The Mass after Vatican II and the Mass before Vatican II one with Pope Beneidict and the other with Pope John XXIII, is this what Vatican II desired in looks?
I suspect at the time the documents of Vatican II were written, the way the Church was in the USA compared to Church in Europe or other parts of the world was very different. I suspect that the USA, as today, even then had a higher rate of religious practice than some other countries. So to get the high percentage of Catholics at that time to be more active in the Mass and more active as Catholics in their parishes and in their everyday lives was certainly well advised.
In terms of Christian unity, a major emphasis of Vatican II, certainly fostering it has been a blessing and much development has occurred in unexpected ways, especially for those of us who as Catholics are minorities in our cities and towns and thus even apart from institutional concerns, have to be ecumenical at home, work and play if we are going to be a part of our towns and cities.
About 90% of our marriages are ecumenical in Macon and all of the Diocese of Savannah. Up until the early 1950′s Catholics who married Protestants in my parish, many still alive and in the parish today, had to marry in the rectory, they weren’t allowed a church wedding. That was liberalized in the 1950′s when mixed marriages were allowed in the church but the ceremony had to take place outside the altar railing. Could you imagine going back to that today and Catholics acquiescing?
Could anyone have imagined during the Council, that the reformed liturgy and in the vernacular would open the way to an “Anglican Use” (and subsequently the Ordinariate) liturgy,which I would see as positive in terms of authentic Christian unity under the full communion of the Catholic Church, i.e. the pope, bishops in union with him and the Church's Magisterium?
On the negative side, could Council Fathers in the USA imagined that the up to 90% attendance of Catholics at the “non-participative” Latin Mass of that period, would lead to only 20% of Catholic participating in the “active-participative” vernacular, simplified Mass today? If they had a crystal ball back then, what would they have written differently?
Or more to the point, since my contention is that the problems of today aren't related to the Council documents which are quite conservative in nature and reflect decades of theological thought leading up to the Council, but rather the problem is the hermeneutic of rupture with the Church's past and ill-advised post-Vatican II documents that have created so many of the problems that still affect us today.
Studying the documents of Vatican II today, and especially the document on the liturgy, is quite important. But the critique, and strong critiques, that are needed shouldn't be directed toward the Council itself, but the post-Vatican II documents that implemented the council. I suspect we need to read those too and perhaps blast those documents out of the water where necessary rather than blaming Vatican II on all the bastardized ways subsequent documents implemented Vatican II's noble vision!