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Pastoral Council?

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 Contents - Oct 2010AD2000 October 2010 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Benedict buries ghosts of the Reformation - Peter Westmore
Culture of Death: Euthanasia: latest frontier for legalised death in Australia - Babette Francis
News: The Church Around the World
Youth: Young adult Catholic ministry: hopeful signs continue - Br Barry Coldrey
Real Presence: Nigerian priest brings Eucharistic Adoration to a Brisbane parish - Bob Denahy
New Missal: Why we need the new translation of the Mass - Bishop Peter J. Elliott
Foundations of Faith: Archbishop Hickey: Time to stand up for Christian marriage - Archbishop Hickey
Celebrating National Marriage Day 2010 - David Walsh
Good priests: the Church's essential foot soldiers - Cardinal George Pell
Latin Mass Melbourne: Rosary Sonatas
Pilgrimage: 20th Annual Bendigo to Ballarat Christus Rex Pilgrimage
Letters: Little Angels - Fr M. Shadbolt
Letters: Pastoral Council? - Peter D. Howard
Books: THE PATH TO ROME: Modern Journeys to the Catholic Church - Bishop David Robarts (reviewer)
Books: WEDNESDAY WARRIORS: The St Pat's Ballarat Tradition, by James Gilchrist - Cardinal George Pell (reviewer)
Books: Two upcoming launches of new titles from Freedom Publishing/Gracewing UK
Books: Order books from
Reflection: The faith through symbols and stories - Andrew Kania

James Bogle's description of Vatican II as a "pastoral Council" needs clarification, especially as some call it "only pastoral".

The term "pastoral council" as applied to Vatican II is merely a popular description and does not refer to any specific type of council recognised by the authority of the Catholic Church. There are traditionally councils, or synods, which are styled "national councils," "provincial councils" or "general (ecumenical)" councils, but none styled specifically a "pastoral council."

Pope John XXIII himself, in using the word, spoke of the need of a Church Magisterium "which is predominantly pastoral in character." Pope Paul VI similarly spoke of the "pastoral nature of the Council" in his Weekly General Audience of 12 January 1966, but he didn't call it a "pastoral council".

Vatican II has two Dogmatic Constitutions - the same as Vatican I which issued the dogma on papal infallibility in defining doctrine. In Vatican II, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church ( Lumen Gentium) #25 teaches that bishops "proclaim infallibly the doctrine of Christ ... when ... in their authoritative teaching on faith and morals, they are in agreement that a particular teaching is to be held definitely and absolutely.

"This is still more clearly the case when, assembled in an ecumenical council ... whose decisions must be adhered to with the loyal and obedient assent of faith." Fr John A. Hardon SJ describes this as "collegial infallibility" marking "a turning point in doctrinal history"  (The Catholic Catechism, 1975, Doubleday, pp. 232233).

The Council defined that the assent of will and intellect are required of non-infallible papal teaching, for the first time (LG 25), and that Christ's Church was as indispensable as Christ for the salvation of all mankind (LG 38, op. cit., p. 236).

Of Lumen Gentium #8, that "the sole Church of Christ ... subsists in the Catholic Church", Fr Hardon declares this is "unequivocal for the first time in conciliar history" - namely the Church is not one of many branches (p. 213).

Pope Benedict XVI, as a cardinal, assessed the Council in these words: "Whoever denies Vatican II denies the authority that upholds the other two Councils [Trent and Vatican I] and thereby detaches them from their foundation. To defend the true tradition of the Church today means to defend the Council, [namely] the documents of Vatican II, without reservations that amputate them and without arbitrariness that distorts them"  (The Ratzinger Report, Ignatius 1985, pp. 28-31).

Springwood, Qld

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 23 No 9 (October 2010), p. 14

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