Some Expert Testimonies

Let me cite a few more authorities, and please note that not one of them is connected in any way with the traditionalist movement.

Father Louis Bouyer is another French priest. Like Father Gelineau he was very prominent in the liturgical movement. He is certainly one of the greatest living authorities on the liturgy. Father Bouyer was very enthusiastic about the Liturgy Constitution of the Second Vatican Council-----so enthusiastic that he wrote a book about it, one of the many fine scholarly works which have come from his pen. He called it The Liturgy Revived. Its title makes the theme clear. There was to be a great revival in the liturgy, a great renewal, and this renewal would revitalize the life of the entire Church, at least where the Roman Rite was concerned. But like Father Gelineau, Father Bouyer is an honest man. Unlike Father Gelineau, he deplores what has been foisted upon us in the name of the Council. He has now written another book. It is entitled The Decomposition of Catholicism. Once again, the theme is made clear by the title. In this book, Father Bouyer admits that, far from the hoped-for renewal following the Council, what we are witnessing is the accelerated decomposition of Catholicism, that the liturgical changes are a betrayal of the Liturgy Constitution, the will of the Council Fathers and the entire papally-approved liturgical movement. He even claims that there is practically no liturgy worthy of the name in the Church today. 4 Strong words, but if anyone knows what he is talking about, Father Bouyer does.

One of the best books written concerning the changes in the Mass is The Recovery of the Sacred by Professor James Hitchcock. Professor Hitchcock is a conservative, not a traditionalist. Perhaps I had better clarify the difference. A conservative Catholic is one who accepts all the defined doctrinal and moral teaching of the Church without question. He probably dislikes the liturgical changes which have followed the Council, but once they have been approved by the Pope, he feels that it is his duty to accept them whatever his personal feelings. This is a perfectly credible position, for which a strong case can be made, and one which I respect. The defined doctrinal and moral teaching of the Church which every Catholic is bound to accept is known as Tradition, with a capital" T."

Throughout the centuries this Tradition has come to be expressed by many traditions, with a small "t." We must believe that Our Lord instituted the priesthood: that is part of Tradition. Hans Küng denies this, therefore he is a heretic. It is a tradition within the Roman Rite that priests remain celibate: this is a tradition, a matter of discipline, and could be changed. [Emphasis in bold added by the Web Master.] The traditional liturgy incorporates countless traditions, with a small "t," all of which reflect what Catholic Tradition with a capital "T" requires of us to believe about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. At no time in the history of the Church has there been a radical reform of the liturgy such as that following Vatican II. It was completely unprecedented. Such a radical reform is in itself a breach of Tradition. A traditionalist Catholic is one who considers that the wholesale abolition of liturgical traditions, with a small "t", can weaken belief in Tradition itself. He therefore works for the restoration of abandoned traditions, or, in some cases, refuses to accept what has replaced them. This is also a credible position for which a case can be made. Referring to changes in religious ceremonies, Cardinal Newman warned that: "Although these forms are not directly from God, long use has made them divine for us, and to destroy them is to unsettle and dislodge the religious principle itself for most people." The Cardinal warned that: "We should be on our guard against those who hope, by inducing us to lay aside our forms, at length to make us lay aside our Christian hope altogether." Like anything Cardinal Newman wrote, these words merit careful consideration. But, as I have said, Professor Hitchcock is a conservative Catholic. He does not approve of traditionalists and tells us this with a frequency that is somewhat tedious. However, in the book I have mentioned, he has a chapter entitled "The Liturgical Revolution," and comments upon the remarkable speed with which it occurred.

Father Kenneth Baker, S.J., is editor of the The Homiletic and Pastoral Review, the most widely read journal for priests in the English-speaking world. It is a conservative, not a traditionalist publication. In his February 1979 edition, Father Baker deplored the liturgical upheavals that we have been through during the past fifteen years, and put a very pertinent question to the hierarchy: "I ask, is it not time to stop the liturgical revolution?" I could cite many similar testimonies, but I will content myself with only two more. There are many others in Chapter III of my book, Pope Paul's New Mass.

There are two categories of people whose views are listened to with the greatest respect by Catholic bishops today: Protestants and sociologists. Well, here is the testimony of a man who is a Protestant and a sociologist. Professor Peter L. Berger is a Lutheran professor of sociology, and in a lecture delivered at the Harvard Club in New York on 11 May 1978, he commented upon the changes in our liturgy from the dispassionate standpoint of a professional sociologist. He insists that we must speak of "the liturgical revolution-----no other term will do." He continues: "If a thoroughly malicious sociologist, bent on injuring the Catholic community as much as possible, had been an adviser to the Church, he could hardly have done a better job." 5 That's pitching it pretty strongly, isn't it?

Now, note very carefully my final quote upon this particular subject. The man who made it was a Catholic, so his opinion won't carry quite the same weight as that of Professor Berger. And he wasn't a sociologist, simply one of the most brilliant Catholic theologians and philosophers living in your country in this century. I refer to Professor Dietrich von Hildebrand who stated that: "Truly, if one of  the devils in C.S. Lewis The Screwtape Letters had been entrusted with the ruin of the liturgy, he could not have done it better."

I hope that what I have said up to this point has been sufficient to establish that what we are faced with in the generality of Catholic churches today is not a liturgical reform, but a liturgical revolution. I hope that I have also managed to make it clear that this revolution, in either the official changes, or the unofficial abuses, can rarely be justified in any particular instance by a direct reference to a document of the Council.

4) Pope Paul's New Mass, page 78.  Available for purchase HERE. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page for the listing.
5) Pope Paul's New Mass, page 80.


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