The Second Vatican Council oversaw how the Church related herself to the modern world. This spirit of reform was prevalent in almost all aspect of life after the First and Second World War. The Council touched on issues such as the the Liturgy and social teachings. To everyone, the most obvious reform of the Second Vatican Council was the Mass being celebrated in the vernacular and facing the people. However, none of the council's documents ever instituted, what seems to be, reforms. The Church never suggested the abandonment of Latin within the Liturgy. In almost all parishes the Mass is celebrated in the vernacular. However, this was not the desire that the Council had for the Liturgy. Even the pope that introduced the Mass we have today recommended the use of Latin within the Liturgy.
Before the convening of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), Pope St. John XXIII has already promoted the retainment of Latin in the Church, including in her Liturgy. Pope St. John XXIII stated in CONSTITVTIO APOSTOLICA DE LATINITATIS STVDIO PROVEHENDO, VETERVM SAPIENTIA (February 22, 1962),
“Of its very nature Latin is most suitable for promoting every form of culture among peoples. It gives rise to no jealousies. It does not favor any one nation, but presents itself with equal impartiality to all and is equally acceptable to all. Nor must we overlook the characteristic nobility of Latin for mal structure. Its ‘concise, varied and harmonious style, full of majesty and dignity’4 makes for singular clarity and impressiveness of expression.”
To St. John XXIII, Latin was a language of unity. He saw it's importance in the Church and beauty that it presents. To him, Latin is an inclusive language that does not favor one nation. Along the lines of St. John XXIII, his predecessor, Pope Pius XI noted that,
“For the Church, since it contains all nations in its embrace, since it is going to endure until the consummation of the ages, and since it utterly excludes the common people from its governance, requires by its own nature a universal language, unchangeable, not that of the common people”
—Apostolic Letter Officiorum Omnium, 1922.Venerable Pope Pius XII noted, “The use of the Latin language prevailing in a great part of the Church affords at once an imposing sign of unity and an effective safeguard against the corruptions of true doctrine” (Mediator Dei, 1947, Sec. 60). Latin was seen as an outward sign for the Church, it reflected the Church immutability of doctrines. Latin, immutable, reflected doctrine. It neither changes with time and with the opinion of society.
|Venerable Pope Pius XII|
During the Second Vatican Council, the council fathers emphasized the usage of Latin amidst the promotion of the Mass in the vernacular. The only document published concerning the Liturgy during Council clearly shows the importance of Latin within the Liturgy. The Sacrosanctum Concilium (December 4, 1963) encourages,
“36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.
3. 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.”
—Sacrosanctum Concilium, CHAPTER I: General Principles for the Restoration and Promotion of the Sacred Liturgy, III. The Reform of the Sacred Liturgy, C: Norms based upon the didactic and pastoral nature of the Liturgy
It was never the Church's intent to abandon Latin within the Liturgy and in the Sacraments. It was the innovations of some "liturgical experts" that this became enforced, never was it the Council's intent of reform.
Blessed Pope Paul VI suggested the retainment of Latin within the Liturgy. He promoted and encouraged the faithful to learn the responses and prayers that belongs to them and the use of the Gregorian chant.
“The Bond of Unity. The Second Vatican Council in the "Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy" added the following reminder to its exhortation that vernacular languages should have a suitable place in liturgical celebration: It should be arranged that the faithful can say or sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass that belongs to them.
The Supreme Pontiff Paul VI has followed this trend of thought in recent times. he has often expressed two desires: that Gregorian Chant with its pleasing melody might accompany and support the Eucharistic celebrations of the people of God; that the voices of the faithful might resound in both the Gregorian Chant and in the vernacular.”
—Iubilate Deo, Preface, Pope Paul VI, 14 April 1974
Blessed Paul VI encourages us to learn the Latin, never was it his intent to abandon it. His admiration for Latin he expressed in Sacrificium Laudis (August 15, 1966), “The Latin language is assuredly worthy of being defended with great care instead of being scorned; for the Latin Church it is the most abundant source of Christian civilization and the richest treasury of piety…. We must not hold in low esteem these traditions of your fathers, which were your glory for centuries… We cannot permit something that could be the cause of your own downfall, that could be the source of serious loss to you, and that surely would afflict the Church of God with sickness and sadness… The same Church gives you the mandate to safeguard the traditional dignity, beauty, and gravity of the choral office in both its language [Latin] and its chant… Obey the commands that a great love for your own ancient observances itself suggests…” (Sacrificium Laudis, Epistle to Superiors General of Clerical Religious Institutes Bound to Choir, on the Celebration of the Divine Office in Latin). It is a clear misunderstanding of Blessed Paul VI's intention to suggest that his papacy was vent on the abandonment of Latin with the introduction of Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. His admiration and encouragement of Latin suggests the opposite of the accusations thrown at him by schismatic "traditionalists."
|Pope St. John Paul II|
“The use of the vernacular has certainly opened up the treasures of the liturgy to all who take part, but this does not mean that the Latin language, and especially the chants which are so superbly adapted to the genius of the Roman Rite, should be wholly abandoned.”
—Pope St. John Paul II, Fidelity to Doctrinal Foundations Must Guide All Liturgical Renewal, Address to US Bishops, 9 October 1998
He reminds the bishops that Latin is not to be abandoned. It was never the church's intent to replace Latin with the vernacular, not a total but partial use of the vernacular.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a symbol of staunch conservatism, noted that,
|“People say nowadays that the liturgy reflects the religious experience of the congregation and that the congregation is the only real agent in the liturgy; that leads in fact not only in the direction of a complete fragmentation of the liturgy but toward the destruction of the liturgy as such, for if the liturgy merely reflects the religious experience of the congregation, it no longer involves the presence of the mystery.”|
—Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI), Collected Works: Theology of the Liturgy, Part E: Further Perspectives, Discussion of The Spirit of the Liturgy, V. Assessment and Future Prospects, 1. The Spiritual and Historical Components of the Liturgical Movement, pg. 561
His opinion reflects the perversion of the Church's intent of "inculturation." He notes that this perversion only excludes rather than includes. He also noted,
“In reality what happened was that an unprecedented clericalization came on the scene. Now the priest—'the presider', as they now prefer to call him—becomes the real point of reference for the whole liturgy. Everything depends on him. We have to see him, to respond to him, to be involved in what he is doing. His creativity sustains the whole thing. Not surprisingly, people try to reduce this newly created role by assigning all kinds of liturgical functions to different individuals and entrusting the 'creative' planning of the liturgy to groups of people who like to, and are supposed to, 'make their own contribution'. Less and less is God in the picture. More and more important is what is done by the human beings who meet here and do not like to subject themselves to a 'pre-determined pattern'. The turning of the priest toward the people has turned the community into a self-enclosed circle. In its outward form, it no longer opens out what lies ahead and above, but closed in on itself.”
|Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI|
—Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI). Collected Works: Theology of the Liturgy, Part A, "The Spirit of the Liturgy", Chapter II: Time and Space in the Liturgy, Part 3: The Altar and the Direction of the Liturgical Prayer, pages 48-49
The Church's intent to use the vernacular was never to the point of abandoning Latin. This was never the Council's intent nor the papacy's. What the Council was notorious of was never its intent. We as the faithful should know what is to be recited in Latin and what is to be recited in the vernacular. For the Church says,
“Pastors of souls should take care that besides the vernacular ‘the faithful also know how to say or sing, in Latin also, those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.’”
—Instruction on Music in the Sacred Liturgy, Sacred Congregation of Rites, 5 March 1967
The synthesis is not far from us. We need not look elsewhere than the East. Our Eastern brothers already offers a solution to us. Their liturgy is what the Council had in mind, the vernacular and their church's ancient language. The Coptic Orthodox Church uses Coptic alongside Arabic and the particular vernacular of their dioceses. The Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic uses Koine Greek. Each of the Eastern Churches uses their ancient language alongside modern languages.
“41. The main place should be given, all things being equal, to Gregorian chant, as being proper to the Roman Liturgy. Other kinds of sacred music, in particular polyphony, are in no way excluded, provided that they correspond to the spirit of the liturgical action and that they foster the participation of all the faithful.Since the faithful from different countries come together ever more frequently, it is desirable that they know how to sing together at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in Latin, especially the Profession of Faith and the Lord’s Prayer, according to the simpler settings.”
—General Instruction of the Roman Missal; Chapter II: The Structure of the Mass, its Elements, and its Parts; II. The Different Elements of the Mass; The Importance of Singing