Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cardinal Pell Speaks on the Liturgy and the Lifting of the Excommunications

The Catholic Herald has a number of interesting pieces up today, one is an interview of Luke Coppen with Cardinal Pell, Nothing is being thrust upon anyone.

Here are a few excerpts with the Cardinal's thoughts upon the lifting of the excommunications, the new translation of the modern Roman missal, and other liturgical matters.

So you think it was correct to lift the excommunications of the four?

Yes, I do. I think it's certainly a worthy goal to try to reconcile that wing of the Church. But as I've said, and the Vatican has said, if they are to come back they have to accept basically the teaching of Vatican II, especially the teaching that the state can't coerce belief, even if it happens to be a Catholic state (not that that exists anymore). And they have to accept the condemnation of anti-Semitism.

So you do believe that Vatican II contains certain teachings that all Catholics must sign up to?

Yes. Basically we have to accept the Creeds and there's a hierarchy of truths. But I think it'd be quite incongruous wanting to be formally reconciled with the Church if you explicitly disavow key elements of Vatican II.

As opposed to merely thinking that some of them need more explanation.

Or more development, yes.

I mean, you either agree or disagree with the condemnation of anti-Semitism. It would be quite inappropriate for somebody to be formally reconciled with the Church who was seriously and explicitly anti-Semitic.

On some of the other points, they say the Vatican II text is ambiguous and they say to Rome: "Tell us what they mean and we'll tell you if we agree with it."

I can understand that and we'll see where they go on that. But a couple of times before I think we've been very close to reconciliation with them. I hope it does succeed but on those other occasions we didn't quite get there.

Do you think it will succeed this time?

I've no idea. I wish it well. I haven't been involved in the discussions.

Where do you think the liturgical development is heading?

I don't know. I'm not a professional liturgist. I am keen that we strengthen the vertical dimension of the liturgy, if we can, in the popular understanding, so that it's very obviously not just community-centred, it's God-centred, it's an act of worship. I'm very sympathetic to that. I'm even sympathetic for the Canon of the Mass that the priest has his back to the people.

As something obligatory?

Yes. Now there's nothing like a consensus in favour of that at the moment. I think I would be in favour of it because it makes it patently clear that the priest is not the centre of the show, that this an act of worship of the one true God, and the people are joining with the priest for that.

Another way of acknowledging that: I'm very much in favour of having a crucifix in front of the celebrant during the Mass when we're facing the people.

Between the priest and the people, in front of the altar?

Yes, sometimes it might be flat, sometimes it might be vertical. But that distracts attention away to some little extent from the main celebrant. I think also I find the figure of Christ is a great aid to recollection and prayer while you're saying the Eucharistic Prayer.

As president of the Vox Clara Committee you have been advising the Congregation for Divine Worship on the new English translation of the Mass. Do you hope that the new translation will help to emphasise that vertical dimension of the Mass?

Yes, very much so. I'll be surprised if there's more than a few hiccups when it comes it. I think it will go well. I think people will recognise that it's beautiful and appropriate. We've tried to keep changes to the community responses, the people's parts, to a minimum. The translations are accurate, forceful and some of them in particular are very beautiful.

It looks like it has the potential to be controversial. Some people may say: "This translation is being thrust upon us by Rome."

Nothing's being thrust upon anyone. This matter has gone out repeatedly to the national hierarchies. It's approved by the national hierarchies. The level of change now will be very small in comparison with the enormous changes that were foisted upon the people just after the Second Vatican Council.

Undoubtedly there will be a small element which will try to resist them. I'm quite confident the overwhelming majority of Mass-going people will quickly learn to love them. The quality of the language there will emphasise that we're not talking to the bloke next door. We're worshipping the one true God. Not in old-fashioned, archaic language, but in beautiful, strong and appropriate language. I'm quite confident it will be successful.

Also of interest in this issue:

Bold as Brass by Fr. Anthony Symondson, S.J.

Priests need true sense of Vatican II, says Pope