'Active participation' from the interview of Cardinal Bartolucci

Requiescat in Pace Card. +Bartolucci. He was director of the Sistine Choir and was present during Vatican II. This is a translation of an interview with him, that recently was posted on New Liturgical Movement:

What was the intention of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council? How did they change liturgical music?

The Fathers of the Council had no intention of changing the liturgy, and therefore also (did not intend to change) sacred music in its relationship to it, and in its form, which indeed were both confirmed in the post-Conciliar period. Pope Pius XII had begun the reform of Holy Week, but in Mediator Dei had also expressed clear indications and laid out the principles for an authentic understanding of the liturgy, which were unfortunately disregarded later on. Also, knowing John XXIII, I am sure he would not have permitted all the changes which have extremely impoverished the liturgical life of the Church. I personally recall that the Sistine Choir sang very often during the assemblies of the Fathers, and the applause and approval which it received were the most profound testimony of how we were appreciated for our role in the liturgy.

Speaking of music, how was the Council’s request for “participatio actuosa” (active participation) put into practice?

“Participatio actuosa” was unfortunately misunderstood. The objective which they were trying to reach with this expression was authentic understanding (by the laity), an idea which moreover was not born at the Council. It was absolutely not the exterior objective of involving people in doing something within the celebration, and feeling themselves thereby to be more the protagonists, reading, singing, or doing who knows what. Unfortunately, however, this (latter) distorted, “pragmatic” understanding prevailed, supported also by many incompetent liturgists who were the first to misunderstand it, and in fact were the first to suggest it. Clear and definitive words in this regard are those set forth by then-Cardinal Ratzinger in his book Introduction to the Spirit of the Liturgy, which I fully agree with, and which recall us to the authentic sense of the participation of the faithful in the action of God, who makes Himself present in the liturgy by means of His word, and above all by means of His Body and Blood. This is the action in which the faithful are called to participate actively, uniting themselves to the celebration of the mystery.

Source: newliturgicalmovement.org/2013/11/cardinal-bartolucci-interviewed-on.html#.UoY0MdIw3dB

What do you think of this? It seems to support what I’ve been saying all along, which is that the Council Fathers never really intended to tamper with the Tridentine Mass aside from allowing the Propers and Readings to be in the vernacular (remember, they literally guffawed at the notion that the Eucharistic Prayer might be prayed in the vernacular).

thanks for posting very good comments made by the cardinal

but it is hard to argue that the liturgy didn’t change from its pre vat II form to its post vat II form.

  1. The lecitonary had a huge change, this being one of the central aspects of the liturgy its hard to see how they would attend not to change liturgy.
  2. Mass went from mostly silent prayers of the priest to speaking all of the prayers, to foster this active participation.
  3. Even the structure of the Church changed, (note in the GIRM it says that the alter should be fixed in the middle of the sanctuary, that is the norm differing from the high alter in the old rite)
  4. You add concelebrating priests into the mass instead of multiple masses going on at once.

so it is an interesting statement but the first thing you bolded is hard to wrap my head around how the fathers didn’t want to change the liturgy when the liturgy clearly changed a lot after vatican II.

About music I agree with what the GIRM says

when all things are equal you should sing chant first and then everything else.


I guess I am confused by your presumption that the council fathers had anything todo with changing the Mass. Nothing in V2 changed the Mass. All that was done was to suggest what might be changed.

It was the Pope who changed the Mass (because only the Pope has the authority to do so). Why did he change the Mass? In response to the discussions of V2? Honestly, I don’t really know or care. All I care about is that I attend a valid Mass, OF or EF.

If I am looking at this too simply, my apologies.

i think you are correct

it doesn’t matter who changed the liturgy the simple fact is it changed, and there aren’t many liturgical reformers or are saying just scrap it and go to the old way. There is a beauty in the Mass of Pope Paul VI it was just lost because of this contemporary movement in the Church and an attempt to make the mass be cool for all types of people.

Vatican II concluded in 1965. At that point all that was different in the Holy Mass was that some of it was in the vernacular (as the Council Fathers intended). The Novus Ordo wasn’t promulgated until 1969. Then after that, Pope Paul VI granted several provisions for things like Holy Communion in the Hand and replacing the Antiphons with a hymns. That’s when things got out of hand. He tried to put a stop to it (he published a booklet in 1974 called Jubilate Deo which had very easy Gregorian chant, but the bishops didn’t circulate it as His Holiness had intended).

It’s the post-1965 phase that Card +Bartolucci is criticizing. He even said that the liturgists who imposed most of the novelties onto the Order of Mass were incompetent.

As I understand it, each parish ultimately had its own liturgical committee and most of the novelties started there. AFAIK, the Vatican never ordered destruction of the altar rails and such.

The Vatican never encouraged one iota of nonsense. The OF celebrated correctly today (Eucharistic Prayer ad orientem, Gregorian chant and polyphony, parts/most of the Ordinary in Latin, etc.) is precisely what the Council Fathers and Pope Paul VI envisioned. Despite all that, there are plenty of fair criticisms that can be made of the Novus Ordo in good faith, mostly centered on Bugnini’s and Gelineau’s bizarre logic and historical assumptions in many of their reforms. The best way to summarize the situation is that Pope Paul VI approved many ideas of the Consilium that weren’t inherently bad, but opened the doors for misunderstanding or actual dissent against the Church.

That being said. It cannot be said that all of the liturgical abuses and “wreckovations” happened at the parish level. The USCCB strongly encouraged that altar rails be demolished, altars ripped from the wall, Holy Communion in the hand, having as many EMHC as desired, and using pretty much any hymn or composition whatsoever to replace the Propers. Other English-speaking Conferences followed suit.

I’m not sure if that is necessarily the case the the council fathers only intended that the language of the readings be changed. Look SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM was a major theological writing which gave many new understandings of what the Liturgy is for. What I think you may be missing in your interpretation of this is that you are incorrectly thinking that the council fathers wrote things in vatican II to change the liturgy as soon as it was closed, and have it as immediate change. This is incorrect, there have been sense the closing of vatican ii a multitude of documents that are helping the Church live out the theology of SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM.

it took 4 years or 6 years after the writing of SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM to finish the implementation of the theology of SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM.

Again SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM isn’t a rubric it is a theology on the sacred liturgy. This is why the promulgation of the new Mass took 4 years to change.

The mass of Trent which was pre vatican 2 mass was going to change there was a liturgical renewal movement which is partially responsible for the changes we see in the mass today.

I would suggest this, read SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM and MISSALE ROMANUM in light of eachother, Pope Paul VI who also promulgated SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM promulgated the roman missal, this is the desire of the Church and what she wants the people to follow. Even if you are correct and the council fathers didn’t want it to change, the fact remains that with MISSALE ROMANUM changed the Pre Vat II mass or Mass of Puis V. You can’t ignore this fact and the current magisterium says that parishes, unless the bishop gives permission for the Mass of Puis V or EF, must celebrate the Mass of Paul VI using the rubrics written by local bishops conferences and approved by the Vatican in Mass every day.

But the point that others here have been making is that Vatican II itself was never intended to promulgate a full liturgical revision. Vatican II set the principles, template and guiding umbrella under which subsequent liturgical revision was produced and then subsequently agreed by Bishops and by Rome. The GIRM in each territory then identified those areas (and they are few) that differred from the norms .

The use of vernacular hymns were in fact allowed in low mass from 1947 and in all masses from Advent 1964, and had nothing at all to do with Vatican II. Whilst I agree that we now have many ugly forward altars that sometimes compromise the integrity of the worship space, it is worth remembering that there was a specific reference to this in the Vatican document Instruction on the Proper Implementation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy published by the Sacred Congregation of Rites on September 26, 1964 which said:

It is better for the high altar to be constructed away from the wall so that one can move round it without difficulty, and so that it can be used for a celebration facing the people.

People keep mentioning the Propers suggesting that that the faithful of the last few centuries sang these chants without difficulty, but even the majority of *choirs *never sang these chants in years gone by. Only the most proficient choirs were able to sing the chants themselves. The people never sang them at all. It is time that we stopped imagining a Golden Age which never in fact existed, and which certainly cannot exist today in a vastly different ritual context.

The best way to do justice to GIRM and the Roman Rite is to exercise the three judgements: liturgical, musical and pastoral. Adding a historical judgement to those three risks inserting an antiquarianism into the mix which is not helpful.

At the end of the day the changes we have seen have been authorised by our Bishops and by Rome and we cannot put ourselves in the position of denying the church’s wisdom where we disagree with it, while relying on it where it happens to be congenial to our taste.

no disrespect, but please be careful about putting your own personal views into promulgation of the Vatican II reforms. The Church’s authoritative text on the current Mass is the GIRM, when dealing with issues (ad oriented, chant, polyphony, parts of the mass in latin, etc.) refer to the GIRM they represent the desire of the current magisterium. Look our understanding of what was said in Vatican II takes a long time to unfold, I wouldn’t be surprised if our Mass continues to change over the rest of our lives because it is a complex issue. But what the GIRM says is what should be followed.

A note on the USCCB, everything they changed in the liturgy, especially receiving in the hand , was approved by the vatican. If you understand how liturgies are reformed since vatican II you will understand that nothing the USCCB, when it comes to the liturgy, does is without approval of the CDW or Congregation for Divine Worship. They give a thing called a recognitio, which pretty much means that the Vatican approves the changes that a bishops conference wants to make.

All I’m trying to say is that while you are correct much of what happened after vatican II was horrible, but that is getting better. But you can’t include communion in the hand, EMHCs, etc. into this list because the Vatican has either promulgated that themselves or it was approved by the CDW.

This is an interesting article but please follow the current magisteriums thought on these issues.

Perhaps you yourself should give Sacrosanctum Concilium a read. You might be surprised.

**36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

  1. In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and “the common prayer,” but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to the norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution. Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.

    1. In accordance with the centuries-old tradition of the Latin rite, the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in the divine office. But in individual cases the ordinary has the power of granting the use of a vernacular translation to those clerics for whom the use of Latin constitutes a grave obstacle to their praying the office properly.
  2. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.**

I’m aware that SC isn’t a rubric. I’m aware that it is the Pope’s prerogative to revise liturgical texts. That being said, most of the changes that swept through the Church from 1969 to 1974 or so were never intended by the Council, reluctantly granted permission by the Pope, and abused into insanity. Notice the above passages: Latin is the ideal. Gregorian chant is the ideal. Anything departing from those is intended strongly in the vein of, “if the ideal is not possible, then this is permitted (but please try to fulfill the ideal)”.

Everything Card +Bartolucci has said in his interview is very much in line with the above. The Council Fathers, as I said, intended minimal changes to the Roman rite. All the talk of “active participation” meant getting the laity to understand the theology and history of the Holy Mass, and appreciating it for its richness. The beauty behind the Mass Propers were lost to the laity because they couldn’t be understood. It’s actually been demonstrated repeatedly that pre-1962, it’s a myth that nobody knew what was going on. The laity had a firm grasp of the Ordinary. It’s the Propers and Readings that were supposed to be in the vernacular. When a bishop at the Council warned that this could open the door to a vernacular Eucharistic Prayer, he was openly guffawed; only a tiny extremist minority at the Council thought that was a good idea.

Novelties like the Eucharistic Prayer being prayed versus populem in the vernacular, while indeed approved by the Holy See, were NOT in the wishes of the Council, NOT considered the ideal, NOT intended to be the norm. And it’s very much time for us to recognize that, while liturgically legal, should really be abolished for the sake of the Church.

Furthermore it needs to be understood that just because the Novus Ordo is valid, does not necessarily mean that it’s flawless. Pope Benedict XVI himself suggested that Eucharistic Prayer II should be deleted because it was misused, and really only invented based off of a contemporary historical understanding that’s since been debunked regarding its origin.

Even if you are correct and the council fathers didn’t want it to change, the fact remains that with MISSALE ROMANUM changed the Pre Vat II mass or Mass of Puis V. You can’t ignore this fact and the current magisterium says that parishes, unless the bishop gives permission for the Mass of Puis V or EF, must celebrate the Mass of Paul VI using the rubrics written by local bishops conferences and approved by the Vatican in Mass every day.

I don’t believe I ever implied the contrary? Though you are in error, since Summorum Pontificum in 2007 allows any priest with faculties to celebrate the Tridentine Latin Mass without episcopal approval.

That is one of the things the Council intended to address! They wanted to make a Simple Gradual so that parish churches could chant the Propers. Unfortunately, the Consilium inserted a loophole into the Graduale Simplex which was eventually exploited to allow the Propers to be buried even deeper than before the Council convened. Just another example of what the Council wanted versus what actually happened.

There’s a great article about that here: adoremus.org/0301buriedtreas1.html

read what I said above this post.

I trust the GIRM when it comes to the celebration of the Mass, I haven’t read up on any history of vatican II but I will soon. BUT what is said in the GIRM is the norm for the Latin rite. With the issues you bring up I will refer to the GIRM first in resolving those issues if they don’t I will look else where.

Once again. Legal or permissible is NOT the same as ideal, intended. Yes, the Holy See granted permission for a vernacular Eucharistic Prayer and for Holy Communion in the hand; but that doesn’t mean this was meant to be the norm, the best scenario possible. Just like how Moses didn’t grant divorce to the Israelites because it was desirable, but rather because it solved a few contemporary difficulties. The ideal, of course, has always been otherwise.

I respect you for your opinion but, God willing, when i’m a priest priest I’m going to follow the rubrics, or like some say: say the black do the red. No matter my own personal views on what Vatican II intended, what I think the norms should be, if I break from the rubrics I’m breaking from the thought of the Church. Granted there are many things in the rubrics that are general and can have personal interpretation, this you can use your view on the norms that Vat II gave, but if something is specific in the GIRM a priest should follow it.

again just be careful about your own personal interpretations or the interpretation of a handful of people. What matters is the rubrics promulgated by the vatican and Bishops Conferences. If priests actually follow this stuff you will be amazed how much the liturgy will improve.

Another note: i do want to understand why I do the things in the Mass i do, but again I don’t want to break from the current rubrics of the Church.

I enjoy the discussion on where the liturgy should go and what should change in the liturgy, I think it is good. But when you suggest things that are not approved by the Church I have problems, not saying you do this just be careful.

The GIRM is a translation of the IGMR, which I believe contain the official instructions. It is the bishop conference perogative to interpret as they see fit within their dioceses. So if the instructions are in the subjunctive or jussive or given as options, I believe the bishops may translate those to “must” or “should not” or “may” in their dioceses.

Yes. And that was because of a perceived decentralization of authoritative liturgy, and the promotion of local autonomy. Except that the teeny tiny problem is that Vatican 2 never declared such to be the norm. The only allowance for significant local differentiation from authorized form was supposed to be reserved for the missions, due to cultural needs and the intent to reach those local prospects for conversion (and the already converted). This was also why the vernacular was suggested as an option there, not for standard parishes in the Roman rite.

I’ve not advocated that ANYBODY break ANY rubrics at ANY POINT. What I’m advocating is that

(a) when there is an option in the rubrics, to pick the one that is more reverent, traditional, and logical (i.e. Holy Communion on the tongue, Eucharistic Prayer ad orientem, Ordinary in Latin, Gregorian chant instead of generic hymns, et al.); and

(b) that the Holy See start suppressing or sternly discouraging the other option.

Furthermore, I’m getting really tired of being accused of or associated with sedevancantism or whatever every time this topic comes up. I have not said, “break rules”. I have not said, “the OF is bad.” I have not said, “the Holy See has sinned against the Lord.” What I AM saying, is that things the Holy See has permitted are not necessarily the ideal, and that we should work towards the ideal, rather than becoming complacent with it.

yes if you bishop says do this you do that. :smiley: (well as long as its not heretical or makes the mass invalid.)

we can mostly agree on this

I would just say refer to the norms on distribution on holy communion in the United States.

Also sorry if I came on in this way, I never thought you said to break rules or that the vatican is evil. I’m just making sure there is an understanding that the current magisterium has final say on these issues and what is said in the GIRM and other juridical documents is what should be followed.

God will as a priest I will do as much as a I can to implement in my parish traditional values in the liturgy while sticking to the rubrics.

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