SAN FRANCISCO – Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and best-selling author of God or Nothing (Ignatius Press), today delivered an important, direct and somewhat surprising message to a gathering in Germany marking the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu proprio Summorum Pontificum.
Reflecting on the nature of “the liturgical movement” and Vatican II’s document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, Cardinal Sarah develops some points and themes he has discussed in recent years in other addresses and various writings, including in his most recent book, THE POWER OF SILENCE: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, just released by Ignatius Press:
- The work of Pope Benedict XVI: Having expressed his deep appreciation for the pontificate and work of Benedict XVI, Cardinal Sarah states, “Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained that the purpose for his decision to have the two missals coexist was not only to satisfy the wishes of certain groups of the faithful who are attached to the liturgical forms prior to the Second Vatican Council, but also to allow for the mutual enrichment of the two forms of the same Roman rite, in other words, not only their peaceful coexistence but also the possibility of perfecting them by emphasizing the best features that characterize them.”
- The need for fidelity in “legitimate development”: Cardinal Sarah emphasizes the “particular care that should be brought to the liturgy, the urgency of holding it in high esteem and working for its beauty, its sacral character and keeping the right balance between fidelity to Tradition and legitimate development and, therefore, rejecting absolutely and radically any hermeneutic of discontinuity or rupture,” noting that these “these essential elements are the heart of all authentic Christian liturgy.”
- The reality of a crisis in the Church: Noting “the crisis that has shaken the Church for fifty years,” Cardinal Sarah emphasizes how this crisis “is connected with the crisis of the liturgy, and, therefore, to the lack of respect, the desacralization and the leveling of the essential elements of divine worship.” In striking and direct remarks about the focus on “active participation” in the liturgy, Cardinal Sarah said: “However we cannot close our eyes to the disaster, the devastation and the schism that the modern promoters of a living liturgy caused by remodeling the Church’s liturgy according to their ideas. They forgot that the liturgical act is not just a PRAYER, but also and above all a MYSTERY in which something is accomplished for us that we cannot fully understand but that we must accept and receive in faith, love, obedience and adoring silence.”
- The need to regain Christian roots: Cardinal Sarah further insists that the “serious, profound crisis that has affected the liturgy and the Church itself since the Council is due to the fact that its CENTER is no longer God and the adoration of Him, but rather men and their alleged ability to ‘do’ something to keep themselves busy during the Eucharistic celebrations. And in a strong denunciation of capricious liturgical innovation, he states:
“Many believe and declare loud and long that Vatican Council II brought about a true springtime in the Church. Nevertheless, a growing number of Church leaders see this ‘springtime’ as a rejection, a renunciation of her centuries-old heritage, or even as a radical questioning of her past and Tradition. Political Europe is rebuked for abandoning or denying its Christian roots. But the first to have abandoned her Christian roots and past is indisputably the post-conciliar Catholic Church.”
- On the so-called “liturgy wars”: “I vehemently refuse,” says Cardinal Sarah, “therefore to waste our time pitting one liturgy against another, or the Missal of Saint Pius V against that of Blessed Paul VI. Rather, it is a question of entering into the great silence of the liturgy, by allowing ourselves to be enriched by all the liturgical forms, whether they are Latin or Eastern.”
Read the entire message at here.
For more information, or to schedule an interview with Carl Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, please contact Kevin Wandra (404-788-1276 or [email protected]) of Carmel Communications. To request a review copy of THE POWER OF SILENCE, please contact Rose Trabbic (239-867-4180 or [email protected]) of Ignatius Press.