The Spirit of Vatican I

Any observer of Catholic affairs today knows of the phrase “the spirit of Vatican II,” which refers to the liberal ideals thought to have prevailed there. Amusingly, in the times before that council, a similar phrase was attached to Vatican I, but with reference to a different sort of ideals:

On the other hand, none will deny that heresies may result not only from the denial or the excessive restriction of the meaning of a dogmatic definition, but also from too wide a connotation. Church history supplies many instances of this kind and the same principles must be applied to the Vatican definition. The Neo-Ultramontane opinions and suggestions found no official support, but the tendency to attribute all sorts of things to the vague formula “the spirit of the Vatican Council” still exists and may, if pushed to extremes, prove as dangerous as the opposite excess.

Source: Francis Dvornik’s The Ecumenical Councils (New York: Hawthorn, 1961), pp. 108-109.


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