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Thus Saith NOT Vatican Council II

replying to the disinformation in Evangelical Outreach's "Information for Catholics"

Chapter 2 of Truth for Catholics

The non-Catholic "has not studied our doctrines, he has not learned our terms.... He is ever mistaking one thing for another, and thinks it does not signify. Ignorance in his case is the mother, not certainly of devotion, but of inconceivable conceit and preternatural injustice". (John Henry Newman)

Evangelical Outreach (EO) purports to quote from the documents of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council at its Information [sic] for Catholics website in its Thus Saith Vatican Council II webpage.

What Evangelical Outreach claims

"Because so much controversy exists over present-day Catholicism and its changes since Vatican Council II," says Evangelical Outreach, "a need exists to clarify what and how significant these changes are". EO continues, "Therefore, Vatican Council II is quoted below regarding INDULGENCES...."

EO then purports to quote from Vatican Council II, citing volume 1, page numbers 71, 75, and 77. All these quotations, EO says, are from Vatican Council II. Here are the quotations and citations:

"An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain defined conditions through the Church's help when, as minister of Redemption, she dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfaction won by Christ and the saints" (Vol. 1, p.75).

"An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin" (Vol. 1, p.75).

"Partial as well as plenary indulgences can always be applied to the dead by way of prayer" (Vol. 1, p.75).

"The faithful who use with devotion an object of piety (crucifix, cross, rosary, scapular or medal) after it has been duly blessed by any priest, can gain a partial indulgence" (Vol. 1, p.77).

" [the Roman Catholic Church] condemns with anathema those who say that indulgences are useless or that the Church does not have the power to grant them" (Vol. 1, p.71).

The Truth

Between the horizontal rulers immediately below, I will quote what Vatican Council II actually taught about indulgences.

Yes, what Vatican Council II said about indulgences can be found between the horizontal bars immediately above.

That's right: Vatican Council II said not one word about indulgences. Not one word.

You don't have to take my word for it; here are three web sites of the documents of Vatican Council II:

If you really want to, you can try to find for yourself where Vatican II might have taught something—anything—about indulgences. (Hint: don't waste your time.)

What was Evangelical Outreach doing?

Evangelical Outreach was quoting from any of several editions of official Catholic documents that include both the documents of Vatican Council II and documents issued after the Council by various popes, Vatican departments, or groups of bishops. And EO's quotations are not from a document of Vatican Council II.

The Upshot

So what? you might be inclined to say. That's no big deal: Evangelical Outreach just got a little confused.

But that is exactly why it's a big deal. EO trumpets it's "knowledge" of Vatican II, and smashes that "knowledge" into the face of unsuspecting readers. To those who really know what Vatican II taught, EO is actually trumpeting its ignorance.

Some places to look for more of the truth

If you would like to find out what Catholics really believe about indulgences, you could take a look at James Akin's Primer on Indulgences. (By the way, James Akin is a Catholic who used to be a Protestant.) Or try this article on Indulgences by Paul S. Czarnota. Or, see Purgatory: a Biblical Exegesis, by Robert Sungenis.

If you'd like to know what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about indulgences, look at ## 1471-1479.

If you are more daring, you could try the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Indulgences. It is very long, and it gets rather involved and technical, but it isn't all so bad; here's a little bit of it:

[An indulgence] is not a permission to commit sin, nor a pardon of future sin; neither could be granted by any power. It is not the forgiveness of the guilt of sin; it supposes that the sin has already been forgiven. It is not an exemption from any law or duty....

You could also read Pope Paul's Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences. In fact, if you read it, you'll find that the quotations that Evangelical Outreach purports to take from Vatican Council II actually come from this document of Pope Paul VI.

(By the way, Evangelical Outreach also falsely attributes to Vatican Council II the same quotations from Pope Paul VI in its Present-Day Official Teachings Of The Roman Catholic Church webpage. But see my reply, Thank God that Church Teachings Don't Change.)

Some little advice

Enough of that, because I am not writing about indulgences here—I am writing about the way non-Catholics, especially anti-Catholics, write or talk about Catholic beliefs and practices as if they know what they're writing or talking about, when in fact they do not.

My advice? When you want to know what Catholics believe—if you really want to know what Catholics actually believe—ask Catholics: do not ask Evangelical Outreach or any Evangelicals or, for that matter, any Protestant or Orthodox Christian.

I mean, come on... really... if you really wanted to learn what Baptists believe, would your first choice be to go to the nearest Catholic rectory and ask the priest? If you wanted to know what Jews believe, would try to find a mosque so you could ask somebody there?

Would that make any sense at all? Well, going to Evangelical Protestants to find out what Catholics believe makes just as little sense.

(Check out my Genuine Catholic Information for Honest Seekers for links to informative, honest, genuinely Catholic websites and pages.)

And a little question

Evangelical Outreach concludes its post of the quotations it falsely attributes to Vatican Council II with a few questions. (I'm sure you can imagine what I think about the worth of those questions.) So, I have a question of my own:

If Evangelical Outreach can't tell what's what in documents written and collected in the past four decades (like the documents of Vatican II and Pope Paul VI), why should we believe that EO can tell what's what in documents written and collected two or three thousand years ago (like the Sacred Scriptures)?

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