THE COUNCIL IN QUESTION, by Moyra Doorly and Aidan Nichols, O.P., with foreword by Cardinal George Pell. Tan Books, Saint Benedict Press, 2011 in England, 2013 in America.
An analysis by Paula Haigh
The subtitle, a quote from Cardinal Pell, tells us that “None of us can take refuge in Fundamentalisms…”
Well, to put it all in the proverbial nutshell, it certainly is not easy to“dialogue” with Modernist rhetoric. And both Cardinal Pell and Dominican Father Nichols, are experts in that mode of discourse, as PASCENDI warned us. But perhaps it is worth an effort. One can at least attempt to expose the Truths of Reason and of Faith, especially in their unchanging and immutable principles and formulas – comparable to the biological DNA or genetic formula for the unchanging and unchangeable substantial form of each originally created kind as specified in Genesis One. To go immediately and directly to the main point at issue, I believe it is fair to say that every word of this exchange of letters between a lay woman and a Dominican (male) theologian is summed up in Father Nichols’ statement that “An Ecumenical Council will never formally commit the Church to doctrinal error.” (Page 101). The key word is formally.
Both sides of the debate seem to agree that the Second Vatican Council, unlike all previous councils, managed to evade this qualification. It made absolutely no condemnations, despite all expectations that it would and, indeed, should have. And it managed also, to evade the charge of any trace of doctrinal error by being very careful to reiterate the constant ordinary and extraordinary (i.e., de fide) teachings of the magisterium. Because of the undoubted and demonstrable presence of this kind of double-speak, so typical of the real – evolutionary – modernist as described and condemned by PASCENDI, in 1907, Father Nichols is able to say, and with some logical truth, that the price is too high to reject the Council, en bloc, as the position of Archbishop Lefebvre seems to require. Here are his..- Father Nichols words….”the primary consideration…is the proper description of the Church in her continuous, self-identical, believing and worshipping existence.” That is why I cannot, Moyra, say to traditionalists, come and join forces with us (orthodox official Catholics) at any price you may set. The price of rejecting the Council, en bloc, is too high for me to pay. And, indeed, we can hardly hope to persuade representatives of the civil order of the merits of Catholic truth, if at the same time, we call into question the coherence of that truth – the internal coherence of the pre-and post-Conciliar tradition considered as a unity.” (p.118)
There is only one way to answer this price and that is to show, most clearly, plainly and irrefutably, precisely how, when and where the coherence of the Truths of this unity of the Deposit of Faith that the Church is mandated to guard, teach and integrally, that is fully, to transmit. This coherence has been allowed to weaken and to be breached under the prestige of a false science so-called (Cf. 1 Tim.6:20 and 2Tim.3:7, 2Tim.4:3-4 with 2 Thess.2:10-11)
which began to rise in the late 16th century and continued. Until now it has effectively replaced the authority of the Church and the inerrant Word of God in Scripture. Vatican Council II must be not only questioned, but must, and undoubtedly will be, anathematized on the one irrefutable basis, that it is permeated, saturated and formally motivated by the Modernist “law” of evolution that a “being” must change, even substantially, or else go extinct.
This ideology probably made its main break-through into Catholic theological thinking with the influence of John Henry Cardinal Newman – who thought of the Church, evolutionist that he was, as an organism – analogously with any other biological organism, subject even to substantial change, although he was careful to say that the Church’s dogmas – or the Church herself – could not change substantially. The distinction between substance and accidents here is super-crucial – but it is my experience that most Catholics – including Traditionalists, are quite ignorant of it. The point is that the Church is not properly even comparable to any biological organism. She is the Mystical Body of Christ. Her unity then, centers in the One Divine Person of the God-Man Jesus Christ, as does also her holiness center in His Heart, her Catholicity in her being the one means of salvation for all men; and her apostolicity in the historical perpetuation of His propitiatory Sacrifice of Holy Mass. It is the mind, the intellectual life of the Church, as well as the entire natural order, that has been, one must say, even substantially affected by the Church’s failure to fight and condemn the Modernist Heresy, that is evolutionary in its very nature. Although it is but an ideology, with no basis in reality, it has captured the minds of those who have not had a genuine love for the TRUTH, and so have been allowed by God, to embrace the “operation of error”, that is, in the End, the Great Apostasy of the Antichrist and his followers. (Cf 2 Thess.2.)
Both Moyra Doorly and Father Aidan Nichols, unfortunately do a “good” job of rather thoroughly muddying a very core concept of the Real World, and thus of the teachings of the Church, as they reflect this hierarchy of truths, (Cf pp.79,88,90,95.) The hierarchy of truths, I submit, refers not primarily to the truth value or degree of each truth, but rather to that truth’s accessibility to the normal human reason. But it is in the first sense of“ontological” or metaphysical, that is, the transcendental truth of all being, that the hierarchy of truths is most meaningful as describing the very structure of the real world. And it is in this primary sense that this hierarchy of truths forms the basis for the 4th way of proving God’s existence, (see Summa I, q.2, a3.) The real degrees of perfection are the only true and therefore – real answer to today’s oppressive egalitarianism. The extent to which this ideology of equality can be and is carried, is seen every day here where I am in a state-run nursing home. If a patient or “resident” – a victim of some severe psychic disorder and therefore heavily sedated – but still awake, has to all appearances unknown to his or her self, parked his wheelchair smack in the middle of a hallway that must be used by those pushing large carts at meal-time, - the “law” forbids any interference at all with the unspoken will of that patient to be where he or she is! Situations thereby arise which are sometimes so comical as to provide totally unintended entertainment for a still sane observer (dare I say?) such as myself. When no distinction is allowed to be made between the sane and the insane, what hope do we have except that of heaven?
In the hierarchy of the grades of perfection, each grade is perfect in itself. Can we imagine the daisy saying to the rose, “Oh, how I would love to be a rose!?” No. It is not possible. The daisy is perfectly happy in her daisy-ness because only in her daisy-ness does she find the perfect fulfillment of her daisy-nature. And so it is…on up the hierarchical ladder of being. When applied to the issues of ecumenism and religious liberty, both authors of the book seem unaware of a very important point and it concerns the notion of FORM in its co-existence with MATTER, in every composite, corporeal being. Two points are especially important.
Form, both physically and metaphysically and theologically, precedes and determines all processes of function. In the Order of Creation by God, in the first Six Days of the World, substantial forms were created ex nihilo and in toto, first. Processes followed.
In the Order of Generation, where the processes of development begin with the first reproductions in obedience to God’s command to increase and multiply, the substantial form of each created kind is transmitted physically by means of the genetic DNA, so far as present knowledge is aware. Only in the case of human beings is the rational soul immediately and directly created and infused as the one – substantial form with the body, of the human person, by God alone. God supplies the rational and immortal human soul, but the parents supply the physical body of each new human being. The great and all encompassing flaw of the Second Vatican Council was to place its main idea of "human dignity" in that human person created before the Fall. It is true that the form of each human being is made in God's image and likeness, (Gen.1:26-27) and this is not changed by the Fall insofar as this image and likeness affects the natural constitution of man. However, Adam and Eve's loss of sanctifying Grace did affect their natural lives - insofar as the Orders of Nature and of Grace seem to be as intimately united as matter and form, as potency and act, as essence and existence. Once in existence, essence is limited and affected by the actuality of the Form, which now, after the Fall, suffers - can one say radically or substantially - but is not altered specifically? And this seems to be the BIG question to be asked.
Is the Second Vatican Council a brand new kind of council from all previous ones? It would seem to be so. First of all, it seems fair to say that all - if not most - of the Fathers of that Council believed in at least some form of evolution. The principle here is the same, I believe, as that of human nature before and after the Fall. But given the fact that Vatican II was a human "thing" - analogous to a human construction such as a house or a poem, it could be formally flawed, just as a building constructed on a foundation of sand. Our Lord warns us of such false foundations in His parable (Matt. 7:24-27). But His Church is built upon the Rock that is Himself. It is truth as He said to Pilate, (John 18:37). Vatican II is a house built on sand and is dissolving into the New World Order, which is also built on sand, but must have its day in the false sunshine of Humanistic Evolution: the ever-shifting sands of the false science (2 Tim: 3:7) and its fables, (2 Tim.4:3-4).
But the Church is a Divine institution - not comparable even to a God-created substantial form, as those of the First Six Days, because these were all of the natural order - except for Adam and Eve, raised to the supernatural order of Divine Grace, so then creation. As the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church is complete in every way - except geographically, from the instant of Her Birth on the Cross and Her Confirmation at Pentecost. Her mandate at the Ascension was not given to infants nor to an "infant" Church - but to men fully equipped with "all truth", and prepared for martyrdom. The very unavoidable and irrefutable core and essence of the evil nature of the Second Vatican Council is to be found in the nature of its FORM. Its form is that formal principle which gives meaning to its every word - to every word of every document. This is the nature of a formal principle: it gives actual being to every syllable and word - that is the nature of a formal principle. And the formal principle of the Second Vatican Council is evolutionism -- an ideology false by its very nature. As such, it pollutes, contaminates, even those elements of truth it presents.
This is why there is no possibility of salvaging any part of this council. Recall Our Lord's brief words about trying to patch an old garment with a piece of new cloth, (Matt 9:16-17) or pouring new wine into old bottles. It may well be that in the great Plan of God, as seen in the Apocalypse, this Council is but a brief and rather superficial blemish on the Garment of the Church. For this visible Garment, after all, is but a passing reflection of Her real Nature, which is the Deposit of Faith: all Truth, the Holy Ghost Himself. And He cannot be defiled. But then, neither can His Word and the Father of the Word, for like the "all truth" - They are - and as One cannot be defiled. And so also, is the Immaculate Mother of God. She cannot be defiled, either, nor denied.
If there is any good in this book - it is in Moyra Doorly's defense of the propitiatory Sacrifice of the Mass. However, Moyra did not do well to follow the theory of a modern Architect, rather than the Sacramental Theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas. On page 19, she writes: If "form follows function" - as the architect Mies Vander Rohe claimed, then....On page 22, Moyra says: Traditionalists and ourselves are surely in agreement that the forms of the Church's worship have developed over time....Rather than quote extensively, let me just say that there is throughout, no clear concept of FORM anywhere presented. And since this is a core concept in any serious, physical, metaphysical or theological discussion, a lack and loss - especially of its Aristotelian-Thomistic meaning - causes a lack of clarity and even of truth in the entire discourse. The FORM determines all. Such is pretty much the case when both sides in a dialogue-debate engage in sophistical-Modernist modes of discourse. Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P., is a master at this Modernist discourse. Anyone defending the Second Vatican Council - would have to be so of necessity. And without a mastery of Thomistic Principles, there can be no coherent defense of Tradition, in the face of this evolutionary - deceptive Modernist attack on the Deposit of Faith Itself.