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"For, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools." (Romans 1:22)


"When FEAR knocks on your door, send FAITH to answer it."
John Vennari

Vatican II vs. Unity Willed by Christ

by John Vennari

Note: What follows is an edited transcript of a portion of the speech, "The Church of Christ is One," given at the CFN Conference, November 2000. The speech was a commentary on the March 12 "Day of Pardon" that contained an apology for alleged "Sins that Have Harmed the Unity of the Body of Christ". The presentation noted that this ambiguous "apology" ended up asking more questions than it answered, and discussed the "apology" within the framework of four basic questions that it raised. Presented here are two of the four questions addressed. The answers to these two questions reveal that Vatican II promoted a version of "Christian Unity" that is directly opposed to the positive will of Christ.

Here we will ask,

  1. What is the unity among Christians willed by Christ?

  2. Did Vatican II and its ecumenical orientation advance or hinder the unity willed by Christ?

The answer to the first question must be sought in Scripture and Tradition; and most importantly, in the defined and infallible dogmas of the Catholic Church, as well as the teachings that flow from these dogmas.

There are three ex cathedra papal pronouncements that outside the Church there is no salvation. The most explicit and forceful of the three is from Pope Eugene IV (1431-1447), who infallibly taught at the Council of Florence:

"The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, heretics, and schismatics can never be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire ‘which was prepared for the devil and his angels,’ (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her; ... no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church." (1)

It is doctrinally defined that salvation and unity exist only within the Catholic Church.

Likewise, the Catechism of the Council of Trent speaks of the Catholic Church as ONE (as one of the four marks of the true Church: One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic). It describes this "oneness" by quoting Saint Paul: "One Lord, one faith, one baptism". (Eph. 4:5) (2)

Elaborating upon this teaching of Trent, Saint Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, has given the finest definition of what constitutes the nature, membership and unity of Christ’s Church. Bellarmine’s formula is recognized as the most precise scholastic definition of the Church to this day. (3) Saint Robert explained that Christ’s one true Church is the Catholic Church, and this Church is a Perfect Society:

"The Church is one, not twofold, and this one true [Catholic] Church is the assembly of men united in the profession of the same Christian faith and in the communion of the same sacraments, under the rule of legitimate pastors, and in particular, that of the one Vicar of Christ on earth, the Roman Pontiff." (4)

Bellarmine makes it clear that union of belief is necessary for the true Church; that it is impossible to have a conception of "church" in which some members accept defined doctrines (such as Papal Primacy or Transubstantiation) and others do not. Bellarmine’s definition further demonstrates that the Catholic Church is a visible, hierarchical society that does not need to go outside of itself for anything. It is a perfect society within itself, and outside of this Catholic Church there is no salvation.

The Catholic Church has consistently taught this doctrine as part of its ordinary and extraordinary Magisterium for 2,000 years, right into modern times.

Blessed Pope Pius IX repeated forcefully this doctrine while combating the growing liberalism of his day:

"We must mention and condemn again that most pernicious error which has been imbibed by certain Catholics who are of the opinion that those people who live in error and have not the true faith and are separated from Catholic unity, may obtain life everlasting. Now this opinion is most contrary to the Catholic faith, as is evident from the plain words of Our Lord, (Matt 18:17; Mark 16:16; Luke 10:16; John 3:18) as also from the words of Saint Paul (2 Tit. 52:11) and of Saint Peter (2 Peter 2:1) To entertain opinions contrary to this Catholic faith is to be an impious wretch." (5)

Modernists have tried to get around this by claiming that the Church of Christ is actually bigger than the Catholic Church. This heretical concept of the "Church of Christ" being larger than the Catholic Church was countered by Pope Pius XII when he insisted, without ambiguity, that the Church of Christ and the Catholic Church are one and the same. In fact, he pronounced this doctrine twice within the short span of 7 years.

In the 1943 encyclical Mystici Corporis, Pope Pius XII taught that "the true Church of Jesus Christ... is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church." (6) This clearly means that the Church of Christ is not composed of the Catholic Church and other "Christian" denominations.

Pope Pius XII reiterated this doctrine in his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis: "The Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing". In the same paragraph, Pius complained of those who "reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the true Church in order to gain eternal salvation." (7)

Along the same lines, the eminent theologian, Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton published in 1954 an article entitled "The Meaning of the Word Church" in which he explained that the Catholic Church is the only religious body that can actually call itself a church, because the word ‘church’ has a very definite meaning – a meaning that was in the mind of Our Lord at the time, a meaning that was understood by the Apostles. It is the Kingdom of God on earth, the assembly of the people of the Divine Covenant, the continuation (and the supersession) of the Israel of the Old Testament, the one social unity established by Christ outside of which there is no salvation. (8)

In light of what has been said regarding Church unity, we can understand why Pope Pius XI taught in Mortalium Animos:

"... unity can only arise from one teaching authority, one law of beliefs and one faith of Christians... There is but one way in which the unity of Christians may be fostered, and that is by furthering the return to the one true (Catholic) Church of Christ of those who are separated from it..." (9)

Vatican II

This, then, leads us to the next question:

Did Vatican II, and its ecumenical orientation, advance or hinder the unity willed by Christ?

We will answer by quoting some fascinating material from the 1960's. The first is an 1963 article from The Thomist, entitled "Unity: Special Problems, Dogmatic, Moral" by Father David Greenstock, a superb theologian. The Thomist, a scholarly theological journal, was publishing special issues in 1963 discussing the Second Vatican Council.

Father David Greenstock was a clear-thinking Thomist who, as early as 1950, recognized the unorthodox threat of the so-called "New Theology" of Henri De Lubac and Hans Urs von Balthasar. (10) He also identified the danger of the ambiguous ecumenical language that was emanating from theologians at the Council.

The 1963 article opens with Father Greenstock quoting an unnamed Bishop of Darwin who complained on his way back from the Council that "some modern theologians are turning somersaults backwards in their anxiety to please non-Catholics. He (the bishop) pleaded with the orthodox theologians to take up their pens in order to offset such writings." (11)

Greenstock said, "too many of our modern theologians are trying to bring into being a new ‘situation’ theology, to fit modern needs. We are frequently told... that orthodox theology, especially if it takes the shape of scholasticism, is one of the main obstacles to reunion." He spoke of the pressures being exerted to "adapt our theology, both in concept and in language, to ecumenical needs..."

(When we speak of "scholasticism" we are speaking of Thomism, which is the system of philosophy and theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Pope Saint Pius X, in his encyclical condemning Modernism, taught that scholasticism is the remedy to modernism. (12) This explains why modernists and progressives nurture a positive aversion to Thomism, a we shall see.)

Throughout the entire 1963 article, Father Greenstock is still speaking in terms of what true Christian unity should be: to "bring back to the unity of the true Church those who are at present outside it." He rightly observed that this is the only purpose for "ecumenical dialogue."

Reunion, he stresses, cannot be "attained without complete unity in the faith." It is "distressing", he laments, "to notice that some Catholic theologians do not seem to realize the importance of this."

In order to combat the ecumenical and progressivist theologians running roughshod over the Council (in compliance with the Bishop of Darwin who asked orthodox theologians to ‘take up their pens" against these new trends), Greenstock presented six basic principles that the Catholic theologian must follow regarding so-called "ecumenism". Again, the goal always is to present the Catholic position without ambiguity, in the clearest possible terms, in order to facilitate the conversion of the non-Catholic to the one true Church of Christ.

Six Basic Principles

Here we will outline Father Greenstock’s points: (13)

  1. Fidelity to the dictates of Humani Generis... together with a rejection of the temptation to use the ecumenical excuse as a weapon for the destruction of scholasticism and the creation of a new ‘situational’ theology."

As will be demonstrated, the progressivist theologians have done precisely that! They’ve abandoned scholastic theology for the sake of a new "ecumenical" theology, and they’ve abandoned scholastic language for the sake of what they call "pastoral language." (14) Its language is so ambiguous and muddy that it tells the sheep to go north and south at the same time, and then issues an endless series of "clarifications" trying to explain what it really means. The final "clarification" usually tells us that to go North and South at the same time is actually to travel in the same direction – thanks to "new insights into the profundity of cartography as mystery."

  1. "A realization that there is no basic division between theology and faith." This is an interesting and important point that we do not have time to discuss in this presentation. (15

  2. "There is now an even greater need to return to the basic principles of Saint Thomas that reason is an instrument by which we can express and deduce the virtual content of revelation. It would be an error of the first magnitude to neglect the development of Neo-Thomism in favor of some vague new theology." Father Greenstock stressed that the scholasticism of Saint Thomas is a "glorious part of our Catholic inheritance" and that it is "our finest instrument for precise thought and careful definition – both of which are essential to bring the faith to our separated brethren."

Contrast this with Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who admits he had an aversion to Saint Thomas. He wrote, "I had difficulties in penetrating the thought of Thomas Aquinas, whose crystal-clear logic seemed to be too closed on itself, too impersonal and ready made." (16) In Ratzinger’s seminary studies, rather, "a large place was accorded to literature and to contemporary philosophico-scientific thought." (17)

In light of these statements by Ratzinger, it is obvious that the "modern" theologians whom Father Greenstock was combating were the Rahners, Ratzingers, Wojtylas, (18) De Lubacs, the entire liberal clique at Vatican II.

Of these progressives, Greenstock warns: "Modern theologians have nothing to offer which can compare with this [Thomism] and it should serve as a model of theological writing at the present day." Sadly, as will be demonstrated, scholastic terminology was deliberately rejected at Vatican II.

  1. "In this connection, every theologian would do well to read and digest G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. Speaking of the great theological ‘wars’ of the past and of the reasons for them, he says:

    ‘It is enough to notice that, if some small mistake were made in doctrine, high blunders might be made in human happiness. A sentence wrongly phrased about the nature of symbolism would have broken all the best statues in Europe. A slip on the definitions might stop all the dances, might wither all the Christmas trees or break all the Easter eggs. Doctrine had to be carefully defined within strict limits, even in order that man might enjoy general human liberties. The Church had to be careful, if only that the world might be careless’." (19)

"We are in much the same position today;" cautions Greenstock, "one slip now may cost us years of effort". Father Greenstock was truly prophetic. He said further, "It is necessary to explain to our separated brethren in simple language the doctrines of the Church, together with the fact that she dare not depart from them by one iota!"

  1. "We must not give non-Catholics the impression that the great Conciliar decrees of the past can be modified or made easier for their acceptance by a new expression of those truths in more modern language. This would imply that such decrees are capable of radical reform – which is untrue."

He then warned of the danger of the new "ecumenical language" by quoting the Protestant Dr. Visser’t Hooft who admitted, "the simple ABC’s of ecumenism" is that "there is no ecumenical language which is completely unambiguous." (20)

"There is, of course, only one real answer to it" says Greenstock, "clear definition of terms! We are forced back to Neo-Thomism in the end."

  1. "The need is for clear, definite exposition of the true Catholic position, without fear or favor, yet with all due charity" and that we must not give non-Catholics "the impression that the Catholic Church is ready to betray her dogmatic mission."

Greenstock is stressing fidelity to Catholic doctrine; and to scholastic terminology as the finest means of expressing that doctrine with precision, without ambiguity or compromise. All of this, he reminds us, is to facilitate the return of non-Catholics to the one true Church of Jesus Christ: "Reunion to a Catholic must mean unity in faith and worship. To imply the opposite is to destroy the truth and betray Christ."

Further, he emphasizes the need for an uncompromising fidelity to the decrees of the Council of Trent and to Vatican I. "Above all" he says, "there should be no attempt to create a new ecumenical theology to fit the ecumenical situation".

Throughout the entire article, Father Greenstock is unyieldingly faithful to the perennial Catholic teaching of the necessity of the non-Catholic abandoning his false religion and becoming a member of the true Church of Christ for unity and salvation. In this, Father Greenstock is reiterating the teachings expressed infallibly by the Popes throughout the centuries; and as especially expressed in Leo XIII’s Satis Cognitum, Pius XI’s Mortalium Animos, and Pius XII’s 1949 Instruction on the Ecumenical Movement which stated clearly:

"True reunion can only come about by the return of dissidents to the one true Church of Christ" (21) (the Catholic Church).

A New "Unity"

Again, then, the same question: did Vatican II promote this unity willed by Christ?

We find the answer in an article that appeared in an ecumenical publication, the International Jewish-Christian Documentation Service (SIDIC), which is from a Catholic association "founded in Rome in 1965 at the request of a group of experts of the Second Vatican Council following the promulgation of Nostra Aetate", to promote Catholic-Jewish "dialogue". (22)

In 1999, it published a special issue on the subject, "Fundamentalism and Extremism: Challenges for the 21st Century". It was a survey of those within various religious groups who have resisted ecumenism; including those from Judaism, Islam, Protestantism and Catholicism.

Under the heading "Integralism and Fundamentalism: Christians Confronting Ecumenism", it spotlighted, as the central figure fighting ecumenism within Catholicism, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.

When explaining the reasons for Archbishop Lefebvre’s refusal to accept ecumenism, the journal made an amazing admission:

"Lefebvre’s refusal to accept ecumenism originates in clear teachings from the Magisterium: the encyclical Satis Cognitum of Leo XIII (1896); the encyclical Mortalium Animos of Pius XI (1928); the Dec. 20, 1949, Instruction of the Holy Office regarding Ecumenism. The only ecumenism accepted by Lefebvre and his followers is that which strives for the unconditional return of the members of other confessions to the one Church of Christ, the Roman Catholic Church. This hardened sectarianism is precisely the kind of logic which Vatican II, through profound reflection on the nature of the Church, refused to accept. Though rooted in Tradition [sic] the scope of the Council’s reflection was without precedent in the history of Christianity. For integralists, ecumenism is one of the fundamental betrayals by Vatican II." (23)

The journal admits openly

  • that Lefebvre rejected the Council’s ecumenism because it contradicted the clear teaching of the Magisterium that preceded it for centuries,

  • that Vatican II refused to accept the Catholic position that it is necessary for the non-Catholic to convert to the Catholic Church for unity and salvation, and

  • that this is "without precedent" in the history of Christianity.

(It should be obvious that Vatican II’s new teaching is not "rooted in Tradition" as the journal falsely asserts).

A Progressivist Boasts of Victory

This leads us, then, to another question. Did this ecumenical journal "misrepresent" the Council’s teaching?

In order to answer this, we will turn to one of the progressive theologians at Vatican II, who was involved in drafting the documents, and who can tell us what was in the minds of those men who drafted the documents. What were the true intentions of the architects at Vatican II?

In 1966, Paulist Press published a revealing little book entitled Theological Highlights of Vatican II. The book’s author is the progressivist theological peritus from Vatican II, Father Joseph Ratzinger (who is now Cardinal Ratzinger).

Ratzinger here explains that the Council texts Lumen Gentium (which is the Council’s Document on the Church) and the Decree on Ecumenism, are absolutely linked. The groundwork for ecumenism was established within Lumen Gentium, so that the ecumenical initiative and orientation could follow. (24)

Ratzinger writes:

"The text on the Church was favorably predisposed toward ecumenical thinking in that its basic theological line was ecumenical."

He is telling us, as one involved with the drafting of the documents, that the basic text of Lumen Gentium is ecumenical. He continues:

"It also attempted to slough off particularisms coming from Latin and scholastic sources and to keep the door open on all legitimate theological questions." (26)

Here we see what Father David Greenstock was warning against in his 1963 article. The goal of the progressives was to get rid of scholasticism, because the precision of scholasticism does not allow them to formulate their new, sloppy, unorthodox ecumenology. It doesn’t allow them to play fast and loose with the terminology.

On the same page, Ratzinger says:

"The title of the text no longer referred in scholastic fashion to the ‘nature of the Church’, but spoke rather of its ‘mystery’."

This is another trend we see since Vatican II. Before the Council, we spoke precisely of the "nature of the Church", which had a strict definition. Now, instead, we speak of the "mystery of the Church". Before the Council, we spoke of the unchangeableness of Sacred Tradition. Today, however, we talk about the "mystery of the living tradition". This is a semantic tactic to introduce confusion. The progressives take our defined certitudes, they turn them into vague "mysteries". Once they do this, they can do anything they wan t with the terminology. It is precisely what’s happening here.

Ratzinger then addressed the question of who is really a "member" of the Church. Again, he admits that he and his liberal clique played games with the language:

"The first schema of 1962 still clung to the traditional scholastic formula which saw membership in the Church as dependent on the joint presence of three prerequisites: baptism, profession of the same faith and acceptance of the hierarchy headed by the Pope, (That’s Saint Robert Bellarmine’s precise definition, Ed.). Only those who met these requirements could be called members of the Church. Obviously, this was a very narrow formulation." (27)

We see how dead on-target was Father David Greenstock who warned that the liberals want to abandon scholasticism so as to create a new situational (ecumenical) theology. It’s precisely what we have here with Ratzinger and the Council. Ratzinger continues:

"... the result was that the notion of ‘member of the Church’ could be applied only to Catholics. With such an answer to the question of Church membership, it became very difficult to describe the Christian dignity of the non-Catholic Christian... Accordingly, modifications were made in the text submitted in 1963 to the Council Fathers." (28)

Regarding "modifications in the text", the original draft of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium reiterated Pope Pius XII’s teaching that the "Church of Christ IS the Catholic Church". The progressivist theologians at Vatican II, to the delight of the Protestant observers at the Council, changed the sentence to "The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church." This new wording was hailed as a great victory for Ecumenism. (29) The term "subsists" is deliberately ambiguous and admits to a definition of "Church" as being bigger than the Catholic Church, that "in some mysterious way", includes non-Catholics.

Ratzinger elaborates on other changes of terminology that were made to accommodate the new, ecumenical orientation:

"The new text avoided the expression ‘member of the Church’ hallowed by long usage in Catholic theology. Use of this expression would have immediately aroused the scholastic theologians, who saw this notion as necessarily including the three above-mentioned prerequisites. In view of these difficulties, the decision was made to avoid this controversial term." (30)

This is precisely what Father Greenstock was warning against. They’ve abandoned scholasticism in order to bring in a new ecumenical language. Suddenly a precise term that used to give us certitude is now a "controversial term" that we must discard.

Ratzinger continues:

"The new text describes the relationship between the Church and non-Catholic Christians without speaking of ‘membership’. By shedding this terminological armor, the text acquired a much wider scope." (31)

By shedding this terminological armor?

Again, we see that Father Greenstock was truly a prophet!

Ratzinger then mentions that the new text submitted to the Council Fathers in 1963 spoke of the "multiple internal ties" among Christians, such as Baptism, belief in Christ as the Son of God and Savior, and believe in Sacred Scriptures as Divine Revelation.

This is something they’re just discovering?

The fact is that heretics have always shared many common beliefs with Catholics. This is what heresy is. It accepts much of the truth, but rejects or corrupts a portion of it. Saint Thomas Aquinas defines heresy as "a species of infidelity in men who, having professed the faith of Christ, corrupt its dogmas." (32)

However, liberals such as Ratzinger have attempted to turn these "multiple internal ties" from something negative into something "positive". It is spin-doctoring, pure and simple.

Ratzinger goes on:

"The new text now says unmistakably and clearly, though in passing, that these Christians exist not merely as individuals, but in Christian communities which are given positive Christian status and ecclesial character." (33)

Now, that statement is loaded!

The Catholic Church had always dealt with Protestants as individual heretics. It never recognized them as a valid religious group, because their so-called "church" or "ecclesial community" is actually a fiction. A group of Protestants is simply a gathering of individuals who have become interiorly convinced of their salvation in Christ. They do not really constitute a "church".

In September of 1868, just before Vatican I, Pope Pius IX issued a public letter entitled Iam vos Omnes that was addressed "to all Protestants and other non-Catholics". He was not inviting them to the Council, but urged them to consider the event of the Council as an opportunity to convert to the one true Church. Pius called the letter "To All Protestants..." He chose that title on purpose. He addressed them as individuals, because he rightly refused to recognize that they, in their groups, constituted valid "churches" or "ecclesial communities". Commenting on this text in 1959, Msgr. Fenton pointed out that Pius IX chose these words deliberately because Protestant groups "are not Christian churches" but are actually "heretical assemblies." (34)

This explains why Ratzinger is so smug boasting that "the new text now says... clearly... that Christians exist not merely as individuals, but in Christian communities, which are given positive Christian status and ecclesial character." This is a progressivist revolution that thrills him to the marrow of his bones.

Ratzinger then explains that the Constitution on the Church and the Decree on Ecumenism form one teaching, and one new ecumenical orientation.

"The text on the Church was kept open primarily because it was to be supplemented by a text on ecumenism which would develop a viewpoint only hinted at in the Church text. Taking both texts into account, we can view in a positive light the undeniably admitted ecumenical outlook of the schema on the Church." (35)

Later he makes the absurd statement:

"The ecumenical movement grew out of a situation unknown to the New Testament and for which the New Testament can therefore offer no guidelines." (36)

Now wait a minute!

I thought the purpose of the Council was to return to the "pristine purity" of the Apostles. Here, however, Ratzinger is asserting that if we look to the pristine purity of the Apostles, the only thing they have to tell us regarding the ecumenical movement is that they have nothing to tell us.

This is a lie, anyways.

The Apostles had plenty to say on the Catholic’s duty to shun religious camaraderie with heretics.

Saint Peter, in his Second Epistle warns "There shall be among you lying teachers who shall bring in sects of perdition." (2 Peter 2:1).

Saint John: "If any man come to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house, nor say to him, God speed you." (2 John, 1:10)

Saint Paul, warning of heretical teachers, said "I know that after my departure, ravenous wolves will enter among you, not sparing the flock... Therefore watch." (Acts, 20:28, 29, 31) In Philippians 3:2, Paul says, "Beware of dogs", and these dogs are the same false teachers as those whom he called "ravenous wolves."

Thus, Ratzinger is not telling the truth. (37) What he is admitting, however, without saying it openly, is that Vatican II’s ecumenism has no basis in Sacred Scripture.

Ratzinger then sums up the new teaching of the Council:

"... the recognition of a plurality of Churches within the Church implies two lines of change:

"(a) The Catholic has to recognize that his own Church is not yet prepared to accept the phenomenon of multiplicity in unity; he must orient himself toward this reality. He must also recognize the need for a thorough Catholic renewal (translation: revolution, Ed.), something not to be accomplished in a day. This requires a process of opening up, which takes time. Meantime, the Catholic Church has no right to absorb the other Churches. The Church has not yet prepared for them a place of their own, but this they are legitimately entitled to."

"(b) A basic unity – of churches that remain Churches, yet become one Church – must replace the idea of conversion, even though conversion retains its meaningfulness for those in conscience motivated to seek it." (38)

There you have it.

Ratzinger is telling us, as one of the drafters and major influences of Vatican II (as a co-worker with Karl Rahner) that Vatican II teaches that conversion is an option. The non-Catholic need not convert to the true Church for salvation or for unity.

Again, this is why Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism, rather than giving a precise definition, speaks vaguely of "The Mystery of Church Unity". (39)

Now, has Cardinal Ratzinger changed his views since then?

In 1990, during a visit to Brazil, Cardinal Ratzinger gave an interview to the press, who asked him "What are the most marked differences between the Ratzinger of Vatican Council II and the Ratzinger of today? In other words, who has changed more?" Ratzinger replied, "I do not see a real, profound difference between my work at Vatican Council II and my present work." (40)

To the journalist Vittorio Messori, in 1984, Ratzinger admitted that since the Council, he "has not changed." (41)

The past autumn, after issuing Dominus Iesus, Ratzinger still defended using the word "subsist" to describe the Church.

In a recent interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemine, Cardinal Ratzinger explained:

"Vatican II did not use Pius XII’s expression according to which ‘the Roman Catholic Church is the only Church of Christ.’ Instead, it preferred the expression ‘The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church...’ because," he said, "it wished to ‘affirm that the being of the Church as such is a larger identity than the Roman Catholic Church’." (42)

We can see that it is the same Ratzinger with the same progressive message. He may not be as cocky as he was in 1966, but he’s promoting the same flawed teaching. He is saying that the Church of Christ is broader than the Catholic Church and not strictly identical with it.

Here, then, is the main point. This flawed teaching on Christian unity is the true teaching of the Council. It was the intention that was in the minds of those who drafted the documents, and they constructed the texts accordingly. (43) As such, it is a head-on collision with what the Catholic Church has taught on unity and salvation for 2,000 years.

Thus, in answer to our question: Vatican II teaches a doctrine of Christian unity that is contrary to Scripture, contrary to Sacred Tradition, contrary to the express and positive will of Jesus Christ.

Msgr. Fenton’s Warning

In the October 1962 issue of the American Ecclesiastical Review, the renowned theologian Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, published an article entitled "The Virtue of Prudence and the Success of the Second Vatican Council." (44) It is the only article I’ve read from the period which leveled the sober warning: Do not think that just because this Council has been called, it will automatically be a success!

Fenton noted that the announcements regarding the upcoming council always called upon the faithful to offer prayers for its success. He was worried, however, that the call for prayer lacked any note of urgency. It seemed as if the call for prayer was nothing more than a formality.

No, Fenton remonstrated, the faithful must pray diligently for the success of the Council, because there is the real possibility that the Council may be a failure.

He said that many "imagine that the Council will automatically be a success, and that, as a result, there is no particular need of any prayers for the attainment of the ends for which it was conceived and summoned. Many seem to have imagined that the calling of an ecumenical council was like pushing a magic button, which would automatically and painlessly do away with all of the difficulties being faced by the true Church of Jesus Christ in the 20th Century. And, as is obvious from a study of the history of previous general councils, and from the consideration of the very nature of the Catholic Church, it is plain that there could be no more serious misconception. The fact of the matter is that the success of the ecumenical council really depends on the effectiveness and the ardor of the prayers of the faithful."

He then lays out what the Council will have to achieve in order to be considered a success:

"In order to be successful, in order to accomplish the purpose for which it has been called into being, the ecumenical council must speak out effectively and adequately against the doctrinal aberrations which are endangering the faith, and hence the entire spiritual life, of the faithful at the time the council is working.

"Furthermore, in the disciplinary field, it is impossible for an ecumenical council to attain its purpose unless it sets forth regulations and directives which tend to achieve the following objectives.

"First, these disciplinary decrees must be such as to make it easier for the faithful in the state of friendship for God to advance in His love.

"Second, they must be so calculated as to make it easier for those who are members of the Church and who are not living the life of grace to return to the friendship of God.

"And finally, they must be such as to aid in the conversion of non-Catholics to the one and only true Church of Jesus Christ."

In the same vein, he elaborated, "those who are not favored with membership in the Church (should) be able to see even more clearly that the presently existing visible Catholic Church is really the one and only supernatural kingdom of God on earth."

Again, he warns, "It is by no means automatically certain the council will be successful, speaking from the point of view of this supernatural prudence."

As if predicting the future, Fenton closes: "It is possible that the Council might act other than with the fulness of supernatural prudence. It is possible that, seen in this perspective, it may not be successful."

Tragically, the Council has been a failure on the very points pinpointed by Msgr. Fenton.

The Council did not speak out effectively against the doctrinal aberrations of the time. In fact, it made everything far worse, due to its liberalization and Protestantization of doctrine. As a result, it has shattered the interior unity of Catholics who have never been more divided among themselves.

As far as disciplinary measures:

  1. The Council has not made it easier for the faithful in their friendship of God to advance in His love. If anything, tens of thousands of Catholics have ceased practicing their religion since the Council because of the progressivist revolution that the Council generated, especially regarding liturgy.

  2. The Council has not made it easier for fallen-away Catholics to return to the Church. In fact, as already noted, the liberal reforms from the Council have generated a massive falling away of Catholics from the practice of the faith, not to mention the mass defections of thousands of priests and religious away from their sacred vocation.

  3. The Council has not been an aid in the conversion of the non-Catholics to the one and only true Church of Jesus Christ. We see that Cardinal Ratzinger admitted openly that the Council did away with the notion that it is necessary for non-Catholics to convert to the one true Church of Christ for unity and salvation.

Thus, the Council has been a failure. Its ecumenism, a disaster.

So, rather than apologize for our renowned Catholic ancestors who had the proper understanding of Christian Unity and acted accordingly, it is Vatican II for which our Church leaders should offer a great apology, along with a firm purpose of amendment, to conform their teachings, their actions, their policies, and their liturgies so as to protect and promote once again the traditional and true teachings of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.


  1. The Bull Cantate Domino published by Pope Eugene IV, Feb. 4, 1442, Council of Florence.

  2. The Catechism of the Council of Trent, (Tan Books) Page 102. It is worth noting that the New (1994) Catechism’s section on the "oneness" of Christ’s Church does not include this quotation from Saint Paul. Further, it is this section of the New Catechism that contains some of the worst "ecumenical" exhortations. See New Catechism, #’s 813 through 822.

  3. For a superb theological treatise that demonstrates this comprehensively, see "The Scholastic Definitions of the Church", by Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, (Parts I-III) published in American Ecclesiastical Review (Washington, D.C.) July, August, September, 1944.

  4. De Controversiis Christianae Fidei adversus Huis Temporis Haereticos, Tom. 1, (Ingolstadt, 1586). Quartae Controversia Generlist Liber Terisus, De Ecclesia Militante, cap. 2, col 1263. English translation cited from "Scholastic Definitions of the Church", Part II, by Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, American Ecclesiastical Review, August, 1944.

  5. Quoted from The Catholic Dogma by Father Michael Muller (Benzinger Brothers, 1888), p. xi. Emphasis added.

  6. Mystici Corporis, Pope Pius XII, N.C.W.C. edition, 1943, NO. 13, p. 8.

  7. Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII, N.C.W.C. edition, 1950, No. 27, p. 12.

  8. "The Meaning of the Word Church" by Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton. First published in the American Ecclesiastical Review, Oct., 1954. Republished in its entirety in Catholic Family News, November, 2000. (Reprint #528 available from CFN for $1.75).

  9. Mortalium Animos, Encyclical on Fostering True Christian Unity, Pope Pius XI, From The Popes Against Modern Errors, (Tan, 1999) 299-301. Emphasis added.

  10. See "Thomism and the New Theology", David Greenstock, T.O.P. The Thomist, 1950.

  11. "Unity: Special Problems, Dogmatic and Moral", David Greenstock, The Thomist, 1963, p. 599. (Quotation from the Bishop of Darwin is footnoted in the article as from the Universe and Catholic Times, Jan. 25, 1963). On all quotes from this article, emphasis added.

  12. Pascendi.

  13. The Six Principles are found on pp. 602-610 in article cited. Emphasis added.

  14. For keen insights into the quagmire of "Pastoral Language", see Pope John Paul II’s Theological Journey to the Prayer Meeting in Assisi, Part I, Father Johannes Dormann (Angelus Press, 1994), pp. 34-42.

  15. Father Greenstock elaborates on the relationship between Faith and Theology in the article "Thomism and the New Theology", The Thomist, 1950.

  16. Quotation from Cardinal Ratzinger’s Milestones, (p. 44). Cited from Si Si No No, English language edition published in The Angelus, March, 1999.

  17. Description given by author of Si Si No No, ibid.

  18. Fr. Ludvik Nemek, a "conservative" Catholic, writes in praise of John Paul II that "Bishop Wojtyla took a progressive stand" at Vatican II, and that he "interacted with progressive theologians" at the Council. Pope John Paul II, A Festive Profile, (Catholic Book Publishing, NY, 1979), p. 98.

  19. Cited in article as from Orthodoxy, (London, 1908) p. 166 ff.

  20. Cited in article as from The Ecumenical Review, VIII, January, 1956.

  21. Instructio, (The Instruction from the Holy Office on the Ecumenical Movement, Dec. 20, 1949) Entire English translation published in The Tablet (London) March 4, 1950.

  22. The Rome-based SIDIC has local representatives in the following countries: Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Holland, Israel, Italy, United States.

  23. Service Internatial de Documentatoin Judeo-Chretienne, Rome, [English edition from Washington, D.C.] Vol. XXXII, No. 3, 1999, p. 22. (Emphasis added).

  24. Theological Highlights of Vatican II, Joseph Ratzinger, (Paulist Press, New York, 1966), p. 61.

  25. Ibid. P. 64.

  26. Ibid., emphasis added.

  27. Ibid., p. 65.

  28. Ibid., pp. 65-66.

  29. See Pope John’s Council by Michael Davies, (Angelus Press, Kansas City) pp. 60-61.

  30. Theological Highlights of Vatican II, p. 66.

  31. Ibid., p. 66. Emphasis added.

  32. Summa (II-II, 11:1), Cited in "Heresy", Catholic Encyclopedia, 1910 (entry by J. Weilhem).

  33. Theological Highlights of Vatican II, p. 67. Emphasis added.

  34. "The Ecumenical Council and Christian Reunion", Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, American Ecclesiastical Review, July, 1959.

  35. Theological Highlights of Vatican II, p. 68.

  36. Ibid., p. 72.

  37. It may be argued that at the time of the Apostles there was not an "ecumenical movement" among heretical groups seeking to get along with one another. This, however, leaves untouched the Apostles’ firm directive for Catholics to avoid religious camaraderie with heretics.

  38. Theological Highlights of Vatican II, p. 73. (Emphasis added)

  39. Unitatis Redintegratio. Also see reference in Catechism of the Catholic Church, Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishopss English edition (1994), p. 178.

  40. J. Ratzinger, Interview with Walter Falceta, "Ratzinger reafirma identidade catolica," in O Estado de St. Paulo, 7/29/1990.

  41. J. Ratzinger, interview with Vittorio Messori, "Ecco perche la fede e in crisi", in Jesus, November, 1984, p. 69. Both quotations from Ratzinger interviews (1990 & 1984) cited from In the Murky Waters of Vatican II, by Atila Sinke Guimaraes, (Meata, 1998), pp. 121-122.

  42. Frankfurter Allgemine, English translation taken from newsletter of Father Jean Violette, SSPX, Toronto, October, 2000.

  43. This remains true even if Cardinal Ratzinger would completely change his own personal views to a more orthodox position. The Council texts themselves remain ambiguous, imprecise, flawed, and oriented toward an unorthodox ecumenism.

  44. "The virtue of Prudence and the Success of the Second Ecumenical Council", Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, American Ecclesiastical Review, October, 1962, pp. 255-266.


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