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Prefect of the CDF says seeing Vatican II as a ‘rupture’ is heresy

By on Friday, 30 November 2012

Archbishop Müller, prefect of the CDF (Photo: CNS)

Archbishop Müller, prefect of the CDF (Photo: CNS)

Traditionalist and progressive camps that see the Second Vatican Council as a “rupture” both espouse a “heretical interpretation” of the Council and its aims, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has said.

Archbishop Gerhard Müller said that what Pope Benedict XVI has termed “the hermeneutic of reform, of renewal in continuity” is the “only possible interpretation according to the principles of Catholic theology”.

“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” side, the archbishop said.

What the two camps have in common, he said, is their rejection of 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”, seeing the council as a Catholic “winter”.

A “Council presided over by the successor of Peter as head of the visible Church” is the “highest expression” of the Magisterium, he said, to be regarded as part of “an indissoluble whole”, along with Scripture and 2,000 years of tradition.

The doctrinal chief’s remarks were published in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, to present the seventh volume of The Complete Works of Joseph Ratzinger. The volume collects both published and unpublished notes, speeches, interviews and texts written or given by the future pope in the period shortly before, during and just after Vatican II.

Archbishop Müller specified that by “continuity” Pope Benedict meant a “permanent correspondence with the origin, not an adaption of whatever has been, which also can lead the wrong way”.

The term “aggiornamento” or updating – one of the watchwords of the Council – “does not mean the secularisation of the faith, which would lead to its dissolution”, but a “making present” of the message of Jesus Christ, he said.

This “making present” is the “reform necessary for every era in constant fidelity to the whole Christ”, he said.

“The tradition of apostolic origin continues in the Church with help from the Holy Spirit,” he said, and leads to greater understanding through contemplation and study, intelligence garnered from a deeper experience of the spiritual, and preaching by those who through the “apostolic succession have received an assured charism of truth”.

  • GratefulCatholic

    Thank you Benedict.

  • Sweetjae

    Well because non-catholics are still children of God but are outside His House (Church) through no fault of their own however, His own very children inside His House (modernists and ultraTrads catholics) who are supposed to know better are the ones stabbing His back.

    Moses as the ordained Authority from God, speak for God (even if the jews have the Torah and tradition) and those that refuse to obey Moses, disobey God Himself. Period!

  • JabbaPapa

    Absolute rubbish, sorry !!!

    Ratzinger’s statement, however, amounts to asserting that modernism is no longer to be condemned

    Untrue — you’re adding 2 and 2, and coming up with 5.

    Also, it was Ratzinger who proudly declared that Gaudium et Spes was the
    “anti-syllabus,” meaning that it completely overturned the Syllabus of
    Errors of Pius IX

    Rubbish, you’ve understood his declaration in a completely upside-down manner.

    The Syllabus is a description of some doctrinal errors and heresies — it is a negative document.

    Gaudium et Spes is the corresponding positive document (the contrary of a negative is a positive — hence an “anti-Syllabus” is a positive document), explaining which good, proper, traditional doctrines should be believed instead of the errors and heresies condemned in the Syllabus.

  • JabbaPapa

    Exactly !!!

  • Sweetjae

    What do you think, that there have been no abuses and corruption during the years of the Latin Rite? Well, for a start we lost half the Church in the Great Schism of the East and 500 years later we lost more than half of Europe to the Reformation, tsk, tsk…..but we, the true Catholics don’t blame the Pope, Councils and the living Magisterium for it.

    Of you ask me thats more than Winter!

  • Sweetjae

    We would rather stick with the interpretation of the Archbishop, Pope, Magisterium and the Council than yours or SSPX or any group for that matter. Christ warned us about this……”if anyone refuse to listen to the Church, let him be cast outside”. Take your choice carefully.

  • Sweetjae

    Thanks Archbishop that hopefully is very clear to both the Left and the Right disobedient factions.

  • Kevin

    For all the kerfuffle that greeted the return of the term “consubstantial” to the English translation of the Creed, I am not aware of any concern at all over the comprehensibility of the expression, “hermeneutic of continuity”.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

     BOOKISH “PANDITS” are gods in their own right.

  • Eric Anthony

    Are there people that consider themselves Catholic that are actually more progressive than Archbishop Muller? How many people have to leave the conciliar Church, the monasteries, the and priesthood before these people actually get it, or before someone cleans house in Rome?

  • Eric Anthony

    Forgive me if I over simplify what you are saying, but it sounds like, “Shut up, and don’t ask questions,” which is the same response given by Rome. Popes can commit errors, and even heresies without losing their office. Since VII didn’t declare any new dogmas, why do we have to accept a poor interpretation of the previous 1,965 years of tradition? It can simply be ignored, much like the Pope when he kisses Korans and visits synagogues. 

  • Alan

    The basic substance of what I am saying is that, where there is contradiction between two supposedly authoritative teachings, such as the anti-religious liberty teaching of Syllabus of Errors and the pro-liberty teaching since the 1960s, people in practice use their private judgement to pick and choose which they prefer.  Some people like the idea that, in a Catholic state, no other religion should be permitted save to preserve public order, rather like in some Islamic states.  Others (the vast majority of us, I would think) believe that people of all religions should be allowed to practise them.  I dread the idea of the Church reverting to its pre-1960 teaching on this matter, but thank God it will not do so.  

  • JabbaPapa

    Whatever Archbishop Müller’s personal opinions, I cannot see that any of his actions as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith could accurately be described as “progressive” …

    Nevertheless, a factual answer to your question would be — Oh yes, including several regular contributors to these very comment forums !!!

  • Alan

    You are like those Bible-quoting Protestants who pick out verses to prove their point, something which any of us could do to prove our own point.  The Catechism states that ecumenism (which is not “relativism” or “modernism”) is a requirement.  This may conflict with earlier (out-of-context) statements, and you obviously prefer the earlier ones, not because they are earlier but because, perhaps, they suit your temperament.  Well, I prefer the current teaching, and long may it last.

  • Captmorgan1956

    The Rhine continues to overwhelm the Tiber.

  • JabbaPapa

    The Syllabus of Errors does NOT condemn “religious liberty” — it condemns Nations and Governments that abandon Catholicism ; and it condemns the suggestion that total individual freedom in religious matters might be “wise”.


    Quote :

    What about the repeated declarations in Dignitatis Humanae about
    religious freedom as a personal human right? The Council proclaims, I think, an
    abstract human right, but a right that is not necessarily fully applicable in
    any given circumstance or place. Because of the “dignity of the human
    person” man does indeed have a right to religious liberty, in fact, by
    giving us a free will God has necessarily given us a kind of religious liberty,
    including the liberty to err
    . But this does not mean that this liberty may be
    exercised without reference to anything else. There are many rights that are
    contingent upon circumstances. Man, for example, has a right to marry. But what
    of those who are impotent or who cannot find anyone to marry? The right is a
    right in the abstract and not necessarily in any given concrete situation.
    Furthermore, even in a Catholic confessional state there is a certain religious
    liberty, that is, a liberty to privately exercise one’s non-Catholic faith, to
    meet corporately but privately with one’s co-religionists. This is a real
    liberty, occasioned by the “dignity of the human person,” but also
    restricted within “the just requirements of public order.”

    But what of the second limitation on religious freedom found within
    Dignitatis Humanae itself?

    Usually the supposed contradiction in Church teaching on religious liberty is
    seen as a conflict between earlier papal teaching and Dignitatis Humanae. But if the text of Dignitatis Humanae is taken seriously
    this is not so. Dignitatis Humanae states, as I quoted above, that it
    “leaves intact the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of . . .
    societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ.” The moral
    duty of societies toward the true faith and Church, however, is precisely those
    propositions found in the traditional papal teaching supposedly at variance with Dignitatis Humanae
    . In other words, if an interpretation of the
    declaration is insisted upon that conflicts with Gregory XVI, Pius IX, et
    then Dignitatis Humanae conflicts with itself, for, as I just
    quoted, the earlier teaching, far from being changed, is explicitly left intact.
    If we keep this in mind when reviewing the declaration, we will see that the
    common interpretation, although at first glance seemingly obvious, must be based
    on a misunderstanding. Probably Dignitatis Humanae was intended to be
    irenic, and perhaps some of its framers wanted to change the teaching, but as
    Fr. Most points out, “we must confine ourselves to what the writer
    succeeded in setting down on paper explicitly.” No one
    will deny that Dignitatis Humanae says what it says in a curious way,
    but I think I have shown that
    one need not read it in such a way that it
    conflicts with former teaching

    I have tried to give full weight to the plain meaning of all the texts I have
    discussed, within the constraints imposed by logic and revealed truth. Dignitatis Humanae turns out to be a much more complicated document that
    usually supposed, but, when carefully examined, not in disagreement with what
    seems to be the previous teaching of the ordinary magisterium on the question of
    religious liberty

  • crusader00

    Muller may have been right, except that Vatican II was a pastoral council which did not teach any new dogmas binding the faithful.

  • JabbaPapa

    No new dogmas, but a great many doctrines that are quite binding upon any fully Catholic Faith.

  • Jeannehunter39

    When Rome rejects Vatican II – so will I…… the way – Rome will eventually
    reject Vatican II.

  • Macca

     Rome will eventually build upon the work of Vatican ll, overcoming the inertia that has dominated for much of the past 5 decades. There can be no going back on that great event but we need courageous leaders who by example and word will convince others of the importance of the Christian Way. All else is empty rhetoric and gesture.

  • Jon Brownridge

     I couldn’t agree more. The emphasis is on “courageous leaders”. Great courage is needed to put aside irrelevant details that we have always considered important.

  • Solly Gratia

    Ignorance should be dealt with pastorally; rebellion via discipline.

  • Solly Gratia

    And even used the Fathers to prove they are right. But at what point does one bow the knee, and lay down one’s own interpretation as a possible source of pride and rebellion? As a converting Protestant, i find the ‘traditionalists’ so-called to be as Protestant in their declarations: ‘our’ interpretation says they are wrong, and so we will go off and start our own church. It is not Rome that will deny V2, it is the traditionalists who will end up like the Old Catholics, being cut off from the source, just like the CofE.

  • Sweetjae

    Nobody not even Rome is telling you to shut up rather Rome is just reiterating what Christ, the Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition is saying, that if one wanted to stay inside His Church one has to OBEY the Authority He Himself ordained and established. Yes Peter’s opinion can err but we are NOT talking about mere musing or opinions of the Pope here, do we? Read the level and kind of Authority we are talking about for 50 years above.

    Besides, Latin Rite was non-existent for the first 500 years of Christianity. Apostolic and Early Church Fathers and Martyrs practiced the Aramaic and Greek Rites. The Latin Rite was only gradually introduced in the West during the mid-4th century, so your math doesn’t add up.

  • Sweetjae

    “Rome will eventually reject V2″……why not reject all the past Councils too! What is your criteria for picking and choosing? Protestants used the same logic and tactic.

  • andHarry

     ‘ Are we now in a position that anyone born & bred Catholic is a heretic?’

    Indeed – if one accepts that one cannot be born a Christian. That makes it a flesh and blood inheritance like one’s sex, race or material wealth.

  • rjt1

    A wonderful reference. I would urge all members and admirers of the SSPX to read it.

  • rjt1


  • GeneDe

    “Traditionalists, of course, NEVER use this technique, do they?”

    Look, we are in a spiritual war!  There will be a REMNANT selected out of grace and TRUTH (St. Paul). 

    Let he who has eyes to see: just please look at the statistics of what Catholics are SUPPOSED to believe, then see just where the heresy lies. 

    Nothing, and I mean nothing that came out of that council (vat ii) was binding on the conscience of the Faithful, nothing.  See John XXIII and Paul VI.

    If a council breaks with TRADITION (what has always and everywhere been taught and believed), it is not Catholic, plain and simple.

    The way we pray is the way we believe.  Look at what “Catholics” believe today!!

  • Jeannine

    Just a little correction—Popes who are directly from St Peter’s line have committed many political errors but no heresies in all of the Church’s 1965 yrs of existence.

  • JabbaPapa

    Latin Rite was non-existent for the first 500 years of Christianity

    Wrong !!!

    The Rites and texts of the Church started to be translated into, and used in, Latin from the 1st century onwards.

  • JabbaPapa

    Nothing, and I mean nothing that came out of that council (vat ii) was binding on the conscience of the Faithful, nothing.  See John XXIII and Paul VI.

    This is a gross falsehood.

    From Paul VI’s letter to Archbishop Lefebvre, linked to by another elsewhere in the thread :

    Again, you cannot appeal to the distinction between what is dogmatic and what is pastoral to accept certain texts of this Council and to refuse others. Indeed, not everything in the Council requires an assent of the same nature: only what is affirmed by definitive acts as an object of faith or as a truth related to faith requires an assent of faith. But the rest also forms part of the solemn magisterium of the church to which each member of the faithful owes a confident acceptance and a sincere application.

  • scary goat

     Good post Jabba.  This is what we need more of….clear explanations of why there is continuity.  I have been doing a lot of reading on all this stuff myself recently, and a lot of personal thought about what does or doesn’t work, and although I still have a lot more reading to do, I have pretty much come to the same conclusion.  Although I worry about the liberalism that seems to have infested a rather large portion of clergy as well as laity, I can’t come to terms with the idea that the teaching authority of the Church could in itself be wrong.  I notice that taking V II documents in isolation can make some of them appear very ambiguous but when taken in context of tradition it becomes less of a problem.  The one that I am really a bit stuck on is nostra aetate.  Any chance you could sort that one out and post it here for the benefit of all?

  • scary goat

     Very useful link, thank you.

  • scary goat

     I don’t think Rome will reject V II…..more likely they will “clarify” it almost out of existence. It does have its good points.

  • scary goat

    Something else I can’t help wondering about all this “post V II decline” is how much of it is actually a direct result of the council? (ambiguities).  We keep hearing about “the spirit of V II” but is it possible that it was more to do with “the spirit of the 60s” which infested everything….including the people who make up the Church? I mean, might it be wrong to assume that because B happened  then C followed therefore B is the cause of C? Maybe it was more to do with A. Maybe it was understanding B through A coloured glasses that caused the problems.  If V II is interpreted in the light of tradition rather than in the light of the 60s, does the problem fade considerably? And isn’t that what the Pope is trying to do?  I’m still befuddled by nostra aetate …..but I’m pretty sure the Pope himself has criticized that particular document.  I am waiting for clarification.

  • Paul

    The liturgical reforms of V2 have my full support.  I believe they prepared the way for an unprecedented expansion of the church in the non western world which is still very much in progress.
      The problem with V2, and the reason it led to the wiping out of the church in Europe, is a peripheral teaching of the Council which is certainly NOT binding on the faithful but which has nevertheless had huge influence.  The core of biblical revelation, and of church Tradition up to V2, is that God always reveals himself as the only one, and Christ as his only manifestation.  Try counting the number of times the Bible calls us back to that truth.  It is its constant theme.  
      In certain of the texts of V2, most notably sections 2 & 3 of Nostra Aetate, this core truth of revelation was set aside.  The spiritual authorities of the world which continue to resist the saving truth about Jesus were honoured in those texts.  You cannot do this and retain the blessing of God.  The Holy Spirit will never honour those authorities which reject Jesus, and he will never support us in doing so.  Both Scripture and Tradition could not be clearer on this point.  My constant prayer is that our church will wake up to this root of spiritual error and will correct it at the highest level of authority. 

  • Sweetjae


  • Sweetjae

    To Jabba, before you put a negative response, please read my post carefully. I was not talking about Bible translation or the Vetus Latina version but the gradual introduction of Latin into the Church and the passage from the Greek to Latin in the Roman Liturgy that came gradually under the pontificate of Pope Damasus I to mid-4th century and yet still a lot of christian areas that vernacular language was being used in their Liturgy.

    Disqus won’t let me paste the links, anyways just google, “Prefect, Congregation of Divine Worship, Latin and vernacular Rite, EWTN”.

    And google this, “Matt1618,Pauline Liturgy the true restoration by I. Shawn McElhinney-Appendix A”.

  • Sweetjae

    Please read my latest post to you above and the links provided, because you are greatly mistaken and history is not on your side. The link you sent is about Bible translation NOT about the Liturgical Rite used in the Apostolic and Early Christian age up to tye 4th century.

    Disqus wont let me paste the hyper links. Just google the title of the subject provided.

  • Sweetjae

    To Jabba,

    Rather google this: Latin and Vernacular, Language in the Roman Liturgy by Cardinal Francis Arinze, EWTN.

  • Sweetjae

    Then the Council of Florence is heretical too.

  • Sweetjae

    Yes liberty or freedom to err but NOT right to err, this is where the traditionalists got it mixed-up.

  • Sweetjae

    Really an eye opener, many thanks.

  • Sweetjae

    He is fomenting disunity and disobedience and you give him thanks. Why not give thanks to Fr. Kelly of Sedevacantism and Bp Williamson as well.

  • GratefulCatholic

    Not so. Benedict, from my observations, is a faithful Catholic and a very learned man. His summary of Tradition above deserves thanks. I have seen the Holy Father’s pen make the same point viz., no novelties can be introduced into the Faith.
    Regards, GC  

  • JabbaPapa

    I have actually studied Vulgate and Late Latin formally at University, with a dedicated study group — subjects that the greater number of even Classicists know very little about.

    I don’t really need to Google what I’m already aware of, thanks.

    The Latin Liturgy was created in the 1st century AD, by Roman Christians in the City of Rome, who also created the first translations of the Gospels and several of the Epistles into Latin at that time (the pre-Vulgate translations of the Old Testament into Latin predate Christianity BTW). There is ample evidence to demonstrate these facts.

  • JabbaPapa

    Decent post generally, but —

    The core of biblical revelation, and of church Tradition up to V2, is
    that God always reveals himself as the only one, and Christ as his only

    Yes and no — YES there is only one God ; but NO the Christ is NOT His only manifestation.

    God manifests, for starters, in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    He manifests also, in the spiritual realm, through the ministry of Angels and Saints, and also that of the souls of His living Faithful.

    He manifests in the material realm in the Original Act of Creation, in His Miracles, as well as in the material structures of His Church (including but not limited to Scripture and His clergy), and the material actions of His Faithful.

    He manifests in the very Nature of Revelation itself.


    hmmmmm, I also think that you underestimate the extent of the extra-Ecclesial rejection of Christianity by the “trendy” neo-pagans and atheists, so that the decline of the Church in the West (ONLY) has a larger proportion of external social-political-cultural causes than you seem to believe.

  • JabbaPapa

    Well said !!!

    And the Pope has not criticised Nostra Aetate … he has criticised one small portion of its contents.

    Many English-language Christians tend to make the mistake of assuming that if a portion of a document is debatable, then this must necessarily mean that the entirety of it has to be seen as debatable. This is a basic methodological error of textual interpretation.

    It is not a general truth that such must be the case, but it is a partial truth that applies to some sorts of documents only, but not others.

    It is true of a science text book ; it is true of a cogent philosophical work grounded on formal logic ; it is true of a mathematics text book ; it is generally not true of works belonging to any of the less exact disciplines. And theology is not one of the exact Sciences ; not even in the hands of Aquinas.

  • JabbaPapa

    Benedict, from my observations, is a faithful Catholic and a very learned man

    Absolutely !!!