WASHINGTON, D.C., May 23, 2014 ( — Famed Italian Catholic historian Roberto de Mattei says the Church faces a crisis of praxis over doctrine.

According to Mattei, who has written a new book on Vatican II, the battles of that era are still being felt and seen today. He blamed several of those who participated in Vatican II, but especially then-Cardinal Archbishop of Brussels Leon-Joseph Suenens. 

Mattei, who recently spoke at the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C., said that since Vatican II started, “on a theoretical level, the Church has not changed her doctrine.”


However, Mattei says that “on the level of pastoral practice, the victor of the battle is not [Pope] Paul VI, but Cardinal Suenens.” Suenens is famously known as the Cardinal who advocated against the release of Humanae Vitae, and wanted Vatican II to lift the Church's ban on contraception. 

According to de Mattei, “contraception is widely used by Catholic couples with the backing of confessors, moralists, bishops, and even bishops' conferences.” He also said that Suenens' influence is felt “in the universities,” where “the texts which are most closely followed” are those de Mattei says “replaced the objectivity of the natural law.” 

De Mattei's book, entitled “The Second Vatican Council: An Unwritten Story,” examines Vatican II from a perspective very different from the image portrayed in modern media. While Vatican II is often considered a mere meeting meant to discuss important issues, de Mattei writes that it is one of the most important moments in recent Church history. In his presentation at the Cosmos Club he told listeners the effect has often been negative, focusing on how many pastors look to praxis before doctrine. 

After his presentation, de Mattei told LifeSiteNews that, when it comes to improving Church teachings on issues of family, sexual morality, and in general, “the important role of doctrine” must be reprioritized. “We have to refuse the primacy of pastoral praxis,” he said. 

De Mattei continued, saying that that “the idea of the primacy of praxis” comes from believing that ideas and practices come from events, as opposed to a foundation of doctrine that dictates reactions to events. De Mattei said that “Catholic and Christian philosophy and theology … teaches that values are not” a reaction to life's occurrences, but that are the criteria through which we judge history.  

“So the primacy of praxis is based on the primacy of history,” he explained, which ends up opposing “the primacy of doctrine.”

The historian emphasized that theological doctrine must take precedence over praxis. “It is very important to conform our behavior to the doctrine which we believe in, in which we profess,” he said. 

“The Second Vatican Council — An Unwritten Story” can be purchased on