Is the SSPX heretical? Parts 1-4
Is the SSPX heretical?

Quote:Archbishop Mueller, who is heading the Congregation of the Faith, made some remarks published in L’Osservatore Romano on November 29th, on the occasion of the publication of the 7th volume of the “Opera omnia of Joseph Ratzinger”, which expounds the now-Pope Benedict XVI’s impact during the Second Vatican Council.[1] During this presentation, the man who is the pope’s right arm made a rather forceful declaration in support of his superior regarding the ‘hermeneutic of the reform in continuity’:[2]

This interpretation is the only one possible according to the principles of Catholic theology, in consideration of the indissoluble link between Sacred Scripture, the complete and integral Tradition and the Magisterium, whose highest expression is the Council presided over by the Successor of St. Peter as Head of the visible Church. Outside this sole orthodox interpretation unfortunately exists a heretical interpretation, that is, a hermeneutic of rupture, (found) both on the progressive front and on the traditionalist one. Both agree on refusing the Council; the progressives in their wanting to leave it behind, as if it were a season to abandon in order to get to another church, and the traditionalists in their not wanting to get there, as if it was the winter of Catholicity.

Continuity means permanent correspondence with the origin, not an adaption of whatever has been, which also can lead the wrong way. The often quoted term aggiornamento (updating) does not mean the secularization of the faith, which would lead to its dissolution, but rather making present the message of Jesus Christ. This making present is the reform necessary for every era in constant fidelity to the whole Christ…

The same Council has declared that, “following the tracks of the Councils of Trent and Vatican I, it intends to propose the genuine doctrine on the divine Revelation and its transmission, so that by the message of salvation the entire world listening believes, believing hopes, hoping loves” (dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum1). The Council does not want to announce some other faith but, in continuity with the previous ones, it means to make it present.

He quotes Dei Verbum again (#8): “This tradition which comes from the Apostles developed in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit.” This produces a “growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down” and is obtained by contemplation, study and “preaching of those who have received through episcopal succession the sure gift of truth. For as the centuries succeed one another, the Church constantly moves forward toward the fullness of divine truth until the words of God reach their complete fulfillment in her.”

Needless to say, this declaration of Archbishop Mueller is not an official statement coming in the extraordinary form of, say, a decree or an anathema. Yet, this statement deserves some attention because it is the faithful echo of Pope Benedict XVI’s thesis of the hermeneutic of continuity, and because of his position in the Church today at the head of the Congregation of the Faith leading the discussions with the SSPX.

It is not the first time that Rome is ‘using’ the SSPX to counterbalance the arch-modernists who want to be ahead of the time and want the revolution of the revolution. It is less usual and rather ironic for the SSPX to be called ‘heretical’ on a par with the avant-garde modernists who reject Vatican II as being outdated. During the doctrinal discussions, as explained by Bishop Fellay, the Roman theologians accused us of having a Protestant attitude because we followed our own judgment against the Church Magisterium, just as we have asserted that they have neo-modernist mentality!

No doubt, the Archbishop Mueller’s statements do greatly clarify the positions in as much as he basically invokes the harmonious continuity of the entire Deposit of the Faith as a sure symptom of orthodoxy. We cannot be more in agreement with this and yet, here is where Vatican II fails the test in the mind of all traditionalist theologians whose front is getting wider as years go by. After 50 years of implementation of the Council, which have seen the “auto-destruction of the Church” (as aptly spoken by Pope Paul VI) and the virtual agony of Christ’s Spouse, it may be high time to have a close check-up on the validity of the main conciliar tenets.

From the doctrinal discussions between Rome and the SSPX, it was clear that the main bone of contention touched on the meaning of Tradition and Magisterium. Here, Archbishop Mueller is kind enough to state clearly the difficulty in the following syllogism:

(Major) Whoever does not accept the integral magisterium of the Church, including Vatican II, is heretical.

(Minor) But the SSPX refuses Vatican II, part of the integral Church teaching.

(Conclusion) Therefore, the SSPX is heretical.

It is clear that it will take a little explaining before we sort out the grain from the chaff in this simplistic argument, and we shall do so as a formal reply. Prior to this, we need to stress that, if Bishop Fellay and his priestly society are keeping in touch with the Roman authorities, it is because they believe in Rome, in the Church Magisterium and in papal infallibility. They believe that, outside of Rome, there is no ultimate solution to the gridlock in which the Church and, incidentally, the Society of St. Pius X are found. Unlike the sedevacantist instinct of fleeing away from modernist Rome as if it were already damned and cast off by Christ, having lost its pontifical power, we believe that, as the problem comes from the head, the solution can be found only in the head.

This is the mystery of the Church which as Christ is both divine and human, as explained by Bishop Fellay recently:

This is the mystery of the Cross. When Jesus is on the Cross, the Faith obliges us to profess that He is God, that He is All-Powerful, that He is eternal and immortal. He cannot die; He cannot suffer. God is infinitely perfect. It is impossible for God to suffer. And Jesus on the Cross is God. The Faith tells us this. And we are obliged to accept it, totally, without in any way diminishing it. But at the same time human experience tells us that this same Jesus suffers and even that He dies.

Today, in relation to the Church, it is the same problem. In order to remain in the truth, one must keep these two sets of given facts: the facts of the Faith and also the facts noted by reason. This council tried to harmonize itself with the world. It brought the world into the Church, and so now we have disaster. And all these reforms that were made on the basis of the Council, were made by the authorities for this purpose. Today, they talk to us about continuity, but where is it? In Assisi? In the kissing of the Koran? In the suppression of the Catholic States? Where is that continuity?

Hence, we are going to have a close look at the question of the Church Magisterium in connection with Tradition, and then apply it to Vatican II to sort out whether or not those who object to some key texts of the Council are heretical and not rather those who follow it integrally.

Part 2
Understanding the concepts of “integral magisterium”, tradition and papal infallibility

In the first part of the article entitled “Is the SSPX heretical”, we gave the background of Archbishop Mueller’s statement expressing that whoever embraces the ‘hermeneutic of rupture’, whether liberals or traditionalists (like the SSPX), follows a heretical path. We also mentioned that the SSPX’s superior general explained the mystery of the Passion present in the Church crisis we are currently experiencing, which can be traced back to the mystery of the Church itself, both divine (and therefore divinely efficient) and human (and therefore deficient).

Before we address the question of the value of Vatican II as an act of magisterium (as we will see in part 3 regarding the minor of the argument), we need to presently examine the theological concepts at stake here: tradition, magisterium, infallibility and continuity (regarding the major of the argument). Only in their light can we elucidate a proper understanding of the issues. First, let us recall the argument used by Archbishop Mueller in a simple form:

(Major) Whoever does not accept the integral magisterium of the Church is heretical.

(Minor) But the SSPX refuses Vatican II, part of the integral Church teaching.

(Conclusion) Therefore, the SSPX is heretical.

Second, let us remark that, aside from the reference to Vatican II, we agree totally with the anti-progressive statement of Archbishop Mueller:

This interpretation (of a magisterial act in continuity with the past) is the only one possible according to the principles of Catholic theology, in consideration of the indissoluble link between Sacred Scripture, the complete and integral Tradition and the Magisterium” (my emphasis).

We completely agree with this proposition and also affirm that whoever denies it is heretical – but do we have the same understanding of the terms? We need to closely examine these terms otherwise we run the risk of falling into either the modernist or sedevacantist trap.

1. What is tradition? see True Notion of Tradition >

Tradition is the act of passing on – tradere – the teaching received from someone else. Our Lord is the first “traditionalist” since He tells His Apostles: “My doctrine is not my doctrine, but that of My Father”, and “As the Father has sent Me, so I also send you.” This incidentally teaches us that Jesus Christ as a man did not invent the truth. Nor could He have ever contradicted truth by affirming that Our Lady was with original sin or that St. Peter was impeccable. Rather, Christ was a seer whose duty was to reveal to us the Father and the whole economy of salvation.

But prior to leaving earth, He had to found an institution to prolong the work of the Incarnation in time and space. So, the Church – Christ’s Mystical Body – has been endowed with the same work of tradition, i.e., of transmitting, what Christ the man had Himself received, Divine Revelation and the means of salvation. Thus the Church’s mission is to pass on the Revelation of the Word of God to be believed by all the faithful under the pain of eternal damnation. This mission could not be fulfilled fittingly unless the Church was endowed with the means of preserving this Divine Revelation, this Deposit of the Faith, intact through all ages. This means is called the charisma of infallibility.

2. What is the scope and expressions of infallibility?

It is important to notice that the property of Church infallibility is correlative to its proper object. Church infallibility is as inseparable from Divine Revelation as the trunk is from the elephant. This applies to the Church teaching or magisterium, of which we shall have to speak at length. This magisterium can be infallible in two ways: either extraordinarily or ordinarily.

The extraordinary magisterium is proper to the pope alone or to the pope in union with an ecumenical council. Vatican I defined the limits of infallibility in Pastor Aeternus:

…when the Roman pontiff speaks ex cathedra, that is, when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole church…

But Dei Filius (the other decree of Vatican I) gives another means of infallible Church teaching:

By divine and Catholic faith, all those things must be believed which are contained in the written word of God and in tradition, and those which are proposed by the Church, either in a solemn pronouncement or in her ordinary and universal teaching power, to be believed as divinely revealed.

The solemn pronouncements refer to the extraordinary magisterium. The other called “ordinary and universal” must be understood in the words of Pius XI in Tuas Libenter referring to “the Church spread in the universe”, or as the reporter of Dei Filius explained, “the magisterium of the Church dispersed through the globe.” The rationale behind this is that dispersion is a criterion of infallibility because, when different doctors from all places agree on the same thing, they must be united by a definite teaching which dates back to the apostles.

3. What are the limits of papal infallibility?

For what we have seen above, Vatican I gave the property of papal infallibility. Pastor Aeternus at Vatican I explains the papal role: “in order to preserve faithfully and declare infallibly” (Dz 3020), or “in order to preserve saintly and expose faithfully” (Dz 3070). So the pope’s duty is not to invent the truth, anymore than Peter invented it, but to pass on what he has received from above. We know of popes who have been misleading the Church, out of weakness like Liberius in the time of St. Athanasius, and Pope John XXII out of ignorance (whose theory that saints do not see God until judgment day was condemned as heretical by the next pope, Benedict XII). Here are a few more quotes to pinch the dreamlike state of some Catholics who would obey men rather than God when the pope errs as a man:

At Vatican I, it was considered satirical to even propose a canon stating: “If anyone says that the authority of the pope in the Church is so full that he may dispose of everything by his mere whim, let him be anathema.”[1]

Cardinal de Torquemada (Grand Inquisitor): “Were the pope to command anything against Holy Scripture, or the articles of faith, or the truth of the Sacraments, or the commands of the natural or divine law, he ought not to be obeyed, but in such commands is to be passed over (despiciendus).”[2]

St. Robert Bellarmine: “As it is lawful to resist the pope, if he assaulted a man’s person, so it is lawful to resist him, if he assaulted souls, or troubled the state, and much more if he strove to destroy the Church. It is lawful, I say, to resist him, by not doing what he commands, and hindering the execution of his will.”[3]

Archbishop Kenrick (quoted By Cardinal Newman): “(the pope’s) power was given for edification, not for destruction. If he uses it from the love of domination scarcely will he meet with obedient populations.”

4. What does magisterium mean?

There are three main ways to speak of ‘magisterium’ or teaching of the Church. It means either the teachers (the magistri or masters who teach the faith); or the act of teaching (the catechism class being taught by the 1st grade teacher); and finally the doctrine itself being taught (the Incarnation is part of the magisterium of the Church). Whereas the first and second meaning refer to the subject (the teacher and his actual teaching), the third meaning refers to the object of teaching, the material being taught. The latter is the objective sense whereas the former are subjective.

This distinction becomes important when Roman authorities today affirm the primacy of the “living magisterium” over the past magisterium [see the quote marked * below for a quote from Pope Benedict XVI]. Here, the term ‘living’ means the ongoing exercise of the authentic magisterium, and refers to the subjective magisterium. It does not apply to the third and objective sense of magisterium, namely the doctrine itself. The problem arises when one gives de facto exclusivity to the messenger and hides or falsifies the message. This is counter-productive to the purpose of the Church as being a transmitter of revealed dogma.

This is because Church doctrine is not subject to change. If there is progress, this is not in the dogma, but in the understanding of the dogma by the faithful, who are better protected against the assaults of error. If the object of our faith was itself ‘living’ in the modernist sense of evolving, it would no longer be the faith. If, to live, the faith in the Trinity had to grow into believing in the ‘Quaternity’ of God, this would not be the same faith! There would be a difference in kind, as between apples and pears.

The relativist and living aspect of the magisterium has been condemned by a cloud of witnesses, especially during the modernists’ and neo-modernist assaults

If anyone says that it is possible that the dogmas proposed by the Church be given sometimes, due to scientific progress, a sense different from that which the Church has understood and still understands, let him be anathema.[4]

So says the Anti-Modernist Oath of St. Pius X, which had been sworn to by all the Second Vatican Council Fathers during their lifetime:

Fourthly,… I entirely reject the heretical misrepresentation that dogmas evolve and change from one meaning to another different from the one which the Church held previously. I also condemn every error according to which, in place of the divine deposit which has been given to the spouse of Christ to be carefully guarded by her, there is put a philosophical figment or product of a human conscience that has gradually been developed by human effort and will continue to develop indefinitely.[5]

As a priest, Pope Benedict XVI, would have sworn this oath, nonetheless many of his writings present a relative and changing view of the Church’s past teaching. For example, he speaks of understanding more practically past Church decisions on Liberalism and free interpretation of the Bible, and the decrees against modernism. (July 10, 1990; December 22, 2005).

5. What does ‘continuous magisterium’ mean?

It is typical of the modernist strategy to use traditional words while gutting them out of their content. Such is the term ‘continuity’ as frequently used in the phrase ‘hermeneutic of continuity’. The Church teaching must be continuous as we have said all along. But for the modernists, it means primarily the subjects, the doctors, leaving aside the object, the doctrine. This magisterial continuity, meaning the prolongation of Church teaching, demands not so much the unity of the truth as contiguity in time among the teachers. As long as one teacher succeeds another on the chair, say, of the Gregorian University, there is continuous teaching and we should all be happy, regardless that the second doctor is a heretic contradicting the previous orthodox teacher. Truth does not convey unity any longer. Now, ‘unity’ (a false sense of it) makes the truth! Thus it is no longer truth itself which unites and falsity which divides. Now, curiously the only heretic is he who does not get along. At that rate, the ecumenical rabbi is more in the truth than the lonely Archbishop Lefebvre!

For Benedict XVI (December 22, 2005), speaking about it says:

*…renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God.BLK

Conversely, he adds immediately afterward, “The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church.” Here, clearly continuity means the prolongation of the series of Church doctors, and, by opposition, rupture means the Church divided into two subjects. This is the strategy of ‘continuity’ invoked by the modernist Buonaiuti to change the Mass into: “a Protestantism which will not destroy the apostolic continuity of the ecclesiastical ministry in the essence itself of the worship.”[6] There is no reference whatsoever to doctrine, whether true or false. At that rate, contradiction means simply division of groups regardless of the doctrine being taught. To slightly caricaturize we might say: “The message of Revelation is of no importance; what counts is to get along.”

Final observations

It takes an in-depth study to uncover the subtle modernist mask but this has become necessary in our time since, truly, “There is something rotten in the State of Denmark.” But, once the terminology has been properly sorted out, the sophistry of Archbishop Mueller becomes crystal clear. But his first statement (the major) is rock solid taken in a Catholic sense:

This interpretation (of a magisterial act in continuity with the past) is the only one possible according to the principles of Catholic theology, in consideration of the indissoluble link between Sacred Scripture, the complete and integral Tradition and the Magisterium.

For the words of Archbishop Mueller are a formal condemnation of any rupture in the Church teaching, of modernism and its offspring of historicism and relativism which after being condemned by St. Pius X and driven underground, sprung up anew in the mid 40’s and 50’s. Archbishop Mueller’s words echo the famous Apologia of Cardinal Newman who still unconverted, understood that the validity of the Anglican Credo could only rest on its apostolicity. He had to give it up when he realized that the Church Fathers already upheld the Catholic creed with no interruption. Or as Bossuet eloquently said “It is, so to speak, in this always that appears the force of the truth and of the promise, and we lose it entirely as soon as we find an interruption at any point.” Hence, Archbishop Mueller is right, one hundred times right, when he says: the true Faith and the true Church must rest on this uninterruptedness or else it has collapsed. With him, we believe firmly that whoever denies it is heretical, but against him, we believe that this must be understood with the Catholic and not the modernist understanding of the terms.

Part 3
Outside the Vatican II Council, no salvation?

In the last section, we have examined the meaning of the terms used by Archbishop Mueller in his argument for the ‘hermeneutic of the reform in continuity’ as the only one in line with the faith, because of its link with the “integral Tradition and the Magisterium.” Opposed to the traditional understanding of these terms, there was a modernist vision which called for a caveat on the part of readers. Indeed there is anguis in herba [1] when Archbishop Mueller, speaking of the integral magisterium, adds:

whose highest expression is the Council presided over by the Successor of St. Peter as Head of the visible Church. Outside this sole orthodox interpretation unfortunately exists a heretical interpretation, that is, a hermeneutic of rupture (found) both on the progressive front and on the traditionalist one. Both agree on refusing the Council… the traditionalists in their not wanting to get there, as if it was the winter of Catholicity.

Thus, to repeat ourselves, his argument is the following:

(Major) Whoever does not accept the integral magisterium of the Church is heretical.

(Minor) But the SSPX refuses Vatican II, part of the integral Church teaching.

(Conclusion) Therefore, the SSPX is heretical.

Now that we have addressed the major which we accepted in the Catholic but not modernist understanding of its terms, we wish in the present section to tackle the minor, and object to some texts of Vatican II because they oppose traditional Church teaching.

1. The value of Vatican II after the Council?

Different authorities, and not the least of them, have brought forward the huge importance of the late Council. In 1976, Pope Paul VI wrote to Archbishop Lefebvre that “Vatican II was in a certain way more important than the Council of Nicea”.

Msgr. Ocariz, about a year ago, gave a lengthy article which gave the impression of a rebuttal from Rome to our SSPX theological commission on the themes of magisterium and tradition. Like Archbishop Mueller, although he admits the absence of dogmatic definition, he concludes that the charism of truth and the magisterial authority of Vatican II was so present such that:

…to refuse them to the episcopal corps assembled cum Petro et sub Petro in order to teach the universal Church would be to deny a part of the Church’s very essence.

He then explained the different degrees of assent to be given according to the truths set forth by the magisterium: the infallible definitions demand the faith under pain of heresy; the other Church teachings demand ecclesiastical assent; other texts with no specific Church teaching demand no such assent.

Lately, Cardinal Brandmuller admitted that “There is a huge difference between a great constitution,” like the Vatican II constitutions on the Church, the liturgy and divine revelation, “and simple declarations,” like the Vatican II declarations on Christian education and the mass media, which corroborates the evaluation of Msgr Ocariz.

2. Did Vatican II enjoy the charism of infallibility?

When we say that a Council enjoys the charism of infallibility, we mean that it is endowed a priori with the power of the Holy Ghost to teach infallibly Church doctrine. As we have seen above, there are two ways of expressing an infallible statement in the Church magisterium:

by the extraordinary (or solemn)

and the ordinary magisterium.

Did Vatican II fit in any of these expressions so as to deserve a priori the charism of infallibility?

There is no doubt that Vatican II did not enjoy such charism on the grounds of solemn or extraordinary magisterium. At least twice (December 7, 1965; January 12, 1966) Pope Paul VI said that the Council “did not wish to define any point of doctrine through extraordinary judgments”, and “avoided to pronounce solemn dogmatic definitions which would engage the infallibility of the ecclesiastical magisterium.”

Was Vatican II part of the universal ordinary magisterium which would give it ipso facto the seal of infallibility? As we mentioned in part II, the term ‘universal’ used by Vatican I (and Pius IX) meant specifically that the Church bishops were scattered throughout the world. It is this dispersion which together with the unity of doctrine which is the criteria of apostolicity and truth of this doctrine. Needless to say a council gathering is the opposite of the episcopal body dispersed through the planet.

Yet, this exclusion of this de jure charism of infallibility does not preclude the possibility that, de facto and really, Vatican II was utterly infallible. For this, it would suffice that Vatican II repeat traditional Church doctrine, that is, a teaching constantly taught by the universal Church, and there is no doubt that many Vatican II texts are traditional. The question we need to address is whether Vatican II, in fact and in concreto, was integrally infallible.

Part 4

4. Other disturbing questions

It is hardly a secret any longer that many dealings took place before the Council. De Mattei, in his History Never Written on the Council, explains at great length the meeting at Metz of Cardinal Tisserant with Nikodim, where he pleaded with the Communists to send the Orthodox bishops in exchange for silencing any condemnation of Communism. Cardinal Bea likewise embarked upon an extended world tour to meet with Protestants to ask them what they wanted from the Council, and the Secretariat (soon promoted to the rank of a Commission) for the Unity of Christians– which became their platform and de facto the Trojan horse used to bring down the Holy City’s walls.

Many of the watered-down teachings of Vatican II are the fruit of these promises with this Commission. The Roman authorities asked the Jews and the Freemasons what they wanted. They demanded respectively that the term ‘Deicide’ applied to their race be deleted and that religious liberty be consecrated.

These arrangements raise some questions which, someday, the pope will have to address. Would Nicea have been an authentic Catholic magisterium if the papal legates had asked Arius what he required of the Council? Would Trent have turned out to be an authentic Catholic Magisterium if the bishops had asked Luther and Calvin what texts they wanted to have authenticated?

De Mattei is not short of arguments to explain the power struggle at the Council, which gave the upper hand to the modernistic Rhine alliance.Wiltgen likewise expresses it clearly in his book entitled The Rhine flows into the Tiber. This avant-garde wing was dominated by neo-modernists like Kung, Schillebeeckx, de Lubac, Congar, but was really dominated by the arch-heretic Rahner. This explains also why, because of the resistance of the conservative wing, many texts are filled with ambiguity, and sometimes contradiction, because they had to reach a compromise, at the expense of uniformity, let alone at the expense of truth!

The same author, de Mattei, relentlessly asks whether the Council can be properly understood without being placed in its historical context, both antecedent and subsequent. For him, the reception of the Council as an era of Christian Revolution speaks volumes as to what the conciliar popes, fathers and texts meant it to be. A historian would find it an enigma to pretend that the makers of Vatican II had no intention and no means to stop the effervescence of doctrinal and liturgical novelties which erupted then and there.

Thus, the post-Council is emblematic of a rupture with the past. And this becomes problematic for the ‘hermeneutic of continuity.’ Pope Benedict indeed wonders: “Why was the reception of the Council, in great parts of the Church, reached with such difficulty?… The problems of the reception came from the confrontation of two opposite hermeneutics.” This double hermeneutic is proof enough that, far from clarifying the doctrine, this Council has at least obscured it. Iota Unum (#48) explains that the very fact conservative theologians strive to disculpate the Council from equivocity is a sign that something is not quite right!

5. Contrary magisterial teaching

Finally, some incoherence is readily perceived if one peruses the Council texts and compares them with Church Tradition. Is it impertinent to wonder whether we can speak of continuity in the magisterium when one accepts the following propositions side by side?

Tradition / Vatican II
The Church of Jesus Christ is only the Catholic Church vs is not only the Catholic Church.

The truth in religious matters is the Catholic faith alone vs is not the Catholic faith alone.

The dissident churches are not proper churches vs  the dissident churches are, although in a way distinct from the Catholic, true churches.

Souls can be sanctified within the dissident communities despite of them vs souls can be sanctified in them and thanks to them.

Man has in principle no right to religious freedom to propagate error in countries (although this could be tolerated) vs Man has in principle a right to religious freedom and to non-Catholic propaganda.

Human nature is not the foundation of any right to religious freedom vs human nature is the foundation of the right to religious freedom.

Outside the Church there is no salvation,  vs outside Vatican II there is no traditionalist salvation.

6. Does the SSPX reject all Council teaching?

It would be plain calumny to pretend that the SSPX rejects the entire teaching of Vatican II. Bishop Fellay has stated that the Society accepts 95% of its teachings. Why would the rejection of a small portion of Council teaching cause a rift with Rome so as to preclude a canonical status whereas other Church institutes (and theologians, bishops and cardinals) in good standing reject many more essential Vatican II teaching? Rejection of the authority of Vatican II cannot be the answer.

These same liberal institutes in good standing with Rome also bluntly deny certain doctrines of the Catholic Church. They reject Catholic teaching, full stop. The SSPX, on the other hand, does not claim that the Church magisterium is false. Instead, it claims that some of conciliar assertions contradict other magisterial teachings that have greater authority.

Is it that the SSPX falsifies the meaning of these pronouncements? This claim is not easy to sustain, because these earlier pronouncements gave rise to extensive theological work of interpretation. What do these pronouncements actually teach if it is not what the SSPX say that they teach?

On the other hand, the conciliar texts do not offer much as to the meaning of these previous pronouncements. For example, Dignitatis Humanae simply states that its teaching “leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ.” This offers no explanation of the content of this doctrine.

So when Archbishop Mueller explains that Vatican II is the highest expression of Catholic magisterium, he is perhaps invoking the principle of collegiality or of democracy that number makes the truth, or something along those lines. This was the problem which, time and again, Bishop de Galarreta (head of the SSPX theological commission) had to face with the Roman theologians: “Do not bring Vatican II in the argument. For us, Vatican II is the problem, not the solution!” The Roman theologians discussed with the SSPX the validity of certain conciliar texts but they fell into the sophism of begging the question. For them, the Vatican II doctrine must be judged by the Church magisterium… of Vatican II.

A final word

For many priests, the new Council created a diabolical dilemma: how to remain faithful to two councils [Vatican I and Vatican II] which differed so clearly the one from the other? The Council presented Catholics with a problem so unusual that they only managed to sidestep it by a certain blindness and surrender of the reason. The only viable solution seems the one given by Archbishop Lefebvre which was to adhere firmly to the magisterium of all time (“Eternal Rome” versus the “Modernist Rome” of this time), until such time as the pope, Christi claviger,[1]would believe in his Power of the Keys and make use of it.
Looking forward to Someone 1776's preview of the canned responses to this.

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