Analysis : Has the Church been in error since Vatican II?

Source: FSSPX News


Last week, Mgr. Francis Frost, seminary professor of Ars, published a book aimed at refuting the study which Bishop Fellay had addressed to all the cardinals in January 2004 and which the Lettre à nos frères prêtres had sent to the priests of the dioceses of France in February 2004 (see DICI no 89 and subsequent issues). This text was then sent to every bishop in the world. We are most grateful to this specialist on ecumenism – he has taught at the ecumenical Institute of Bossey – for taking such a keen interest in a study which has received no response from its recipients for three years.

 There is no doubt that a detailed critique of Mgr. Frost’s book will appear soon. Already, a first reading allows us to see that the work is the expression of the tendencies of the “conciliar conservatives” of whom Mgr. Bagnard, bishop of Belley-Ars, is a well-known example. In his preface he clearly indicates the intention of Mgr. Frost: it concerns refusing to get involved in an argument over the two interpretations of the last Council seen as a rutpure, the first one – traditionalist – which considers that “Vatican II introduced a major break in the centuries old Tradition of the Church,” the other – progressive – which states that Vatican II opened the windows and rejuvenated the Church. Only forty years after, according to the supporters of ‘the forward march’, Church leaders appear to be far too timid to advance along the open road.” (p. 11). And Bishop Bagnard goes on, drawing inspiration from Benedict XVI’s speech to the Curia, on December 22, 2005, on the hermeneutics of rupture applied to Vatican II (see DICI no. 128. January 14, 2006): “These two theses which draw their dynamism from the same logic – that of rupture – lead, however, to opposite conclusions. The enthusiasm of the first group for a systematic return to the past – seeing in the doctrinal deepening a departure from the deposit of the faith – increases the strength of the second group to go beyond what they consider outdated in order to commit themselves to a way of the future which is now marked out only by the expression ‘the spirit of Vatican II’ in which everyone can place what he chooses.”(p.12).

 Mgr. Frost goes further, not hesitating to describe the study by the Society of St. Pius X as an integrist vision of the Church, going so far as to speak of an ecclesiological Nestorianism “just as the autonomy attributed by the Nestorians to the humanity of Christ in his relationship with the divine nature, excluded the possibility for this humanity to be the joint instrument of the divine nature in the accomplishment of our salvation, the absolutization of certain components of the visible institution of certain parts of the Church by LP (i.e. La lettre a nos frères pretres, distributor of the study From Ecumenism to Silent Apostasy) excludes the possibility for her (the Church) to be the joint instrument of the life giving action of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the contemporary world.” (p. 222)

 In the opinion of the author, this integrism is no more than a “pathetic reaction against the ecclesiological Arianism of the supporters of secularization: the Church is as if emptied of every supernatural dimension as the Person of Christ was emptied of His divinity by the Arians. This is to make a distinction between the world and the Church, even as a visible society – a distinction which, in itself is perfectly legitimate – that LP goes as far as absolutizing certain components of this visible institution to the point that they can no longer be correlated with the invisible Presence of the Person of Jesus to them, and with the action in them of His Spirit.” (p. 221)

 This absolutism pertains to an unequivocal mindset, fixist, essentialist… Mgr. Frost might also have said Parmenidian (Parmenide Greek philosoher c.515-c.440 B.C.). Whereas the progressives develop an equivocal, evolutionist mindset… in other words Heraclitan. In medio stat…Somewhere in the middle lies the analogical “conciliar conservatism.” This position claims to be balanced and reassuring.

 But since the preface of Bishop Bagnard mentions Benedict XVI’s address to the Curia, on December 22, 2005, we may ask, regarding religious liberty – and thus the Church’s relationship with the modern world: Is it certain that “in recognizing and making its own, through the decree on religious liberty, an essential principle of the modern state, Vatican II has once again rediscovered the deepest patrimony of the Church”? Is it not rather “uncrowning Christ”, as Archbishop Lefebvre used to say? The example given, that of the martyrs, is far from convincing. Actually, if the first Christians refused to adore the deified Roman emperors, it was above all because they wished to be witnesses to the divinity of Christ and they rightly considered emperor worship to be idolatry. It is difficult to admit that the martyrs were opposed to a state religion in the name of freedom of conscience. Has the Church been mistaken since 313, with Constantine who was to set up Christian institutions, or has she been mistaken since Vatican II?


Mgr. Francis Frost, Has the Church been in error since Vatican II. Salvator, 2007.