The Hubris of Vatican II

According to the Council, man is the only creature on earth that "God willed for itself." 

This seemingly innocuous statement is found in Vatican II's Gaudium et Spes. But prouncements of this type stand condemned under a formal anathema, pronounced at Vatican I, since they deny that God created all things for Himself and His glory.  Nothing in the universe was created for its own sake.

This condemned proposition has made its way into the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and is used to justify the man-centered post-Conciliar "new theology."  It is one of the building blocks of John Paul II's thesis of Universal Salvation, and of his Theology of the Body.

 

The purpose of this paper is to establish that said proposition is a true heresy.

by Frank Rega


It is common, even among Traditionalist Catholic defenders of Vatican II, to assert that the Council documents in themselves contain no formal error or heresy. It is often asserted that the Holy Spirit guided its pronouncements and prevented any heterodoxy, even though as a pastoral rather than dogmatic Council, it was not under the seal of infallibility.

In view of the prolonged crisis in the Church, optimistic statements of this type should not be taken for granted. Rather, they ought to be questioned in light of the renewed call for a serious critical discussion of the Council proposed by Msgr. Brunero Gherardini, and reported in recent issues of The Remnant (1), and The Angelus (2, 3). To heed this call in a meaningful manner entails questioning the Council at a deeper – perhaps more unpleasant – level, has hitherto been done by Traditionalists.

Specifically, hard truths must be faced regarding the heterodoxy of certain statements set forth in the Conciliar documents, without however embarking on the path of sedevacantism. If necessary, a heresy must be openly branded a heresy, rather than labeled a theological error, falsehood, untruth, pastoral expression, ambiguity or other similar term that dances around the elephant in the room.

For example, what is to be made of the below pronouncement in Gaudium et Spes, 24:3, affirming that that man is the only creature on earth that God willed for itself? Divine Revelation, on the contrary, states that God made all things for Himself (Proverbs 16:4).

Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, "that all may be one. . . as we are one" (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God's sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself (4).

This same statement from GS 24:3 is directly quoted within the Catechism of the Catholic Church, officially promulgated in its 1997 Latin edition by John Paul II:

It is common, even among Traditionalist Catholic defenders of Vatican II, to assert that the Council documents in themselves contain no formal error or heresy. It is often asserted that the Holy Spirit guided its pronouncements and prevented any heterodoxy, even though as a pastoral rather than dogmatic Council, it was not under the seal of infallibility.

In view of the prolonged crisis in the Church, optimistic statements of this type should not be taken for granted. Rather, they ought to be questioned in light of the renewed call for a serious critical discussion of the Council proposed by Msgr. Brunero Gherardini, and reported in recent issues of The Remnant (1), and The Angelus (2, 3). To heed this call in a meaningful manner entails questioning the Council at a deeper – perhaps more unpleasant – level, has hitherto been done by Traditionalists.

Specifically, hard truths must be faced regarding the heterodoxy of certain statements set forth in the Conciliar documents, without however embarking on the path of sedevacantism. If necessary, a heresy must be openly branded a heresy, rather than labeled a theological error, falsehood, untruth, pastoral expression, ambiguity or other similar term that dances around the elephant in the room.

For example, what is to be made of the below pronouncement in Gaudium et Spes, 24:3, affirming that that man is the only creature on earth that God willed for itself? Divine Revelation, on the contrary, states that God made all things for Himself (Proverbs 16:4).

Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, "that all may be one. . . as we are one" (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God's sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself (4).

This same statement from GS 24:3 is directly quoted within the Catechism of the Catholic Church, officially promulgated in its 1997 Latin edition by John Paul II:

Of all visible creatures only man is "able to know and love his creator". He is "the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake," and he alone is called to share, by knowledge and love, in God's own life. It was for this end that he was created, and this is the fundamental reason for his dignity (CCC #356).

Pope John Paul II himself, in a speech before a General Audience, expounded on GS 24:3, concluding that man "is an end in itself."

Created in the image and likeness of God, man is the sole visible creature that the Creator has "willed for itself." In the world subject to God's transcendent wisdom and power, man is also a being which is an end in itself, though having his finality in God. As a person he possesses his own finality (auto-teleology), by virtue of which he tends to self-realization (5).

However, as theologian Romano Amerio writes in Iota Unum, to state that God willed man for its own sake rather than for His own sake, is possible, " . . . only if one indulges the anthropocentric tendencies of the modern mentality . . . " (6).

The sharpest criticism of GS 24:3 has come from the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).  Let us consider some examples of how the SSPX has addressed the issue.

In a "Q&A" feature of The Angelus (7), this question is posed: "Is it possible to say that the post-Conciliar Church is a new religion, and if so, how can it be considered as Catholic?"

The answer is presented in a section called "The Overturning of Ends," It includes a pointed criticism of GS 24:3, maintaining that it serves the purpose of ordering the Church towards man rather to God.

The heart of our holy religion is man’s vocation to "praise, reverence and serve God," as the catechism teaches us. Not so for Vatican II. Man is no longer ordered to God, but to man. It is the service of man rather than the service of God which is its final end; "it is man, therefore, who is the key to this discussion" (GS, 3), for "man is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake" (ibid., 24), and so consequently the purpose of religion is for man to "fully discover his true self" (ibid.).

In an online excerpt from the book Most Asked Questions about the Society of St. Pius X (8), this question is posed: What are Catholics to think of Vatican II? As part of the answer, a table is presented which compares Vatican II teaching to Roman Catholic teaching, containing thirteen entries.

The very first table entry contains this for Vatican II teaching: "Man is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake (Gaudium et Spes, 24)."  The opposing entry for Roman Catholic teaching is this: "The Lord hath made all things for Himself (Prov. 16)."

In a third example, the website for the District of Asia features an article from SiSiNoNo (9). After commenting on GS 24:3, it presents a quotation containing a very strong condemnation of it:

The statement is manifestly absurd and incompatible with the very notion of a divine creation out of nothing, which is a dogma of the Faith. It contains a patent theological error, since God has created all things, as it has always been taught, for Himself, for His own glory, and not because of some value that His creation would possess intrinsically and thus independently of the God who created it.

Following this quotation, the SSPX article makes a salient observation: "Indeed, if man has been created for himself, why should he not act in accord with his own nature and make himself autonomous, determining for himself what is good and what is evil?"

To say that man exists for his own sake and is his own end, is to affirm a certain independence from God, even a separation. He becomes in a sense his own god. But is this not the essence of the Original Sin – you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil? Let us revisit part of the previous citation from John Paul II’s General Audience talk, "As a person he possesses his own finality (auto-teleology), by virtue of which he tends to self-realization." Auto-teleology is the property of having a self-referential purpose: one’s existence is one’s goal (10).

If man is to be concerned with self-realization and auto-teleology, how is he to abide by the precept to follow Jesus Christ, who is the only Way, by carrying one’s cross through self-denial? Attempting to find some kind of self-fulfillment without reference to God is nothing less than man being his own god. GS 24:3 thus promulgates the same self-will that caused us to enter our fallen state in the first place. Again – the Original Sin.

Finally, one might say that perhaps God did not create man for his own sake, but because of God’s goodness and love He wills mankind good and happiness for its own sake. But even the willing of a good for man is for the sake of God’s own goodness, and only secondarily for the sake of man’s good:

In the case of God it is evident that His own infinite goodness is the primary and necessary object of His will, created goodness being but a secondary and contingent object (11).

 

The Teaching of the Church

 

Let us compare the statement that man "is the only creature on earth that God willed for itself," to Divine Revelation, Tradition, and the Magisterium, all of which clearly and definitively establish that the Creator willed man for Himself, for His praise and glory.

Scripture:

"The Lord hath made all things for Himself" (Proverbs 16:4).

"For it became Him, for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, Who had brought many children into glory, to perfect the author of their salvation, by His passion" (Hebrews 2:10).

"And every one that calleth upon My name, I have created him for My glory, I have formed him, and made him" (Isaiah 43:7).

"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, saith the Lord God, Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty" (Apocalypse 1:8).

"Thou art worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory, and honour, and power: because Thou hast created all things; and for Thy will they were, and have been created" (Apocalypse 4:11).

"Who hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children through Jesus Christ unto himself: according to the purpose of his will: Unto the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he hath graced us in his beloved son" (Ephesians 1: 5-6).

"That we may be unto the praise of his glory, we who before hoped in Christ" (Ephesians 1:12).

Magisterium:

"If anyone does not confess that the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, were produced, according to their whole substance, out of nothing by God; or holds that God did not create by his will free from all necessity, but as necessarily as he necessarily loves himself; or denies that the world was created for the glory of God: Let him be an anathema" (Vatican I, Denzinger, 1805).

"It is surely unnecessary to prove, what experience constantly shows and what each individual feels in himself, even in the very midst of all temporal prosperity – that in God alone can the human will find absolute and perfect peace. God is the only end of man" Pope Leo XIII (12).

"The same Holy Mother Church holds and teaches that God, the beginning and end of all things, can be known with certitude by the natural light of human reason from created things" (Vatican I, Denzinger, 1785).

"God created everything for man, but man in turn was created to serve and love God and to offer all creation back to him" (CCC #358).

(Yes, just two paragraphs after the Vatican II Catechism stated that God willed man for its own sake, the Catechism now states that man was created to love and serve God. Which is it? Modernism-progressivism complacently accepts such vague and doubtful contradictions, intentionally mixing faith and philosophy, fact and opinion, as explained in an excerpt presented in the appendix from the encyclical of St. Pius X on Modernism, Pascendi.)

Tradition:

"Furthermore, the entire universe, with all its parts, is ordained towards God as its end, inasmuch as it imitates, as it were, and shows forth the Divine goodness, to the glory of God. Reasonable creatures, however, have in some special and higher manner God as their end, since they can attain to Him by their own operations, by knowing and loving Him. Thus it is plain that the Divine goodness is the end of all corporeal things" St. Thomas Aquinas (13).

"It is written (Proverbs 16:4): ‘The Lord hath made all things for Himself.’ But God is outside the entire order of the universe. Therefore the end of all things is something extrinsic to them" St. Thomas Aquinas (14).

"He created with a purpose; He destined His creatures to some end. That end was, could be, no other than Himself; for nothing existed but Himself, nothing but Himself could be an end worthy of His action" (15).

 

A Heretical Proposition (propositio haeretica)

 

Thus Divine Revelation, Magisterium and Tradition unequivocally belie the gratuitous Conciliar proposition that man is his own end, created "for itself."

This contention in Gaudium and Spes and in the new Catechism that God willed mankind for its own sake is presented in an arbitrary, casual manner, almost as an aside, as if it were a matter of common knowledge or common sense, without any reasons given to support this previously unheard of thesis. Were none deemed necessary, since the Council in its hubris has decreed it to be true?

Here we have a clear and obvious contradiction. Either man was created for God, or he was created for his own sake, "for itself." Since God created all things for Himself, to say that an object of the creation was not created for God would belie the truth. More specifically, would it constitute a formal heresy to solemnly affirm, while fully aware of perennial Church teaching on the subject, that man was created for itself rather than for God? Yes. The conclusion is inescapable.

Using the criteria specified in Dr. Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (16), the statement that God made all things for Himself is a dogma of Divine Faith (fides divina) by reason of its Divine Revelation in Holy Scripture, explicitly and immediately revealed by God. It is also a dogma of Catholic Faith (fides catholica) on account of its promulgation by the teaching authority of the Church.

A proposition that is opposed to formal dogma is subject to the highest theological censure, it is: "A Heretical Proposition (propositio haeretica)." The statement that man "is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself," must logically receive this censure should the Church officially pronounce on it.   However, this should not be necessary, since it already stands condemned under the anathema prounounced by Vatican I - see the first item under the heading Magisterium above, referring to the creation of world and everything in it.  Holy Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium make it clear that absolutely no creature is an end in itself, or was created for itself or for its own sake, rather than for God.

"If a baptized person deliberately denies or doubts a dogma properly so-called, he is guilty of the sin of heresy, and automatically becomes subject to the punishment of excommunication" (17).

God cannot contradict Himself. It is impossible for the same Holy Spirit who inspired the Scripture citations given above, to inspire a Conciliar document containing the assertion that man was created for itself. Ergo, Gaudium and Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, is not the work of the Holy Spirit, thus putting the entire Council under a cloud of suspicion that it is the work of man, and not God. If the Holy Spirit truly guided the Council, then proving the existence of this single heresy would be impossible. The existence of even one such statement (there may be others, see note 18) prevents one from making the blanket declaration that the Council was the work of the Holy Spirit.

In closing, let us consider two illustrations of the use of GS 24:3 in the philosophy and theology of Pope John Paul II.

He cites it in formulating his notion of unconditional Universal salvation. He associates man as willed by God for his own sake, to man’s creation in God’s image and likeness, in an attempt to demonstrate that each man is "chosen" by God from eternity, and is united with Christ forever. Thus each and every person in the entire world, baptized or not, shares in the mystery of the Redemption from the moment of his conception.

Accordingly, what is in question here is man in all his truth, in his full magnitude. We are not dealing with the "abstract" man, but the real, "concrete", "historical" man. We are dealing with "each" man, for each one is included in the mystery of the Redemption and with each one Christ has united himself for ever through this mystery . . . The object of her [the Church’s] care is man in his unique unrepeatable human reality, which keeps intact the image and likeness of God himself. The Council points out this very fact when, speaking of that likeness, it recalls that "man is the only creature on earth that God willed for itself". Man as "willed" by God, as "chosen" by him from eternity and called, destined for grace and glory – this is "each" man, "the most concrete" man, "the most real"; this is man in all the fullness of the mystery in which he has become a sharer in Jesus Christ, the mystery in which each one of the four thousand million human beings living on our planet has become a sharer from the moment he is conceived beneath the heart of his mother (19).

John Paul II also employs the false dogma from GS 24:3 as a foundational principle for his controversial Theology of the Body, and makes the perplexing statement that the human body has a "nuptial meaning" because God willed man for its own sake.

He goes on to state that man’s original happiness consisted in "the revelation and discovery of the nuptial meaning of the body." No mention is made of the fact that man’s original happiness was spiritual and God-oriented, a result of his living in communion with God and God’s will.

Below are some excerpts from his talk before a General Audience in 1980 (20).

He accepts her as she is willed "for her own sake" by the Creator, as she is constituted in the mystery of the image of God through her femininity. Reciprocally, she accepts him in the same way, as he is willed "for his own sake" by the Creator, and constituted by him by means of his masculinity. The revelation and the discovery of the nuptial meaning of the body consists in this.

This nuptial meaning of the human body can be understood only in the context of the person. The body has a nuptial meaning because the human person, as the Council says, is a creature that God willed for his own sake. At the same time, he can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself.

The revelation and discovery of the nuptial meaning of the body explain man's original happiness.

The biography of Pope John Paul II from the Holy See Press Office states: "Besides taking part in Vatican Council II (1962-1965) where he made an important contribution to drafting the Constitution Gaudium et spes, Cardinal Wojtyla participated in all the assemblies of the Synod of Bishops” (21). One cannot be faulted for concluding that the insertion of GS 24:3 in that document was most likely a contribution of the future Pope.

 

Appendix

 

The construct that man is the only creature God willed for itself perfectly fits into the Modernist modus operandi described by St. Pius X in this excerpt from his encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis (22).

 

Faith Subject to Science

Conclusion of section 17.

The Modernists completely invert the parts, and to them may be applied the words of another Predecessor of Ours, Gregory IX., addressed to some theologians of his time: Some among you, inflated like bladders with the spirit of vanity strive by profane novelties to cross the boundaries fixed by the Fathers, twisting the sense of the heavenly pages . . .to the philosophical teaching of the rationals, not for the profit of their hearer but to make a show of science . . . these, seduced by strange and eccentric doctrines, make the head of the tail and force the queen to serve the servant.

The Methods of Modernists

Section 18. This becomes still clearer to anybody who studies the conduct of Modernists, which is in perfect harmony with their teachings. In the writings and addresses they seem not unfrequently to advocate now one doctrine now another so that one would be disposed to regard them as vague and doubtful. But there is a reason for this, and it is to be found in their ideas as to the mutual separation of science and faith. Hence in their books you find some things which might well be expressed by a Catholic, but in the next page you find other things which might have been dictated by a rationalist. When they write history they make no mention of the divinity of Christ, but when they are in the pulpit they profess it clearly; again, when they write history they pay no heed to the Fathers and the Councils, but when they catechise the people, they cite them respectfully. In the same way they draw their distinctions between theological and pastoral exegesis and scientific and historical exegesis. So, too, acting on the principle that science in no way depends upon faith, when they treat of philosophy, history, criticism, feeling no horror at treading in the footsteps of Luther, they are wont to display a certain contempt for Catholic doctrines, or the Holy Fathers, for the Ecumenical Councils, for the ecclesiastical magisterium; and should they be rebuked for this, they complain that they are being deprived of their liberty. Lastly, guided by the theory that faith must be subject to science, they continuously and openly criticise the Church because of her sheer obstinacy in refusing to submit and accommodate her dogmas to the opinions of philosophy; while they, on their side, after having blotted out the old theology, endeavour to introduce a new theology which shall follow the vagaries of their philosophers.

 

Endnotes

  1. Brian Mersshon, Book review of The Ecumenical Council II: A Much Needed Discussion, by Brunero Gherardini, The Remnant, Nov. 15, 2010, p. 5.
  2. "The Missed Debate," Cristina Siccardi, The Angelus, Aug./Sept. 2011, pp. 40-43.
  3. "A Dark Cloud in the Conciliar Sky," Come de Previgny, The Angelus, June 2010, pp. 34-36.
  4. Gaudium et Spes, (sec. 24, para. 3) www.vatican.va.
  5. "Divine Providence and Human Freedom," Pope John Paul II, address to General Audience May 21, 1986, www.vatican.va.
  6. Amerio, Romano, Iota Unum (Kansas City, Sarto House, 2004), p. 130.
  7. The Angelus, April 2003, Q&A, "A New Religion?" http://www.sspx.org/Catholic_FAQs/post-conciliar_church_a_new_religion.htm.
  8. SSPX FAQs, "What are Catholics to Think about Vatican II?" http://www.sspx.org/SSPX_FAQs/q6_vatican_ii.htm.
  9. "New Theology," SiSiNoNo, August, 2004, No. 59; the reference for the   quotation is Paolo Pasqualucci, Politico e Religione (Rome: Antonio Pellicani Editore, 2001), p.59. http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/SiSiNoNo/2004_August/New_Theology_Sin.htm.
  10. "Autoteology," http://matterthinks.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/autoteleology/.
  11. Toner, Patrick. "The Nature and Attributes of God." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06612a.htm.
  12. Pope Leo XIII, Tametsi Futura Prospicientibus)." www.vatican.va.
  13. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Pt. 1, Q. 65, A.2.
  14. St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Pt. 1, Q. 103, A.2.
  15. Fox, James. "Glory." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06585a.htm.
  16. Ott, Ludwig, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (Rockford Ill., TAN Books and Publishers, 1974), pp. 4-10.
  17. Ibid., p. 5.
  18. For example, in the same section 24 of Gaudium et Spes that we are concerned with, is the sentence: "For this reason, love for God and neighbor is the first and greatest commandment." This is an obvious denial of the actual Great Commandment, a denial that puts the human person of man and the Divine persons of the Trinity on the same level, and fails to distinguish the type of love to be shown to each.
  19. Pope John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, www.vatican.va.
  20. "The Human Person Becomes a Gift in the Freedom of Love," Pope John Paul II address to General Audience, January 16, 1980, www.vatican.va.
  21. "His Holiness John Paul II, Short Biography – Holy See Press Office, www.vatican.va.
  22. Pope St. Pius X, Pascendi Dominici Gregis, www.vatican.va.

  


 
 

  

 

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Frank Rega is the author of:  Padre Pio and America,
St. Francis of Assisi and the Conversion of the Muslims,

The Greatest Catholic President: Garcia Moreno of Ecuador
  Life of the Mystic Luisa Piccarreta - Journeys in the Divine Will 
vols. 1 and 2
Life of the Mystic Luisa Piccarreta - volume 3 in preparation
 The Truth about Padre Pio's Stigmata and Other Wonders of the Saint
Vatican II, Evolution, and Medjugorje: Hubris, Heresy, and Mystery 

www.frankrega.com      www.sanpadrepio.com   www.thepoverello.com    www.lifeofluisa.com

 

 


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