The Catholic Sanctuary
and the Second Vatican Council

 by Michael Davies

What Did Vatican II Really Say and Mandate?

This brings us at last to the Second Vatican Council, which was held in Rome in four sessions between the years 1962 and 1965. The teaching of the Council on liturgical reform is contained in its "Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy"-----Sacrosanctum Concilium-----which is dated December 4, 1963. What precisely does the Liturgy Constitution mandate regarding changes in our sanctuaries? The answer is brief and simple: Nothing!

There is not a single word in the entire Liturgy Constitution of Vatican Council II requiring a single change to be made in a single sanctuary anywhere in the entire Catholic world.

As very few Catholics have read the Liturgy Constitution, it will be useful to examine precisely what it actually mandated. By no possible stretch of the imagination can it be interpreted as mandating, sanctioning or even envisaging the virtual destruction of the traditional Roman Rite of the Mass or of the sanctuaries in which it was celebrated.

The Liturgy Constitution contained stipulations which appeared to rule out the least possibility of any drastic remodeling of the traditional Mass or the sanctuaries in which it was celebrated. 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]. All lawfully acknowledged rites were held to be of equal authority and dignity and were to be preserved in the future and fostered in every way [Article 4]. 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]. There were to be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly required them [Article 23]. 

[Emphasis added: No one asked for the doubtful changes until it was foisted on them and then this was by way or rationalization long afterwards when their faith had weakened and became something less that totally Catholic-----the Web Master.]

The Council Fathers thus had no fears that the immemorial rite of Mass, "The most beautiful thing this side of Heaven," according to Fr. Frederick Faber, would be subjected to revolutionary changes that would leave it virtually unrecognizable. They would never have voted for the reform that has been inflicted upon us. You do not need to take my word for this. I will quote one of the greatest liturgists of this century, perhaps the greatest, the late Msgr. Klaus Gamber. His book, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, was published in English in 1993 and is endorsed by three cardinals. Shortly before the death of Msgr. Gamber, Cardinal Ratzinger, the present Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, remarked that he was "the one scholar who, among the army of pseudo-liturgists, truly represents the liturgical thinking of the centre of the Church." [Cited in Testimonial by Msgr. W. Nyssen in Klaus Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy (Roman Catholic Books, P.O. Box 255, Harrison, NY 10528, 1993), p. xiii.] It is the army of pseudo-liturgists referred to by the Cardinal which has invaded and devastated our sanctuaries. "One statement we can make with certainty," writes Msgr. Gamber, "is that the new Ordo of the Mass that has now emerged would not have been endorsed by the majority of the Council Fathers." [Gamber, The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, p. 61.]

   Precisely the same point was made by Cardinal John Heenan of Westminster, who explains in his book, A Crown of Thorns, that  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]. 

[ J. Heenan, A Crown of Thorns (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1974), p. 367.]


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