Vatican II is one of the most controversial councils (perhaps falling behind Trent) and has been criticized widely by Catholics due to the stance it takes on how the church should interact with society.

To keep in line with the teachings of the Church, to what extent can a faithful Catholic criticize what the Church defined as doctrine/discipline at Vatican II?

Related: For Catholics who object to Vatican II, what are the key issues? and What is the status of Catholics who reject Vatican II? Are they considered heretics?

  • I think most Catholics should offer much critique on the "Para-Council," that is, things that are claimed "in the spirit of Vatican 2." See Reclaiming the Second Vatican Council.
    – qxn
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 16:37

1 Answer 1


Faithful Catholics are not permitted to disagree with the documents of an ecumenical council. That's just a plain fact. However, it should be noted that there are many misconceptions about Vatican 2.

Vatican 2 did not give the faithful the right to receive communion in the hand.

Vatican 2 did not say that Mass should be said in the vernacular, in fact it said that Latin should be preserved in the rites and that Gregorian chant should have pride of place in the liturgy. Sacrosanctum Concilium

Vatican 2 did not codify the rubrics of the Novus Ordo.

These are probably the three biggest issues traditionalists take with "Vatican 2," and Vatican 2 did none of these things. Traditionalists who "disagree with Vatican 2" on these or similar grounds are simply confused. They are not actually disagreeing with Vatican 2. They should be encouraged to actually read the V2 documents and understand them so that they can come to realize that Vatican 2 did not call for the innovations which they (rightly) despise in the (common, and illicit celebrations of the) Novus Ordo.

Those who actually object to the teachings of Vatican 2 are heretics.

That being said, Catholics are permitted to object to matters of prudence as they relate to the conduction of the council. For example, allowing Protestant ministers to sit in and have their voices heard in the council seems imprudent, for, while the Holy Spirit will protect the council from error, it is fully possible that the authors of the council documents will be given to choosing vague language that does not clearly contradict Protestant viewpoints, especially if those authors are biased in favor of Protestant doctrine.

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    ah gotcha. So I can criticize some of the downsides of Vatican II, but not the actual disciplines or doctrines
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Jan 28, 2022 at 19:23
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    @jongricafort Vatican II did not give the faithful the right to receive communion in the hand. If you believe the opposite to be true could find a reference?
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 20:04
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    @jongricafort That is not the point. You disagree with the fact that Vatican II did not give the faithful the right to receive communion in the hand. Do you have a source for that?
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 1:46
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    @OneGodtheFather Catholics, as a general rule, can always object to the prudential judgements of clergy. This is so well known as to be essentially common knowledge. The Magisterium as a body and the Pope acting in his official teaching capacity (ex cathedra) cannot err in matters of teaching faith or morals. They can err in any other way. So, a faithful Catholic, naturally, can hold the opinion that the calling of a particular council was imprudent or that the invitation of some individuals was imprudent. Faithful Catholics cannot hold that the Holy Spirit is not present at such councils.
    – jaredad7
    Commented Jan 31, 2022 at 21:01
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    @jongricafort Sacrosanctum Concilium is a document of the Magisterium. Particular bishops have not implemented the document correctly. This is apparent when you see that many bishops do not require that chant be given pride of place at liturgies nor that Latin be preserved in the rites in their diocese. I would ask a similar question of you and these bishops. Are you following the true teachings of the Church (Vatican 2 and other ecumenical councils), or are you following some nebulous "spirit" of "Vatican 2" which indeed makes the true and Catholic teachings of Vatican 2 its enemy?
    – jaredad7
    Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 16:02

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