ABBÉ BARTHE TO VIGANÒ ON THE VATICAN II: YOUR EXAMPLE HELPS US.
20 Giugno 2020
Dear friends and enemies of Stilum Curiae, Abbé Claude Barthe, the author of numerous books, including Trouvera-t-il encore la foi sur la terre? Une crise de l’Église, histoire et questions (François-Xavier de Guibert, 2006, 3ème édition) and La Messe de Vatican II. Dossier historique (Via Romana, 2018), has read the declarations of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò on the theme of the Second Vatican Council, and has sent us this open letter. Happy reading.
A Historic Event: The Critique of Vatican II by Archbishop Viganò
Open Letter of Father Claude Barthe
Allow me to respond to Your Excellency’s “Excursus on Vatican II and Its Consequences” (Chiesa e post concilio, 9 June 2020), in order to emphasize, in all modesty, its great interest for the Church.
Permit me to summarize it in five points:
1) Vatican II contains texts “in clear opposition to the doctrine expressed in the Tradition.”
Your attack on Vatican II is aimed at the following:
– That which is in direct disagreement with preceding doctrine, such as the religious freedom of the declaration Dignitatis Humanae and the foundations of the new relationship with non-Christian religions of the declaration Nostra Aetate (we could also add the decree on ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio, n.3, which introduces the innovation of the idea of the “imperfect communion” that those separated from Christ and from Church are said to have with Christ and the Church,);
– The ambiguities that can be used in the sense of truth or error, such as the term “subsistit” in n. 8 of the Constitution Lumen Gentium: “The Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church” instead of “The Church of Christ is the Catholic Church.”
2) These doctrinal distortions are at the origin of the errors that followed them – the proof of the “spirit of the Council.”
You explain that the deviations or the most harmful elements for the faith of Christians that mark the post-conciliar period (you cite the Abu Dhabi Declaration, but also the Day in Assisi, the liturgical reform, the use of collegiality) have their origins in these distortions.
Further, from this text it clearly emerges that the concept of the “spirit of the Council” confirms the innovative specificity of this assembly, because “there was never talk of a “spirit of the Council of Nicea” or the “spirit of the Council of Ferrara-Florence,” even less the “spirit of the Council of Trent,” just as we never had a “post-conciliar” era after Lateran IV or Vatican I.”
3) These distortions cannot be corrected.
The efforts to correct the excesses of the Council, you say, are futile:
- One such option is to take the insufficient path of the “hermeneutic of continuity.” Much less is this possible since this hermeneutic is not a return to the preceding magisterium but represents the search for a third way between innovation and tradition. Benedict XVI, in his discourse to the Roman Curia of December 22, 2005, proposed a “hermeneutic of renewal in continuity” in opposition to the “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”; but by this latter statement he focused both on “traditionalists” as well as “progressives,” who both hold that Vatican II made a certain rupture.
- Or, one calls upon the Magisterium to “correct” the errors of Vatican II. You rightly show that this project, “even with the best of intentions, threatens the foundation of the Catholic edifice.” In reality, opposing the magisterium of tomorrow against that of today, which in turn contradicts the magisterium of yesterday, would end up meaning that no magisterial act would ever be definitive.
Therefore, in a further statement made on June 15 (Chiesa e post concilio), you are of the opinion that a future pope “could annul the entire council.”
If I were to be allowed to amplify your analysis, I would say that the only solution for contradicting a preceding act with a magisterial act is to note that the act in question is not magisterial in its entirety. For example, Pastor Aeternus of Vatican I in 1870 annulled the decree Frequens of the Council of Constance in 1417, which purported to institutionalize the superiority of a Council over the pope. This annulment was possible because the Holy See had never recognized the dogmatic value of Frequens. In the same way, with Vatican II we find ourselves in the same situation as Frequens, because the organs of the Council itself (Dz 4351) and all of its successive interpretations held that this Council was of a merely “pastoral” nature, that is, not dogmatic. In fact, the great way out of the present magisterial crisis is to come out of what is called the “pastoral” and to enter once again into dogmatics: that the Pope alone or the pope and the bishops united to him express themselves magisterially and no longer “pastorally.”
4) – The present pontificate is clearly paradoxical.
You write: “What we have for years heard enunciated, vaguely and without clear connotations, from the highest Throne, we then find elaborated in a true and proper manifesto in the supporters of the present Pontificate.”
This is what many who have tried to give a pious interpretation to the controversial texts of Vatican II feel: they recognize that this is not possible because of the somewhat authentic application that is being done today. The texts of this pontificate are the culmination of the controversial points of the council, such as for example the erroneous recognition of the rights of conscience in the exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which in n. 301 affirms that in certain circumstances adultery is not a sin.
5) A duty of conscience therefore weighs on the prelates of the Church who are aware of this situation.
Speaking of yourself, you say: “Just as I honestly and serenely obeyed questionable orders sixty years ago, believing that they represented the loving voice of the Church, so today with equal serenity and honesty I recognize that I have been deceived. Being coherent today by persevering in error would represent a wretched choice and would make me an accomplice in this fraud.”
Some prelates, above all after the last synodal assemblies, have been led to trace the consequences of the present situation back to their causes, which were established half a century ago. Your example and your encouragement can help them to express, in conscience, for the good of the Church, their disagreement with these causes: the defective points of Vatican II.
Translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino @pellegrino2020
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