[5] The papacy, prior to John XXIII, had been quick to silence innovative pastors and to hinder any reforms that did not advance the papal agenda. Without a reforming pope like John XXIII, Catholics would still be reciting rosaries and reading private missals during a Mass that had a mystery and holiness that was largely unintelligible and removed from direct participation. Thus, the directives of Vatican II offer a remarkable summary of the pastoral changes that Martin Luther fostered among the Catholics who favored the reforms of the sixteenth century:
The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that . . . devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved. For this purpose the rites are to be simplified. . . . The treasures of the Bible are to be opened up more lavishly so that a richer fare may be provided for the faithful at the table of God's word… The homily is to be highly esteemed as part of the liturgy itself… It should not be omitted except for a serious reason [Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy § 50-52].
The counter-Reformation, on the other hand, ensured that no one moved ahead or stayed behind the authoritarian Vicar of Christ on earth. Without Rome's approval, nothing went ahead.