All Conversations in My Heart
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
  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.
At 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 parishes.
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 the Mass.
I 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 welcomed.
6. 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.


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