There has been a lot of talk online about Cardinal Sarah’s recent interview with the online paper Aleteia. Cardinal Sarah is the new Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship.
I do not know much about Cardinal Sarah. I do not know the full context in which he gave his interview. Perhaps his words were distorted, or perhaps the larger context of the interview would shed better light on what he said. Nevertheless, how the Prefect for the CDW under Pope Francis could argue the following is beyond me:
The Second Vatican Council never asked for the rejection of the past and the abandonment of the Mass of Saint Pius V, that formed so many saints, not even to leave Latin behind. But it is necessary at the same time to promote the liturgical reform willed by the Council itself.
Perhaps I am missing something.
How is it that Cardinal Sarah can hold: 1) the Second Vatican Council did not call for the abandonment of the Mass of Saint Pius V, and 2) nevertheless the Council willed liturgical reform? These two statements seem incompatible.
First, the Mass had long since departed from the Mass of St. Pius V as celebrated in the missal he promulgated. To equate the Tridentine Mass and the Missal of 1962 exclusively with the Mass of St. Pius V neglects the fact that revisions, however small, were carried out under Clement VIII, Urban VIII, Leo XIII, Pius X and Benedict XV, Pius XII, and John XXIII. To claim that the Mass of Pius V was the Mass celebrated by the time of the council’s opening in 1962 is simply inaccurate. It would be more proper to say that the Second Vatican Council did not seek the abandonment of the 1962 Missal, though even that is inaccurate because the council clearly calls for liturgical reform and thus a new typical edition of the Roman Missal.
Second, of course the council sought the “abandonment” of the Mass of St. Pius V, just as the Tridentine reforms sought the “abandonment” of the pre-Tridentine Mass, despite however much the Mass of Pius V is similar to the pre-Tridentine liturgy. Sacrosanctum Concilium in its opening paragraph “sees particularly cogent reasons for undertaking the reform and promotion of the liturgy.” (par. 1) Given the historical context, it is simply preposterous to claim that the council did not envision a liturgical reform along the lines of the reforms advocated by the Liturgical Movement.
Not once does Sacrosanctum Concilium express concern about the Liturgical Movement as a whole, or call into question its main tenets. Sacrosanctum Concilium embraces those tenets when it says: “the general laws governing the structure and meaning of the liturgy must be studied in conjunction with the experience derived from recent liturgical reforms and from the indults conceded to various places.” (par. 23) This is a clear gesture to the Liturgical Movement as is the section on the Promotion of Pastoral-Liturgical Action. Par. 43 of that section begins by saying that “zeal for the promotion and restoration of the liturgy is rightly held to be a sign of the providential dispositions of God in our time, as a movement of the Holy Spirit in His Church.” (par. 43). Yet another tip of the hat to the Liturgical Movement. The phrase calling for a “restoration of the liturgy” also points to a call for major liturgical reform.
It is very clear, given the context in which Sacrosanctum Concilium was written, that the council fathers believed that Vatican II would mark a new chapter in the Roman Rite that was connected to its past expression but also markedly different.
That being said, one can question whether the council fathers had in mind such a grand-sweeping reform, along the lines of that carried out by the Consilium after the council, when they voted on Sancrosanctum Concilium. It can be argued that they did not. However, many council fathers were quick to ask for indults and permissions which went beyond the scope of Sancrosanctum Concilium in the years immediately following its promulgation. The near-exclusive usage of the vernacular is a case in point.
I find it hard to understand how the current Prefect for the CDW could make such a historically inaccurate claim. If he were to have said that the work and reforms of the Consilium went further than the council documents envisioned, many would agree. I could understand if he said that the council did not ask for such a radical reform of the liturgy. However, it seems a bit naive to state that the council fathers did not set in motion a reform of the liturgy which would bring the Tridentine era to a close and initiate a new post-Vatican II liturgical era.
I have faith that Pope Francis knew what he was doing when appointing Cardinal Sarah. I believe that Cardinal Sarah knows that the liturgical future of the Roman Rite lies in the post-Vatican II era, and not in the Tridentine one.
I hope that since the post-Vatican II liturgy has been established as the norm for the Roman Rite, Cardinal Sarah will look at ways to enrich that form instead of lamenting the loss of its predecessor.
As always, IMHO,