Jean Guitton and the Modernism on II Vatican Council: Reply to the Report from Brescia
Orlando Fedeli

Reply to the report from Istituto Paolo VI di Brescia (Italy)
(English version from the original in Italian – “Risposta al Parere del’Istituto Paolo VI di Brescia”)

Proposed problem:

Jean Guitton confesses: the II Vatican Council has proclaimed what Saint Pius X condemned as Modernist heresy, in 1906:

“When I read the documents relative to the Modernism, as it was defined by Saint Pius X, and when I compare them to the documents of the II Vatican Council, I cannot help being bewildered. For what was condemned as heresy in 1906 was proclaimed as what is and should be from now on the doctrine and method of the Church. In other words, the modernists of 1906 were, somewhat, precursors to me. My masters were part of them. My parents taught me Modernism. How could Saint Pius X reject those that now seem to be my precursors?” (Jean Guitton, Portrait du Père Lagrange, Éditions Robert Laffont, Paris, 1992, pp. 55-56).

"O voi ch'avete l'intelletti sani,
mirate la dottrina che s'asconde
sotto il velame delli testi strani"
(Dante, Inferno, IX, 61-63).

[“O ye who have undistempered intellects,
observe the doctrine that conceals itself
beneath the veil of the mysterious texts!”]

Most Illustrious Sire Dr. Renato Papetti,
Istituto Paolo VI di Brescia.
Laudetur Jesus Christus.


I - Introduction

First of all, allow me to thank you for your most kind attention regarding the question sent to you by my brother, Marcelo Fedeli, and I apologize for my orthography and grammar mistakes, since I have learnt my Italian at home.

I also want to thank Istituto Paolo VI di Brescia for the concern to answer and to “adequately deepen the delicate matter” submitted, entrusting a theologian to elaborate a learned report about Jean Guitton’s statement on the modernist character of II Vatican Council.

Anyway, my gratitude to your kindness and to the work of Istituto Paolo VI cannot help me saying, with a respectful and Christian sincerity, that your answer, that means, the theological report assumed by Istituto Paolo VI – that so much pleased me by its kind attention actually did not satisfy me intellectually.

My brother has submitted to your judgment, and to others as well, the phrase of Jean Guitton that asserts – with all the letters – that “what was condemned as heresy in 1906, was proclaimed as what is and should be from now on the doctrine and method of the Church”. Therefore, that the condemned doctrine of Modernism was retaken and defended by the II Vatican Council.

Guitton, a very dear and reliable friend of Paul VI, and who was invited by this Pope to take part of the Council, had the authority to confess what is very well understood, but that many want to put “under the veil”: that the Modernist doctrine condemned by Pope Saint Pius X was proposed, sometimes in a very misty, concealed and ambiguous way, as Catholic doctrine in the documents of Vatican II.

You answer, through the theological report that you sent to me: “There is evident ignorance and bad intention in those who see connivance between the doctrine of the Vatican II relative to Revelation and the thesis on which the modernism is based, that is the historical-critic theory.” (the underlining is mine).

I’m sorry, but Guitton did not restrict his affirmation to “Revelation” only. He said, generically, that Vatican II “has proclaimed” the Modernist doctrine. But he didn’t mention the Revelation according Modernism and according to Vatican II. Istituto Paolo VI has restricted the matter on its own account.

Otherwise, the theological report itself, that was sent to us, says that: “the pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes of exquisitely evangelic style (…) is often accused of modernism”

Who, besides Guitton, has accused Gaudium et Spes of being modernist?

Were there, therefore, others that regarded the Modernism triumphant in the doctrines and documents of Vatican II?

Is it attributed to Guitton the “evident ignorance and bad intention”?

Or to whom else?

This unclear accusation does not uphold the famous “dialogue”.

If the author of this learned theological report judged that Guitton had “evident ignorance and bad intention”, he should say it clearly. And how could one say that Guitton ignored the Vatican II, in which he deeply took part of? And how could the confidence and friendship between him and Pope Paul VI be explained, if he had “bad intention”?

And yet: Guitton’s phrase was published in the biography that he wrote about Father Lagrange, by request and order of Pope John Paul II. However, there is no proof that John Paul II denied, or even criticized, Guitton’s terrible statement about Vatican II, that is in this book...

I beg you to forgive me, but there is something puzzling about the indirect attribution of “evident ignorance and bad intention” to Guitton. Case you have referred this judgment to him.