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Quotes On the Teaching Authority of Vatican II

“Certainly the results of Vatican II seem cruelly opposed to the expectations of everyone, beginning with those of Pope John XXIII and then of Pope Paul VI: expected was a new Catholic unity and instead we have been exposed to dissension which, to use the words of Pope Paul VI, seems to have gone from self-criticism to self-destruction. Expected was a new enthusiasm, and many wound up discouraged and bored. Expected was a great step forward, instead we find ourselves faced with a progressive process of decadence which has developed for the most part under the sign of a calling back to the Council, and has therefore contributed to discrediting it for many. The net result therefore seems negative. I am repeating here what I said ten years after the conclusion of the work: it is incontrovertible that this period has definitely been unfavorable for the Catholic Church.”  -Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), L’Osservatore Romano, 24 December 1984

“The Second Vatican Council has not been treated as a part of the entire living Tradition of the Church, but as an end of Tradition, a new start from zero. The truth is that this particular Council defined no dogma at all, and deliberately chose to remain on a modest level, as a merely pastoral council; and yet many treat it as though it had made itself into a sort of superdogma which takes away the importance of all the rest.”  -Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), address to the Chilean Bishops, 13 July 1988, Santiago Chile

“Pope John conceived the Council as an eminently pastoral event.” -Pope Saint John Paul II, October 27, 1985, Angelus

“[The Council must present] “the sacred patrimony of truth received from the Fathers [and] transmit that doctrine pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion, which throughout twenty centuries, not withstanding difficulties and constraints, has become the common patrimony of men. It is a patrimony not well received by all, but always a rich treasure available to men of Good Will. The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this, that the Sacred Deposit of Christian Doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously [with a] renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teachings of the Church in their entirety and preciseness, as they still shine forth in the acts of the council of Trent and the First Vatican Council…. The salient point of this Council is not, therefore, a discussion of one article or another of the fundamental doctrine of the Church. ”  -Pope Saint John XXIII, Opening Speech to the Council, October 11, 1962

“There will be no infallible definitions. All that was done by former Councils. That is enough.” -Pope Saint John XXIII (“Gaudet Mater Ecclesia,” October 11, 1962)

“The magisterium of the Church did not wish to pronounce itself under the form of extraordinary dogmatic pronouncements…. ”  -Pope Paul VI, discourse closing Vatican II, December 7, 1965

“Differing from other Councils, this one was not directly dogmatic, but disciplinary and pastoral.”  -Pope Paul VI, August 6, 1975, General Audience

“In view of the conciliar practice and the pastoral purpose of the present council, this sacred Synod defines matters of faith or morals as binding on the Church only when the Synod itself openly declares so.” -The Notificatio of March 6, 1964, of the Theological Commission of the Council concerning the authority of the Council [Ex Actis Ss. Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II, Notificationes Factae ab Secretario Generali Ss. Concilii in Congregatione Generali CXXIII diei XVI Nov. MCMLXIV]… NOTE: The Council never did openly declare any of its teaching as binding on the Church.

“The Second Vatican Council solemnly declared in its Constitution on the Church that all the teachings of the Council are in full continuity with the teachings of former councils. Moreover, let us not forget that the canons of the Council of Trent and of Vatican I are de fide, whereas none of the decrees of Vatican II are de fide; The Second Vatican Council was pastoral in nature. Cardinal Felici rightly stated that the Credo solemnly proclaimed by Pope Paul VI at the end of the Year of Faith is from a dogmatic point of view much more important than the entire Second Vatican Council. Thus, those who want to interpret certain passages in the documents of Vatican II as if they implicitly contradicted definitions of Vatican I or the Council of Trent should realize that even if their interpretation were right, the canons of the former councils would overrule these allegedly contradictory passages of Vatican II, because the former are de fide, the latter not.”  -Dietrich Von Hildebrand Ph.D. (1889–1977)

“Dietrich von Hildebrand is the 20th century Doctor of the Church.”  -Venerable Pope Pius XI


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