Comments on Dr. Taylor Marshall’s: “Viganò vs. Barron on Vatican II and Benedict XVI”

Dear everyone,

I am old and still not yet back to my best form from my recent illness. I am trying to be up-to-date about everything happening in the Church, which, you will agree, is in a terrible state of confusion (Cardinals against Cardinals, Bishops against Bishops), I only hope that what I am writing now is not going to add to that confusion.

I happened to find on my i-pad one piece from Dr. Taylor Marshall “Viganò vs. Barron on Vatican II and Benedict XVI”. It’s dated 2020, but the debate is still going on and I want to join it.


Declaration of interest

– I almost always enjoyed viewing what is on the programme of Dr. Taylor Marshall, I am decidedly a traditionalist.

– I agree on several points with Archbishop Viganò, but I would not subscribe to everything he affirms.

– I admire Bishop Barron, I would like myself and all the Bishops to be like him, so learned and so balanced in his teaching of the Catholic Doctrine (I am only a little disappointed, that he is not as outspoken as I am – to my misfortune).

– I love Pope Benedict XVI as the father of my soul. The most precious thing I keep is a volume of his “Ultime conversazioni” that he sent to me with a dedication: “In union of prayer and thought”.


I want to comment on the quotation which Dr. Taylor Marshall made from Pope Benedict XVI:

“To defend the true tradition of the Church today means to defend the Council (…). We must remain faithful to the today of the Church, not the yesterday or tomorrow.

And this today of the Church is the Documents of Vatican II, without reservations that amputate them and without arbitrariness that distorts them”

First of all, the fundamental thing we must believe is: God’s revelation is to be found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition from the Apostles (“We believe One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church”).

Then, the Tradition is guaranteed by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, especially through the working of the Ecumenical Councils (“Sacrosancta Synodus”) – meeting of the whole College of Bishops, Successors of the Apostles, under the leadership of Peter. The teaching of the Ecumenical Councils constitutes the most authoritative Magisterium.

So, we must believe that, through the Documents of Vatican II, the Holy Spirit has spoken to us, believers of today.

Pope Benedict believed strongly in the continuity of the Magisterium guided by the Holy Spirit, for him the only hermeneutics of the Council must be that of continuity, not of rupture.

I can’t understand how he can be misunderstood; the hermeneutics of continuity was constantly on his lips. Obviously, when he said: “We must remain faithful to the today of the Church“, he meant faithful to a today which is guaranteed to be faithful to the yesterday. A Council of today is faithful to all the Councils of yesterday, because the actor of today’s Council is properly the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit who guided all the past Councils, He cannot deny himself.

I would like to ask a question to Dr. Marshall and Archbishop Viganò: To which ‘yesterday’ do you want to be faithful? To the First Vatican Council ? Or to the Council of Trent? You trust more the Holy Spirit of the previous Councils? Don’t you think that the Holy Spirit may have said something new to all the previous Councils and may have new things to tell us today (obviously, nothing in contradiction to previous Councils)?

We believe that this Council, Vatican II, as all other Councils, is faithful to the continuous Tradition of the Church.


May be we must asks other questions to clarify our stands: “Which Council we have in mind in our discussion?”

(A) A vague “spirit of the Council” or the Council Documents?

It is nonsense to talk about the spirit of the Council, if you ignore the Documents of the Council. Were the long sessions of fierce discussion a futile exercise? The careful analysis of sentences? Even the meticulous pondering of a single word? The Documents are the fruit of the cooperation between the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the hard work of the Council Fathers with the help of many outstanding theologians. Only through the attentive reading of the Council Documents you can get to the real spirit of the Council.

(B) “The Council itself or the situation of the Church after the Council?

Post hoc is not necessarily propter hoc. You cannot blame on the Council all the wrong things that happened after it in the Church.

The liturgical reform, for example, was maturing in the Church long before the Council, many thought that they knew what it had to be, and they simply ignored the Council Document. Then we could see so many abuses, with the consequent loss of the sense of reverence for the sacred Mysteries. When Pope Benedict appealed for the “reform of the reform”, he did not mean to repudiate the Council, but a distorted understanding of the real Council.

Distortions and amputations of Vatican II teaching abound.

The Constitution on the Church emphasizes rightly the common priesthood of the faithful, but many stop there. They forget that there is also a clear affirmation of the hierarchical teaching and governing authority in the Church founded by Jesus Christ on the Apostles. Now, with the name of XVI Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, they killed the real Synod of Bishops as established by Pope Paul VI and created a new hybrid body, which looks absolutely like a secular democratic assembly, something that they strongly deny. Emphasizing the etymology of the word “Synod”, they forget the historical reality of the Synods which guarantee the continuation of the Sacred Tradition.

The Decree on Ecumenism, that on Religious Freedom, and the Declaration Nostra aetate were taken as encouragement for a unique, universal “world religion”, dispensing us from the duty of missionary zeal, which is even called “proselytism”, a word with negative connotations. Pope John Paul II preached strongly against such misunderstanding.

Some people complained about what they thought was ambiguous in the Documents of the Council. To make clarity, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under Cardinal Ratzinger, compiled the Catechism of the Catholic Church with a vast consultation of the world Episcopate, a secure guidance for evangelization and catechesis. Nobody should, light-heartedly, touch it, at least not without an equally vast consultation of the College of Bishops. The rich and clear Magisterium of Pope Wojtiła and Cardinal Ratzinger must have sufficiently dispelled all the clouds and shown to the Christian faithful the splendor of the truth.

The seeming failure of the Council may be explained by the lack of a good plan of its execution.

The Council of Trent succeeded to really reform the Church because of the leadership of bishops like St. Charles Borromeo after the Council through the several diocesan and regional Synods.

Cardinal Wojtiła took eight years of serious catechesis to start a real ‘aggiornamento’ in his diocese.

(C) “Many say there was a ‘Council of the Media’.

From the times of past Councils to the present one, the means of communication have made enormous progress and have become, also, a terrible force in creating and spreading wrong ideas (in philosophy and in theology). Some media enjoyed the fierce battles during the Council and were happy to have those battles prolonged.

Unfortunately, there was a group of theologians, among them Alberigo, who sustained that the Council should go on, even after its conclusion. They sustained that the Council was an impetus given by the Holy Spirit which should make the Church always in a state of ongoing change.

Cardinal Ratzinger rejected such an idea. The Councils are moment of suspension, when the bishops gather together to discuss and find solutions to the problems of the times. At the end of Vatican II they reached almost unanimous conclusions. Now is time to go back to work. It is time to bring the light of Christ to the world. ‘Aggiornamento’ means this, to open the doors and the windows, to bring the Gospel to the peripheries of the world, as Pope Francis says, not only geographical peripheries, but existential peripheries (by the way, the bishops know better the existential peripheries in their particular geographic peripheries).

‘Aggiornamento’ is to let the light of Christ (Lumen) go out from the Church to reach all the peoples (gentes), and not to allow the spirit of the world to infiltrate the Church (as the organizers of the present Synod are doing when they try to introduce a pastoral method of appeasement).


I wish my friend Dr. Taylor Marshall to persevere in being a traditionalist, but to be also full of trust in the wisdom of Pope Benedict.


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