Yes, I know you are not supposed to put more than one question or exclamation mark. But I got your attention, right? Besides, this is a big "what if?!"
People come to me at times asking for advice about relational issues. I do my best to tell them what the Word of God says (not everyone takes my advice, but I do my best). When this happens we often get into a discussion about what would have been a better way to handle a situation, and then proceed to consider how to go about things for the future.
No one has actually come to me and said "how would Vatican II have been better?" (they are probably too smart to do it!), but that does not mean that I have not given it some thought. So then . . . what if?
It was stated by many back before the Council that Catholic laity did not know Latin, and so that was a hindrance to their proper and beneficial involvement in the Mass. The solution was to allow Mass in the vernacular. That is a logical inference (assuming, of course, that the premise was correct). There are actually a couple other options that were available, and I do not know enough about the history of the Council to determine if these were even considered, but it would be to our benefit to consider them now (hindsight being 20/20 and all that stuff...).
Option 1: Require all Catholics to have a basic understanding of Latin as a part of their spiritual health (exactly like we require Catholics to have an understanding of Sacraments, Holy Orders, etc.). That would have been quite an undertaking! Imagine developing a course of instruction for a parish with just 500 families -- all age groups involved; daunting to say the least but it could be done.
Option 2: Allow for vernacular translations of the Mass (the Traditional Latin Mass, not a newly invented form of the Mass), and allow those to be said on certain days (ferias, etc., but not on Sundays or Solemnities). This certainly would have been less jarring to the faithful than what did happen!
This latter option would have allowed for a clear and consistent continuity with the ancient Mass without losing the anchor of Tradition. After all, when the Mass was first translated into Latin from the original Greek, it was likely a challenge to the faithful of that day. This second option also would have avoided virtually every modern abuse of the rubrics because the rules would not have to be changed or simplified (as they were for the Novus Ordo).
In that vein, when the Anglicans came along and asked to be received into full communion (you all know what I am referring to, right?) with the Holy See the Sarum Use (in it's original Latin) could have been developed as the primary form for the Ordinariates (I would be happy to have learned it), and the English form we have now would fit as the alternate (for ferias, etc.). [By the way, this is not a bad idea, even now!]
No, it is true that this is not where we are at today, and I have no idea if we will ever get to this point. Yet, in this time of confusion--where we need to stay faithful and seek how to behave in the future in order to eliminate the liturgical bedlam (and it's consequences) that we are experiencing in so many places--this unused option can clearly enlighten our actions and choices today. Will we allow it to?