PODCAzT 94: PART II – 40 years ago… Paul VI on the eve of the Novus Ordo

Based on your response to PODCAzT 93, and my own desire to drill more deeply into the issue, we welcome back as our guest Pope Paul VI (+1978).

In the last PODCAzT we explored Paul’s General Audience of 26 November 1969, a few days before the Novus Ordo Missaewent into force.  This time we turn the clock back one more week to his General Audience of 19 Nov 1969 when he begins to address the changes people were about to experience.

We are coming up on the 40th Anniversary of the implementation of the Novus Ordo in the Latin Church.

That was Forty years ago on 30 Nov 1969 .  It was the 1st Sunday of Advent.

We are facing our own challenges today, with changes to the English translation and also the reintegration of the pre-Conciliar form of Mass in the life of the Church, thanks to Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum.

The questions Pope Paul asked back in 1969 are valid for us as well.

You will hear Paul Paul’s General Audience text along with my commentary.

Be careful if you have headphones or earphones… the beginning is a bit jarring.  I meant it to be jarring.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Purple haze…and live…but when? Do you have Jimi’s “Star Spangled Banner” from that same August?

  2. I now hear that you do!

  3. Chris: Yes… couldn’t leave THAT out!

  4. 4 centuries? “We”‘d been praying the prayers codified in the old books for longer than that, right?

  5. patrick_f says:

    Interesting Paul refers to it as a “Rite” at one point. I think that demonstrates that the Mass is indeed organic as B16 has made clear. Obviously, we have a much better understanding of things now, using words such as “Form”

  6. Chris: Just quotin’ old Paul VI. Of course those prayers have been around longer!

  7. Catherine says:

    How did I know that the opening would be Purple Haze? LOL
    I assume purple is appropriate also….for penance.

  8. The podcast presses home the need to read PPVI’s remarks attraverso la lente della romanita’ (through the lens of <>)!

  9. JohnW says:

    Let us hope and pray for corrections by Pope Benedict. I can remember after the new order went into effect many priest actions at Mass were effected by the way The Tridentine rite was offered. We at this time are no where near that 40 yrs. later. We all need to pray for a return to Catholic Tradition.Pray the rosary.

  10. Chris: The podcast presses home the need to read PPVI’s remarks attraverso la lente della romanita’

    Indeed. And, even before that, to know what that “hermeneutic” is!

  11. John W: Indeed, pray the rosary.

  12. ssoldie says:

    Pope Benedict XVI, ‘what was sacred then is sacred now’, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger,’what was a fabrication, a banal on the spot product then, is a fabrication, a banal on the spot product now. Really, and now that some parts are to be in Latin and some of the words are now being more in line with the traditional interpratation, this makes it(organic). ‘What happened after the council was something else entirely: in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came ‘fabricated’ liturgy. We abandoned the organic, living process of growth and development over centuries, and replaced it -as in a manufacturing process- with a fabrication’. Why is it so hard to admit that there were certain things at Vatican II council that there were not led by the Holy Ghost, but by progressive periti (so called experts) who had agendas, and who’s( ambiguous language) fooled most of the good Father’s of the council.

  13. FrCharles says:

    Thanks for the date, so I could call up the audience and read along and practice my Italian!

    It’s fascinating how Paul VI speaks of continuity, which seems to be precisely what was lost in the implementation of the reform. My own experience is that most priests and religious with whom I have lived and worked see the more recent form of the Roman Rite as a ‘new thing,’ rather than an expression of a continuous tradition. They live in a Church that is only 40 years old, and, as one of my professors put it, nothing happened in between St. Paul’s last word and Karl Rahner’s first. From this derives the hostile language of ‘going back.’

    But there is no ‘back;’ there is just one Tradition. It seems to me that this sense of continuity is what Benedict wishes us to recover in the “mutual enrichment” he calls for in the cover letter to Summorum pontificum.

    Thanks for the PODCAzt!

  14. VivaLaMezzo says:

    Fr. Z,

    Wow… thank you for such an informative and well produced podcast. This is my first, but not the last. You are ever in our prayers.

    Fr. Charles,

    That is exactly the hostility we have faced in our own parish for our request of the extraordinary form… this notion of “going back”. We’ve been told that we don’t know what we want b/c we’re too young, or b/c we haven’t been Catholic long enough (5 years, Deo gratias!). We’ve been told that no one wants to go back to the priest with his back to the “audience” (their term, not mine) mumbling who knows what (Huh? But, the missal says…). We’ve been told that we’re reading the V2 documents/GIRM/summorum (pick one) “too literally”. Again, huh?

    We continue to pray for our priest, and all priests, but it is a true test of our charity when we are openly mocked and derided by our confessor and spiritual advisor.

    Please keep us in your prayers as well.

    On a positive note, I’ve been driven to regular Adoration. ^_^ Again, Deo gratias!

  15. FrCharles says:

    VLM: Thank you for your good example of patience and charity. Oremus pro invicem.

    I began to explore the older form of Mass purely out of curiosity and a sense of professional responsibility…SP went into effect the same week that I was ordained! Even though I haven’t made a big deal about it and have never offered Mass in EF except in secret, I have been genuinely surprised by some of the hostility from my own religious brothers.

    Oh, and the use of the term “audience” reveals the clericalism which is the actual danger of the Mass versus populum, in my opinion.

  16. Maltese says:

    I have a good friend, and a brilliant attorney (and a non-catholic) who said: the stupidest thing the Catholic Church ever did was do give up the Latin mass.” Of course, the Novus Ordo can also be said in Latin, but this should be a teaching point. I’ve also heard of non-Catholics influenced by habited nuns. My grandmother became a Catholic at 83 because of the habited Little Sisters.

    But to Fr. Z’s podcast. Fr. Z is clearly a brilliant priest trying to make sense of the senseless that happened in the 1960s and 1970’s in the Church.

    But, we have to:

    accentuate the positive
    Eliminate the negative
    Latch on to the affirmative
    Don’t mess with Mister In-Between


  17. ocsousn says:


    We must recall that the Novus Ordo was not imposed like the Prayer Book of Edward VI: One day a traditional Latin liturgy, the next day a reformed English service. The Church had been in a state of liturgical (not to mention doctrinal and moral) chaos for several years.

    How well I remember that year and the weird condition of my seminary professors and classmates returning from the Summer of ’69! Some had actually been at Woodstock, other had attended summer institutes at places like Notre Dame, where, as it turned out, they met ther future wives. The documents of the Council and subsequent instructions were published in full by, can you believe it, the New York Times. The “evil-conservative-virtuous-liberals” story line of the council was driven by the New Yorker Magazine’s series Letters from Vatican City by one Xavier Rynne (AKA Francis X. Murphy, CSsR). America Magazine (unofficial organ of the Jesuits in America) reflected the enlightened response to the Novus Ordo: too traditional, too many rubrics, at best a stepping stone to a truly radical reform. Seminaries and religious houses were in a frenzy of liturgical experimentation, though there was nothing whatever scientific about it. Celebrants vied with one another in creating new liturgies with only the slightest reference to actual liturgical norms, be they from the Council, the Concillium or the Pope himself. Holland was perceived to be the epicenter of reform and renewal. Underground Eucharistic prayers of dubious orthodoxy and validity, appropriately published in spiral binders, were widely circulated. The Folk Mass/Guitar Mass made its appearance with its own hymnal featuring the music of such luminaries as Ray Repp (Mass for Young Americans),Mercy Sister Suzanne Toolan (I Am the Bread of Life) and Fr. Clarence Rivers (American Mass Program). Some communities and parishes did hold the line and, though they introduced the vernacular, held on to some Latin and, in the face of strong opposition, made a serious attempt to follow both the spirit and letter of the Church’s norms. There were two factions: the followers of the original liturgical movement who wanted the Liturgy as they had known it, but in the vernacular for parishes and missions, and those who wanted a complete and radical reform. This latter group was actually spurred on by the gradual introduction of the vernacular in the Mass and Office because the traditional texts (both prayers and scripture) were so radically in conflict with the spirit of the times. (Just think of the Traditional Breviary’s Common of Virgins in the zeitgeist of 1969!)

    If you weren’t there you can’t imagine how difficult it was to attempt to just hold the line at the Novus Ordo. The miracle is that, for all its flaws, the Novus Ordo pulled us back from the brink of total chaos. At the same time, when married to the ICEL translations, it all but crushed what little life there was left in the authentic liturgical movement. Only a few islands were to remain above the deluge that was to engulf the liturgy for the next decade or more. One of those islands was St. Agnes’s Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, the home parish of our own Fr. Z. Succisa virescit !

    Fr. Aidan Logan, O.C.s.o.

  18. Mitchell NY says:

    ANd now, after the deluge, the waters are receding and more and more small islands are appearing. Indeed it must have been an awful anguish for the Church during the year 1969. The podcast did not mention my birth that year but alas there were many events..That being said I grew up entirely wild and crazy NO style..Found the TLM about 4 years ago and could not be happier. In fact its’ supppression and why has lead me into a deeper understanding of what the Catholic Faith is all about. My growth as a Catholic came about in the 4 years of attending the Tridentine Rite, sadly I was taught little and learned little from the NO Rite for the other 36 years..I remember a time when there was no Cathechis and we were sent to lay people’s homes to sit around and listen to Bible readings and parables, under to formal name Religious Instructions. It was a poor substitute for Cathechis on the Church. It appeared Christian with no Catholic Identity. No mention of Catholic symbols, theology, doctrines, etc. I don’t think that Pope Paul VI considered this as a possible outcome. But I digress. Pray for the Tridentine Mass and our Holy Father.

  19. Excellent as always, Fr. Z.

    So the Consilium’s intent (decentralize ecclesial power, alter doctrine) was not congruous with that of Pope Paul VI…

    The question remains, why then did the Holy Father allow them to go so far beyond the Council’s mandate?

    There only seem to be a few possibilities:

    1. The Holy Father’s goals and the Consilium’s goals were actually the same. (i.e. Pope Paul VI secretly shared the Consilium’s view.)

    I do not believe this.

    2. Paul VI truly believed that the Consilium’s rite would accomplish the Council’s (and his) goals well.

    I know we are looking back with a perspecitve that the Holy Father did not necessarily have, yet even so, it is difficult to imagine that this could be true.

    3. Paul VI was somehow duped.

    While I don’t doubt the activity of dishonest brokers, I don’t believe this can tell the entire story.

    3. Pope Paul VI was well aware of the liturgical abuses running rampant in the Church already, as well as the rebellious spirit of the world in general in 1969. He was still reeling from the revolt that ensued after Humanae Vitae and was determined to avoid something worse. i.e. He knew that the Consilium’s rite went well beyond the Council’s mandate and would largely fail to communicate the liturgy’s sameness… he knew it was an attempt to alter doctrine… yet, for fear of more widespread revolt (schism) he allowed it.

    This seems most likely to me. Was this an act of pure weakness? Maybe not. Perhaps his decision could also be seen as an expression of the Holy Father’s faith that Christ would not allow the Consilium’s designs to succeed in the final analysis. Perhaps the Holy Father assessed – correctly or not – that less damage to the Body of Christ would occur by allowing the Consilium to proceed.

    It seems that upheaval was coming no matter what. Maybe the question in the Holy Father’s mind became, “Who will handle the inevitable upheaval better; the rebels who will be upset if I don’t codify their liturgical innovations, or the solidly formed faithful who will be upset if I do?” Maybe he simply calculated that the latter had the deepness of faith to weather the inevitable storm while remaining in the bossom of the Church, while the former did not.

    Any other possibilities? Thoughts?

  20. Antiquarian says:

    Thank you Fr Z for opening this discussion.

    Father Aidan’s description of the times surrounding the introduction of the Novus Ordo precisely mirrors my own memory, albeit mine is from a layman’s perspective. The Novus Ordo was not, per se, the worst of what was happening.

    That worst, by the way, is what then-Cardinal Ratzinger decried in his preface to the French edition of Msgr Gamber’s book. The misleading, inaccurately translated snippet that is cited to “prove” that he called the Novus Ordo banal, fabricated on-the-spot, etc, misrepresents his actual argumant– that priests who indulged in “showy” improvised liturgies were threatening the reform (and he also criticized those who separated themselves from the Church out of “an attachment to older forms.”)

  21. Antiquarian: Cardinal Ratzinger decried in his preface to the French edition of Msgr Gamber’s book… inaccurately translated snippet…

    You would do us a service by posting here that quote in the French original along with an accurate translation.

  22. irishgirl says:

    Wow-another great podcast, Fr. Z!

  23. Antiquarian says:

    Father, here’s the complete text in French– translation to follow. You’ll quickly see that, as usual, His Holiness’ position is far more complex than is widely stated.


    I think it’s notable that while the little “sound bite” that presents this as a criticism of the Novus Ordo itself is nigh-omnipresent on the internet, no complete translation of the actual text is to be found. (And I do like His then-Eminence’s judicious use of franglais, referring to the priest who indulges in his own liturgical innovations as a “showmaster.”

  24. mpm says:

    For the record, let me state that I did NOT attend Woodstock: I was at a family reunion in a town not far from Bethel, NY, and I did participate in the traffic-jam getting out of that place, with the help of NY State Troopers screaming at us to get off Rte 84 and onto a side road, if we wanted to get to the Thruway anytime before the Second Coming! ;>

    I think that the following phrases from Paul VI’s address, that the New Rite is “not a transitory, optional experiment” and that it “puts an end to uncertainties, […] to arbitrary abuses,” give a key to understand his mind (which I think Louie Verrecchio gets about right). As I read those phrases they refer to the kind of liturgical chaos (or apostasy) that Fr. Aidan Logan speaks about. IN OTHER WORDS, they are not just vague, ephemeral boilerplate the Pope uses to take up some time in the audience. Those things were actually going on.

    So, the Pope was told, by his “advisors”, that (1) the sorts of things Fr. Logan mentions (especially the bit about Holland: remember the “Dutch Catechism”?) were already occuring and that the sacrileges were awful, and that (2) the Novus Ordo was the right blend of everything that was needed to get things back on track. (That’s why sometimes Pope Paul’s actions/words seem naive to us now; we don’t realize how completely isolated and managed he was.)

    Paul VI was not told that some of what was going on in places like Holland was being encouraged by some of those same papal advisors (priests, bishops, cardinals; some in the Curia, some elsewhere).

    The uproar over Humanae vitae, the year before this, was, IMO, another example of “managing” the Pope in somewhat the same way.

  25. robtbrown says:

    But, we have to:
    accentuate the positive
    Eliminate the negative
    Latch on to the affirmative
    Don’t mess with Mister In-Between
    Comment by Maltese

    A grateful nod to Johnny Mercer.

  26. robtbrown says:

    There’s little doubt that Paul VI was pope at a difficult time, that certain forces turned loose at Vat II made life difficult for him, that he he was burdened by the liberal forces at the Council, and that he was burned by his liberal humanist buddies, e.g., names like Lercaro and Bugnini.

    On the other hand, I think there is no excuse for his persecution of Abp Lefebvre.

  27. thomas tucker says:

    Very good podcast.
    I’m with you except for when you say that Paul VI saw and understood that the influence of the world on teh Church might dominate the influence of the Churh of the world.
    In listening to his words, he truly does sound optimistic that the Novus Ordo will encourage the deeper and more fruitful participation of the laity in the Mass.
    Here is my question: when the Novus Ordo was introduced at that Advent 40 yearsago, was it immediately celebrated ad populum as it almost universally is now, or was it celebrated initially ad orientem?

  28. mpm says:

    thomas tucker,

    I’ll chime in, but the experience of others may be different. In the East of the USA (Washington – Boston corridor, at least), many but not all, parishes had already changed the posture of Mass to “face the people”. So the Novus Ordo did not introduce that practice.

  29. Mike Morrow says:

    The position that radical changes in Catholic liturgical practice took place only *after* the novus ordo was issued is complete nonsense.

    Beginning almost four years before the novus ordo (late 1965 in my parish), all sorts of bizarre changes were inflicted on the faithful. Vernacular language was used, lay readers were employed, non-traditional music and instruments were introduced, communion rails were dismantled, main altars were stripped, wooden tables were installed, and versus populum services were started years before the novus ordo sealed all of it together in 1970. In fact, very few even noticed when the novus ordo was actually instituted. The Church had changed so radically in the previous four years that the official novus ordo was inconsequential by comparison.

    It’s been said that one can tell that a religion has lost its relevance and is on the decline when it sabotages and denies its own traditions. Many hundreds of millions of Catholics must have had the same thought as they watched the Church leave them fourty years ago.

  30. robtbrown says:

    It’s true that versus populum had started before the Council. Under Paul VI, however, it was institutionized for the universal Church.

  31. Henry Edwards says:

    My parish experience was the same as that summarized well by Mike Morrow. Everything that many seem to associate exclusively with the Novus Ordo actually predated it by several years.

    Indeed, I remember the institution of the Novus Ordo on the 1st Sunday of Advent of 1969 only as a total non-event. I recall hearing nothing about it at the time, though I followed Church affairs closely, then as now.

    However, roughly in the years between the 1969 promulgation and the 1973 English translation, things began to settle down a bit. For instance, the Novus Ordo missal had only four bound-in Eucharistic prayers, as compared with the dozens of “different one every week” just mimeographed loose-leaf EP’s that were inflicted on us in the years preceding the 1969 Novus Ordo.

    Thus the Novus Ordo, when implemented in weekly practice, probably had the initial effect of stablizing liturgical practice and making it more “conservative” (or less zany), which I believe was one of Pope Paul’s primary intentions — that is, of bringing some order to the liturgical chaos that reigned in the late 1960s. Of course, with hindsight we see that the success of the Novus Ordo did not match the hopes he expressed.

  32. Mike Morrow says:

    Before Vatican II, I never personally heard of any versus populum practices. Any that occurred must have been so rare as to be completely insignificant. *ALL* the radical changes occurred under Paul VI. And…most of the very offensive changes started taking place years before the novus ordo was issued.

    Those who think that traditional Mass was still being celebrated on November 29, 1969, the day before the novus ordo first took effect in some parts of the world, are very very much misinformed. The Church in 1966 was very different from the Church in 1964. I can still remember a nun at the parochial school in my small Arkansas parish encouraging her students before daily Mass in Spring 1966 with “There’s going to be a hootenany Mass today!”

    So sick…so true.

  33. thomas tucker says:

    Wow- that is fascinating.
    It must be that people were all responding to the tumult and “excitement” of the times and taking it upon themselves to change things willy-nilly. In that context, the promulgation of the NO might have had a stabilizing effect.
    I have never been one to blame what happened on the Council. Given what was happening in society at large, I think things would have changed anyway.

  34. robtbrown says:

    Before Vatican II, I never personally heard of any versus populum practices. Any that occurred must have been so rare as to be completely insignificant. ALL the radical changes occurred under Paul VI. And…most of the very offensive changes started taking place years before the novus ordo was issued.
    Comment by Mike Morrow

    The chapel at the Convitto San Tommaso in Rome, which was built before Vat II, was built for versus populum celebration.

  35. Henry Edwards says:

    In that context, the promulgation of the NO might have had a stabilizing effect.

    Yes. In brief, it did.

    Given what was happening in society at large, I think things would have changed anyway.

    I believe some things might have changed anyway, but to nowhere the extent that actually happened.

    Because, as a result of the Council occurring at one of the more chaotic times in modern history (though this was not anticipated when it was planned), the result was a “perfect storm” for the Church.

    Pope John XXIII had intended to open the windows so the Church could go out into the world and transform it. Instead, because of the chaos occurring out there, the world came in through those open windows and transformed the Church.

  36. Mike Morrow says:

    “The chapel at the Convitto San Tommaso in Rome, which was built before Vat II, was built for versus populum celebration.”

    Yes…as I stated, completely insignificant.

  37. mpm says:

    I think the channel whereby “liturgical experimentation” entered the parishes came in through the back door of where parishioners would go for retreats and other kinds of formative activities. This was typically a retreat house run by a religious order. Some (many?) religious orders had been given permission to implement some things ad experimentum, i.e., “to gain experience and feedback”, by “the Vatican”, since they were thought to be of a more solid Catholic formation, and would not be as negatively affected as laypeople in parishes might. But, those centers allowed retreatants et al. to experience these innovations instead of “falling back” to what people were used to liturgically.

    Some of these practices would be remarked upon, and later discussed with others back in the parish. A similar thing happened at Catholic colleges, often run by religious.

    All of this began to “soften up” ordinary parishioners.

    Last night on EWTN there was an interview by Barbara Guigan with Prof. Ralph McInerny of Notre Dame, in which coincidentally he was asked a question very similar to what we are discussing here. In his opinion, the real catalyst for “dissent” was a softening up of the consciences of Catholics with respect to artificial birth control (at some of these same “sources”, as well as in the confessional) before the promulgation of Humanae vitae. He allowed as how some people thought it was the confusion in the liturgical area (especially regarding the Mass), and he gave that some importance; but he felt that probably the more important impetus toward dissent came from the softening up on the level of married life that preceded the encyclical. I don’t think his point was that one was more important than the other, but rather that real catholic laity were totally bamboozled by all the “parallel magisteria” that came into existence during that period.

  38. Henry Edwards says:

    mpm: … real catholic laity were totally bamboozled by all the “parallel magisteria” that came into existence during that period.

    I believe the concept of “parallel magisteria” is a key to understanding what happened in the 1960s. So far as I know, few or none of the rampant liturgical changes in those years came at the instance of or under episcopal direction.

    Sometimes one hears the allegation that … Well, the bishops brought these things back with them from Rome, and must have approved of them. But I think this is largely untrue.

    In the 1961 Fontgombault conferencing proceedings, Cardinal Ratzinger refers to the hierarchy having lost control of the liturgy — to the burgeoning apparatus of liturgical “experts” and commissions that introduced innovations directly through non-hierarchical channels.

  39. Mike Morrow says:

    “I have never been one to blame what happened on the Council. Given what was happening in society at large, I think things would have changed anyway.”

    If the opinion of one who lived through the revolution counts, I disagree completely, in every aspect. That’s just a simple nonsense justification of the unjustifiable. It was the responsibility of the Church to provide timeless stability to the discord and anarchy of the 1960s, not add to it as it did. The Church under Paul VI failed miserably and totally after Vatican II.

    There was nothing really wrong, nothing festering in the Church in the 1960s. Post-Vatican II liturgical changes were an unthinking and completely cosmetic solution to a problem that did NOT exist. Something was driving those changes that started years before the novus ordo. It wasn’t a bunch of local ordinaries giddily responding willy-nilly to create a newchurch. I don’t know what it was, or what officially stimulated it. My diocese of Arkansas wasn’t exactly on the cusp of worldwide liturgical revolution. What we suffered beginning in late 1965 was being inflicted everywhere. There was no local “response to the times” that wasn’t taking place in all other locations. It was a very universal revolution. There was no giddy response-to-the-times motivation for such idiocy. It was very *controlled* and *dictated*.

    That would make an interesting research project: What/who promulgated and controlled all the changes that took place universally in the Church between 1965 and the novus ordo in 1969?

    Let’s stop the pretense that there’s any real significance to 30 November 1969. Those who were there report *no* real significance to introduction of the novus ordo. The “Program of Change” had started while Vatican II was still in progress. It was “Change You Can Dis-believe In.”

  40. Henry Edwards says:

    Mike: The “Program of Change” had started while Vatican II was still in progress. It was “Change You Can Dis-believe In.”

    Actually, it was set in motion before the Council. For instance, I believe it is generally understood that Sacrosanctum Consilium was not the product of discussion and formulation (or, perhaps, even careful study before approving it) by the bishops at the Council, but was largely written prior to the Council by the same liturgical activists who after the Council were placed (by Pope Paul VI) in charge of its implementation.

  41. Mike Morrow says:

    “Actually, it was set in motion before the Council.”

    Yes, Henry, I can believe that, but at least it was invisible until late in the council. How naive we youngsters were to think that all we’d see was altar boys no longer having to memorize their responses in Latin!

  42. robtbrown says:

    Yes…as I stated, completely insignificant.
    Comment by Mike Morrow

    So you’re saying that the chapel at a residence for priests and seminarians studying theology from c 18 different nations is insignificant?

    What happens in Rome eventually trickles down to the rest of the Church.

  43. mpm says:

    “…few or none of the rampant liturgical changes in those years came at the instance of or under episcopal direction.”


    I agree about that. In the USA, it was not originally encouraged by the hierarchy.

    Ralph McInerny, in the interview I mentioned, made the point that Karl Rahner invented the expression of “parallel magisterium” in order to justify the dissent from Humanae vitae by himself and his chums.

  44. thomas tucker says:

    MM- I’m not trying to “justify anything”, only trying to comprehend.
    I believe, and I am sure you disagree, that given the changes ocurring in society at large at the time of the Council, if the Church had retained the TLM with no changes, then it would be in worse shape than it is now.
    Furthermore, there were indeed problems festering within the Church, including very poor formation/selection of some priests who later went on to become abusive pedophiles, that you were undoubtedly unaware of. The bitter reaction to Humanae Vitae, the heresy ofmany theologians, the rapid loss of priests and religious- these were the actions of people who had been formed in the pre-Conciliar Church! There had to have been problems brewing.

  45. Henry Edwards says:

    Thomas Tucker: … if the Church had retained the TLM with no changes, then it would be in worse shape than it is now.

    This is something to think about. With the TLM being swamped with innovations in the 1960’s, the Novus Ordo provided an alternative outlet for abuse and dissent.

    While I believe that the effective abolition of the TLM was a tragic pastoral mistake, it may have enabled the TLM to be temporarily frozen in form (like the proverbial “fly in amber”) during the Church’s forty years in the liturgical desert.

    Otherwise, it seems entirely possible that the TLM would not have been preserved in the utterly pristine form that many of us viewed with solemn high Mass that EWTN telecast this past Saturday — with the FSSP celebrant removing his celebrant to preach the sermon (because it is an interruption in rather than a part of the Sacrifice of the Mass) and the deacon’s wonderful chant of the 2nd confiteor before Holy Communion (“what was holy once is holy now”).

    Incidentally, I believe this last EWTN-telecast solemn high Mass will soon be posted at http://www.ewtn.com/liturgy/traditional/Archive.htm

  46. Mike Morrow says:

    “…there were indeed problems festering within the Church, including very poor formation/selection of some priests who later went on to become abusive pedophiles, that you were undoubtedly unaware of. The bitter reaction to Humanae Vitae, the heresy ofmany theologians, the rapid loss of priests and religious…”

    These, especially the pedophile issue if you’ll do even minimal ordination date research, were by and large consequences of post-Vatican II changes. Post hoc *and* propter hoc.

  47. Antiquarian – what about this lengthy excerpt from Ratzinger’s “Milestones”?


    The previous missal had been created by Pius V in 1570 in connection with the Council of Trent; and so it was quite normal that, after four hundred years and a new council, a new pope would present us with a new missal. But the historical truth of the matter is different. [p. 174] Pius V had simply ordered a reworking of the Missale Romanum then being used, which is the normal thing as history develops over the course of centuries. Many of his successor had likewise reworked this missal again, but without ever setting one missal against another. It was a continual process of growth and purification in which continuity was never destroyed. There is no such thing as a “Missal of Pius V”, created by Pius V himself. There is only the reworking done by Pius V as one phase in a long history of growth. The new feature that came to the fore after the Council of Trent was of a different nature. The irruption of the Reformation had above all taken the concrete form of liturgical “reforms”. It was not just a matter of there being a Catholic Church and a Protestant Church alongside one another. THe split in the CHurch occurred almost imperceptibly and found its most visible and historically most incisive manifestation in the changes of the liturgy. These changes, in turn, took very different forms at the local level, so that here, too, one frequently could not ascertain the boundary between what was still Catholic and what was no longer Catholic.

    In this confusing situation, which had become possible by the failure to produce unified liturgical legislation and by the existing liturgical pluralism inherited from the Middle Ages, the pope decided that now the Missale Romanum — the missal of the city of Rome — was to be introduced as reliably Catholic in every place that could not demonstrate its liturgy to be at least two hundred years old. Wherever the existing liturgy was that old, it could be preserved because its Catholic character would then be assured. In this case we cannot speak of the prohibition of a previous missal that had formerly been approved as valid. The prohibition of the missal that was now decreed, a missal that had known continuous growth over the centuries, starting with the sacramentaries of [p. 148] the ancient Church, introduced a breach into the history of the liturgy whose consequences could only be tragic. It was reasonable and right of the [Second Vatican – japhy] Council to order a revision of the missal such as had often taken place before and which this time had to be more thorough than before, above all because of the introduction of the vernacular.

    But more than this now happened: the old building was demolished, and another was built, to be sure largely using materials from the previous one and even using the old building plans. There is no doubt this new missal in many respects brought with it a real improvement and enrichment; but setting it as a new construction over against what had grown historically, forbidding the results of this historical growth, thereby makes the liturgy appear to be no longer a living development but the product of erudite work and juridical authority; this has caused us enormous harm. For then the impression had to emerge that liturgy is something “made”, not something given in advance but something lying within our own power of decision. From this it also follows that we are not to recognize the scholars and the central authority alone as decision makers, but that in the end each and every “community” must provide itself with its own liturgy. When liturgy is self-made, however, then it can no longer give us what its proper gift should be: the encounter with the mystery that is not our own product but rather our origin and the source of our life. A renewal of liturgical awareness, a liturgical reconciliation that again recognizes the unity of the history of the liturgy and that understands Vatican II, not as a breach, but as a stage of development: these things are urgently needed for the life of the Church. I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy, which at times has even come to [p. 149] be conceived of etsi Deus non daretur: in that it is a matter of indifference whether or not God exists and whether or not he speaks to us and hears us. But when the community of faith, the worldwide unity of the Church and her history, and the mystery of the living Christ are no longer visible in the liturgy, where else, then, is the Church to become visible in her spiritual essence? Then the community is celebrating only itself, an activity that is utterly fruitless. And, because the ecclesial community cannot have its origin from itself but emerges as a unity only from the Lord, through faith, such circumstances will inexorably result in a disintegration into sectarian parties of all kinds — partisan opposition within a Church tearing herself apart. This is why we need a new Liturgical Movement, which will call to life the real heritage of the Second Vatican Council.

    (Milestones, pp. 146-149)

  48. MichaelJ says:

    “I have never been one to blame what happened on the Council. Given what was happening in society at large, I think things would have changed anyway.”

    Indeed. It’s eerie how what is happening in the Church parallels what has happened in my family. Many years ago, my son developed some very poor eating habits. He really had no “formation” when it came to nutrition and would sneak into the kitchen and fill up on chips and candy. It really became a contentious issue, and was affecting our relationship so I resolved to make a change. I completely eliminated formal dinner time, stopped buying vegetables and other nutritious food, and exclusively bought processed, high sugar and high fat snack foods.

    Now, he is grossly obese, has Type II diabetes, high cholesterol, and the doctor says he will likely die before he is 30.

    Good thing that I am blameless and that the change I made had nothing to do with his current condition. Whew!

  49. Bill Haley says:

    I am unable to get it through my itunes. Is it available?

    These are great.

  50. JonM says:

    Note: When Father Z issues an auditory on auditory conditions, heed his advisory.

    I loved the closing on this PODCAzT installment: intended or not, Father let that time speak for itself in all of its surrealism (giant anthropomorphic yellow birds who talk to vaguely imaginary mammoths). (PS- not trying to be a Grinch, I loved Big Bird when I was little…at that time, I walked around with a ragged blanket too!)

    What a leap was the 1960s/70s. By the way, that alien music was, shall we say, apropos for the narration.

    But I thought this weekend that we can’t only focus on the late 1960s as the source of the bizarreness we see today (for a bold piece of the bizarre, sad, and horrifying, see the Milwaukee Cathedral). Something was happening during the formative years of those caught up in ‘the spirit.’ Did decades of freemasonic intrigue culminating in two world wars shatter the collective psyche of Europe? Was the Church in America beguiled by the material supremacy enjoyed over the rest of the world? Under a different post, a comment suggested that the cramped boarding school style of formation was likely a factor to this end.

    In any event, I see the recent decades comparable to a high school party:

    1950s – Whispers of a ‘rager’ are heard by some of the parents, but those who care the most are fractured from the community at large and don’t know how to stop the party. Some ‘cool’ kids illegally purchase alcohol. Jimmy’s dad only knows that his son is having a get together with some friends to build community in the sometimes austere prep school culture.

    1960s – The get together at Jimmy’s house swells. Jimmy’s dad is overwhelmed and hesitates at what to do. He let drift in the first place because he feared Jimmy would totally abandon him if he didn’t concede a little. But now, the 17 year olds are too wild to let loose from the house. He tells Jimmy to enforce a key collection and retreats his chambers with valuables and effects. The key rule is violated 5 minutes later when a group needs to procure bags of chicken wings and French fries. Jimmy is unsure what to do. Dad is nervously optimistic.

    1970s – American kids ‘rebelling’ by drinking massive amounts of alcohol. While completely oblivious to the fact that one is supposed to appreciate the different tastes of different drinks (and that God gave kidneys limited effectiveness), they trample a once beautiful home constructed by Jimmy’s dad’s hard work, the toil of the poor dedicated builders, and the advanced engineering of architects. At this point, the 6th and the 9th are under assault.

    1980s – Jimmy’s dad has effectively lost control of entire sections of his home. Calling in the police will only mean that he looses his house due to asset forfeiture seizure rules. The State has appointed itself supremacy over homes and it really, really does not like Jimmy’s dad’s moralizing anyway.

    1990s – Some of the energy has gone out, but much of the house is still hostile to Jimmy’s dad. A few of Jimmy’s friends start to gain help from other kids in cleaning up broken items and soiled furniture pieces.

    2000s (late) – Parents from an old-time rival school offer help, horrified at what happened and what is happening in the community. Other homesteads long in turmoil are nearly completely razed (these homes were made out of gasoline-dipped balsa and birch). Some from these residences are seeking refuge in Jimmy’s dad’s house promising to help clean the mess up- and that Jimmy’s dad was right about how to build homes. Some others gather and throw pebbles claiming that Jimmy’s dad’s house is the cause for the troubles and that a diet of certain crops alone is needed, which Jimmy’s dad’s ancestors published. For the most part, the troublemakers have wandered away and most in the house want to restore it to its previous splendor.

    2010s – …

    OK, much longer than I intended, but it gets across the point. We are nearing the end of being put in the desert. As with all challenges God gives us, they are intended to gain a greater understanding of something. I truly know this through my own conversion process; every time there a trial, the pain (as long as I trust) eventually gives way to something I could only get to by first passing through a challenge.

    Thank you, Father Z, for this excellent discussion.

  51. catholicmidwest says:

    This is a fascinating thread. By 1965 I had left already, only to come back to the Church much later (1985). I have heard about all this but did not experience it first hand, however, I remember the times well outside the church.

    My sister did become Catholic years before me, and she experienced some of this–enough to tell me that the beginning and progress of the changes varied a great deal from parish to parish. She went to a small conservative parish in the midwest and the priest, bless his heart, delayed the changes as long as he was able so the people wouldn’t suffer too much. Ultimately though, he had to make the changes. It broke his heart. To this day, whenever you mention his name, priests in the area who remember him will tell you in an awed way that he was a very holy priest, regardless of the fact that he’s been gone now for decades. His name was Fr. Paul Schneider and he’s the first priest I ever saw at the first mass I ever attended.

    I am of the opinion that the Church plays a societal role even among non-Catholics, although they surely don’t recognize this and would object if they were told so. But then, most people in the street know nothing about where their ideas come from and how they form their opinions from what they hear (or even classify most of what they say as merely their opinions, which they generally are). I’m a degreed philosopher and I can tell you that the ideas that occur formally find their way down to the street in a bastardized form but it takes years, and people never realize most of this. Ideas also recycle because, after all, there’s a limited number of ways to categorize things, so you hear the same thing over & over again in new and frightening permutations over time–and almost no one remembers the last time they heard it. It’s kind of scary, intriguing and comical all at the same time.

  52. catholicmidwest says:


    Thanks for posting the excerpt. Interesting juxtaposition of the two instances of liturgical “change” that (then) Cardinal Ratzinger made.

    Key passage: “The irruption of the Reformation had above all taken the concrete form of liturgical “reforms”. It was not just a matter of there being a Catholic Church and a Protestant Church alongside one another. THe split in the CHurch occurred almost imperceptibly and found its most visible and historically most incisive manifestation in the changes of the liturgy. These changes, in turn, took very different forms at the local level, so that here, too, one frequently could not ascertain the boundary between what was still Catholic and what was no longer Catholic.”

    We’ve seen the same phenomenon. It’s entirely possible that the Mass of 1969 was designed to unify what was able to be salvaged, or at least maybe that’s how PPVI perceived it. The problem was that it didn’t do the trick, just as Trent didn’t do the trick. We made the same mistake twice. They are:

    A) When these waves of cultural turbulence hit, you can’t wait 20 years to notice or care. Both the response at the time of Trent and the response in the 50/60s was far too slow. There was lots of denial & infighting both times before anything at all was done. In fact, we’re still experiencing some of that, although it’s getting better with Benedict XVI. I think he understands this better than his predecessors.

    B) The church can’t cave in–it doesn’t work. It looks like a concession, admitting falsity on the part of the church. The Church consequently takes a beating and even more people leave. When these waves hit, the church has got to stand her ground. Benedict XVI understands this better, too, I think. Becoming smaller but more focused isn’t the worst thing that can happen, you understand. Rather, becoming something else, ie the church losing her reason for existing would be the worst thing–by far. There would be no reason for anyone to be Catholic in that case and of course people would realize that.

  53. thomas tucker says:

    Mike M- you can comment and argue without being so snide, as even
    minimal research would show you. In fact, there have been plenty of pedophiles
    who were formed in the pre-Conciliar Church. In addition, the other examples
    I gave, were not a result of the Council in my opinion. Do you have proof that
    they were? If so, let’s hear it;otherwise that is just your opinion which
    would be more persuasive if you wouldn’t be so unsocil in the way that you rpesent it.
    Again, I think the fact that these events happened so quickly after the close of the
    Council is evidence that they were festering beforehand and NOT post hoc propter hoc.
    MichaelJ- that is a cute story that is irrelevant to my argument. You neglected
    all the things happening outside the Church in society that affected the Church
    members, and did not touch on the argument that the NO Mass helped prevent even
    worse things. Try again.

  54. MichaelJ says:


    the “argument that the NO Mass helped prevent even worse things” is not an argument at all but instead a gratuitous assertion.

    You seem to be falling into a modernist error that holds that the “current” evils facing society and the Church are somehow unique and orders of magnitude worse that those faced by any other age. This is simply not true. The Church has faced corruption and scandal and heresy and attack since her founding. All in all, She seems to have done a rather admirable job of weathering the storm and fending off the attackers.
    Never before though has shee seemed to give in.

  55. thomas tucker says:

    Yes, I know it is an assertion, albeit not a gratuitous one. The argument is
    based on the observations that I made.
    And nowhere have I asserted that the current evils are worse than those in any
    other age. Where did I say that? Argue with what I have said, not
    with something did not say.
    I do agree that the Church has done an admirable job of weathering storms’
    In your last sentence, do you mean to imply that the Church has given in,
    or only that she seems to have done so in your eyes?
    If the former, then you are the one in error, my friend. If the latter, then
    I will pray that you understadn that all is not what it seems, and point out
    that then you appear to be the one falling into the modernist error that you
    alluded to above.

  56. catholicmidwest says:


    The church *has* appeared to give in, as you phrased it. Even people who are glad it happened are willing to concede this.

    *That* is what spurred this thread and a million others. Trying to rationalize away what has happened in the last 50 years doesn’t help at all. It just adds to the confusion and obfuscation.

    You know, there’s a funny tendency among many Catholics. When they find something they don’t like, they just sort of turn around 180 degrees like a cat and throw the kitty litter of rationalization in its general direction. But you know, the poo is still there; it still stinks; and it will have to be dealt with sooner or later anyway. And…there’s kitty litter all over the place.

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