Who is responsible?

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on the Second Vatican Council and its effects on the Church. I realise that the Council was not dogmatic; it didn’t change any of the doctrines of the Church, or indeed add any new ones.

The reason I started researching this is because a friend of my sister’s told her that Vatican II changed the religion of the Catholic Church and I wanted to prove her wrong. I couldn’t understand why Catholics would say this.

I have noticed that many traditionalists have issues with the council in one way or another. I have read a lot of what the SSPX has to say on the matter and a lot of it makes sense. However, I don’t agree with them because of their disobedience to the Pope. That being said, is there ANY truth in what they say regarding the council?

Also, I recently read this thread:

It was very interesting because it detailed the the things that Vatican II DID NOT call for. If Vatican II did not authorise these changes then who was responsible? What caused them? Why did they come about?

I’ve also read the Ottaviani Intervention and I believe he makes a very good argument. Did this document fall on deaf ears or did it cause changes?

To summarise my question: If Vatican II did not mandate the reforms, then who did? Why where they implemented? Did the laity want them?

I’m not interested in engaging in arguments and I don’t want to cause them. I just want the opinions of fellow Catholics, especially those who lived through the reforms.

Thanks for taking the time to read this thread.

Whoh. Big topic. I guess it depends on what the other person meant by “changed the religion”.

My guess is that for some, it means signifigant dogmatic change and for others it would mean something like a minor change in liturgy.

Newbie, I’m glad you’ve posted because I myself have asked this of people many times. I hope someone can offer a logical point, because in my experience, the question never gets answered, at least not to my satisfaction.

Good luck.

Wow, what a topic! I remember asking that a lot in college after I “discovered” the TLM, pre-VII Church, etc. In a nutshell, two huge causes I see were Disobedience and False Obedience. I would say the Disobedience was largely on the part of theologians, bishops, priests (clerics, generally) who had an agenda, and false obedience on the part of the laity (“If Father/Bishop/Pope says to do it, it has to be ok”, as opposed to “The Church teaches …, regardless of what Father/Bishop/Pope says”). Thats a short swipe at a huge topic, I know.

It was the reverse direction for me - I didn’t live through the Council, either. It was a matter of getting used to it: there is a great difference in tone & temper between V2 & the Catholicism before it; but not in content. I don’t think I could ever be a “trad” again - it seems to require one to be on the defensive all the time, & that’s very wearying. At least, it doesn’t suit me.

I think the difference in tone & temper is what bothers some people - it’s the difference between laying down the law to all comers, especially “outsiders”; & being prepared to listen to those outsiders.

That’s my impression, anyway :slight_smile: Whether what followed the close of V2 could have been anything but massively difficult for the Church, is another matter. IMHO, trouble was all but inevitable anyway. Many councils have had painful aftermaths; that was no exception.

As for the false kind of obedience, that was part of the culture in the Church. IMO, it & the disobedience of the Lefebvrists are two sides of the same coin.

If this has wandered OTT - just ignore it :slight_smile:

Not by way of arguement, but two of the official documents of Vatican 2 are the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, and the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. Sounds rather dogmatic to me; and it is the official title, not my term for it. Others see fit to tell the Church which named those two documents that they did not define doctrine or dogma. I will leave that arguement for others.

I wouldn’t try wading in too deep with her; she lacks almost any education on what the religion of the Church is about - religion here being the term for the general expression of the faith. The Mass is still the Mass; we still have an Epistle and Gospel reading (and now an Old Testament reading and a Psalm); we still have the Offering of the Gifts, the Consecration, and Communion. Prayers have changed, and we have added Eucharistic Prayers (one of the modeled on one from St Hyppolitus, if I recall correctly). But the essential parts of the Mass are still there.

To quote Pilate: quod es veritas? Is a partial truth a truth? I ask, because interestingly, it often makes the most effective lie.

You might want to broaden what you read; both this and the last pope were thoroughly in favor of Vatican 2, which the SSPX are not; who do you want to follow? Note also, both popes were involved in the Council itself in helping to draft documents, and both were considered progressives (as opposed to Ottavianni and LeFebrve).


There seems to be an unspoken idea that changes to the Church can only come about through a council. There is nothing in fact to support this. Councils have been called to address major issues; however, the Church has throughout its history changed things that were not directed to be changed by a council.

Ottaviani made his point in the Council, and did not carry the day. To presume that it had no impact is to misunderstand how the Council worked. There were re-writes of a number, if not of all, of the documents.


They were implemented because Rome saw fit to do so. Did the laity want them? By and large, the laity were then like they are now; very uneducated in the issues at all (there really weren’t a lot of lay Liturgical experts, for example; there are those few now who present themselves as experts, but their true expertise is suspect). The vernacular was widely accepted, but most people then, as now, would have no clue what you were talking about if you were to ask them about the merits, for example, of Eucharistic Prayer 3 as opposed to Eucharistic Prayer 1. Some people did not want to see Latin go, but they were then in the minority. As to other changes, many came gradually after the initial whirlwind. Again, many have accepted the changes, some have not, and some have felt the changes were not enough.

And yes, I lived through the reforms.

If you truly want to have balance in your views, you need to read something written by others than those who identify themselves as traditionalists. It might just surprise you that there are many writers who are not traditionalists who have something to say that is neither heretical nor dissenting to the Church authority. There is a Greek phrase, homoios estin homoio philon, which loosley translates “birds of a feather flock together”. The short of it is that we all have a tendency to read what we agree with and avoid what does not fit our preconceived notions.
There is also a very simplistic attitude among many that “if only…(fill in the blank)”. Reality is somewhat different.

It also bears pointing out that many Ecumenical Councils are followed by periods of upheaval. For example, Arianism was worse after Nicea I than it was before.

This is why St. Gregory Nazianzen lamented:

“To tell the truth, I am convinced that every assembly of bishops is to be avoided, for I have never experienced a happy ending to any council; not even the abolition of abuses…”

I highly suggest this article from then Cardinal Ratzinger:

Was Vatican II a Waste of Time?

It evaluates Vatican II and gives an overview of various Councils and the highs and lows they experienced. Vatican II is not the only Council where segments of the Church said a Council betrayed tradition.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.