Wednesday, October 18, 2006

30 Days interview with Archbishop Ranjith: an excerpt

The Italian journal, 30Giorni (30Days) has a piece up, Liturgia e poveri, tesori della Chiesa, which is an interview with Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Part of that essay includes a discussion on the classical Roman liturgy and Fr. Lang's book on ad orientem, Turning Towards the Lord.

Here follows an (unofficial) translation from the Italian of that portion of the article:

Excellency, the first public action of your Secretaryship for the Congregation of Divine Worship was a conference held on the occasion of the presentation of a book by Uwe-Michael Lang, Oratorian of German origin and resident in London, Turning toward the Lord (Cantagalli, Siena 2006, pp. 150, euro 14.90), which came out on 27 April under the auspices of the Patristic Institute of Augustine of Rome. The volume, issued in German in 2003, contains a preface by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, published for the first time in Italian sul numero of March 2004 of 30Giorni. How did you come upon this book?

RANJITH: I had already read this book and the beautiful preface by then-Cardinal Ratzinger. So when I received the invitation, I immediately accepted. Because it was the occasion for give birth to a very positive debate in the Church. One speaks much of the participation of the faithful in the liturgy. But do the faithful participate more if the priest celebrates facing the people (versus populum) or if he celebrates facing the altar (verso l'altare); it may be that in this case the people detach (si distragga). And is it true participation when, at the sign of peace, in the church one creates a great confusion when some priests sometimes go to give their salutations all the way to the last pew? Does this speak of actuosa participatio, greatly desired by the Second Vatican Council, or simply of a great distraction that helps not at all to follow with devotion the succeeding moments of the Mass - such that at times one forgets even to declaim the Agnus Dei... I repeat, the book by Father Lang was, and is, an extremely useful provocation, right from the introduction, in which Cardinal Ratzinger remembers that the Council never asked to abolish Latin or to revolutionize the direction of liturgical prayer...

One of your interviews [alla Croix del 26 giugno], entitled The Liturgical Reform of Vatican II has never been repudiated (decollata?) and has made a good deal of noise. Can you explain better your judgments about the liturgical reform that occurred after the Second Vatican Council?

RANJITH: These words are beyond dispute. It's not that everything that occurred after the Council has negative value. I said instead that the awaited result of the liturgical reform has not yet appeared. We can ask ourselves whether liturgical life, the participation of the faithful at sacred functions, is higher and better today compared to that which was present during the 1950s. It is alleged as a critical fact that before the Council the faithful did not truly participate at Mass, but assisted passively or made their private devotions. But today, is it really true that the faithful participate in a more elevated and personal spiritual manner? Has it really happened that the many who had been outside the Church, with the new liturgies, are now standing in line to enter the new churches? Has it not been the case instead that many went away and that the churches emptied? Of what reform can we then speak?

A bout of secularization...

RANJITH: Certainly, but this situation is also the fruit of the way we have treated or (better) mistreated the liturgy... In practice, in my view, the sacred hopes of the Council for a more concise and therefore more spiritually fecund liturgy are still ignored. And for that reason there is still much to do, up to the point that the churches fill themselves with new faithful who, during the sacred liturgy, feel themselves truly touched by the grace of God. In a secularized world, instead of searching to elevate hearts toward the grandeur of God, one searches almost, I believe, to reduce the divine mysteries to a banal level.

When you were nominated to the Congregation of Divine Worship, it was written that you had excellent relations with the world of Lefebvre. Is there any truth to that?

RANJITH: I did not know Monsignor Marcel Lefebvre for x reasons (motivi anagrafici), because he was from another epoch. But certainly I had some contact with a few of his followers. But I am not exactly a fan (appasionato) of the Lefebvrians. Unfortunately they have still not in full communion with the Holy See, but what they sometimes say about the liturgy they say with clarity and freshness (a ragion veduta). And for this, they are a cattle-prod that must make us reflect on what we are doing. This does not mean I can be defined as an adherent or a friend of the Lefebvrians. I share a few of their points about what is called "no global" with respect to social justice, but this does not mean that I am one of their adherents... Moreover, the Tridentine Mass is not the private property of the Lefebvrians. It is a treasure belonging to the Church and to us all. As the Pope said to the Roman Curia last year, the Second Vatican Council was not a moment of rupture, but of renovation in continuity. One does not throw away the past, but develop (si cresce) upon it.

This means that the Mass one calls "that of Pius V" in reality was never abolished?

RANJITH: The fact that the Holy See has recently approved the institution, in Bordeaux, of a society of apostolic life directed by the pontificate, characterized by the fact that they use exclusively pre-Conciliar liturgical books [Ed. he speaks of the Institute of the Good Shepherd, in which gathered a few excommunicated "Lefebvrians"] means in an unequivocal way that the Mass of Saint Pius V cannot be considered as abolished by the new missal one calls "that of Paul VI."

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