Inter Oecumenici Instruction on Implementing Liturgical Norms - Adoremus

Don’t know how many people know about this document. It is one of the documents that came after the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy, as part of the Consilium that looked at the Constitution and gave practical instruction for how to implement the changes.

I see a lot of “VII didn’t say this or didn’t call for that”, yet what people don’t realize, I think, was the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy was a starting point not an end point.

Has it been perfect? No. But the world has changed drastically since 1964 also. We need to be patient and remember that the “gates of hell” will never prevail.


I would say that most people, at least in the traditional camps, are very well aware of this document. I would also say that virtually all realize that the changes were a “starting point”. The problems are largely with how the changes were implemented, and how many feel that they were seized upon by individuals with an agenda who never intended to implement the changes that were actually made.

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If that is the case, then there should be concrete examples of this highjacking.

Since it is never Bishop X or Bishop’s Conference Y that is blamed, but Vatican II as whole, I am not sure I share your views.

While there are certainly those who blame the whole council, if you do a little research you will certainly find individuals being called out quite a bit for failing to properly implement the changes. I grant you that many times it’s not in the most charitable manner, but it’s nevertheless rarely aimed at VII in general. Even when “the Council” is called out directly, generally it’s still just shorthand for “those who failed to implement the actual reforms, and those who never intended to do so”, since writing “ the Council” or “VII” is quite a bit easier. Nevertheless, even those who do simply hate VII in general are aware of IO. Traditionalists tends to be better informed than liberals like to give them credit for.

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I think most traditionalists and Catholics in general would prefer to take the line item veto approach to VII. Take what’s good and leave out what’s bad.

I think many of the documents were purposely written in a way that left them open to interpretation. Meaning that men like Abp. Lefebvre who signed off on the documents believed that our traditions and teachings would be safeguarded and the mass would be protected from liturgical abuses.

However, in less than a decade so many changes occurred under the authority of VII, that many grew to resent what it was now being used for; which was a springboard for ushering in a different type of liturgical worship and beliefs that were never discussed at VII.


This was brought up in one of my liturgy classes.
What many lay people forget is that the Bishops involved knew everything that came before, the documents were written for them not the armchair theologian of 40-50 years later.
In order to truly understand why and what changes were truly needed, one needed to be firmly immeshed in the culture. What people saw in the pews was just a speck of what was going on in the larger institution.

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While we’re on the subject, Cilla, would you mind explaining your interpretation of the sentence in SC where it says all the rites should be preserved, and then in the same sentence, says the rite should be revised?

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The paragraph is clearly referring to other rites in the sui juris Churches when speaking of other rites that are of equal dignity and thus to be preserved. The paragraph immediately above it clearly states that the reforms intended by SC apply only to the Roman rite, with some exceptions.

  1. the sacred Council judges that the following principles concerning the promotion and reform of the liturgy should be called to mind, and that practical norms should be established.

Among these principles and norms there are some which can and should be applied both to the Roman rite and also to all the other rites. The practical norms which follow, however, should be taken as applying only to the Roman rite, except for those which, in the very nature of things, affect other rites as well.

  1. Lastly, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way. The Council also desires that, where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times.

Moreover, preserving a rite does not mean fossilizing it. Reforms can be applied. The Tridentine Mass itself has undergone fairly significant changes over time. The Roman Rite, to which SC applies now exists in two forms.

My own opinion on the later is that this never was the intent of SC but was a charitable gift that was given by indult and later expanded, to those attached to the older form.

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Thanks @OraLabora, I could not have said it better.

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This goes for the whole Council. Early on, there were two interpretations of the Council: (1) as the culmination of “aggiornamento” and (2) as the starting point for “aggiornamento.”

The latter clearly won out both “on the ground” and all the way to the top as we see with the new Mass we got, compared to what Vatican II says and even what your posted document says (the same can be said in other arenas too, like the approaches to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue).

During and after Vatican II, the “unchanging” Church that seemed like a rock went quickly into a state of rapid, uncontrolled flux and confusion. After some slow down in that regard, Pope Francis seems to prefer to take us back to the more uncertain times (a common theme he speaks about is how such uncertainty is a good thing).

In any event, as I’ve said before, the actual documents of Vatican II have become pretty much irrelevant today. What they say of the unchanging truth is mostly banal and said clearer elsewhere, while the Council’s pastoral approach was explicitly geared by Pope John to circumstances that ceased to exist shortly after the Council. The concrete “updates” in the texts have long been supplanted by further and further updates.


It was neither. Sacrosanctum Concilium was the culmination of decades of study and work by the Liturgical Movement. Dom Prosper Gueranger is seen as the father of that movement. As abbot of Solesmes, he started the movement that led to the Vatican Edition of the Roman Gradual being promulgated by Pius X in 1908. Pius X continued with major reforms to the Roman Office, moving it further away from from monastic tradition, recognizing that secular priests are not monks.

The movement picked up steam in the 1940s with the Pian Commission which led to the reforms of Holy Week and the Roman Breviary. In the 1940s, a lot of experimental work was also carried out by the monks of Sant’ Anselmo, which is also the Pontifical Atheneum for liturgy. Things like versus populum celebration were first tried out there in the 1940s.

The general norms established by Sacrosanctum Concilium are the culmination of that work. The subsequent commission leading to the 1970 Roman Missal and Liturgy of the Hours was the practical application of SC. While many unofficial experiments were tried, so too were serious scholarly trials. Those are what led to the New Mass.

Anything outside the new missal are simply unauthorized deviations.

Any serious study of the history of liturgical reform should make all this obvious. Note I’m speaking exclusively of liturgy here. I’ll leave the interpretation of the rest of the council to those more well versed in those aspects.

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