THE POPE, THE COUNCIL AND THE MASS
Answers To The Questions The "Traditionalists" Are AskingBy JAMES LIKOUDIS and KENNETH D. WHITEHEAD
In a special 1980 Holy Thursday Letter "Dominicae Cenae" on the Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist which Pope John Paul II sent to all the bishops of the Catholic Church, the Pontiff spoke of the "at times partial, one-sided and erroneous applications of the directives of the Second Vatican Council [which] may have caused scandal and disturbance" in the Church, especially with regard to the Mass. Subsequently, on April 17, 1980, the Pope ordered the issuance of an Instruction "Inaestimabile Donum" which spoke of "abuses" and "falsification" in the celebration of the liturgy in the Catholic Church and insisted on the strict observance of the liturgical discipline laid down by the Church in order not to "bewilder" the faithful further. In the above documents and in others since, Pope John Paul II has repeatedly exhorted the Bishops of the Church to take note of and to issue corrective measures concerning liturgical abuses which have been one of the major causes of the alienation of many Catholics from the Church and the shocking decline in Mass attendance. There can be no question that the 2nd Vatican Council and the liturgical changes decreed by the Council have been profoundly misunderstood, misinterpreted, and badly implemented in North America. The result is many bewildered and alienated Catholics, some of whom were to regard the Council itself, and the late Pope Paul VI, rather than those who were disobeying their directives, as the cause of turmoil in the Church since the Council (1962-65).
The unhappy case of [the] French Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve and his followers in the St. Pius X Society represents only one but by no means exclusive example of a malaise that has affected the Catholic Church's post-conciliar liturgical reforms. This malaise has sometimes pitted Catholics against each other in acrimonious debates over the Church's direction, and led others into disobedience and dissent from Papal authority.
Active in the lay apostolate, James Likoudis and Kenneth D. Whitehead, both at the time vice-presidents of Catholics United for the Faith, were aware of the ferment over these questions by grass-roots Catholics well before the official cognizance of the depth and scope of the "liturgical problem" by Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger, and other Bishops. Concerned to explain and support the true intentions of the Second Vatican Council as regards renewal, as well as the actual measures taken by Pope Paul and his successors to implement them, the two authors wrote "The Pope, the Council and the Mass" in 1981 to give the true answers to the questions most frequently raised by those traditional-minded Catholics who have been most "turned off" by what they experienced in their parish churches as "renewal" (as contrasted with what the Church truly intended by "renewal"). Candid and realistic about the ways by which the "abuses" and "falsification" spoken of by Pope John Paul II have indeed sometimes succeeded in marring or deforming the revised Catholic liturgy in the Roman rite, Mr. Likoudis and Mr. Whitehead nevertheless demonstrated abundantly that Vatican II itself was in no way contrary to the Catholic tradition but was continuous with it; and that it has been the disregard of and disobedience to the enactments of Church authority, not those enactments themselves, that have caused the confusion in the Post-Conciliar period. The principal aim of this book has been to help dispel some of that confusion.
The authors explain what the "changes" in the Catholic Church have been all about, and how legitimate changes were prepared for by genuine liturgical reformers long before the Council. They do so with a wealth of illustrations and analogies drawn mostly from the history of the Catholic Church before Vatican II. They provide a veritable feast of historical, theological, and liturgical information which will interest anyone interested in Catholic Liturgy and in the exercise of Church authority in liturgical matters. The authors have selected 24 questions most commonly asked by "traditionalists" and which continue to trouble many Catholics, and provided lively and trenchant documented answers to those questions. In doing so, they have provided a major study on the true nature of the Church in our time and its hopes for a renewed evangelization of souls.
"THE POPE, THE COUNCIL AND THE MASS" was originally published in 1981 before the INDULTS issued by Pope John Paul II encouraging Bishops to allow a more generous celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal. It retains, however, all the value noted by L'Osservatore Romano when it declared that this "book has been sorely needed" and that the authors have successfully treated "three interrelated issues: the authority of the Pope in liturgical matters, the purpose of Vatican II, and the authenticity of the 'Novus Ordo'."
N.B. A new edition of this volume containing important additional and currently relevant new material was re-published by "Emmaus Road Publishing" in 2006.
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