HE PREVIOUS Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments was Robert Cardinal Sarah. (My friends who serve in top Vatican positions describe Cardinal Sarah as courageous, kind, and holy.) When Cardinal Sarah submitted his resignation—owing to his turning 75 years of age—the Most Reverend Arthur Roche was appointed to succeed him. On 4 October 2021, Bishop Roche gave a speech at the ANSELMIANUM, and made a bewildering statement:
“We are not creating or reforming the liturgy; that has already been done by the Church’s highest authority, an Ecumenical Council.”
False Statement: The Second Vatican Council most assuredly did not “reform” the liturgy. The Second Vatican Council mandated a liturgical reform, but did not oversee the reform. The council ended on 8 December 1965, whereas the Novus Ordo Missae was released half a decade later. The bishops who took part in Vatican II believed the reforms would be made by the Sacred Congregation of Rites (when they voted on Sacrosanctum Concilium in 1963). However, in 1964 the pope decided that a special “advisory committee” was to be formed, to assist the Sacred Congregation of Rites. The official document of Vatican II said: “there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them” (SC §23).
Authority Taken Without Justification: Annibale Bugnini’s great victory 1 was to turn this advisory committee (a.k.a. the CONSILIUM) into the sole authority for liturgical reform, a body which need report “only to the pope himself.” Cardinal Antonelli—perhaps the preëminent source when it comes to these matters—wrote in his diary on 16 March 1964 about his conversation with Cardinal Larraona (Prefect the Sacred Congregation of Rites): “This morning I had a long conversation with Cardinal Larraona. We were very saddened by the fact that the CONSILIUM had arrogated to itself functions which logically inhered in the Congregation of Rites. The CONSILIUM is a study organism: the Congregation [of Sacred Rites] is an organ of government.”
The word “arrogate” means to take or claim (something) without justification.
The word “inhere” means exist essentially or permanently in.
Assertion by Bishop Roche: The new CDW Prefect claimed that reforming the liturgy “has already been done by the Church’s highest authority, an Ecumenical Council.” But this is absolutely false. The post-conciliar liturgy is not what was envisioned by the Fathers of Vatican II. Vatican II said Gregorian Chant was to be given “first place in liturgical services” (SC §116). Vatican II said “the treasure of sacred music is to be preserved and fostered with great care” and “choirs must be diligently promoted” (SC §114). Vatican II said “the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in the divine office” (SC §101). Vatican II specifically recommended polyphony (SC §116) for liturgical celebrations. Vatican II said the congregation is supposed to “say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Mass Ordinary which pertain to them” (SC §54). That’s what Vatican II said—but the reformers ignored what Vatican II said.
“The Pathetic Creature We Produced” Father Louis Bouyer (a close friend of Pope Paul VI) was deeply involved with liturgical reforms before and during Vatican II. Indeed, Father Bouyer—who taught my teacher—was the one who was forced to cobble together “Eucharistic Prayer II” under a tight deadline.2 Father Bouyer referred to the post-conciliar reforms as “the pathetic creature we produced.” Numerous quotations could be cited, but consider what Father Bouyer said about the post-conciliar calendar:
“I prefer to say nothing, or so little, about the new calendar, the handiwork of a trio of maniacs who suppressed—with no good reason—Septuagesima and the Octave of Pentecost and who scattered three quarters of the Saints higgledy-piddledy, all based on notions of their own! […] Because these three hotheads obstinately refused to change anything to their work (and because the Pope wanted to finish up quickly to avoid letting the chaos get out of hand), their project, however insane, was accepted!”
Contradicting Vatican II: Vatican II said: “The use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites” (SC §36). A renowned German canonist, Georg May, reminds us this was not a suggestion. During the Second Vatican Council, Michael Cardinal Browne warned that Latin might disappear if the vernacular was allowed—and the fathers famously roared with laughter at such a suggestion! Pope John XXIII, who convened the council, made clear what he thought of anyone who would deprecate Latin as a sacred liturgical language. Even extremely progressive voices made interesting comments about Latin; e.g. Father Augustin Bea declared: “No concession should ever be made for the singing of the Exsultet, in whole or in part, in the vernacular.”
Even Cranmer! Father Bouyer pointed out that during the Last Supper Our Redeemer used Hebrew (a lingua sacra) and not Aramaic. Furthermore, Father Bouyer warned that abandoning Latin would be “a severe loss,” insisting that certain prayers such as the Canon and Ordinary must remain in Latin (even in small parishes), and reminding us that even a monster like Thomas Cranmer “produced a standard edition of his prayer book in traditional Latin.” Ferdinando Giuseppe Antonelli (secretary of the CONSILIUM) could not have been clearer when it comes to the council’s view on Latin. Giacomo Cardinal Lercaro—CONSILIUM president and official leader of the “progressive” faction—attacked the notion that Latin would be abandoned in a lengthy article (2 March 1965) in l’Avennire d’Italia. Specifically, Cardinal Lercaro said: “The Divine Office, which is more especially the priest’s and monk’s prayer, remains entirely in Latin.”
Deleting Sacred Scripture: Sometimes people claim the post-conciliar reforms are “irreversible”—but what exactly does that mean? We have seen how the reformers furtively eliminated certain parts of Sacred Scripture, and doing such a thing was never mandated by Vatican II. Is the bowdlerization of Sacred Scripture truly irreversible? Such a notion strikes me as silly. What about about all the other changes made after Vatican II—changes nobody is willing to justify? For instance, on Palm Sunday the reformers reversed the order of the TRACT and the GRADUAL—a reversal which has never happened in the history of the Church. Is that change irreversible? What about placing the SEQUENCES (which are derived from the Alleluia’s ending) before the Alleluia itself? That bizarre reversal has never happened in the history of the Church. Is that irreversible?
Tip of the Iceberg: Have we learned nothing in the six decades that have elapsed since the Second Vatican Council? Are we incapable of development? When we see the many catastrophes which have taken place since the close of Vatican II, are we incapable of learning or correcting course? The items mentioned in the previous paragraph are minutiae compared to all the major items Vatican II never mentioned: Altars facing the people; Female Altar servers; Lay Catholics proclaiming the readings inside the Sanctuary; Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion; Communion received in the hand; the complete elimination of the Gregorian Propers (which are extremely ancient); new Eucharistic Prayers; goofy secular music during Mass; the list goes on and on!
“Laughing at God” Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said: “Many a pontiff goes through life without making one single infallible decision…not one.” It is heartbreaking when the Vicar of Christ utters scandalous statements. Pope Francis a few weeks ago said something almost beyond belief. He said that more than 70% of the saints were “laughing at the Word of God” when they prayed Scripture in a lingua sacra. He accused Saint Isaac Jogues and Saint Ignatius of Loyola of “laughing at the Word of God.” He accused Don Bosco and Padre Pio of “laughing at the Word of God.” Pope Francis accused Saint Francis of Assisi—who only agreed to become a Deacon so he could sing the Gospel in Latin—of “laughing at the Word of God.” The Pope even accused our Redeemer (JESUS CHRIST, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity) of “laughing at the Word of God” because Our Lord constantly read the Scriptures in a lingua sacra (Hebrew) not the vernacular.3 But if Christ’s Church can survive the “Cadaver Synod” under Pope Stephen VI, we can certainly survive our current circumstances. We must kneel before the Blessed Sacrament and say: “Do with me what Thou wilt, O Lord.”
Traditionis Custodes: The document issued on 16 July 2021 (Traditionis Custodes) is truly remarkable because Pope Francis admits the Reformed Rite cannot compete on an equal footing with the Traditional Mass. In his wildest dreams, I doubt Cardinal Antonelli could have imagined the “TLM resurgence” we see today. Every Sunday at our parish, more than 1,300 people attend the Traditional Mass. The little Church we built (using 100% money we ourselves raised) cannot hold the people, so we are currently celebrating Mass in a parking lot. Meanwhile, I could cite numerous empty churches in our Archdiocese, plus churches which have been combined with other parishes because of low attendance. So our congregation attends Mass in a parking lot, and sometimes the temperature is more than 105° fahrenheit. Our altar boys sometimes faint (due to heat exhaustion)—but the people keep coming regardless.
NOTES FROM THIS ARTICLE:
1 For details on how Bugnini’s victory was achieved, cf. Yves Chiron’s Annibale Bugnini: Reformer of the Liturgy (Angelico Press, 2018) pages 105-105. See also Monsignor Nicola Giampietro’s The Development of the Liturgical Reform As Seen by Cardinal Ferdinando Antonelli from 1948 to 1970 (Roman Catholic Books, 2009) page 181.
2 On this, see John M. Pepino’s article “Cassandra’s Curse: Louis Bouyer, the Liturgical Movement, and the Post-Conciliar Reform of the Mass” in volume 18.3 (pages 254-300) of the ANTIPHON JOURNAL published by the Society for Catholic Liturgy. Pay particular attention to pages 295-296, where Father Bouyer explains why he calls his creation (viz. The Second Eucharistic Prayer) the “Trastevere café terrace prayer.”
3 As Monsignor Francis P. Schmitt put it: “Our Lord worshiped in a language at least as dead then as Latin is now.” Even the arch-heretic Martin Luther—who founded a sect called “Lutheranism” during the Protestant Revolution—had enough sense to declare: “I in nowise desire that the Latin language be dropped from our service of worship.”