"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The reforms of Pius XII

Did you know...
I think it's mostly only old people who know this, but several reforms that were realized after Vatican II were actually initiated during the the reign of Pope Pius XII.  I was reminded of this after reading a comment elsewhere that Pius XII more or less began the movement towards allowing women to act as altar servers and lectors when he permitted women to participate in church choirs - as the author noted, 'something that was already happening anyway.'
Likewise, I distinctly remember that Pius XII permitted women religious to modify their habits to accommodate the demands of modern times.  This meant nursing nuns didn't have to be impeded by over sized bonnets and veils pinned into their coifs, and sleeves catching on things while attending a patient or assisting in an operating room, as well as allowing extern sisters to be able to drive and look both ways at intersections without getting out of the car to do so.  Of course some congregations of women religious took the habit modification thing to extremes, and in the end they may have to account for the harm they caused to the environment by their over dependence upon petroleum products such as polyester, and so on.  [e.g. pantsuits: yards and yards of polyester not to mention all the thread that goes into the top stitching.]
The Liturgical Movement
By the 1940s the movement had made an impression on Pope Pius XII, and he explored their work informally. In 1948 he convened the Commission for the Reform of the Liturgy with the intention of using the new scholarship to investigate a reformation of the liturgy. Its first true accomplishment was a reformation of the Holy Week liturgy, which was im­ple­mented in 1955. Contrary to the claims of radical traditionalists, this was not a mere evolutionary development. As Giampietro makes clear, the commission recognized that the Easter vigil as practiced at that time occurred during the daytime on Holy Saturday when many of the faithful had to work. To increase the laity’s ability to attend, the vigil was moved to the evening. The commission also thought that the lighting of the new fire was more symbolic when done in a darkened church at midnight than in a daytime ritual. These were actually restorations of the patristic practices that had been defunct for nearly a millennium. They also restructured the ceremony to make it more accessible and relevant to twentieth-century Catholics and permitted reception of Communion on Good Friday, which until that time had not been permitted.
In short, the pre-Vatican II reforms were no mere organic development but a carefully constructed reform that tried to create a relevant modern liturgy and consciously used elements of the Church’s past practices. Giampietro makes clear that serious liturgical reform did not start with Vatican II, but long before it. It is also clear that Pope Pius XII took the Liturgical Movement very seriously and clearly understood that the liturgy of the Catholic Church, as beautiful as it was, needed reformation in certain respects to meet the changing needs and lifestyles of the faithful. So radical traditionalists’ portrayal of Pius XII as a defender of the liturgical status quo is inaccurate. He was much more forward-thinking and open to change, albeit a more deliberate and slow-paced change than what would happen in the decades following his death. - New Oxford Review

It was during reign of Pope Pius XII that seminary reforms took place as well - making the seminary 'less cloistered' as it were.  Pius XII also favored the reform of the curia and the establishment of national bishop's conferences.  Sadly, Traditionalists view these facts with disdain, as one Traditionalist author wrote:  "One could cite numerous other examples, including the ill-fated "updating" of religious orders, to document the unhappy fact that the current Revolution sweeping the Roman Catholic Church today began, in earnest, at the top, with Pope Pius XII."
Habemus papum.  Be very grateful we Roman Catholics have a pope, and pray very much for him.
Photo source 


  1. I really like Pius XII. And yes, I have read several traditionalists who consider Pius XII the REAL culprit.

    I am pretty young, so I wasn't born until the 80s, but I have heard some people say that the Mass as celebrated by traditionalists actually reaches back before Vatican II, because by the early 1960s, there were already parts of the Mass where the people spoke, though they hadn't before. This might have been a change made under Bl. John XXIII, who is about as much loved over at TIA as John Paul II.

    On an almost comical note (if it weren't so sad), I've read about SSPX and sedevacantist priests who consider Pius X himself "too liberal" because he made several liturgical reforms, encouraged frequent communion, and children's early reception of the sacraments.

    The selective submission to papal authority is mind-boggling. I figure as long as I am Catholic in the same way that the Pope is, I should be fine.

    Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia, et ubi ecclesia vita aeterna.

  2. Interesting tid-bits about the religious habits.

    It's as if the Church gave the liturgy an inch, but people took a mile. Likewise, religious were given an inch with their habits and took a mile.

  3. The undermining of the Catholic Church: Mary Ball Martinez



    This is a must read for Catholics.

    Very good and Catholic post, Mr. Nelson.


  4. Lucifer is an Archangel, possessed of angelic intellect.

    Even the Elect are being fooled by him as he makes his way towards another war with Heaven.

    He has had many dupes, but his plan has been to change the way man views God, motion, and the six days of creation.

    The Earth does not revolve around the Sun.

    The Sun wasn't created until the fourth day.


  5. PXII didn't so much permit religious to update their habits as ask them to do so. As far as I recall, anyway.

  6. And another thing:

    In October of 1942 and again on December 8, 1942, with World War II at its height, Pope Pius XII performed a consecration of the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. He made no mention of Russia, nor did any of the world’s bishops participate in the ceremony. The following spring, as the war continued, Our Lord told Sr. Lucy that world peace would not result from the Pope’s consecration, but the war would be shortened.

    On July 7, 1952, with the Korean War raging, Pope Pius XII performed another consecration. In this case, he specifically mentioned Russia, but did not ask any of the world’s Catholic bishops to join him in the ceremony.

    Without their participation, the consecration still failed to satisfy Our Lady’s request.



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