Religion: Crisis of Immutability

Everything has been ordained by tradition and now you want to change it all, complained Vatican Prefect of Sacred Ceremonies Archbishop Enrico Dante. The prelates of the Second Vatican Council were indeed talking of change, and change in the basic area of the church's public worship.

Reforming the liturgy means in essence revising the solemn, tradition-laden Mass that has stood basically unchanged for 400 years. The structure of ritual is so elaborately linked* that any change is likely to become a crucial change. If Latin were dropped, for example, it might be natural also to drop plain chant, which is awkward in...

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