What Restorationism Seeks, Beyond Rejecting Vatican II

Pope Francis describes a certain problem that has taken deep root within traditionalism, especially in the United States.

Pope Francis: “Restorationism has come on the scene to gag the Council. The number of “restorationist” groups—for example, there are many in the United States—is staggering. An Argentine bishop told me that he had been asked to administer a diocese that had fallen into the hands of these “restorers.” They had never accepted the Council. There are ideas, behaviors that arise from a restorationism that basically did not accept the Council. The problem is precisely this: that in some contexts the Council has not yet been accepted.” [VaticanNews.va]

They do not accept Vatican II. So any Pope who teaches from Vatican II, and who seeks to continue its implementation, especially regarding the Novus Ordo Mass, is opposed by these restorationists. Not every traditionalist has fallen into this set of errors, but many of the leaders within traditionalism have. And in order to reject Vatican II, they must find a way to reject any Pope who teaches and acts based on that Council. So very quickly, opposition to Vatican II becomes opposition to multiple Popes. They put themselves above the person and office of the Roman Pontiff, in order to be able to judge and reject any exercise of the Keys of Saint Peter, over doctrine or discipline, that is contrary to their own views.

The end result is that they also reject other Ecumenical Councils: Vatican I and Lateran V, which taught the same constant and ancient teaching of the Church on the authority of the Roman Pontiff, as well as any other Council with teaching contrary to their own understanding. And then the same process occurs with Popes. To reject one Pope, they must put themselves above the Roman Pontiff and this leads them to judge and reject many other Popes and papal teachings and decisions.

So Restorationism, which claims to restore the Church to Her past truth and past glory, ends up restoring nothing. The result is that any layperson or priest who disagrees with a magisterial teaching or who dislikes a decision of discipline has the pretended authority, within this heretical and schismatic subculture, to declare a Pope or Council wrong, and to propose allegedly-true doctrine and allegedly-faithful discipline. And that is what we are seeing on websites like LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, Crisis magazine, and to some extent on other conservative Catholic publications like National Catholic Register. The teaching of the Church carries no weight there. Anyone can propose a new understanding of any doctrine, including ideas that are openly heretical and not even superficially tied to traditionalism or restoring the past. Those who reject the Magisterium, grasp at straws seeking its replacement. And the replacement is any idea that the readers like.

Pope Francis: “A Jesuit from the Province of Loyola had particularly turned on Fr. Arrupe, let’s remember. He was sent to various places and even to Argentina, and he always made trouble. He once said, “You are someone who doesn’t understand anything. But the real culprits are Fr. Arrupe and Fr. Calvez. The happiest day of my life will be when I see them hanging from the gallows in St. Peter’s Square.” Why do I tell you this story? To give you a sense of what the post-conciliar period was like. And this is happening again, especially with the traditionalists. That is why it is important to save these figures who defended the Council and loyalty to the Pope.” [Ibid.]

The solution to Restorationism is to defend every Ecumenical Council and every Roman Pontiff. Even the so-called “bad Popes” had the charism of truth and never-failing faith in exercising the Keys of Peter over doctrine and discipline. Whether or not they committed the personal mortal sins of which they are accused is for God to know and judge. But we can always trust the Roman Pontiffs and the Ecumenical Councils as the Church is indefectible, and She cannot be indefectible unless each Pope and each Ecumenical Council approved by the Pope is also indefectible.

This charism of truth and never-failing faith is the ancient and constant teaching of Popes, Saints, Fathers, Doctors, and Councils of the Church. This constant teaching and the other papal charisms are documented here. Then Vatican I, which is usually rejected by the restorationists with Vatican II, confirmed these papal charisms, just as various papal charisms were confirmed, repeatedly, in many previous Ecumenical Councils, such as Florence and Lateran V.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider is a heretic and schismatic, who rejects the supreme authority of the Roman Pontiff, rejects the charism of truth and never-failing faith, rejects Vatican II, and rejects the authority of Pope Francis. He has presumed to judge and condemn Pope Francis for supposedly heretical errors on the plurality of religions and many other topics.

Pope Leo XIII: “From this it must be clearly understood that Bishops are deprived of the right and power of ruling, if they deliberately secede from Peter and his successors; because, by this secession, they are separated from the foundation on which the whole edifice must rest. They are therefore outside the edifice itself; and for this very reason they are separated from the fold, whose leader is the Chief Pastor; they are exiled from the Kingdom, the keys of which were given by Christ to Peter alone.” [Satis Cognitum 15]

Bishops Carlo Vigano is also a heretic and schismatic, worse than Bishop Athanasius Schneider, as Vigano expresses extreme contempt toward Pope Francis, refusing to refer to him as Pope Francis, instead calling him “Bergoglio” and claiming that he leads a false Church with a false Magisterium. Both of these Bishops are exalted by the restorationists, as they all reject the Magisterium and replace it with the ideas from an heretical subculture that has rebelled against the Church.

“The Word of God was transmitted uninterruptedly from generation to generation, through bishops, popes, saints, and Doctors of the Church. This transmission of the word has also been accompanied by practice. If, therefore, the whole Church has understood the same doctrine in the same way for two thousand years and has continuously passed it on, it could not have been wrong all the time. The Church could not have been wrong all along in her interpretation. It’s the people of today, those who say that we have a new awareness, who must be wrong. They mistake their new awareness for Church teaching.” [the heretical bishop, Athanasius Schneider, in The Springtime That Never Came]

What Schneider says above should be understood by all Catholics as applying to the papal charisms, especially to the charism of truth and never-failing faith, which teaches that no Pope can ever teach grave error, nor fail gravely in faith, due to that divinely-conferred gift given to every Roman Pontiff. This is truly the teaching of Christ (Mt 16:18; Lk 22:32) as well as the uninterrupted teaching from generation to generation of Bishops, Popes, Saints, and Doctors of the Church. And this transmission was truly accompanied by practice, since the Roman Pontiffs and the Ecumenical Councils have always exercised the supreme authority of the Church over doctrine and discipline, and this has always been accepted by the faithful. Therefore, just as Schneider says, “it could not have been wrong all the time”.

So it is the people of today, the restorationists — who are not truly restoring anything, even though that is their claim — who are proposing a “new awareness”. The error of Gnosticism is theirs, and not the Church’s. They are the ones newly proposing that Popes and Ecumenical Councils can err gravely, can teach heresy, can lead the faithful astray with grave errors on discipline as well as doctrine. They are the ones proposing that anyone who claims to be conservative and traditionalist can presume to judge and correct Popes and Councils, and can presume to propose a new understanding of Christianity. But as Schneider says, this new awareness means that they “must be wrong”.

Of course, Bishop Athanasius Schneider is a restorationist heretic and schismatic. He thinks he is arguing against Pope Francis and Vatican II, but instead his argument works very well to refute his own point of view. A survey of past teachings of Popes, Saints, and Councils, clearly shows that no Pope or Council can go astray from the true faith, and that any group which rejects or opposes a Pope or Council has always been heretical and schismatic.

Schneider: “In the proper sense of the word, the pope is the man in the Church with the least power. In the proper sense of the word, he is the one who must be most obedient. Ideally, he is the one who must show the greatest fidelity to the deposit handed down to him by his predecessors—a deposit that has reached him after two thousand years. And he must continue to pass it on to those who will come after him without violating, distorting, or destroying it.” [Ibid.]

As Vatican I and II taught, the Roman Pontiff has supreme authority in the one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. He does not have the least power. And his fidelity to the deposit of faith is guaranteed by Christ (Mt 16:18; Lk 22:32), regardless of the degree of holiness or sinfulness of any particular Pope. That the Pope will faithfully pass on the deposit of faith is similarly guaranteed. Those who reject this guarantee by Christ, confirmed by centuries of Church teaching, end up making themselves to be, each one, his own Pope and his own Council. For they replace the teachings and rulings of the Church which they have rejected each with his own ideas, his own new awareness.

And this type of Gnosticism disguised as traditionalism has taken over or influenced to one degree or another various Catholic (or formerly-Catholic) publications. Each article within these publications presumes to propose almost any idea, with no regard for magisterial teaching. For in rejecting Pope Francis and Vatican II, they have been led to reject every Pope and every Ecumenical Council, except in so far as a Pope or Council happens, coincidentally, to agree with their own ideas.

These restorationists are not Catholic Christians. And since they do not truly follow Christ, as the devout Protestants do, they are not really Christian. Though they have sought recently to label the Church today as Gnostic, thereby accusing the Pope, the body of Bishops, and the body of the faithful of heresy, they themselves fit this description well. They have proposed their own special knowledge of religious truth as paramount above the Popes and Councils, so much so that they can propose any such knowledge as if it were a dogma, even though it is unknown to Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium.

So while the restorationists claim to be restoring the past, they are instead proposing a new understanding, only superficially based on the past, by the usurpation of past liturgical forms, which they now dogmatize as never before. They are not Catholic, and their disagreements are not theological. Instead, they will never be satisfied with whatever theology the Church teaches. What they want is a Church which bends itself to the subculture that they idolize and which bends itself to the unique proposals of each one of them.

As for Vatican II, I think that the Magisterium will eventually require its belief and acceptance by all Catholics. For that is the requirement of the faithful of every Ecumenical Council.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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1 Response to What Restorationism Seeks, Beyond Rejecting Vatican II

  1. James Belcher says:

    The Restorationism and its sponsors here in the USA is no surprise to me. Since the 1960s’, I have always believed the rejection of Vatican II and the Magisterium would gain support throughout the coming decades. I draw a correlation with these groups and the political progressives. The Restorationists wants to re-write the Magisterium to their own way of thought while the political progressives desire to upend the Constitution of the United States. I believe your phrase of “communist spiritualism” and political socialism go hand and hand. Although it was initiated back in the 1960s, it has gained momentum each and every decade. The rejection of the Pope, Ecumenical Councils and rule of law has only increased through out my lifetime. There are no remedies for these atrocities for Satan has his plan in attempting to destroy the foundation of the church while confusing the population. God has given Satan his time in attempting to destroy all souls as he wishes but God has his plan on the upcoming Tribulation to end the evils brought on by Satan. I know we have a free-will to determine right from wrong but Satan has the power to confound the populists. Throughout the coming centuries, many people of all faiths and non-believers will be drawn closer to God. I strongly believe we must act with our voices and prayers to lessen the impact of Satan’s evil doing.

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