Scapegoating Vatican II

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  August 12, 2020   

Bp. Barron's anemic response

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Los Angeles ( - While prelates debate how the Second Vatican Council caused or occasioned the crisis of faith rocking the Catholic Church for more than 50 years, Bp. Robert Barron's seeming defense of the council actually confirms what many skeptics have said all along.

Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò and Bp. Athanasius Schneider

Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, tweeted on Tuesday a link to a FAQ assembled by his "Word on Fire" team. The FAQ was intended to "aid Catholics in reclaiming a true understanding of Vatican II." His intervention follows Bp. Athanasius Schneider's criticism on June 1 of a "dangerous ambiguity" in the wording of one of the 16 conciliar documents and Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò's ongoing criticism of, not only the council itself, but also those who orchestrated it.

The 12-part FAQ, approved and promoted by Barron, cursorily discredits the notion that heretical bishops and priests deliberately used or "weaponized" ambiguity to distort Church teaching.

"There is simply no evidence of such a conspiracy," reads Barron's FAQ.

But books like The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber: The Unknown Council by Fr. Ralph M. Wiltgen, S.V.D. undermine Barron's claim. Wiltgen's behind-the-scenes reporting on Vatican II details machinations strikingly similar to those at play during the 2014 synod, as reported by Ed Pentin in his book titled The Rigging of a Vatican Synod: An Investigation into the Alleged Manipulation at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family.


Barron's FAQ then asserts, however, that intentional ambiguity is historically employed at various Church councils when "theologians are not in full agreement and so somewhat ambiguous statements must be used in the final documents." He further admits that such "ambiguity could later be exploited unfaithfully," until it's "developed faithfully under the guidance of the Holy Spirit by later councils."

Dietrich von Hildebrand wrote much on how the texts of Vatican II were spun by liberals to foment a revolution in Catholic teaching and practice.
Dietrich von Hildebrand

Philosopher and author Dietrich von Hildebrand wrote much on how the texts of Vatican II were spun by liberals to foment a revolution in Catholic teaching and practice. His books, Trojan Horse in the City of God, first published in 1967, and its sequel, The Devastated Vineyard, published in 1973, are heralded by the experienced and learned. 

Asked if von Hildebrand's critique of distorted interpretations of the council remains valid, the late archbishop of New York, Cdl. John O'Connor responded, "I believe it is, because so many of his warnings were ignored and even ridiculed in 1967."

Professor Peter Kreeft highly recommends von Hildebrand's books, especially to clerics.

"Von Hildebrand goes to the roots of 'cafeteria Catholicism' and 'dissent,'" remarked Kreeft. "If every pastor in America read this book honestly, we could have a counterrevolution!"

Dr. Peter Kreeft

Barron again contends in his FAQ that ambiguous language like that found in Vatican II is the inevitable outcome of councils and may well be attributed to false theologians assisting at the council.

"The key point is this: All councils employ some theological language that is inevitably ambiguous in certain ways," reads the FAQ. "It may be that there are theologians present at a council — contributors to a conciliar text — that hope to employ the ambiguous language in a wrong way later."

He then brings up the Catechism of the Catholic Church as proof that the Church is protected by the Holy Spirit when correctly "interpreting its councils and handing on the Faith." The Catechism, however, wasn't published until 1992 — long after millions of Catholics had already left the Church.

Not only was Church teaching grossly distorted by liberals following Vatican II, but liturgy as well. Barron takes note of this and posits a parallel error by those tasked with implementing the council's mandates.

To make his point, his FAQ lifts the following texts from the first of 16 documents to come from Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium:

  • "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"
  • "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"
  • "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 splendor to the Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things"

Why Latin, Gregorian chant and the pipe organ all but disappeared, the FAQ chalks up to "the misimplementation of Vatican Council texts, not the texts themselves."

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI would agree. In 1993, then-Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger addressed the lack of organic liturgy following Vatican II.

"One cannot manufacture a liturgical movement," he noted. "What happened after the council was something else entirely." 

Pope Benedict XVI (Photo: CNS)

"In the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy," he added. "We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it — as in a manufacturing process — with a fabrication, a banal, on-the-spot product."

Barron's FAQ notes the Traditional Latin Mass was put back on the liturgical map by Benedict's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum. The problem is that this act of a supposedly attentive Magisterium came more than 40 years after the fabricated liturgy caused an exodus of Catholics.

Church teaching that's buried in the council documents, which Barron so ardently defends, is still being kept under wraps by shepherds like himself. The bishop, who became known for having a "reasonable hope" that all men are saved, is not well known for bringing out what the council teaches regarding the prospects of salvation for those who knowingly leave the Church.

In paragraph 14 of the conciliar document Lumen Gentium, the Vatican II Fathers warn: "Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved. ... [N]ot only shall they not be saved, but they will be the more severely judged."

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