Thomas Reese over at the National Catholic Reporter recently published an article titled “A suggested agenda for the new prefect for Congregation for Divine Worship.” It is well worth the read. Besides outlining what he sees to be the future direction of the CDW under Pope Francis, Reese gives some suggested agenda items for the new prefect of the CDW.
Reese sees “managing liturgical change in the church” as the “greatest challenge facing the new prefect.” In speaking to the confusion surrounding the liturgical changes after the Second Vatican Council, Reese notes:
The Vatican response was to stop all change, crack down on experimentation, and force reluctant bishops to provide the Tridentine Mass to anyone who wanted it long after the vernacular language had firmly taken hold. It also pushed through literal translations of liturgical texts that were difficult to understand. This overreaction caused heartburn among liturgical scholars and, more importantly, pastoral problems in parishes.
Reese believes that “a more intelligent and pastoral approach to liturgical change” requires three things…
- Centers for liturgical research and development – These centers would be places where scholars and artists could develop and test new liturgical practices.
- Market testing – After a new liturgical practice has been “developed and accepted by church officials” it would then be “tested in a variety of pastoral settings.” This would ensure that a newly developed liturgical practice is worthy of being offered to the Church.
- Enculturation – Reese sees enculturation as the most difficult challenge facing the Church today. No matter how difficult, developing enculturated liturgies is the key to successfully transmitting the Christian message. Even the early Church was aware of the need for enculturation.
Beyond managing liturgical change, Reese hopes the new prefect will review the current English translation of the Roman Missal. He sees the 1998 transition done by ICEL as a good point of departure for any review of the current translation.
Reese also thinks the new prefect should take another look at moving the sign of peace to the end of the Liturgy of the Word. He sees this as a possible chance to experiment with centers for liturgical research and development.
The development of new prefaces and Eucharistic prayers would also be beneficial according to Reese. However, any work on liturgical texts should be done with an eye to the common texts of other churches.
While liturgical changes should be on the prefect’s to do list, Reese also thinks the new prefect should review the whole structure of the congregation. It is time to replace many of the consultors and staff, and he recommends making the chairs of the bishops’ conferences’ liturgy committees members of the congregation.
Reese has some interesting agenda items and many of them are on my list as well. What are your thoughts? What should be added to the new prefect’s agenda?