"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012



LATER this year we have the 50th anniversary of Bl. Pope John's Council. It was called ninety years after the first Vatican Council – ninety years in which the Catholic Church grew and thrived, not only in the U.K. but throughout all Western Europe, in North and South America and in all English-speaking countries. Missionary work grew too, with plenty of generous men and women devoting their lives to spreading the Faith. Many excellent spiritual books were written before Vatican II, by lay people as well as clerics. These show how well the teachings of the Church were known and loved by Catholics before 1970, in sharp contrast to what Pope Benedict XVI calls the“widespread religious ignorance” found among most Catholics today, even, and especially worrying, among some priests.

Some relevant statistics.

Before 1970 converts were pouring into the Church and staying in, unlike today when an estimated 85% of RCIA converts leave within five years. Those too young to remember this happy time can check with official Church statistics, available from the National Catholic Directory. These show we have had a precipitous drop in Mass attendance even though the number should have risen with so much immigration from Catholic countries.

Comparison of the official figures for England and Wales in the forty- four years from 1964 to 2008 show that in 1964 we had 3,877,000 Catholics with the adult Sunday Mass attendance at 2,114,249, about five eighths of the total. While in 2008, with 4,148,783 Catholics we had only 918,844 adult Catholics at Sunday Mass, about two fifths of the total.

Marriage figures plummet even further.

The number of Catholic marriages, essential for the future of the Church, dropped even more catastrophically from 45,592 in 1964 to only 9,932 in 2008! Most immigrants still attend Mass, indeed were it not for them many of our city churches would be empty on Sundays. This masks the fact that the figures are really even worse than they seem.

Perhaps it is just as well that this Golden Jubilee prompts us to take a careful look at the effects Vatican II has had on the Church in the last fifty years. To do this fairly we must examine the Church before the Council and compare it with the Church we know today. Unfortunately only Catholics who were adults before Vatican II and are now at least sixty years of age, are in a position to remember what the Church was like in the thirties, forties, fifties and early sixties.

However, this does not seem to stop people younger than that telling us all sorts of horror stories about the Church before the 1970s. I am not saying that they are deliberately lying because I expect they are just repeating what they have been told, but they do need to be challenged and encouraged to question their allegations. They do need to hear the truth about the Church before Vatican II.


BEFORE Vatican II we had many priests and religious and plenty of priestly and religious vocations, but now we are very short of both ! It is difficult for younger Catholics to realise just how strong the Church was pre-Vatican II. For instance we were blessed to have many Religious Houses offering up constant prayer and doing much good in schools, hospitals and nursing homes. Likewise, no Catholic of the forties and fifties could have envisaged the plight of the Church today. It would have seemed to them an unimaginable catastrophe. Before this Council we had, according to Cardinal Spellman of New York, speaking in 1964, “the best informed laity the Church has ever had,” but now as the Holy Father remarked, in 2002, when announcing the Committee who would compile the Compendium, “there is widespread religious ignorance”.

Before the Council only10-15% of Catholic school leavers lapsed – often to return later, so we kept their children when they married. Now over 90% of Catholic school leavers lapse never to return. Thus we also, inevitably, lose their children and theirgrandchildren.

In pre-Vatican II days we were constantly building new churches and schools to accommodate our ever-growing Catholic population. Now we are closing many of our beautiful Catholic churches, and Catholic schools have to complete their numbers by taking in children of other faiths or none.

The changes imposed post Vatican II are damaging the Church in this country so severely that unless steps are taken to put things right again it could dwindle out of all recognition and become just little pockets of practising Catholics who home-school their children and are cared for by foreign priests. Now is the time to try and understand what happened.

How Vatican Two was called.

Obviously not everything in 1960 was absolutely perfect so Bl.Pope John XXIII decided that, healthy as the Church was, he was justified in calling another Council. One Saturday morning in 1960 he announced to his Curia Cardinals that he was calling a Council to start in October 1962. Very unusually, there was no specific dogma which needed to be proclaimed, so he called it a Pastoral Council. He claimed it was going ‘to complete the work of Vatican I' which had been interrupted by the Franco-Prussian War ninety years previously. We are told the Cardinals were so surprised by his announcement, they greeted it with a long silence.

Perhaps they were taken aback because the previous pope, the wise and saintly Pope Pius XII, had always resisted the idea of calling another council. Preparations for the Council began and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was asked to take charge of theSchemas the Council Fathers would discuss. The Archbishop, who was French, had spent most of his life as a missionary and he was known for his scholarship and his complete faithfulness to Church teaching. The Schemas were safe in his hands.

Bishops and Archbishops from around the world were invited to Rome. Sadly, theSchemas devised and written by Archbishop Lefebvre were soon abandoned for new ones written by the ‘periti, ‘ priests who were the official advisors to the Bishops. They included Hans Kung, Ives Congar, Peter Hebblewaithe and others like them, many of whom later left the priesthood. These priests were well prepared and knew exactly what they wanted from this Council.

Most bishops however had no idea what was being planned. I knew only one bishop well, but I think he was rather typical. He was Bishop John Healy, Bishop of Gibraltar, and he had been the parish priest at the Sacred Heart Church, Camberwell where I began my teaching career. We became good friends and kept in touch when he moved to Gibraltar. He told me how much he was looking forward to the Council where he would meet bishops from around the world, make new friends and compare notes. It never occurred to him or probably any of the others that there could be any serious problems. How wrong they were!

Dr Frank Sheed, who was a friend to both of us, went to Rome during each session of the Council and every lunch time he waited outside St Peter's for Bishop Healy so they could discuss what had transpired that morning. Frank told me that one day Bishop Healy came out looking very serious. He insisted on going to a restaurant some distance away before telling him “It is war! And they are winning.”

How Vatican Two was hi-jacked.

His eyes had been opened and he realised how the periti, with their modernist agenda, were bending the bishops to their way of thinking. Apparently they used human respect to do this. For instance, they would ask a bishop who wanted to speak out for traditional Catholic truths and values, “Do you really want to say that, My Lord? Won't the other bishops think you are behind the times?” And the trusting bishop would follow their advice and change his speech.

Sadly, Bishop Healy suffered a severe heart attack and died soon after the Council. I often wonder if his death was hastened by the distress he felt at the divisions he could see arising in the Church as a result of Vatican II.

The Fruits of Vatican Two

We need to look at these fruits, to see the damage done to the Church after the Council.

All the bishops returned home on December 8th 1965 after celebrating Mass in St Peter's. A month later on 6th January 1966 Pope Paul VI set up commissions to implement the directives of the Council.

Tragically, although they were instructed by the Pope to confine themselves to the directives of the Council, some of the Chairmen of the Commissions had their own agenda and imposed something quite different on the Church.

How we got “Modern Catechetics.”

The Commission on Education gave us Modern Catechetics, which was not discussed by the Council Fathers who would never have approved it. This has not only caused ignorance of the Truths of the Faith among Catholics, it has brought these Sacred Truths into contempt. In spite of its obvious failings, Modern Catechetics is still in general use here in parts of this country, in Ireland and in large sections of the Church. It is mainly responsible for our present crisis.

Steps we can take

If we want to resolve this crisis we must challenge those who celebrate disasters as if they were victories. We must challenge them before it is too late. There have already been two conferences celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Vatican II - one in Scotland and one in Clifton. The next one we know about is in Leeds, at Leeds University College from June 26th to 29th For more details and to book visit www.leedstrinity.ac.uk/VaticanIIConference or ring Kathy Stanton on 0113 2837 102.

I hope that some of our readers who live within reach of Leeds will attend this conference and challenge the more outrageous assertions.

One of the speakers is Professor Paul Murray of Durham University, who spoke at the Clifton Conference about the Council Decree on Ecumenism. He claimed there was a disparity between the Church the Bishop of Rome presides over and the Church of God!

According to Prof Murray, (age 48), ‘the Church of Rome has deficiencies but seeds of the Truth may fall outside it and germinate. So aspects of the Truth may be better developed beyond its visible boundaries.' So much for Our Lord's promise that He, Who is Truth itself, would be with His Church all days even until the end of the world . (Matt.28 v20.) The priest who thanked Prof. Murray, praised this kind of ecumenism, as much better than the old fashioned kind, which was described by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor as “you-come-in-ism”!

We are indebted to Catholic Truth , Scotland for their report on a Scottish Course, held in Glasgow which was called Fifty Years On – a review of what was achieved - Vatican II. Here Father Michael Smith S.J., who could only have been a young child before Vatican II assured his audience that the Bible was unread before Vatican II and the Holy Spirit was largely ignored! I was thirty four when Vatican II began and I can assure Father Smith that he is wrong on both counts. We studied the Bible as pupils and I taught it as a teacher later. I also remember that Pope Pius XII, to encourage adults to keep up their knowledge of the Bible after they left school, decreed that any Catholic spending twenty minutes a day reading the Bible received a special blessing. This still stands.

Likewise we learnt prayers and hymns to the Holy Spirit, we knew about His seven gifts and their twelve fruits.

Our Lord told us that “By their fruits will you know them” and official records show that, unlike the fruits of Modern Catechetics, the fruits of pre-Vatican II Religious Instruction were crowded churches for Sunday Mass and for the non-obligatory Rosary, Sermon and Benediction, plenty at weekday Masses, packed seminaries and noviciates, as well as a steady stream of converts.

So if we decide to celebrate this Jubilee let us be honest about Vatican II, what it actually decreed and what the results really are. Study the written documents if you like, but in the light of traditional Church teaching and of all the previous Councils of the Church. Forget the fictitious Spirit of Vatican II, we hear too much about, and keep to the facts. Finally, whenever possible, learn from those who were actually there, such as Bishop Ellis, then Bishop of Nottingham, who as soon as he returned home from the final session called his priests together and told them “NOTHING HAS CHANGED”.

Our Blessed Mother, filled with loving concern for us, and realising how very serious this present crisis would be, took the unprecedented step of warning us about it four hundred years ago. Mother Mariana's Convent has prayed about it ever since, but the warning was not revealed to the rest of us until now so that enemies of the Church would not be able to alter anything Our Lady said.

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