On July 9, 2020, some 50 priests, academics, and journalists sent a letter of support to Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana in Kazakhstan, and to Bishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a former apostolic nuncio to the United States. to thank recent statements by which they have each, in their own way, called for a real debate on the errors and ambiguities of Vatican II.
Among the signatories are several well-known personalities: Roberto de Mattei (Lepanto Foundation), Matt Gaspers (Catholic Family News), Prof. Dr Brian McCall, Maria Guarini (Chiesa e postconcilio), Stéphane Mercier, Paolo Pasqualucci, Carlo Ragazzoni, Jeanne Smits, Marco Tosatti, Giovanni Turco, Aldo Maria Valli, John Henry Westen (LifeSiteNews), Christopher A. Ferrara (The Remnant), Maike Hickson (LifeSiteNews). To date, these signatories have been joined by more than 1,100 others.
Here are some significant excerpts from this letter of support to the two prelates, the emphases are ours:
“We the undersigned wish to express our sincere gratitude for your fortitude and care for souls during the ongoing crisis of Faith in the Catholic Church. Your public statements calling for an honest and open discussion of the Second Vatican Council and the dramatic changes in Catholic belief and practice that followed it have been a source of hope and consolation to many faithful Catholics. The event of the Second Vatican Council appears now more than fifty years after its completion to be unique in the history of the Church. Never before our time has an ecumenical council been followed by such a prolonged period of confusion, corruption, loss of faith, and humiliation for the Church of Christ.”
“Many, including the current Holy Father, appear to place the Second Vatican Council—and its texts, acts, and implementation—beyond the reach of critical analysis and debate. To concerns and objections raised by Catholics of good will, the Council has been held up by some as a “super-council,” the invocation of which ends rather than fosters debate. Your call to trace the current crisis in the Church to its roots and to call for action to correct any turn taken at Vatican II that is now seen to have been a mistake exemplify the fulfillment of the episcopal office to hand on the Faith as the Church has received it.”
“Whether or not Vatican II can be reconciled with Tradition is the question to be debated, not a posited premise blindly to be followed even if it turns out to be contrary to reason. The continuity of Vatican II with Tradition is a hypothesis to be tested and debated, not an incontrovertible fact. For too many decades the Church has seen too few shepherds permit, let alone encourage, such a debate.”
The signatories take up the doctrinal questions raised by Bishop Schneider and Archbishop Viganò, in their respective statements.
“We also are grateful for your initiative in identifying some of the most important doctrinal topics that must be addressed in such a critical examination and for providing a model for frank, yet courteous, debate that can involve disagreement. We have collected from your recent interventions some examples of the topics you have indicated must be addressed and, if found lacking, corrected. This collection we hope will serve as a basis for further detailed discussion and debate. We do not claim this list to be exclusive, perfect, or complete.”
The themes are grouped into four headings which are illustrated, in the full text, by quotes from the two prelates:
- Religious Liberty for All Religions as a Natural Right Willed by God;
- The Identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church and the New Ecumenism (the question of
“subsistit in.” Ed.);
- Papal Primacy and the New Collegiality;
- The Council and Its Texts are the Cause of Many Current Scandals and Errors.
In conclusion, the signatories welcome the fact that the differences between Bishop Schneider and Bishop Viganò in no way affect the equanimity of their debate:
“We have taken note of the differences you have highlighted between the solutions each of you has proposed for responding to the crisis precipitated at and following the Second Vatican Council. For example, Archbishop Viganò has argued it would be better to altogether “forget” the Council, while Bishop Schneider, disagreeing with him on this specific point, proposes officially to correct only those parts of the Council documents that contain errors or that are ambiguous. Your courteous and respectful exchange of opinions should serve as a model for the more robust debate that you and we desire. Too often these past fifty years disagreements about Vatican II have been challenged by mere ad hominem attacks rather than calm argumentation. We urge all who will join this debate to follow your example.”
Echoing this letter, we can cite the article by historian Roberto de Mattei, published on July 10 in Correspondance Européenne: “We must be convinced that the hermeneutics of continuity has failed, because we are going through a crisis in which we need to measure ourselves against the facts, not their interpretations.” “The implausibility of this approach, observes Peter Kwasniewski [on June 29, 2020 in OnePeterFive – ed.note] is demonstrated by, among other signs, the infinitesimal success that conservatives have had in reversing the disastrous ‘reforms,’ trends, habits, and institutions established in the wake of and in the name of the last council, with papal approbation or toleration.”
Because, as de Mattei emphasizes: “Pope Francis has never theorized the hermeneutics of ‘discontinuity,’ but he wanted to accomplish Vatican II in praxis, and the only effective response to this praxis lies in the concrete reality of theological, liturgical, canonical, and moral facts, and not in a sterile hermeneutical [i.e., interpretative] debate.”
This remark is very relevant: the debate around Vatican II is necessary, and it began at the Council with the determined action of the bishops who were members of the Cœtus Internationalis Patrum - an organized group which fought to maintain tradition within the Council. It has since continued in various ways. It is gratifying to see bishops taking part in this debate today.
But it is just as necessary to fight conciliar and post-conciliar reforms in the reality of the facts, to give the faithful the possibility of an authentic Christian life, founded on the principles defended by in speech and in writing. Continuity thus assured is the most precious treasure that the servants of the Church can conserve for the faithful. This is the main response to the current “discontinuity.” It is to be hoped that this new contribution to the debate on the Council will materialize based on facts.