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The Reform of the Reform

BY Edward Pentin

| Posted 8/24/09 at 12:39 PM

 

Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, a veteran and well-respected Vatican watcher, reported on Saturday that Rome has initiated a major “reform of the reform” of the post-Second Vatican Council liturgical changes to the Mass.

H/t to the Rorate Caeli blog, which has posted a complete translation of Tornielli’s article, published in the Italian newspaper Il Giornale. It says that several “propositiones” for liturgical reforms of the Mass were approved in March by the plenary session of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

According to Tornielli,

The document was delivered to the hands of Benedict XVI in the morning of last April 4 by Spanish Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. It is the result of a reserved vote, which took place on March 12, in the course of a “plenary” session of the dicastery responsible for the liturgy, and it represents the first concrete step towards that “reform of the reform” often desired by Pope Ratzinger. The cardinals and bishops [who are] members of the congregation voted almost unanimously in favor of a greater sacrality of the rite, of the recovery of the sense of Eucharistic worship, of the recovery of the Latin language in the celebration, and of the remaking of the introductory parts of the Missal in order to put a stop to abuses, wild experimentations, and inappropriate creativity. They have also declared themselves favorable to reaffirm that the usual way of receiving Communion according to the norms is not on the hand, but in the mouth. There is, it is true, and indult which, on request of the [local] episcopates, allows for the distribution of the host [sic] also on the palm of the hand, but this must remain an extraordinary fact. The “Liturgy Minister” of Pope Ratzinger, Cañizares, is also having studies made on the possibility to recover the orientation towards the Orient of the celebrant, at least at the moment of the Eucharistic consecration, as it happened in practice before the reform, when both the faithful and the priest faced towards the cross and the priest therefore turned his back to the assembly.

Those who know Cardinal Cañizares, nicknamed “the small Ratzinger” before his removal to Rome, know that he is disposed to move forward decisively with the project, beginning in fact from what was established by the Second Vatican Council in the liturgical constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, which was, in reality, exceeded by the post-conciliar reform which came into force at the end of the Sixties. The porporato, interviewed by monthly 30Days in recent months, had declared regarding this: “At times change was for the mere sake of changing from a past perceived as negative and outdated. Sometimes the reform was regarded as a break and not as an organic development of Tradition.”

For this reason, the “propositiones” voted by the cardinals and bishops at the March plenary foresee a return to the sense of sacredness and to adoration, but also a recovery of the celebrations in Latin in the dioceses, at least in the main solemnities, as well as the publication of bilingual Missals — a request made at his time by Paul VI — with the Latin text first.

The proposals of the congregation, which Cañizares delivered to the Pope, obtaining his approval, are perfectly in line with the idea often expressed by Joseph Ratzinger when he was still a cardinal, as it is made clear [in] his unpublished words on the liturgy, revealed in advanced by Il Giornale yesterday, and which will be published in the book Davanti al Protagonista (Cantagalli [publisher]), presented beforehand at a congress in Rimini. With a significant nota bene: For the accomplishment of the “reform of the reform,” many years will be necessary. The Pope is convinced that hasty steps, as well as to simply drop directives from above, serve no good, with the risk that they may later remain a dead letter. The style of Ratzinger is that of comparison and, above all, of example. As the fact that, for more than a year, whoever approaches the Pope for Communion, have had to kneel down on the kneeler especially placed by the cerimonieri.

The Register contacted the Congregation of Divine Worshiop this morning to obtain more information about the report, but the officials present were unaware of the “propositiones.” Most officials of the congregation, including Cardinal Canizares, are away on vacation until mid-September.