Basic facts about Vatican II being a "pastoral council"
After the close of the Second Vatican Council, Paul VI publicly stated in 1966, "…given the Council’s pastoral character, it avoided pronouncing, in an extraordinary manner, dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility”.
Some basic facts:
· Vatican II was an ecumenical/general Council by definition. Definition of "Ecumenical Council": "A Council convened by the Holy See, of the bishops, and others entitled to vote, of the whole world, or a representative number of them.... Papal cooperation must be of the fullest extent to make a Council ecumenical and its decrees have no binding authority until confirmed by the Holy See.... The decrees of such a Council are infallible...." (A Catholic Dictionary, 1951)
· For those who try to argue that Vatican II was not an Ecumenical (a.k.a. General) Council, it had attendance from bishops throughout the entire world just as did the First Vatican Council, with the exception that attendance was 4 times greater. This no doubt qualifies it as an Ecumenical Council
· The infallibility of Ecumenical Councils is promised in Scripture, confirmed by the First Vatican Council, and confirmed in Canon Law 1323 among other Catholic references. There are no exceptions
· For those that believe following Vatican II is optional, Paul VI promulgated at the close of the Council, 1965: "We decide moreover that all that has been established synodally is to be religiously observed by all the faithful, for the glory of God and the dignity of the Church… we have approved and established these things, decreeing that the present letters are and remain stable and valid, and are to have legal effectiveness, so that they be disseminated and obtain full and complete effect...”. He was not making it optional
· Furthermore, Paul VI stated in general audience, 1966: "In view of the pastoral nature of the Council, it avoided any extraordinary statements of dogmas endowed with the note of infallibility but it still provided its teaching with the authority of the Ordinary Magisterium which must be accepted with docility according to the mind of the Council concerning the nature and aims of each document." The Ordinary Magisterium is infallible by definition, and confirmed so by the First Vatican Council
· The fact that some of the Vatican II decrees were labeled "dogmatic" is further confirmation that they were not optional for Catholics to believe
· Referring to an Ecumenical Council as "pastoral" has never been seen throughout the history of the Church. Such a term would indicate the Council was only addressing pastoral matters, however many of Vatican II's final decrees pertained to doctrine and the faith (i.e. Decrees on ecumenism and religious freedom etc.), so it certainly could not possibly be considered "pastoral"
The Catholic Church has always taught that Ecumenical/General Councils are infallible, no exceptions. Likewise, the Ordinary Magisterium is also always infallible according to the First Vatican Council, no exceptions. Vatican II is either a valid Council (approved by a valid Pope) and to be obeyed in its entirety, or it is an illegitimate Council (NOT approved by a valid Pope) and to be given no attention by Catholics. There is no middle ground.