Reply to Peter Kwasniewski’s Three Possibilities on Vatican II

Over at OnePeterFive, Peter wrote an article titled: “Why Viganò’s Critique of the Council Must Be Taken Seriously”. Is the answer, because there’s an internet?

Vigano would not have fared well under any Pope before the internet, as he would not have much of a following, or at least, his supporters would not be able to connect with one another and encourage one another in their heresies and schism. And what will the next conservative Pope do with the Vigano situation? I’ll save my three possibilities for the end of this post.

Peter Kwasniewski uses this article to express contempt for the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and for the Council itself as a whole:

* “It’s surprising that, at this late stage, there would still be defenders of the Council documents”
* “the Vatican II documents failed miserably in the Council’s purpose”
* “This is why the last council is absolutely irrecoverable.”

Siding with Schneider against Vatican II

In discussing the “dangerous ambiguities” and “traits of flat-out error” in Vatican II, Kwasniewski sides with Bishop Athanasius Schneider on “the teaching on Muslims and Christians worshiping the same God” against the Council. Does Kwasniewski actually know what Schneider teaches on that subject?

Schneider thinks that the Jews and the Muslims absolutely lack and cannot possibly possess the virtue of theological faith. And if you lack faith, you lack the state of grace, then if you lack the state of grace, you do not go to Heaven. Schneider believes that Muslims do not go to Heaven unless they convert and become Christians. In fact, he believes that, since the time of Christ, no one goes to Heaven unless they worship the Trinity (and die in the state of grace). This excludes any persons calling themselves Christian who have differing beliefs on the triune God. It also excludes all non-Christians. And Schneider is absolutely clear that he thinks the same about Jews, that they cannot possibly have supernatural faith (unless they convert to Christianity) [Source].

In Christus Vincit, Schneider says the Jews do worship the same God as us, but they do so, according to Schneider, “in an unfaithful manner, a manner which does not please God… in a defective and unfaithful manner.” [Schneider, Bishop Athanasius. Christus Vincit: Christ’s Triumph Over the Darkness of the Age (p. 78). Angelico Press. Kindle Edition.] Couple those claims with the claims in the previous interview (Christus Vincit is an interview-format book), and you have an economy of salvation that excludes all non-Christians.

Do you all understand WHY Catholics on the far right are trying to rid the Church of Vatican II? It’s so that they can press forward ideas like those of Schneider, that only Christians or only Catholics are save. It’s so that they can revive the worse elements of conservative Catholicism, which Vatican II rebuked so eloquently and so mildly. In fact, the only problem I see with Vatican II is that the fathers decided not to have a list of dogmatic Canons excommunicating anyone who taught grave errors, like the claim that Jews and Muslims do not have supernatural faith.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider absolutely believes that no Jews, no Muslims, no Hindus, no atheists, no agnostics, no Buddhists, and no one but Christians goes to Heaven. So all of you conservative or traditionalist Catholics who idolize Schneider need to ask yourselves, “Is that what I also believe?” and “Maybe Schneider is not the faithful Catholic we imagined.” and “Is it a type of anti-Semitism to claim that no Jews go to Heaven?” Schneider is a schismatic and a heretic. He also is filled with pride, in that he believes the Roman Pontiff should submit to his understanding of the Faith, rather than the other way around.

So, no, Peter, Schneider did not give a “devastating critique” of Vatican II in his book “Christus Vincit”. Rather, Schneider asserted grievous errors and a thoroughly bigoted view of non-Christians, like this explanation of his title for his book Christ Conquers: “He conquered the Jew and his temple” [p. 310]. Then in speaking about his pet conspiracy theories on how Communists and Freemasons collaborated together against the Church, he repeatedly points out that certain figures in this conspiracy were Jews [p. 197]. Schneider rejects the ecumenism of Vatican II, saying “Catholics should not pray with Jews” [p. 104].

But I digress.

Peter sees 3 possible ways for a future Pope, apparently a future very conservative Pope who has no regard for the authority of Ecumenical Councils, to deal with Vatican II:

(1) “He could publish a new Syllabus of Errors (as Bishop Schneider proposed all the way back in 2010) that identifies and condemns common errors associated with Vatican II while not attributing them explicitly to Vatican II: “If anyone says XYZ, let him be anathema.” This would leave open the degree to which the Council documents actually contain the errors; it would, however, close the door to many popular “readings” of the Council.”

And what could a future future Pope do about that document? If the teachings of an Ecumenical Council can be listed in a syllabus of errors, this implies that the teachings of a Pope can also be so listed. So “solution” one has a counter-solution, a document by the next Pope nullifying that Syllabus of Errors. You see, if a Council can err gravely, than so can a Pope.

(2) “He could declare that, in looking back over the past half-century, we can see that the Council documents, on account of their ambiguities and difficulties, have caused more harm than good in the life of the Church and should, in the future, no longer be referenced as authoritative in theological discussion. The Council should be treated as a historic event whose relevance has passed. Again, this stance would not need to assert that the documents are in error; it would be an acknowledgement that the Council has shown itself to be “more trouble than it’s worth.” ”

And a subsequent Pope could nullify the above decision by the conservative Pope. Whatever you suggest be done to the teachings or documents of Vatican II, can be done to the suggestion itself.

(3) “He could specifically “disown” or set aside certain documents or parts of documents, even as parts of the Council of Constance were never recognized or were repudiated.”

The parts of the Council of Constance that were never recognized are just like any other document not approved, in the end, by a Council, or not approved by a Pope. But Vatican II was approved by Paul 6, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict 16, and Francis. So he cannot put the Vatican II document in the same category has non-approved documents of past Councils.

And again, anything disowned by the next conservative Pope, could be reversed by his successor.

These are not solutions, Peter.

And now for the three possibilities of how the next conservative Pope will deal with Vatican II, Vigano, Schneider and others.

Solution to Vatican II: A future Pope needs to take the teachings of Vatican II and put them into dogmatic form, with attached anathemas.

I. If anyone claims that non-Catholic Christians, non-Christian believers, and non-believers cannot be in the state of grace by a baptism of desire or of blood, or that they cannot have supernatural love, faith, and hope, or that they cannot die in the state of grace and have eternal life in Heaven, unless the convert to belief in God or to Christianity or to Catholicism, anathema sit.

2. If anyone claims that human persons do not have both freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, or that a pluralistic society ought not to permit religious worship according to conscience, anathema sit.

3. If anyone claims that the Church does not have the authority to decide how Communion is received, whether on the tongue or in the hand or otherwise, whether standing or kneeling or otherwise, and if anyone claims that the faithful have the absolute right — and not a right granted by the Church, and revocable or modifiable by Her as well — to receive Communion in one particular way, anathema sit.

Or how about these ones, not specific to Vatican II:

4. If anyone claims that God did not positively will a plurality of religions, those that teach love of God and neighbor, or did not permissively will the entire set of religions, anathema sit.

5. If anyone claims that any past or present Pope has ever taught material heresy or has ever committed formal heresy, or that it is even possible for a Pope to teach or commit heresy, anathema sit.

Suggestions for more dogmatic definitions? If I were Pope, I would just be sitting all day writing dogmatic definitions with attached anathemas. I likes a good anathema or two.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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5 Responses to Reply to Peter Kwasniewski’s Three Possibilities on Vatican II

  1. erm6 says:

    Hi Ron. Wow, four articles in one day. And at least two of them are pretty hefty ones. I don’t know how you do it. Thank you for your writing, Ron.

  2. Christine says:

    What do these words then mean??
    Jesus said to them, You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he” John 8:23.
    ” I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” John 14:6.
    “There is no salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Everyone who is saved, is saved by Christ. But that does not mean that only Christians are saved.
      as I wrote in the Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, salvation is accessible in mysterious ways, inasmuch as divine grace is granted to them by virtue of Christ’s redeeming sacrifice, without external membership in the Church, but nonetheless always in relation to her (cf. RM 10). It is a mysterious relationship. It is mysterious for those who receive the grace, because they do not know the Church and sometimes even outwardly reject her. It is also mysterious in itself, because it is linked to the saving mystery of grace, which includes an essential reference to the Church the Savior founded.

  3. Christine says:

    Ron, you are a brilliant theologian and I have always admired your work. I thank you for taking the time to answer to an ordinary faithful like me.
    I understand that not only Christians are saved. The words of Jesus: “for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he “( Jn 8:23) were directed to the Pharasees who were openly rejecting Christ. In our age, there are different cults like the Jehova witnesses running around denouncing the Divinity of Christ, saying, that they believe in God yet not in Jesus Christ. I just think that none of these people can enter Heaven directly if they continue this belief till death. Maybe after many lessons in Purgatory learning about the Divinity of Christ and their acceptance of His eternal truths will they be able to enter Heaven. So is the word “saved” used as a broad term, meaning that eventually they go to heaven?

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