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Vatican II, Pastoral Council
Question from James Louis Baresel on 1/23/2004:

To write that "It may be said that every Council in the Church's history has been a pastoral one, if only because the assembled bishps, under the Pope's guidance, are pastors of the Church" obfuscates the issue. Certainly all general councils of the Church have a certain pastoral nature. The issue is not whether or not the 20 councils of the Church had pastoral elements to them. Of course they did. The question is whether or not Vatican II had dogmatic elements to it. The answer is that it did not.

Pope Paul VI, in his discourse closing Vatican II, said that "The magisterium of the Church did not wish to pronounce itself under the form of extraordinary dogmatic pronouncements."

Quotes such as this make it clear that while other councils were both dogmatic and pastoral Vatican II was only pastoral.

Such quotes from Pope Paul VI and Pope John XXIII can be multiplied but for this I would recomment a reading of Michael Davies book Pope John's Council.

Answer by Fr. John Echert on 1/29/2004:

Thank you James. As I recall, Cardinal Ratzinger has also weighed in on this, distinguishing Vatican II as pastoral, not dogmatic.

Father Echert

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