A new magisterium

By the admission of Popes John XXIII and Paul VI themselves, the Second Vatican Council intended to be different from all the others because of a “pastoral purpose”, which Pope Benedict XVI explains in his address on December 22, 2005, by saying that Vatican II set out to define in a new way “the relation between the Church’s Faith and certain essential elements of modern thought”.

Questioning of truths

The immediate effect of this new way of looking at things has been to call into question the truths taught by the authentic Magisterium of the Church as belonging definitively to the treasure of Tradition, as Archbishop Lefebvre could already tell at the conclusion of the Council:


The present evil... is nothing less than the logical continuation of the heresies and errors which have been undermining the Church in recent centuries, especially since the Liberalism of the [19th] century which has striven at all costs to reconcile the Church with the ideas that led to the French Revolution....

“We have lived to see the marriage of the Catholic Church with Liberal ideas. It would be to deny the evidence, to be willfully blind, not to state courageously that the Council has allowed those who profess the errors and tendencies condemned by the popes named above, legitimately to believe that their doctrines were approved and sanctioned....

“Thus, driven to this by the facts, we are forced to conclude that the Council has encouraged, in an inconceivable manner, the spreading of Liberal errors. Faith, morals, and ecclesiastical discipline are shaken to their foundations, fulfilling the predictions of all the popes. The destruction of the Church is advancing at a rapid pace.

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  • 1Archbishop Lefebvre, “Reply to Cardinal Ottaviani on December 20, 1966, in I Accuse the Council (Kansas City, MO: Angelus Press, 1982), 99-104, citations at 100, 101, 103-104.