Archbishop Vigano, Pope Francis’s most outspoken critic, recently raised serious questions about the Second Vatican Council. He has joined a long line of critics over the years, with Archbishop Lefebvre of the Society of St Pius X at the forefront. Archbishop Vigano has followed Archbishop Lefebvre in demanding the documents of the Council be jettisoned and the Church start again, with Traditional belief the starting point.
I follow St John Paul II and Benedict XVI in their interpretation of the Council documents. The documents should be read in the light of Tradition – according to the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’. Any apparent ambiguities are resolved by placing them in the teaching of what went before Vatican II. There have been a number of crucial documents following the Council that have corrected the alleged ambiguities.
The collapse of the Church after the Council was due to the adoption of the ‘Spirit of Vatican II’, which ignored the documents and created a whole new church, which was the stated aim of its promoters. The so-called ‘spirit’ prevailed politically, not doctrinally. The overthrow of the Traditional Church was a political victory.
The political forces for the new church were tightly organised before the start of the Council. On the 11th of October 1962, the opening of the Council, they went into operation. Their political manoeuvring and manipulation steamrolled the thoroughly unprepared Traditionalists, those defending the centuries-old Church. Several years’ work in the preparatory documents were tossed out and a new start made, at the head of which were some of the most notorious dissenters in the years following the Council. Indeed, it was only the intervention of Pope St Paul VI at critical points that stopped the Council tipping over the edge into heresy.
My thesis that the Second Vatican Council was primarily a political contest is grounded largely on Fr Ralph Wiltgen’s THE RHINE FLOWs INTO THE TIBER, reissued in 1978 as THE INSIDE STORY OF VATICAN II, and Roberto de Mattei’s magisterial THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL (AN UNWRITTEN STORY). There is also my experience of the Council and its aftermath. I was sixteen in 1962 and nineteen when the 1960s cultural revolution and the student rebellion exploded on the West in 1965. The Council wrapped up in December 1965.
In a very informative discussion of the Council, Patrick Coffin interviews Dr Ralph Martin about his new book A CHURCH IN CRISIS: PATHWAYS FORWARD. The discussion gives depth to my views. Highly recommended.
Raph Martin’s new book is available on Amazon.