The US Catholic bishops asked their people to call their congressmen and urge them not to vote in favor of legislation that would have provided funding for abortion.

What would they think, I wonder, if the awakened and roused Catholic faithful called them up, called their bishops, to ask them to vote to approve the translation texts at their upcoming meeting without more delays?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Will D. says:

    They would think, rightly, that the Church is not a democracy.

  2. Agnes says:

    Doh! So much for sensus fidei! I may send an email anyway. Shepherds need to hear the sound of bleating sheep…

  3. RosaMystica says:

    Well, I didn’t call, but I did post on his facebook page! Baaaaaaa!

  4. Central Valley says:

    I can try, but I would not be surprised to be hung up on when I telephone the diocese of Fresno, Ca.. There are other things on the mind of the diocese right now such as the annual shake down campaign, uh I mean bishops appeal.

  5. Dove says:

    I sent an email to our Bishop Cordileone.

  6. Geoffrey says:

    I agree with the first comment. That was my immediate reaction to this post. The bishops have been appointed by the Vicar of Christ and they are supported by the prayers of the faithful and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Church is not, and never will be, a democracy.

    And let’s look at the other side of this coin… imagine the calls they could get from the heretics! So let’s just pray for them! :-)

  7. MikeM says:

    Well, I halfway agree with the commenters who say that the Church is not a democracy.

    The faithful should keep the bishops informed our our spiritual needs and longings. Our shepherds’ jobs are a lot easier when they know where their sheep are (spiritually).

    We do, however, need to remember that our Congressmen are accountable to us, and when they’re not representing us, it’s our job to kick them to the curb. Our bishops are called to serve us, but they’re accountability is to God. We can voice our concerns and our desires, but unlike our Congressmen, when push comes to shove, we have to accept that our bishops are the bishops and not us.

  8. David2 says:

    The Church may not be a democracy, but, in the words of Can 212:

    §2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

    §3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

  9. catholicmidwest says:

    The bishops in this country don’t really care what laypeople need or think when it comes to liturgy and that’s a fact. It’s been demonstrated over and over. So, no thanks. I’m tired of hitting a brick wall and getting called nasty names for my trouble. I’ve got better things to do than to watch for every little liturgically-connected twitch that the USCCB exhibits. [IMO, a rather myopic attitude, concerning what is at stake with the new translation.]

    If liturgical reform happens it’s going to have to come from one or both of two scenarios:
    a) the people in charge in Rome will finally have to grow some stones and care enough to step in and fix it, or
    b) the church in the US will continue to aim for homogeneity with the culture–until it nearly doesn’t exist and the last roomful of men standing will decide one fine Tuesday afternoon to straighten up because it can’t possibly do worse.

    Either way, fixing the carnage is pretty much out of my hands as a layperson until the powers-that-be arrive at one or the other of those scenarios and actually undertake the effort. I’m not holding my breath over it. It could take a while yet. Probably everybody who read “Razing the Bastions” (etc) at earnest face value in the halcyon years of “reform” has to die off and take their silly “modernity” off to rot with them.

    Meantime, the only thing to do is to get along the best we can and that’s the truth. It’s been the truth for for nearly 50 years now….

    PS, I give the bishops some credit for trying to discuss the health care fiasco with respect to abortion. I have to tell you that what they asked wasn’t particularly clear to a lot of people, though. There’s lots of confusion out here. And perhaps the bishops don’t quite get most of the concepts that are driving people who object to the bill either. Yes, there’s abortion, but the objections are also about the use of government force against the will of the citizens, the gutting of Medicare (and the lives & health of the elderly), the reallocation of household wealth to those who absolutely & categorically refuse to work, and the soaring deficit which is a gargantuan job killer (with terrible and deadly consequences for people who want to work and have families). These are ALL moral issues.

    And yes, I am well aware that the only thing in the whole wide world that most Catholics agree on (at least in the abstract) is the prohibition of abortion. Perhaps that’s why the USCCB felt safe enough to leave PC-world for 15 minutes…..

  10. Fr_Sotelo says:


    I disagree that “the bishops in this country don’t really care what laypeople need or think when it comes to liturgy.” The bishops I have met in person care very much what their parishioners tell them about the liturgy. Perhaps they care too much–so much that they will cater to their people when they should rather challenge them to embrace a more Catholic understanding of the liturgy.

    The main problem is that too many Catholic laity have erroneous notions of proper liturgy, and they bring pressure to bear on priests and bishops to feed them the “song and a dance” liturgy as opposed to the sober and dignified Roman Rite.

    When a Mass fills with 600, 700 and 800 people for the “happy, warm and fuzzy, feel-good Mass” while the EF Mass has 100 people, what do you think a typical Bishop will think? They are going to say, “the old fashioned stuff goes over like a lead balloon” and allow the popular stuff to dominate in their parishes.

    I appreciate the fact that we have the growing number of bishops supporting the EF Mass that we do, when they know full well that a EF Mass congregation is not even 1/10 the number of people flocking to the typical modern Mass. I also appreciate that at least half the U.S. hierarchy has stood behind the new translation of the Missal, knowing that the majority of priests don’t like it and will rebel later on.

    The restoration of beautiful liturgy is slow and meets obstacles all over the place, but there is no denying that a restoration is afoot. And a growing number of bishops are supportive of their traditional young clergy. There is at least as much to be thankful to God for as there is to lament, I believe, in the U.S. liturgical scene.

  11. lucy says:

    Well, said, Fr. Sotelo. And, ah, that’s 120 consistent at the EF Mass. All kidding aside, though, we do have many traditionally minded young men coming up in the ranks of our seminaries. I only hope that they will be real men and stand up to those lay folks who should allow their pastor to be in charge, especially when he’s doing the right thing. I do not feel, though, that our bishop in Fresno cares much about the traditional folks and he shows it by disallowing a stand-alone parish so that the faithful may have the parish life as well as the EF Mass, that they so ardently desire.

  12. Henry Edwards says:

    Fr. Sotelo: … the new translation of the Missal, knowing that the majority of priests don’t like it and will rebel later on.

    I wonder whether this is really true and, if so, why? I understand why certain types of liturgists don’t like it — for instance, it may shift the emphasis from their activities to worship per se — but don’t really know why a typical parish priest might not be (if non-supportive), at worst, indifferent. But to actually “rebel”? Really, why? (I know quite a few parish priests, some of whom may not be much interested in issues such as this, but it’s hard for me to see them “rebelling” over it.)

  13. thouart says:

    U.S. Bishops are not only politically ignorant but driven by the deep desire to become a Socialist nation. Look at the way they run themselves. My priest prayed for the success of Healthcare with the Stupak amendment. Did they forget that the HC Bill includes euthanasia, single-payer, death-boards, immediate rationing, and for the first time in U.S. History an EDICT, FORCING Americans to pay for something they do not want!! That’s SOCIALISM-TYRANNY in league with the Party of Death!

    Satan’s army is the USCCB!

  14. ssoldie says:

    Already done it. Wish I could vote to dissolve the USCCB beuracacy, and recover what we have lost in the last 45+ yrs since super Vatican II.

  15. Irish says:

    Will D.: And neither is our government.

    We are not a democracy. We are a constitutional republic in which the people are represented by democratically elected representatives (supposedly. Supposedly democratically elected and supposedly represented!) There is a difference. A democracy can be likened to two wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for breakfast. In a democracy, the majority rules. In a constitutional republic, the rights of the minority are protected by the rule of law. Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. It appears now we a tending toward a free-for-all ruled by political will and greed–not exactly a surprising end for anyone who has studied history and fall of empires.

    Although I have to agree that the Church, thankfully, isn’t ruled by majority will. Still, perhaps the bishops would like to know what their flocks think about the issue, at least so that they could better explain their positions.

  16. Allan S. says:

    Fr. S. wrote – “When a Mass fills with 600, 700 and 800 people for the “happy, warm and fuzzy, feel-good Mass” while the EF Mass has 100 people, what do you think a typical Bishop will think? They are going to say, “the old fashioned stuff goes over like a lead balloon” and allow the popular stuff to dominate in their parishes.”

    Why do you think that is? The unfortunate truth is that the hardcore “stable” EF group is often dominated by those who want nothing to with outsiders and want to keep the EF for themselves. They are often unwelcoming to newbies.

    Eventually, I believe they will be – in the strict, dictionary sense of the word – overwhelmed by sheer numbers as the EF form takes hold. But this transition from a core “old guard” to larger groups will be a very difficult one. IMO.

    (BTW – the word “old” in “old guard” does NOT refer to the age of persons attending EF masses!)

  17. ron.d says:

    Sometimes I dream about a world where disagreements in the church are as easy to resolve as data inconsistencies in a database:

    if exists(SELECT * FROM BISHOPS WHERE OpinionOfNewTranslation = ‘Poor’)
    SET OpinionOfNewTranslation = ‘Excellent’
    WHERE OpinionOfNewTranslation = ‘Poor’

  18. TNCath says:

    Fr. Z wrote: “What would they think, I wonder, if the awakened and roused Catholic faithful called them up, called their bishops, to ask them to vote to approve the translation texts at their upcoming meeting without more delays?”

    A likely sample response:

    “Thank you for your call. Please keep Bishop X and all the bishops in prayer as they consider these important issues that will impact the Catholic Church in the U.S. for many years to come.”

    And that would be just about all you’d get, if anything.

    Thank you for your call. We appreciate your interest an

  19. pyrosapien says:

    There are a majority of parishes (and thus priests?) who currently can’t (or won’t) celebrate the Mass properly with the current translation. So I can’t see how the “medicine” of the new language will cure the patients. The patients (heteropraxic priest and laity) will simply refuse to take their new prescription (as they have refused to take the previous prescription) and will continue to suffer from and spread their diesease.

    “Rebel”?? yes… most of the current rebels will simply continue to do as they please. However, some will embrace the new language and instruction as a means of marginalizing those in their parishes who have too much influence as it is. A non-confrontational way of asserting authority.

    The real medecine comes when the bishops shepherd the priests and hold them accountable for proper liturgical celebrations and education. I believe that “personalizing” and “ad libbing” the actions and language of the Mass is a form of Clericalism. An ironic charge that would be very alarming to most of the priests who allow liturgical abuses in their churches. The charge would be ironic because, in my experience, most of the priests who do the personalization seem to think they are being more “inclusive” or “pastoral” or “empowering”.

    Imagine if the laity decided to individually personalize or ad lib all of the words and actions in their participation of the Mass. It would be chaos! 500 lay members at a Mass each personalizing their individual participation. Maybe a video should be produced that explored this. Perhaps seeing the chaos would wake up the guilty parties.

    Celebrant: “The Lord be with you”

    (all at once)
    Layman 1: “And also with you”
    Layman 2: “And with your spirit”
    Layman 3: “The Lord is in me”
    Layman 4: “Always and Forever”
    Layman 5: “Yes Jesus” (he’s a charismatic)
    Layman 6: “Wisdom of Sophia be with you” (feminist)
    Layman 7: “We are a divine people”
    Layman 350: (singing)”Gather us in”

  20. Eric says:

    When will the USCCB vote on it?
    I don’t see why, if there is a vote, it is much different than what we did Saturday.
    Are we to assume our bishops are so open to the message of the Holy Ghost that we can just sit back and do nothing?
    In my opinion the USCCB vote is more important than congress’ vote Saturday.

  21. haleype says:

    Touché, Father, it has been way too long a wait for sensible translations as it has been way too long for laws against Abortion which is nothing more than murder of the innocent. They need to step up to the plate.

  22. robtbrown says:

    Fr Sotelo,

    I agree that the laity, and for that matter, the clergy (incl bishops–cf Bp Trautman) has erroneous notions of the liturgy, but those misconceptions were imposed from above and trickled down: First, Paul VI turned loose his liberal buddies (Lercaro, Bugnini) on the reform of the liturgy; those same people imposed their neo-Protestantism on the Church; when people (incl laity, clergy, and those in formation) objected, they were persecuted.

    These people implemented a view of Catholic life that was born between the two World Wars and was heavily influenced by Protestantism.

  23. Melody says:

    To all those who complain of the Church not being a democracy:

    Do you really think all our bishops are as bad as all that goes on? Do you really think they decide everything? The answer to that is no.

    While there will always be a Bishoop Trautman, many bishops are just individuals a little too weak to understand their authority as bishops. They aren’t great sinners; they aren’t great leaders either. Instead, in order to be considered “relevant” they try to appeal to what they hear the people saying, and the ones who are loudest are always the liberals, the dissidents, and the happy-clappy do-it-as-you-goers. Nine-tenths of the problem we have with the bishops is their great acquiescence to these types.

    I think many bishops would acquiesce if they heard a similar clamor for the other side.

  24. archambt says:

    I find the suggestion to be rather Protestant (or if anything, democratic). [Try reading more closely. It was a question, not a suggestion.] Aren’t *we* suppose to submit ourselves to the authority of the *bishops* as an act of obedience, not to man, but to Christ?

  25. lucy says:

    Allan S wrote: …the hardcore stable EF is often dominated by those who want nothing to do with outsiders…

    I find that our stable EF group very much welcomes newcomers. For Pete’s sake, we want our ranks to grow. It’s stilly to keep people out, and not very Christian, I might add. We want everyone to share in the great beauty that got stowed away. As a convert, I wonder why anyone would toss out the old rite in favor of what most have now. Atrocious !! Bring back the beauty and the mystery.

  26. MichaelJ says:


    I suspect that most, including Allan, who perceive Traditional Catholics as “unwelcoming” misunderstand the behavior that they observe. To be fair, most Traditionalist that I know are very protective of the Liturgy and very resistant to changing it; this can come across, especially to those who are used to rather frequent (in the grand scheme of things) changes to the Liturgy as being “unwelcoming”. In other words, “newcomers” are expected to conform to the Liturgy, not the other way around.

  27. JosephMary says:

    Yes, it may be true that the Latin Mass community is still small in many places and the ordinary form is more populated but it is also true that MANY, almost ALL, Catholics under the age of 50 have no recollection or experience of the extraordinaty form. And many others have come to have a great disregard for the older form of the Mass due to years of criticism, etc. I myself have heard about the “rigid, intolerant” ones who refused to change to the newer protestantized Mass. I do not name that moniker lightly for the novus ordo was drawn from the Anglican book of common prayer yet it does not compare to the Anglican Use liturgy which has retained much beauty and language.

    Our Latin Mass community, a mission of an FSSP parish that is 75 miles away is slowly growing. About 150 in attendance on the First Sunday now. It is a big change from the guitars and music that celebrates ourselves. The quietness of it takes some getting used to. But a man said to me after Mass recently that his three young boys are mostly unruly at the novus ordo and yet perfectly behaved at the Latin Mass; there is indeed a whole different feel to it. My novus ordo parish presented a 15 minute power point presentation last weekend on a screen in front of the altar on the progress of the community building project. Appropriate? Are we there to worship God or have a town meeting?

    Also, the folks at the Latin Mass could not be more friendly! We have a monthly potluck and there is a genuine closeness among us. Just because we do not run about meeting and greeting at Mass does not mean we are not friendly. It means we are there to focus for a short while on God alone and we will see to the community before or after we worship God.

  28. Henry Edwards says:


    But a man said to me after Mass recently that his three young boys are mostly unruly at the novus ordo and yet perfectly behaved at the Latin Mass;

    I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard a remark to this effect. (Or observed it myself.) “Suffer the little children to come unto me”?

    Also, the folks at the Latin Mass could not be more friendly! We have a monthly potluck and there is a genuine closeness among us.

    Moving frequently during the past half century, I’ve been a member of more Catholic parishes than I could quickly remember, but I’ve never anywhere seen the sense of community that exists in our TLM group. Usually takes an hour or more to get away after Mass, whereas the usual parish parking lot totally empties in 15 minutes.

  29. Fr_Sotelo says:


    There is something to what Allen S. brings up. Even when the EF communities have total freedom, they do not grow as I personally believe that they could grow.

    Whether they are established licitly or not, the small Latin Mass chapels and communities have a tight knit sense of fellowship–no doubt about that. And yet that fellowship is among a small group who tend to agree with each other and have other things in common. But at the same time, they also tend to have leaders who, as Allen S. says, are more like gatekeepers who determine who feels welcome and who should be kept to the periphery of the community.

    There is zeal in that hard core leadership but also anger. Catholicism tends to be defined by what we are against or don’t like as opposed to what brings us holiness and joy in our Faith.

    And so these communities do not grow very much. Sometimes Fr. Z has scratched the surface here and there in this blog about the way traditional Catholics have to behave toward the “masses” out there who need to be welcomed in. Even as he tries to do this, some folks lash out at him and you get a sense of how they would deal with clergy also in the Latin Mass communities.

  30. catholicmidwest says:

    Fr Sotelo, you said: “The main problem is that too many Catholic laity have erroneous notions of proper liturgy…”

    I agree with you, but who do you think the bishops have to blame for that if it isn’t themselves and their policies of the last 50 years?

    Bishops who care would give us what we need because they would know what that was. Aren’t they supposed to be religiously-knowledgeable men who understand theology and the religious life? If they don’t know what we need or how to give it to the members of the church, what ARE they for? What exactly DO they DO? Are they really only real estate brokers and facility managers?

  31. Fr_Sotelo says:


    Yes, Pope Paul VI and Co. unleashed the sweeping changes of the liturgy from the top and that took effect like a trickle down. But taking into account the 1960’s, Woodstock, the Vietnam War, the Sexual Revolution, Feminism, the raging popularity of Psychology, etc., wouldn’t you say that the laity were quite thrilled to accept changes?

    Vatican II and its aftermath, among traditionalists, is spoken of as if it existed in a vacuum. My contention is that Bugnini, Lercaro, and Crowd, were seeing what was around them in Europe and the West in general and thought this was how Catholicism was going to “engage” the culture and keep itself relevant.

    Or to put it another way, before Paul VI ever unleashed the Novus Ordo, most of the Church membership had begun to don mini skirts, clamor for color TV, hi-fi stereo, Beatles albums, Dr. Spock, and “new paradigms” for their worldview.

    The last Catholic generation that was raised with the Misale Romanum of St. Pius V shed no tears to see it thrown out, and so I would not call the revolution strictly “top to bottom.” The folks in the pews were pretty ripe for change. It is really with 20/20 hindset that we can see that what we thought was change for the good was really capitulation. I still wonder, however, if Pope Paul VI and Co. deserve all the demonization as if they pushed threw these changes without any pressure from the laity.

  32. Fr_Sotelo says:


    You’re right–bishops cannot neglect their duties as leaders just because of what the people clamor for. My point was that we cannot demonize the entire hierarchy as if it has the sole blame for the liturgical mess. In fact, there are excellent bishops out there and so even to generalize “the bishops” is not accurate since there are great bishops whose teachings have been highlighted by Fr. Z.

    Melody wrote a great post above, which gives perspective. She said, “They aren’t great sinners; they aren’t great leaders either. Instead, in order to be considered “relevant” they try to appeal to what they hear the people saying, and the ones who are loudest are always the liberals, the dissidents..”

    In their learning curve and growth as leaders, the traditional laity would perform a constructive service by informing their bishops of what they want to see for the liturgy (therefore, the question which Fr. Z posed in this thread).

  33. lucy says:

    I would agree with Fr. Sotelo on most of what he says. Unfortunately, there are one or two who are most vocal and perhaps, bitter. I do not condone that sort of behavior. The rest of us seem to be very welcoming, however. Many of us look for new families in the crowd and see to speaking with them after Mass to welcome them.

    Another thing that wasn’t brought up here. And this has to do with why EF Masses may not be growing as quickly as they could. We get the worst hours possible. No one wants to go to Mass on Sunday at 3:30pm as we have to contend with. However, I am grateful for this time, and our family has made the transition rather easily. We now make Sunday morning a family time with large breakfast and just being together, then going to Mass. So, while the time slot we have really stinks, it’s all we have at the moment. I hear a lot of folks say that they would attend if it was at a different time.

  34. catholicmidwest says:

    I agree with Melody. The past 50 years or so have been all about the path of least resistance. There are a few good bishops, as I said above, but many of them are effectively just filling up holes in the air and have been doing so for a long time now.

    People have been led to believe that the liturgy is all about them. It’s been unmistakeably plain from the layperson’s vantage point for years that this is what goes on. It started out against the wills of many Catholics, in fact, who had persistent beliefs that Mass was really about worship and prayer to God. These people were systematically shamed and told off in no uncertain terms. Some left (nobody wants to talk about how many), many stayed. The ones who stayed have had over 40 years of being told AND shown weekly that mass is really about them and that they must behave in certain “modern” ways. This is why they feel they can demonstrate to get what they want for themselves–it’s modern and focused on them. This is why they say what they say, Fr Sotelo, whether it’s misplaced or not. The bishops, many individually and all corporately, presided over this whole scenario and gave the most public and egregious lip service to it, so they have no one to blame but themselves that this is how it has turned out. Each bishop is, as a matter of fact, the authority in his assigned diocese, for better or worse. With privilege comes responsibility and the two are no more separable now than they have ever been. Whether the motivation of each bishop was ideological or simply a matter of taking the easy way out, it really doesn’t matter now in the aggregate. We are where we are.

    I don’t know precisely how we get from here to where we should be, honestly. And I’m pretty sure most of the other Catholics in the US don’t know either. I would include most of the bishops in that number as well. But they’d better figure it out–it’s why they’re the bishops and we’re not.

  35. Melody says:

    Thanks Fr. Sotelo.

    In regards to what I said earlier, I would like people to consider it in a cynically optimistic way. The bishops are (mostly) not evil proponents of heterodoxy. They are just weak bureaucrats. And there are a few outstanding bishops out there.

    Consider being less filled with anger and more pragmatic. How can we turn this to our advantage? Some bishops are friendly to conservative ideas but think too few agree with them. This also makes praying for the bishops a lot more hopeful.

  36. Henry Edwards says:

    Fr. Sotelo,

    For years I have read you posts with great respect and appreciation, even (as I recall) at COL long before WDTPRS existed. I have often thought your voice the wisest and most sensible one around. However, your 10/11/2009 @ 6:44 pm post suggests that you must not have been there in the post-Vatican II years, as some of us here were.

    wouldn’t you say that the laity were quite thrilled to accept changes?

    Nothing could be further from the truth. In my parish, probably more liberal than most as an academic community parish, we had numerous parish meetings that virtually turned into pitched battles as we repeatedly were admonished by priests, sisters, and circuit-riding “liturgists” – an altogether new term to us at that time — to accept “change” despite our better instincts and forebodings that something awful and even evil was being done.

    Thrilled to watch with our own eyes – as some of us actually did – as beautiful old altars were jack-hammered, altar rails torn out, treasured statues smashed, familiar and honored vestments and altar furnishings were thrown in the dumpster behind our church? These are not merely stories, they are experiences that many of us actually suffered, and have left us forever scarred.

    The last Catholic generation that was raised with the Misale Romanum of St. Pius V shed no tears to see it thrown out.

    I just don’t know where to start on this one, Fr. Sotelo. There probably no way in words to communicate to one who was not there the pain and anguish with which so many tears were shed by so many of us. Those daily tears at the loss of the liturgy on which so many lives had centered, and at the loss of faith by loved ones, while enduring not only criticism but constant ridicule by priests, religious, and bishops who seemingly had lost theirs.

    None of us who shed those tears then will ever (so long as we live) be completely free of the pain and anguish that accompanied them, even if the martyrdom we feel has long been dry. I can speak for the many of those who in the last forty years have never been free of it for a single day.

    I do want to iterate my deep respect for you, Fr. Sotelo, and my appreciation of your many contributions to faith and reason, here and elsewhere. But the memory of what was done to the Church from within must be preserved by those of us who witnessed it personally.

  37. Fr_Sotelo says:


    I erred in painting with a broad brush what I meant by “the changes.” As a very young elementary student during those days, my family moved about three times during those years right after the Council.

    “The changes” as I understood them then as a little boy, meant that the priest faced the people, usually with a new altar in front. He spoke in English (or Spanish, depending on what Mass we went to). The guitars often replaced the organ. Overall, everything at church seemed “up to date” as opposed to demolished with maniacal devastation.

    In the parishes I attended Mass in, people seemed content overall with these changes. We still had statues, pious devotions, Communion on the tongue, and overall a sense of reverence (as a kindergardener, the priest heard me making noise before Mass and scolded me at St. Anne’s in San Diego, which is now the FSSP parish). Hearing most adults speak in those days, they seemed happy with what was going on liturgically.

    However, I have since heard about the sacrileges and abominations which were committed in the name of liturgical change in some parishes. I can only imagine what a searing experience that was. As a seminarian, I found in a storage closet of a church all the burses, maniples, and chalice veils of the old vestments, thrown in a cardboard box (they are now being put to good use, happy to say). But I felt heartbroken to think that many years before, some priest just threw these things into a box and they stayed there untouched for 20 years until I found them.

    The outrages of irreverence is not what I referred to in my post when I said, “the changes.” I should have written more carefully and been more specific. What I specifically meant were the changes implemented that involved more participation by people. In my tender youth, I do not recall that the replacing of the typical Latin Low Mass caused an uproar for the regular Sunday parishioners.

  38. Henry Edwards says:

    Thanks, Fr. Sotelo. The phenomena of those years were indeed many-faceted, with different people in different places experiencing different things with different backgrounds. I sounds like you had the good fortune to be then in a parish much like one I attend now, which still looks much like it did before the great leap forward elsewhere. (Its long-time parishioners call it “the one true church”, the others nearby all being new-style or wreckovated to one extent or another.)

  39. catholicmidwest says:

    Please don’t underestimate the suffering many people endured over the destruction after Vatican II. Many people still suffer from what they remember and have to do without. Even many younger people who don’t remember the changes first hand know darned well that they have been cheated.

    And many, many innocent, well-meaning people were so anguished, confused and disillusioned that they left the Church. You may take the glib approach and say they weren’t serious about their faith or they wouldn’t have left–okay, but realize that to those many it looked absolutely as if they were being told “you believe a lie” and this is the proof. People were NOT treated in a decent or even civil manner. IT was a nasty, turbulent period in the church. People were FORCED to react and their noses were rubbed in it intentionally–it was part of the “Spirit of VII” takeover. Most of the people who felt they had no choice but to leave are long gone and gone forever. I hope you don’t take this lightly. I don’t–it was a tragedy of the first order.

    As a little kid with short experience maybe you didn’t perceive it that way, however most people did not perceive it as you describe it. It’s possible that some of the adults around you were being cheerful for your benefit. Others may have been invested in the changes for reasons of their own of which you, as a child, would scarcely have been aware.

  40. catholicmidwest says:

    Also, among the rank and file, there were (and are) a moderately large number of people who were (and are) willing to scale down the faith so that they can use birth control, get a divorce, get an abortion, live with their boyfriend, experiment with different kinds of sex, partners, etc etc. Among some people the changes were welcome for non-liturgical reasons because they implied things or promoted people who implied things or made things possible …. protesting Humanae Vitae in the New York Times and all that, remember?

    Don’t underestimate these kinds of motivations–they’re real. Catholicism without content can be very pleasant when it makes no demands and many people know this, even if they do enjoy seeing the lace veils and drama of confession in the movies. It can be a sort of hobby or lifestyle for some people and they may prefer this. But is this what Catholic Christianity is about?

    Catholics tend to get all excited when somebody talks like this, I know. But people decide these things for themselves deep down in their souls and no one can make these decisions for someone else. And sometimes from the outside you can’t tell what’s been chosen. That’s how this works.

    I believe that it’s the church’s mission on earth to hold the truths of the faith constant in front of our faces. It’s our job to make our decisions, with the aid of Grace, and get to heaven. It’s very simple–straight out of the Baltimore Catechism, you might say.

  41. robtbrown says:

    Fr Sotelo,

    This is the third time I have started the response. The first two–about half written–were lost because of computer problems. This will be done on the word processor, so the text can be saved. I’ll do the first part now, then later the rest.

    Re whether the laity was enthusiastic about the changes: I can only speak from 1970, when I became Catholic.

    About a year later we (some KU students and a few profs, incl John Senior) approached the pastor in Lawrence (a good man) and asked for a Latin mass. He said yes but under one condition: No low mass–which meant a chant choir was necessary. Providentially, a chem prof who had taken a Greg chant course at Notre Dame was able to teach us a bit of chant. We practiced a few times, and the pastor scheduled the mass to replace the least attended Sunday mass–if I remember, it was at 9:30.

    The day arrived, and the pews were not only full, but the aisles were packed, not merely a line of people along the wall (the state fire marshal would have croaked had he seen it). A few days later, the pastor told us that there had been no negative reaction and in fact had several calls thanking him, one of which was from a businessman who just happened to be in Lawrence.

    The pastor told us we could do it once a month, which we did for 3 or 4 more months. Then he told us that Abp Strecker (rhymes with wrecker) said no more Latin masses.

    About a year later we were staying in Paris before going to Fontgombault, and we discovered a daily 1962 mass said in a very run down place with a cement floor. It was always well attended, and I noticed then the cross section of people–some of whom seemed very affluent, others not. Ironically, on Sunday we attended a 1962 mass at the Royal Chapel of the Palace of Versailles (we were living within walking distance). It was also packed.

    One final anecdote: I know a women, now 80ish, uneducated and the wife of a carpenter who cried when Latin was dropped. This was told me by her son, who thought her foolish.

    IMHO, from various readings and conversation, the impetus for the liturgical changes was Ecumenism with Protestants (Jean Guitton was of the same opinio), not any pastoral concern. I would add that the collapse of mass attendance in places like France (from about 80% to less than 10%) indicates that the laity wasn’t as thrilled as you’ve been told.

    I will comment on Paul VI and the Vat II situation later. It is, as you imply, fairly complex.

  42. Dr. Eric says:

    I did call the chancery and left a message for the bishop that I support the new translation. It can’t hurt.

  43. robtbrown says:

    Fr Sotelo,

    I’ll try to keep these remarks brief.

    You’re of course right in saying that Vat II did not occur in a vacuum. As Maritain said, Vat II proclaimed the end of an era. I like to say that it was the end of a By the Numbers Church that emphasized method and was built on the via negativa.

    The theology–good and bad–that went into and out of Vat II was largely produced during the period between the two World Wars. Among its noble aspects was a return to the study of the Fathers. I think its most negative aspect is its tendency toward certain Protestant ideas and a subjectivism that muddled important theological, and even doctrinal, distinctions.

    I think that JXXIII turned loose of forces that could not be controlled. If I remember correctly, in one of MalachI Martin’s early books, he wrote that Papa Roncalli knew that calling the Council was a gamble. And he knew that he had lost the wager.

    Then JXXIII died, and the conclave dumped everything into the lap of Paul VI, who for the next few years was “burned by his liberal humanist buddies” (the phrase is from an old Dominican).

    A good friend who is a Swiss priest put it well:

    For hundreds of years everything that the Church did worked. Lots of vocations and expansion into non-Christian areas of the world. The reason for the success was the stability produced by the Church’s system of discipline (Latin liturgy, seminary studies, etc). It never dawned on two popes that there were powerful forces who wanted that system destroyed. One day Paul VI looked up, and it was all gone. And he didn’t know what to do about it. And then he institutionalized much of the Protestantism that had seeped into the Church.

    IMHO, that was Papa Montini’s mistake–aligning himself with certain anti-papal forces. And so to me certain aspects of his papacy can be summed up thus: I am Peter. I command you to disobey me.

  44. Fr_Sotelo says:


    As I stated to Henry, I certainly erred when I painted with broad strokes the description of the way Paul VI’s Mass was received. In some ways, I think I was sheltered to be in parishes where there was no wackiness.

    And you make a very good point in stating that there was more being imposed from above than being requested from down below. In other words, even if it is true that most people “accepted” or “tolerated” the new rites, it is not what they were asking for. It appeared more like a fabrication, with disasterous consequences for doctrine, since now it seemed like Catholic faith could also be fabricated into something different.

  45. catholicmidwest says:

    Absolutely, and everything that was input into the Pauline mass reinforced that notion, by design.

    Have you ever noticed how many times the words of hymns change? There are several reasons for that, I believe:
    a) to generate new copyrights so that hymnal companies can make more cash (because after all it turns out to be a business pretty much like any other),
    b) to “keep people from getting set in their ways” and thereby maintain control of the pace. It’s a liturgi-wacko’s dream.

    I hate it and won’t sing these ridiculous words to old hymns.

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