Liturgical Time Bombs
in Vatican II: Excerpts
The Destruction of Catholic Faith 
Through Changes in Catholic Worship 
by Michael Davies

Published on the Web with Permission of the Author.

Another Destructive Time Bomb-------"Legitimate Variations
and Adaptations"

 The principle enunciated in Article 37 of the CSL is expanded in Article 38 and 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." (Excluding, of course, any group wishing to retain the Traditional Latin Mass codified by St. Pius V in 1570.) 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 (as for Humpty Dumpty), words mean whatever they want them to mean. ["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).]

   Once this principle of adaptation has been accepted, there is no part of the Mass which can be considered exempt from change. Even the words of Consecration have been altered to bring them very close to the formula adopted by Thomas Cranmer in his reform. [M. Davies, Cranmer's Godly Order (Ft. Collins, CO: Roman Catholic Books, 1995 edition), Appendix III.]

   Article 38 by no means concludes the subject of adaptation. Without giving the least idea of what is meant by  "legitimate variations and adaptations," the CSL 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. [Emphasis in red added by the Web Master.] The Council Fathers, like Count Frankenstein, have given life to a creature which has a life and a will of its own and over which they have no power.

Liturgical Abuses Out of Control

    As early as 1965, Cardinal Lercaro, head (or figurehead) of the Consilium, felt it necessary to send a letter to the bishops of the world begging them to stem the tide of un authorized radical adaptations which endangered what he considered to be the sound official reform. He may have honestly failed to appreciate that these unofficial adaptations were simply the logical extension of the official radical adaptations enshrined in the articles of the CSL which have been cited. The Consilium was, the Cardinal assured the bishops, engaged in "a general reform of the liturgy which went right to its very foundations." Such a reform "could not be completed in one day." The new norms had been "conceived with a certain elasticity, which could permit adaptation, and in consequence great pastoral efficacy. That did not mean that every priest was free to devise whatever rites suited him." Cardinal Lercaro stated that he did not wish "the sense of fraternity, of a family assembled"-----which had already made progress and needed to make even more-----to stifle the "sense of hierarchy in the Church." Somehow or other the bishops needed to "put the brakes on arbitrary experiments, to this uncontrolled variety, and even the danger that the laity would . . . lament and murmur as did the sons of Israel against Moses and Aaron." He did not, of course, wish to imply that "unity consisted in stifling or eliminating variety"-----he could hardly imply this, as the CSL had called for variety and his own Consilium was already interpreting this call with a liberality far beyond anything the majority of Fathers would have dreamed possible. However, Cardinal Lercaro insisted that this variety should not be allowed to degenerate "into incoherence." The Cardinal begged for patience, urging the bishops to bring an end to the

personal, premature, and noxious experiments, which God does not bless and which, in consequence, cannot result in lasting fruits; on the contrary, they injure the piety of the faithful and the renewal which has been so devoutly undertaken. They also prejudice our own efforts, for they are general, arbitrary initiatives, which finish by casting an unfavorable light on the work carried out with circumspection, a sense of responsibility, prudence and a true understanding of pastoral needs. [Notitiae, Nos. 9-10, Sept.-Oct. 1965, p. 257 ff.]


   Note that these startling admissions were made in 1965, and even by then the principle of a continually evolving, radically adapted, and legitimately varied liturgy was raging unrestrained throughout the Latin Church. Once again: there is a striking similarity to Cranmer's reform, or in this instance, to the situation immediately prior to the introduction of the 1549 Prayer Book. In 16th-century England, numerous attacks upon traditional Eucharistic teaching were published, which the authorities reproved but took no effective steps to suppress. The King's Council issued orders restraining innovations in the liturgy, while letting it be known that such innovations were not unpleasing to them. The King, like Cardinal Lercaro, even found it necessary to issue a proclamation urging radical reformers "to stay and quiet themselves with this our direction-----and not enterprise to run afore and so by their rashness to become the greatest hinderers" of change. [Cf. Cranmer's Godly Order, Chapter XI.]

    The Consilium, as did the Council of King Edward VI,  took little or no action against the "unofficial" innovators-----indeed, how could it have done so? The official and unofficial innovators were on the same wavelength, in the same camp, pursuing the same objectives by converging routes. There was no disagreement on principle; there was no dispute that there should be continual evolution, adaptation and variety. The division on a matter of principle lay between the official and unofficial innovators on the one hand, and on the other hand the Traditionalists-----who wished to retain the unity of the Roman Rite.


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