Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cardinal Prefect of CDW on Liturgy as the Source and Summit, the Wider Application of Summorum Pontificum, on Continuity and a New Liturgical Movement

A very interesting interview with the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, has been published by Paolo Rodari and Il Foglio on January 9th, 2010.

[Note: The blogger over at The New Theological Movement (you read that correctly) has done a partial translation of this same interview, which he kindly notified me of, and to give credit where it is due, I used some of his translation as the beginning point for our own NLM translation, going through it and the original interview, making our own revisions from that basis. From that, I have further added the other paragraphs which pertain to the sacred liturgy.]

Here are the relevant liturgical excerpts, which forms most of what Rodari presents us with. The bolded emphases are from the NLM.

The former archbishop of Toledo and primate of Spain, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, has led the Vatican "ministry" which concerns itself with the liturgy for a little over a year now. A delicate task in a pontificate, such as that of Benedict XVI, in which the liturgy and its "restructuring" has a central role after the post conciliar drift. Indeed, the liturgy is the centre of the life of the faithful. The Pope said it again at Christmas: as for the monks, so it is for every man, "the liturgy is the first priority. Everything else comes after." It is necessary, "to put in second place all other occupations, as important as they may be, to set out toward God, to allow Him to enter into our life and our time."

Cardinal Cañizares says as much to Il Foglio and more in an assessment after having passed one year in the Roman Curia:

"I have received -- he explains -- the mission to complete, with the valuable and indispensable help of my team, those tasks that are assigned to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus of John Paul II with respect to the order and promotion of the sacred liturgy, in the first place of the sacraments. For the religious and cultural situation in which we live and for the same priority which corresponds to the liturgy in the life of the Church, I believe that the primary mission which I have received is, with total dedication and engagement, to promote, revitalize and develop the spirit and true sense of the liturgy in the consciousness and life of the faithful; that the liturgy becomes the centre and the heart of the community; that all, priests and faithful, consider it as substantive and indispensable in our lives; that we live the liturgy in the fullness of truth, and of it, which is in its fullness, as the Second Vatican Council says, "the source and summit" of the Christian life. After a year at the head of this Congregation, every day I hope and I feel more strongly the need to promote in the Church, and on every continent, a strong and rigorous liturgical impulse to re-vivify the rich legacy of the Council and of the great Liturgical Movement of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century -- with men like Guardini, Jungmann and many others – brought to fruition by the Church at the Second Vatican Council. There, no doubt, is our future and the future of the world. I say this because the future of the Church and of all humanity is placed in God, in the life of God and that which comes from Him, and this happens in the liturgy and through it. Only a Church which lives the truth of the liturgy will be able to give the one thing which can renew, transform and recreate the world: God and only God and His grace. The liturgy, in its purest character, is the presence of God; God’s saving work and regeneration, communication and participation in His merciful love, adoration, acknowledgement of God. It is the only thing that can save us."

Guardini, Jungmann; two pillars of the liturgical renewal of the past decades. Figures which inspired Joseph Ratzinger in his The Spirit of the Liturgy; figures which have probably even inspired the promulgation of the Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum. It is said that the Motu Proprio was also (some say first and foremost) a hand of the Pope to the Lefebvrists. Is that so?

"In fact, it is, but I think the Motu Proprio has a great value in and of itself, for the Church and for the liturgy. Although some regret this -- judging from the reactions that have arrived and which continue to arrive -- it is right and necessary to say that the Motu Proprio is not a step back nor a return to the past. It is to recognize and accept, with simplicity, in all its breadth and history, the great treasures of the tradition, which has in the liturgy its most genuine and profound expression. The Church cannot afford to disregard nor give up the treasures and rich legacy of this tradition contained within the Roman Rite. It would be a betrayal and denial of herself. We cannot abandon the historical legacy of the Church’s liturgy, nor desire to establish everything from anew - as some would claim - without amputating the body of the Church. Some understood the conciliar liturgical reform as a rupture, and not as an organic development of the tradition. In those years after the Council, "change" was an almost magical word; it was necessary to change that which had been, to the point of forgetting it; everything new; it was necessary to introduce newness after a human work and creation. We cannot forget that the post-conciliar liturgical reform coincided with a cultural climate intensely marked and dominated by a conception of man as 'creator' which hardly goes well with a liturgy which, above all, is the action of God and His priority, a "right" of God, the worship of God and also the tradition which we receive and we are given once and forever. The liturgy is not of our doing, it is not of our making, but this conception of man as 'creator' leads to a secularized vision of everything, where often, God does not have a place; this passion for change and the loss of tradition has not yet been surpassed, and this, in my opinion, among the other things, has meant that some saw the Motu Proprio with much distrust or that they dislike welcoming it and implementing it, re-visiting the great wealth of the Roman liturgical tradition which we cannot squander, or seeking and accepting the mutual enrichment between the two forms of the one Roman rite, “ordinary” and “extraordinary”. The Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, is of great value which we should all appreciate has not only to do with the liturgy, but with the whole of the Church’s being and what it means to tradition, without which the Church is converted into a changing human institution, and of course, also has an application to the reading and interpretation that is made of Vatican II. When one reads and interprets it in the light of rupture or discontinuity, one does not understand anything of the Council and distorts it. For this reason, as the Pope indicates, only a “hermeneutic of continuity” leads us to a right and correct reading of the Council, and to a knowledge of what it says and teaches as a whole, and particularly in the Constitution of the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, which is inseparable, furthermore, from that same whole. The Motu Proprio, therefore, also has a very significant value for the communion of the Church.

The Pope pursues the slow but necessary process of the rapprochement of the Church in a true spirit of the liturgy. Yet there are divisions and conflicts. Cardinal Cañizares speaks about it:

"The great contribution of the Pope, in my opinion, is that he is leading us toward the truth of the liturgy, with a wise teaching he is bringing us to a genuine 'spirit' of the liturgy (the title of one of his works before he became Pope). He is, first of all, following a simple process of education which seeks to move toward this 'spirit' or genuine meaning of the liturgy, to overcome the wide-spread reductionist vision of the liturgy. His teachings, so rich and abundant in this area before becoming Pope, as well as his evocative gestures which accompany the celebrations at which he presides, move in this direction. We must welcome these actions and lessons if we are are to live the liturgy in a way that is appropriate to its proper nature, and if we do not wish to lose the treasures and heritage of the liturgical tradition. This also constitute a great gift for the formation, so urgent and necessary, of the Christian people. It is from this perspective that we should see the Motu Proprio, which confirmed the possibility of celebrating the rite of the Roman Missal approved by Pope John XXIII and which goes back, with successive modifications, to the time of St. Gregory the Great and even earlier. It is certain that there are many difficulties for those who use what is their right, celebrating or participating in the Mass in accordance with the “ancient” or “extraordinary” rite. Here, there need not be this opposition, nor should it be viewed with suspicion or be labeled as “pre-conciliar” or, even worse, “anti-conciliar”. The reasons for this are many and varied, but are basically are the same as those which led toward reform of the liturgy, not understood as a break in the tradition but of the hermeneutic of continuity, which demands renewal and the true liturgical reform in the light of Vatican II. We cannot forget, moreover, that the liturgy touches that which is most important to the Faith and the Church and, for this reason, every time one altered something in history of the liturgy, tensions and divisions have not been insignificant.”

In the address of Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia, on the 22nd of December 2005, the need to read Vatican II, not from a perspective of discontinuity with the past, but continuity, has become central one in the current pontificate. From the liturgical point of view what does this mean?

"It means, among other things, that we cannot bring about the renewal of the liturgy and put it as the source and centre of the Christian life, if we place before ourselves the [interpretive] key of rupture with the tradition that precedes us, and which carries this rich source of life and gift from God that has nourished and given life to the Christian people. The teachings, signs and gestures of Benedict XVI are fundamental in this sense. For this we must encourage the peaceful and profound knowledge of what he said before becoming Pope, and that is so clearly reflected, for example, in his Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis."

The Congregation that Cañizares presides over met last March in a plenary session and presented some propositions to the Pope.

"The plenary assembly of the Congregation was mainly occupied with Eucharistic adoration, the Eucharist as adoration, and adoration outside of Holy Mass. Some conclusions were approved and then presented to the Holy Father. These findings, which provide a plan for the work of the Congregation for the coming years, the Pope has ratified and encouraged. They all move in the direction of reviving and promoting a new liturgical movement which, faithful to all the teachings of the Council and following the teachings of Benedict XVI, places the liturgy in the central place which corresponds to it's life within the Church. The conclusions of the propositions regard the impulse and the promotion of adoration of the Lord, the base of the worship that should be given to God, and of the Christian liturgy; inseparable from faith in the belief in the Real and Substantial Presence of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist, is absolutely necessary for the Church’s life. To curb abuse, which are unfortunately many, and to correct them is not something that derives from the plenary assembly, but it is something which the liturgy deserves, the life and future of the Church and communion with it. On this, on the many liturgical abuses and correction of them, the Congregation issued an important statement a few years ago, 'Redemptionis Sacramentum', it is an urgent duty to correct existing abuses if we as Catholics are to bring something to the world to renew it. The propositions are not concerned with hindering creativity, but rather to encourage, promote, revitalize the truth of the liturgy, in its authentic sense and genuine spirit, we cannot forget or ignore that liturgical creativity as it is often understood and meant is a hindrance to the liturgy and the cause of its secularization, because it is in contradiction with the nature of the liturgy itself."

Can you talk about proposals on the use of the Latin language?

"They [the propositions] do not say anything about giving more space to the Latin language, including in the Ordinary Form, nor of the publishing of bilingual missals, as in fact was already done in some places after the conclusion of the Council; we should not forget that the Council in the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium does not dispense with Latin, the venerable tongue to which the Roman rite is bound.

There are then very other important matters, orientation...

"We do not raise the issues of 'versus Orientem', nor of communion on the tongue, nor other aspects that sometimes bring out accusations of “steps backwards”, of conservativism or elitism [involuzione / self-concernedness]. I believe that these issues, orientation, a crucifix visible on the centre of the altar, communion kneeling and on the tongue, the use of Gregorian chant, are important matters than cannot be made light of in a frivolous or superficial manner and of which, at any rate, one should speak with a full knowledge of the facts and with a foundation, as does, for example, the Holy Father, and also seeing how these things correspond more (and also encourage) the true nature of the celebration, just as active participation does, in the sense in which it is spoken of by the Council and not in other senses. What is important it is that the liturgy in celebrated in its truth, with truth, and that the sense and the spirit of the liturgy be encouraged and intensely promoted in the whole people of God, in such manner that they live from it; it is very important that the celebrations have and can foster the sense of the sacred, of mystery that revivifies the belief in the real presence of the Lord and the gift of God acting in it, such as adoration, respect, reverence, contemplation, prayer, praise, the action of grace, and many other things that run the risk of being watered down. When I participate in or see the liturgy of the Pope, which has already incorporated some of these elements, I am increasingly convinced that these elements are not unimportant, but instead have an expressive and educational power in and of themselves and in the truth of the celebration, and the lack of which is felt [when absent]."


Published by Il Foglio, Saturday, January 9, 2010

Read the entire article in Italian: Paolo Rodari: Palazzo Apostolico

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: