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Alex Anonymous wrote:

Hi, guys—

I have heard some people say because Vatican II was a pastoral council in a way no other council has been before that we can disagree with aspects of its documents.

  • Are they correct?

I've heard claims that the council was meant to be a new type of council and that some of its documents contain things that are difficult to reconcile with previous Catholic theology as taught and explained in the Church.

  • How accurate would this claim be?
  • Finally, is there any support for the claim that Vatican II's three dogmatic constitutions hold about the same weight as papal encyclicals and the other type of Vatican documents are lower in authority?

Alex

  { Can we disagree with aspects of the Vatican II documents because it was a pastoral council plus? }

Mike replied:

Hi Alex,

We have answered similar questions like this in the past. I have pulled these postings from our knowledge base that should help answer your questions.

You said:
I've heard claims that the council was meant to be a new type of council and . . .

If by new you mean one that would usher in change, no one will disagree with that. Remember it is the Holy Spirit guiding the Church. Many who ask these type of questions have an Armageddon mind set. Remind them the Catholic Church is Jesus’ Church and He promised the gates of Hell would not prevail against Her. Our job as lay Catholics is not to:

  • store up food
  • store up candles made from bees wax
  • or anything else

No, our job is to be a witness in work place for Jesus:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:18-19

Our Christian approach to doing this depends on our environment and the circumstances.

St. Francis told his followers:

Evangelize the world and when necessary use words.

You said:
. . . that some of its documents contain things that are difficult to reconcile with previous Catholic theology as taught and explained in the Church.

  • How accurate would this claim be?

One may find certain statements of any Vatican II document ambiguous but this is why we are blessed to have the living, ongoing Magisterium of the Church to guide us in a proper understanding of Church documents. No faithful Catholic should disagree with any of the dogmatic document of Vatican II if understood correctly.

You said:

  • Finally, is there any support for the claim that Vatican II's three dogmatic constitutions hold about the same weight as papal encyclicals and the other type of Vatican documents are lower in authority?

I found this document from the EWTN library very interesting and think it will help answer your question. [Both dogmatic constitutions and papal encyclicals are binding on the faithful.]

I hope this helps,

Mike

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