The Goldfish Bowl:
The Catholic Church Since Vatican II


Published on the web with permission of the author.



This brings me at last to the Second Vatican Council. I felt it necessary to provide this long preamble in order to set the Council in its historical perspective. The movements and ideas I have been describing must inevitably have influenced many of the bishops and theologians attending the Council, and hence would probably be discernible in its debates and in its documents. These ideas would rarely have been held explicitly, even by those from such "advanced" countries as Holland, France and Germany. Yet these ideas permeated the societies in which contemporary Catholics lived, and even bishops could no more remain unaffected by them than could the inhabitants of London have remained unaffected by the notorious smog which tainted her atmosphere up to the middle of this century. Rationalism, Modernism, Marxism, democracy, anti-authoritarianism, naturalism, philanthropy---all these attitudes have a common factor---they are concerned exclusively with this world, with man; they are not concerned with the world to come, with God. Man has come of age. The Creator-creature relationship is a thing of the past.

It was thus almost inevitable that whereas previous general councils of the Church had been concerned almost exclusively with spiritual matters, this one would give much of its attention to material concerns; less attention would be given to God, more attention to man. This need not necessarily be a bad thing, for no one can claim to love God who is unconcerned with the plight of those in material need. But such a concern could be a bad thing if it resulted, on a practical level, in Catholics joining the rest of society in making the relief of material deprivation their primary if not exclusive concern. There would then be nothing remaining to distinguish Catholicism from humanism.


The First Vatican Council had been suspended with its work uncompleted when Rome was invaded by the victorious armies of the Italian Revolution in 1870. It is worth noting that almost every leader in the movement for the unification of Italy was a Mason. On two occasions serious consideration was given to convening another general council to complete the work of Vatican I, once under Pope Pius XI and once under Pope Pius XII. On both occasions the project was dropped, not least through fear that it might be infected by the Modernism which was reemerging in the Church once more. Cardinal Billot warned Pope Pius XI that a second Vatican Council might be "maneuvered by the Church's worst enemies, the Modernists" who were already preparing a revolution in the Church, "a new 1789." No one quite knows why Pope John XXIII decided to convene a council. He claimed that it was the result of a Divine inspiration. Others have suggested that the elderly pontiff did not like being thought of as a stop-gap pope and called the council to insure himself a place in history. Well, he certainly did achieve that! He spoke of opening up the windows of the Vatican to let in a little fresh air, but the effect upon the Church is as if a tornado had smashed through it. Cardinal Heenan told us that the Pope and most of the Council Fathers shared an illusion that they had come together for a short convivial meeting. God was merciful in allowing Pope John to die before witnessing the results of his decision to hold a council.
I must make a distinction here. It is the distinction between the Council itself, and the Council as an event, and it is an important distinction. We will first consider the Council in itself, that is, in the teaching found in its sixteen official documents. These documents contain much sound and even inspiring teaching, but some are banal and full of platitudes, and in some places there are unfortunate ambiguities. There was considerable tension between the conservative and progessive Fathers, and where agreement could not be reached, compromise texts were drawn up, which each side could interpret in its own way.
Where Pope John XXIII was concerned, there was no question but that his Council should uphold orthodoxy. In his opening speech he stated:

The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian Doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously ... to transmit that doctrine pure and integral without any attenuation or distortion which throughout twenty centuries, notwithstanding difficulties and contrasts has become the common patrimony of men. That was the Pope's intention. The result was somewhat different.


"I often wonder," wrote Cardinal Heenan in 1968, "what Pope John would have thought had he been able to foresee that his council would provide an excuse for rejecting so much of the Catholic doctrine which he wholeheartedly accepted." The solemn closure of the Council took place in December 1965. By 1967 Pope Paul VI was so alarmed at tendencies appearing throughout the Church that he spoke out in terms reminiscent of St. Pius X in the Encyclical Pascendi, to which I have already referred. St. Pius X described the original Modernists as "partisans of error," working within the "very bosom" of the Church where "they put into operation their designs for her undoing." Pope Paul VI lamented the fact that, "In the very bosom of the Church there appear works by several teachers and writers who, while trying to express Catholic doctrine in new ways and forms, often desire rather to accommodate the dogmas of the Faith to secular modes of thought and expression than be guided by the norms of the teaching authority of the Church."

In 1968 he stated openly that these deviations from orthodoxy were being justified in the name of Vatican II:

It will be said that the Council authorized such treatment of traditional teaching. Nothing is more false, if we are to accept the word of Pope John who launched that aggiornamento in whose name some dare to impose on Catholic dogma dangerous and sometimes reckless interpretations.

Sadly, with very few exceptions, Pope Paul VI tended to do no more than lament abuses. If he had followed the example of St. Pius X and excommunicated those who refused to return to orthodoxy after repeated admonitions, then the situation of the Church today might be very different. There is a paradox here, a tragic paradox. While Pope Paul VI deplored the abuses and deviations from orthodoxy perpetrated in the so-called "Spirit of Vatican II" he was inhibited from taking effective action because, in his own way, he was a prisoner of that very same spirit. I will try to explain why.  


I have already said that we can consider the Council in two ways: in itself and as an event. It was the Council as an event which was primarily responsible for generating the ubiquitous spirit of Vatican II. I have shown in my book Pope John's Council, and I think that few if any commentators on the Council would dispute this, that the most influential people at Vatican II were not the Council Fathers, the bishops, but the expert advisers they brought with them, the periti. This was certainly the opinion of Douglas Woodruff, the outstanding Catholic jouralist in England during the post-war era, and the Editor of The Tablet, when it was a Catholic journal. "Vatican II," he wrote, "has been the Council of the periti." Peritus, plural periti, is the Latin word for an expert adviser. These were the men brought to the Council by the bishops to offer them expert theological advice. In the case of some of the prominent European theologians, they were the very men against whom the Encyclical Humani Generis had been directed. But their views were precisely the views which representatives of the media covering the Council found sympathetic, the very views which coincided with the spirit of the post-war era, man rather than God as the focus of our attention. Some of the periti were given a popular build-up in the media. Hans Kung provides a typical example. He and those who thought like him were presented as fearless champions of freedom and enlightenment, men who would save the Church by making it relevant in the second half of the twentieth centry; and by relevance they meant that the Church must adopt as its principal concern those priorities currently preoccupying the leaders of secular thought. This meant that the Church must have as its primary concern not life in the next world but life in this; the Church must focus the attention of its members not on avoiding sin and practising virtue in order to avoid Hell and attain Heaven, but in combatting poverty, injustice and inequality wherever they are to be found. And in striving to achieve these objectives, Catholics must work with men of any belief or none. Thus not even communism could be condemned. Four hundred and fifty Fathers attempted to have a specific condemnation of atheistic communism included in the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, but their identically worded amendments were suppressed by an act of calculated and arrogant fraud and so could not be debated. To the best of my knowledge, there has not been a specific condemnation of atheistic communism by the Vatican since the Council.
The attitudes I have been describing are not found primarily in the Council documents, although they could be discerned there with the help of hindsight, particuarly in Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. No, these attitudes became widespread as a result of what I have been terming the "Council as an event." The liberal periti, some of whom made it clear later that they were neo-modernists, were able to spend months together in Rome during the years of the Council, living in great comfort at the expense of the ordinary faithful. Instead of being somewhat isolated individuals, often under suspicion, who needed to express their ideas with great caution, they found themselves among dozens of like-minded theologians, and, moreover, the heroes of the hour. They were idolized by the media, they were soon having discussions, official and unofficial, with theologians from other countries, and even giving lectures to the bishops. They were the men who drafted the documents for which the bishops voted, and, as Bishop Lucey of Cork and Ross, Ireland, complained, the periti were, in reality, more powerful than the bishops. They did not, as I have already explained, succeed in getting many of their ideas spelled out explicitly in the Council documents, but sadly, and I say this in all seriousness, the Council in itself, in its official documents, was of far less significance for the future of the Church than the Council as an event. Hundreds of theologians and bishops returned to their own countries in 1965 with a totally different attitude to the Faith from that which they had brought to Rome in 1965. They wouldn't dispute this; in fact, they would glory in the fact. They were men who had "seen the light."


Bishop William Adrian of Nashville, Tennessee, notes how first the American theologians, and then many of the bishops, were converted by the European periti. "Some conservative American bishops," he wrote, "following their second-rate periti, joined the revolutionary group to bring about whatever their mentors thought best. The European periti, who really imposed their theories upon the bishops, were themselves deeply imbued with the errors of Teilhardism and situation ethics, which errors ultimately destroy all Divine faith and morality and all constituted authority."

Bishop Adrian then drew attention to the error which lies at the basis of the confusion in the post-conciliar Church. Please pay particular attention to these words: "They make the person the center and judge of all truth and morality, irrespective of what the Church teaches. It is the root of the evil of this disrespect for authority, Divine and human."

The Bishop was correct, the person becomes the center and judge of all truth and morality irrespective of what the Church teaches. Man, not God, becomes the ultimate arbiter of truth, the ultimate arbiter of what is right and what is wrong. Let me quote a few more words from Bishop Adrian:

These liberal theologians seized on the Council as a means of deCatholicizing the Catholic Church while pretending only to deRomanize it. By twisting words and using Protestant terminology and ideas they succeeded in creating a mess whereby many Catholic priests, religious and laymen, have become so confused that they feel alienated from Catholic culture.


These words were written in 1969, but I am sure they express what many of us feel, that is, totally alienated from what is presented to us today as "Catholic culture." We simply cannot recognize this Faith in most of the religious textbooks imposed upon our children in so-called Catholic schools today; we cannot recognize it in what is imposed upon us as Catholic liturgy in many of our churches; we cannot recognize it in the prefabricated socio-political pseudo-religious claptrap emanating from the commissions which seem to have taken over the government of the Church from the bishops in so many countries today.

And what is the justification for all these aberrations? There is a blanket response to any complaint you will make: you are opposing the Second Vatican Council. Bear in mind that by 1968 Pope Paul VI had protested publicly at the already established practice of invoking the Council to justify "dangerous and sometimes reckless interpretations." In many cases a change imposed in the name of the Council is diametrically opposed to what the Council actually mandated. I will restrain myself from going into great detail on the extent to which this is the case where the liturgy is concerned. Do you regret the fact that in many of our churches Gregorian Chant has been replaced by hymns in what purports to be a folk idiom, often with words and music of almost heroic banality? Dare to complain and you will be castigated as an anti-conciliar rebel. But did you know that Vatican II actually ordered that Gregorian Chant should become the norm for sung Masses? Did you know that there is not a word in any conciliar document ordering or even recommending the entire Mass in the vernacular, Mass facing the people, standing for Communion, Communion in the hand, lay ministers of Communion, thrusting the tabernacles aside to an obscure corner?

"By their fruits you shall know them," the Bible tells us. If we are totally objective we must admit that up to the present, Vatican II has produced no good fruits at all. This might appear to be an outrageous and irresponsible allegation, but a careful examination of the facts will prove that it is totally objective. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre has stated that the reforms enacted in the name of Vatican II "have contributed and are still contributing to the demolition of the Church, the ruin of the priesthood, the destruction of the Sacrifice, and the Sacraments, the disappearance of the religious life, as well as to the emergence of a naturalist and Teilhardian doctrine in universities, seminaries, and the religious education of children---a teaching born of Liberalism and Protestantism, and condemned many times by the solemn Magisterium of the Church."

I have no doubt that there are many who would consider such an allegation unworthy of consideration simply because it had been made by Archbishop Lefebvre. Well, for those who are unwilling to accept this gloomy assessment of the fruits of the Council, let me quote an authority who, one might hope, might not be dismissed so lightly. I refer to Pope Paul VI. The Council had no more ardent advocate than this unhappy Pontiff, but by 1968 he had reached the stage of lamenting the fact that the Church was engaged in a process of self-destruction (autodistruzione). On the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, 1972, he went as far as saying that somehow or other Satan had found an opening into the Church and was suffocating the fruits of the Second Vatican Council. Father Louis Bouyer, the French Oraorian, is one of the most distinguished theologians and liturgists in the Church today. He had been an expert adviser at Vatican II, a peritus (some of the periti were orthodox). Soon after the Council closed, Father Bouyer wrote an enthusiastic book explaining the great benefits it would bring. In 1969 he wrote another book, The Decomposition of Catholicism, in which he set out the reality of the Council as opposed to the hopes it had engendered. "Unless we are blind," he wrote, "we must even state bluntly that what we see looks less like the hoped for regeneration of Catholicism than its decomposition."

The self-destruction of the Church according to Pope Paul VI, the decomposition of Catholicism according to Father Bouyer---that is the reality of the Church since Vatican II. And as for the liturgy, here is Father Bouyer's assessment: "We must speak plainly: there is practically no liturgy worthy of the name today in the Catholic Church."


Officially, of course, the Church is not undergoing a process of self-destruction. We are witnessing not decomposition but renewal. In an article in the Toronto Star this month, 6 October 1984, Cardinal Emmet Carter, an aging and rather silly liberal, heaped praise upon Pope Paul VI and the Second Vatican Council. Cardinal Carter writes:

He was wonderful. It was he who brought the Second Vatican Council to fulfillment and fruition. He implemented its decrees with remarkable insightful application and faithful interpretation. He was harried, hounded, and harassed by small-minded people who were making the fatal error of thinking that the Council had abolished the Catholic Church instead of renewing it.

Well, according to my dictionary, "renewal" involves transferring to new life, invigorating, or regeneration. It would be interesting if Cardinal Carter could tell us exactly where this renewal or regeneration is taking place---certainly not in his own country of Canada where the Catholic Church is characterized by what can only be described as an accelerating degeneration. This is true of almost every country in the Western world. In every aspect of the life of the Church subject to statistical evaluation the renewal of which the Cardinal speaks exists only in the realm of fantasy. In the real world, Mass attendance has decreased by percentages ranging from a modest 22% in England to 70% in France and Holland; there has been a catastrophic decline in Baptisms, as much as 50% in Britain and the U.S.A. Conversions have plunged, seminary enrollment has declined by anything from 25% to 80%, while ordinations have declined by as much as 97%. To make matters worse, there has been an exodus from the priestly and religious life. In the U.S.A. alone, 10,000 priests have abandoned their vocation and over 50,000 nuns have left their convents. I might add that the decline in seminary enrollment and exodus from the priesthood is much less alarming than the fact that many of those being ordained appear to have a very inadequate grasp of the Catholic Faith, which is putting it mildly!

The majority of laymen will have felt the effect of the "spirit of Vatican II" in six main areas: the liturgy; the religious education of Catholic children; the moral teaching of the Church; the increasing political involvement of the clergy, principally on behalf of left-wing causes, ecumenism; and what I will term "democratic dialogue."

Before making a brief comment on each of these areas, I must mention once more the distinction I made earlier between the Council itself and the Council as an event. The abuses, abominations, and imbecilities which now proliferate throughout the Church can rarely be justified by citing a direct instruction of the Council. They originated rather in the ubiquitous "spirit" of the Council which emanated from the Council as an event, but those who complain about any post-conciliar aberration will be condemned for opposing the Second Vatican Council by the priest, bishop, or religious sister perpetrating the abuse; yet in many cases these abuses are diametrically opposed to what the Council actually ordered.

The outrages which scandalize the faithful were not envisaged, let alone mandated, by the bishops who voted for the Council documents on the liturgy. In some cases they were initiated by the zealots who took control of the commissions set up to implement the Council after the bishops had returned to their dioceses. The late Archbishop R. J. Dwyer of Portland, Oregon, the most cultured and erudite American bishop of the post-war era, considered that the greatest mistake of the Council Fathers was to allow the implementation of the Council to fall into the hands of these men, taken in the main from the ranks of the periti.

God forbid that the interpretation of the Council should ever fall into the hands of these men, Cardinal Heenan of England warned. But this is precisely what happened. Other abuses were initiated by rebellious priests, and rather than discipline them the Vatican eventually capitulated and legalized their rebellion. Communion in the hand provides such an example. As every student of history knows, surrendering to the demands of rebels never brings about an end to the rebellion, it simply prompts further demands. In 1980 I had a long discussion with Cardinal Seper who was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican department responsible for doctrinal orthodoxy. He admitted to me that the Pope no longer exercised effective control over the bishops in the U.S.A. A good number of American dioceses are now, to all intents and purposes, autonomous Modernist enclaves, where the only crime is to be loyal to the Pope or to Tradition.

1. Liturgical Abuses

But to return to the subject of the liturgy, Father Bouyer, whom I have already cited, claims that there is practically no liturgy worthy of the name in the Catholic Church today, and that what has been imposed upon us in the name of the Council represents, in fact, a contradiction of what the Fathers of the Council and the great figures of the liturgical movement desired. The Council authorized no more than a moderate liturgical reform which no reasonable person would have opposed. It stated that all lawfully acknowledged liturgical rites were to be preserved and fostered in every way, and that there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly required them. But what has happened? Let Father Joseph Gelineau tell us. Father Gelineau was a peritus at the Council and he has been in the vanguard of the elite corps of liturgical commissars which has been imposing liturgical changes on us since it ended. Father Gelineau is, however, an honest commissar. He makes no secret of what has happened since the Council, and I quote:

To tell the truth, it is a different liturgy of the Mass. This needs to be said without ambiguity: the Roman Rite as we knew it no longer exists. It has been destroyed.

The rite of Mass as you knew it until the post-conciliar revolution began in 1965 was the culmination of a gradual and natural development under the influence of the Holy Ghost which lasted for fifteen hundred years. By the year of Our Lord 1570, it had reached as near perfection as anything upon this earth can be. Father Faber described it as "the most beautiful thing this side.of Heaven."

In the year 1570 Pope St. Pius V codified the Roman Rite of the Mass, as it then existed, forever. No priest, he said, could ever be forced to say any other form of Mass. Vatican II ordered that all lawfully acknowledged rites should be preserved and fostered in every way. That is what the Council ordered. Father Gelineau boasts that the Roman Rite has been destroyed. That is what has happened.

There are two categories of people whose views are listened to with the greatest respect by Catholic bishops today: Protestants and sociologists. Well, here is the testimony of a man who is both a Protestant and sociologist. Professor Peter L. Berger is a Lutheran professor of sociology. In a lecture delivered at the Harvard Club in New York on 11 May 1978, he commented upon the changes in our liturgy from the dispassionate standpoint of a professional sociologist. He remarked that if a thoroughly malicious member of his own profession, bent on injuring the Catholic community as much as possible, had been an adviser to the Church, he could hardly have done a better job.

Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand, probably the greatest Catholic philosopher and lay theologian in the English-speaking world this century, made an almost identical remark:

"Truly," he said, "if one of the devils in C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters had been entrusted with the ruin of the liturgy he could not have done it better."

Malcolm Muggeridge is one of the most distinguished converts received into the Church since the Council. He held back from this step for many years largely due to the crazy antics of so many Catholic clerics. He made the mistake of confusing the Church itself with individual churchmen. He told me in a long interview I had with him last year that he now recognizes this was a mistake, but that he still holds to an opinion he expressed before his conversion that if our bishops stationed men with whips outside our churches to keep people away they could not be doing a more effective job.

I have cited these three men because they are not ignorant, they are not illiterate; their opinions cannot be dismissed as of no consequence as are those of us of lesser intellectual stature who dare to suggest that the new clothes worn by the emperor of the great conciliar renewal do not exist, that the alleged renewal is no more than a delusion concocted by those in authority who dare not face up to the fact of a disintegrating Church.

2. Irreligious Education

The second way in which many Catholic laymen have been affected by the spirit of the Council concerns the education of their children. In place of the Catholic Faith bequeathed to us by Our Lord Jesus Christ, and which He commanded His Church to teach, we are gradually seeing a mish-mash of philanthropy and sociology. Many of the defective texts used today are clearly the progeny of the notorious Dutch Catechism which was published in 1967, within only two years of the closing of Vatican II. The state of the Church in Holland has now disintegrated to the extent that being an orthodox Catholic there is akin to being a Catholic in England during penal times. Professor van der Ploeg, one of Europe's most outstanding Biblical scholars, assessed the Catechism as follows:
The Dutch Catechism is, from one end to the other, a manual of Modernism for which it aims to win an acceptance everywhere. In order not to alarm its readers the true import of its teaching is frequently concealed by deceptive and ambiguous phrasing, although at times the authors have the insolence to flaunt it openly. The Dutch Catechism has already caused incalculable harm throughout the world, as a Roman Cardinal confided to me recently.

The Dutch Catechism was written for adults, but it became the model for countless textbooks for adults and children. Its influence upon the quite deplorable Veritas series, which is widely used in Ireland and Great Britain, is obvious. In a lecture given in Paris on 8 January 1983, Archbishop Ryan of Dublin lamented the fact that in spite of the time, money and energy spent on the production of elaborate textbooks and tapes, many children emerge from the primary and post-primary schools without a basic knowledge of the Faith and the Christian way of life. Canon George Telford is a priest of my own diocese of Southwark. He was, at one time, our Catechetical Director, as well as being Vice Chairman of the National Department of Catechetics. Canon Telford is a very orthodox priest who believed that children in Catholic schools should be taught the Catholic Faith. He fought an almost lone fight for a number of years, enduring much criticism and even abuse, but finally resigned when it was clear that he could expect no backing whatsoever from the bishops in his attempt to uphold orthodoxy. In his letter of resignation he made a statement which says all that needs to be said about contemporary catechetics:

Modern catechetics is theologically corrupt and spiritually bankrupt. Its structures and innovations are irrelevant unmeaningful for Catholic Faith, and can achieve nothing but its gradual dilution. The authentic renewal of catechesis will come not from them but from the faithful.

"Theologically corrupt and spiritually bankrupt"---that is the religious education being given to the generality of children in our Catholic schools today. I cannot imagine anyone better qualified than Canon Telford to make such an assessment.

Cardinal Ratzinger, the present Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, spoke at the same conference as Archbishop Ryan. He admitted candidly that there is a crisis in catechetics; that it had been a fundamental and grave mistake to suppress the catechism; that the method of teaching the Faith had come to be considered as more important than what was taught; that this resulted in the attitude that religion must be adapted to what is acceptable to man, rather than man adapting his life to the demands of the Faith; that behind the rejection of the catechism and the collapse of traditional religious instruction lies a rejection of traditional Catholic dogma; and that the experience of the community is the ultimate criterion for deciding belief. The Cardinal had no hesitation in telling us where we must go to discover what it is that we must believe: it is the Catechism of the Council of Trent published by St. Pius V.

Cardinal Ratzinger's courageous declaration has given new heart to many parents throughout the world who have been fighting the dilution of the Faith for almost twenty years now, and who had been ridiculed for making precisely the claims that the Cardinal has now made. Almost invariably, diocesan bishops had sided with the catechetical directors who were destroying the faith of Catholic children. Parents or teachers who protested at the new texts were told that they were against the Council, that they were ignorant, that they were unChristian---or all three---and a few other things besides! Yet now the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has endorsed their stand, just when some of them were beginning to fear that perhaps they really were ignorant and unbalanced.

 3. Moral Decadence

The third area in which the "Spirit of the Council" has affected the laity is that of the moral teaching of the Church. The Council authorized no departure from the traditional norms, and the Vatican has issued a series of documents upholding the traditional teaching since the Council ended. This is something for which we must be profoundly grateful. Unfortunately, in the majority of dioceses, there is now no aspect of Catholic moral teaching which cannot be questioned or repudiated with impunity, even by priests holding important positions in Catholic institutions; and, with very few exceptions, they are allowed to use these positions to undermine the teaching of the Church and confuse the faithful. Studies in the U.S.A. have revealed that there is now little difference in belief and practice between Catholics and non-Catholics where sexual morality is concerned, and each succeeding poll reveals a higher number of Catholics jumping on the permissive bandwagon, which goes a long way to explaining the plunging rate of Baptisms. Protestants are rightly scandalized at the ease with which Catholics can now obtain marriage annulments; tens of thousands are granted in the U.S.A. each year, where only dozens were granted at the close of the Council, and other countries are following suit. Pope John Paul II is much concerned about this abuse.

4. Political Prelates

My fourth point is that of politics. The Catholic laity will have noticed how preoccupied with politics their bishops have become, or to be more accurate, the commissions which run the bishops. If you complain to your bishop about the use of altar girls, which is a flagrant violation of current Church law, he will be outraged that you dare to take up his time on so trivial a matter when the world is waiting with bated breath for him to settle the problems of El Salvador or Nicaragua, the question of nuclear weapons, or the redistribution of the wealth of the west to the Third World. Such bishops have succumbed totally to the spirit referred to earlier, a spirit which diverts the attention of the believer from his spiritual life, and ultimately of life in the world to come, to exclusively material concerns. In other words, they are now concerned with man and his material needs, no matter how often they may invoke the name of God as the motivation for their endeavors. In an article in The Daily Telegraph on Thursday, 22 October 1984, Dr. Edward Norman who is Dean of Peterhouse, Cambridge, an Anglican, wrote an article entitled "When Churchmen Neglect Our Spiritual Condition." It was concerned with the attitude which I have been describing, an attitude which infects clerics of all the mainstream Christian bodies. Dr. Norman wrote:

However good their intentions, and however properly they may have attuned their yearning for social righteousness, the fact is that contemporary Church leaders frequently fail to appreciate the real nature of their own spiritual function. They have, indeed, succumbed to a material view of man and his purpose in the world. The real danger to mankind in this and in every age---but perhaps particularly in this, because of the prevalence of non-religious ideologies---derives from threats not to his material but to his spiritual condition.

This is it precisely, the real danger to mankind today concerns his spiritual not his material condition. Is this not the essence of the message of Our Lady of Fatima? The times we live in cry out for our bishops to bring us down upon our knees in a crusade of prayer and penance to avert the justly deserved chastisement of which the Blessed Mother warned. But no, their eyes are upon nuclear weapons and the Third World, which, to a large extent may be termed the opium of the bishops.

5. Ecumania

This brings me to the fifth aspect of the "Spirit of Vatican II" which affects many of the faithful---that of ecumenism. Perhaps I should term it false ecumenism, as every Catholic must be in favor of true ecumenism which aims at bringing non-Catholics into the unity of the one true Church. This false ecumenism is nothing less than indifferentism, and was condemned by the Council. Once again it reflects the turning away of attention from God to man. If we are not concerned with God then we are not concerned with truth, and if truth does not matter then why should we not gloss over or minimize anything which separates us from our dearly beloved separated brethren---including our traditional liturgy? While the Tridentine Mass remained the universal form for worship within the Roman Rite there was no hope or possibility of ecumenical progress. As Luther remarked, it stank of sacrifice. The doctrine of the sacrifice of the Mass is anathema to Protestants of every denomination. I had better mention that the form of Mass celebrated in Germany in Luther's time before the Council of Trent was identical in almost every respect to the rite promulgated by St. Pius V in 1570, and now known popularly as the Tridentine Mass. The pervading spirit of the current ecumenical movement is one of indifferentism. It is totally alien to the true Catholic ethos, and cannot be supported by anyone who takes his faith serious1y. There is no little irony in the fact that the very bishops who would have condemned us for assisting at a Protestant service before the Council will now condemn us if we do not take part.

6. Democracy and Dialogue

When they are not engaged in earnest ecumenical dialogue, those exercising effective authority in the Church today are usually talking to each other. Writing in Christian Order a few years ago, Father Bryan Houghton described the principal effect of the Council as the fact that we now belong to "the talking Church." Someone is always talking to someone else about something, usually the same people talking to each other about the same things. We have parish councils, deanery councils, diocesan councils, and even national pastoral councils and congresses. We are continually informed of the need for those in authority to engage in a process of consultation, but the only people who ever appear to be consulted are those who already share the opinions of those doing the consulting. They will then foist their latest eccentricity upon the long-suffering faithful under the guise of a response to a popular demand.