Waiting for the Universal Indult...
(Why the enemies of the Church hope it never comes)

Michael Davies (RIP)
(Remnant columnist from 1972 until his death in 2004)

Editor's Note:  The following article appeared under the title "Revolution and Counterrevolution: The Rise and Fall of the Roman Rite" in the February 15, 2004 issue of The Remnant. It was written by Michael Davies. Recalling why traditional Catholics fought against the New Mass, why modernists waged war against the Latin language, what "active participation" really means, why the old Mass came under attack, etc., especially now when the world waits for Pope Benedict to grant a universal indult for the restoration of the old Mass, should remind all of us why our prayers for the Holy Father and for this intention should not cease during this  significant moment in human history.  Please, pray for the Holy Father...the future of the world depends on it. MJM

"Holy Father, thus passes the glory of the world."

Cardinal Ottaviani crowns Pope Paul VI

During the first session of the Second Vatican Council, in the debate on the Liturgy Constitution, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani asked: “Are these Fathers planning a revolution?” The Cardinal was old and partly blind. He spoke from the heart about a subject that moved him deeply:

Are we seeking to stir up wonder, or perhaps scandal among the Christian people, by introducing changes in so venerable a rite that has been approved for so many centuries and is now so familiar? The rite of Holy Mass should not be treated as if it were a piece of cloth to be refashioned according to the whim of each generation.

So concerned was he at the revolutionary potential of the Constitution, and having no prepared text, due to his very poor sight, the elderly Cardinal exceeded the ten minute time limit for speeches. At a signal from Cardinal Alfrink, who was presiding at the session, a technician switched off the microphone and Cardinal Ottaviani stumbled back to his seat in humiliation.1 The Council Fathers clapped with glee. While men laugh they do not think, and, had these men not been laughing, at least some of them may have wondered whether, perhaps, the Cardinal might have had a point.

He did indeed. The answer to his question as to whether the Council Fathers were planning a revolution is that the majority of the 3,000 bishops present in Rome most were not, but that some of the influential periti, the experts who advised the bishops, most definitely were, and the Council’s Liturgy Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium was the instrument by which it was to be achieved.

The schema, or draft document, of the Liturgy Constitution, which the bishops would use as the basis for their discussions, was primarily the work of Father Annibale Bugnini, Secretary to the Preparatory Commission for the Liturgy,2 so much so that it was known as "the Bugnini draft."3 Bugnini had long been in contact with the more radical members of the Liturgical Movement who had deviated from the sound principles set out by St. Pius X and Dom Prosper Guéranger. He had been present at a gathering of radical liturgists at Thieulin near Chartres in the late forties. Father Duployé, one of those present writes:

The Father [Bugnini] listened very attentively, without saying a word, for four days. During our return journey to Paris, as the train was passing along the Swiss Lake at Versailles, he said to me: "I admire what you are doing, but the greatest service I can render you is never to say a word in Rome about all that I have just heard."4

Bugnini was appointed Secretary to Pope Pius XII’s Commission for Liturgical Reform in 1948, and in 1957 as Professor of Liturgy in the Lateran University. In 1960, he was appointed to a position which enabled him to exert a decisive influence upon the history of the Church—Secretary to the Preparatory Commission for the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council.

Within days of the Preparatory Commission endorsing his draft, Bugnini was dismissed from his chair at the Lateran University and from the secretaryship of the Conciliar Liturgical Commission which was to oversee the schema during the conciliar debates. The reasons which prompted Pope John to take this step have not been divulged, but they must have been of a most serious nature.

The dismissal of Father Bugnini was very much a case of locking the stable door after the horse had bolted. His allies on the Conciliar Liturgy Constitution, who had worked with him on preparing the schema, now had the task of securing its acceptance by the bishops without any substantial alterations. They did so with a degree of success that certainly exceeded their wildest expectations. It received the almost unanimous approval of the Council Fathers on 7 December 1962.

In his book, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, Mgr. Klaus Gamber writes: “One statement we can make with certainty is that the new Ordo of the Mass that has now emerged would not have been endorsed by the majority of the Council Fathers.”5 Why, then, did these bishops endorse a document that was a blueprint for revolution? The answer is that they saw it as a blueprint for renewal. They were reassured by clauses which gave the impression that there was no possibility of any radical liturgical reform. Article 4 states that: "This most sacred Council declares that holy Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal authority and dignity: that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way." The Latin language was to be preserved in the Latin rites (Article 36), and steps were to be taken to ensure that the faithful could sing or say together in Latin those parts of the Mass that pertain to them (Article 54). The treasury of sacred music was to be preserved and fostered with great care (Article 114), and Gregorian chant was to be given pride of place in liturgical services (Article 116), and, most important of all, there were to be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly required them, and care was to be taken that any new forms adopted should grow in some way organically from forms already existing (Article 23).

It is an instructive exercise to go, step by step, through the changes which have been made in the Mass, beginning with the abolition of the Judica me and ending with the abolition of the Last Gospel, or even the Prayers for Russia, and to consider carefully why the good of the Church genuinely and certainly required that each particular change must be made. Has the good of the Church really been enhanced because the faithful have been forbidden to kneel at the Incarnatus est during the Creed? Did the good of the Church genuinely, certainly, require that, following the example of Martin Luther, the doctrinally rich Offertory prayers should be abolished? Luther condemned the offertory as an abomination that stinks of oblation and should therefore be cast aside. Has any Catholic anywhere in the world become more fervent in his faith as a result of its absence in the 1970 Missal? In my opinion not one change made to the Ordinary of the Classic Mass of the Roman rite was genuinely and certainly required for the good of the Church. I would challenge anyone to cite an example which conforms to these criteria.

In addition to these superficially reassuring clauses, the Constitution contained others which opened the way to radical or even revolutionary change. These were "time bombs" inserted into the text, ambiguous passages which the liberal periti or experts intended to use after the Council when, as they were sure would be the case, they gained control of the Commission established to interpret and implement the Constitution. Is this simply a wild accusation made by a layman with conspiracy mania? By no means. In his book A Crown of Thorns, Cardinal John Heenan of Westminster wrote:

The subject most fully debated was liturgical reform. It might be more accurate to say that the bishops were under the impression that the liturgy had been fully discussed. In retrospect it is clear that they were given the opportunity of discussing only general principles. Subsequent changes were more radical than those intended by Pope John and the bishops who passed the decree on the liturgy. His sermon at the end of the first session shows that Pope John did not suspect what was being planned by the liturgical experts (my emphasis).6

What could be clearer than this? One of the most active and erudite Council Fathers stated that the liturgical experts who drafted the Constitution phrased it in such a way that they could use it after the Council in a manner not foreseen by the Pope and the Bishops. To put it plainly, the Cardinal states that there was a conspiracy. This was evident even to an American Protestant Observer, Robert McAfee Brown, who remarked: “The Council documents themselves often implied more in the way of change than the Council Fathers were necessarily aware of when they voted.”7 He made particular mention of the Liturgy Constitution in this respect: “The Constitution opens many doors that can later be pushed even wider, and does bind the Church to a new liturgical rigidity.”8

The column space available in this issue of The Remnant will enable me to discuss only a few of the time bombs that would destroy the Roman Rite. Article 4 of the Constitution has already been cited stating that all lawfully acknowledged rites must be preserved in the future and fostered in every way. But these reassuring words are qualified by the statement that: "Where necessary the rites be carefully and thoroughly revised in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances of modern times." No explanation is given as to how it is possible both to preserve and foster these rites and at the same time to revise them to meet certain unspecified circumstances and certain unspecified needs of modern times. Nor is it explained how such a revision could be carried out in the light of sound tradition when it had been the sound and invariable tradition of the Roman rite never to undertake any drastic revision of its rites, a tradition of well over 1,000 years standing which had been breached only during the Protestant Reformation, when every heretical sect devised new rites to correspond with its heretical teachings. In their defense of Pope Leo XIII’s Bull Apostolicae Curae, the Catholic Bishops of the Province of Westminster in England insisted that:

In adhering rigidly to the rite handed down to us we can always feel secure . . . And this sound method is that which the Catholic Church has always followed... to subtract prayers and ceremonies in previous use, and even to remodel the existing rites in the most drastic manner, is a proposition for which we know of no historical foundation, and which appears to us absolutely incredible. 9

It is intrinsic to the nature of time to become more modern with the passing of each second, and if the Church had always adapted the liturgy to keep up with the constant succession of modern times and new circumstances there would never have been liturgical stability. When do times become modern? What are the criteria by which modernity is assessed? When does one modernity cease and another modernity come into being? The complete fallacy of the adaptation-to-modernity thesis was certainly not lost upon some of the Council Fathers. Bishop (later Cardinal) Dino Staffa pointed out the theological consequences of an "adapted liturgy" on 24 October 1962. He told 2,337 assembled Fathers:

It is said that the Sacred Liturgy must be adapted to times and circumstances which have changed. Here also we ought to look at the consequences. For customs, even the very face of society, change fast and will change even faster. What seems agreeable to the wishes of the multitude today will appear incongruous after thirty or fifty years. We must conclude then that after thirty or fifty years all, or almost all of the liturgy would have to be changed again. This seems to be logical according to the premises, this seems logical to me, but hardly fitting (decorum) for the Sacred Liturgy, hardly useful for the dignity of the Church, hardly safe for the integrity and unity of the faith, hardly favoring the unity of discipline... Are we of the Latin Church going to break the admirable liturgical unity and divide into nations, regions, even provinces?10

The answer, of course, is that this is precisely what the Latin Church was going to do and did; with the consequences for the integrity and unity both of faith and discipline which Bishop Staffa had foreseen.

Article 14 states that the active participation of the faithful is the primary criterion to be observed in the celebration of Mass. This has resulted in the congregation (rather than the divine Victim) becoming the focus of attention. It is now the coming together of the community which matters most, not the reason they come together; and this is in harmony with the most obvious tendency within the post-conciliar Church—to replace the cult of God with the cult of man. Cardinal Ratzinger remarked with great perceptiveness in 1997:

I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy...when the community of faith, the worldwide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence? Then the community is celebrating only itself, an activity that is utterly fruitless.”11

Once active participation of the congregation is accepted as the prime consideration in the celebration of Mass, there can be no restraint upon the self-appointed experts intent upon its total desacralisation. Despite the requirement in Article 36 that the Latin language was to be preserved in the Latin rites and Gregorian chant was to be given pride of place in liturgical services, it was argued that Latin and plainchant were obstacles to active participation.  Both, then, had almost completely vanished within a few years of the conclusion of the Council. Commenting with the benefit of hindsight in 1973, Archbishop R. J. Dwyer of Portland, Oregon, remarked sadly:

Who dreamed on that day that within a few years, far less than a decade, the Latin past of the Church would be all but expunged, that it would be reduced to a memory fading into the middle distance? The thought of it would have horrified us, but it seemed so far beyond the realm of the possible as to be ridiculous. So we laughed it off.12

While the Latin language remained the norm there could, in fact, be no revolution. In his Liturgical Institutes, Dom Guéranger makes clear that the Latin language had always been a principal target of those he termed “liturgical-heretics”.  He writes:

Hatred for the Latin language is inborn in the heart of all the enemies of Rome. They recognize it as the bond of Catholics throughout the universe, as the arsenal of orthodoxy against all the subtleties of the sectarian spirit... We must admit it is a master blow of Protestantism to have declared war on the sacred language. If it should ever succeed in destroying it, it would be well on the way to victory.

Prophetic words indeed!

It is important to stress here that at no time during the reform have the wishes of the laity ever been taken into consideration. When, as early as March 1964, members of the laity in England were making it quite clear that they neither liked nor wanted the liturgical changes being imposed upon them, one of England's most fanatical proponents of liturgical innovation, Dom Gregory Murray, OSB, put them in their place in the clearest possible terms: "The plea that the laity as a body do not want liturgical change, whether in rite or in language, is, I submit, quite beside the point...It is not a question of what people want; it is a question of what is good for them.”13 The self-appointed liturgical experts treat not only the laity with complete contempt, but also the parish clergy whose bishops insist that they submit to the diktat of these experts. Monsignor Richard J. Schuler, an experienced parish priest in St. Paul, Minnesota, explained the predicament of the parish clergy very clearly in an article written in 1978 in which he made the very poignant comment that all that the experts require parish priests and the faithful to do is to raise the money to pay for their own destruction. He laments the fact that:

Then came the post-conciliar interpreters and implementers who invented the "Spirit of the Council." They introduced practices never dreamed of by the Council Fathers; they did away with Catholic traditions and customs never intended to be disturbed; they changed for the sake of change; they upset the sheep and terrified the shepherds. The parish priest, who is for most Catholics the shepherd to whom they look for help along the path to salvation, fell upon hard times after the pastoral council. He is the pastor, but he found himself superseded by commissions, committees, experts, consultants, coordinators, facilitators, and  bureaucrats of every description. A mere parish priest can no longer qualify. He is told that if he was educated prior to 1963, then he is ignorant of needed professional knowledge, he must be updated, retread and indoctrinated by attending meetings, seminars, workshops, retreats, conferences and other brainwashing sessions. But down deep, he really knows that what he is needed for is only to collect the money to support the ever-growing bureaucracy that every diocese has sprouted to "serve the "pastoral needs" of the people. While the parishes struggle, the taxation imposed on them all but crushes them. The anomaly of having to pay for one's own destruction becomes the plight of a pastor and his sheep who struggle to adapt to the "freedom" and the options given by the council.

The requirement of article 14 that active participation by all the people must take priority in every celebration of Mass has resulted in what can only be described as a “dumbing down” of the liturgy, and it must be dumbed down because the experts consider that, as a body, the laity are dumb, incapable of relating to the ethereal beauty of plainchant or the magnificent ceremonial of a solemn Mass. Dietrich von Hildebrand has correctly defined the issue at stake:

The basic error of most of the innovators is to imagine that the new liturgy brings the holy sacrifice of the Mass nearer to the faithful; that, shorn of its old rituals, the Mass now enters into the substance of our lives. For the question is whether we better meet Christ in the Mass by soaring up to Him, or by dragging Him down into our own pedestrian, workaday world. The innovators would replace holy intimacy with Christ by an unbecoming familiarity. The new liturgy actually threatens to frustrate the confrontation with Christ, for it discourages reverence in the face of mystery, precludes awe, and all but extinguishes a sense of sacredness. What really matters, surely, is not whether the faithful feel at home at Mass, but whether they are drawn out of their ordinary lives into the world of Christ—whether their attitude is the response of ultimate reverence: whether they are imbued with the reality of Christ.14

Professor von Hildebrand denounced the contempt of liturgists for the ordinary faithful in very severe terms:

They seem to be unaware of the elementary importance of sacredness in religion. Thus, they dull the sense of the sacred and thereby undermine true religion. Their "democratic" approach makes them overlook the fact that in all men who have a longing for God there is also a longing for the sacred and a sense of difference between the sacred and the profane. The worker or peasant has this sense as much as any intellectual. If he is a Catholic, he will desire to find a sacred atmosphere in the church, and this remains true whether the world is urban, industrial or not.... Many priests believe that replacing the sacred atmosphere that reigns, for example, in the marvelous churches of the Middle Ages or the baroque epoch, and in which the Latin Mass was celebrated, with a profane, functionalist, neutral, humdrum atmosphere will enable the Church to encounter the simple man in charity. But this is a fundamental error. It will not fulfill his deepest longing; it will merely offer him stones for bread. Instead of combating the irreverence so widespread today these priests are actually helping to propagate this irreverence.15

Article 21 states that elements which are subject to change "not only may but ought to be changed with the passing of time if features have by chance crept in which are less harmonious with the intimate nature of the liturgy, or if existing elements have grown less functional." These norms are so vague that the scope for interpreting them is virtually limitless. No indication is given of which aspects of the liturgy are referred to here; no indication is given of the meaning of "less functional" (how much less is "less"?), or whether "functional" refers to the original function or a new one which may have been acquired. Under the terms of Article 21, the Lavabo, the washing of the priest’s hands, could be abolished as its original purpose was to cleanse them after he had received the gifts of the people in the offertory procession, but it now has a beautiful symbolic purpose, symbolising the cleansing of the soul of the priest who is about to offer sacrifice in the person of Christ and to take the Body of Christ into his very hands. The entire liturgical tradition of the Roman rite contradicts Article 21. "What we may call the 'archaisms' of the Missal," writes Dom Cabrol, a "father" of the liturgical movement, "are the expressions of the faith of our fathers which it is our duty to watch over and hand on to posterity."16

Article 21, together with such Articles as 1,23,50,62, and 88, provides a mandate for the supreme goal of the liturgical revolutionaries—that of a permanently evolving liturgy. In September 1968 the bulletin of the Archbishopric of Paris, Présence et Dialogue, called for a permanent revolution in these words: "It is no longer possible, in a period when the world is developing so rapidly, to consider rites as definitively fixed once and for all. They need to be regularly revised." Once the logic of Article 21 is accepted there can be no alternative to a permanently evolving liturgy.

Writing in Concilium in 1969, Fr. H. Rennings, Dean of Studies of the Liturgical Institute of Trier, stated:

When the Constitution states that one of the aims is "to adapt more suitably to the needs of our own times those institutions which are subject to change" (Art. 1; see also Arts. 21, 23, 62, 88) it clearly expresses the dynamic elements in the Council's idea of the liturgy. The "needs of our time" can always be better understood and therefore demand other solutions; the needs of the next generation can again lead to other consequences for the way worship should operate and be fitted into the overall activity of the Church. The basic principle of the Constitution may be summarized as applying the principle of a Church which is constantly in a state of reform (ecclesia semper reformanda.) to the liturgy which is always in the state of reform (Liturgia semper reformanda). 17

This could hardly be more explicit. Father Joseph Gelineau was described by Archbishop Bugnini as one of the "great masters of the international liturgical world".18 In his book Demain la liturgie, he informs us that:

It would be false to identify this liturgical renewal with the reform of rites decided on by Vatican II. This reform goes back much further and goes forward far beyond the conciliar prescriptions (elle va bien au-del). The liturgy is a permanent workshop (la liturgie est un chantier permanent).19

This concept of a permanently evolving liturgy—liturgy as a permanent workshop—is of crucial importance. St. Pius V's ideal of liturgical uniformity within the Roman rite has now been cast aside to be replaced by one of pluriformity, in which the liturgy must be kept in a state of constant flux, resulting inevitably in what Cardinal Ratzinger described with perfect accuracy as “the disintegration of the liturgy.” In 2002 the Bishops Conference of the United States decreed that the faithful must stand for the reception of Holy Communion. This decision is not binding on individual bishops, but even a conservative such as Charles Chaput of Denver kow-towed to the conference and informed his flock that “This will be new for many of the faithful, because the formal act of reverence was not widely promoted in the past.” What utter nonsense! Standing has never been considered an act of reverence within the Roman Rite. Does the Archbishop truly imagine that the laity are so dumb that they do not know this? He continues:

While the act of reverence will be new for some, it may be "different" for others. In the past, we may have made a sign of the cross, a profound bow (one from the waist), genuflected or simply knelt as our act of adoration. The Church now asks us to submit our personal preference to her wisdom.20

I repeat, standing is not an act of reverence, it has never been an act of reverence, and its imposition has nothing to do with the wisdom of the Church—it is antithetical to that wisdom. It is simply the latest step in the imposition of a permanently evolving liturgy by liturgical commissars, destitute of what Von Hildebrand describes as a sensus Catholicus, a true Catholic instinct.

Article 34 states that the reformed liturgy must be "distinguished by a noble simplicity." There is, needless to say, no attempt to explain precisely what constitutes "a noble simplicity". It must be “short”—how short? It must be "unencumbered by useless repetitions," without explaining when a repetition becomes useless. Does saying Kyrie eleison six times and Christe eleison three times constitute useless repetition?

Article 38 constitutes a time-bomb with a capacity for destruction almost equivalent to that of the principle of permanent liturgical evolution: "Provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is maintained, the revision of liturgical books should allow for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions, and peoples, especially in mission lands." The mention of mission lands here is highly significant as most Fathers would presume that this was where these adaptations would take place. However, the carefully worded text does not say "only" but "especially" in mission lands. Article 38 does indeed state that "the substantial unity of the Roman rite" is to be maintained—but what "substantial unity" means is not indicated. It would be for the Consilium to decide, and for the members of the Consilium (like Humpty Dumpty) words mean whatever they want them to mean.21 Once this principle of adaptation has been accepted there is no part of the Mass which can be considered exempt from change.

Without giving the least idea of what is meant by "legitimate variations and adaptations," the Constitution goes on in Article 40 to state that in "some places and circumstances, however, an even more radical adaptation of the liturgy is needed." Without explaining what is meant by a "radical adaptation" the need for "an even more radical adaptation" is postulated! More radical than what? Once this bomb has exploded the devastation it unleashes cannot be controlled. The Council Fathers, like Count Frankenstein, had given life to a creature which had a will of its own and over which they had no power.

The Liturgy Constitution contained no more than general guidelines, and to achieve total victory, Bugnini and his cohorts needed to obtain control of the post-conciliar commission established to interpret and implement it. Cardinal Heenan, of Westminster, England, had warned the bishops of the danger if the Council periti were given the power to interpret the Council to the world. "God forbid that this should happen!" he exclaimed, but happen it did.22 The members of these commissions were "chosen with the Pope's approval, for the most part, from the ranks of the Council periti.”23 The initial membership of the Commission, known as the Consilium, consisted mainly of members of the Commission that had drafted the Constitution. Father Bugnini was appointed to the position of secretary on 29 February 1964. What prompted Pope Paul VI to appoint Bugnini to this crucially important position after he had been prevented by Pope John XXIII from becoming Secretary of the Conciliar Commission is probably something that we shall never know. The weapon that he had forged for the destruction of the Roman Rite was now firmly within his grasp.

In May 1969 the Consilium was incorporated into the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and Bugnini was appointed secretary, becoming more powerful than ever. It is no exaggeration to claim that the Consilium, in other words Father Bugnini, had taken over the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. He was now in the most influential position possible to consolidate and extend the revolution behind which he had been the moving spirit and principle of continuity. Nominal heads of commissions, congregations, and the Consilium came and went—Cardinal Lercaro, Cardinal Gut, Cardinal Tabera, Cardinal Knox—but Father Bugnini remained. He attributed this to the Divine will:

The Lord willed that from those early years a whole series of providential circumstances should thrust me fully, and indeed in a privileged way, in medias res, and that I should remain there in charge of the secretariat.”0

Father Bugnini was rewarded for his part in the reform with an Archbishop's mitre. In 1975, at the very moment when his power had reached its zenith, he was summarily dismissed to the dismay of liberal Catholics throughout the world. Not only was he dismissed, but his entire Congregation was dissolved and merged with the Congregation for the Sacraments. Bugnini himself was exiled to Iran. Once again it was a question of locking the stable door after the horse had bolted. In 1974 he had boasted: "The liturgical reform is a major conquest of the Catholic Church.”25 It is indeed, and Msgr. Gamber sums up the true effect of this conquest in one devastating sentence: “At this critical juncture, the traditional Roman rite, more than one thousand years old, has been destroyed.”26 Is he exaggerating? Not at all. His claim is endorsed from the opposite end of the liturgical spectrum by that “great master of the international liturgical world”, Father Joseph Gelineau, who remarks with commendable honesty and no sign of regret:

Let those who like myself have known and sung a Latin-Gregorian High Mass remember it if they can. Let them compare it with the Mass that we now have. Not only the words, the melodies, and some of the gestures are different. To tell the truth it is a different liturgy of the Mass. This needs to be said without ambiguity: the Roman Rite as we knew it no longer exists (le rite romain tel que nous l'avons connu n'existe plus). It has been destroyed (il est détruit).27

The Constitution required that all lawfully acknowledged rites were to be “preserved in the future and fostered in every way." How you preserve and foster something by destroying it is something that even Archbishop Bugnini might have found difficult to explain.

In his Encyclical Letter Ecclesia De Eucharistia of 17 April 2003, Pope John Paul II has provided an admirable explanation of the sacrificial nature of the Mass which is phrased in terms that are reminiscent of the teaching of the Council of Trent. After his excellent doctrinal exposition, the Pope insists, as he has done on previous occasions, that Vatican II has been followed by a liturgical renewal rather than a revolution, good fruits rather than bad fruits.

The Magisterium's commitment to proclaiming the Eucharistic mystery has been matched by interior growth within the Christian community. Certainly the liturgical reform inaugurated by the Council has greatly contributed to a more conscious, active and fruitful participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar on the part of the faithful.

With all due respect to the Holy Father, one must insist that this is simply not true. If there has indeed been an “interior growth within the Christian community” it is certainly not reflected in the catastrophic collapse of Catholic life throughout First World countries which can be documented beyond any possible dispute.

In what seems to be a complete volte face, the Holy Father goes on to provide a list of liturgical deviations and abuses concerning which traditional Catholics have been protesting since the first changes were imposed upon the faithful. These abuses take place, he tells us, alongside the lights, but he nowhere tells us where these lights are shining:

Unfortunately, alongside these lights, there are also shadows. In some places the practice of Eucharistic adoration has been almost completely abandoned. In various parts of the Church abuses have occurred, leading to confusion with regard to sound faith and Catholic doctrine concerning this wonderful sacrament. At times one encounters an extremely reductive understanding of the Eucharistic mystery. Stripped of its sacrificial meaning, it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet. Furthermore, the necessity of the ministerial priesthood, grounded in apostolic succession, is at times obscured and the sacramental nature of the Eucharist is reduced to its mere effectiveness as a form of proclamation. This has led here and there to ecumenical initiatives which, albeit well-intentioned, indulge in Eucharistic practices contrary to the discipline by which the Church expresses her faith. How can we not express profound grief at all this? The Eucharist is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity and depreciation. It is my hope that the present Encyclical Letter will effectively help to banish the dark clouds of unacceptable doctrine and practice, so that the Eucharist will continue to shine forth in all its radiant mystery.

These deplorable abuses did not exist before the Vatican II reform, and it can hardly be denied that they are indeed its true fruits. We must indeed pray that this encyclical will help “to banish the dark clouds of unacceptable doctrine and practice,” but, alas, these unacceptable practices have now become so ingrained in parish life that, short of a miracle, they will not be eradicated. The well-entrenched liturgical bureaucracy throughout the First World completely ignores any admonitions from Rome which conflict with its agenda, and I am certain that it will continue to do so.

 Mgr. Gamber describes the present state of the liturgy in scathing but realistic terms:

The liturgical reform, welcomed with so much idealism and hope by many priests and lay people alike has turned out to be a liturgical destruction of startling proportions—a débâcle worsening with each passing year. Instead of the hoped-for renewal of the Church and of Catholic life, we are now witnessing a dismantling of the traditional values and piety on which our faith rests. Instead of the fruitful renewal of the liturgy, what we see is a destruction of the forms of the Mass which had developed organically during the course of many centuries.28

The Holy Father is evidently hoping for a reform of the reform, but, alas, this will not take place. It is, I fear, the mother of all lost causes. This is why we agree fully with Mgr. Gamber when he writes:

In the future the traditional rite of Mass must be retained in the Roman Catholic Church ... as the primary liturgical form for the celebration of Mass. It must become once more the norm of our faith and the symbol of Catholic unity throughout the world, a rock of stability in a period of upheaval and never-ending change.29

In the early days, when traditional Catholics worked for the restoration of the Traditional Mass, this objective was certainly considered to be the mother of all lost causes, but now the traditional Mass movement is spreading throughout the world. The time will certainly come when Rome implements the unanimous conclusion of the 1986 Commission of Cardinals that every priest of the Roman Rite, when celebrating in Latin, is entitled to choose between the Missals of 1962 and 1970.

In seeking to extend the restoration of tradition, rather than reform the reform, traditionalist Catholics are not being negative but realistic. We shall not criticise those who wish to reform the reform, but we will not devote our time, our money, and our energy to what is a hopeless cause. In working for the restoration of tradition we are rendering the Church a service. Dietrich von Hildebrand rightly termed the post-conciliar Church “the devastated vineyard”. In opposition to this devastation we are engaged in a fruitful renewal.

The essence of a true liturgical reform is that it contains no drastic revision of the liturgical traditions that have been handed down. Its most evident characteristic is fidelity to these traditions.  This means that the liturgical reform that followed the Second Vatican Council should, like that of the Protestant Reformation, be termed a revolution. It is not necessary for the Catholic position to be expressly contradicted for a rite to become suspect; the suppression of prayers which had given liturgical expression to the doctrine behind the rite is more than sufficient to give cause for concern. The suppression in the Novus Ordo Missae, the New Mass, of so many prayers from the traditional Mass is a cause not simply for concern but for scandal.  In almost every case they are the same prayers suppressed by Luther and by Thomas Cranmer. The suppression of these prayers which had given liturgical expression to the doctrine behind Traditional Mass is more than sufficient to give cause for concern to all those faithful who, like the martyrs of England and Wales, possess a true sensus Catholicus.

The fact that the Mass of Pope Paul VI as it is celebrated in so many parishes today constitutes a breach with authentic liturgical development has been confirmed by Cardinal Ratzinger:

J. A. Jungmann, one of the truly great liturgists of our time, defined the liturgy of his day, such as it could be understood in the light of historical research, as a “liturgy which is the fruit of development”...What happened after the Council was something else entirely: in the place of the liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy.  We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it, as in a manufacturing process, with a fabrication, a banal on-the-spot product.32

We are engaged in a war with the same objectives as the martyrs of Elizabethan England, and when we bear in mind the sacrifices that they made because the Mass truly mattered to them, we should be prepared to make the sacrifices needed to restore the Mass of St. Pius, V, sacrifices involving time, money, travel, bearing the disapproval or even ridicule of fellow Catholics, clerical and lay.  If this means that we are rebels then I for one am happy to be one.  Those of us who fight for our Latin liturgical heritage may be termed reactionary, ignorant, or even schismatic, but in reality we are in the direct tradition of the Maccabees of the Old Testament.  The commentary upon the Mass for the twenty-second Sunday after Pentecost in the St. Andrew Daily Missal states:

One of the most outstanding lessons which may be drawn from the books of Maccabees...is the reverence due to the things of God.  What is generally called the rebellion of the Maccabees was in reality a magnificent example of fidelity to God, to his law, and to the covenants and promises that he had made to his people These were threatened with oblivion and it was to uphold them that the Maccabees rebelled.

The Mass of St Pius V is the epitomization of the faith of our fathers, it is the liturgy celebrated in secret by the martyr priests of England and Wales, it is the liturgy that was celebrated at the Mass rocks of Ireland, it is the liturgy celebrated by the North American martyrs who died deaths that are too horrific to describe, it is the Mass described by the Father Frederick Faber, (1814-1863), Superior of the London Oratory, as “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven”.


 1           M. Davies, Pope John’s Council (PJC) (Angelus Press, 1977), p. 93 www.angeluspress.org

2           Biographical details of Archbishop Bugnini are provided in Notitiae, No 70, February 1972, pp. 33-34.

3           C. Falconi, Pope John and his Council (London, 1964), p. 244.

4           Didier Bonneterre, The Liturgical Movement (Angelus Press, 2002),  p. 52.

5           K. Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy (RRL), (Harrison, N.Y., 1993), p. 61.

6           J. Heenan, A Crown of Thorns (London, 1974), p. 367.

7           R. McAfee Brown, The Ecumenical Revolution (New York, 1969), p. 210.

8           R. McAfee Brown, Observer in Rome (London, 1964), p. 226.

9           A Vindication of the Bull "Apostolicae Curae" (London, 1898), pp. 42-3.

10          R. Kaiser, Inside the Council (London, 1963), p. 30.

11          Joseph Ratzinger, Milestones (Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 1998), pp. 148-149.

12          Twin Circle, 26 October 1973.

13          The Tablet, 14 March 1964, p. 303.

14          Triumph, October 1966.

15          D. von Hildebrand, Trojan Horse in the City of God (Franciscan Herald Press, Chicago, 1969), p. 135.

16          Introduction to the Cabrol edition of The Roman Missal.

17          Concilium, February 1971, p. 64.

18          Annibale Bugnini, The Reform of the Liturgy 1948-1975 (The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1990), p. 221.

19          J. Gelineau, Demain la liturgie (Paris, 1976), pp. 9-10.

20          Denver Catholic Register, 5 February 2003.

21          “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean neither more nor less.” Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, Chapter VI.

22          RFT, p. 210.

23          The Tablet, 22 January 1966, p. 114.

24       Bugnini, p. xxiii..

25          Notitiae, No 92, April 1974, p. 126.

26          K. Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy (RRL), ( Harrison, N.Y.,1993), p. , p. 99.

27          J. Gelineau, Demain la liturgie (Paris, 1976), pp. 9-10.

28          Gamber, p. 9.

29          Gamber, p. 114.

32          Preface to the French edition of The Reform of the Roman Liturgy by Msgr. Klaus Gamber.