what really ignited the Catholic culture wars was the way it was done: by an unprecedented exercise of papal power. Hardly anything of what happened was prescribed by the Second Vatican Council, not the turning around of the altars, not the almost universal use of the vernacular, not the scaling down of the sense of transcendence and sacrifice, not the discouraging of the faithful from kneeling when receiving holy communion, not the receiving of communion in the hand rather than on the tongue. Traditionalists point out that the Council had decreed that the Latin language was to be preserved. (And the `maniac' John XXIII had been totally opposed to the vernacular in the mass.) It had all been done by Pope Paul VI, Archbishop Bugnini and a close circle of liturgical experts. It was never even passed by a synod of bishops.
...The question all along was whether pope and bishops really do have such authority. One distinguished Catholic thinker judged that there was no such sweeping power, that liturgy had its own authority based on immemorial tradition, and that the pope''s authority in liturgy `is at the service of Sacred Tradition.' The same thinker even dared to describe the new mass as `no re-animation but devastation... fabricated liturgy... banal-on-the-spot product.' The man who wrote those words is now Pope Benedict XVI. The Cardinals elected Ratzinger knowing that these were his convictions. It cannot have been done in a fit of absence of mind.
...No one who reads Ratzinger can deny that he brings a very lively intelligence into his attempt to rediscover tradition. It is his critics of the ageing Vatican II generation who begin to look intellectually lazy.
(via Arts & Letters Daily)