Vatican II Controversies

Hi everyone!

I haven’t read much about Vatican II yet (I have the book with the documents), so I’m wondering why many Catholics claim that Vatican II is “heretical” and all the other controversy. Could someone clue me in about this?


It brought about many changes in the Church and probably more than the council ever intended.


Not heretical. Ignore anyone or any website that suggests that.


Here is a short summary of the Second Vatican Council, written for its 50th anniversary:

Archbishop Aymond Offers ‘10 Ways Vatican II Shapes The Church Today’

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There were some modernists who claimed many false things, justifying what amounted to liturgical abuse as though it were authoritative, claiming it derived from “the spirit of Vatican II.” This served to distort the actual teaching of Vatican II.

Others legitimately dissent with Vatican II. I find their claims to be unconvincing.

See here:
How are the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) in error?


Think of it as a Catholic version of “not my president.” It is our nature to over-value our own opinion. When the Council went in a direction contrary to the opinion of the minority, there was a choice to acquiesce or to devalue the Council. Most chose the former, a few, the latter. Then when the first post -VII Pope was elected, some literally went to “not my pope,” others just continued to dissent be de-valuing the Council.

Somewhere, at some point, for any of this sort of dissent to occur, a person must elevate their opinion, be it their opinion of what Scripture says, or their opinion of what Church tradition is, above that of the Church.

Thinking toward the readings of this Sunday, I see this is nothing new. Jesus addressed the problem that infected the Pharisees of his day by giving the antidote of humility.

The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."


Radical traditionalists only go with the “not my pope” thing; a larger majority of traditionalists are simply just people who like tradition within the Church.

Those who disagree with Vatican II do not see it necessarily as heretical, just that things that were not meant to happen slipped through the cracks through disobedience and just came to be allowed. (for instance, communion in the hand which was granted through indult, though communion on the tongue still remains the technical norm)


If Vatican 2 is heretical, then there is no such thing as “Catholic”. It’s all a farce.
Anyone who truly believes that should follow their conscience and join some other religion (ie be a protestant).

Some of the teachings at least seemingly contradict previous teaching, and the implementation of much of what it dictated was terrible. Add in the fact that hardly anyone (myself included) knows what was actually said by the Council, it is very easy to be misinterpreted by both sides. I don’t think very many Catholics outright call it “heretical” but among those that do it will usually focus on the ambiguities and seeming contradictions.

Also, some rather unpleasant things happened during and after the Council which probably helped enflame the passions of its detractors.

What was said is irrelevant. What was written it Catholicism.


Exactly. Most have no issue with the actual documents. The main problem is that Vatican II was used by unscrupulous prelates as an engine of extreme change under the heading of aggiornamento. These unscrupulous prelates based their reforms on the so-called spirit of Vatican II. Benedict XVI participated in the Council and called this false spirit the virtual Council. In other words, the spirit of the Council wasn’t the real Council.

The situation is analogous to the Constitution and Supreme Court Judges. The Constitution is a document that ought to be interpreted according to the intentions of the people who wrote it and who ratified it and in light of what is written in the Declaration of Independence. This is known as the originalist or textualist approach. The documents of Vatican II should be interpreted similarly: they should be interpreted according to the intentions of the Council Fathers and in continuity with the Tradition of the Church. This is called the hermeneutic of continuity.

In summary, the controversies of Vatican II are all rooted in arguments about interpretation. One group interprets the Council as a break with the past; the other group interprets the Council in continuity with the past.

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Written, said, claimed, published, ordered. The vast majority of people have never read translations of the Vat 2 documents, much less the actual Latin. Disunity thrives where ignorance is strong. Add in the really horrible things that happened during and especially after the Council, and it would take a miracle for there not to be controversy.

Personally, I make the decision to believe it is all fine and orthodox and hope I’m right, because I would rather be blamed for being tricked than for being disobedient. But I can see why others might feel differently, especially when emotions run so hot and the stakes are so high.

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It was a valid council of the Church. It’s not heretical.

What happened is that some things in it were misinterpreted/misrepresented by certain people in the Church to advance their own agenda. This still goes on. If you look at the council in the context of Tradition then there shouldn’t be a problem. The problem is viewing it with a hermeneutic of discontinuity as Pope Benedict put it.


In order to interpret the documents, one needs specialised training in philosophy. Unfortunately, most laymen lack this knowledge, which is why we must make a decision to align ourselves with the hermeneutic of continuity or the hermeneutic of rupture. One can choose to follow what has always been believed or one can choose to believe that Vatican II was a necessary accommodation to the modern world. Personally, I decided to accept the validity of Vatican II as interpreted according to the perennial teachings of the Faith.

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Most have never read the Gospels in Greek. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

The documents I have read I got directly from the website of the Vatican.


If one is lacking this specialized training you think one needs, or the ability to read intelligently, then he should pick a camp to join? Your categories do not really exist. We have the authority of the Church, not political parties. If one is too ignorant to understand the documents one reads, then he is too ignorant to defy the pope or bishop.


But most practicing Christians have read the translation. And the Gospel has had 2000 years for any potential mistranslations or difficult interpretations to be cleared up and explained. Vat 2 has less than a century, is not widely read, and is the source of enough controversy that there are probably bad translations floating around, or even outright misrepresentations and it would be near impossible for the layman to fact-check on his own. The solution would be to “trust the Church” which is what I do, but I can see why that is difficult for some people.

Any literate person can read documents translated into his language. Reading and understanding are two different things. In order to fully understand a document, one needs a knowledge of the discourse conventions of the writer and his intended audience. You need this to discern what the author intended his audience to understand. This all requires an internal point of view. Most laymen lack the internal point of view needed to become part of the interpretive community. This is why we need teachers to interpret things for us. Personally speaking, I rely on John Paul II’s authoritative interpretation of Vatican II. I do not listen to dissident voices who use Vatican II to a means of rupture and discontinuity.

The irony is I remember up into his death most traditionalists here considered his understanding of Vatican II to be this “rupture” you speak of.

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Traditionalists are individuals like everybody else. It’s only ironic if you see the Traditionalist movement as a homogeneous collective. In reality, the Traditionalist movement is a diverse. Those who believe John Paul II’s interpretation was a ‘rupture’ became a law unto themselves and essentially became protestants.

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