Paul VI on liturgical reform Part 7

In view of the canonization of Pope Paul VI, the pope of liturgical reform, in October, Pray Tell is occasionally  publishing some of his most significant statements on liturgical reform. The last excerpt addressed those who did not entirely accept the church’s reforms. This excerpt from the same address is directed at those who went beyond the reforms arbitrarily and in unapproved ways. 

At the other extreme are those who – proposing just the opposite teaching, but giving us equal cause for grief – falsely regard themselves as taking the road opened by the Council. Moved by their own one-sided opinions, which in some cases seem beyond hope of correction, they are fiercely engaged in passing judgment on the Church and its institutions.

With equal firmness, therefore, we must repudiate the course of action taken by:

  • Those who decide that they have the right to create a liturgy of their own, at times reducing the sacrifice of the Mass and the sacraments to a celebration of life or their own struggles and to the status of a symbol of their own spirit of community; or practice outlawed forms of intercommunion. …
  • [Those who water down Catholic doctrine; those who show outright scorn for the tradition of the Church including the Fathers and the magisterium]…
  • Those who make light of the proper office of the priestly ministry.
  • [Those who reduced Christianity to political action] …

Christians of this stripe are surely not very numerous, but they are very noisy, since they foolishly believe that they are the interpreters of the needs of the whole Christian people or of the irreversible course of history. As they do so they can in no way appeal to the authority of Vatican Council II, since its correct interpretation and application give absolutely no grounds for license. …

(Paul VI, Adress to a consistory, excerpt on loyalty to the Church and the Council, May 24, 1976)


  1. For what it’s worth for the more Latin-proficient who might want more color, nuance or detail to masticate, the bullet points as we’d describe today appear to be:

    – quotquot arbitrantur sibi licere propriam ipsorum liturgiam creare, interdum Missae Sacrificium ac sacramenta redigentibus ad celebrationem suae vitae vel suae luctationis atque etiam ad suam ipsorum fraternitatem significandam; vel contra leges intercommunionem exercent;

    – quotquot in catechesi tradenda extenuant doctrinae catholicae institutionem eam accommodantes ad sollicitationes vel hominum postulationes, secundum opiniones quae christianum nuntium penitus corrumpunt, ut iam declaravimus in Exhortatione Apostolica, cui index Quinque iam annos quae die VIII decembris anno MCMLXXI post quinquennium a Concilii exitu edita est (Cfr. AAS 63 (1971) 99);

    – quotquot ita se habent, ut vivam Ecclesiae Traditionem a Patribus usque ad Magisterii doctrinam, plane neglegant; qui quidam nova ratione interpretantur Ecclesiae doctrinam, Evangelium ipsum, res spirituales, divinitatem Christi, eius resurrectionem vel Eucharistiam, ita ut germanam harum veritatum significationem reapse destruant, novam hoc modo gnosim creantes et quodammodo «liberum examen» in Ecclesiam introducentes; quod quidem eo periculosius contingit, quod de iis agitur, quibus altissimum itemque summae gravitatis munus concreditum est Sacram Theologiam docendi;

    – quotquot extenuant munus sacerdotalis ministerii proprium;

    – quotquot dolendum in modum leges violant Ecclesiae, vel vitae moralis postulata quae per ipsam inculcantur;

    – quotquot denique ita theologalem vitam intellegunt quasi agatur de ordinanda terrestri societate; immo illam ad actionem politicam redigunt, spiritum, vias, agendi modos ad hunc finem adhibentes, quae Evangelio repugnant; atque eo procedunt, ut transcendens Christi nuntium, eius praedicationem Regni Dei, eiusque amoris praeceptum erga homines in ineffabili Dei paternitate fundatum, cum opinionibus confundant, quae tale nuntium essentialiter negant, in eius locum doctrinam substituentes eidem prorsus oppositam, ac propugnantes varium quoddam conubium inter duas humanae vitae rationes, quae inter se componi nullo modo possunt, ut agnoscunt ipsi periti huius doctrinae, qui ex altera factione sunt.

  2. So, in other words, Paul VI here is condemning nearly the entire implementation of the liturgical reform, at least as it appeared on the ground level (and still does in many places).

    Interesting how this major speech is only available in Latin and Italian… must not be thought to have been too significant then or now.

    1. No, that’s not Paul VI’s view. That’s Peter Kwasniewski’s view. Paul VI supported the liturgical reforms of Paul VI, including their implementation.

      Paul VI says about these liberals whom he’s critiquing:
      “Christians of this stripe are surely not very numerous, but they are very noisy,…”
      This speech is available in English in Documents on the Liturgy (Liturgical Press, 1982).

      1. And now noisiness is not limited to that quarter. With the Internet as the electronic successor to the mimeograph (but sans literal cranking and compelling aroma), Peter K has steadily argued himself (in a mirror image to what many of us have encountered on the far progressive wing of things in past years) into a series of self-reinforcing conclusory position statements that increasingly take the Providential hand in the development of Roman liturgy form and practice to have been completed in all material respects at a certain time well in advance of Vatican II. (Where that line, if maintained, has sometimes led with Peter K’s Internet predecessors – at least going back to the old Usenet discussion board era that I remember – is the apprehension that the Pope St. Pius X’s liturgical and sacramental revolutions – and their implications – should be understood to be part of the problem rather than something wonderful in general even if one might dicker with particulars. Btw, I would agree with that, except I don’t conceive of it as a problem but rather a Providentially inspired beginning of engagement with far older problems.)

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