Pope Benedict: Church’s liturgy goes beyond conciliar reform

VATICAN CITY, 6 MAY 2011 (VIS) – Today the Holy Father received participants in the Ninth International Congress on the Liturgy sponsored by the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of Rome’s St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum, on the fiftieth anniversary of its foundation.

The Pope recalled that “Blessed John XXIII, recognizing the requests of the liturgical movement that sought to give new impetus and a new spirit to the Church’s prayer, shortly before Vatican Council II and during its celebration, asked the faculty of Benedictines on the Aventine Hill to establish a center for study and research to ensure a solid basis for conciliar liturgical reform.”

Referring to the title chosen for the congress: “The Pontifical Liturgical Institute: Between Memory and Prophecy,” the Pope said that the “‘memory’ pertains to the very life of the Institute that has offered its contribution to the Church dedicated to the reception of the Second Vatican Council over fifty years of academic liturgical formation.”

Benedict XVI highlighted that “with the term ‘prophecy,’ our gaze opens to new horizons. The Liturgy of the Church goes beyond the ‘conciliar reform,’ the objective of which in 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 center 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 Holy Father concluded, expressing the wish that the “Faculty of Sacred Liturgy continue its service to the Church with renewed enthusiasm, in full fidelity to the rich and valuable liturgical tradition and to the reform desired by Vatican Council II, in accordance with the magisterial directives of the Sancrosanctum Concilium and the pronouncements of the Magisterium.”


  1. Mary;

    I often point out this particular provision when there is a discussion about Collegiality or the Authority of Bishop’s conferences, etc… noting that such concepts are vague at best.

    All such authority in the church is exercised subject to that of “The First See” (The Holy See) and, in a sense, at their pleasure.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “Why bother?” Do you mean “why bother discussing and debating interpretation of liturgical issues when the final say will be dictated to us?” If that’s what you mean, I totally agree. Much better to spend one’s time learning how to do what is given to us then trying to discern ways to get around doing what we’re told.

    That being said, this is not the most clear pronouncement on liturgical continuity I have heard to date…

  2. “ways to get around doing what we’re told” — again , proof of sanctity from blind obedience.

    Collegiality and the development of episcopal conferences are “vague” so easily written off in favor of the clear teaching of papal primacy. But what theology of papacy is at work here? If the true, orthodox theology of papacy is not subtler than this — if papal primacy means only a sanctified despotism — then there is something sorely amiss. In fact, this was felt for a century after Vatican I — a council whose work was interrupted — and a second council, Vatican II, tried to remedy it by stressing collegiality — to be developed in practical initiatives. These initiatives have come to nothing, because of the suspicions and power-clutching of the Curia; and also because a host of Kool-Aid men of falsely understood obedience, many of them converts from Anglicanism who should know better, have flattered the regressive policies of the Curia.

  3. Seriously, how are people seeing authoritarianism in this?? Pope Benedict has just said what I keep trying to say: that tradition and progress are part of each other.

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