the Communists:

    See to it, Venerable Brethren, that the Faithful do not allow themselves to be deceived! Communism is intrinsically wrong, and no one who would save Christian civilization may collaborate with it in any undertaking whatsoever. [ibid.]

    As every Catholic worthy of the name surely knows, it is never permissible to collaborate in any endeavor that is intrinsically wrong, and yet, in its approach to Communism, the Second Vatican Council chose the path of cooperation in pursuit of yet another “dialogue” partner.

    According to Franco Bellegrandi, longtime L‘Osservatore Romano journalist, Vatican insider, and former member of the Vatican Noble Guard during the pontificates of Pius XII, John XXIII and Paul VI:

    In the course of the Council, firmly bridled in the large hand of Roncalli, when it comes to the “Church of Silence” the password is “hold-your-tongue.” Certain things, unpleasant and irritating to the “conciliatory” at all costs, must not be uttered. So that the men of the West believe in the communist “good will,” even toward religion. Therefore, the directive in the Council is to keep quiet, if not smile, before the incredible evolution of that communism in respectable disguise that now claims to be ready to deal with the Vatican. [See Bellegrandi, Nikita Roncalli, pg. 134]

    John XXIII, you see, had dispatched Dean of the College of Cardinals, Eugène Cardinal Tisserant to make a deal with the Devil:

    In a 2007 book called The Metz Agreement, veteran French essayist Jean Madiran gathers a number of sourced claims, testifying that a deal was hatched during Soviet-arranged secret talks in 1962. The meeting, Madiran says, took place in Metz, France, between Metropolitan Nikodim, the Russian Orthodox Church’s then-“foreign minister,” and Cardinal Eugène Tisserant, a senior French Vatican official. Metropolitan Nikodim was, according to Moscow archives, a KGB agent.

    Various sources have since confirmed that an agreement was reached, instructing the Council not to make any direct attack on Communism. The Orthodox then agreed to accept the Vatican’s invitation to send a number of observers to the Council. [Edward Pentin, Catholic World Report, 10 December, 2012]

    And so it is that Communism, the system described by Pope Pius XI as “full of errors and sophisms … in opposition both to reason and to Divine Revelation,” was never directly addressed, much condemned, at Vatican Council II.

    Religious Liberty

    It is often assumed that an examination of religious liberty as traditionally understood versus the novelties that emerged from the Council is rather complex. Indeed, volumes have been written by Catholic scholars seeking to reconcile the two approaches for more than fifty years now.

    In truth, however, the matter is really quite simple and easily understood once one comes to recognize the disparate foundations upon which these two irreconcilable propositions are built.

    The conciliar approach is constructed squarely upon the “dignity of the human person” and the rights of man as the very title to the conciliar document, Dignitatis Humanae, suggests.

    Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with recognizing and asserting the rights that belong to man; the same being reflective of human dignity. A problem arises, however, when these rights are asserted apart from their corresponding duties.

    When this approach prevails, one risks losing sight of the reality that all authentic human rights come from God. In other words, one may fall prey to the lie that man’s rights flow directly from himself and his dignity.

    In truth, God is the Source of both human dignity and human rights, and each of these can be lost as man wanders far from Him and His Divine Law.


    By sinning man departs from the order of reason, and therefore falls away from human dignity, in so far as man is naturally free and exists for his own sake, and falls somehow into the slavery of the beasts… [Aquinas – Summa Theologica – II – II Q. 64 A. 2]

    As for the loss of rights, even in civil affairs, men justly lose certain rights when acting outside of the law; e..g., the right to vote, drive, own a firearm, etc.

    The Council’s treatment of religious liberty turns even these most basic truths on their head, beginning with its foundation:

    The council declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. [cf Dignitatis Humanae]

    Ah, the defenders of the Council will be quick to point out, but the document clearly says ‘as known’ through Divine revelation!

    Again, be not fooled: While the inclusion of this phrase was evidently enough to placate the concerns of certain of the more tradition-minded bishops, it is one thing to say that our knowledge of human dignity, upon which this alleged right to religious freedom is supposedly founded, comes to us from God; it is quite another to affirm that He is the Source of said dignity, as well as the right in question.

    The latter (the truth) places man’s obligation toward God where it belongs; in the first place – the former invites man to assert, as we shall see, an autonomy that is not his own.

    The Council paid lip service to the traditional understanding of man’s obligation to seek the truth with respect to the right to religious liberty, saying:

    [This Council] leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ. [ibid.]

    Further in the text, however, the traditional doctrine is obliterated, even going so far as to declare that the right in question persists even apart from man upholding his duty toward God:

    Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature. In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it and the exercise of this right is not to be impeded, provided that just public order be observed. [ibid.]

    In speaking of “immunity,” the Council is referring to man’s supposed freedom to embrace and publicly disseminate whatever religion he may so choose, even if it directly opposes Christ, the one true Church, and her divinely given mission; a concept that couldn’t possibly be further from the same “traditional Catholic doctrine” it claims to leave untouched.

    In fact, this very idea has been consistently condemned by the Church. For instance, in his Syllabus of Errors, Pope Pius IX condemned the following proposition:

    Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true.

    According to Pope Benedict XVI, however, at stake in the conciliar debate about religious liberty was precisely “the freedom to choose and practice religion, and the freedom to change it, as fundamental human rights and freedoms.”

    Did you get that?

    The Council’s aim in the matter of religious liberty, founded upon “the very dignity of the human person,” is ordered toward protecting and preserving a “right” and a “freedom” that does not truly exist.

    By contrast, let’s now turn to that upon which the traditional doctrine is founded:

    It is founded upon the simple proposition that Jesus Christ is King; He to whom all authority in Heaven and on earth has been given.

    No Roman Pontiff expressed the rights and prerogatives that flow from Our Lord’s Sovereignty more concisely and more clearly than Pope Pius XI in his magnificent Encyclical Quas Primas (which I invite you to explore in detail HERE.)

    To summarize the traditional doctrine as briefly as possible:

    Given that the Catholic faith is the one true faith, and the Holy Catholic Church is the solitary church established by Christ who is King, naturally, the Church and her members enjoy certain rights and privileges that do not properly belong to the false religions and to those who adhere to them – among these exclusive rights is the liberty to practice and profess the true faith free from any and all constraint.

    This is why Pope Leo XIII could say:

    The Church is a society eminently independent, and above all others, because of the excellence of the heavenly and immortal blessings towards which it tends. [Pope Leo XIII, Officio Sanctissino, 22 Dec 1887]

    As for the other, “false religions” and their adherents, none can legitimately claim such an absolute right to freedom for the simple reason that the King of kings granted them no such thing. The Church, therefore, considers their activities to be at best tolerable under certain conditions, but otherwise subject to regulation and restriction for the good of society.

    The text of Dignitatis Humanae would lead one to believe otherwise, which is precisely why the “sons of the Council” now in power in Rome treat Quas Primas as a dead letter.


    As I write on Ash Wednesday of 2016, there are those in the Church who, meaning well, shudder at the very thought that the Second Vatican Council could possibly be, not just an exercise contra Pius XI, but, as Yves Congar plainly admitted, the Church’s “October Revolution.”

    To these I would humbly suggest undertaking a journey of discovery this Lent; one that includes a firsthand examination of “the wondrous wisdom and heroic courage” of the pre-conciliar popes; in particular, the former Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti.

    Pope Pius XI, pray for us!

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