CATHOLIC CHRONICLE IV
What Did Vatican II Really Change?
Edited and compiled by Keith Green
Last Days Ministries, Box 40, Lindale, TX 75771-0040
The Roman Catholic Church is very proud of two distinct things: 1) that
it has never changed, and 2) that it has changed very much! I realize that
number 2 seems to contradict number 1, but anyone who has studied church
history even briefly, will be able to grasp what I'm trying to say.
First, Rome is very emphatic about making clear these unalterable
A. That she is the original and only church founded by Jesus Christ
upon the earth.
B. That her head, the pope, has the authority handed down from the
"first pope," Simon Peter, through "apostolic succession," (1) to sit in
the place of Jesus as the undisputed leader of all true Christians on
C. That her traditions and interpretations of scripture are the only
basis for forming the rules and guidelines that Christians everywhere
should live by.
D. And that her dogmas and doctrines, although they can be clarified,
enlarged, or re-stated for the sake of changing times, can never, ever be
abolished, contradicted, or altered. They are quite literally, "Canon
On the other hand, modern Roman Catholics are immensely pleased with
the reforms and evolution they have seen in their Church, especially since
the cataclysmic "Second Vatican Council" (more commonly know as "Vatican
II"). They point to how much has been done to open the way for "all
Christians everywhere to finally come together!" This, of course, does
seem very exciting, especially since Rome has been largely on the defensive
since the Reformation. Starting with the Council of Trent in 1546, there
has been one papal decree after another, which has completely make it
impossible (even forbidden) for Catholics to have any "fellowship" with
Ah, but "time heals all wounds" they say, and like everything else, the
giant chasm between Protestant and catholic now seems with the passing of
centuries, to appear like just a "little misunderstanding." And Vatican
II, which included such sweeping reforms as allowing Mass to be said in the
common local language, and no longer forbidding Catholics to read a
Protestant Bible, or attend a Protestant church service, seemed to make the
differences between Rome and the rest of the fragmented Christian world
look very petty.
As you probably might guess, I do not believe this to be the case. In
fact, in my research and studies I have only found the opposite to be true,
Yes indeed, the Catholic Church is changing! It has probably never changed
so much in all its history as during the past generation, but it has not
changed one, single, solitary doctrine! Each and every point of dogma that
has alarmed evangelical theologians for the past 400 years remains the
same, exactly as written, and in full force!
But because of all the changed garments, all the reformed liturgies and
ceremonies, and the resulting freedom of worship, Catholics everywhere (as
well as many Protestants) have mistakenly believed that something
substantial has really changed! But this is not a surprise, it has
happened before many times in history. When you change the key, the
instruments, or the rhythm of a song, almost everyone will believe you
have a new song. Only those who listen carefully to the lyrics, or who
know their music well, will realize that yes, the style is different, but
the song is the same!
The whole thing seems so sad to me, when I realize how very few there
are among Catholics (and Protestants) who really know what Roman
Catholicism teaches. It is truly shocking! And what's even more alarming,
is the potential for the devil to pull the wool over people's eyes because
of their ignorance.
I have received many letters from Catholics in response to the first
three Chronicles, which have basically said this: "The Catholic Church has
really changed! why not use the current beliefs and teachings that are a
result of Vatican II?" Believe me, in each of my articles, I was doing
just that! I would be a fool to be refuting doctrines and teaching that
are no longer being used. But because Catholic worship is based so much on
ritual, ceremony, and symbolic outward forms, the average Catholic believes
with all his heart that when he sees these surface things altered, that his
church has really changed! You have only to look at the documents of
Vatican II to see that this is not the case.
The Need for Vatican II
In the early 1960's, the Vatican knew that there was a need to give the
Church a face-lift. Many of its policies seemed out of place, and most of
its forms of worship were stiff and outdated. There was a feeling among
the bishops that the Church needed to evolve with the times, and there was
also a growing to re-unite with Rome, that she was going to have to give
herself a more pleasant and appealing appearance. There was also criticism
from her own ranks that her doctrines needed to be clarified and "re-
stated" in a more simple and less dogmatic tone than previous councils had
Thus the Second Vatican Council was called by Pope John XXIII in 1962,
and continued under Pope Paul VI until 1965 when it issued "The Documents
of Vatican II," each on different aspects of church teaching and doctrine.
The spirit and attitude of these documents were remarkably different from
any the Roman Church had ever produced. They were full of scriptural
references, and did not include any blatant "curses" on those who did not
agree (as previous councils had done). They were revolutionary in freeing
individual parish priests to conduct Masses in the way they best could
reach the local culture and community. This, as well as changes in church
administration and religious freedom were the main results of the Council.
In the following years, there were other changes that proceeded out of
Rome as a result of the new attitudes which were born from Vatican II.
These included the removal of the strict requirement to refrain from eating
meat on Fridays (and also the command to fast during Lent). Although these
practices were still encouraged, they were now optional instead of
mandatory. The whole Church seemed to be loosening up. And ecumenical
leaders the world over were beginning to see the light at the end of the
But in the midst of all this, a few ardent Christians still stubbornly
pointed out that although the procedure and the language of the Mass might
have changed, the meaning of it still remained very much the same. And
though the outward forms and words used by Rome had been altered much, the
things she taught and believed had only been confirmed and repeated in the
soft and soothing tone of the Vatican II documents.
The Charismatic Movement
And then came the "charismatic renewal" seemingly out of nowhere! With
the Pope's blessing, Catholics were taking part in charismatic Masses,
speaking in tongues, prophesying, singing and shouting side by side with
Evangelical Protestants! Everyone was so excited - they thought, "Now
we've got the devil licked!" Why, doctrine wasn't important anymore, that
was for seminary students and old, stuffy theologians! but as the
excitement started to quiet down a little, the Protestants noticed that a
few of their Catholic brothers and sisters were still praying to Mary, and
were even offering prayers for their dead relatives in the prayer meetings.
It soon became apparent that unity was not going to be as easy as it
had seemed at first. Protestants began to make inquiries, and they started
bothering their Catholic friends too much with questions like, "Do you
think the Pope is saved?" As you can see, the whole future of the
ecumenical movement hinges on this all-important question: "Can a Roman
Catholic be considered a genuine believer (according to the Bible), and
still believe the things the Roman Church teaches?"
The Things That Vatican II Did Not Change
To help answer that question, we have prepared a list of teachings and
practices (see next page) that have been adopted and perpetuated by the
Roman Catholic Church over the last 1600 years. It is important to note
that not one of these were altered at all by the Second Vatican Council.
A Scholar Looks at Vatican II
Dr. Loraine Boettner, noted Evangelical authority on Roman Catholic
doctrine, takes an in-depth look at the documents of Vatican II in the
preface to the fifth edition of his book Roman Catholicism. Dr. Boettner
"The Second Vatican Council, which closed late in 1965, made changes in
the liturgy, administrative practices, and in the matter of religious
freedom. It repeated the claim that the Roman Catholic Church is the only
true church, although it did recognize that other churches contain some
elements of truth.
"But Pope John XXIII, who called the first session, and Pope Paul VI,
who presided over the later sessions (as well as several prominent cardinal
and theologians), took care to emphasize that no changes would be made in
the doctrinal structure of the Church. However, Pope Paul did promulgate
[declare] one new doctrine, which asserts that `Mary is the Mother of the
Church.' The primary purpose of the Council was to update the liturgy and
administrative practices and so to make the Church more efficient and more
acceptable to the 20th century world.
"The introduction of the `New Mass,' for instance, brought about a
change in language - Latin is no longer required, except in the prayer of
consecration. But as Protestants, it is not important to us whether the
Mass is said in Latin or English or Swahili - it is not the language of the
Mass that we object to, it is its content and meaning. (See Chronicle II,
`The Sacrifice of the Mass').
"On previous occasions, Rome has changed her tactics when old methods
became ineffective, but she has never changed her nature. In any religious
organization, doctrine is the most basic and important part of its
structure, since what people believe determines what they do. An official
document, `The Constitution on the Church' prepared by the Council and
approved by the Pope, reaffirms basic Catholic doctrine precisely as it
stood before the Council met.
The doctrine of papal infallibility is restated. We are told that when
`by a definitive act he proclaims a doctrine of faith and morals...his
definitions, of themselves, and not by the consent of the Church, are
justly called, irreformable (Article 25). The pope has lost none of his
powers. He remains the absolute ruler in the Roman Church. But if papal
decrees past and present are `irreformable, `what hope is there for real
reform in the Church of Rome?
Although many of these beliefs were practiced earlier than the dates
given, they did not become binding on all Catholics until they were
officially adopted by church councils and proclaimed by the Pope as dogmas
of faith. All dates are approximate.
1. Presbyter (or elders) were first called priests by Lucian...2nd
2. Prayers for the dead...A.D. 300.
3. The VENERATION (2) of angels and dead saints and the use of
4. The Mass as a daily celebration was adopted...394.
5. The beginning of the exaltation of Mary, and the first use of the
term "Mother of God" by the Council of Ephesus...431.
6. Priests began to dress different from the laity and to wear special
7. Extreme Unction (3) ...526.
8. The doctrine of purgatory was first established by Gregory the
9. Prayers began to be offered to Mary, dead saints, and angels...600.
10. The first man was proclaimed "Pope" (Boniface III)...610.
11. Veneration of the cross, images, and relics authorized...788.
12. Holy water, mixed with a pinch of salt and blessed by a priest was
13. Veneration of Saint Joseph...890.
14. College of cardinals begun...927.
15. Canonization of dead saints, first by Pope John XV...995.
16. The Mass developed gradually as a sacrifice, attendance was made
obligatory in...11th century.
17. The celibacy of the priesthood was decreed by Pope Hildebrand,
18. The rosary, or prayer beads copied from Hindus and Mohammadans) was
introduced by Peter the Hermit...1090.
19. The Inquisition (5) of "Heretics" was instituted by the Council of
Verona...1184, and was legalized and promoted by the Fourth Lateran
Council in 1215.
20. The sale of Indulgences...1190.
21. The seven sacraments defined by Peter Lombard...12th century.
22. The dogma of transubstantiation was decreed by Pope Innocent III
23. Confession of sins to the priest at least once a year was instituted
by Pope Innocent III in the Lateran Council...1215.
24. The adoration of the wafer (host) decreed by Pope Honorius III
25. The The scapular (6) invented by Simon Stock of England...1251.
26. The doctrine of purgatory proclaimed a dogma by the Council of
27. Tradition is declared of equal authority with the Bible by the
28. The Apocryphal Books were added to the Bible by the Council of
29. The Immaculate Conception (7) of Mary was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX
30. Pope Pius IX condemns all scientific discoveries not approved by
by the Roman Church...1864.
31. Infallibility of the pope in matters of faith and morals proclaimed
by the First Vatican Council...1870.
32. Pius XI condemned the public schools...1930.
33. Pius XI reaffirmed the doctrine that Mary is "The Mother of God"
34. The dogma of the Assumption (8) of the Virgin Mary was proclaimed by
Pope Pius XII...1950.
35. Mary proclaimed the Mother of the Church by Pope Paul VI...1965.
"The document on the Church repeats in substance the teaching of the
Council of Trent that `priests and bishops are the representatives of God
on earth...justly, therefore, they are called not only angels, but gods,
holding as they do the place of authority of God on earth.' (Catechism of
"In fact, no more sweeping claims were made by the Council of Trent
(1545-1563), nor by the First Vatican Council (1870), than are made in
these documents from Vatican II. Despite all the claims to the contrary,
the Council has firmly maintained the doctrine of the primacy of Peter (4)
and of papal succession. In his book, Ecclesiam Suam, Pope Paul expressed
his distress because of what some of the `separated brethren' (9) say about
the pope as the stumbling block in the way of church unity. He said, `Do
not some of them say that if it were not for the primacy of the pope, the
reunion of the separated churches with Catholic Church would be easy? We
beg the separated brethren to consider the inconsistency of this position,
not only in that, without the pope, the Catholic Church would no longer be
Catholic, but also because without the supreme decisive pastoral office of
Peter, the unity of the Church of Christ would utterly collapse.'
"We must say that at this point we agree with the Pope, at least to
this extent, that if the Roman Catholic Church were reformed according to
scripture, it would have to be abandoned. But the gross errors concerning
salvation still remain. Moreover, the Council did nothing toward removing
the more than 100 anathemas or curses pronounced by the Council of Trent on
the Protestant churches and beliefs. If there is to be any true unity,
surely this would seem the logical place to start."
We could not find a more fitting conclusion than Dr. Boettner's:
"The `Constitution on the Church' makes it abundantly clear that Rome
has no intention of revising any of her basic doctrine, but only of
updating her methods and techniques for more efficient administration and
to present a more attractive appearance. This is designed to make it
easier for the Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Protestant churches to
return to her fold. There is no indication that she has any intentions of
entering into genuine give-and-take church unity negotiations. Her purpose
is not union, but ABSORPTION. Church union with Rome is strictly a one-way
street. The age-old danger that Protestantism has faced from the Roman
Church has not diminished; in fact, it may well have increased. For
through this less-offensive posture and this superficial ecumenicism, Rome
is much better situated to carry out her program of eliminating opposition
and moving into a position of world dominance. AN INFALLIBLE CHURCH SIMPLY
1) The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Jesus Christ ordained the 12
apostles to the priesthood at the Last Supper, and to their successors,
the Roman priesthood, Jesus promised and guaranteed His continual
presence in their teaching and governing until the end of time.
2) Veneration - profound respect or reverence; worship - American Heritage
Dictionary, Webster's Dictionary.
3) Extreme Unction, or "Anointing of the Sick" - one of the seven
sacraments, in which a priest anoints and prays for one in danger of
4) The doctrine that Christ has given Peter the key role of lawful
authority...that Peter would be His chief ambassador, His authentic
vicar (pope), and this power continues to be extended to Peter's
successors through the ages - the popes.
5) Inquisition - the act of inquiring into a matter; an investigation -
American Heritage Dictionary. Lucius III decreed that bishops should
take action against heretics. A characteristic of this decree was that
a suspect, once convicted of being a heretic, was to be handed over to
the secular arm for punishment. Before the Inquisition ran its course,
historians estimate that 5 to 15 million people lost their lives
through torture and and execution (From: A History of Christianity in
the World by Clyde L. Manschreck).
6) Piece of brown cloth with a picture of the Virgin, supposed to contain
supernatural power to protect from all dangers, to those who wear it on
7) This doctrine maintains that the Virgin Mary was in the first instance
of her conception, preserved from all stain of original sin.
8) The Catholic dogma that Mary ascended bodily into heaven without dying.
9) The term used by Vatican II to describe the members of other non-
Catholic Christian faiths.
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