Wednesday, August 10, 2022

What They Requested, What They Expected, and What Happened: An Addendum, from Pope Paul VI

Cardinal Montini, in favour of keeping
the Roman Canon in Latin
As an addendum to Dr Kwasniewski's excellent translations a couple of days ago of what the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council requested and expected would happen with regards to the use of vernacular languages in the Mass, I thought I would add something else from the conciliar Acta that NLM readers (and others) may find of interest.

This particular extract comes from the meetings of the Central Preparatory Commission (CPC) of Vatican II, which met over seven sessions held between June 1961 and June 1962. The CPC was the body that was responsible for discussing and refining the schemata drafted by the various preparatory commissions, and which were due to be put before the Council at its first session. The draft Constitution on the Liturgy was discussed by the CPC at its fifth session (26 March to 3 April 1962). Among its members was the Archbishop of Milan, one Giovanni Battista Cardinal Montini, who would be elected Pope Paul VI in 1963, and had the following to say about the use of the vernacular in the Mass (my translation: Montini's own emphases are in italics; my emphasis is in bold):
The Latin language, proper to the Roman Rite, must be preserved, for multiple and serious reasons, frequently confirmed by the Church.
But this statement does not invalidate the other, expressed several times, even publicly from the first speakers in this group or heard from the Commission of the Ecumenical Council, that is, “language is not to be attributed as among the first elements of religion (it is not ‘of the essence of religion’, as the philosophers say), even if one and the same language is a clear sign of unity and an effective instrument for the accurate transmission of truth.”
Do we not see the grave and ultimate loss that is imminent? If the common language is excluded from the sacred Liturgy, we will certainly miss the best opportunity to instruct the faithful, to restore divine worship… indeed, this [missed opportunity] happens because of reasons that are not pertinent to ‘the substance of religion’!
The proper or common language of each nation must be used:
In the first part of the Mass (the Liturgy of the word, as it is called): whether in the oration (Collect), because according to the thinking of Saint Paul, the word “Amen” demands the understanding of the people; or in the Introit, since this announces the mystery to be celebrated; or in the Epistle and Gospel, as is clear; or in the Profession of Faith (Creed), which best concludes the teaching of either the Prophet or Apostle or Christ or the Church; or in the oration at the Offertory [i.e. the secret/super oblata], as this is the most excellent invocation of the whole community, already used since the second century of the Christian era, and which provides an opportunity to declare the “intention of the sacrifice”.
In the rest of the Mass, the Latin language will be kept, except perhaps for the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father), which is, as it were, the summit of public prayer, and is the best preparation of souls for Communion.
Even in hymns (cf. Saint Paul), the common language should be used, so that the people can understand their poetry and beauty, and may be easily lifted up to God.

And the Latin text of his intervention at the CPC meeting:

[Lingua latina servanda est ut romani ritus propria, ob multiplices gravesque causas, saepius ab Ecclesia confirmatas.
Sed hoc enuntiatum alterum non infirmat enuntiatum quad saepius, etiam coram Consilio primario seu hac Commissione Oecumenici Concilii audivimus, nempe « linguam non esse inter prima religionis elementa adscribendam (non esse “de essentia religionis”, ut philosophi aiunt), etiamsi una eademque lingua clarum sit signum unitatis atque efficax instrumentum ad veritates accurate tradendas ».
An grave extremumque damnum quad imminet non videmus? Si lingua vulgaris a sacra Liturgia excluditur, optima certe omittitur occasio populum recte instituendi, divinum cultum restaurandi… et hoc quidem fit ob causas quae « ad substantiam religionis » non pertinent!
Lingua uniuscuiusque gentis propria seu vulgaris est adhibenda: In priore Missae parte (Liturgia, ut dicitur, verbi): sive in Oratione (Collecta), quia ex sententia Sancti Pauli, verbum « Amen » exigit ut populus intellegat; sive in Introitu, quippe qui mysterium celebrandum nuntiat; sive in Epistola et in Evangelio, ut patet; sive in Fidei Professione (Credo), quae doctrinam vel Prophetae vel Apostoli vel Christi vel Ecclesiae optime concludit; sive in Oratione ad Offertorium, utpote quae excellentissima totius communitatis sit deprecatio, iam inde a saeculo secundo aevi christiani adhibita, atque occasionem praebeat « intentionem sacrificii » declarandi.
In reliqua Missae parte sermo latinus servetur, excepta fortasse Oratione Dominica (Pater Noster), quae veluti culmen publicae deprecationis est animasque ad Communionem optime parat.
Etiam in canticis (cf. Sanctus Paulus) usurpetur sermo vulgaris ut populus, eorum poësin ac venustatem intellegendo, ad Deum facile elevetur.] (ADP II.3, pp. 86-87)
Pope Paul VI, after he had changed his mind and
decided to "sacrifice" the Latin language
Readers may also find Cardinal Montini's intervention at the Council itself of interest (AS I.1, pp. 313-316), as it strikes very similar notes to what he had said at the CPC (and, incidentally, in his pre-conciliar votumADA II.3, pp. 374-381):
[E]specially when it comes to the language to be used in worship, the use of the ancient language handed down by our forefathers, namely, the Latin language, should for the Latin Church be firm and stable in those parts of the rite which are sacramental and properly and truly priestly. This must be done so that the unity of the Mystical Body at prayer, as well as the accuracy of the sacred formulas, is religiously observed. However, as far as the people are concerned, any difficulty in understanding can be removed in the didactic parts of the sacred Liturgy, and the faithful also given the opportunity to express in comprehensible words their prayers, in which they call upon God. (General Congregation IV, 22 October 1962; my emphasis)
[Latin: [M]axime cum agitur de lingua in cultu adhibenda, usus linguae antiquae et a maioribus traditae, videlicet linguae latinae pro Ecclesia latina, firmus sit ac stabilis in iis partibus ritus quae sunt sacramentales ac proprie vereque sacerdotales. Hoc ideo fieri debet, ut unitas Corporis Mystici orantis accuratio sacrarum formularum religiose serventur. Tamen ad populum quod attinet, quaevis difficultas intelligendi auferatur in partibus didacticis sacrae Liturgiae, ac detur fidelibus quoque facultas exprimendi verbis comprehensibilibus preces suas, quas Deo adhibent.]
That the man who would become Paul VI later allowed the entire Mass, even the Canon, to be celebrated in the vernacular, jettisoning Latin as antithetical to the "understanding" and "participation" of the faithful (see his General Audience of 26 November 1969) – contrary to the intentions of the Council Fathers and contrary to his own thoughts just a few years prior – is a tragedy from which the Church is, sadly, still reaping the so-called 'rewards'.
For those who wish to read the Acta of Vatican II for themselves to see what the intentions of the Council Fathers actually were, as opposed to what the partisan defenders of the post-conciliar liturgical reforms frequently tell us they were, 54 of the 62 volumes (along with 2 of the 4 supplementary volumes) at the time of writing are freely available online here.

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