Are we morally obligated to encourage the provisions of Vatican II?

It is becoming more widely known that what common know-how says about the proclamations of Vatican II are worlds apart from what the council actually envisioned. This is largely due to the efforts of faithful Catholics encouraging all to read the documents of the council and form their own impressions, rather than going by the very loose, even dishonest, interpretations of certain unorthodox people that shall go unnamed. Here are some pertinent sections from Sacrosanctum Concilium:

    1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
  1. … 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.
  1. 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.
  1. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to higher things.


The Council Fathers clearly envisioned that use of Latin would be retained in Holy Mass and Divine Office, and that Gregorian chant, polyphony, and the organ would be retained for sacred music. The sections that I cited above all contain a clause somewhere along the lines of “… but if this is not possible, restrictions are loosened to accommodate a next-best scenario”. But I think one would have to be either naive or polemic to believe that settling on the “four-hymn” Mass with no Latin or Gregorian chant/polyphony/organ, justifying it with the exceptionary clauses of SC but and then leaving the issue alone entirely, is fulfilling the Fathers’ wishes.

So, CAF, here is my question to you: do you think that we are morally obligated to encourage and work so that the celebration of Holy Mass and Divine Office will be in accordance with the ideals of the Second Vatican Council? Of course there are a few exceptions to these ideals – for example, it was never really expected that missions outside of Europe and the Americas would always have all-Latin Masses – but generally speaking: assuming no extraordinary circumstances, do you think one is at fault, or even sins, by not encouraging their parish or diocese to try and use Latin and Gregorian chant?

    1. These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And, whenever it seems to be called for, this authority is to consult with bishops of neighboring regions which have the same language.
  1. a) The vernacular language may be used in administering the sacraments and sacramentals, according to the norm of Art. 36.

Also, 101. 1. continued:

    1. … 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. The vernacular version, however, must be one that is drawn up according to the provision of Art. 36.

Vatican II also allows for the use of the vernacular.

(Emphases mine)

I talked about that in the second paragraph of my post.

when talking about music keep it mind when it says all things being equal chant should be the preferred method. This is a very broad statement, how do you know if all things are equal. From basic understanding of the GIRM which is the document I think better to refer to when speaking of provisions because this will be more up to date about how the Church is living out the liturgy.

There are many things in the GIRM that are very broad and far from specific. One example is the idea of what music should be used in the liturgy that is far from specific. Now granted there are many things that the GIRM is specific about, the Eucharistic prayer is the primary example, it is very strict in positions words and gesures the priest should be in. Even in the specific parts of the document there are still things that need to be interpreted and many are on a parish by parish level.

If one doesn’t promote or encourage the use of latin or chant in their parish it is far from being at fault. It should come down to pastoral necessity and the circumstances of the parish. The Church is wide and vast. When it comes to liturgy there will be many things that will be up to interpretation and the Discretion of the pastor. What you explain is one of them.

One last thing while I don’t know much of this document but I’m about to read it the General instruction of the liturgy of the hours is another document to refer to. Most of the documents I refer to quote SC and is an official document of the Church either written or approved by the congregation of divine worship.

to put it simply no you aren’t at fault or sining if you don’t promote the use of chant or latin parts. I think it is very wise and should be used widely in Church but it isn’t possible for all parishes to do both.

Don’t you think we have enough sins to worry about without making up new ones? I am not being facetious here, either, i am serious.

I think obligations may lay where the Council’s instruction bear on one’s state in life (and then, only when those instructions have not been superceded subsequently).

In my opinion, if you’re a layman, you should probably start with the decree for the laity, rather than parts of the constitution on the liturgy dealing with issues over which you have no authority.

Well, to answer this, I first present to you an extreme example: if a celebrating priest intentionally makes Holy Mass illicit, or even invalid, by his words or actions, you would obviously be morally obligated to inform either him or his bishop of the gravity of his actions.

But here’s a milder example: suppose a priest, in his homily, makes a factually wrong statement about something unimportant (not pertaining to faith or morals). Suppose he is giving a historical anecdote and he misremembers the date it occurred, or something along those lines. Obviously, you would NOT be morally obligated to correct him.

So my real question here is: for a parish or celebrant to not live up to the ideals of SC (assuming non-extraordinary circumstances), would this be closer to the extreme first example, or the mild second example? I think it could quite plausibly be the first, since one is knowingly and willingly ignoring the decrees of an ecumenical council of the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church. Though it is nowhere near the seriousness of the first example, since the council itself provides exemptions for those unable to fulfill the ideals; yet I think leaving these ideals ignored and doing nothing about them is a more serious problem than the second example.

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