The Council had been over for less than a year. Catholics were excited and confused. Different moves towards implementation, sometimes contradictory, were rumored. Already Catholic liberals were hard at work to lead the Church in their direction. What was Rome to do? After fifty-five years, we know what Cardinal Ottaviani, one of Cardinal Ratzinger’s predecessors as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, decided to do: on July 24, 1966, he wrote to the Ordinaries of the world to sound the alarm. He had been receiving daily indications of a revolt against sound doctrine; some were already falsely appealing to the Council to spread their errors. These errors had to be dealt with.

Cardinal Ottaviani, best known in liturgically-minded circles for his intervention regarding the Mass of Paul VI in 1969, begins his letter by praising the Council’s wise documents in doctrine and discipline. He soon points out, however, that his office has been receiving worrisome indications of drifts in the Council’s interpretation. He lists these drifts—“theses [that] go beyond simple opinion” and “affect dogma”—and reduces them to ten specific points. He thus produces a sort of post-conciliar syllabus of errors.

His list is prophetic. It outlines attacks on Biblical inerrancy, the Magisterium, objective truth, Christology, the True Presence, and other essentials of the Faith. It was against the consequences of these errors, which he foresaw back in 1966, that he asked the bishops and superiors general of the world to “take care to repress [these errors] or to prevent them.” 

Praise the Lord

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