Saturday, July 26, 2014

New Poll on Vatican II

The Bear is curious. Think about the changes wrought by Vatican II. Did any of them purport to reach infallible teachings, like teachings on the nature of the Church, teachings on the necessity of the Church for salvation?

The Bear will have some thoughts on the results.

You may find it on the side bar to the right.

UPDATE: "Purport" does not necessarily mean "claimed to." The Bear chose that word to eliminate a quibble that "it is not possible for Vatican II to have changed an already infallible teaching." It just means that it advanced a teaching that is inconsistent with previous teaching. Example: Lumen Gentium seems to hold out the possibility of salvation outside the Church. On the other hand, Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus is an infallible teaching. So if you believe Lumen Gentium is trying to change EENS, then you could say it "purports" to do so, whether or not you believe it was successful.


  1. Well, from one perspective, the answer is very clear. Three popes (including then-Cardinal Ratzinger) have declared that Vatican II did not issue any new binding teachings:

    From Pope St John XXIII's opening address to the Council:

    The salient point of this Council is not, therefore, a discussion of one article or another of the fundamental doctrine of the Church which has repeatedly been taught by the Fathers and by ancient and modern theologians, and which is presumed to be well known and familiar to all ... For this a Council was not necessary.

    Paul VI:

    The magisterium of the Church did not wish to pronounce itself under the form of extraordinary dogmatic pronouncements...
    - Discourse closing Vatican II, December 7, 1965

    There are those who ask what authority, what theological qualification, the Council intended to give to its teachings, knowing that it avoided issuing solemn dogmatic definitions backed by the Church's infallible teaching authority. The answer is known by those who remember the conciliar declaration of March 6, 1964, repeated on November 16, 1964. In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided proclaiming in an extraordinary manner any dogmata carrying the mark of infallibility.
    - General Audience of January 12, 1966

    And from Cardinal Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI:

    The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest."
    - Address to the Bishops of Chile, 1988

    That leaves open, of course, the question of exactly what level of teaching authority was claimed by Vatican II, but to the extent that it advances a formulation that is inconsistent with (or in significant tension with) prior dogmatic teachings, the prior teaching remains binding on us.

    1. I actually believe you are correct, although I remember reading somewhere authoritative language supporting the dogmatic nature of whatever it is the Council documents say. And there's the rub, and the answer to the question, at least as far as I'm concerned. I have studied Lumen Gentium with a lawyer's and an amateur scholar's eye. I can't tell you what the gaseous language is supposed to be saying. So I'm prepared to sign off on whatever clear pronouncements of dogma might lie in the documents of Vatican II :-)

      The next question is just what we're supposed to make of them, since they (perhaps providentially) did not use the clear language of the anathema. I think the answer is that they must mean something, which seems to be an invitation to think about things in certain new ways. They are, well, pastoral.

      All that said by both of us, LG gets really, really close to formally contradicting EENS. I use that example because it is the clearest one I found. There might be others and better.

      I always look forward to your contributions. Thank you for making this blog a place fur teh smart peeple in dah klas.


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