Skip to comments.Vatican liturgical official makes new plea for 'reform of the reform'
Posted on 02/24/2009 9:49:47 AM PST by NYer
A key Vatican official has called for "bold and courageous" decisions to address liturgical abuses that have arisen since the reforms of Vatican II.
Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, cites a flawed understanding of Vatican II teachings and the influence of secular ideologies are reasons to conclude that-- as then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said in 1985-- "the true time of Vatican II has not yet come." Particularly in the realm of the liturgy, Archbishop Ranjith says, "The reform has to go on."
Archbishop Ranjith, who was called to the Vatican personally by Pope Benedict to serve as a papal ally in the quest to restore a sense of reverence in the liturgy, makes his comments in the Foreword to a new book based on the diaries and notes of Cardinal Fernando Antonelli, who was a key figure in the liturgical-reform movement both before and after Vatican II.
The writings of Cardinal Antonelli, Archbishop Ranjith says, help the reader "to understand the complex inner workings of the liturgical reform prior to an immediately following the Council." The Vatican official concludes that implementation of the Council's suggested reforms often veered away from the actual intent of the Council fathers. As a result, Archbishop Ranjith concludes, the liturgy today is not a true realization of the vision put forward in the key liturgical document of Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium (doc).
Specifically, Archbishop Ranjith writes:
Some practices which Sacrosanctum Concilium had never even contemplated were allowed into the Liturgy, like Mass versus populum, Holy Communion in the hand, altogether giving up on the Latin and Gregorian Chant in favor of the vernacular and songs and hymns without much space for God, and extension beyond any reasonable limits of the faculty to concelebrate at Holy Mass. There was also the gross misinterpretation of the principle of "active participation."
The Sri Lankan prelate argues that it in order to carry out a "reform of the reform," it is essential to recognize how the liturgical vision of Vatican lI became distorted. He praises the book on Cardinal Antonelli for allowing the reader to gain a better understanding of "which figures or attitudes caused the present situation." This, the archbishop says, is an inquiry "which, in the name of truth, we cannot abandon."
While acknowledging "the turbulent mood of the years that immediately followed the Council," Archbishop Ranjith reminds readers that in summoning the world's bishops to an ecumenical council, Blessed John XXIII intended "a fortification of the faith." The Council, in the eyes of Pope John, was "certainly not a call to go along with the spirit of the times."
However, he continues, the Council took place at a time of great worldwide intellectual turmoil, and in its aftermath especially, many would-be interpreters saw the event as a break from the prior traditions of the Church. As Archbishop Ranjith puts it:
Basic concepts and themes like Sacrifice and Redemption, Mission, Proclamation and Conversion, Adoration as an integral element of Communion, and the need of the Church for salvation--all were sidelined, while Dialogue, Inculturation, Ecumenism, Eucharist-as-Banquet, Evangelization-as-Witness, etc., became more important. Absolute values were disdained.
Even in the work of the Consilium, the Vatican agency assigned to implement liturgical changes, these influences were clearly felt, the archbishop notes:
An exaggerated sense of antiquarianism, anthopologism, confusion of roles between the ordained and the non-ordained, a limitless provision of space for experimentation-- and indeed, the tendency to look down upon some aspects of the development of the Liturgy in the second millennium-- were increasingly visible among certain liturgical schools.
Today, Archbishop Ranjith writes, the Church can look back and recognize the influences that distorted the original intent of the Council. That recognition, he says, should "help us to be courageous in improving or changing that which was erroneously introduced and which appears to be incompatible with the true dignity of the Liturgy." A much-needed "reform of the reform," he argues, should be inspired by "not merely a desire to correct past mistakes but much more the need to be true to what the Liturgy in fact is and means to us and what the Council itself defined it to be."
Archbishop Ranjith's 10-page Foreword appears in the English-language edition of a book entitled True Development of the Liturgy is written by Msgr. Nicola Giampietro, who serves on the staff of the Congregation for Divine Worship. It will be available in September from Roman Catholic Books.
"The fourth and final thing to remember, and theres no easy way to say it," remarked Archbishop Chaput, is that the "Church in the United States has done a poor job of forming the faith and conscience of Catholics for more than 40 years."
"And now were harvesting the results -- in the public square, in our families and in the confusion of our personal lives. I could name many good people and programs that seem to disprove what I just said. But I could name many more that do prove it, and some of them work in Washington."
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All well and good, NOW. Why didn’t somebody stop it while it was going on? Some people, myself included, fought and were told that there is no room for your kind. Nobody in Rome, nobody in the dioceses, nobody in the churches did anything to stop the destruction.
Marble altars built by our grandparents were smashed; magnificent statues bought and paid for by the poor were thrown away and the Catholic Church is the worse for it. Even while these abuses that the Cardinal speaks of were going on, new documents came from Rome normalizing the abuses. So while his words are finally welcome, it is a little late to shut the barn door after all the livestock have escaped.
To quote Andrew Greeley (in a comment made in America Magazine in 1990): “True liturgical reform in America will only begin when the last guitar is smashed over the head of the last liturgical director.”
I didn’t know that was Andrew Greeley ... and I’m truly shocked that he would think that way ...
In any case I can think of a particular guitar, and a particular head, at my home Parish, that need to meet.
So when the Catholic church essentially said "we don't have the answers, you have to find them" and "all that mystical mumbo jumbo we did for the last 1000 years is bunk" it diminished the church. I think the way back it to once again make it clear that to be a member of the church is a privilege and comes with responsibilities, some of them including sacrifice. This is why radical Islam has grown, because people see that it wont compromise and is certain it is right in all things; that's assuring to many. Until this happens in the catholic church, it will continue to lose influence and relevance.
You are wrong. Those who tried to fight back were under the leadership of more 'progressive' bishops. Some left and joined the SSPX, others were silenced by being assigned to hospital ministry or remote parishes. It's still going on in certain dioceses. It is pitiful to see these aging priests who have been silenced. I pray they are still around to see these bishops retire.
If it’s still going on in some dioceses, then they are not listening to what Rome says - my point. I don’t have to go too far; the new bishop of Wilmington, DE has his minions tell people who want the Old Mass in conformance with the Holy See’s promulgation - be happy that you have it in an old church, whenever we want.
I do realize that many a Vatican official has labeled the reforms introduced by the Vatican II as "irreversible," but if memory serves me well, the Councils and the Church are also "inerrant." If that is so, then why is there even talk of reforming the reform? Something doesn't fit here.
And what responsibility, if any, do popes who presided over these liturgical abuses, have in this matter, or are they simply excused as passive bystanders?
Curious minds would like to know.
As I recall from all that I have read over the past 10 years, VCII was intended to 'reform' the TLM. Again, from what I understand, the Latin Mass was 'sealed' for 500 years. Liturgy is not fixed, it is fluid as exemplified by the evolution of what resulted in the (now) TLM. Once the seal was affixed, the evolution was halted. There are gaps in the old Latin Mass. At certain parts, the priest extends his hands and says "Oremus" (Let us pray) but there is no prayer that follows. These gaps are what most participants anticipated would be addressed. Instead, certain bishops (from around the world) expressed an interest in adjusting the liturgy to suit their culture - hece, liturgical dance, etc. Once the discussions began, more ecclesial interests were addressed in the actual documents. What went wrong was writing those documents in such a was as to allow for 'interpretation'. For example, there are certain small parishes in the US comprised of immigrants. For them, the loopholes in the documents were interpreted as approving liturgical dance or some other novelty from their culture. Once it began, other parishes caved. Locally, I battled the pastor of my now former parish + the bishop who approved him introducing liturgical dance. The dioces demonstrated their support by citing a VCII document on multiculturism. That did not fly here because there was only one 'immigrant' family in the parish and they were not from a culture where dance was the tradition. In my 2nd response to the diocese, I quoted Canon Law - "every catholic is entitled to a valid liturgy". That ended the potential abuse. No Catholic should have to resort to these means to protect the Mass celebrated at their parish.
This is my understanding of how this all transpired over the past 4 decades. The important point now is that this nonsense is beginning to wind down. The bishops who instituted these changes, for the most part, are retired or nearing retirement age. Attn NT Hockey - you have my sympathy on the situation in your diocese. Like you, our diocese offers the TLM at only one church. Last month, the bishop announced that particular church was being closed, along with several others in that area. That will bring to 66, the number of churches and schools he has closed since becoming bishop 35+ years ago. He will reach mandatory retirement age in just under 5 years. That leaves him ample time to wreck further damage on his diocese.
They also mention "restoration" rather than "reform" of the liturgy. Now, these two words are not synonymous. To restore is to bring out the original luster. You restore an old painting, without changing it. To reform is to a new form, to form again. If the aim of the Church was simply to let in some fresh air, as Pope John XXIII suggested, to restore the vivacity of the Church, then the Council went terribly astray. That much is clear from even a cursory read of the Sacronsanctum Concllium. The aim was to redefine the Catholic Church, not to restore her. They certainly succeeded in that, and four Popes so far have presided over it.
Today, hardly anyone remembers the pre Vatican II Church and that in itself makes the reforms "irreversible." Perhaps Vatican II should be called Reformation II?
My point is that my situation is not unique. This is a common occurance.
I also take issue with your position that “Liturgy is not fixed, it is fluid as exemplified by the evolution of what resulted in the (now) TLM.” This is EXACTLY the same argument that LIBs use in referring to the Constitution.
Pope St. Pius V promulgated the rite of Mass, in perpetuity. The Founding Fathers wrote a document to lead this nation forever. One cannot say that one ruling can be changed, while the other cannot. As Mr. Spock would say, “That is illogical.”
fwiw, the world has gone to hell in a handbasket since roughly the early 1960’s...don’t know there’s any cause and effect thing, but, fwiw.
Although Vatican 2 was misinterpreted ,Our Blessed Lord is still present in the Eucharist -just the same as He is in the Orthodox Church.
It is the same Christ on our alters that is on the Orthodox alters
I never meant to imply that he wasn't, sfa. The sacraments are not invalidated because of the character or the misinterpretation of the validly ordained clergy. The apostolic authority of the catholic and apostolic Church is not diminished by personal vices and failings of some of her members.
Thank you for the clarifying this!
I wish you a blessed evening!
You too, sfa.