A Short History of the 
Roman Mass

 by Michael Davies

Chapter 9
The Protestant Break with Liturgical Tradition

The sound and invariable practice of the Church in the West was breached for the first time by the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformers. They broke with the tradition of the Church by the very fact of initiating a drastic reform of liturgical rites, and this would still have been the case even had their reformed liturgies been orthodox. The nature of their heresy was made clear not so much by what their rites contained as by what they omitted from the traditional books. [Emphasis added] In 1898 the Catholic bishops of the Province of Westminster published a scathing denunciation of the liturgical revolution initiated by English Reformers, a revolution which was radically incompatible with the principle enunciated by Canon Smith. The Anglican claims that their services aimed at simplicity and a return to primitive usage were dealt with in very vigorous language. The Catholic Bishops denied the right of national or local churches to devise their own rites.

      They must not omit or reform anything in those forms which immemorial tradition has bequeathed to us. For such an immemorial usage, whether or not it has in the course of ages incorporated superfluous accretions, must, in the estimation of those who believe in a Divinely guarded visible Church, at least have retained whatever is necessary, so that in adhering rigidly to the rite handed down to us we can always feel secure; whereas, if we omit or change anything, we may perhaps be abandoning just that element which is essential. And this sound method is that which the Catholic Church has always followed . . . That in earlier times local churches were permitted to add new prayers and ceremonies is acknowledged . . . But that they were also permitted 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. [Emphasis added] Hence Cranmer, in taking this unprecedented course, acted, in our opinion, with the most inconceivable rashness. 17