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Real Council & Virtual Council – I

Roberto de Mattei’s Attempt to Save Vatican II

Patrick Odou
On March 9, 2013, in the city of Krakow, Poland, Prof. Roberto de Mattei delivered a speech on Vatican II. The talk was in English and translated to Polish by an interpreter. The full text of the speech, parts of which I will transcribe in this article, can be read here, and the full 1:26 hour video, (1) can be watched here. The speech was given as part of a campaign promoting his book The Second Vatican Council; An Unwritten Story.

Roberto de Mattei delivering his talk in Krakow

Allow me, initially, to point out that Roberto de Mattei and his book have been cloaked in great prestige by authorities of the Vatican. Card. Walter Brandmuller, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Science, speaks of “Prof. de Mattei’s genius” and his book as, “a work that is as erudite as it is relevant,” and “thanks to its rigorous historical-critical method it will convince a vast readership.”

Besides this grandiloquent endorsement, it is worth mentioning that Benedict XVI was very pleased with Mattei as well, and made him a Knight of St. Gregory the Great – a Pontifical Order of Chivalry - as recompense for non-specified “services to the Church.”

It is not without interest to note that admirers of Mattei include Bishop Bernard Fellay and the SSPX’s Angelus magazine. Both are promoting and quoting him as an example of one who has objections to Vatican II and yet accepts it. Mattei appears, thus, as a good help for SSPX in its dialogue with the Conciliar Hierarchy.

I. Real Council, Virtual Council

Having seen the good graces Mattei enjoys in today’s progressivist Vatican and in the compromised religious-right, let me examine some points of his talk.

In the following paragraphs, he unfolds his thinking, which, he believes, coincides with that of Pope Ratzinger:

Benedict XVI, in the last speech that he delivered to the clergy of Rome on the 14th of February [2013], identified the origins of the religious crisis of our time in the Virtual Council which, he said, had superimposed itself over Vatican II. This Council of the Media, according to Benedict XVI, was almost a Council apart, and the world perceived the Council through the media. Thus, the Council that reached the people with immediate effect was that of the media, not of the Fathers, says the Pope. And, according to Benedict XVI, therefore, the Virtual Council was the dominant one, the more effective one, and it created so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering, seminaries closed, convents closed, banal liturgy.

Pope Ratzinger took all possible advantage of the media; then, used it as scapegoat

“But in the age of social communication where what is true is what is communicated, this Virtual Council was, however, no less real than the one which took place within St. Peter’s Basilica. And also because Vatican II wanted to be a pastoral Council, which entrusted its message to new instruments of expression.

“Today, more than then, the mass media is able to not only represent reality but also to determine it, thanks to their force and their power of suggestion. Benedict XVI has frequently spoken of this, emphasizing the media’s power to manipulate.”

So, according to Mattei, we would have two councils: a good Vatican II, the one of the Fathers or Real Council, and a bad one, the Council of the Media or Virtual Council, which should be blamed for almost all the crises and excesses that came after Vatican II. The Real Council, which wanted to be “pastoral,” had its message falsified by a bunch of horrible and malicious journalists who led the whole world to a wrong understanding and implementation of Vatican II.

What Mattei affirms, however, is less than what he suggests. What he strongly implies is that we should accept Vatican II as conceived by the Fathers and reinterpret it, purifying it of the bad focus given to it by the media.

These statements and suggestions are, however, fundamentally baseless. Anyone who has a minimum knowledge of history is aware that it was the Popes who made the ‘Conciliar Revolution’ as Card. Suenens and Card. Congar objectively called it. (2) Incidentally, neither of these two Cardinals belonged to the media; the first was one of the Moderators of the Council, the second was one of its more important periti. A short list of what each Pope did follows:

1. John XXIII

The convents started to empty when John XXIII launched his aggiornamento – adaptation of the Church to the modern world. As soon as religious men and women heard of this adaptation, many of them abandoned their specific vocations and spirituality, disregarded their rules, discarded their habits, left their monasteries and convents and went to live in apartments in nearby cities in groups of three or four.

This aggiornamento was, and still is, the cause of the empty and closed seminaries and religious houses. What was the influence of the media in this decision of John XXIII? I believe it had zero influence. Obviously the media reported the changes, but that was all it did. The main cause was a deliberate action of that Pope.

Accordingly, the formation programs in the seminaries changed. The time normally spent on spirituality was thenceforth employed studying Freud, Jung and other exponents of modern psychiatry. The time used to learn theology and philosophy was replaced in part with learning Karl Rahner and Urs von Balthasar, and in part with training seminarians in “social activity” – mass agitation, class struggle, how to found small groups to sabotage government stability, a whole program of subversion with clear communist hues. Shortly afterwards, homosexuality would infect like a plague the seminaries of the world. It is no surprise that any true vocation to the priesthood would not feel comfortable in this ‘new-look.’

What was the role of the media in this phenomenon? Again, it reported a lot about it; it did not produce it. It was caused by the close orientation of Rome under John XXIII and the conciliar Popes who followed.

adapting to the modern world

According to Mattei, the entire adaptation to the modern world made by priests should be attributed to the media... Check here - clockwise from the top left - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

What about the change in the Mass and liturgy? It is well-known that it was Pius XII who started the liturgical changes in 1955. In 1962, during the first session of the Council, Card. Suenens – under the direct orders of John XXIII (3) – proposed that all the schemata prepared for the Council should be put aside; only two schemas were maintained – one was for the reform of the liturgy, written under the close watch of Msgr. Anibale Bugnini. This man – under the orientation of Pius XII, John XXIII and Paul VI – was the architect of the entire liturgical reform. The changes started to be enforced even before the document Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC) was approved in 1963.

Already in 1962, in liturgy the Church was experiencing the “new winds” blowing from Rome, winds that became a hurricane by 1963-1964 after the promulgation of SC:
  • The altars were no longer turned to God, but to the people;

  • Communion rails, pulpits and confessionals were removed;

  • Statues were relegated to the basements and eventually sold as antiques;

  • Bells and smells were abolished;

  • Modern and pop music introduced into the churches.
It is laughable to attribute this entire revolution to the power of the media. All the more so if we consider that it was triggered in the first two sessions of an unfolding Council where the media itself was as surprised as everyone else with the new orientation being given to the Catholic Church. I advance my first conclusion: Mattei is protecting the Council against those of us who consider it to be opposed to the past Magisterium of the Church, do not accept it, and ask for its annulment. The scapegoat he presents is the media.

I plan to continue this overview of what was done under the six conciliar Popes – from John XXIII to Francis I – in order to sustain my point: There is no possibility for any serious analyst, be he theologian or historian, to support that the Conciliar Revolution was an invention of the media.


  1. Introduction in Polish, Mattei’s speech, and Questions and Answers.
  2. Atila Sinke Guimaraes, Animus Delendi I, chap. I, note 14.
  3. Atila Sinke Guimarães, In The Murky Waters of Vatican II, chap. VI. § 78.


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Posted July 14, 2014

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