Cardinal Sarah on Devastation to the Liturgy, Paths to Authentic Reform

The Vatican’s liturgy chief speaks of disaster and schism as the consequences of placing man and not God at the center of worship; praises Summorum Pontificum on its 10th anniversary.

Cardinal Robert Sarah.
Cardinal Robert Sarah. (photo: Paul Badde/CNA)

“We cannot close our eyes to the disaster, the devastation, and the schism that the modern promoters of a living liturgy have provoked by remodeling the liturgy of the Church according to their ideas,” Cardinal Robert Sarah has said.

“They forgot that the liturgical act is not only a prayer, but also and especially a mystery within which something is realized for us that we cannot understand entirely, but which we must accept and receive in faith, love, obedience, and an adoring silence.”

The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments spoke these words March 31 at a talk given in his absence in Herzogenrath, near Aachen in northwest Germany, to mark the 10th anniversary of the publication of Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

The Guinean cardinal called for a recognition of “the serious and profound crisis” which, since the Council, has affected the liturgy by placing man and not God at the center of worship.

“Relativism in doctrinal, moral, and disciplinary teaching, grave abuses, the desacralization and rendering banal of the sacred liturgy, and a purely social and horizontal view of the mission of the Church” have penetrated ecclesiastical life, he said.

And he added that an “increasing number” of clerics consider the new “springtime” to actually be a “rejection, a renouncing of her age old heritage, or even a radical calling into question of her past and Tradition.”

To combat this, Cardinal Sarah spoke of a “decisive process” in the “liturgical movement” that would involve three paths: silence, adoration, and formation.

He added that "particular care" must be brought to the liturgy, holding in high esteem its "beauty, its sacredness, and the maintaining of the right balance between fidelity to the Tradition and legitimate evolution, and therefore absolutely and radically rejecting any hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture." 

"These are the heart and the essential elements of all authentic Christian liturgy," the cardinal said. 

And he concluded by calling on the faithful to apply Summorum Pontificum “with great care”, not as a “negative and regressive measure”, but as an “important and genuine contribution to the current and future liturgical life of the Church.”

Summorum Pontificum, Benedict XVI's 2007 Apostolic Letter issued motu proprio (i.e., on his own initiative), re-established in its legal right the Tridentine Mass used by Blessed John XXIII in 1962, and clearly acknowledged it had never been abrogated. 

Catholic World Report have an exclusive translation of the complete text which is published here

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