Saint Thomas Aquinas

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Bishop of Vatican II Speaks


Archbishop Thomas Morris was a bishop at the second Vatican Council. An interview he gave in 1992 has been republished, and he had some interesting things to say about the council. I have copied a few of his thoughts that caught my attention. The entire interview is found here.
I was relieved when we were told that this Council was not aimed at defining or giving final statements on doctrine, because a statement of doctrine has to be very carefully formulated and I would have regarded the Council statements as tentative and liable to be reformed.
The first session in 1962 was on the liturgy. I had heard in discussions that the choice of the liturgy schema as the first one was inspired — or engineered perhaps — by the North Europeans. They’d scored many such points against the Roman Curia who were supposed to be managing things.

The beginning of the liturgy schema created an atmosphere where there was a lot of agreement and a certain amount of advance enthusiasm. One of the things that arose was the use of Latin. The post-Conciliar practices went far beyond what was decided and voted on as part of the decisions of the Council.

Just to take a couple of examples: it was contemplated that the Latin language would continue to be the main language of the liturgy, but there could be limited or occasional use of the vernacular.

I and most of my colleagues in Ireland had a very high regard for the Catholicism of our own people. They came to Mass on Sunday in big numbers, believing what the Mass is and wanting to honour God. They brought their children to Mass. They took part in the only way they knew: they possibly said their beads or read the Key of Heaven. But many of the liturgical pundits were writing off that kind of piety. They wanted people to be more authentically liturgical and saying your Rosary during Mass was out. I didn’t like that.

Another matter was altars facing the people. They were only permitted, not obligatory, and I don’t think it was contemplated they would become as common as they have. Immediately after the Council, the fashion developed of tearing out the altars and putting up altars facing the people in just about every Church. Saying Mass with your back to the people was rather reprobated in the Council opinions. Communion in the hand, that was grasped at by the nuns and it spread from them.

I feel that, at a lot of points, the implementation of the Council decisions has gone beyond the Council. Earlier on there was a phrase going around: ‘the Spirit of Vatican II’. I think the ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ meant the misuse of Vatican II to bolster up some idea of one’s own. I think the implementation of the Council has been very uneven throughout the world. A lot depended on what was there before the Council. You don’t change the practice in a diocese overnight just because there’s been a Council.

As to the interpretation of the Council, the theologians are the ones who encourage trends and develop theories and if they don’t defend the essentials, then the essentials are in great danger. After all, it has been the theologians who have led the Church astray in so many cases and so many countries.

But the over-influence of the Council isn’t as great now as it was a dozen years ago. We used to all claim the support of Vatican II for our own pet ideas, but I don’t think we do that now as much as we used to. The Council is history now.

The Council was meant to bring the Church up to date — aggiornamento. But it hasn’t percolated down sufficiently to the ordinary folk and it hasn’t been taken up with sufficient enthusiasm by hierarchies. It was a brave attempt but I don’t think it succeeded in doing that.

13 comments:

Andrew W said...

I was relieved when we were told that this Council was not aimed at defining or giving final statements on doctrine, because a statement of doctrine has to be very carefully formulated and I would have regarded the Council statements as tentative and liable to be reformed.

Cherry picking traditionalist!

Unknown said...

"Bringing the Church up to date" in the midst of massive social degradation and religious disintegration is about as stupid and destructive an idea as I can contemplate. It is like an otherwise healthy family deciding that they all need to get themselves "up to date" with the drug-abusing teenager sulking about the house.

Jae said...

I whole heartedly agree with the Archbishop, it was the agenda being pushed by liberal theologian/clergy and not the Council itself that brought forth the ills. Anyways, the social degradation and moral disintegration started decades back prior to Vatican II and on anyway related to her Teachings. I would argue that without the timely genuine " update" of the Church to the rapidly changing world we would be in the mode of stagnation and regarded as " legalistic and rigorous" in the practice of our Faith.

I firmly believed that the Catholic Church is a living organic entity that is like a mustard seed in constant development but never rupture from the Deposit of Faith as Christ Himslelf said, "the Advocate will guide you into ALL Truth until the end of time." peace.

Jae said...

Erratum: it should read as "....and NO way related to her Teachings."

Matthew Bellisario said...

I do not see the Church as having been legalistic, nor in danger of stagnation. Being rigorous in our faith is not a crime. In fact, I think we can say that all of the Saints were rigorous in their faith. I think we have found ourselves in stagnation at this point in time due to the fact that few have listened to the papal teachings which warned us of allowing modern, subjective philosophy to rule our seminaries and infiltrate our churches.

As the video I just posted up concerning the FSSP demonstrates, a new crop of seminarians are now drawn to tradition and to the Mass according to the Extraordinary form. Things will be truly renewed as things progress down that avenue. That is how Christ is going to renew the Church. We had to suffer a time without much of the tradition that has been part of the Church for centuries, since we did not appreciate it. As Catholics continue to realize that the experiments of the 60s are not the answer, we will see a true renewal back to tradition.

Jae said...

I beg to disagree, though the ExtraOrdinary form is a wonderful Treasure and tradition however not all " preferred" or attracted to Latin (language in liturgy) which become to many as "stale" that the folks have no idea what the Gospel being preached in the pulpit is all about primarily because most if not all have the time to learn and understand Latin. Though I agree with you that few have listened to our beloved Pope B16 but the infiltration of liberal agendas are done by the sinful actions of free men NOT the Council.

That is why the Church commissioned St. Jerome to translate the Greek Bible to the vernacular language (Latin) so that the people at the time might understand the message more clearly which so importantly must be known first so to know about Christ more deeply thus personally.

The main idea and principles of Vatican II cannot be undone anymore because it's Author is none other than the Holy Ghost. Peace.lpit is all about primarily because most if not all have the time to learn and understand Latin. Though I agree with you that few have listened to our beloved Pope B16 but the infiltration of liberal agendas are done by the sinful actions of free men NOT the Council.

That is why the Church commissioned St. Jerome to translate the Greek Bible to the vernacular language (Latin) so that the people at the time might understand the message more clearly.

The main idea and principles of Vatican II cannot be undone anymore because it's Author is none other than the Holy Ghost. Peace.

Jae said...

So sorry about the repetition of paragraph, I'm editing my post in my mobile phone that I accidentally sent without deleting the last two. Pax et bonum.

Matthew Bellisario said...

First of all Jae, there is little to learn in regard to Latin in the Mass. It is absurd to claim that Latin is any kind of stumbling block to the faithful in understanding the Mass. The Missal has the English translation right next to the Latin, no big deal there. We have kids that learn the Mass in Latin from just reading it over and over along with the English, its not rocket science, and its certainly not as you continue to say "stale." Also, if you have ever been to a Latin Mass, the gospel is usually read in both Latin, in the Mass, and English at the pulpit. If not, again, its in the Missal, read it!

You should know that VCII never called for the Church to ditch the Latin language in the Mass. The Holy Spirit did not tell the Church to ditch the Latin language in the Mass either, so I have no idea what you are talking about.

Paragraph 54 of Sacrosanctum Concilium says that all of the ordinary parts of the Mass are to be in Latin. That is, all the unchanging parts of the Liturgy at a minimum were to be in Latin, according to VCII. "...steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass” How are you now claiming that VCII and the Holy Spirit wanted Latin gone? Again, more evidence that most Catholics are interpreting the VCII documents anyway they see fit, inventing whatever novelty that suits them.

Jae said...

Matt, firstly I didn't say that the Holy Spirit or VCII wanted the Latin gone or recommend to abrogate it, in fact the opposite that is why I agree with you. I myself a lover of TLM however the point I'm making is that a great part of the Catholic faithful are not "attracted" to the foreign language used in the Holy Mass, that's it nothing more, so to say that everything must be "restored" to the original is not feasible and cannot happen no more or that every liturgical music should be of Gregorian Chant (thought I personally preferred and loved it) and that local people of a Diocese have the choice to use their own cultural music that follow the liturgical guidelines and be as solemn and reverent as the Gregorian chant. There are a lot of holy people I personally know that are adherents of N.O. Mass.....like blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta. The rest of your comments we do agree.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Jae, how do you know what the Church is going to do in the future? To say that the Mass will never again be in Latin as it was before it to presume to know what God will do with His Church. Most Catholics only few years ago were saying that the Latin Mass was abolished and would never be allowed to be used in any capacity ever again. As we can see, that has all changed and all of those people are now eating their words. So I would not be so hasty to say that the Church will never restore what it had done before.

Jae said...

I don't know what the future holds or what the Church will do but I do believe however that the celebration of the Holy Mass promulgated by VCII known as Ordinary Form (vernacular) cannot be undone because with it comes the FULL backing and authority of the Church much like the translation of the Holy Scripture by St. Jerome 350 years after the death of the last apostle from Greek to Latin.

The celebration of the Mass in Latin would NEVER be abolish, it is a wonderful treasure of the Church in fact it still is the official language of the Church until the end of ages, however, like I said, it is just one of the many wonderful things in the Church.

I also have attended NO Mass and if done according to the directives of the Church is is very reverent and solemn, much like the Latin Mass, Syriac, Arminian etc, all equal.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Jae, the old Latin Mass came with the FULL backing of the Church as well, and the Church changed and made another Mass the primary Mass for the Latin Rite. So you are wrong in saying the Church does not have the authority to change it back. That is completely false. You seem to forget that at one point Archbishop Lefebvre and a handful of independent priests were the only ones saying the Latin Mass in the entire Church, and almost all of the bishops in the Church refused anyone to say the Latin Mass even after JPII gave the permission for the indult, so I don't know what world you were living in at the time. Hindsight is 20/20, but you don't seem to know the history of the Latin Mass after VCII. The Church has the authority to change the Mass, and thus if it changed it after VCII, it can also change again later. So to say that just because the Novus Ordo has the FULL authority of the Church behind it does not mean that it will always be the primary Mass of the Latin Rite.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Let me clarify, it was not Archbishop Lefebvre alone and a handful of independent priests under him that were the only ones saying the Latin Mass, but it was him, the Society, and other independent priests apart form him that were the only ones celebrating the old Rite at one point. The point I am making is that almost all the bishops of the Church aside from Archbishop Lefebvre had abandoned the Latin Mass. There was no sign of it ever having the backing of the Pope at one point, and that changed with the indult by JPII. That however had little consequence since the indult still relied on the permission of the bishops. Most of them were against having it. It was not until Pope Benedict XVI that we really saw a change with the Motu Proprio. My main point is that the Church can change it if God so desires it, and at one point the vision of the Latin Mass being celebrated like it is today after the Motu Proprio was nothing but a pipe dream to those Catholics who wanted it back.