See this article on Dave Armstrong’s blog here. For the 17 documents of Vatican II, most were approved by 99% or more of the Bishops voting. The highest percentage of Bishops voting “No” on any document was 7.7% on the Decree on Social Communication (which is not so controversial today). The next highest No vote was 3.8% in the Declaration on Non-Christian Religions.
Other than the Decree on Social Communication, the Bishops voted greater than 96% in favor of each of the other documents and usually greater than 99% in favor. These figures should not matter. If a Council votes to accept a document and the Roman Pontiff approves the Council (or a subset of its decrees), then the documents approved are of the Magisterium of an Ecumenical Council.
Recall what Pope Francis said on Vatican II:
“This is magisterium: the Council [Vatican II] is the magisterium of the Church. Either you are with the Church and therefore you follow the Council, and if you do not follow the Council or you interpret it in your own way, as you wish, you are not with the Church. We must be demanding and strict on this point. The Council should not be negotiated….”
“No, the Council is as it is. And this problem that we are experiencing, of selectivity with respect to the Council, has been repeated throughout history with other Councils. It makes me think of a group of bishops who, after Vatican I, left, a group of lay people, groups, to continue the ‘true doctrine’ that was not that of Vatican I: ‘We are the true Catholics’. Today they ordain women. The strictest attitude, to guard the faith without the Magisterium of the Church, leads you to ruin. Please, no concessions to those who try to present a catechesis that does not agree with the Magisterium of the Church.”
And here is what Pope Saint Paul VI required of bishop Marcel Lefebvre in order to have his suspension a divinis removes:
“This declaration will therefore have to affirm that you sincerely adhere to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and to all its documents — sensu obvio — which were adopted by the Council fathers and approved and promulgated by Our authority. For such an adherence has always been the rule, in the Church, since the beginning, in the matter of ecumenical councils.
“It must be clear that you equally accept the decisions that We have made since the Council in order to put it into effect, with the help of the departments of the Holy See; among other things, you must explicitly recognize the legitimacy of the reformed liturgy, notably of the Ordo Missae, and our right to require its adoption by the entirety of the Christian people.
“You must also admit the binding character of the rules of canon law now in force which, for the greater part, still correspond with the content of the Code of Canon Law of Benedict XV, without excepting the part which deals with canonical penalties.
“As far as concerns Our person, you will make a point of desisting from and retracting the grave accusations or insinuations which you have publicly leveled against Us, against the orthodoxy of Our faith and Our fidelity to Our charge as the successor of Peter, and against Our immediate collaborators.
“With regard to the bishops, you must recognize their authority in their respective dioceses by abstaining from preaching in those dioceses and administering the sacraments there: the Eucharist, Confirmation, Holy Orders, etc., when these bishops expressly object to your doing so.
“Finally, you must undertake to abstain from all activities (such as conferences, publications, etc.) contrary to this declaration, and formally to reprove all those initiatives which may make use of your name in the face of this declaration.
Notice the requirement above to “affirm that you sincerely adhere to the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and to all its documents — sensu obvio — which were adopted by the Council fathers and approved and promulgated by Our authority. For such an adherence has always been the rule, in the Church, since the beginning, in the matter of ecumenical councils.” This is a requirement of ALL the Faithful, not only Bishops.
I expect a future Pope or Council to reinforce this rule with all the faithful, that we must accept all that each Council decides. Now we know that the Popes and Councils can change the disciplines of past Councils, which is fine. One must accept the current form of Church discipline. But the teachings of Councils have never been known to err in the least.
Ronald L Conte Jr.