Behandlingen av Sacrosanctum concilium – del 4

Her er siste utdrag fra Fr. O’Malleys bok om behandlingen av Vatikankonsilets dokument om liturgien (se første, andre og tredje del). Her nevnes konflikten som viste seg mellom kuriaen og flertallet av biskopene, diskusjonen avsluttes og det stemmes for eller mot å godta dokumentet:

… Discussion of the schema dragged on from October 22 to November 13-three weeks, fifteen sessions, with 328 interventions from the floor and 297 submitted in Written form. Although speakers were held to a ten-minute limit, the «Regulations» failed to provide a procedure for closing debate on a topic. Bishops began to fear that the discussion on the liturgy would go on forever. Speaker after speaker repeated the same points. On November 6 Pope John intervened, making an ad hoc change in the «Regulations» to allow the presidents to close discussion if they felt an issue had been adequately addressed. Timely closure was now legal, an important step in moving the agenda along more quickly.

Where did the schema stand when, on November 13, the presidents successfully called for a vote to halt the interventions? It obviously had strong support, perhaps most notably from African and Asian bishops, but it had also received much criticism. Two issues attracted the most attention and generated the most heat. The first was the vernacular. Eighty-one interventions focused on that issue. The second revolved around the competence of local bishops or episcopal conferences to make decisions, and thus concerned the limits of the authority of the Congregation of Rites. Early on, therefore, the crucial issue of center-periphery bounded to the surface. …

As early as October 24 Archbishop Pietro Parente, the assessor (administrative director) of the Holy Office, complained in an angry intervention about criticisms of his Congregation: «We in the Holy Office are martyrs, martyrs.» He called on the innovators at the council-novatores to learn a thing or two from the caution with which the Holy See operated and not rush into changes. Although novatores could have a less nocuous meaning, in ecclesiastical parlance it was a synonym for heretic.

A few days earlier Ottaviani had criticized Sacrosanctum for its literary style. The language was often ambiguous, he said, even in the doctrinal parts. I hose parts, furthermore, «invaded» the doctrinal camp and hence needed to be reviewed by theologians, by which he meant his own Doctrinal Commission. His patience was wearing thin. He took the floor again on October 30, opening his intervention with a series of rhetorical questions that made clear how utterly unacceptable he found the schema. Among the questions: «What, now, are we dealing here with a revolution regarding the whole Mass?»

He insisted that the Mass not be changed and that reception of the Eucharist under both forms was a bad idea, as was concelebration, that is, more than one priest officiating at a single Mass. He then hit his adversaries at their most vulnerable point. It was well and good to quote popes like Pius XII when they agreed with one’s position, but what about quoting them when they did not? In 1956, he reminded the council, Pius XII had made it clear to liturgists who had just completed an important meeting at Assisi that Latin was and would remain the language of the Mass.

He was well over the ten-minute limit. Cardinal Alfrink, presiding that day, interrupted the powerful head of the Holy Office to inform him that he had already spoken for the maximum amount of time. This was treatment to which Ottaviani was not accustomed: «I’ve finished! I’ve finished! I’ve finished!» The basilica broke into applause. Ottaviani , insulted and humiliated, boycotted the council for the next two weeks, a dramatic and extraordinarily meaningful gesture from somebody of his stature.

Finally, on November 14 Cardinal Tisserant, the presiding president of the day, put Sacrosanctum Concilium to a vote on whether to accept the schema as the base text. Because so many interventions on the document had been critical, this vote, the council’s first on a schema, was awaited with considerable tension. A positive vote meant that the document was fundamentally sound, so that after revisions by the Liturgical Commission, it could later in the council be resubmitted for approval of the changes and then for final approval. It also implicitly meant that it need not be submitted to the Doctrinal Commission, as Ottaviani had asked, to have its orthodoxy ensured. The outcome of the voting astounded everybody-a landslide in favor, 2162votes, with only 46 opposed. That was a 97 percent approval.

The next year, on December 4, 1963, the council overwhelmingly gave its approval to the revised text of Sacrosanctum Concilium, and Paul VI then promulgated it. The final vote was even more of a landslide: 2,147 in favor, 4 against. This was the first document approved by the council and, compared with others, was remarkable for how little it had changed from the original version.

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