Some Myths about Vatican II

Author: Michael Hains


A curious myth has arisen that the Vatican Council overturned many doctrines that the Catholic Church had previously taught.

So far reaching is this revolution supposed to have been that it would almost be pointless, some think, to consult theological books of, say, 30 years ago if one wanted to know whether a particular claim is part of the Church's official doctrinal teaching.

New Church

Since Vatican II, it appears, we are in a new Church. Yet the people who have this outlook are also ready to stress that Vatican II, unlike other General Councils, was pastoral, not dogmatic. Which presents us with an intriguing problem.

How did a Council which wasn't dogmatic manage to change so many teachings? The truth is that Vatican II didn't contradict any official position on doctrine or morals. All that the Church taught when Vatican II began is still Catholic teaching. The changes whether made by the Council or decided upon since, are in practical matters such as the liturgy or discipline, but always leaving doctrine unchanged.

When people say otherwise, they are often at a loss if asked for examples: or if they do offer alleged examples, these turn out to be spurious.

The illusion of change has been promoted by people who have lost their belief in many Catholic positions.

They tell themselves that the things they disagree with are no longer in force, that Vatican II (or perhaps the spirit of Vatican II!) did away with them.

The illusion is strengthened by the notion, very prevalent today, that the Church has few infallible teachings. Someone told me he understands there are only half a dozen or so; while a few bold spirits say there are two!

In fact there are dozens of infallibly defined doctrines, covering a whole range including the nature of God, the Blessed Trinity, creation, the angels, man, original sin, grace, Jesus Christ, redemption, Our Lady, the Church and much more.

Vatican II was in complete harmony with sacred Tradition, but is often distorted to suit a particular view. When one actually reads the documents, without prejudice, one sees how wonderfully traditional they are. However, it is surprisingly how easily one can be influenced by the myth of change.

Take what I said above about the alleged pointlessness of consulting 30 year old books on doctrine.

Even people with an orthodox Catholic outlook may feel dubious about such a book, with no more reason than the fact that it was published before Vatican II.