Vatican Council II: An Open Discussion, by Monsignor Brunero Gherardini

[Update: Monsignor Brunero Gherardini’s book can be purchased now. The English title is The Ecumenical Vatican Council II: A Much Needed Discussion. If readers “in the know” would alert us to the publication of his subsequent volumes, we would appreciate it very much.]

According to The Latin Mass magazine (subscribe here), Italy has just witnessed the publication of a soon-to-be blockbuster on Vatican II. Monsignor Brunero Gherardini, a renowned 85-year-old theologian of the Roman school, has descriptively entitled his work Vatican Council II: An Open Discussion. The volume is published by Casa Mariana Editrice, a publishing house connected to the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, and it boasts a forward by Bishop Mario Oliveri (of the Albenga and Imperia diocese) and an introduction by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the former secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, who is now the Archbishop of Colombo and Metropolitan of the Church in Sri Lanka.

The web site of the Society of Scholastics, on whose Board of Advisors the author sits, says that Monsignor Brunero Gherardini resides “at the Vatican as a Canon of St. Peter’s Basilica, he is the secretary for the Pontifical Academy of Theology, professor emeritus at the Pontifical Lateran University, and the editor of Divinitas magazine.” Divinitas is a respected Roman journal of theology.

Alessandro Zangrando, the Rome Correspondent for The Latin Mass, gives us a sneak preview by way of some excerpts from the book, which he says has reportedly reached the Pope’s desk, and is soon to be published in English.

Monsignor Gherardini laments a “misguided ecumenism, in search of what unites, rather than of what divides. … We entered into a new spirit of conciliation, adaptation, resignation, wary of other people’s preconditions, almost as though we believed, perhaps without admitting it, that the truth was on the other side. Should somebody ask me whether modernism was ultimately let into the very fabric of the Council’s documents to the point that the Fathers themselves were infected by it, my answer would be yes and no. No, because the supernatural spirit is not at all absent from the Council thanks to its open profession of the Faith in the Trinity, the Incarnation, the universal redemption of the Word, along with its deep conviction about the universal calling to sanctity, its acceptance [of] and faith in the sanctifying effect of the sacraments, its particularly high regard for the liturgical and Eucharistic worship, the sanctifying role of the Church and a theologically nourished devotion to Mary. My answer is also yes, because modernistic ideas still can be found in several Council documents, notably in Gaudium et Spes, and a few prominent Council Fathers were openly sympathetic to old and new modernitsts. They wished to have a Church in a pilgrimage toward the Truth, like every other pilgrim, a friend and ally of every other researcher, endorsing even in the field of sacred studies, the same critical methodology applicable to every other science. In short, their Church was to be a kind of research laboratory rather than a dispenser of Truths from on high.”

The book ends by requesting that the Supreme Pontiff, “clarify definitively every aspect and contents of the last Council. Such omnia reparare [reparation of everything] could be accomplished through a great papal document, which would go down in history as a sign and witness of the vigilant and responsible exercise of His ministry as the Successor of Peter.”

I would think that the arrival of such a book is an occurrence of major import. First, it is authored by a weighty and respected theologian, who is a priest in good standing with the Church — not a man that can be taken as a spokesman for a movement, a mere controversialist, or an “interested party” in the debate. Second, its forward and preface are by two seated diocesan ordinaries (one, a former Roman curial official who may well return to the Holy See one of these days). Third, it is published by a publishing house attached to a vibrant and young branch of the Franciscan Order, raised to Pontifical Right status by none other than Pope John Paul II. That Order itself boasts some accomplished theologians (such as the American, Father Peter Damien Fehlner, FI). Finally, if Mr. Zangrando’s contacts are correct, and the book is indeed on the Pope’s desk, the Roman Pontiff may choose to respond positively to the just-quoted respectful appeal made to his authority, or at least pave the way for his successor to do this.

If the passages provided by The Latin Mass are any indication, Vatican Council II: An Open Discussion may also provide a wonderful catalyst for the Rome-SSPX dialogue.

  • Brother Andre Marie

    Hoping your SBC Conference goes well. Your website is too good for me to stay away from. The articles are very well written and hard to pass up. So, I will read much more and say far less.

    With that said, you have no doubt concluded that there are times when I have a “bone to pick” with Roman Catholicism and religion in general. I think that attitude started a long time ago when I was a teenager growing up on the West coast. I used to know a lot of Catholic kids at that time, and one day some guy I knew invited me to some Catholic social invent where I met this Catholic girl that I never saw again. Anyway, she showed me what I will describe as a small piece of red cloth under plastic, enclosed/surrounded by a small piece of “cardboard.” She told me her sister (who was a nun) gave it to her, and that the piece of red cloth was from a robe worn by Pope Saint Pius X. At the time, I had no real idea of exactly what she was talking about. Later on when I was in college my friends and I used to go to dances at a nearby Catholic Women’s College. While I was dating one of the girls who went there, I asked her about the piece of red cloth and Pope Saint Pius X, and she explained it too me. After that I always had this “dual attitude” in my brain telling me that the red cloth was nonsense, that Pope Saint Pius X probably never wore it, or/and that Pope Saint Pius X really did wear it, and he was a real saint etc. etc. One could say that after that I always equated my feelings about Roman Catholicism with that piece of cloth – hot and cold, belief and unbelief.

    With that said, I’ll sign off for now. I hope my telling you about that gives you a little more insight into what “makes me tick.”

  • Jack

    Does anyone know if this book will be avaliable in English?

  • Yes, Jack. According to The Latin Mass magazine, it will be published in English.

  • anonymous_translator

    Ave Maria! Just a little inside information from the unworthy friar entrusted with translating this book into English.

    First, the title of Msgr. Gherardini’s book in English will read: “The Ecumenical Vatican Council II: A Much Needed Discussion”.

    Second, the translation should be finished by September 8th but with layout, printing, etc. the English version will probably hit the “market” just before Christmas.

    Third, I have confirmation from the Founder and Minister General of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, Fr. Stefano Maria Manelli, that Pope Benedict XVI read (or is reading) the book. The book is also being translated into French–in other words, this book will have pull in the upcoming discussions on an international level.

    Msgr. Gherardini loves the Church; but poses serious questions about the doctrinal value of a merely pastoral Council.

    Benedicat vos Omnipotens Deus +

    In Corde Matris,
    anonymous_translator

  • @ anonymous_translator:

    Ave Maria! Thank you for the inside scoop!It’s exciting to hear that the Holy Father read/is reading the book.

    I think the most important part of what you wrote is that “this book will have pull in the upcoming discussions on an international level.” That is what I hope.

    Oremus pro invicem, frater. And happy Feast Day of the Patron of the Franciscan Third Order!

  • Eleonore

    Perhaps Mr. Sifdol would like to “rub elbows” with traditional Catholics in late October at the SBC Conference. We can be very persuasive!

  • a Catholic

    “Msgr. Gherardini loves the Church; but poses serious questions about the doctrinal value of a merely pastoral Council.”

    Just because Vaticanum II is a pastoral Council does not mean it can be disregarded. It is still an Ecumenical Council which requires the full obedience of all the faithful.
    This is also an issue which the SSPX has to understand: they will not gain any canonical status within the Catholic Church if they reject the decrees of the Second Vatican Council.

    Now as for ideas suggesting there are “modernistic” ideas within the Council, it should be noted that it is part of the Catholic faith to believe that an Ecumenical Council is under guidance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the errors must be sought in the faulty application rather than in the Council itself.

    A person calling himself “Catholic” but speaks negative of one of its Ecumenical Councils ought to be ashamed or consider leaving.

    God bless the Catholic Church

  • Tim Garvey

    According to the late Cardinal Avery Dulles, “The Council documents, …, reflect some compromises.” And, “The Council fathers,…, adopted deliberate ambiguities.” http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=2810 Ambiguous teachings are not binding on a Catholic’s conscience.

  • Is there any word on a publication date for the English translation of Monsignor Gherardini’s book?

  • None that I’ve heard, Mr. Mulligan.

  • Timothy

    This book (in English) 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 mimike@pipeline.com or 1-888-906-2742.

    I spoke with Mr Coffey this morning (7/1/2010), which was a pleasure, and he has stock on hand.

  • Friar G

     Father Peter Damien Fehlner, FI  disapproves entirely of Monsignor Gherardini’s book which entertains anticonciliar ideas. I know this to be true because I’m a friar of the same institute and know him personally. Goodness, graceous, I think the Holy Spirit knows what HE is doing as well as how to guide the Church. You can ask Fr. Peter himself what his position is on this matter and he will inform you himself. – Friar of the Immaculate

  • Friar G: Ave Maria! Thank you for your information. I guess, then that the publication of the volume by Casa Mariana Editrice would imply that not all FIs agree with your or Father Peter’s assessment of the Monsignor’s book. I am also aware that it was a Friar of the Immaculate who translated the volume into English. (The English edition says as much.)

    I would doubt that Monsignor Gherardini questions whether the Holy Ghost knows what he is doing.

  • Garret Kade Dupre

    I disagree with parts of the Council because I believe they contradict dogma (previously) held universally by all the faithful.