Out of the Murk
Solange Strong Hertz
Book-review on In the Murky Waters of Vatican II by Atila Sinke Guimarães
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When Our Lady told Sr. Lucy of Fatima that the dogma of faith would always be preserved in Portugal, we can’t help thinking her prediction included that nation’s former colonies as well. Portuguese speaking Brazil, which in the wake of the Council raised up Archbishop Castro Mayer and Dr. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira as outstanding defenders the Faith, thirty years later seems to have raised up another in Atila Sinke Guimarães. Appearing just now on the horizon is his monumental 11-volume work, Eli, Eli, lamma sabacthani? which applies to the Church in her present dereliction the lament uttered by her divine Master from the Cross.
The author feels these words best “signify the supreme affliction and perplexity in which Catholics .... find themselves vis-à-vis the enigmatic silence and the surprising ‘unconcern’ of the Sovereign Pontiffs and the Catholic Hierarchy in regard to the disarray, unprecedented in History, that became installed in the bosom of Holy Church and in the treasure of Catholic doctrine since the conciliar winds began to blow.” Undertaken at the behest of the late Dr. Plinio, founder of the Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, the Collection is the result of 15 years of painstaking analysis of the letter, spirit, and fruits of the Second Vatican Council. The documentation alone should earn it a permanent place on reference shelves.
So far only the first volume has been published in English. Its title, In the Murky Waters of Vatican II, was not one coined with pejorative intent by the author. The metaphor was first employed by Council Fathers Msgr. Suenens and Msgr. Delhaye to denote the confusion generated by the constant clash of progressivism and conservatism which “made the waters murky” throughout the proceedings. Volume I therefore deals specifically with ambiguity, which was not merely “an indisputable reality,” but a strategy purposely developed for two reasons:
1. To achieve a specious unanimity where none was possible between the two irreconcilable currents, and
2. to prepare the way for liberal interpretations in the future.
A wealth of quotations is adduced to demonstrate how ambiguity was used to promote the progressive agenda, making it possible to convert pronouncements deemed “pastoral” during the Council into “dogmatic” assertions after its close; how ambiguity conceals a subtle doctrine of universal evolution fostering tolerance of the world and false religions; how it provoked a crisis in discipline, etc.
The 60-page Appendix, an overview of “The Catholic Church and Homosexuality,” is alone worth the price of the book. Because the author must proceed by inductive reasoning due to the nature of the data, the writing tends to diffusiveness, but the conclusion he reaches is clear. Having demonstrated “the fundamental ambiguity of Vatican II, its variance on certain points with the earlier Magisterium of the Church and the crisis it generated,” Mr. Guimarães asks bluntly, “Could one not advocate that it is null?”
He cannot be faulted for using the words “progressive” and “conservative” throughout his exposition to designate the two forces at perpetual loggerheads, especially as he takes the trouble to explain that “progressives” was chosen by modernists themselves as a cover after their heresy was formally condemned by St. Pius X. This reviewer, however, couldn’t help yearning for those good old labels “heretic” and “Catholic” which identified the opponents so unambiguously in times past. Now that liberal heretics and heretic conservatives have joined the fray, not to mention Catholic liberals and conservative Catholics, for plain unadulterated Catholics the waters are turning murky indeed.
Solange Hertz is an author and journalist.
This book-review was first published in The Remnant, January 15, 1998
In the Murky Waters of Vatican II
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