Vatican Radio reports that in addressing the the 68th Italian National Liturgical Week, Pope Francis noted that “we can assert with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.”
In his address he focused on three points:
- The “living Christ” is at the heart of the liturgical action.
- The liturgy is “popular” rather than “clerical”—it is enacted both for and by the people of God.
- The liturgy is more about life than ideas.
This last point seems to reflect Francis’s oft-repeated adage that “Realities are more important than ideas” (e.g. Evangelii Gaudium nn. 231-233).
In his remarks declaring that the reform is “irrevesible,” Francis seems to be signaling a couple of things.
- He is dubious about any resorationist “reform of the reform.” While some elements of the liturgy that were abandoned in the course of the reforms of the 1960s might be reintroduced (e.g. the way the Pentecost Vigil was restored in RMIII), there will be no wholesale movement toward something resembling the Mass of the 1962 Missal (as some “traditionalist” liturgists might hope).
- The work of liturgical reform is ongoing. But Francis does not seem to conceive of this work in terms of more ritual revision (as some “progressive” liturgists might hope), but rather of continued internalizing the reforms of 50 years ago.
In general, Francis seems to think that we don’t need more “reform” of our liturgies, but rather the on-going reform of the assemblies that celebrate those liturgies. As he says,“it is not enough to reform the liturgical books; the mentality of the people must be reformed as well.” Furthermore, the direction of that reform should be in continuity with the direction set in Sacrosanctum Concillium.