Vatican Insider reports that the eight-member Council of Cardinals began this week’s discussion of curial reform by examining the Congregation for Divine Worship, the Vatican’s liturgy office. Earlier it was reported that this wasn’t about any particular issue with liturgy – they had to start somewhere in their examination of the Vatican offices “without giving priority to any particular one for any specific reason.”
Pope Francis has explicitly called for a “decentralization” of the Catholic Church. This could have all sorts of implications for liturgy, an area in which increasing centralization set in under Pope John Paul II and especially Pope Benedict XVI.
Despite the clear directives of the liturgy constitution of the Second Vatican Council Sacrosanctum Concilium that liturgical translations are to be approved by territorial bodies of bishops (i.e. national bishops’ conferences), with Rome certifying (“confirming”) the bishops’ decisions, the 2001 Roman document Liturgiam authenticam re-centralized the approval process, to the point that Rome gives itself the right to impose translations upon any country. The translation agency ICEL (International Commission on English in the Liturgy), which at one time worked under the supervision of the English-speaking bishops’ conferences, was radically re-structured after 2001 to become, in effect, under the supervision of Rome.
The translations in various languages around the world resulting from the highly centralized Liturgiam authenticam regime have met with widespread resistance. In the U.S., research shows that many priests and liturgical ministers dislike the new Missal translation and do not want further translations in this style, but the U.S. bishops so far have ignored their priests and people and pressed on in their obedience to the Roman curia.
In Germany, by contrast, the bishops have become advocates for their priests and people, and defenders of good liturgical texts, in their rejection of the proposed new German-language missal prepared in accord with Liturgiam authenticam. It is said that their is also displeasure with Rome’s heavy-handed micromanaging of liturgical translations in Argentina, the pope’s homeland where he served as archbishop of Buenos Aires before being elected Bishop of Rome.
In another decision with implications for the relationship between Rome and bishops, the 2007 moto proprio Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict gives every priest the right to celebrate Mass according to the books in use before the Second Vatican Council, taking this decision out of the hands of the local bishop who previously had to give his permission.
It is not known what aspects of liturgy were discussed by the Council of Cardinals this week, nor is it known if any concrete proposals are on the table for changes in structures and procedures.
Today’s Daily Bulletin reports that Francis met with morning with Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, prefect (head) of the Congregation for Divine Worship.