Vatican official says pope will fix liturgical abuses firmly, gently
The Vatican’s top liturgy official said he expects Pope Benedict XVI to move against liturgical abuse with firm teaching and a gentle manner, recognizing that such mistakes often reflect ignorance, not ill will. […]
Cardinal Arinze spoke about the direction of the new papacy in an interview with Catholic News Service in early February. He said he expected important moves — but not a purge — to improve liturgy under Pope Benedict.
„I do not expect an aggressive correction of abuses. I don’t think the pope is going to use the ecclesiastical hammer,“ Cardinal Arinze said. „Pope Benedict has very clear doctrine and convictions. What many people may not know is that he is not rough. He is gentlemanly, in the sense of what the prophet Isaiah said: ‚A bruised reed he will not break,'“ the cardinal said.
Many liturgical abuses, Cardinal Arinze said, are „based on weakness of faith or ignorance“ or on a wrong idea of creativity. Where improper practices occur, it is important to begin identifying them and talking about them, but without harming the people involved, the cardinal said.
That could be one reason the pope is focusing on the bigger faith issues, understanding that the quality of worship reflects knowledge of the faith, he said. A good example, he said, is the pope’s first encyclical, „Deus Caritas Est“ („God Is Love“). […]
The cardinal said he thought that for most people the question is not the Tridentine rite versus the new Mass, but the much more basic issues of faith, love of Christ and the appreciation of the importance of Sunday Mass.
„If a person has these, many of these other problems would fall into line,“ he said.
Cardinal Arinze said one priority that has carried over to the new pontificate is the translation of liturgical texts.
„The pope has said, let the various translations of the Missal proceed quickly, because the people are waiting. These pieces of paper used on Sunday and little leaflets are not ideal. You really need the whole book translated,“ he said.
He said the new Roman Missal, released in Latin in 2002, is 1,300 pages long and has excellent texts, including some new ones, but the people do not have them in their local languages.
The cardinal said he hoped work on the English translation would be completed in two years. He said that would not depend principally on the Vatican, but rather on the priority given the project by bishops‘ conferences. […]
Cardinal Arinze said the main challenge facing his congregation is to encourage a spirit of prayer, which must grow out of faith. He said bringing people to Mass regularly is essential, and it hinges largely on two factors: catechesis and high-quality, faith-filled liturgies.
Celebrating Mass well involves lay ministers, but primarily the priest, who sets a tone through every word and gesture, the cardinal said.
„Suppose a priest comes at the beginning of Mass and says: ‚Good morning, everybody, did your team win last night?‘ That’s not a liturgical greeting. If you can find it in any liturgical book, I’ll give you a turkey,“ Cardinal Arinze said.
Likewise, a priest has to preach well, making sure that his homily offers theological and scriptural enlightenment, and not merely verbal „acrobatics“ to show off how many books he’s read, he said.
The cardinal said that if done well Sunday Mass will not be experienced as a heavy obligation, but as a spiritual banquet, a celebration appreciated by the faithful who are hungry for spiritual nourishment and want to adore God.
„You should not need a commandment to enter such a banquet hall,“ he said.