| In his book Principles of Catholic Theology,
first published in 1982, Card. Joseph Ratzinger pictured the crisis
inside the Church as a consequence of Vatican II. Then he asked: Should
the Council be revoked?
In his answer, he categorically affirmed that the Church cannot return to the principles of the Syllabus
of Pius IX. He also stated that razing the bastions of the Church, as
Fr. von Balthasar had proposed, was an urgent duty of Catholics.
Top right is a picture of the book's cover; at right, photocopies of the French text. Below, we present our translation.
this mean that the Council itself should be revoked? Absolutely not. It
only signifies that the real reception of the Council has not yet
begun. What has devastated the Church in the last decade is not the
Council, but a refusal to receive it: this became evident thanks to
analysis of the influence of Gaudium et spes. What has been
presented as the Council was in large measure an attitude that could
find no justification in the affirmations of the text itself, but
rather were [just] tendencies in its elaboration and some of its
The duty is, therefore, not to suppress the Council, but to discover
the real Council and delve deep into what it truly wants with regard to
what has happened since then.
This implies that there is no possible return to the Syllabus,
which could well have been a first step in the combat against
Liberalism and the nascent Marxism, but which cannot be the last word.
Neither embraces nor the ghetto can resolve the problem of
[relations with] the modern world for the Christian. Hence, the 'razing
of the bastions' that Hans Urs von Balthasar called for already in 1952
was in effect an urgent duty ....
It was necessary for her [the Church] to raze the old bastions and
confide only in the protection of the faith, the power of the word that
is her unique, true, and permanent strength. But to raze the bastions
cannot signify that she no longer has anything to protect, or that she
can live owing to different forces than those that engendered her: the
water and the blood that poured from the open side of her crucified
(Les Principes de la Theologie Catholique - Esquisse et Materiaux, Paris: Tequi, 1982, pp. 437-438).