We've lived with "Vatican II" for sixtyish years now ... which makes the current papal attacks on "Backwardism" a tadge quaint. Surely, resurrecting the corpses of the nineteen sixties is what really counts as "Backwardist"?
But, this morning, I suggest that what happened in that decade had already been done ... at least once before.
The stages of the 1960s revolutions began with academic ferment. Conferences and trendy 'calls' by trendy 'experts' prepared the way. Authority then cautiously permitted some 'progress'. Next, the committees set up to carry this permission into effect soon decided that the modest 'reforms' which Authority had in mind were nothing like enough ... the committee-men, after all, were massively expert and could do far, far, better. Within a very few years, their labours produced results which went very much further than Authority had intimated ... further than the Council Fathers had in mind when they signed Sacrosanctum Concilium.
So we have had the Pseudocracy ... the Rule of the Big Lie reinforced by the Big Stick ... of the last sixty years ... two generations of radical depravations of Tradition, with every novelty labelled as The Reform Of Vatican II. I suspect that most clergy and laity never looked at the Conciliar documents ... after all, if bishops and Cardinals were going around, mendaciously claimimg that "the Council" required wall-to wall vernacular and the radical architectural vandalisation of all sanctuaries, who are we little people to cry out that the Emperor is not only naked, but a vulgar nudist liar too?
On January 9, 1941, Pope Pius XII, Papa Pacelli, gave the Biblical Institute instructions to make "a new Latin version of the Psalms, which was to follow presse fideliterque the original texts and veteris venerandae Vulgatae aliarumque antiquarum interpretationum, quantum fieri posset, rationem haberet."
The academic demands for this had come most noisily from ... ... yeah, you guessed right, ten out of ten ... from Germany.
The results of this papal initiative were quite shocking. Far from respecting the ancient Latin translations of the Psalms, the 'experts' ... led by a German Jesuit called Bea ... even went so far as to produce a Psalter which paid practically no attention to early Christian Latin but even went so far as to invent a whole new dialect of Latin which was totally divorced from Christian Latin, being based upon the usages of the pre-Christian lawyer and politician Marcus Tullius Cicero. As Christine Mohrmann indignantly complained, "there has been a complete break with tradition and ... a failure to carry out the programme set before the translators, viz., that they should as far as possible take account of the ancient versions ... is it right, or rather, is it justifiable to mutilate a liturgical book such as the Book of Psalms, a mass of poetry which since the earliest centuries has been part and parcel of Christian worship and has--so to say--grown up with the Christian idiom--to mutilate such book by dressing it up in a pre-Christian language?"
Indeed, that is the basic question (there are others ... such as whether Bea's persistent programme of demanding the elimination of all 'Hebraisms' was, in the decade of the Nazi extermination camps, particularly tactful).
Readers will have noticed the parallels between my narrative and the realities of Vatican II. At this point, happily, the similarities break down. The campaign led by Christine Mohrmann, a brilliant scholar of quite exraordinary erudition and universally respected, led to the "New Psalter" being a complete and total flop.
In our own time, booksellers marketing old Breviaries have to be very careful to inform potential buyers which psalter they contain.