The Liturgical Establishment
Before leaving the subject of Vatican II, it must be stressed once more that its Liturgy Constitution definitely does not order, recommend, or even hint, that Mass should be celebrated facing the people, or that the tabernacle should be removed from its place of honor on the high altar. But at the same time, it included some ambiguous terminology which those wishing to destroy the Catholic ethos of our sanctuaries could twist to suit their purposes. After the Council five commissions were established as a result of pressure from Liberals who feared that the progressive measures adopted by the Council might be blocked by conservative forces near the Pope once the Council Fathers had all returned home. The members of these commissions were chosen with the Pope's approval, for the most part, from the ranks of the periti. The task of the commissions is to put into effect the Council decrees concerned, with the coordinating commission to coordinate their work and, when necessary, to interpret the Council constitutions, decrees and declarations. God forbid that the periti should ever obtain the power to interpret the Council. Cardinal Heenan had warned. But happen it had! Archbishop Dwyer observed, with hindsight, that the great mistake of the Council Fathers was "to allow the implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy to fall into the hands of men who were either unscrupulous or incompetent. This is the so-called 'liturgical establishment', a Sacred Cow which acts more like a white elephant as it tramples the shards of a shattered liturgy with ponderous abandon." The final testimony to the factual nature of the process I have just described comes from Cardinal Heenan: "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 indicates that Pope John did not know what was being planned by the experts."
Nothing could be clearer than this. The experts drafting the Constitution were planning changes more radical than those envisaged by the Pope and the bishops, and after the Council they secured the implementation of those
So much for Vatican II itself. We have established that it mandated no changes whatsoever in the sanctuary. Now we must examine the post-conciliar legislation to see what mandatory legislation it contains concerning the sanctuary. Mandatory legislation would involve binding and unambiguous laws commanding bishops to ensure that altars in their diocese are freestanding, and that tabernacles are removed from the high altar. In particular we must distinguish such a binding command from a permission to do something, or a recommendation to do something. We can thus distinguish as follows:
1. Altars may be freestanding; tabernacles may be removed from the high altar -----permission.
2. Altars should be freestanding; tabernacles should be removed from the high altar-----recommendation.
3. Altars must be freestanding; tabernacles must be removed from the high altar-----command.