Wednesday, February 28, 2007
There's Still Hope
Cartoon by Paul Nichols
Back to the Tridentine? It's Up to the Pope
ROME, FEB. 26, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Speculation continues as to whether Benedict XVI will issue a document on a possible reform of the liturgy.
The secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, spoke with Inside the Vatican magazine about rumors of a papal document that would loosen restrictions on the Tridentine Mass.
If he were to issue a document "motu proprio" (on his own initiative), Archbishop Ranjith said that the Holy Father will "decide what is best for the Church."
"The Tridentine Mass is not something that belongs to the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre only," he said. "It is part of our own heritage as members of the Catholic Church."
The Sri Lanka-born prelate added: "It is not so much a matter of the Tridentine Mass or of the Novus Ordo. It is just a question of pastoral responsibility and sensitivity. …
"The Church should always seek to help our faithful to come closer to the Lord, to feel challenged by his message and to respond to his call generously.
"And if that can be achieved through the celebration of the Novus Ordo Mass or the Pius V Mass, well, then space should be provided for whatever is best instead of getting down to unnecessary and divisive theological hair-splitting."
Though noting positive results too, Archbishop Ranjith said that "the post-conciliar reform of the liturgy has not been able to achieve the expected goals of spiritual and missionary renewal in the Church."
"The churches have become empty," the 59-year-old said. "Liturgical freewheeling has become the order of the day, and the true meaning and significance of that which is celebrated has been obscured.
"One has to, then, begin wondering if the reform process had in fact been handled correctly."
Archbishop Ranjith recalled that the Second Vatican Council's constitution on the liturgy does not allow individual priests to modify the Mass.
"In the celebration of the Novus Ordo we have to be very serious about what we do on the altar," the Vatican official explained. "I cannot be a priest who dreams in his sleep about what I will do at the Mass the following day, walk up to the altar and start celebrating with all kinds of novel self-created rubrics and actions.
"The holy Eucharist belongs to the Church. Hence, it has a meaning of its own which cannot be left to the idiosyncrasies of the single celebrant."
Asked about a return to the Tridentine Mass or just a reform of the Novus Ordo, Archbishop Ranjith said: "An 'either-or' attitude would unnecessarily polarize the Church, whereas charity and pastoral concern should be the motivating factors. If the Holy Father so desires, both could coexist."
As to when or if a document "motu proprio" will be issued, "nothing yet is known," but, Archbishop Ranjith said, "it is the Holy Father who will decide. And when he does, we should in all obedience accept what he indicates to us and with a genuine love for the Church strive to help him.
"Any counter attitude would only harm the spiritual mission of the Church and thwart the Lord's own will."