Whereas the recently promulgated Constitution on the Church clearly states that "public opinion" has a vital role to play within the Catholic Church;

Whereas the Catholic laity, according to this Ecumenical Council document, "should openly reveal ... their needs and desires with that freedom and confidence which is fitting for children of God and brothers in Christ...";

Whereas the same Council document teaches that the Catholic laity "are permitted and sometimes even obliged to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church...";

Whereas it cannot be denied that the new liturgical reforms and especially the changes in the Mass were introduced without the average Catholic man and woman being consulted;

Whereas these liturgical changes were not called for by "public opinion," but were rather subtly extorted from our Bishops by a small but well organized minority of self-appointed so-called liturgical experts, isolated in their ivory towers;

Whereas the greater number of the Catholic laity gratefully recognize true spiritual advantages in the partial use of English in the celebration of the Mass and the administration of certain sacraments, but at the same time wish to preserve some Latin in the Liturgy as an external sign of our unity with fellow Catholics all over the world;

Whereas the ever increasing use of the Latin-English missal by the laity and the inspiring success of the Latin Dialogue Mass in many parishes has shown how easily our Catholic people, if intelligently urged by their priests to do so, cope with the Latin;

Whereas the "active participation" in the Mass, introduced since November 1964, did not meet with the enthusiastic approval which certain press releases wishfully described, but instead generated sentiments ranging from passive resignation to outright resentment.

Whereas the principal fruit of the progressivistic agitation in the Liturgy and elsewhere in the Church has been the steadily increasing polarization of the radical minority and the traditionalist majority among God's people whose Christ-intended visible unity is thus becoming less and less apparent;

Whereas the liturgical progressivism is increasingly and alarmingly appearing to many as only the first phase of a broader scheme intent to "protestantize" the entire Catholic Church;

We, loyal and loving sons and daughters of our Holy Mother the Catholic Church, believing to represent the sentiments of the majority of American Catholics, urge all Catholic men and women who share the views expressed in this manifesto, to join us in forwarding to our beloved spiritual leaders, the Catholic Bishops of the United States, the divinely appointed guardians of our Catholic Faith, the following suggestions which we respectfully submit for their urgent consideration:

  1. That, calling a halt to any further progress of vernacularism, English as now used in read Masses be allowed to continue while at the same time keeping our sung Masses entirely in Latin; that Latin be made a mandatory subject in all Catholic High Schools and continue to be recognized as the liturgical and theological language of the Latin rite Church and the supranational sign of unity among Catholics of various nations and cultures.
  2. That in the seminaries where our future priests are being trained Latin regain the place of honor assigned to it by all the Popes of modern times, and that especially the open defiance of Pope John XXIII's apostolic constitution "Veterum Sapientia," now prevailing in many American seminaries, be immediately replaced with sensibly adapted but still obedient compliance.
  3. That the permissive nature of the Liturgy Constitution of Vatican II be safeguarded on local levels so as to eliminate any form of regimented compulsion from innovations which this Constitution never made mandatory but simply permitted as "privileges," and that, consequently, priests and people be allowed to pursue the defense and promotion of the use of the traditional liturgical language and customs with the same freedom given to the proponents of vernacularism.
  4. That the centuries-sanctioned liturgical Latin form of the Mass not be banned, but, if not given full priority, at least be allowed to co-exist with the new vernacular forms, so that priests and people be given full option and adequate opportunity to celebrate and assist at Mass in the traditional Latin form on Sundays as well as weekdays.
  5. That the new methods of group participation at Mass not be made mandatory at all public Masses, but that individuals be allowed, to participate silently if they so desire, with such silent participation being recognized as equally fruitful and as praiseworthy as any form of group participation.
  6. That in the new methods of community participation and especially in the field of sacred music and of architecture our Catholic heritage be preserved, and that strict control be exercised to eliminate and to prevent any features which are not conducive to preserve our Catholic identity, especially those practices or hymns marked by non-Catholic overtones or themes savoring of religious indifferentism or egalitarianism.
  7. That the character of the Mass as the supreme act of worship to the most holy Trinity and the renewal of Christ's sacrifice on Calvary through the sacerdotal mediation of His ordained priests be duly emphasized, and that special caution be exercised to prevent the secondary social aspects of the Mass from being affected by the error of homocentricity or an exaggerated concept of the so-called lay-priesthood.
  8. That the real presence of Christ in our tabernacles continue to be hailed as our greatest and uniquely Catholic possession; that reverences to the Blessed Sacrament, such as genuflections, will remain mandatory; that the custom of kneeling for the reception of Holy Communion will continue to be upheld; that the theologically less expressive communion formula "The Body of Christ" be replaced with "The living Christ"; that especially for sanitary reasons, Communion under both species not be introduced; and that our traditionally reverent customs in the handling of the altarbreads, destined for consecration, be preserved.
  9. That our eminently Catholic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of our divine Savior and mother of His Church, be continued and encouraged along lines derived from our traditional and theologically sound axiom "Through Mary to Jesus."
  10. That respectfully mature loyalty and filial obedience to the Supreme Roman Pontiff as Christ's Vicar on earth and the visible Head of His Church continue to be preached and practiced by all Catholics, and that all open or veiled efforts to impede the practical acceptance of the Holy Father's supreme primacy over shepherds and faithful alike, will be effectively unmasked and vigorously met.
  11. That our priests continue to live in celibacy and to wear their distinctive black street clothing with Roman collar, while our Sisters introduce only those dress changes that will still allow their uniform to remain indicative of their special dedicated position among God's people.
  12. That, while truly respecting all non-Catholics who follow their conscience into what in candid honesty we must continue to call objective errors or partial truths, our bishops, priests, religious and laity alike renew their truly ecumenical efforts to proclaim the full unadulterated doctrine of Christ's Catholic Church in a world that desperately needs it.

Sent, December 31, 1964, as a not-for-publication communication to the Pope, all Vatican Curia cardinals, all members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the U.S.A., and selected bishops in various countries.
Made public, March 15, 1965