One technique that the restorationists use to undermine magisterial teaching, whether of Vatican I, Vatican II, or the post-Vatican II liturgy, is storytelling. They focus on particular individuals, painting them as theological villains, and claiming that these persons influenced the Church leaders to the corruption of an Ecumenical Council or the Novus Ordo Mass or any other aspect of doctrine or discipline that they dislike.
The election of Pope Francis is blamed on the “Saint Gallen Mafia”, which is a malicious dishonest term merely describing a small number of Cardinals, who met irregularly to discuss the future of the Church. But the Magisterium frequently refers to the Roman Pontiffs as having been chosen by God. Then it is nothing but heresy to claim that a small group of Cardinals could possibly lead the whole Church astray, merely by influencing a papal election, despite the dogma of indefectibility based on our Lord’s promise (Mt 16:18).
Vatican II is blamed on certain theologians who allegedly influenced the Roman Pontiff and the body of Bishops to teach error. But none of those theologians named by the restorationists actually had a vote over the documents. And every document of Vatican II was approved by 90% or more of the Bishops voting, and by the Roman Pontiff. An accusation against the teachings of an Ecumenical Council is an accusation against the Holy Spirit. And any claim that the Church has gone astray or has led the faithful astray — regardless of the story, characters, and plot used to embellish that claim — is a heresy contrary to indefectibility.
The Novus Ordo Mass is blamed on Cardinal Annibale Bugnini, who was “secretary of the commission that worked on the reform of the Catholic liturgy that followed the Second Vatican Council” [Wikipedia]. He had no authority to approve or disapprove of the Novus Ordo Mass or any of its components; any of his preferences or recommendations could easily be rejected or reformed. The approval of the Novus Ordo Mass was made by the Roman Pontiff, and next the Novus Ordo was ultimately accepted by the body of Bishops dispersed in the world.
Sometimes these stories of how the Church allegedly went astray are very entertaining. Long explanations are given of each character, and his nefarious acts. One villain after another appears in the story in order to convince the audience of the story’s heretical conclusion: that the Lord Jesus lied when He promised that the gates of Hell would never prevail over the Church founded on Peter and his successors. These stories are nevertheless sometimes effective, especially on persons who have unfortunately accepted a socio-political bias, such as worldly conservatism, into their understanding of the faith. So when highly distorted explanation along with outright false accusations explains why the Church does not conform to the expectations of fallen sinners, the story is accepted by some. The real answer is that the expectation that many persons have (liberals as well as conservatives) for how the Church supposedly should act is disordered by our own sins, failings, and limitations.
It is wrong to expect that the Church will always give the most conservative answer to every theological question. And when the Church does not teach or rule as a particular group or subculture would wish, the answer is not that the whole Church has gone astray, except for that small group. Rather, the answer is that these persons need to change their understanding of the Faith. Always they tacitly assume that their own understanding cannot possibly err; they attribute an infallibility and indefectibility to themselves, which they deny to the Church Herself.
Conservatives are discomforted when an Ecumenical Council or a Roman Pontiff seems to have chosen a doctrine or discipline that is liberal over the conservative alternative. But the truth is that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not conservative or liberal or moderate: it is truth beyond such classifications. Then, if we take the lowly point of view of us fallen sinners, we could call some teachings of Christ conservative (on divorce, Jesus was more conservative than the Pharisees), other teachings would be very liberal (as when Jesus refused to support the Mosaic death penalty for the woman caught in adultery), and other teachings would be quite moderate and ordinary (how to obtain eternal life? keep the commandments).
Over at OnePeterFive, the attack on the First Vatican Council and the authority of the Roman Pontiff continues. The author of the article “The ‘Spirit of Vatican One’ as a Post-Revolutionary Political Problem”, Peter Kwasniewski, uses the storytelling technique to accuse the Church of becoming “ultramontane” by means of a behind-the-scenes conflict of personalities and socio-political forces. The conclusion of the story strongly implies that Vatican One erred in its document Pastor Aeternus — even though the prima facie claim is that Vatican I is merely misinterpreted.
Kwasniewski claims: “Pius IX had claimed ten or fewer would dare to vote that it does not please. It is fair to say this vote, with 150 who did not accept the text as formulated, “triggered” him and many other enthusiasts. From then on, they completely shut out the minority bishops from having any further input on the final version. It would not substantively change thereafter.”
And again: “Bl. Pius IX seems to have had a weakness about his personal prestige which allowed him to be manipulated by the Liberals. In any case, it appears he had a blindspot in not realizing the effects of the Ultramontane definition, just like the best of the Ultramontanes themselves.”
Repeatedly in the article, Kwasniewski suggests that the text of Pastor Aeternus errs, as it was influenced by liberals and ultramontanes. He also concludes that the text can be interpreted in various ways, as if that Ecumenical Council did not really decide the matters which it plainly states were decided definitively, with multiple attached anathemas. Then his claims about what Vatican One taught are repeatedly false.
Kwasniewski: “we are not helpless victims if a pope turns out to be an errant monarch. We do not need to defend papal errors and abuses, nor should we try.”
Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus, on the Roman Pontiffs: “Indeed, their apostolic teaching was embraced by all the venerable fathers and reverenced and followed by all the holy orthodox doctors, for they knew very well that this See of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our Lord and Savior to the prince of his disciples: I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren [Lk 22:32]. This gift [Latin: charisma] of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this See….” [Pastor Aeternus, chapter 4, n. 6-7]
No Roman Pontiff can fail in faith. No Roman Pontiff can exercise the Keys of Peter so as to blemish the Apostolic See. All the “venerable fathers” and “all the holy orthodox doctors” embraced the teaching of the Roman Pontiffs, for they trusted in the promise of Christ in Luke 22:32, which, Vatican I teaches, is a promise of a charism of truth and never-failing faith for every successor of Peter.
In contradiction to this clear teaching of Vatican I and the ordinary universal Magisterium, Kwasniewski and many others at OnePeterFive claim that a Pope, such as Pope Francis, can teach grave error, can fall into heresy, can lead the Church astray, and often cannot be trusted to teach and lead the Church.
In fact, OnePeterFive has a series of articles, mostly authored by its editor-in-chief Timothy Flanders, calling the Church a “pornocracy” across three long periods of time. Here are the alleged three periods of pornocracy in the Church:
* One: 882-964 — total 82 years and 24 Popes
* Two: 1471-1563 — total 92 years and 13 Popes — Lateran V, Council of Trent
* Three: 1965?-present — total 56 years and 5 Popes so far — Vatican II
See my article refuting that claim against the indefectibility of the Church.
The First Vatican Council reaffirmed the teaching of past Ecumenical Councils on the indefectibility of the Church and on the charisms of the Roman Pontiff. The Council also clearly taught the very same doctrines about the Roman Pontiff that are found throughout the entire history of the Church.
The supreme authority of the Roman Pontiff over doctrine and discipline is the true teaching of Vatican I and Vatican II and the ordinary universal Magisterium. No clever reinterpretation of any Ecumenical Council is needed in order to avert some imaginary disaster to the Church when the Roman Pontiff does not exercise the Keys of Peter in the manner preferred by some small group or subculture. The Roman Pontiff cannot abuse the authority of Christ given to him because the papal charisms secure the indefectibility of the Church, the never-failing faith of the Roman Pontiff himself, and the unblemished nature of the Apostolic See.
Distortions of Vatican I by Kwasniewski
The charism of truth and never-failing faith is ignored by Kwasniewski. Even the formula of Hormisdas, which he quotes, is then ignored and contradicted by him: “for in the apostolic see the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied”. Instead of holding that each Pope has the charism of truth and never-failing faith and that in the Papal See the Catholic faith is “always” unsullied (or unblemished), Kwasniewski misreads the Sixth Ecumenical Council to the contrary conclusion, claiming incorrectly that the Council condemned Pope Honorius I for heresy. It is dogma that nothing is of an Ecumenical Council unless approved by the Roman Pontiff. The fathers of the Second Council of Constantinople refused to conclude the Council until they had obtained the approval of its documents by the Roman Pontiff, Pope Vigilius — who was an antipope and manifest teacher of heresy, until he became true Pope and the grace of God vanquished all heresy in him.
Pope Saint Leo II issued three letters granting his approval for the decisions of the Sixth Ecumenical Council (Constantinople III), and each letter stated a clear decision by the Roman Pontiff that Pope Honorius I was only guilty of negligence, not heresy. Then the Letter of Pope Saint Agatho to the same Council clearly taught that no Pope can fail in faith or lead the Church astray. This was the Pope’s correction of those Council fathers who wished to blame Honorius for the problems of their day. And since the Letter of Agatho was formally accepted into the acts of the Council (Actio XVIII), it is the teaching of the Ecumenical Council. When Agatho died, some Council fathers again rose up to accuse Honorius, but Pope Saint Leo II did not approve of this claim, and in fact he stated a different judgment, that Honorius was only guilty of negligence. Therefore the condemnation of Honorius is not of the Council, but the Letter of Agatho exonerating him is of the Council.
Kwasniewski further claims that Vatican I’s formula of Hormisdas teaches only “that the pope himself must ‘keep’ the ‘norm of the true fait’ and the ‘established doctrine of the Fathers…’ “. To the contrary, the formula was required to reconcile certain Greek heretics, and therefore it was a definitive teaching on the preservation of the Roman Pontiff from grave error, and not a statement of what the Pope must do. The latter would not apply to such a reconciliation of those schismatics to the Vicar of Christ as the Supreme Pontiff.
Then we see that this is the correct understanding of the teaching of Vatican One and the formula cited by the Council to support that teaching: “Indeed, their apostolic teaching was embraced by all the venerable fathers and reverenced and followed by all the holy orthodox doctors, for they knew very well that this See of St. Peter always remains unblemished by any error, in accordance with the divine promise of our Lord and Savior to the prince of his disciples: I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren [Lk 22:32]. This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this See….”
It could not be clearer from the wording of the teaching itself that the See of Peter remains “always” unblemished due to the “divine promise” of Christ and the charism of truth and never-failing faith. That is not an exhortation to the Roman Pontiff to avoid heresy, but rather a fundamental part of the indefectibility of the Church. But as we know from the teaching of the same Council, the Roman Pontiff is only infallible when his teaching meets certain conditions. So the promise of an unblemished See does not exclude very error in what is non-infallible, but rather excludes every grave error, for only a grave error would sully or blemish the See, and non-infallible teachings are reformable and require only religious assent, not the full assent of faith.
So while the Pope is not infallible in every exercise of the Keys of Peter, the divine promise of Christ is that his See will nevertheless remain unsullied. Such a promise certainly excludes the vast majority of the accusations made against Pope Francis, other Popes, and against Ecumenical Councils approved by the Roman Pontiff.
Kwasniewski: “During Vatican I, a Franciscan Cardinal in a speech to the bishops said that the definition should include language saying that the pope, before defining a dogma, would consult the bishops, as was the custom….”
Such a suggestion is contrary to the teaching of the ordinary universal Magisterium on the authority of the Roman Pontiff, as well as contrary to the teaching of Vatican I and II. I should also point out that these teachings of the most recent Ecumenical Councils are not open theological questions. Nor is it possible that these teachings have erred at all, since the successive Roman Pontiffs and the body of Bishops continuously have accepted all the teachings of Vatican I and II on faith and morals. Even teaching of Ecumenical Councils which are not formal definitions are infallible when they are definitive teachings, in communion with the ordinary universal Magisterium, and which continue to be taught under the ordinary universal Magisterium to the present day.
The Roman Pontiff need not consult the Bishops before exercising Papal Infallibility. Kwasniewski supports the erroneous claim that Popes should consult before teaching infallibly by telling a story about Blessed Pope Pius IX supposedly yelling at a Cardinal, and then adding: “perhaps he sinned in anger in this moment”. It is irrelevant whether such a story is true, inaccurate, or false, as it is not an exercise of the Keys.
The dogma of Vatican I states: “Therefore, such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, irreformable.”
Then Vatican II agrees: “And therefore his definitions, of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church, are justly styled irreformable, since they are pronounced with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, promised to him in blessed Peter, and therefore they need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment. For then the Roman Pontiff is not pronouncing judgment as a private person, but as the supreme teacher of the universal Church, in whom the charism of infallibility of the Church itself is individually present, he is expounding or defending a doctrine of Catholic faith.”
So Kwasniewski is wrong to claim that a Pope should consult and “deign to learn something before declaring a dogma infallibly.” The teaching of the Roman Pontiff are the teachings of Christ.
Kwasniewski then goes on to deprive the Roman Pontiff of divine assistance in teaching, claiming that they can only learn and teach what they have learned “by ordinary human means”. Really?! Then how can any teaching of a Pope or Ecumenical Council be infallible? For if that can be said of the Vicar of Christ, nothing greater can be said of the individual Bishops. Kwasniewski even as the temerity to claim: “Truth is truth of its very nature, not because the pope speaks it and thereby makes it truth. Rather, the pope must learn truth in order to give truth, and he, like any man, cannot give what he does not have. While God certainly has the power to give the pope knowledge of anything, God has called the pope to learn by ordinary human means what has been handed on and what the pope is to hand on.” Such a claim denigrate the teaching of every Pope and Ecumenical Council beneath the feet of any individual Christian who claims to have learned the faith better by ordinary human means. How utterly faithless!
Kwasniewski: “that truth is knowable by a person, not because the pope teaches but because man himself is capable of knowledge as a gift given him from God.”
Such a claim deprives the entire Magisterium of its divine authority, granted to Peter and his successors, granted to the body of Bishops as the successors of the other Apostles, by Christ the Lord. Such an expression makes it seem as if the successive Roman Pontiffs and the body of Bishops continuously, being in agreement as to the teachings of Tradition, Scripture, and past Ecumenical Councils, can err just as much as any individual Catholic. This claim by Kwasniewski deprives the Faith of its surety, leaving it to the diverse opinions of fallen sinners, just as happens in the Protestant denominations, especially those that are fundamentalist.
If we cannot trust the Ecumenical Councils or the Roman Pontiff to teach us Divine Revelation, as Kwasniewski claims, then how can be learn the faith? The implicit answer found throughout OnePeterFive is that the faithful should turn away from the Ecumenical Councils and the Roman Pontiffs, and only believe what the authors at various schismatic online publications claim. For their articles are filled with false accusations of grave errors by multiple Ecumenical Councils and many different Roman Pontiffs, so much so that it is a wonder that they even call themselves Catholics. The Protestant denominations make fewer accusations against the Church.
Kwasniewski: “In Dei Filius, the ordinary use of faith and reason is dogmatized, so that the faithful, in the ordinary life of a Catholic, need not have any recourse to the pope to know the Faith.”
This claim by Kwasniewski is heretical and schismatic. It separates the Christian faithful from the Roman Pontiff as the source of unity in the Church, and arrogantly proclaims that individual Christians can know the truths of the faith by their own use of faith and reason, apart from the Roman Pontiff as the Vicar of Christ and the head of the one Church. It denies that Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture have been untrusted to the Magisterium, as exercised by Peter and his successors, the Roman Pontiffs, and by the body of Bishops led by the Roman Pontiffs. And it attempts to establish the leaders of the traditionalist movement as the guardians of truth above and beyond whatever the Popes and Ecumenical Councils might teach through the authority of the Magisterium entrusted to them by Christ.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church refute sthe above error by Kwasniewski:
“36 “Our holy mother, the Church, holds and teaches that God, the first principle and last end of all things, can be known with certainty from the created world by the natural light of human reason.”  Without this capacity, man would not be able to welcome God’s revelation. Man has this capacity because he is created “in the image of God”. 
“37 In the historical conditions in which he finds himself, however, man experiences many difficulties in coming to know God by the light of reason alone:
Though human reason is, strictly speaking, truly capable by its own natural power and light of attaining to a true and certain knowledge of the one personal God, who watches over and controls the world by his providence, and of the natural law written in our hearts by the Creator; yet there are many obstacles which prevent reason from the effective and fruitful use of this inborn faculty. For the truths that concern the relations between God and man wholly transcend the visible order of things, and, if they are translated into human action and influence it, they call for self-surrender and abnegation. the human mind, in its turn, is hampered in the attaining of such truths, not only by the impact of the senses and the imagination, but also by disordered appetites which are the consequences of original sin. So it happens that men in such matters easily persuade themselves that what they would not like to be true is false or at least doubtful. 
“38 This is why man stands in need of being enlightened by God’s revelation, not only about those things that exceed his understanding, but also “about those religious and moral truths which of themselves are not beyond the grasp of human reason, so that even in the present condition of the human race, they can be known by all men with ease, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error”. [CCC 36-38; see the Catechism for the references]
Kwasniewski claims that we can learn the Faith without the Roman Pontiff. Vatican I, Dei Filius, and Pastor Aeternus taught no such thing. Instead, the Council taught the necessity of learning the truths of Divine Revelation from the Church. And while certain truths are knowable by human reason, the moral law and a few basic truths about God, many truths are knowable only by Divine Revelation, and those that can be known by reason alone are often misunderstood without the guidance of Church teaching.
Vatican I, Profession of Faith: “Likewise I accept Sacred Scripture according to that sense which Holy mother Church held and holds, since it is her right to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures…. I likewise receive and accept the rites of the Catholic Church which have been received and approved in the solemn administration of all the aforesaid sacraments.”
How thoroughly do the restorationists reject this teaching in the profession of faith of Vatican I. They reject that the Magisterium is the sole authoritative interpreter of Tradition and Scripture. They put their own judgment and interpretation above that of holy mother Church.
Profession of Faith: “Likewise all other things which have been transmitted, defined and declared by the sacred canons and the ecumenical councils, especially the sacred Trent, I accept unhesitatingly and profess; in the same way whatever is to the contrary, and whatever heresies have been condemned, rejected and anathematized by the Church, I too condemn, reject and anathematize.
“This true Catholic faith, outside of which none can be saved, which I now freely profess and truly hold, is what I shall steadfastly maintain and confess, by the help of God, in all its completeness and purity until my dying breath, and I shall do my best to ensure that all others do the same.”
The restorationists, the accusers of Popes and Ecumenical Councils, do not accept all the things defined and declared by the Ecumenical Councils, and they do not reject whatever is contrary, nor do they regard the commission of heresy as anything to be avoided. They reject the dogmas of the supreme authority of the Roman Pontiff over doctrine and discipline, the charism of truth and never-failing faith, the unblemished Apostolic See, the indefectibility of the Church, the authority of the Magisterium over Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, and any other teaching that contradicts their own ideas and preferences.
Then these words from Dei Filius in Vatican I also refute the claim of Kwasniewski that the Christian can learn truth from his own exercise of faith and reason, apart from the Roman Pontiff:
“8. Furthermore the Church which, together with its apostolic office of teaching, has received the charge of preserving the deposit of faith, has by divine appointment the right and duty of condemning what wrongly passes for knowledge, lest anyone be led astray by philosophy and empty deceit.
“9. Hence all faithful Christians are forbidden to defend as the legitimate conclusions of science those opinions which are known to be contrary to the doctrine of faith, particularly if they have been condemned by the Church; and furthermore they are absolutely bound to hold them to be errors which wear the deceptive appearance of truth.”
“3. So then, just as he sent apostles, whom he chose out of the world , even as he had been sent by the Father , in like manner it was his will that in his Church there should be shepherds and teachers until the end of time.
“4. In order, then, that the episcopal office should be one and undivided and that, by the union of the clergy, the whole multitude of believers should be held together in the unity of faith and communion, he set blessed Peter over the rest of the apostles and instituted in him the permanent principle of both unities and their visible foundation.”
Christ did not leave his Church in the hands of any layperson or priest who decides to speaks as if he or she were the supreme pontiff — while at the same time, hilariously claiming that the Roman Pontiffs can err to any extent. Rather, Christ gave us a visible head to His visible Church. But as Pope Pius XII taught: “Christ and His Vicar constitute one only head” of the one Church. So does Christ teach through His Vicar, and not through any Christian who proclaims himself right, while proclaiming the Pope or an Ecumenical Council wrong.
Fifth Lateran Council: “And since it arises from the necessity of salvation that all the faithful of Christ are to be subject to the Roman Pontiff, just as we are taught by the testimony of the divine Scriptures and of the holy Fathers, and as is declared by the Constitution of Pope Boniface VIII of happy memory, which begins ‘Unam Sanctam,’ for the salvation of the souls of the same faithful, and by the supreme authority of the Roman pontiff and of this holy See, and by the unity and power of the Church, His spouse, the same Constitution, being approved by the sacred Council, we renew and approve.”
Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566: “The Church has but one ruler and one governor, the invisible one, Christ, whom the eternal Father has made head over all the Church, which is his body; the visible one, the Pope, who, as legitimate successor of Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, fills the Apostolic chair. It is the unanimous teaching of the Fathers that this visible head is necessary to establish and preserve unity in the Church. This Saint Jerome clearly perceived and as clearly expressed when … he wrote: ‘One is elected that, by the appointment of a head, all occasion of schism may be removed.’ ”
Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566: “Should anyone object that the Church is content with one Head and one Spouse, Jesus Christ, and requires no other, the answer is obvious. For as we deem Christ not only the author of all the Sacraments, but also their invisible minister — He it is who baptizes, He it is who absolves, although men are appointed by Him the external ministers of the Sacraments — so has He placed over His Church, which He governs by His invisible Spirit, a man to be His vicar and the minister of His power. A visible Church requires a visible head; therefore the Savior appointed Peter head and pastor of all the faithful, when He committed to his care the feeding of all His sheep, in such ample terms that He willed the very same power of ruling and governing the entire Church to descend to Peter’s successors.”
Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1566: “Above all these, the Catholic Church has always placed the Supreme Pontiff of Rome, whom Cyril of Alexandria, in the Council of Ephesus, named the Chief Bishop, Father and Patriarch of the whole world. He sits in that chair of Peter in which beyond every shadow of doubt the Prince of the Apostles sat to the end of his days, and hence it is that in him the Church recognises the highest degree of dignity, and a universality of jurisdiction derived, not from the decrees of men or Councils, but from God Himself. Wherefore he is the Father and guide of all the faithful, of all the Bishops, and of all the prelates, no matter how high their power and office; and as successor of St. Peter, as true and lawful Vicar of Christ our Lord, he governs the universal Church.”
Pope Pius XII: “After His glorious Ascension into Heaven this Church rested not on Him alone, but on Peter, too, its visible foundation stone. That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory [Pope] Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam; and his successors have never ceased to repeat the same.”
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