Ahead of the Year of Faith and the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Benedict XVI has taken the opportunity to explain why he saw a need to introduce his own liturgical renewal after the Council – what some have labelled his “reform of the reform.”

In a video address (full text) to participants of the International Eucharistic Congress that concluded in Dublin on Sunday, the Holy Father noted “many misunderstandings and irregularities” subsequent to the Council’s liturgical renewal. Instead of increasing “active participation” of the faithful, he observed, the revision of liturgical forms remained at the external level.

“Hence much still remains to be done on the path of real liturgical renewal,” he continued. “In a changed world, increasingly fixated on material things, we must learn to recognize anew the mysterious presence of the Risen Lord, which alone can give breadth and depth to our life.”

The Pope’s emphasis on the need for further renewal laid the basis for his expected reflections on the clerical sex abuse scandal in Ireland.

He began by underscoring how the Mass and the Eucharist have shaped Ireland, spreading the Good News of God’s love and forgiveness “well beyond your shores,” and leaving “a great history of faith and love.”

But Ireland, he said, had been “shaken in an appalling way by the revelation of sins committed by priests and consecrated persons against people entrusted to their care.” Instead of showing them the path towards Christ and bearing witness to his goodness, “they abused people and undermined the credibility of the Church’s message,” he said.

“How are we to explain the fact that people who regularly received the Lord’s body and confessed their sins in the sacrament of Penance have offended in this way?,” he asked. “It remains a mystery. Yet evidently, their Christianity was no longer nourished by joyful encounter with Jesus Christ: it had become merely a matter of habit.”

The Pope added that the Council was “really meant to overcome this form of Christianity”, to rediscover the faith as “a deep personal friendship with the goodness of Jesus Christ.”

He called on the Lord to again bestow on the faithful the power of the Holy Spirit, as he breathed the Holy Spirit on the first apostles, “and so help us to become true witnesses to his love, witnesses to the truth.”

“His truth is love,” he said. “Christ’s love is truth.”

The Holy Father concluded by announcing the next International Eucharistic Congress will take place in Cebu, in the Philippines, in 2016.

Video courtesy of Salt and Light TV