I'm re-posting portions of a seminally important Angelus address by Pope Paul VI (April 25, 1968) on the Second Vatican Council. I had earlier included this reference in a post entitled "renewal not betrayal" (words of the Holy Father himself) in which the Holy Father was fighting the dissent that had spread through many sections of the Church immediately following the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. I've re-arranged the final paragraph in point form - leaving the integrity of the wording intact - to emphasize the Holy Father's identification of key points of reference vis-a-vis true renewal.
1968 was a critical year in the Church as it saw an explosion of dissent against Humanae Vitae. In Canada, the bishops' Winnipeg Statement did much to fudge the issue and create a false interpretation of conscience. Yes, the encyclical was wonderful teaching, yes it was the Catholic ideal - BUT - follow your conscience.
It should be noted that many bishops opposed the Winnipeg Statement,..but the damage was done. More will follow on this litmus test of loyalty to Christ and His Church. It will be enough to mention that Pope Paul's 1968 Angelus address on Humanae Vitae was entitled: "We had no doubt". Simply put, the then Vicar of Christ re-affirmed against a decadent world, that each and every act of artificial contraception was and is objectively intrinsically evil.
There are many things that can be corrected and modified in Catholic life, many doctrines that can be studied more deeply, completed and expressed in more comprehensible terms, many rules than can be simplified and better adapted to the needs of our times.
But there are two matters beyond argument: the truth of the Faith, authoritatively sanctioned by tradition and by the ecclesiastical magisterium, and the constitutional law of the Church. Obedience must be given to the ministry of the pastoral government that Christ has established, and that the wisdom of the Church has developed and extended in the various members of the mystical and visible body of the Church, to guide and strengthen the many component parts that make up the People of God.
- renewal, yes. Arbitrary change, no.
- History of the Church, ever living and new, yes. Historicism destructive of traditional dogma, no.
- Theological integration according to the teaching of the Council, yes. Theology deriving from arbitrary subjective theories, often borrowed from hostile sources, no.
- A Church open to ecumenical charity, to responsible dialogue, to the recognition of Christian values among our separated brethren, yes. An irenic theology that betrays the truth of the faith and adopts certain negative principles which have contributed to the separation of so many Christians from the centre of unity of the Catholic communion, no.
- Religious liberty for all in civilised society, and liberty of personal adherence to religion according to the well-considered choice of the individual conscience, yes. Liberty of conscience as the criterion of religious truth, without reference to the authenticity of serious and authorized teaching, no. And so on.
(Angelus Address, April 25, 1968).