Catholic Herald on Cardinal Sarah and Liturgy

The British newspaper Catholic Herald has a piece on “the unstoppable rise of Cardinal Sarah.” Now, you have to understand that the Catholic Herald is robustly right-leaning – although their sharpest edges have softened a bit since about March 13, 2013 – so they’re celebrating his rise. This piece considers Sarah papabile, but people who think that likely keep putting out names like him, or Burke, or… well, I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

What the Herald says about his surprising appointment to the Congregation for Divine Worship by Francis is mostly on the mark:

Few, if any, would have predicted that someone so closely associated with the “Ratzingerian” agenda would be appointed to this post just as the fortunes of the Ratzingerian party were manifestly ebbing in Rome. Indeed, it had been given out as virtually certain that the post of prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship would go to Archbishop Piero Marini, a known opponent of Benedict’s strategy for the liturgy. Archbishop Marini, a fluent Spanish speaker, is known to be close to Pope Francis. Why, then, was he thwarted of his rumoured ambition to take the reins of the Church’s liturgical life, in favour of a cardinal who has given voice to the very Ratzingerian (and un-Marinian) conviction that “one cannot encounter God … without trembling, without awe, without profound respect and holy fear”?

The answer is probably that Francis, who has on several occasions had to learn painfully that not even a pope can exercise absolute control over the curial machine, realised that it was not in his interest to provoke a backlash by an appointment so manifestly contrary to the orientations of his predecessor, in a domain that is not one of his priorities. He does not want to re-ignite liturgy wars. And so his charge to the new prefect was a masterful example of his technique of firing a salvo in apparently opposite directions: “I want you to continue to implement the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council … [and] to continue the good work in the liturgy begun by Pope Benedict XVI.”

But to be honest, after nearly three years of watching Francis, I’m still not sure what to make of him when it comes to liturgy. Is liturgy so unimportant to him [insert your favorite “Jesuits and liturgy” joke here] that he didn’t care much about who his man at CDW would be? Or does impeachable pastoral sense tell him that we have to calm down the liturgy wars by throwing a bone to the right by this appointment, while going in the opposite direction with the rest of his pontificate, and while making liturgy as much as possible not an issue? Or does he not mind giving a bit of support to liturgical traditionalists because of his sense that this agenda will eventually die out on its own merits and need not to be confronted directly? Or (now this would be Machiavellian) does he want the face of traditional liturgy (and theology) to be a spokesman known for his harshness and rigidity?

As I say, I don’t know. I rather doubt it’s the last one. But isn’t it one of the three things that even God doesn’t know, what a Jesuit is thinking?

awr

 

38 comments

  1. “Or does he not mind giving a bit of support to liturgical traditionalists because of his sense that this agenda will eventually die out on its own merits and need not to be confronted directly?”

    Fat chance. Look where the vocations are.

    1. @Peter Kwasniewski:
      Re. Peter’s point:

      I don’t know what the statistics are on this, but as a general principle one would have to examine them carefully, as it questionable whether we would be comparing like with like.

      However, the observation I would like to make rests on my (13 years) experience as a Seminary teacher in Liturgical Studies both theoretical and practical.

      Broadly speaking, I found that seminarists are now more ‘trad’ than they were thirty years ago or when I was one myself from 1968 to 1975.

      I wonder whether this has something to do with the context of our experience through those times.

      Living through the liturgical revisions after Vatican II, one might have received from them the impression that Liturgy is something you can change and revise creatively and meaningfully, etc. But, once that initial generation has passed, perhaps we have begun to return to an older notion of Liturgy as something we don’t ‘create’ but which we ‘receive.’

      My experience of those in priestly formation was that for good or ill, they were more respectful of the ‘given’ texts and rites than was my generation.

      The consequence of this is (I hope) that we priests might spend more time on preparing for celebrations of Mass, etc, than we do on ‘planning’ their constituent elements.

      AG.

      1. @Alan Griffiths:

        Alan: “Living through the liturgical revisions after Vatican II, one might have received from them the impression that Liturgy is something you can change and revise creatively and meaningfully, etc. But, once that initial generation has passed, perhaps we have begun to return to an older notion of Liturgy as something we don’t ‘create’ but which we ‘receive.’

        Many in the current generation of seminarians have merely accepted what has always been. The Mass should never be a creative act, so far as a person or people consider themselves able to “form” or “create liturgy”. Mass and the other rites of the church are not lumps of clay on potters’ wheels, subject to guiding (or conflicting) hands, each with an individual vision of the way Mass should arise and transpire.

        Instead “reception” is akin to envisioning ourselves, clergy and lay both, as the clay which is formed identically into the mold of the Mass, and not freely spun. If the Mass is a free and unmerited gift for our salvation, than the human mind is able to offer very little addition to this eternal gift before exhausting itself before what it cannot fully contemplate.

        The audacity of those who think that they can “create liturgy” or “build a new Church” has never failed to amaze and unsettle me. Is there not perfection in the Sacrifice? When one adores and eats this reality beyond temporal reality, does one think he or she can improve upon it? “Reception”, then, is the rejection of a so-called improvement of grace through the quotidian.

  2. It could also be for the simple fact that Sarah, whose previous position was phased out, needed a place to be parked. I also think that there are also implications in the whole Curial re-organization. There is also keeping someone near when you want to keep track of what they are doing. This applies to Burke as well. He did not send these men back to dioceses but seemed to want them in Rome. The only reason I can think of is that he wanted them near. Both men are known to be uber conservatives. Burke likes to keep the drumbeat of that going loud and strong. Sarah is also known to be very traditionalist as you noted. It was interesting to me that PF sent the letter last year to change the rubric on the washing of feet but nothing was done about it until recently.

  3. #2 Mr Kwasnieski, it may be where the vocations are, but down here in Oz it is certainly NOT where the people are. I suspect the agenda will either change or the churches will be empty ….

  4. 1. Benedict’s pontificate and Vatican II are only “opposite directions” from within the perspective of the hermeneutic of rupture.

    2. It is always a mistake to place too much faith in the personality or “policies” of any one particular Pope. Those for whom Benedict could do no wrong may very well be bewildered at present. But those who view Francis in a similar light could find themselves in the same position if Cardinal Sarah steps onto the balcony of St Peters as Benedict XVII or Pius XIII. If we learn not to view the papacy through the distorting ultramontanist lens of the past 200 years, that will be no bad thing.

      1. @Todd Flowerday:
        It depends what you’re breaking away from. But its not rupture as such that is the problem, but the hermeneutic of rupture, which leads us to read the Council and its documents in a wholly distorted light. Is Dei Verbum intelligible without Dei Filius and the debate on the nature of Revelation which followed it? Does Dei Verbum represent a radical break with Dei Filius, or a necessary corrective? And is Sacrosanctum Concilium itself intelligible without Mediator Dei and the analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the liturgical movement which it offers. I would suggest not.

      2. @Fr Richard Duncan CO:
        Perhaps it is relative, as you suggest. Perhaps where some see breaking away, others see movement toward something of God. Isn’t it enough to honor the past, and to see prior documents and initiatives as building blocks? Now that a foundation and frame are set, perhaps it is time to move away from concrete block and to columns, walls, and floors?

        I also agree that it is vital to read and ponder the whole continuum of documents, even the ones which may express that elusive and overlooked virtue, prudence.

      3. @Fr Richard Duncan CO:
        I think to force a hermeneutic of continuity onto Vatican II is to misread it – the evidence is mounting that this is the case in the hands of those who do so. I sometimes wonder whether we should admit that the rupture/continuity language isn’t helpful, and give up on those categories, or whether we should try to apply the categories more accurately than the “continuity” ideology has been doing. Let me attempt the latter.

        There is both continuity and rupture between Vatican II and everything that went before. The most important rupture is the way that it implicitly but clearly retrieves a communal liturgy (entire congregation as actors) and rejects “clerical sacred drama which inspires lay people” such as began in the Carolingian era and was in place in 1962. Preconciliar papal documents are moving in the direction that would end up being Vatican II, but they weren’t there yet. They were still trying to make the Tridentine liturgy work a bit better.

        The rupture of Vatican II is that they bit the bullet, admitted what the problem was, and went to the radical solution: retrieve the earlier part of the tradition and jettison or move beyond everything in between that is in the way. This still leaves room for continuity (there’s still bread and wine and priest and congregation and LoW with Gospel reading etc.etc.). But if you push the continuity ideology and fight against the rupture that really happened, you’ll never get Vatican II right.

        awr

      4. @Anthony Ruff, OSB:
        I suspect that Vatican II is still too recent an event for any of us to make a proper evaluation of it. What was the contemporary view of the Tridentine reform in 1614, 51 years after the Council closed? The implicit view seems to be that it hadn’t got it quite right, inasmuch as nearly every Pope between Pius V and Pius X proposed or initiated some kind of change to the Missal or the Breviary. Perhaps in 200 years time, our successors will still be arguing over what it was that Vatican II was trying to achieve.

        A sobering thought.

      5. @Fr Richard Duncan CO:
        I find it more likely that in two centuries’ time they’ll understand we were largely on track, and that the usual post-conciliar resistance had faded away, as it did with all the other major councils. Hopefully, Christians in the 23rd century will see Vatican II as a beginning, not a fiat, and that we will have escaped the Tridentine freeze that hog-tied Roman Catholicism so much in the second millennium.

      6. @Fr Richard Duncan CO:
        Nah, it’s not sobering at all. The minor changes those Popes made to the Tridentine missal (some of them were a bit more important) all fit perfectly well into the paradigm of what liturgy is issuing from the Council of Trent. No one was evaluating or re-evaluating the work of the Council of Trent – except those who rejected it.

        When you talk about “evaluating” the Second Vatican Council, I have the distinct impression that you mean “deciding whether to accept its paradigm shift or not,” and not “evaluating how best to implement its paradigm shift.”

        The issue, I never tire of repeating, is whether or not one accepts the Second Vatican Council.

        awr

  5. Fr Richard Duncan CO : Those for whom Benedict could do no wrong may very well be bewildered at present.

    Yes; it’s always interesting to me to see those who always referred to Pope Benedict as “the Holy Father” now referring to Pope Francis as “this Pope” and his views described in negative terms. Is he not now the Holy Father? Are popes available for the faithful to evaluate and address differently based on opinions about them? (I think not.)

    1. @Scott Knitter:
      Quite. We should always describe the Holy Father in terms of deference and respect, even if we think that his prudential judgments on this or that matter are misguided.

    2. @Scott Knitter:
      I seem to recall those on the other side of the isle were as disrespectful to Benedict and his ideas as some now are towards Francis. It’s really just the pot calling the kettle black.

  6. In the early days of his papacy, Francis was often referred to in an informal manner as Papa Francesco. The words Holy Father did not sit so well with this man of simple faith and evident humility. We have responded to Papa Francesco appreciatively in a similar manner. And let us be forever grateful for it.

  7. But isn’t Archbishop Roche (the undersecretary of the CDWDS, I think) more of a Vatican II style man who has a lot of influence on the day-to-day work of the Congregation?

  8. Jack Wayne : @Scott Knitter: I seem to recall those on the other side of the isle were as disrespectful to Benedict and his ideas as some now are towards Francis. It’s really just the pot calling the kettle black.

    Jack, I welcome your comments here, which are always thoughtful and reasonable. Here, though, I think you are writing in defiance of plain fact.

    The “trad” crowd has been vicious about Pope Francis, whether it was the early reaction of Rorate Caeli, or the snide insinuations of dozens of other writers and bloggers. Nobody called Pope Benedict a heretic. When a journalist called him “The Rat” and joked about his demise, he was promptly sacked by The Tablet, hardly a “trad” journal. Meanwhile, the “trad” blogs permit dozens of comments, day by day, praying for Pope Francis’s speedy death.

    There is not even remotely a valid “pot calling kettle black” comparison here.

    1. @Jonathan Day:
      And that sacking of Robert Mickens was unfair. I know for a fact that he is a good friend of the emeritus pope who has always called him “Mickens Mouse” and Mickens has always called him “The Ratz” to his face. They have known each other and been good friends for quite some time. His sacking was due to the trad crowd getting themselves into contortions over Bob’s facebook page. In no way is he disrepectful to Benedict.

  9. Father Ruff said, “[b]ut to be honest, after nearly three years of watching Francis, I’m still not sure what to make of him when it comes to liturgy. Is liturgy so unimportant to him [insert your favorite “Jesuits and liturgy” joke here] that he didn’t care much about who his man at CDW would be?”

    Father, I don’t have any difficulty in discerning that which to make of Pope Francis in regard to liturgy. Cardinal Sarah said that when Pope Francis asked him “to accept the ministry of Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, I asked: ‘Your Holiness, how do you want me to exercise this ministry? What do you want me to do as Prefect of this Congregation?’ The Holy Father’s reply was clear. ‘I want you to continue to implement the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council,’ he said, ‘and I want you to continue the good work in the liturgy begun by Pope Benedict XVI.’”

    We also know that Pope Francis has said that the Western Catholics have lost their sense of liturgical reverence and must turn to the Eastern Orthodox to recover their (Western Catholics) sense of liturgical reverence. We also have Pope Francis’ Divine Worship Missal to help us understand his sense of liturgy.

    Jonathan Sommerville

    1. @Jonathan Sommerville:
      Well I’m glad you have no difficulty knowing the mind of Francis on liturgy! Sounds like he agrees entirely with you.

      Francis has said and done at least 100 things concerning liturgy, liturgical renewal, the meaning of Vatican II, and his vision for renewing the Church. Out of all this, you’ve found the two things that support your opinion.

      OK, go with it.

      awr

  10. Tomorrow is the third anniversary of Francis’ election. Oremus pro pontifice. Domine salvum fac eum ad plurimos annos.

  11. Father Anthony Ruff, OSB, said: “I think to force a hermeneutic of continuity onto Vatican II is to misread it…”

    Dear Father Ruff, please let us recall that Pope Francis said the following: “I once told you, dear Archbishop Marchetto, and today I repeat it, that I consider you the best hermeneutical interpreter of the Second Vatican Council.”

    Father, Archbishop Marchetto is a disciple of Pope Benedict XVI’s hermeneutic of continuity. Archbishop Marchetto defends and promotes strongly that view of Vatican II.

    Therefore, Pope Francis has made it clear that to interpret Vatican II via the hermeneutic of continuity is not at all to misread Vatican II.

    Jonathan Sommerville

  12. Father Amthony Ruff, OSB, said “Well I’m glad you have no difficulty knowing the mind of Francis on liturgy! Sounds like he agrees entirely with you. Out of all this, you’ve found the two things that support your opinion. OK, go with it.”

    Dear Father Ruff, I have found, actually, three major things in question in regard to Pope Francis’ liturgical vision for the Church.

    1. Pope Francis exhorted Cardinal Sarah to continue to implement “the good work in liturgy begun by Pope Benedict XVI” (as well as Vatican II’s promotion of liturgy).

    2. Pope Francis’ great gift to the Church, specifically, the Divine Worship Missal, which favors awesome, majestic liturgy.

    3. Pope Francis’ declaration that the Western Church has lost liturgical reverence and, therefore, must turn to Eastern Orthodoxy’s majestic “God-centered” liturgy for inspiration to renew Western Church liturgy.

    Therefore, in unity with Pope Francis, I will follow his lead as I embrace Pope Benedict XVI’s “good work” in regard to liturgy. I embrace Pope Francis promotion of majestic liturgy via the Divine Worship Missal.

    Finally, I embrace Pope Francis’ exhortation to embrace Eastern Orthodoxy’s promotion of awesome, majestic, “God-centered” liturgy.

    Jonathan Sommerville

    1. @Jonathan Sommerville:
      Good, go with it. He’s also said and done a couple dozen other things, but I think it’ll work best for you if you ignore them – it won’t fit what you really want to believe.

      Enough said on this topic.

      awr

  13. @Jonathan Sommerville:
    It might be that traditional liturgy isn’t terribly God-centered. The centering of an individual or even a whole faith community is dependent on internal orientation, not the externals. Schismatic traditionalists may be all about the protest. God is just window dressing. Or an excuse.

    The orientation of liturgy, either in a faith community’s worship or in the Church as a whole isn’t determined by a pope. Like him, it, or not.

    1. #32 @ Todd Flowerday:

      Okay. That is your opinion. Anyway, I simply reported (and several posts of mine have been removed) that which Pope Francis said about Western Church liturgy, which he said has lost reverence. The Pope’s words are on the Vatican web site. Anyway, he has insisted that Eastern Orthodox liturgy is reverent and God-centered. Pope Francis added that is to that liturgy that the Western Church must turn to for inspiration to revive Western Church liturgy. Again, I simply refer to that which Pope Francis has said.

      Jonathan Sommerville.

      1. @Jonathan Sommerville:
        What do you mean by reverence? Are we talking about something that looks, on the surface, like 1950? Looks like a monastery? Does Cardinal Sarah mean a Euro-style imported into Africa? I suspect that Pope Francis would advocate a deeper reverence, in which the care we show to God, symbols, and objects is shown to other worshippers, to those in our daily lives, and even to those in the parking lot. It seems to me that optimal and fruitful liturgy directs reverence out of the Church. Not a form of spiritual navel-gazing.

        From what I see online, many traditionalists show little reverence for persons on their web sites. Does that mean they harbor reverential reservations at liturgy? Or are unseen persons too little a matter? Jordan Zarembo strikes me as a trad-leaning Catholic who from what I see, shows reverence to persons. So he has a credibility others do not show.

        And for the record, many modern liturgy advocates do not show reverence, but I think it a deeper matter than the form of liturgy, or something of the East.

        As for censorship, you are not the only contrary pen censored on the Catholic internet. It happens. I would not be in favor of it.

      2. @Todd Flowerday:
        “even to those in the parking lot.”

        Todd, you are WOTLP* with that one, I fear. The Golden Rule is subordinated to the Platinum Rule that Thou Shalt Not Make The Liturgy Last One Moment Longer Than Absolutely Necessary, which means Catholics are under a grave preceptual obligation to clear out of the parking lot immediately to make room for Catholics attending the next Mass.

        * (Way Out There, Like Pluto)

  14. Some commenters have replied to my comments. I have attempted to reply to them. However, several comments that I have posted have been removed (or were never approved) from Father’s blog. I accept he has that right on his blog. I am not upset at having been censored. I simply wish to alert those people who have replied to my comments that I have attempted to respond to you. Thank you.

    Jonathan Sommerville

  15. Todd Flowerday on March 14, 2016 – 4:03 pm

    Reply

    Quote

    To Todd Flowerday:

    You asked what ” do you mean by reverence? Are we talking about something that looks, on the surface, like 1950?”

    I quoted simply Pope Francis. He said that Western Church liturgy had lost “reverence”. He said that such isn’t a problem within Eastern Orthodoxy as they have maintained beautiful, “God-centered” reverent liturgy. Pope Francis said that the Western Church must turn for inspiration to Eastern Orthodoxy to renew Western Church liturgy.

    Again, I repeated simply Pope Francis’ evaluation of the state of Western Church liturgy and the Western Church’s need, as he insisted, to look toward Eastern Orthodoxy to recover “reverent”, “God-centered” liturgy.

    Todd Flowerday said that from what he has seen “online, many traditionalists show little reverence for persons on their web sites. Does that mean they harbor reverential reservations at liturgy?”

    I don’t know. They speak and act for themselves.

    Todd Flowerday said that as “for censorship, you are not the only contrary pen censored on the Catholic internet. It happens.”

    I understand. I respect that this is Father Ruff’s blog and he is free to post or disallow comments as he see fits. My only point was that I had wished to alert people who had responded to my comments that I had engaged them in return. However, several comments of mine were removed from Father’s blog. Again, I accept that this is his blog to run as he pleases. Thank you for your replies.

    Jonathan Sommerville

    1. @Jonathan Sommerville:
      I apologize for the misunderstanding, but as I/we decide which comments to post, we simply don’t have the resources to inform everyone whose comments are not accepted, nor do we make this promise in our policy for comments.

      Jonathan, you’ve said the same thing at least 5 times. I felt you had made your point, and when it didn’t seem that you’re engaging in a dialogue but just repeating yourself over and over, I made the decision to delete the repetition.

      awr

  16. Father Ruff, thank you for that explanation. I am certain that running a blog, in particular, one as popular as yours, requires much time and energy.

    You are correct that I repeated myself too many times. I apologize for that.

    Jonathan Sommerville

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