Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cardinal Cañizares on Liturgical Reforms, Summorum Pontificum

30 Giorni, the prestigious Italian Catholic monthly, has an interview with Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in which he makes some very interesting remarks. Here are some excerpts in an NLM translation and with my emphases:

30 Giorni: Thus you are the first Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship to have celebrated immediately [sc. after being ordained; the question before dealt with his studies during the postconciliar reforms] with the postconciliar Novus Ordo...

Card. Cañizares: Evidently that is so. I have only recently celebrated with the 1962 missal, in 2007, when I ordained two priests of the Institute of Christ the King in Gricigliano, near Florence.

30 Giorni: What memories do you have of this phase of liturgical reform?

Card. Cañizares: I believe that a deepening and a renewal of the liturgy were necessary. But according to how I have experienced it, it was not a perfectly successful operation. The first part of the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium [NLM note: dealing with the general principles and the promotion of the liturgy] has not entered the hearts of the Christian people. There has been a change in the forms, a reform, but no true renewal as requested by Sacrosanctum Concilium. Sometimes there has been change for the simple desire of change with respect to a past perceived as all negative and superseded. Sometimes the reform has been conceived as a rupture and not as an organic development of Tradition. Hence all the problems aroused by the traditionalists attached to the rite of 1962.

30 Giorni: We are talking about a reform, then, which, in fact, has not fully complied with the conciliar mandate?

Card. Cañizares: Most of all I would say that it was a reform which has been applied and above all which has been lived as an absolute change, as if there had to be created an abyss between the preconciliar and the postconciliar, in a context in which "preconciliar" was used as an insult.


30 Giorni: You are also a member of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. How do you assess the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum?

Card. Cañizares: Even if some have received it with ill humour, it was a gesture of extraordinary ecclesial good sense. By it was recognized as fully valid a rite that has nurtured spiritually the Latin Church for more than four centuries. I think that this motu proprio is a grace which will strengthen the faith of traditionalist groups that are already organically present in the Church and which will help the return of the so-called Lefebvrians ... It will also be a help for everyone.

30 Giorni: You have been in contact with the Lefebvrians: what do you think of the withdrawal of the excommunications regarding the bishops and the controversies that have followed?

Card. Cañizares: I have not had contacts with the world so-called "Lefebvrian" world. With respect to the withdrawal of the excommunications my thought is simple.
It was a gesture of free mercy of the Holy Father, to facilitate their full integration into the Catholic Church. It is obvious that this can happen only after they recognize all the Magisterium of the Church, including that expressed by the Second Vatican Council and the recent popes. But we must recognize that unity is inseparable from the cross.

30 Giorni: What about the negationist or reductionist statements regarding the Holocaust by Bishop Williamson?

Card. Cañizares: These are delusions that the Pope and the Holy See have repeatedly and firmly rejected. I hope and pray that they are as soon as possible officially and clearly disowned by the interested party. But I add that it has not been pretty to watch the way in which the Pope has been treated, also by those within the Church, in all of this affair. Fortunately, at least the Spanish Church has issued a nice communiqué in filial support of our great Benedict XVI.

30 Giorni: Back to the liturgy. You as archbishop of Toledo have also celebrated in the most ancient Mozarabic rite ...

Card. Cañizares: In fact every day in the Cathedral of Toledo Mass is celebrated Lauds are recited, also according to this very ancient rite, which survived the Tridentine reform. It must in fact be remembered - and some maybe do not like to do so - that the so-called Missal of St. Pius V did not abolish all previous rites. In fact those rites were "saved" that could boast of at least two centuries of history. The Mozarabic rite - together, for example, with the proper rite of the Dominican order - was among them. So after the Council of Trent there was not an absolute uniformity in the liturgy of the Latin Church.

30 Giorni: What are, beyond those which we already talked about, the issues you will have to address in carrying out this new mission?

Card. Cañizares: To help the Church to follow completely what the Second Vatican Council has indicated in Sacrosanctum Concilium. To help to understand fully what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about the liturgy. To take to heart what the Holy Father - when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - was written about the question, especially in the beautiful book The Spirit of the Liturgy. To take to heart how the Holy Father - assisted by the Office for liturgical celebrations headed by Monsignor Guido Marini - celebrates the liturgy. The papal liturgies in fact have always been, and still are, exemplary for the whole Catholic world.

30 Giorni: In an interview granted in Spain you have praised the Pope's decision to distribute the Eucharist, in the liturgies which he celebrates, only kneeling and only in the mouth. Are there changes to be expected in this regard in universal discipline of the Church?

Card. Cañizares: As is known the current universal discipline of the Church requires that as a norm Communion is distributed in the mouth of the faithful. Then there is an indult that allows, at the request of episcopates, to distribute Communion also on the palm of the hand. This is worth remembering. The Pope, then, to give greater prominence to the due reverence with which we must approach the Body of Christ, wished that the faithful who receive Communion from his hands do so on their knees. This seemed to me a beautiful and edifying initiative of the bishop of Rome. The present norms do not require anyone to do the same. But neither do they prevent it.

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