R.C. Liturgy – Pope Francis v. Cardinal Sarah

Pope tells liturgy chief what is and isn’t the norm at Mass

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Pope Francis has expressly told the Vatican’s liturgy chief that the extraordinary form of the Mass should not be the norm.

Francis met with Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, on July 10.

This followed comments by the cardinal at a liturgy conference in London last week.

Cardinal Sarah invited priests to start celebrating the Mass “ad orientem”, towards the liturgical east, from the first Sunday of Advent.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, said that when the Pope visited Cardinal Sarah’s dicastery, Francis expressly told the Guinea cardinal that the “ordinary” form of celebrating the Mass is the one promulgated in the missal by Pope Paul VI.

Francis also said that the “extraordinary” form, while accepted under the means expressed by Benedict XVI in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, shouldn’t become the norm.

At the meeting, it was also decided that a statement should be issued clarifying the cardinal’s remarks.

Fr Lombardi said some of Cardinal Sarah’s expressions had been misinterpreted by the press as a signal that changes in liturgical norms were imminent.

The spokesman also quoted paragraph 299 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal about the placement of altars.

This states that Mass celebrated facing the people is “desirable wherever possible”.

Fr Lombardi said the GIRM remains “fully in force”.

“Cardinal Sarah has always been rightly concerned about the dignity of the celebration of the Mass, in order to adequately express an attitude of respect and adoration of the Eucharistic mystery,” Fr Lombardi added.

But the spokesman rejected the vocabulary of a “reform of the reform” in liturgical practice.

He said that phrase is “at times the source of misunderstandings”.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster wrote to his priests saying that the Mass was not the time for priests to “exercise personal preference or taste”.

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Pope Francis, once again in his pontificate, shows his regard for the reforms of Vatica II as bei9ng ‘The Norm’ that he wants restored to the Church’s social and liturigcal life. Here, the latest controversy has arisen where the conservative (African) prelate in charge of the Vatican’s liturgical commission, African  Cardinal Robert Sarah, has expressed his preference for the pre-Vatican II liturgical use, declaring the new liturgical forms to be a source of confusion and schism for the Church. Here are the basic facts:

“Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, said that when the Pope visited Cardinal Sarah’s dicastery, Francis expressly told the Guinea cardinal that the “ordinary” form of celebrating the Mass is the one promulgated in the missal by Pope Paul VI.

Francis also said that the “extraordinary” form, while accepted (under) the means expressed by Benedict XVI in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, shouldn’t become the norm.”

This, again, proves that the Pope does not approve of reactionary resiling from the Vatican II process of bringing the Liturgy of the Church into a modern understanding of its place in the Church community. No matter that the Head of the ‘Congregation for Divine Worship’ – well-known to be a conservative liturgist – proclaims his preference for a return to the ‘old ways of worship (forgetting that modern Roman Catholics have moved on from so of the antiquated ideas about worship), Pope Francis obviously is concerned for those newer Catholics who have never been part of the pre-Vatican milieu, and for whom the old liturgical ways are a forgotten world. Pope Francis in concerned more for the future life of the Church than for its past antiquities

 

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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