Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Alcuin Reid Interview on Cardinal Sarah and Sacra Liturgia

Catholic World Report has published an excellent interview with Dom Alcuin Reid, in which inter alia he discusses some of the issues that have arisen from Cardinal Robert Sarah’s proposal, made during the recent Sacra Liturgia conference in London, that priests exercise the use of a perfectly licit option and begin to celebrate Mass ad orientem more frequently. Dom Alcuin’s words are very useful in shedding the light of truth on some of the false statements, and calming some of the hysteria, that have arisen from the Cardinal’s perfectly reasonable words - it is very much worth your time to read the full text  linked above from CWR, of which we here reproduce some of the more excerpts.

CWR: Why did Cardinal Sarah choose to focus on the issue of orientation?

Dom Alcuin Reid: The Cardinal has emphasized the importance of facing East before – in the Vatican newspaper (June 12, 2005) and in the French journal Famille Chrétienne this past May. So it could be expected that he would speak on this again. Perhaps, though, his appeal to priests to adopt this beautiful practice “with prudence and with the necessary catechesis, certainly, but also with a pastor’s confidence that this is something good for the Church, something good for our people” from the first Sunday of Advent this year added an immediacy that his previous mentions of this did not have. I imagine that he wanted not just to talk about this, but to encourage priests to begin the necessary work of formation so as to implement it. ...

There are many, many other important things contained in the Cardinal’s Address. We should not forget that, as its title indicates, he was exploring ways in which we can be more faithful to the Second Vatican Council’s desires for the Sacred Liturgy. People should carefully read the full and official text which was published on Monday in English and French at his direction. It is a mine of profound insights and practical reflections on how to implement the Council more faithfully today. ...

CWR: Have you been surprised by the response outside the conference and by the Vatican’s “clarification”?

Dom Alcuin Reid: It has to be said that some responses on internet sites and even in prominent journals have been astonishing. To accuse Cardinal Sarah of lying in respect of what Pope Francis has said to him about continuing the work of the Pope Emeritus or about studying a possible reform of the reform, or to say that the Holy Father ‘slapped down’ the Cardinal, is patently absurd and utterly untrue. No one who has the privilege of knowing the man, or indeed who has read his recent book God or Nothing, could believe him to be a liar. A more humble and honest priest and bishop one could not wish to find! And there is no evidence from the Vatican’s statement, or elsewhere, that the Holy Father was either angry with him or rebuked him. It is quite normal to clarify false reports: that is what has been done – though the clarification itself could perhaps do with some clarification!

Cardinal Sarah remains in post and his Address has not been withdrawn. Indeed, it should be noted that he asked us to publish it after his meeting with the Holy Father, and he has withdrawn nothing of what he said in London.

It is clear, though, that his Address has touched a very raw nerve amongst those who have turned certain modern liturgical practices– such as celebrating Mass facing the people – or indeed the whole of the modern liturgy, into an idol. And it is well known that Curial officials have abhorred any use of the term “reform of the reform” for many years lest their idol be in some way impugned. Cardinal Sarah has dared to challenge such prejudices and, seemingly, those who murmur in the shadows have been busy whipping up a storm so as to distract from what the Cardinal in fact said. They have not responded to his arguments or his proposals with counter arguments. Rather, they have set up straw men and screamed hysterically at the sight of the creations of their own minds.

Once again I would say, and emphatically: read the Cardinal’s full text. Engage with what it says. Ponder the fact that this is not a point-scoring salve in the so-called liturgy-wars, but the profound personal reflections of a priest, bishop and cardinal who was called – apparently against his will – by Pope Francis to serve as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. There may well be other approaches, but those he propose at least deserve a respectful and serious hearing. (end excerpts)

Our writer Matthew Hazel was present for Sacra Liturgia; you can read his accounts of each days events at the following links. Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4. Extracts from the various talks are also available via the Sacra Liturgia Facebook page.

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