It's a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow
(Vatican II Turns 40)

Timothy Cullen

( Forty years ago on Dec. 8th , 1965, Vatican II came to a close. That same year, the New York World’s Fair closed. One of the best known songs of the fair, a tune meant to be a paean to technological progress, was “It’s A Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow!” It was the theme song for the General Electric (“Progress is our most important product!”) pavilion. The late Walt Disney commissioned the song for the rather oxymoronically named “Carousel of Progress” (the image of the carousel going ‘round and ‘round doesn’t exactly symbolize progress). Much of what came out of Vatican II was filled with equally imprecise language and time has shown that for those who tampered with a nearly two thousand year old tradition, “tomorrow” was also “just a dream away.”

Forty years down the road, today, the dream has deteriorated into a nightmare.

The “Great Society” promised by then-U.S.-president Lyndon B. Johnson is an utterly secularized society in which natural law has been cast to the winds, the gap between rich and poor has widened, America’s manufacturing base has steadily been “outsourced,” housing prices have risen to levels out of touch with the reality of the American worker, married mothers have been forced into the labor market by economic necessity, Christendom is committing demographic suicide… The sound principles of Catholic Social Teaching have been relegated to the dustbin of history by the secular materialists who manage U.S. and European education and, sad to say, the post-Vatican II Church has seemingly agreed that what is not “modern” is not worth maintaining.

Yet after forty years of experimentation, a better tomorrow for most is still a dream away.

It was in 1965 that the first American troops were sent to Viet Nam. Now, forty years later, American troops are dying in equally futile wars that will reap no benefit to themselves or their descendents. The “Evil Empire” of Soviet communism collapsed but the “peace dividend” has not been paid. The forces of evil behind the revolution begun with the intent of destroying Christendom have simply abandoned communism for finance capitalism, multiculturalism, secular materialism, situational ethics and the subversion of their only truly effective enemy: the Roman Catholic Church.

The authors of Vatican II seem to have been laboring under the same sort of delusion as the “just a dream away” folks. The state of the Church today is far from what those then hoping for a brighter future for the Church must have envisioned; unless, of course, they shared the modernist heresy and were pleased to openly endorse it.

“Joy and Hope”—Gaudium et Spes—, the “flagship” encyclical of Vatican II, was written four years earlier and was a forewarning of things to come. Its platitudinous language has permitted me to yield to the temptation of cynicism and to think of it as “Gaudy and Specious.” The term “politically correct” had yet to be coined in 1965, but its specious currency was already in circulation when the encyclical was published. The documents of Vatican II constitute a mother lode of fool’s gold of this sort: well meaning (one hopes) warm and fuzzy propositions founded upon fantasy that bears little resemblance to the firmly grounded dogma that has been the intellectual foundation of Western civilization since Europe emerged from the Dark Ages, a flowering that almost certainly would not have occurred had the Church not rescued the West from a total collapse into barbarism.

And now?

Church leadership greeted with open arms the Trojan horse of Twentieth Century technology’s promise of a great, big, beautiful tomorrow and now the barbarians are within the gates. The citadel that was Christendom stood fast against armed invasions from the East only to be breached by its own greed and its abandonment of the Faith that made it great. Rather than hold fast to its time-honored dogma and principles, the Church has attempted to compromise with forces that will continue their attacks. The policies of Vatican II and the popes of the last forty years will come to be seen as the Twenty First Century equivalent of the appeasement policy of Munich and the self-deluded would-be compromiser Neville Chamberlain.

The American television program “Lost in Space” debuted in 1965, nicely timed to indicate the general direction of post-Vatican II ideas and practices. “Beware, Will Robinson!”


The changes in the music to be heard in Catholic churches also coincided with a 1965 phenomenon: the “hootenanny,” a musical get together featuring what might be charitably described as “naïf” songs. The idea of the hootenanny was to recapture the lost innocence of America’s pioneer past, a fine idea on its face, but out of touch with the times. Hootenannies have given way to “Gangsta Rap” and the campfire circle is now the mosh pit. But the “Koom-Bye-Yah” crowd found a home in churches where once Gregorian chant could be heard.

Innocence was to be seen on the silver screen as well. The two top-grossing movies of 1965 were the wholesome family entertainments “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music.” But the Age of Innocence was coming to a close throughout Christendom, not just in America.

The truly prophetic film of that year was a French black-and-white directed by Jean-Luc Godard: “Alphaville,” a grim futuristic film about a dystopic society directed by a slow-talking computer named “Alpha-Soisant” with a whiskey-and-black-tobacco-broken, bad-barbiturate-habit voice that explains to secret agent Lemme Caution that everything is relative, governed by probability, and the word “love” is without meaning.

Forty years into the future from 1965, the results of Vatican II are not hard to judge: simply put, the Council’s changes have failed the Faithful and diluted the dogma of nearly two thousand years. What has been accomplished as a result of this disruption?  What were the goals of Vatican II?

According to the decree Pesbyterorum Ordinis: 12, the Council had three principle goals:

1. internal renovation of the Church;

2. spreading the Gospel in the world;

3. dialog with the world.

Pope Paul VI later stated there were four goals:

1. self examination that would enable the Church to discover what “she thinks of herself;”

2. reform;

3. the reunification of Christianity;

4. “building a bridge” to the contemporary world.

Have these goals been met in the forty years since the Council closed?

The spreading of the Gospel, the evangelization of non-believers, has failed and failed miserably. No one would dispute this.

The “reunification” of Christianity under the aegis of the one True Church has not taken place. Instead, the leadership of the Catholic Church is apparently willing to “protestantize” Catholicism in order to develop a “world” religion much along lines that could have been scripted by the one-world Masonic modernists condemned by Saint Pius X.

The “internal renovation,” viewed by Paul VI as a sort of self critical process meant to determine what the Church “thinks of herself” has evolved into a species of eternal encounter group: words, words and more words, a flabby subjectivity that only weakens the Mystical Body of Christ. Vatican II and the changes it initiated have created a sort of schizophrenia in the Church, an insecurity with respect to its mission that never existed previously.

Spreading the Gospel, evangelization, has proven a total failure, particularly in Europe, the historic home of the Church. Islam has penetrated into the heart of Europe and is waxing while Christianity is on the wane. Secular materialism and atheism are now the dominant “spiritual” forces in Europe.

The Church’s “dialog with the world” has amounted to little more than a series of mealy-mouthed mea culpas smugly accepted by “the world,” which then goes on to demand further abasement. The rest of the Church’s message falls upon deaf ears.

Paul VI sought “reform.” Reform, not reformation; but as the facts plainly demonstrate, what has taken place within the Church during the past forty years is unquestionably a kind of “protestantization.” “Reforms” to the liturgy have created incoherency of language from one nation to another, permitted the sort of individual and subjective pastoral interpretation characteristic of protestant sects and turned the Church ever more toward the world.

The late Stefan Cardinal Wyszinski (1901-1981), primate of Poland, described in 1974 a post-Council church “whose life has notably distanced itself from the fact of Calvary; a Church that has lessened its demands and that no longer resolves its difficulties according to the will of God, but rather per human possibilities; a Church whose Creed has been made elastic and whose moral code has become relativistic; a Church befogged and without the Tablets of the Law; a Church that closes its eyes to sin and fears being reprimanded as not very modern” (my translation from the Spanish edition of Iota Unum, the exhaustive and brilliantly reasoned critique of Vatican II, by Romano Amerio). That description was given thirty-one years ago; if anything, continued changes have been for the worse.

Paul VI’s ambition to see a “reunification” of Christianity has not been met. Commenting in 1984 on unity within the Church itself, then-Cardinal Ratzinger had this to say: “The Council results appear to be in cruel opposition to everyone’s expectations, starting with John XXIII followed by Paul VI: a new Catholic unity was expected, but what we got is a dissension that has gone beyond self-criticism to self-destruction…”.

The same can be said of the relations between the true Church and the multitude of sects of the fallen away.

The “bridge building” desired by Paul VI has devolved into the lowering of the castle drawbridge to invite the leadership of the barbarians for a “rap session” while the rank and file are busily at work undermining the foundations of the walls.

Forty years out of two thousand amounts to two percent of the Church’s history. Not much, one might say. But viewed from the perspective of the next eighteen hundred and sixty years, it is difficult to believe that the changes instituted by Vatican II can endure. The Church will endure, that we know; but in what form? Forty years from now, if the changes are not reversed, save for the Traditionalists and perhaps their descendents, it is unlikely there will be anyone alive who remembers when all Catholic churches celebrated Mass in the time honored fashion set down by the Church Fathers. The Church’s ill considered accommodation to the modern world should never have been intended to be binding on all Catholics and must not become so now or in the future.

Forty years.

Forty years ago, Vatican II closed. Like the folks at the fair, the participants were looking forward to a “Great, Big, Beautiful Tomorrow” which was “only a dream away.”

The situation of the Church today viewed by many of us alive in 1965 calls to mind a different hit song of that year: “Yesterday,” when “all our troubles seemed so far away.”

I believe in yesterday, if “yesterday” is pre-Vatican II. A return to the Church of “yesterday” is our best guarantee of a “Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow.”

The Remnant’s newest columnist, Timothy J. Cullen is a former equities trader who is the happily married father of two adult children.  He and his Spanish wife moved from Spain to Argentina in 2004 and hope to live happily ever after in a custom-built straw bale home of their own design on three acres with a heavenly view of the Sierra de Comechingones.  He is a confirmed believer in the Catholic Social Teaching, particularly as it relates to the value of the rural life.   Mr. Cullen, who used to write for, is a graduate of Cornell University and has worked as a Spanish-language editor and translator.  Welcome aboard, Mr. Cullen.  MJM