Cardinal Heenan’s Intervention at the Synod of Bishops Rome, October 1967
Like all the bishops I
offer my sincere thanks to the Consilium. Its members have worked
well and have done their best. I cannot help wondering, however, if
the Consilium as at present constituted can meet the needs of our
times? For the liturgy is not primarily an academic or cultural
question. It is above all a pastoral matter for it concerns the
spiritual lives of our faithful. I do not know the names of the
members of the Consilium or, even more important, the names of their
consultors. But after studying the so-called Normative Mass it was
clear to me that few of them can have been parish priests. I cannot
think that anyone with pastoral experience would have regarded the
sung Mass as being of first importance.
home it is not only women and children but also fathers of families
and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them
the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday in the Sistine Chapel (a
demonstration of the Normative Mass) we would soon be left with a
congregation of mostly
women and children. Our people love the Mass but it is Low Mass
without psalm-singing and other musical embellishments to which they
are chiefly attached. I humbly suggest that the Consilium look at its
members and advisers to make sure that the number of those who live
in seminaries and religious communities does not exceed the numbers
of those with pastoral experience among the people in ordinary
Here are a few points
which solely for the sake of time since only five minutes are allowed
for comments must be put so shortly as to sound brusque.
1. The rule of prayer
is the rule of faith. If there is to be more emphasis in the Mass on
Bible readings than on Eucharistic prayer the faith of both clergy
and people will be weakened.
2. There is more need
than ever today to stress the Real Presence of our Lord in the
Blessed Sacrament. No change in the Mass should be made which might
seem to throw doubt on this doctrine.
3. Many bishops in this
Synod have spoken of the need of coming to the rescue of the faithful
grown restless and disturbed on account of too frequent changes in
must therefore ask what attitude the Consilium will take to these
warnings from the pastors of the Church? I confess in all seriousness
that I am uneasy lest the liturgists say “These
bishops know nothing about liturgy”.
It would be tragic if after the bishops have gone home no notice were
to be taken of their opinions.
4. In my diocese of
Westminster and in several English dioceses the rule is that at least
one Mass each Sunday must be celebrated in Latin. It would be a great
help if the Consilium were to tell the whole Church how the Latin
tongue can be preserved. If the Church is to remain truly the
Catholic Church it is essential to keep a universal language.
5. A very large number
of Sisters and not a few parishes have dedicated their whole lives to
perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. They sometimes feel
anxious because of the danger that Exposition of the Blessed
Sacrament and, perhaps, Benediction may one day be abolished on the
grounds that they were introduced too recently in the history of the
Church. A word of comfort and reassurance from the Consilium would be
I end by expressing, if I may, two thoughts about Synods of the
future. I hope, in the first place, that Bishops’
Conferences will be allowed to discuss the agenda with their clergy
and faithful. I also hope that in the next Synod other bishops will
take our place. In that way the views of the episcopate of the whole
world are more likely to be heard.
Labels: Adoration parish priests, Benediction, Vatican 2