… When Fr. Antonelli finished his introduction, the president for the day opened the floor for discussion. How would the document be received? The first six speakers that day included some who would turn out to be among the most influential in the whole council. Cardinal Frings of Cologne led off from the presidents’ table. His opening words: «The schema before us is like the last will and testament of Pius XII, who, following in the footsteps of Saint Pius X, boldly began a renewal of the sacred liturgy.» Frings thus sounded what would become a leitmotif of the majority: the council was carrying forward work that had already begun. His next sentence was equally significant: «The schema is to be commended for its modest and truly pastoral literary style, full of the spirit of Holy Scripture and the Fathers of the Church.» He then made four brief suggestions, three of which pertained to use of the vernacular. Within ten minutes of beginning and letting it be known how highly he thought of the draft document, he sat down.
Cardinal Ruffini spoke next, even more briefly and also from the presidents’ table. He criticized the text for being too exclusively focused on the Roman Rite, reminded the fathers that only the Congregation of Rites had authority in matters liturgical, and, more significant, expressed no praise for the document. Then came Cardinal Lercaro of Bologna. Clear in his approval for the text and insistent on how much it accorded with the tradition of the church, he tried to refute one of the standard criticisms leveled at liturgical reformers: «The changes the document mandates do not grow out of some sterile archeology or out of some insane itching for novelty but out of the requests of pastors and out of pastoral needs-active participation in the liturgy is, according to the memorable words of Pius X, the first and irreplaceable source of the Christian spirit.» He concluded: «*hen taken as a whole and with due allowance for appropriate emendation, I willingly and eagerly in the Lord give my approval to the document.»
Then Cardinal Montini. In substance he approved the text, especially because it rested on the principle of pastoral efficacy. The schema conceded nothing to those who arbitrarily wanted to make changes nor to those who insisted that the rite can in no way be changed, as if the historical form were inseparable from what it signified. Montini called for greater use of the vernacular, but with qualification.
Then came Cardinal Spellman of New York with one of the longer interventions, in which he managed never to say outright that he liked what he had read. His message was simple: caution. In particular, though the vernacular might be fine in the administration of some of the sacraments, it should not be introduced into the Mass. Later in the course of the debate he was seconded in this opinion by Cardinal McIntyre of Los Angeles: «The sacred Mass should remain as it iS.»14 Spellman had meanwhile taken a swipe at professional liturgists by reminding the council fathers that as far as the liturgy was concerned, the perspective of real pastors was often different from that of liturgical scholars.
Cardinal Döpfner of Munich stated immediately his wholehearted approval of the schema. He registered his disagreement with those who felt that the document should stick to general principles and not descend, as it did in some matters, to specific measures. He probably made this point because he feared what would happen in the Congregation of Rites if the provisions were left too vague. Then, seemingly in direct response to Spellman, he voiced his support for use of the vernacular even in the Mass. …