Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pope Paul VI and Dei Verbum

For those who don't know, Dei Verbum is the Vatican II Constitution on Divine Revelation. It has a passage (already referenced in the Litany of Heresies) that reads as follows:

Therefore, since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation.

If you read the documents footnoted there or have any background in the traditional teaching of the Church, you know what this means. It means that Scripture is completely inerrant. However, you occasionally have folks like those referenced in the Litany who try to say that this passage really means that Scripture is only inerrant on those things that are relevant "for the sake salvation," which is usually defined as faith and morals.

It was this ditty that actually tipped Paul VI off that the progressives were engaged in massive shenanigans behind his back at Vatican II. This text was actually a compromise between a version that held Scripture completely inerrant and a heretical submission that openly suggested errors in the Bible. Pope Paul was watching the situation rather closely and didn't particularly freak out until one of the progressives really shot their mouth off.

Fr. Ralph Wiltgen tells the story in The Rhine Flows Into the Tiber:

Then one of the extreme liberals made the mistake of referring, in writing, to some of the ambiguous passages, and indicating how they would be interpreted after the Council. This paper fell into the hands of the aforesaid group of cardinals and Superiors General, whose representative took it to the Pope. Pope Paul, realizing finally that he had been deceived, broke down and wept.

How awful. If you are wondering who the particular liberal is, Fr. Wiltgen does not say, but odds are it was Fr. Ed Schillebeecx who, though not a theological expert at the Council, wielded an enormous amount of influence due to articles and writings he circulated during its proceedings. He famously said, "We have used ambiguous phrases during the Council and we know how we will interpret them afterwards," which, of course, was always the liberal plan for the conciliar documents.

From this point on, Pope Paul would be on his guard against liberal elements at the Council, though even this item wouldn't be enough for him to completely crack down on the dissenters. He was living in the shadow of the guy everyone liked, Blessed John XXIII, and never could seem to gather himself to make the unpopular moves that would have secured the Church but left him crucified in the press and certain circles of popular opinion.

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