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Vatican II “in the Light of Tradition”?

Pastoral Letter by Bishop Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI


Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul
June 29, 1994

Dearly Beloved in Christ,

In the past few years, there has been a rise in the number of conservative publications which attempt to excuse the chaos and confusion in the modern Church of Vatican II by the erroneous argument that there is nothing theologically wrong with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council and that the problems supposedly are caused by misinterpretations on the part of liberal priests, religious and laity. These publications enumerate the abuses perpetrated in the Conciliar Church and yet insist that the problem has not been caused by the modern teachings of the Council. They insist that the Vatican II decrees must be interpreted “in the light of tradition.” Let us briefly examine some of the many modern teachings which emanated from the Second Vatican Council and see if they can be interpreted “in the light of tradition.”

First of all, when the term “in the light of tradition” is used, it should mean that references can be found in the Church’s tradition to the particular doctrines in question. To interpret a doctrine “in the light of tradition” should mean that the doctrine has been previously taught by past Popes and Ecumenical Councils.

Let us begin by the examination of Vatican II’s “Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions.” As we quote from this official Declaration of the Council, let us ponder how this Declaration could be interpreted “in the light of tradition.”

Declaration of the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Vatican Council II; October 28, 1965)

“From ancient times down to the present, there has existed among divers peoples a certain perception of the hidden power that hovers over the course of things and over the events of human life... Religions bound up with cultural advancement have struggled to reply to these questions with more refined concepts and in more highly developed language.

“Thus, in Hinduism men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible fruitfulness of myths and a searching philosophical inquiry. They seek release from the anguish of our condition through ascetical practices or deep meditation or a loving, trusting flight toward God.”

Before we continue with the text, let us consider the overwhelming depth of error contained in these praises of Hinduism. Hinduism is a pantheistic as well as a polytheistic religion. It recognizes various gods in the created world. The world and everything in it, including man, is god. Among the various Hindu divinities, there are three of great importance — Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the preserver; and Shiva, the destroyer. Hindus worship many animals as god. Cows are the most sacred, but they also worship monkeys, snakes and other animals. Man is supposedly involved in an endless evolution of birth and death called reincarnation.

How then can this Declaration of Vatican II use the terminology that Hindus make “a loving, trusting flight toward God”? — Which god is referred to? Certainly not the true God.

“And express it through an inexhaustible fruitfulness of myths and a searching philosophical inquiry.” — How can one express “the divine mystery” (which is not defined) through myths and philosophical inquiry?

Did the authors of this Declaration ever hear of the First Commandment of God:

“I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt not have strange gods before Me”?

Continuing the text of the Declaration:

“Buddhism in its multiple forms acknowledges the radical insufficiency of this shifting world. It teaches a path by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, can either reach a state of absolute freedom or attain supreme enlightenment by their own efforts or by higher assistance.”

Buddhism, like Hinduism, is a false religion yet differs in that it does not recognize a personal god. How then could the Second Vatican council officially declare the praises of this false religion? What kind of doctrine is it to proclaim that Buddhism “teaches a path by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, can either reach a state of absolute freedom or attain supreme enlightenment by their own efforts or by higher assistance”? What is this ambiguous “absolute freedom” and “supreme enlightenment”?

This Declaration, besides its ambiguous language of the Hindu’s “divine mystery” and “loving trusting flight toward God” and the Buddhists’ “state of absolute freedom“ and attainment of “supreme enlightenment,” is purely and simply the ultimate display of religious indifferentism! Religious indifferentism is the false belief, so often condemned by the Catholic Church, which holds that all religions are equally good and that men can attain salvation in the practice of any religion. This is manifestly false because God has revealed the true religion by which He is to be worshipped through His Only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was truly a historical person and He worked the most stupendous miracles to prove His Divine Mission. To maintain that all religions are acceptable is to imply that Jesus Christ wasted His time to reveal the true Faith and found the true Church. Why should He have accomplished this, if, in the final analysis, the man-made religions of the world would also be acceptable.

The Second Vatican Council’s Declaration continues with praises of the Muslims:

“Upon the Muslims, too, the Church looks with esteem... Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet.”

Herein lies a subtle contradiction. If Jesus Christ is acknowledged at least as a prophet by the Muslims, and prophets are truly inspired by God, how do the Muslims deny the Divinity of Jesus Christ Who solemnly and explicitly proclaimed Himself to be God — equal to the Father? Did the Catholic Church ever in its history look with esteem upon the religion of Islam? How can this be interpreted “in the light of tradition”?

Then comes the most preposterous statement of this entire Declaration:

“The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions.”

What can be “good and holy” in the worship of false gods and in the practice of false religions?

Following this quote in the Declaration, there is a footnote which is the most damning of all statements:

“Through the centuries, however, missionaries often concluded that non-Christian religions are simply the work of Satan and that the missionaries’ task is to convert from error to knowledge of the truth. This Declaration marks an authoritative change in approach.”

Since Vatican Council II, no longer is it the role of the missionaries to convert the people of these religions to Catholicism; their new role is merely to promote the “good” in them?! This doctrine is directly opposed to the mission of the Catholic Church.

Christ founded His Church to teach all nations all things whatsoever He commanded. This was His solemn command to His Apostles and their successors:

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world” (Matt. 28:19).

“Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16).

Where would the Catholic Church be today if the Apostles and their successors did not attempt to convert to the true Faith the followers of false religions? Where would the Catholic Church be today if the Apostles and their successors merely tried to promote the “good” found in these false religions?

Continuing the text of the Declaration:

“The Church therefore has this exhortation for her sons: prudently and lovingly, through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, and in witness of Christian faith and life, acknowledge, preserve and promote the spiritual and moral goods found among these men, as well as the values in their society and culture.”

How does one “in witness of Christian faith acknowledge, preserve, and promote the spiritual and moral goods” of false religions? Is Christianity, is Catholicism compatible and reconcilable with the worship of false gods?! What are the “spiritual and moral goods” to be found in false worship? Why is there not any reference to the work of conversion of the people of these religions?

Should it be any wonder why so many Catholics since Vatican II have involved themselves in the practices of the Eastern religions of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islamism?

Should it be any wonder that since Vatican II, John Paul II and his modernist clergy have publicly gathered together for worship in common with the leaders of these false religions and a multitude of other religions, including Animism, Voodooism, Shintoism, etc.?

What then are we to think of the argument that the decrees of Vatican II must be interpreted “in the light of tradition”? No where in tradition will we find such absurd doctrines. And as for interpretation, we only need to look to the ecumenical affair held in Assisi where 150 religions of the world assembled at the invitation of John Paul II to pray together. As Pope Pius XI so aptly defined such false ecumenism — “it is tantamount to abandoning the religion revealed by God” (Mortalium Animos).

In Christo Jesu et Maria Immaculata,
Most Rev. Mark A. Pivarunas, CMRI

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