The White Lily Blog

Gherardini to Holy Mother Church: Examine the Council!

Msgr. Bruno Gherardini has served as a canon of St. Peter’s Basilica, undersecretary of the Pontifical Academy of Theology, professor emeritus at the Pontifical Lateran University, and postulator of the canonization cause of Blessed Pope Pius IX. He is now eighty-five years old and has been called the last living theologian of the pre-Conciliar “Roman School.” In 2009, he released The Ecumenical Vatican Council II: a Much Needed Discussion.  Because of his credentials, and because of his independence from traditionalist organizations, the book is especially important.  It provides a firm response to those who say that ‘the council was fine but the implementation was wrong’, or that the ‘only thing wrong with Vatican II was the mass that accompanied its implementation.’  Gherardini argues clearly that the Council has doctrinal issues that cannot be dismissed.  He argues that the constitutions must be revisited with a heuristic of theology, an examination the council originally dodged (as a deliberate ploy) by calling itself pastoral, and which it continues to dodge, to the present, as Benedict XVI fails to focus comprehensively on the dimension or hermeneutic of doctrinal error in Vatican II.  Only through such a systematic examination can we find those buried word spells that have bewitched our Holy Mother Church.  (The terms may be apt, as Gherardini himself suggests that diabolical forces are at work.)

Below are some quotes from this book that the reader might find interesting.  They are not meant to discourage him from obtaining the book and reading it in its entirety; these few quotes hardly exhaust the treasure!

“It is not by chance that the Spirit of the Council was spoken of. The council had liberally spread this.  By its confidence in man and his progress, by calling attention to social- political- cultural experimentation: something which was already taking place in much of the church and which exploded in an almost uncontrollable manner afterwards, through its invitation to dialogue and collaborate with every one for a world more suited for man, through its open irenicism to every brewing opposition [irenicism meaning here, ‘don’t stand and fight openly, make nice, disarm them, and then do as you please’], through its imposing silence on all bearers of bad tidings” (88) are all ways the Council manifested its spirit.

Gherardini says that this spirit is part and parcel with the Council, engrafted by its hidden patrons “into the conciliar stump, with all of its effects,” that this spirit of “opening up to the world” was a deliberate rejection of the “old fashioned” syllabus of Blessed Pius IX and the anti-modernism Pascendi of Saint Pius X.   Gherardini thus challenges the assertion that the council was not a rupture with tradition.  When the spirit of Vatican II was “put into action, it was –and continues to be –a hermeneutic of rupture.” (90)

Very clearly, very simply, Monsignor Gherardini says (what Archbishop Lefebvre said, although Gherardini denies SSPX [without naming it] the right to disobey in the name of tradition) that ” in all truth, modernism hid itself under the cloak of Vatican II’s hermeneutic. . . .  Practically everywhere the climate immediately after the council breathed ‘mature’ conscience now released from the careful watch of the Holy See and its working structures, free from scholastic philosophy and theology, free from ‘Denzinger’ and free from history itself.” (91)  (Denzinger’s Enchiridion Symbolorum was the definitive authority on Catholic doctrine up to Vatican II, like a theologian’s catechism; it was republished with traditional statements that contradicted the Council’s teachings removed, in 1965!)  (It would be well to understand the crisis in celibacy the Church is suffering in the perspective of Gherardini’s remarks, for there are official documents on sexual matters written by the Holy Father himself as prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith that contradict traditional teaching .)

As noted above, Monsignor Gherardini does not appear to support SSPX (although they are calling for the same re-examination he is pleading for as well).  He apparently rejects them along with sedevacantists when he says, “Reiterated accusation of illegitimacy for every pontiff after Pius XII is none other than pure delirium deprived of any historical weight or theological basis.  And just as delirious are those who, although recognizing the legitimacy of each of the successors after such an immortal pontiff, deny unconditional obedience to the negative outcomes to which his deviations and those of Vatican II might have had and might still have on the church.” (40) Nor does Gherardini reject the Council. “Vatican II was truly a great council.  In recognizing the eloquent and paradoxical mark of the Creator Spirit who passes through history and the church watering the furrows, one is not outside of reality.” (40)

SSPX may be said to reply (please forgive an amateur defense) that one owes one’s obedience to the whole teaching of the church, to tradition, that only under those conditions may the complicated mechanism of inerrancy function.  Schismatics earn the appellation heretic because their objective is to alter the tradition of the Church.  SSPX on the contrary wishes to defend the tradition of the Church against those who would alter it, by subterfuge and not by honest theological struggle, but rather by avoiding that struggle and hiding behind the declaration that Vatican II was ‘merely pastoral,’ and therefore fell and still falls outside the Church’s mandated investigation of doctrinal statements.  The same dishonest tactic always worked well for Saul Alinsky.  Vatican II has had the effect of doctrinal teaching regardless of its declaration or its intention.  SSPX is only asking for that theological examination now, transparently, in front of the world, the poor world that has seen the fruits of Vatican II and is perhaps inoculated now from all that glittering and dazzling emptiness.

Thus, it might be respectfully said that Gherardini’s work is not free from some internal contradiction.  But it is a thorough, moving and, in the end, devastating analysis. It is another banner raised for the Restoration of our Faith. Let us pray with all our hearts, and mortify ourselves, and perform acts of penance, and let us in short storm heaven, that the Holy Father hears his plea for a re-examination.

Ordering information for The Ecumenical Vatican Council II: a Much Needed Discussion may be obtained here.

8 Comments so far
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[…] is much more at the original site and here, on the anthropocentric philosophy behind so many of the council documents.  Go check it […]

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Thanks, Janet! Well Msgr. Gherardini does seem a bit “complex”, if not self-contradictory.

Would you check the 3rd to last paragraph? I’m not sure if that’s a poor translation of just some typos. I’m having some trouble understanding it.

Comment by Chris Brennan

I think he’s self-contradictory as well, and gets muddled up. An example might be, “If someone were to ask me if, in the final analysis, the modernist corruption had hidden itself within the Council documents themselves, and if the Father themselves were more or less infected, I would have to respond both yes and no.” (92) It seems to me that this ambivalence is refracted throughout the work. And small wonder–the flock-eating chasm looming on the one side is sedevacantism! (A young SSPX priest commented in passing to me the other day, regarding some new horror, shaking his head, ‘It sure helps make the sedevacantists’ case,” and it brought home to me how distressing some of the logical extensions of some lines of inquiry can be.)

Or consider this statement which I think addresses SSPX: “And just as delirious are those who although recognizing the legitimacy of each of the Successors after such an immortal Pontiff [Pius XII], deny unconditional obedience to the negative outcomes to which his deviations and those of Vatican II might have had and might still have on the Church.” (40) It’s like saying to us, trust, and throw your children into the fire.

But regarding Gherardini’s fragilities, not my job to number them, in my opinion. That, faithful son that he is and has been, he is calling for an examination of the Council from the point of view of the doctrine within, that’s enough. That all it would take. And his observations and memories as he covers the ‘yes’ is so devastating.

But listen, I can’t find what paragraph you refer to, the third from the end–of what? If you come back and get this reply, please let me know! I don’t want to use your email address without your permission. And thank you so much for your comment and your attention.

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

The 3rd to last paragraph in the article above. It starts with: “As noted above, Monsignor Gherardini does not appear to support SSPX…”. About half way through, it says: “after such an immortal pontiff, do not I unconditional all begins to the negative outcomes…”. I see you have already unscrambled these words in your reply to my previous comment, but they are still mixed up in the article above.

The good Monsignor appears a bit Heigelian, like someone else in Rome…

Comment by Chris Brennan

Oh THAT third paragraph! It’s fixed now, thank you so much! It got right past me, proofing this. I used Word’s voice recognition software to write this piece, which (except for that one error!!) handled even ‘Gherardini’! Did you ever try it? I crocheted at the open window, comfortable in a rocking chair, all the while opining, and outside the wind June wind whispered through the green, green trees. (Wow! That gibberish in the sentence you showed me–maybe that was the wind! Maybe Word has done it, deciphered the world sounds)! Really thank you for calling my attention to it twice!

I read someone who commented, ‘Liberals are always bad writers because they contradict themselves so often.’ Possibly they suffer from weak memories? Gherardini does so, and that other Hegelian. The documents refered to in Holy Smoking Gun are particularly torturous. It’s like he never lived in the real world at all. Because that’s where contradictions get you hung in the underbrush. I can’t imagine surviving a classroom full of teenagers, as I did, giving the mixed signals he gives in those documents. ‘Let your speech be yes yes, or no no.’ But I like it put this way: ‘Is you is or is you ain’t my baby?’ You know, that Kansas style.

I feel that I know you.

Comment by thewhitelilyblog

This book can also be ordered through the Academy of the Immaculate, a traditional Catholic apostolate in the USA.

Copies of Msgr. Gherardini’s book are $25 each plus shipping. Mike Coffey, FTI can be contacted for orders directly at or 1-888-906-2742.

I spoke with Mr Coffey this morning, which was a pleasure, and he has stock on hand.

Comment by Timothy

The fruits of the darkened intellect. Bad enough among teenagers, tragic in a CDF prefect, or higher.

Comment by Chris Brennan

I deeply appreciate your theological acumen regarding your latest post on a Vatican II book. I have also written on ‘Gadium’ on my blog. Keep up the good work.

Comment by William J. Holland

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