Dulles on Vatican II

An older essay in America magazine, but great stuff as relevant today as it was in 2003. Excerpts:

3. A third error relating to revelation is the view that, according to the council, God continues to reveal himself in secular experience through the signs of the times, which therefore provide criteria for interpreting the Gospel. Vatican II, in fact, rejected the idea of continuing revelation. It taught that revelation became complete in Jesus Christ and that no further public revelation is to be expected before the end of time, when Christ returns in glory (DV, No. 4). In Gaudium et Spes the council spoke of the church’s duty to interpret the signs of the times, but it specified that these signs are to be interpreted in the light of the Gospel (GS, No. 4). […]
 
7. Passing to another point, we may ask whether the council recognized that theologians and others have a right to dissent from noninfallible teachings of the magisterium. Some Catholic theologians, while admitting that all the faithful are obliged to submit to infallible teaching, contend that faithful Catholics are entitled to reject noninfallible teaching when it conflicts with their private judgment.
 
Vatican II never mentioned dissent, but by implication rejected it. It stated that even when the pope and the bishops do not speak infallibly, their authoritative teaching is binding, and that the faithful are required to adhere to it with a “religious submission of mind” (LG, No. 25). Vatican II, therefore, cannot be quoted as favoring dissent.
 
10. Opponents of Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968) make much of the fact that Vatican II was silent on the morality of contraception. The council did not explicitly condemn contraception because the pope had reserved this question to a special commission outside the council. But after declaring that the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation must be preserved in marital intercourse, the council declared: “Such a goal cannot be achieved unless the virtue of conjugal chastity is sincerely practiced. Relying on these principles, sons and daughters of the church may not undertake methods of regulating procreation which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the church in its unfolding of the divine law” (GS, No. 51). At this point the fathers inserted footnotes referring to documents of Pius XI and Pius XII forbidding contraception. If this passage had been written after Humanae Vitae, no revision would have been needed except the addition of a reference to that document in the footnote.

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