BY STAFF REPORTER
OPE BENEDICT XVI has said the bjective of the Second Vatican ouncil ’s liturgical reforms was ot mainly to change the rites but o put the Mass at the centre of hristian life.
Addressing a group of liturgists ho were meeting for the ninth nternational Congress on the iturgy, organised by the Pontifcal Liturgical Institute of Rome’s t Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum, he Pope said: “The liturgy of the hurch goes beyond the ‘concilar reform’, the objective of which n fact was not mainly to change the rites and texts but rather to renew the mentality and to put the celebration of Christ’s Paschal Mystery at the centre of Christian life and pastoral work.
“Unfortunately the liturgy has perhaps been seen – even by us, pastors and experts – more as an object to reform than a subject capable of renewing Christian life, seeing that ‘a very close and organic bond exists between the renewal of the liturgy and the renewal of the whole life of the Church’.The liturgy... lives a proper and constant relationship between sound traditio and legitimate progressio’, clearly seen by the conciliar constitution Sancrosanctum Concilium at paragraph 23.
“Not infrequently are tradition and progress in awkward opposition. Actually though the two concepts are interwoven: tradition is a living reality that, in itself, includes the principle of development, of progress.” The conference, entitled “The Pontifical Liturgical Institute: Between Memory and Prophecy” lasted three days and focused on the legacy of the liturgy of the past 50 years. The Pope said that Blessed Pope John XXIII had asked the Benedictines to estab lish the institute to help the Church respond to the “urgency of a reform”, which many bishops from around the world were requesting before the Second Vatican Council.
A strong pastoral concern for Catholics around the world required the encouragement of “a more active participation of the faithful in the liturgical celebrations through the use of national languages” and an appropriate “adaptation of the rites in the various cultures, especially in mission lands”, he said.
But the Church’s liturgy, the centre of its existence, could not be changed simply for the sake of change, he said. “From the beginning it was clear that the theological foundation of the liturgy had to be studied in order to avoid falling into ritualism and so that the reform would be justifiable from the point of view of revelation and of continuity with the tradition of the Church,” he said.
Speakers at the conference included Abbot Primate Notker Wolf of the Confederation of Benedictines, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, the prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and veteran liturgist Fr Matias Augé CMF. Fr Augé wrote an open letter in the late 1990s disagreeing with the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger against the possibility of reinstating the use of the older form of the Mass, which has been an important part of Pope Benedict’s approach to the liturgy.
The conference also featured a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the emeritus Archbishop of Brussels-Mechelen, who was among those actively involved in preparing Sacrosanctum concilium, the Second Vatican Council’s document on liturgy.
After being elevated to the pontificate Pope Benedict issued the Motu Proprio Summorum pontificum in 2007 which liberated the use of the 1962 Missal.
The Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas is hosting a large scale conference on Summorum pontificum this week which features prominent members of the Curia including Cardinal Antonio Cafiizares-Llovera who leads the Congregation for Divine Worship and Cardinal Kurt Koch who leads the Pontifical Council for the Promotion for Christian Unity.
Colin Mawby: Page 12