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LMS Chairman: Sacrosanctum Concilium a self-contradictory document unsuited for guiding liturgical reform May 24, 2016

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, catachesis, different religion, disaster, episcopate, error, General Catholic, Latin Mass, Liturgy, secularism, the struggle for the Church, Tradition.

Joseph Shaw, chair of the Latin Mass Society in England, has penned a piece for Rorate Caeli noting the massive contradictions that riddle the Vatican II Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium.  What can be said about Sacrosanctum Concilium can be said about every document of Vatican II, which is that they are less clear pronunciations on the Doctrine of the Faith for all ages, than they are the transcripts of a very heated debate that took place at particular place and time, and which was never resolved.  Thus, aspects of other documents of Vatican II seem bizarrely out of date.

I have long argued that the documents of VII are documents at war with themselves, filled with rather banal declarations of orthodoxy weakened with caveats that permitted the entry of mass amounts of destructive novelty.  Or, vague statements permitting endless novelty “corrected” by weak endorsements of the constant belief and practice of the Faith.  It reads like a debate in which the orthodox, unable to articulate the Doctrine of the Faith cogently, fought a rearguard action of damage limitation.  Their efforts were largely unsuccessful, almost entirely because the conciliar popes sided overwhelmingly with the progressives, and so we have what we have today, a Church riven by discord, but with the progressives firmly in command.  One could even argue that the documents of Vatican II are so riven with self-contradiction that they create an environment in which endless debate will be the inevitable result.  Feature or bug?

Shaw makes some very good points, and demonstrates how both SC, and the conciliar and post-conciliar popes, have at various times endorsed both liturgical orthodoxy and dangerous innovation, which are well worth reading and considering.  I’ll skip over those, and note his general summaries, which correspond very closely with my own thinking (which means he must be right, of course):

Liturgical conservatives and progressives argue endlessly about this. Their argument will never be resolved, both because Sacrosanctum Concilium was and the subsequent magisterium has been self-contradictory, but also because neither side in the debate is willing to be honest about the historical facts. I am sorry to be harsh, but having read the output of both sides of the debate over a number of years, it is time it was said.

First, Sacrosantum Concilium: how is it self-contradictory? It makes few concrete suggestions, but it does make some. It calls for wider use of the vernacular (63); the removal of ‘useless repetition’ (34), and a more ‘lavish’ presentation of the Scriptures in the readings, arranged over a ‘prescribed number of years’ (51). It leaves further details to local initiative and an official commission. On the other hand, it says (23):

There must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.

It is perfectly obvious that the this double condition is not satisfied by the concrete suggestions the document itselfmakes. There is no precedent in the liturgical tradition of the Church, in any Rite, for a multi-year lectionary, and to suggest that such a thing could grow ‘organically’ out of a single-year lectionary is obviously absurd. There is no precedent for a mixing of Latin and the vernacular in the liturgy, or for the liturgy to be translated into dozens of vernaculars for different countries. The principle militating against ‘useless repetition’ is entirely foreign to the Church’s liturgical tradition. And none of these changes could possibly, in advance, be said to be required ‘genuinely and certainly’ by the good of the Church.

From this fundamental self-contradiction, you can draw any conclusion you like. Perhaps the ‘general principle’ of section 23 should control our interpretation of the specific examples of reforms; perhaps it is the other other way around. The fact is, there is no coherent programme of reform in Sacrosanctum Concilium. Let’s not engage in make-believe. It is a compromise document with provisions pointing in different directions.

It was, however, interpreted by those appointed to interpret it, and the Novus Ordo Missae was signed off by Pope Paul VI. So what liturgical style are we guided towards by the official documents, documents of the ‘living magisterium’ as the conservatives like to call them, which accompanied and followed the promulgation of the new missal?…….

……..We need to face the fact: the magisterium’s own interpretation of Sacrosanctum Concilium is a moving target. It was quite different in the 1970s than it was by the mid 1990s. Who knows where it will be in ten years?

…….Those seeking, in Conciliar and post-conciliar documents, guidance on liturgical principles, with a view to the way Mass should be celebrated, and perhaps with a view to future reform, should stop right here. There is no single, coherent, vision of the liturgy in these documents. There is, instead, a debate. In the end, one side of this debate must win, and the other side must lose. [It’s been heavily back and forth since the 60s, as Shaw indicates in text not excerpted.  The modernists dominated from the 60s through the 80s, but then the conservatives gained a stronger position in the 90s and 00s, not that much changed, practically speaking.]

I would like to appeal to the ‘reform of the reform’ writers, and to the progressives on Pray Tell and elsewhere: stop accusing each other (and traditional Catholics) of contradicting authoritative documents and the ‘real’ principles of Vatican II. On this subject, arguments from authority will get us nowhere.

The only way to think with the Church on the liturgy is to take a longer view: to look at what the Church has done, not over a few decades, but over millennia. The very idea of doing this, of course, contradicts the claim that everything up to 1965 was bad. But it is that idea, rather than an honest appraisal of the modern liturgical documents considered here, that is really troubling for the doctrine of the indefectability of the Church. If the Church was wrong up to 1965, why pay any attention to what she has said since then?

If you read through the entire piece, do you also come away with the impression that Shaw is recommending this: since Vatican II and the post-conciliar leadership have been blatantly contradictory on the Liturgy since 1965, we should mostly ignore their pronouncements and go back to the Church’s ancient understanding of the Mass and other Sacraments?

If so, that’s certainly something I can agree with.  Not so much “rejecting” Vatican II, which has always been a meaningless canard, since the documents contain thousands of statements which can be twisted to say just about anything one wants them to, but ignoring the heterodox, novel portions therein.  I’ve always favored the Japanese term mokusatsu, “to kill with silence.”

In fact, Shaw’s take is pretty sympathetic. A stronger stand would be that revolutionaries planned and/or hijacked a council, and targeted the Liturgy as their prime means of remaking the Faith.  In other words, different religion.

All I know is, I plan on never assisting at a Novus Ordo again.  I’m going to be in San Antonio next weekend.  If there is no diocesan TLM, I’m going to St. Joseph’s.



1. Branch - May 25, 2016

“In fact, Shaw’s take is pretty sympathetic. A stronger stand would be that revolutionaries planned and/or hijacked a council, and targeted the Liturgy as their prime means of remaking the Faith. In other words, different religion.”

If the truth is what this stronger stand expresses as opposed to Shaw’s “sympathetic” take, then we are in a very serious predicament. To propose a different religion is heresy and popes, per St. Robert Bellarmine, cannot be heretics. (It’s actually pretty common sensical, I think.)

In other words, the sedevacantists have been correct and we can no longer simply take solace in ignoring the bad parts and in our little pockets of TLM communities. If the popes have been putting forth a different religion, that is no joke. It is deadly serious. I think it’s time Catholics who consider themselves serious about their faith begin looking at this serious question. Otherwise, they’re just playing at their religion from a distance.

2. Ben - May 25, 2016

This is meant in all charity. So, when are you going to admit that Vatican II is heretical and join the SSPX? You yourself have repeatedly declared that Pope Francis, Wuerl, and the whole monstrous lot practice a different religion. You are in communion with them!

Ben - May 25, 2016

The key issue the SSPX talks about is Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Liberty. This denies that Catholic governments should close Protestant Churches if they have the political capital. This denies Christ the King His Throne. It is to say that salvation does not matter. Catholic government can and should exercise its power for the benefit of the Church. The bishops who signed Vatican II were inaugurating a new religion.

Ben - May 25, 2016

Sorry for the three messages, but I left out Amoris Laetitiae, which virtually none of the bishops in communion with Rome have condemned outright. Bishop Schneider says it needs to be clarified? Give me a break! PF is going to corrupt the whole Church through control of episcopal appointments! When the Papally approved illegals are legalized, and America turns into a smoldering husk, then what will Ecclesia Dei do? The episcopal support for illegals will have been supported in part financially by the FSSP and ICKSP!

Tantumblogo - May 25, 2016

The short answer is, we have been blessed where we’re at to be in a Fraternity parish where VII and the modernists have been called out at times in very clear terms. There have been, in the past, excellent sermons and other catechesis on these subjects. But, the priest who was primarily responsible for this catechesis has been reassigned. A fellow parishioner noted to me at lunch today that we haven’t heard the very “hard” sermons like we used to since he left. One remaining priest touches on those topics but not with the same force. There is a certain amount of ostriching going on with respect to this pontificate. That’s unfortunate.

I’ve been very comfortable where I am at. I feel I have grown tremendously. The parish I’m at has a large number of really committed Catholics, people who are willing to step out and put themselves on the line to make a difference. But circumstances can change. Sometimes a message can be softened for the sake of popularity, or because of pressure from above. I don’t plan any move, I’m aware of the significant compromises canonical regularity engenders, but as I said in another comment, I’m not certain there is any truly ideal situation in the Church today.

skeinster - May 27, 2016


I tend to see it as not so much spending time hammering away at defining the problem (Vat II is bad, very bad…)
as equipping us to deal with the problem (how to become a saint).

Even Fr. Schmidburger pointed out that there ARE other things to preach about. Even in the SSPX. And that they should stop using that as a canard vs. other Trads.

But your point that there is no perfect safe haven is exactly right. Everyone’s conscience has a different sticking point on this, and we will disagree, and be deeply concerned for others, who differ.

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t keep our eyes on the prize together.

Tantumblogo - May 27, 2016

I was responding to what I took to be his primary concern, given the argument to go SSPX. That’s why I focused on that.

3. SoccerMom - May 25, 2016

I would second the notion that Catholics ought to seriously consider any and all legitimate explanations for the crisis in the Church, regardless of how unlikely they may seem when taken out of the context of the massive crisis in the Church.

Refusing to consider the legitimate possibility that Francis and the rest of the modernists do not hold jurisdiction in the Church gives them carte blanche freedom to continue their destructive path without any fear of reprisal. The liberals will continue to celebrate, and the “conservative” Catholics will continue to justify and meekly accept it when they no longer have access to priests who preach the Catholic faith because their “ordinaries” would rather see a rainbow Mass than a TLM in their diocese.

As per the Baltimore Catechism, the Church is the “congregation of all those who profess the faith of Christ…”. Does anyone here really believe that Francis professes the faith of Christ? As Branch mentioned, one must be a member of the Church to hold office in the Church. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913: “The Pope himself, if notoriously guilty of heresy, would cease to be Pope because he would cease to be a member of the Church.”

See more at: http://www.cmri.org/02-sede-quotes.html

It’s worth considering…

Tantumblogo - May 25, 2016

Hmmm…..I uploaded a video from John Salza on this very subject to the comments a day or two ago, but I guess few have seen it.

One of the signal triumphs of the modernists is that there is no true safe harbor. All the various “options” have problems. Ecclesia Dei groups are tainted by compromise and their affiliation with an increasingly terrifying Church power structure. But SSPX and sede vacantists have serious problems, as well. Jurisdiction is not a minor thing, and the SSPX argument of “supplied jurisdiction” is both self-serving and virtually unsupported outside the Society and their affiliates. The entire reason Father Michael brought the Transalpine Redemptorists back into a regular situation with Rome (at tremendous cost to himself and the order he founded) was due to the issue of jurisdiction. And that’s just one issue, there are others.

Sede vacantism is even more problematic, as Salza shows to my satisfaction. I’ll upload the video as a separate post later, but this is a “solution” that has ominous implications, to say the least.

My point is not to attack these groups. My point is to make clear, I hope, that the modernists have so positioned things that there is really no option for traditional Catholics without some kind of taint/question about it.

I want to warn everyone, this blog tries to be as agnostic as possible towards all the different traditional factions. Discussion can be fine, but I don’t want challenges thrown down or claims made that SSPX is protestant or FSSP is modernist, or things to that effect. I am totally with Fr. Michael Rodriguez on this, a man who has suffered and continues to suffer endlessly to this day for his support of Tradition, there are serious differences between the various traditional groups but we must keep our focus on those wreaking destruction in the Church, the modernist-progressive cabal that has been in charge for the past 50 years. My interest is in bringing the various traditional camps together, not focusing on differences, or asking pointed questions. Each side has its passionate advocates, but from my point of view, I’m not sure there’s a totally safe, pristine harbor in the Church today.

Also, these arguments tend to be endless and don’t wind up changing many minds. We can all stack piles of quotes from Saints and Scripture in defense of our chosen group (Ecclesia Dei, SSPX, SSPX-SO, sede vacantist, etc), but at the end of the day, my experience is that these exchanges generate far more heat than light. I seek to avoid them here, for the most part, even if that makes my blog uninteresting to some.

BTW, just so we’re clear, CMRI is a sede vacantist group based primarily in the Midwest. They are not unbiased observers.

Ben - May 25, 2016

Video is blocked on my machine. I propose that it is a little better for your readers if you are able to summarize the video.

SoccerMom - May 25, 2016

Okay, thank you for your response. I am sorry if I was too divisive. I completely agree with you about keeping focused on the real enemy and the importance of remaining united in charity with all Catholics – however we find the most sense in this big mess. Also completely agree on the difficulties inherent in all positions Catholics find themselves in today. I truly appreciate your posts and, again, apologize for any divisiveness. Thank you again for all of the time you spend on your blog!

Tantumblogo - May 25, 2016

No, you weren’t. Not at all. There’s been issues in the past, but you were fine. I should have made that clear.

Branch - May 26, 2016
Tantumblogo - May 26, 2016

Wow. I’ve seen Salza called a lot of things, but never a VII apologist! That’s pretty………amazing.

Branch - May 26, 2016

You may find this even more amazing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp9vQJhJE8o

Ben - May 25, 2016

Do you condemn the SSPX? Both SSPX and sedes seem okay to me…

Ben - May 25, 2016

(previous comment written to soccer mom)

4. Br. Alexis Bugnolo (@BrAlexisBugnolo) - May 26, 2016

Thank you for these words…

“If so, that’s certainly something I can agree with. Not so much “rejecting” Vatican II, which has always been a meaningless canard, since the documents contain thousands of statements which can be twisted to say just about anything one wants them to, …

Now, would that members of the Sacred Hierarchy have the courage and manliness and truthfulness and sincerity to repeat them..

5. Margaret Costello - May 27, 2016

Vatican II needs to be torpedoed for the Modernist, subversive council it tried to be. Only truth and violence to evil will set us on the right path:+) God bless~

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