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Will Schneider Suffer Viganò's Fate for Opposing Vatican II?

Credo is a 'weaponized response to Vatican II' and the Catholic Catechism

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Pope Francis' doctrinal firing squad is poised to execute the pontiff's arch-critic, Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò. With the bravado of an operatic primo uomo (the male equivalent of a prima donna), Viganò is goading his executioners to pull the trigger and excommunicate him.   

The former papal nuncio to the US and high-profile whistleblower has not only been charged with schism, i.e., denying "the legitimacy of Pope Francis" and "rupture of communion with Him." The Vatican summons also accuses Viganò of "rejection of the Second Vatican Council."

The prelate's response to this charge, in his customary mellifluous Italian, has been grandiloquent and blistering: Viganò blasts the Second Vatican Council as representing "the ideological, theological, moral, and liturgical cancer of which the Bergoglian 'synodal church' is the necessary metastasis."

In his nuclear assault on Vatican II, the archbishop says he "repudiate(s) the neomodernist errors inherent in the Second Vatican Council and in the so-called 'post-conciliar magisterium,' in particular in matters of collegiality, ecumenism, religious freedom, the secularity of the State, and the liturgy."

Viganò's repudiation of Vatican II constitutes a serious challenge to the authority of the Roman magisterium and its claim to unchanging continuity, because Catholic ecclesiology holds that an ecumenical council held in union with the pope is infallible — a tenet rigorously argued by St. Robert Bellarmine in his Disputationes de controversiis Christianae fidei adversus huius temporis haereticos

Heinrich Denzinger's The Sources of Catholic Dogma confirms that "Ecumenical Councils together with the Pope confirming them" are "infallible" because they represent the universal church, they are taught by the Holy Spirit, they have never erred on faith and morals, and they are constituted by the bishops.  

The Catholic Church accepts 21 ecumenical or general councils, beginning with Nicaea I (314-335) and culminating in Vatican II (1962–1965). But there is no infallible list of infallible councils, as professor of canon law, Fr. George Nedungatt, S.J. Ph.D., candidly concedes in his peer-reviewed article, "The Council in Trullo Revisited: Ecumenism and the Canon of the Councils."

"Whereas Catholics generally exhibit a longer list of 21 ecumenical councils including the two Vatican Councils," writes Nedungatt, "this is not an official list or canon fixed by any ecumenical council or papal definition or decree."

"During the Counter-Reformation Catholics drew up several lists of ecumenical councils. One such, by Robert Bellarmine, listed 18 of them (omitting Constance but including Trent)," he explains. Roman scholars under Pope Paul V "assumed Bellarmine's list but added to it the Council of Constance."

This took the number of ecumenical councils to 19, "and with the addition of the two Vatican Councils the number grew to 21, although no authoritative church magisterium established this canon," Nedungatt acknowledges. 

Here in Rome, Catholic professors and priests at different pontifical universities give diametrically opposite answers to my question: "Is Vatican II an infallible council?" There are some who take a middle-of-the-road position arguing that some of its contents are infallible. "But who decides what that content is," I ask them, to which the reply is a stony silence. 

If Vatican II is not infallible why should the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith get its knickers in a twist over bishops or theologians who question and even reject its contents? And if Viganò is to be hauled over the coals for rejecting Vatican II, who is next? 

Vatican watchers are wondering whether the head of arch-traditionalist prelate Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Kazakstan and a fierce critic of the Francis pontificate, is next on the DDF guillotine. Schneider is more nuanced, but no less robust, in his broadsides against Vatican II. 

On Monday, the outspoken prelate challenged Pope Francis' impending decision to excommunicate Viganò, warning that "with this act, the Holy See will increase divisions even more."

"I think the pope would be wise and prudent if he were to not excommunicate Archbishop Viganò," Schneider told Religion News Service, while lamenting Viganò's use of "disrespectful language," which is "not edifying or helpful to anyone." 

"He is in error, because he is voicing a new theory of the probably invalid theory of Francis' illegitimate election," Schneider added. The prelate, however, did not discuss Viganò's attacks on Vatican II. 

In his book Credo: Compendium of the Catholic Faith, which is published in the question-and-answer format of a catechism, the bishop not-too-subtly questions the infallibility of Vatican II and suggests that it contains errors which may be corrected by later magisterial pronouncements. 

"Can non-infallible and non-definitive teachings or commands of a pope or council be later reformulated for greater clarity, or even corrected?" Schneider asks. (660) The answer subtly conflates local councils with Vatican II, casting aspersions on the integrity of the latter. 


"Yes. Such teachings can be reformed later by an infallible act of the Magisterium," Schneider replies. But can't the good bishop see that if Vatican II is infallible and, therefore, free from error, a later infallible attempt to correct it would itself be erroneous.

And if Vatican II has erred, the entire theory of conciliar infallibility comes crashing down like a pack of cards! Schneider can't have it both ways.

"Such reformable acts (like forcing Jews to wear distinctive clothing) are especially noticeable among affirmations of the Second Vatican Council that are in themselves ambiguous and can lead to an erroneous understanding," Schneider writes. 

The bishop then proceeds to make his most controversial statement on Vatican II, cleverly wording it in the form of a question: "Why is Vatican II the clearest example of an ecumenical council emitting non-infallible teachings?" (661) 

"Because it was not convoked to infallibly pronounce new dogmas or propose definitive teachings, but to offer a pastoral explanation of the truths of the Faith," Schneider responds, citing Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI's words on the "predominantly pastoral" character of the council. 

Schneider's next question clearly drives a giant wedge between Vatican II and earlier ecumenical councils, virtually creating a novel concept of conciliar authority. "What was the key difference between Vatican II and all previous ecumenical councils?" Schneider asks. 

Vatican II, like earlier general councils, chose not to formulate doctrines "in articles with the clearest possible assertions, and in concise canons with anathemas, to guarantee an unambiguous understanding of the true doctrine and protect the faithful from heretical influences within or outside the Church," he notes. 

"The irony of Bishop Athanasius Schneider's new catechism is that it claims to offer clarification and corrections, but itself contains deep ambiguities and weaknesses that can be misused and exploited against the Faith," Catholic theologian Larry Chapp observes, describing Credo as "a weaponized response to Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church."

Schneider's catechism "directly undermines the Roman magisterium of Pope John Paul II as well as the magisterial authority of Vatican II," notes Chapp, lamenting Schneider's "fatal flaw that can only serve to deepen our ongoing ecclesial divisions."

Apart from challenging Vatican II's Gaudium et Spes, Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate, Schneider also questions the conciliar document on religious liberty, Dignitatis Humanae, and the post-conciliar popes who endorsed its teachings. 

Not surprisingly, the Society of St. Pius X, a splinter sect that broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in opposition to the Second Vatican Council, repeatedly endorses and celebrates Schneider and his attacks on Vatican II, beginning in 2017 with an article on the bishop's criticism of Vatican II.  

Bishop Schneider has opened yet another Pandora's Box. Rome's Rottweilers are already sniffing him out. It is only a matter of time before Pope Francis' doctrine czar, Cdl. Victor Manuel Fernández, sends him a summons from the Holy Office of the Inquisition.  

Dr. Jules Gomes, (BA, BD, MTh, PhD), has a doctorate in biblical studies from the University of Cambridge. Currently a Vatican-accredited journalist based in Rome, he is the author of five books and several academic articles. Gomes lectured at Catholic and Protestant seminaries and universities and was canon theologian and artistic director at Liverpool Cathedral.

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Jun 27

I stand with Vigano and Schneider. 👍✝️😎


----And if Viganò is to be hauled over the coals for rejecting Vatican II, who is next?----

Who's next, indeed. To be sure, those will have both my undivided attention and prayers.

"Forty years I have endured this generation....".

Brillient report, Dr. Jules; more please.

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