When I wrote up some brief descriptions of the members of the commission to revise Liturgiam authenticam at Pray Tell, I overlooked a relevant fact concerning one of the participants. I would like to remedy that omission here.
Bishop Jean-Pierre Kwambamba Masi, auxiliary for the diocese of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is actually well placed to speak to issues of inculturation given the fact that Congo celebrates the liturgy according to the Roman Missal of Zaire.
The Missel Romain pour les Dioceses du Zaire was officially approved for liturgical use by the authorities in Rome in 1988, and was in use ad experimentum from 1973 to 1988. The development it represents actually goes back to a time before the Second Vatican Council. Nathan Chase offers a good overview here.
Initial efforts at the development of a Zairian form of the liturgy came about as missionaries attempted to integrate Catholicism with indigenous cultures in Africa. Zaire, a former colony of Belgium, had the benefit of Belgian missionaries who were influenced by the liturgical movement—in particular the Abbey of Mont-Cesar—who wished to foster active participation in the rites.
The ritual use of Zaire is a particular case, but it is also more than that. It is considered by some to be a model of inculturation for other churches in Africa. The prayers of this Missal differ markedly from those of the Missale Romanum, though it is officially deemed a fully authentic form of the Roman Rite. Thus, the experience of liturgy in Congo raises important questions about how the directives of Liturgiam authenticam can be brought into relationship with other developments in the post-Vatican II church.
I have no idea of the liturgical opinions of Bishop Kwambamba. He may believe the inculturation exemplified in Congo goes too far, or doesn’t go far enough, has much to teach the rest of the world, or really speaks only to Congo. Whatever the case, I am heartened by the fact that someone with actual, long-term, lived experience of this form of Catholic liturgy will be part of the discussion.
There are many liturgy videos from Congo on line. Many focus on processions at the entrance and at the offering. Here are some video clips of a Christmas Mass at one parish in Kinshasa. This one gives a glimpse of the Eucharistic Prayer, with its multiple acclamations, dancing, and bells. It is exuberant.