Vatican II

Vatican II Implementation

What Catholic and Non-Catholic Christian Readers Will Want To Know About How This Website Concerns Vatican Council II

Catholic Christian Readers will learn how to think about the Church like a post-Vatican II Catholic Christian should; Non-Catholic Christian Readers will want to know that in Vatican Council II the Catholic Church went back to the Sources and (Seriously Considering Both Eastern Orthodox and Protestant Perspectives) Defined the Church according to the Lived Reality of the Undivided Early Church, paving the way for true Church Reform and Reunification as in the Undivided First Millennium Christian Church

The Bible reveals the Mystery that the Church is a Living Body (attached to Christ its Head – Ephesians 5:22-32, 4:15-16).  ALL LIVING BODIES GROW AND MATURE WITH TIME AND EXPERIENCE.  The Body of Christ the Church has been growing and maturing throughout its history, moving forwards through time and gaining experience as much through its mistakes as through its successes, like any living body.  Vatican II was a great milestone in the Body of Christ’s process of maturation, of “growing up” ever closer to the fullness of the Love of Christ its Head, but its teaching has to be known and understood deeply in both the minds and the hearts of today’s divided Christians in order for us (as one Body) to display to the world a greater MATURITY OF LOVE IN CHRIST, a Family Love which will draw ever more of the people Jesus died to save into our Christian Family, adopted by God the Father through Jesus, God the Son, by whom we received the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Adoption” (Romans 8:15) who makes us one Family in Christ.

Vatican II listened to the legitimate concerns of the Protestant Reformation and Protestant Christians since and, once its ecclesiology (teaching on the Church) is fully known and properly understood (by Catholic Christians as well as non-Catholic Christians), it may well help the Catholic Church and its “separated brothers” in non-Catholic churches to together succeed in what the 16th Century Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation attempted to do but failed in – restoring the Church to its Undivided First Millennium ideal, when the Church was One as Jesus prayed for and the whole ancient pagan world was “turned upside down” and transformed with the love of God the Holy Trinity expressed in orthodox Christian faith.  The Oneness was never a uniformity within one single monolithic Church body, but a unity in diversity — a unity of faith expressed in a great and mutually-enriching diversity of ways within the Undivided First Millennium Catholic (Universal) Communion of Orthodox Christian ‘Sister Churches’ of East and West. 

Vatican II (1962-65) in fact began in the ecumenical context of an official “Dialogue of Love” since 1958 between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church Communions which were formed from the first “Great Schism” of Christianity beginning in 1054 (though it actually took centuries, and the interference of the Muslim conquerors of the East, to complete and solidify this Great Schism by 1472, not long before the Protestant Reformation of 1517, making it little wonder the Eastern Catholic Churches, forced by their Muslim conquerors to separate, started coming back into the Catholic Church Communion of Eastern and Western Sister Churches later in the 1500s).  Still, since the drifting apart of Christian East and West which became a formal “Great Schism” in 1054 though not complete until 1472, both the Catholic and Orthodox Church Communions, representing the bulk of Western and Eastern Christians respectively, had come to forget the unity in diversity of the Undivided First Millennium Church and (if only subconsciously) instead began to practice the principle that unity equals uniformity, which actually led to the Great Schism of 1054, over something as trivial as whether leavened or unleavened bread should  be used for Holy Communion.  This bad precedent set the bad tone for the Second Millennium and the principle of unity equals uniformity was also unconsciously adopted and expanded by the Protestant Reformation, resulting in the 35,000 Protestant/Evangelical church denominations of today.  Thus it is very significant that the two Church Communions (Catholic and Orthodox) resulting from the first “Great Schism” of Christianity started officially talking to each other in respect and in Christian brotherly love in 1958, recognizing that they had been one Church Communion of diverse Sister Churches for over 1000 years and belonged together, and in this context Vatican II developed its amazing and fruitful ecclesiology, based on the lived reality of the Undivided Early Church, of the Catholic Communion of Orthodox Christian Sister Churches of East and West, which has been fruifully and beautifully clarified and further developed by the best and brightest of both Churches in the ongoing official Catholic/Orthodox Theological Dialogue since 1982 — see The First “Great Schism” of Christianity and its Precedent in Division and in Healing.

Vatican II Implementation

Catholic Christian readers will want to know that from the Catholic perspective, this website and ministry is all about Vatican II implementation. This website promotes the full understanding and implementation within the Catholic Church of the reforms of both the Catholic Church and of Catholic habits of thinking which were called for by the Catholic Church’s 21st Ecumenical Council, Vatican Council II (1962-65) – particularly in its emphasis on Bible reading,  Ecumenism, the universal call to holiness, and engaging secularized culture for Jesus This website is about many wonderful things, including a great depth of understanding of the Trinity which shows (through Family Theology) how everything in the Bible, from Creation to the Cross to the Church, flows naturally from the very Trinitarian existence of God as the Holy Trinity of Love.   But perhaps more than anything else this website is about Vatican II Ecclesiology (doctrine of the Church), which defined and clarified the lived reality of the Undivided Early Universal (Greek Katholikos, or Catholic) Christian Church, and about Vatican II Ecumenism (which it is an example of).  Catholic Christians like to know that the theology they read comes from people writing from “within the heart of the Church,” approved of by Catholic authorities.  Non-Catholic Christian readers will want to know if the wonderful things regarding Ecumenism and other topics on this website really represent genuinely Catholic teaching and positions.  So they all will be pleased to know that Dr. Alan Schreck, author, Church Historian and Vatican II specialist, and long-time Theology Chair at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, which Pope John Paul II once referred to as “the Catholic University most faithful to the teachings of the Church, in the whole world”; [1] has written of this website’s Founder and principal author

“I instructed William Baptiste [Peter William John Baptiste SFO] in a number of graduate courses in Theology at Franciscan University and can attest that he is an exceptional researcher and an effective and faithful teacher of the Catholic faith and authentic Catholic theology in accordance with the magisterium of the Church and the best of the Catholic intellectual tradition.”

Dr. Schreck, who teaches graduate courses and writes books on Vatican II, has written that

“One particular area of service [to the Church] that William [Peter William John Baptiste SFO] can provide is on teaching the true meaning and proper implementation of the Second Vatican Council.  This is very critical today, and he is well-prepared to engage in this important work … I am confident in William’s accurate knowledge of and adherence to the true, orthodox meaning of Vatican II.”

Moreover, Dr. Schreck has specifically endorsed this ministry and website, also writing that

“William is a Catholic of exemplary character, who is especially dedicated to proclaiming the truth of the Catholic faith [90% of which is the common Christian faith] in a truly ecumenical spirit.    I have been impressed with his creation of  the Donum Veritatis (The Gift of Truth) Ministries with its Christian Unity in Diversity Central website.  This ministry is certainly deserving of the prayers and financial support of all faithful Catholics who desire to promote Christian unity, as this mission has been a primary focus of both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. (See Pope Benedict XVI’s first homily as Pope on April 5, 2005, regarding his commitment to ecumenism).

Again,  I strongly support, and recommend your support of the Donum Veritatis (The Gift of Truth) Ministries as an effective and important means to spread the Catholic faith [90% of which is the common Christian faith] and to promote Christian unity.  It really is a ‘gift’ to the ‘Internet Generation.’

This Website Is a Catholic Contribution to the Ongoing Ecumenical Dialogue between Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant/ Evangelical Christians (and ‘Messianic Jews’), Presented with the Sincere “Respect and Affection” for Non-Catholic Christians Which Since Vatican II is the Official Attitude of the Catholic Church Towards its “Separated Brothers” in Christ

This website is intended as part of the sincere and loving ecumenical dialogue between the divided Christian churches which is necessary if Jesus’ prayer for our unity “so that the world may believe” is ever to be granted.  Though writing from the Catholic perspective in my contribution to this dialogue, I have the utmost respect and affection for my Conservative or Evangelical Protestant and Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ with whom Catholics share a true and extremely profound Christian communion on the basis of vast common faith even though we are currently separated from full Christian communion with them.  My personal connection with these “separated brothers” (as Vatican Council II described non-Catholic Christians) is even more intimate.  As a former Evangelical Protestant, I still maintain my Evangelical zeal for God’s truth and my Evangelical heart for spreading the Gospel to a needy world as a Catholic.  As an Eastern Rite Catholic, I even celebrate the same liturgy and rituals as my Eastern Orthodox brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.  But my ecumenical openness to and love for other Christians is in no way simply personal but Catholic, part of what is now the official position of the Catholic Church with respect to Christians who do not belong to the Catholic Church’s huge Christian Communion.  The Catholic Church has officially declared at its highest level of authority in its 21st Ecumenical Council (Vatican Council II) that:

The [Catholic] Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but who do not however profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter [the pope] … these [non-Catholic] Christians are indeed in some real way joined to us [Catholic Christians] in the Holy Spirit … and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers … [because] it remains true that all who have been justified by faith in baptism [see Mark 16:16] are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers by the children of the Catholic ChurchThe restoration of unity among all Christians is one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council … [The Catholic Church is] moved by a desire for the restoration of unity among all the followers of Christ, [and so] it wishes to set before all Catholics guidelines, helps and methods, by which they too can respond to the grace of this divine call … The sacred Council exhorts, therefore, all the Catholic faithful to recognize the signs of the times and to take an active and intelligent part in the work of ecumenism … The concern for restoring unity involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike. It extends to everyone, according to the talent of each, whether it be exercised in daily Christian living or in theological and historical studies.” (Vatican Council II: LG 15, UR 3, UR 1, UR 4, UR 5, emphases added)

Though not all individual Catholic Christians have yet followed their own Church’s lead here, the huge Catholic Church now officially models the loving ecumenical attitude all churches need in order for Jesus’ prayer for Christian unity to ever be granted, that even though “our” Church denomination (whichever it is) believes that “other” churches which do not agree with some of our secondary doctrines and practices are missing something, still those “other churches”

have been by no means deprived of significance and importance in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation … [other Christian churches than “ours” indeed have] access to the communion of salvation … Catholics must gladly acknowledge and esteem the truly Christian endowments for our common heritage which are to be found among our separated brethren. It is right and salutary to recognize the riches of Christ and virtuous works in the lives of others who are bearing witness to Christ, sometimes even to the shedding of their blood. For God is always wonderful in his works and worthy of all praise.  Nor should we forget that anything wrought by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brethren can contribute to our own edification … [and] can always bring a more perfect realization of the very mystery of Christ and the Church [Ephesians 5:22-32].”  (Vatican Council II, UR 3, UR 4, emphases added)

It is therefore as a Catholic Christian representing the official position of the Catholic Church towards non-Catholic Christians that I write this website and the books available on it for both my fellow Catholic Christians and for non-Catholic Christians “with respect and affection as brothers.”

[the above section is adapted from So That The World May Believe Volume I Chapter 2

The Catholic Church’s 21st Ecumenical Council (Vatican Council II) Which Recently and for the First Time in an Ecumenical Council of the Church Clearly Defined the Nature and Structure of the Ancient Undivided Early Church (Which Has Tremendous Implications for the Eventual Re-establishment of the Undivided Early Church’s Unity in Diversity), Officially Recognizes the Holy Spirit as the Source of the Church’s Unity and “Places its Hope [For Reunification] Entirely in the Prayer of Christ for the Church, in the Love of the Father for Us, and in the Power of the Holy Spirit”

It is only the Holy Spirit of God’s Divine Love who can unify currently divided Christianity, who can help us to overcome our human sin and weakness in love, even with the Undivided Early Church model of Christian unity in diversity (discussed in depth in Volume I and III of So That The World May Believe) clearly in view.  All currently divided Christians need to be open to the various unexpected and divine ways the Holy Spirit may choose to bring us closer together towards the eventual fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer for our unity (John 17:21-23).  The Catholic Church officially recognizes this, and Vatican II’s Decree on Ecumenism (Unitatis Redintegratio, UR) states:

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:4–5). For “all you who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ …for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:27–28). It is the Holy Spirit, dwelling in those who believe and pervading and ruling over the entire Church, who brings about that wonderful communion of the faithful and joins them together so intimately in Christ that he is the principle of the Church’s unity.” (UR 2)

“Today, in many parts of the world, under the influence of the grace of the Holy Spirit, many efforts are being made in prayer, word and action to attain that fullness of unity which Jesus Christ desires. The sacred Council exhorts, therefore, all the Catholic faithful to recognize the signs of the times and to take an active and intelligent part in the work of ecumenism.” (UR 4)

“There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without interior conversion. For it is from newness of attitudes of mind, from self-denial and unstinted love, that desires of unity take their rise and develop in a mature way. We should therefore pray to the Holy Spirit for the grace to be genuinely self-denying, humble, gentle in the service of others and to have an attitude of brotherly generosity toward them. The Apostle of the Gentiles says: “I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1–3).”  (UR 7)

“This sacred Council firmly hopes that the [ecumenical] initiatives of the sons of the Catholic Church, joined with those of the separated brethren [Protestant/Evangelical and Eastern Orthodox Christians], will go forward, without obstructing the ways of divine Providence, and without prejudging the future inspirations of the Holy Spirit. Further, this Council declares that it realizes that this holy objective—the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ — transcends human powers and gifts. It therefore places its hope entirely in the prayer of Christ for the Church, in the love of the Father for us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. “And hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured forth in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:5).”  (UR 24, with gloss in parentheses)

Since Vatican II the Catholic Church Is Officially Re-Discovering its Undivided Early Church Nature as a Catholic (Greek for Universal) Communion of Orthodox Christian Sister Churches Sharing a Vast Unity of Common Christian Faith Expressed in a Great Diversity of Ways Which Mutually Enrich Each of the Different but United ‘Sister Churches’– the Catholic Church Is Re-Discovering its Ancient Unity in Diversity Hidden for Centuries by the Numerical Dominance of the Huge Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, with Tremendous Implications for Restored Loving Christian Unity in Diversity in General, Even While Our Formal Divisions Remain

The Undivided Early Church was not the Roman Catholic Church which Protestants dramatically left centuries ago but was a Catholic (Universal) Christian Communion which included the Roman Catholic Church and which had certain characteristics best preserved in today’s Catholic Church Communion (which still includes the Roman Catholic Church as currently its largest ‘Sister Church’), characteristics lost in the Protestant Reformation (resulting in Protestantism’s problem with whole churches often losing basic Christian orthodoxy, a problem Catholicism does not have), although Protestantism has also best preserved other aspects of the character and spiritual life of the Undivided Early Church (such as its passionate love for Bible reading) which it should share with today’s Catholic Church.  Today’s Catholic Communion is slowly but actively in the process of re-discovering itself as a communion of “fully equal Sister Churches” since its 21st Ecumenical Council (Vatican Council II).  In fact, today’s Catholic Communion since Vatican Council II has by far the most sophisticated official position on its own substantial participation with the One Church of Jesus Christ and of that continued very significant participation of the non-Catholic Christian Churches which are no longer part of the Undivided Early Church’s Universal (Catholic) Communion, a sophisticated position which any Christian who values the Christian unity Jesus values cannot afford to ignore but must learn and seriously consider, a position which recognizes how both Catholic and non-Catholic Churches today still genuinely participate (in different ways) in the saving mission of the One Church and Body of Christ, a position that is dealt with in detail in the later chapters of So That The World May Believe –  Volume III.  However, the “average Catholic” as yet is little more aware than non-Catholics of the wonderful Catholic teaching since Vatican II which officially recaptures the understanding of the lived reality of the Undivided Early Catholic Communion’s unity in diversity and just how much non-Catholic Churches despite their formal divisions still have a definite, if imperfect, communion with today’s ongoing Catholic Communion of Orthodox Christian Sister Churches unbroken since ancient times (today there are 26 Rites or Sister Churches within the Catholic Communion).  Thus this website and many of the books available on it are intended to teach Catholic Christians the amazing things the Catholic Church has officially done to pave the way for restoring the Early Church’s unity in diversity as much as it is intended to teach this to non-Catholic Christians.  Today’s non-Catholic Churches (which all once belonged to the Catholic Communion in history) should be working together with the Catholic Church’s Sister Churches (of which the Roman Catholic Church is only one, though currently the largest) on the basis of our vast common faith listed in the Common Creed so that all of us can pool together those things which each branch of divided Christianity has best preserved from the Undivided Early Church, for the enrichment of all, for all of us to become all we were meant to be as Christ’s Body the Church on Earth, and most importantly for the sake of the world which needs Jesus Christ, the world which Jesus’ prayer indicated would believe if we were united as we once were, with phenomenal missionary success, in the First Millennium of the Undivided Early Church.

See Vatican II on the Nature and Structure of the Church as the Mystery of the Body of Christ:  The Catholic Church’s Official Understanding of the Nature and Structure of the Church as the Mystery of the Body of Christ (see Ephesians 5:22-32) organized in the World as a Catholic (Universal) Communion of Orthodox Eastern and Western Christian Rites or Particular (Sister) Churches Pastorally Guided by the (Universal) Pope and the (Particular) Patriarchs, in the Words of Vatican II (the 21st Ecumenical Council)

How Vatican Council II relates to the Early Ecumenical Councils Which Settled the Early Controversies with Christian Heretics by Clearly Defining the Fundamentals of Christian Faith

The Church has never been perfect, made up of fallen human beings; but as the Body of Christ sharing in Christ’s Mystery of being both human and Divine, the human Church enlivened by the Divine Holy Spirit has always been led by Christ Jesus its Head through His Holy Spirit guiding the Church’s ordained human leadership.  THE FIRST FOUR ECUMENICAL COUNCILS of Eastern and Western (that is: Greek, Egyptian, Syrian & Roman) ordained Christian overseers (bishops or eparchs, patriarchs and pope) within the Undivided Early Catholic (Universal) Church, as the ordained leaders of the Body of Christ the Church together led into “all the truth” (John 16:13) as per Jesus’ promise, following the pattern of the Acts 15 Council, settled the first four major controversies within the Early Christian Church over the nature of Jesus.  The 1st Ecumenical Council, held at Nicea in 325 AD, dogmatically defined, against the Arian Christian heretics, thatJesus is God, “one in being with the Father.”  The 2nd Ecumenical Council, held at Constantinople in 381 AD, further dogmatically defined, against the Apollinarian Christian heretics, that Jesus is also truly human (and dogmatically defined the Divinity of the Holy Spirit, completing the dogma of the Holy Trinity).  The 3rd Ecumenical Council, held at Ephesus in 431 AD, further dogmatically defined, against the Nestorian Christian heretics, that Jesus is one Person with two natures, Divine and human.  The 4th Ecumenical Council, held at Chalcedon in 451 AD, using the formula of Pope Saint Leo the Great, finally clarified more specifically (against the Monophysite Christian heretics) that Jesus is in fact fully God and fully human.  All of these Ecumenical (worldwide) Councils of ordained Christian overseers from different culturally-based ‘Sister Churches’ which together formed one Universal (Greek: Catholic) Christian Church, met together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (as in the very first Church Council in Acts 15) to more precisely determine something that had not been so precisely defined within the Church beforehand, which in each case had led to a major controversy among Christians.

Vatican II, the 21st Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church, was attended not only by ordained Roman Catholic overseers (bishops) but by the ordained overseers (also called eparchs) of ALL of the Undivided Early Church’s different culturally-based Rites or ‘Sister Churches’ and their later missionary ‘daughter churches’ still within the Catholic (Universal) Christian Communion (there are 26 such Rites, Eastern and Western, within today’s Catholic Church, though by numbers of Christians the other 25 are dwarfed by the huge Roman Rite of the Catholic Church). With the help and insight of the minority non-Roman Catholic overseers, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, this was THE VERY FIRST ECUMENICAL COUNCIL EVER TO CONSIDER AND DOGMATICALLY DEFINE THE NATURE AND STRUCTURE OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST AS IT EXISTED IN THE UNDIVIDED EARLY CHURCH – and this has many implications for the eventual restoration of Christian unity, which was “one of the principal concerns of the Second Vatican Council.” As Roman Rite Catholic Christians, who are the majority of all Christians today (Catholic and non-Catholic), gradually have the Council’s recent teaching filter into their minds and hearts, and as non-Catholic Christians (Orthodox and Protestant/ Evangelical) also gradually come to learn the extremely significant recognitions about the Undivided Early Church which the Catholic Church’s Communion of 26 Rites or ‘Sister Churches’ from the Undivided First Millennium Church has now had, there is real long-term hope of restored Christian unity in diversity “so that the world may believe” as Jesus prayed.

Eastern Orthodox Christian readers will want to know that Vatican II formally corrects the overly-Roman misconceptions of the nature of the Catholic Church among Roman Catholic Christians, misconceptions which came about from Eastern Rite Catholic Christians (who were about 3/4 of the Undivided Early Catholic Church!) being a small minority of Catholic Christians since the Muslim Conquests of the Catholic East.  Vatican II in principle officially corrects the past un-Catholic (un-Universal Christian) “Romanization” of the Eastern Catholic Rites which still fuels the Eastern Orthodox schism from the ancient Catholic (Universal) Christian Communion of East and WestBecause of Vatican II, the minority Eastern Catholic Rites are starting to be treated with their proper “fully equal dignity” with the majority Roman Catholic Rite, making the Catholic Church gradually more properly Universal (Greek: Catholic) instead of being overly and inappropriately RomanizedBecause of this progress, the Roman Catholic Patriarch (the Pope) and the Eastern Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch have, since Vatican II, signed Joint Declarations (in 1965 and 2006) committing their respective Churches to actively pursue “the full communion … which existed between them throughout the first millennium  of the life of the Church.”  Vatican II officially corrects the un-Catholic, un-Universal Christian notion that there is only one proper or best way to worship God, a notion completely against the Undivided Early Catholic Church’s Lived Unity in Diversity, a notion which the Protestant Reformation churches sadly inherited from the overly Romanized (and not truly Catholic/Universal enough) 16th Century Roman Rite of the Catholic Church they left, resulting in the vast amount of schisms within Protestant Christianity since. 

Protestant Christian readers will want to know that Vatican II in many ways completed the Catholic Counter-Reformation following the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century, dealing officially and in depth with many areas of legitimate Protestant complaint and concern, and moreover, it dealt with issues and themes related to why the Protestant Reformation itself despite certain genuine reforms of 16th-Century Roman Rite abuses utterly failed to actually Re-Form the Church to its Early Church ideal but rather totally splintered the Church’s First Millennium unity (there are over 35,000 distinct Protestant/ Evangelical denominations registered worldwide today), and in the long-term resulted in a massive loss of basic, traditional Christian orthodoxy precisely in the oldest and largest Protestant “mainline” churches (which often are not even certain that Jesus is God, that he was really resurrected from the dead, and so on).  Vatican II listened to the legitimate concerns of the Protestant Reformation and Protestant Christians since and, once its teaching is fully known and properly understood (by Catholic Christians as well as non-Catholic Christians), it may well help the Catholic Church and its “separated brothers” in non-Catholic churches to together succeed in what the 16th Century Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation attempted to do but failed in – restoring the Church to its Undivided First Millennium ideal, when the Church was One as Jesus prayed for and the whole ancient pagan world was “turned upside down” and transformed with the love of God the Holy Trinity expressed in orthodox Christian faith. 

You see, in many respects Vatican II is the result of the Catholic Church listening to and learning from the legitimate concerns and complaints of Protestant Christians (and Eastern Orthodox Christians) from before and after the Protestant Reformation, fixing problems and further clarifying misunderstood secondary doctrines and practices in the light of the common Christian fundamentals (which Protestant Christians took with them when they left the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church).  But Vatican II is also the result of observing the prolific problems with unity and with maintaining basic, traditional Christian orthodoxy within Protestant Christianity since the Protestant Reformation, clarifying those many things from the Undivided Early Church which the Catholic Church still maintains and holds onto dearly, which were lost by Protestants during the tumultuous Protestant Reformation – things which have protected Catholic Christianity from losing unity and basic Christian orthodoxy the way Protestant Christianity has.

Thus, despite its own failings under the onslaught of God’s Enemy who constantly attacks all branches of Christianity, the Catholic Church is still an ancient Christian Communion which still maintains full Christian unity among 1.1 Billion Christians in 26 ‘Rites’ or ‘Sister Churches,’ of which the Roman Catholic Rite or Sister Church is only one, though currently by far the largest (though in the Undivided Early Church only one quarter of all Catholic Christians were Roman Catholic Christians).  Though some individual Catholic Christians may be more or less “nominal” (“in name only”), as indeed individual Protestant Christians may be, unlike many now “doctrinally liberal” or unorthodox Protestant church denominations, none of the Catholic Communion’s 26 distinct Rites or ‘Sister Churches’ have ever denied any of the basic, fundamental tenets of traditional, orthodox Christianitylisted in the Common Creed of Christianity on this website as long as they were within the Catholic Communion (although the Chaldean Rite of the Catholic Church is made of once-5th Century Nestorian heretics excommunicated from the Catholic Church after the 3rd Ecumenical Council, who recanted their heresy and were received back into the Catholic Christian Communion in the 16th Century).

Vatican II, BECAUSE it respects what non-Catholic Christians have preserved from the Undivided Early Church and is learning from them (for example, the Catholic Church is re-learning to love Bible reading as the Early Church did because of the Protestant example), AND BECAUSE it clarifies just what the Catholic Church has preserved from the Undivided Early Church which was lost in the Protestant Reformation, resulting in the prolific divisions and increasing unorthodoxy within Protestantism, HAS TREMENDOUS IMPLICATIONS for the long-term restoration of First Millennium Christian unity in diversity, if non-Catholic Christians are willing to learn from the Catholic Church as the Catholic Church has learned from non-Catholic Christians (and if Catholic Christians will take the time to educate themselves in this recent wonderful teaching from the highest level within their own Church).

“Doctinally conservative,” Evangelical Protestant Christians should appreciate that they have an ally in the Catholic Church which they do not have within Protestantism, concerning the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, and concerning the fundamental tenets of traditional, orthodox Christianity.  Many of the Protestant Churches (especially within Protestantism’s oldest and largest “mainline” denominations, those most mature in their Protestantism), have compromised faith in the complete inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, as well as in the traditional fundamental interpretations of the Bible like “Jesus is Divine, fully God and fully man.”   All the “doctrinally liberal” Protestant denominations who question or reject the traditional Canon of the Bible used to be conservative, traditional Protestant churches – such as the one I was raised in, which lost its grip on the traditional fundamentals of Christian faith and morality and on the traditional Canon of the Bible itself in my own lifetime – simply because their Protestantism ultimately could not logically allow them to think that the New Testament and its fundamental interpretation could only possibly be what the Catholic Church Magisterium (teaching office) said it was after the controversies in the early centuries of Christianity (‘historic Christianity’ and ‘orthodox Christianity’ are Catholic Christianity).  But the inspiration and inerrancy of the traditional, historic Canon of the Bible is a permanently certain fixture of Catholic Christianity which recognizes the Catholic Church Magisterium as part of the Mystery revealed in the Bible that the Church is the Living Body of Christ still on earth and therefore “the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15).  In Vatican II that Church authority has permanently, dogmatically and irrevocably clarified for all Catholic Christians that:

The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For Holy Mother Church relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn. 20:31; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:19–21; 3:15–16), they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself. To compose the sacred books, God chose certain men who, all the while he employed them in this task, made full use of their powers and faculties so that, though he acted in them and by them, it was as true authors that they consigned to writing whatever he wanted written, and no more.

Since, therefore, all that the inspired authors, or sacred writers, affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture, firmly, faithfully and without error, teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the sacred Scriptures. Thus “all Scripture is inspired by God, and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17, Gk. text) … all the preaching of the Church, as indeed the entire Christian religion, should be nourished and ruled by sacred Scripture. In the sacred books the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them. (Vatican Council II, Dei Verbum (DV), The Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation – DV 11, 21)

This official and irrevocable dogmatic Catholic teaching upon the divine inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible is not only something that any devout conservative/Evangelical Protestant Christian would heartily agree with, it is also a greater protection of the Bible than anything within Protestantism.  With authoritative and irrevocable teaching like this from the Body of Christ the Church about the inspiration and inerrancy of the tradtional Bible, Catholic Christians can never question, doubt or reject parts of the Bible or change its Canon (list of Sacred Books) the way so many of the oldest and largest Protestant “mainline” Christian churches and denominations (including the one I was raised in) have.  In this sense Catholic Christians are the real “Bible Christians” — but also in this sense conservative, traditional, orthodox Protestant Christians are “Catholic at Heart,” adhering firmly to the traditional, Catholic New Testament (fixed in a very Catholic process from 367-405 AD), and adhering firmly to  the traditional, Catholic interpretations of the Bible which are the fundamentals of traditional, orthodox Christianity (not shared by the early Christians which the Early Catholic Church declared to be heretics and not shared by “doctrinally liberal” Protestant Christians who find that their commitment to the Principles of the Protestant Reformation do not require them to accept the Early Catholic Church’s authority [a function of the Mystery revealed in the Bible of the Church as the Body of Christ] which historically settled the early Christian controversies over the nature of Jesus [“fully God and fully man”] and so on).

Becoming Part of the Solution to Christian Disunity Instead of Part of the Problem: The Great Protestant Contribution to Vatican II

The Greatest Protestant Scholar of the 19th Century, and the Greatest Early Church Scholar Ever, Predicted the Widespread “Doctrinal Liberalism” and Unorthodoxy Within Protestantism Which in Fact Happened, as the Natural & Logical Result of Certain Protestant Reformation Deviations from the Norms of the Undivided Early Church, and Became Catholic Because the Catholic Church Despite its Own Problems Still Preserved All of Those Norms and Was Immune to Protestant “Liberal” Unorthodoxy.  Orthodox Protestant Christians Will Be Glad to Know That He Brought with Him into the Catholic Church All the Protestant Concerns about the Catholic Church, Found Resolutions to Them and Worked for Further Reform of the Catholic Church to Make it Even More like the Undivided Early Church.  The Fruit of His Effort Is Vatican Council II, Which He Has Been Called “The Father Of” Because of How His Unparalleled Early Church Research and Theological Development Based on it Prepared the Way for Vatican II’s Reforms Which Formally Pave the Way for the Reestablishment of the Structure of the Undivided Early Church with its Unity in Diversity, Though These Reforms Are Still in the Process of Being Implemented Within the Catholic Church. His Contributions, Coming from His Protestant Perspective, to the Catholic Church, Helping it to Become All it Is Meant to Be and as it Was in the Undivided Early Catholic Church, Are So Vast and So Respected by the Catholic Church That He Was Made a Cardinal in His Lifetime and Now Is Well on the Way to Being Named Both a Saint and a Doctor (Teacher) of the Catholic Church.

This most piercingly intelligent and piercingly honest of Protestant Christians, who brought the gifts of his wide Protestant background into the Catholic Church to help to truly reform it in ways both the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Counter-Reformation had failed to do, is, many will have guessed, Cardinal John Henry Newman, who had long been named “Venerable” and in September 2010 was named “Blessed” by Pope Benedict XVI, the next-to-last step to being Canonized as a Saint.  Because of the exceptional nature of his theology, which has already become part of the dogmatic teaching of the Catholic Church in Vatican II’s above-cited Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation as well as the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, he is likely to eventually also be named a Doctor (Latin: Teacher) of the Church, joining the select group of only 33 Saints throughout history who have been named Doctors, often for being the theologians who did the most to help the Early Church clarify and define what we now know as the “fundamental doctrines” or “essential dogmas” of Christian faith, resolving the earlier imprecision which had led to heresies and other major problems (including divisions!) within the Church.

It is important to note that although Newman later used his vast intellect to pointedly criticize the deficiencies of all of the major forms of Protestantism (all of which he had direct experience in, not just the Anglicanism he held before he became Catholic), he very much “took with him” into the Catholic Church the best of the Protestantism which had provided his Christian formation.  I myself have a similar wide range of Protestant experience in my background, and I know that like Newman I personally quite literally received “the best of both worlds” by having been raised (conservative “mainline” then Evangelical) Protestant but later becoming Catholic.  The world’s foremost Newman scholar, Father Ian Ker, who attended Newman’s Beatification in September 2010, in his book Newman and the Fullness of Christianity in a detailed way confirms the history that Newman had direct experience in all the major Protestant forms of Christianity, including becoming a devout Evangelical in his teens (as I did), as well as having a great familiarity with Eastern Orthodox Christianity.  He even came to love the Eastern Early Church Fathers much more than the Western although as the world’s foremost Early Church Scholar (as an Anglican) he came to understand very clearly they were all Catholic (Universal) Christians, not just Roman, nor merly Orthodox.  I have personally experienced the best of what each tradition has best preserved from the Undivided Early Church and so, although I am a thoroughly committed Catholic Christian (among the Eastern Catholic Rites not the largest, Roman Rite), I do not simply wish to promote Protestants becoming Catholic but rather I wish to promote their (in the long term) doing so by bringing with them their special gifts to greatly enrich the Catholic Communion to help make it all it was meant to be, as it was in the Undivided Early Catholic Church but better (the Undivided Early Church eventually lost its initial Unity in Diversity because it never consciously defined, as Vatican II has, the wonderful nature and structure of its Undivided Christian Communion which it lived unconsciously).  I also wish to promote Catholics getting ready to receive such Protestants returning to the Catholic Communion (in large numbers in their own new Sister Churches, “daughter” Rites of the ancient Roman Patriarchate, according to the Undivided Early Church model described in The Spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the First Millennium of the Undivided Early Church) with open and loving arms, enriching their returning brothers with those vast treasures of Early Undivided Christianitywhich Catholics have never lost at the same time as being enriched by the evangelical zeal and great love for God’s Word in the Bible of their returning brothers and sisters. My professor, Protestant pastor turned Catholic scholar Scott Hahn, who like Newman and I has benefited greatly from having belonged to both traditions, wrote,

“in the writings of the early [Christian Church] fathers … I ran smack up against a Church I could only recognize as Catholic. It was liturgical, hierarchical, sacramental. It was Catholic, and yet it held all that I loved about the Reformation tradition too: a deep devotion to Jesus, a spontaneous life of prayer, a zeal to transform the culture, and, of course, a burning love for scripture”

– so it must be possible to genuinely reform the Catholic Church according to the Undivided Early Catholic Church model for reformers and Catholics to once again belong to one ChurchBlessed Cardinal John Henry Newman, Scott Hahn, myself and many others represent “becoming part of the solution to Christian disunity instead of part of the problem” – recognizing that our traditional Christian orthodoxy makes us “Catholic at Heart” already, bringing all the best of Protestant Christianity with us into the Ancient Catholic Communion of Orthodox Christian Sister Churches known collectively as the Catholic Church, where we no longer have any concern about the creeping Protestant “doctrinal liberalism” or unorthodoxy which is the natural and logical long-term, mature result of the Protestant Reformation’s attempt to re-form the Church without certain key elements of the Undivided Early Church.

For More on Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman, see Cardinal John Henry Newman and How His Protestant Background Enriched the Catholic Church with Vatican II

[The following sections concerning Vatican II are taken from some of the books available on this website, particularly So That The World May Believeand The Bible’s ‘Big Picture’, to whet the reader’s appetite for really learning the teaching of Vatican II, especially pertaining to Ecumenism and re-establishing the character and structure of the Undivided Early Church.  These excerpts are ‘TEASERS’ only – the books, which include more quotations from Vatican II and post-Vatican II Church documents, will have to be read to really understand and appreciate the Catholic Church’s wonderful Ecumenical teaching]

… We Should Be Trying to Consciously Re-Establish (Permanently) the Kind of Christian Unity the Undivided Early Church Lived Instinctively for Centuries Which it Lost Because it Never Consciously Defined the Nature of its Unity the Way the 21st Ecumenical Council (Vatican II, 1962-5) Finally Did…

… The Catholic Church’s 21st Ecumenical Council (Vatican II, 1962-5) Already Laid the Groundwork for the True Re-Formation of the Undivided First Millennium Catholic Church’s Instinctively-lived Loving Unity in Diversity, but the Council’s Teaching Has Not Yet Settled Deeply into the Minds and Hearts of Most Catholic Christians, Which it must Before this Ecumenical Council Can Bear the Fruit of Christian Reunification.    So That The World May Believe (Especially Volume III) Is Meant to Help Catholic Readers Come to Fully Understand, Accept and Appreciate the Council’s Holy Spirit-led Teaching as They Are Already Obligated to Do as Good Catholics.  This Book Is Also Meant to Help Non-Catholic Christians Understand the Wonderful Official Teaching of Vatican II Towards Christian Reunification So They Can Hold Catholic Christians Accountable to it and Thus Participate in the True Re-Formation of the Catholic Church as in its First Millennium of Undivided Christian Unity

… Vatican II Formally Corrects Overly-Roman Misconceptions of the Nature of the Catholic Church Which Came about from Eastern Catholics Being a Small Minority of Catholics since the Muslim Conquests of the Catholic East…Vatican II in Principle Officially Corrects the Past Un-Catholic “Romanization” of the Eastern Catholic Rites Which Fuels the Eastern Orthodox Schism from Catholic (Universal) Communion…

… All Three Major Branches of Christianity Have to Give up Any Remaining Conceptions That There Is Only One Proper or Best Way to Express and Celebrate the Common Christian Faith, Which Is Totally Against the Undivided Early Church’s Unity in Diversity…The One Half of All Christians Who Are Roman Catholic must Take Ecumenical Leadership in this by Actively Seeking to Conform Their Minds to the Mind of the Catholic Church Expressed in the Holy Spirit-Guided 21st Ecumenical Council (Vatican II) Which at Last Clearly Expresses the Proper Nature and Structure of the Catholic Church as it Was Lived in the First Millennium of the Undivided Early Church…

… Since the 21st Ecumenical Council (Vatican II) in the 1960s, “Average Catholics” Have Not Yet Had the Council’s Dogmatic Teaching on the Nature and Structure of the Church, Which Clearly Articulated the Lived Reality of the Unity in Diversity of the Undivided Early Church, Sink Deeply into Their Minds and Hearts.  When this Happens and the World’s 1 Billion Roman Rite Catholic Christians Start Thinking about and Working Towards Christian Unity like the Undivided First Millennium Catholic Church Lived It, the Non-Catholic Christian Churches Will Seriously Examine Vatican II’s Advanced Ecclesiology and See How its Holy Spirit-Guided Teaching Brilliantly Paves the Way for the Third Millennium Re-Establishment of the First Millennium Christian Unity in Diversity Lost in the Second Millennium.  There Is Real Hope for the Third Millennium Fulfillment of Jesus’ Prayer to His Father “That All [Christians] May Be One. . . So That the World May Believe That You Have Sent Me. . . May [Christians] Be Brought to Complete Unity to Let the World Know That You Sent Me and Have Loved Them Even as You Have Loved Me” (John 17:21, 23)…

Ecumenical Conclusion

There will be much more on the history of the Undivided Early Church and its implications for the re-establishment of Christian unity in diversity in Volume III of So That The World May Believe, but I would here like to note that the ancient Living Body of Christ the (unified Universal or Catholic) Christian Church in its 1st Ecumenical (worldwide) Council at Nicea (325 AD) dogmatically and irrevocably clarified, against the Arian Christian heretics with their sophisticated and thorough but not Traditional interpretation of “the Bible Alone,” the vital Christian belief that Jesus is God, “one in being with the Father.”  The 2nd Ecumenical Council of 381 AD (which Pope Saint Damasus declared to be of Ecumenical (worldwide) authority although no Western overseer/bishops were present), first authoritatively articulated and clarified the Divinity of the Holy Spirit as well and thus the primary Christian doctrine of the Trinity, ending all the previous disputes among Christians about the Trinity.  The 4th Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon (451 AD) under the direction of Pope Saint Leo the Great similarly precisely clarified in the Holy Spirit, against the Monophysite Christian heretics, the central Christian belief in the Incarnation, that Jesus is in fact “fully God and fully man.”  Vatican Council II (1962-5) was the 21st Ecumenical Council of the same Catholic Church (the ongoing Universal/Catholic Communion of today 26 Orthodox Christian Rites or ‘Sister Churches’) , and it likewise precisely articulated something that had always been part of the Christian faith at least implicitly but had never been explicitly clarified, which had likewise resulted in some Christians coming up with incorrect notions that caused many problems (and divisions).  Vatican II was the very first Ecumenical Council of the Living Body of Christ the Church to dogmatically clarify the nature and structure of the Christian Church, precisely articulating the instinctively lived reality of the Undivided Early Church of the First Millennium (a reality continued in the Catholic Church today but much harder to see since unlike in the First Millennium, the great majority of Catholics today are Roman Rite Catholics).  This has tremendous implications for the eventual reunification of Jesus’ Body the Church which became divided in the Second Millennium, in fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer for Christian unity.  As all Christians, including majority Roman Rite Catholic Christians who often have a more particularly Roman and less truly Catholic (Universal) understanding of their Church, come to fully understand and appreciate the nature and structure of the Undivided Early Church, it will become easier for today’s different Christian churches already united  in vast common saving Christian faith (see The “Common Creed” of Christianity) to better reflect the Undivided Early Church’s loving and mutually enriching unity in diversity, “so that the world may believe” (John 17:21) in Jesus when it sees the love of Christians for “one another” (John 13:35) – even for as long as our current formal divisions remain

… The Historical Fact That All of the Christian Churches Which Still Hold to the Essential Fundamentals of Christian Faithlisted in the Common Creed Either Still Belong to the Ancient but Ongoing Catholic Communion of Orthodox Christian Sister Churches, Eastern and Western (The Catholic Church in its 26 Already-Unified Eastern and Western Rites) or Once Did (The Eastern Orthodox and [Western] Conservative Protestant Churches), Means That a Reunification must Be Possible, as the Holy Spirit of God Continues to Fill Our Hearts with Love for All Our Christian Brothers and Sisters United in this Faith and We Seek Forgiveness and Reconciliation for Our past Sins Against Each Other Due to Our Failures in Love (And as the Catholic Church Gradually Implements its Own Recent Reforms in Vatican II to Make Today’s Catholic Church Consciously and Visibly Much less Roman and More Truly Catholic (Universal) like the Undivided Early Catholic Church, Despite the Current Numerical Dominance of the Roman Church among the 26 Unified Sister Churches Which Together Make up Today’s Catholic Church)…

… With the guiding help of Vatican II, its implications fully understood by Catholic and non-Catholic Christians (which is a major purpose of the books on this website), now Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant/ Evangelical Christians together, as true brothers and sisters in Christ already united in vast common faith, though currently separated by misunderstandings and lesser doctrines, have a chance to really and effectively work towards what the 16th Century Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation originally intended to do but failed in doing – restoring the Body of Christ the Church to its Early Church unity in orthodox Christian faith “so that the world may believe,” as Jesus prayed, when it sees our “love for one another.” 

 Go To the Forum

Go To So That the World May Believe:  A Call to Christian Unity

Go To the Mission Statement

Go To Creed

Go To Catalog of Free Titles

Go To Trinity of Love

Go To On the Power of Prayer / Suggested Prayers for Prayer Partners

Go To Becoming a “Partner” in Building God’s Family and Kingdom with “The Gift of Truth”

© 2008, 2010 Peter William John Baptiste, SFO

[1]  As testified by Father Ilija Zivkovic, the Minister General of the Franciscan Third Order Regular (TOR), at Mass in Christ the King Chapel at Franciscan University of Steubenville, on Monday, July 28, 2003.  The worldwide head of the TOR, based in Rome, reported that he saw John Paul II frequently, and he said that whenever the Pope saw him, “Holy Father always asks, ‘how is Steubenville?’ ”  When he talked to John Paul II shortly before coming to Steubenville in 2003, “Holy Father said Steubenville was the Catholic University most faithful to the teachings of the Church, in the whole world.”  I am certain that the Pope did not intend his statement as part of a definitive ranking of faithful Catholic Universities, but John Paul II clearly intended to convey his high opinion of Franciscan University of Steubenville as one of the most faithful Catholic Universities in the world, as a compliment to the head of the Order which runs the University.

The Vatican still maintains this very high opinion of Franciscan University of Steubenville.   At the University’s 62nd commencement exercises in May 2010, His Eminence Cardinal John Foley, former president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, congratulated the seniors “on graduating from one of the finest Catholic universities, not only in the United States, but in the world.”