Publication of the Instruction on the Eucharist, April 23

Source: FSSPX News


On the occasion of its publication, a press conference will be organized, which will include Cardinal Francis Arinze and Mgr. Domenico Sorrentino, respectively Prefect and Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Mgr. Angelo Amato, secretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and the President of the Council Pontifical for Legislative Texts, Cardinal Julian Herranz, will be also present.

In the encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (April 16, 2003), John Paul II had asked for the publication of an instruction "of a juridical order on this theme of great importance", in order "to reinforce the deeper meaning of liturgical standards".

In what spirit was this document composed? One may fear that it is only with the idea of correcting the more flagrant abuses, which have appeared since the conciliar reform, but with no idea of a return to the traditional liturgy. In fact, at the time of a press conference given at the Vatican, on April 2, 2004, Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, wished to give a new momentum to the liturgical reform of Vatican II, by presenting the proceedings/acts of a conference organized on December 4, 2003, for the fortieth anniversary of the conciliar decree on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium.

During his intervention, the Nigerian cardinal underlined "the importance of an examination of conscience on the way in which the Catholic Church followed the directives of the conciliar document". While wanting "to testify to the validity of the directives of the Council", the Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments wished, at the time of this international conference, which had brought together many cardinals, "to take initiatives to deal with the abuses which appeared, contrary to the wishes and the directives of the council and the Magisterium, during these last forty years".

"These reflections,” he added, “should also be a help for those who, sometimes, are tempted to lose confidence in the Church because of real or supposed abuses, but also for those who introduce idiosyncrasies1 - sometimes regarded as inculturation - into the sacred liturgy,or who refuse in principle the directives of Vatican II." And, in answer to the question of a journalist, on negative criticisms sometimes leveled at the pontifical liturgy, and on the fact that the domain of the liturgy, at times, resembles a battle field, Cardinal Arinze, retorted with a smile, that "the liturgy is not a battle field but worship given to God!" He added that one cannot prevent the men from having opinions. The Church is alive. It is not an ecclesiastical refrigerator or one of the museums of the Vatican."

For Mgr. Domenico Sorrentino, the volume of the proceedings of this conference is not only commemorative, but also programmatic, insofar as "it clarifies new challenges which face the Church and touches on the liturgy of our time". Much too often, he regretted, "Vatican II appears in the collective imagination with an exaggerated sense of innovation". Underlining "the increasing need for contemplation" in modern society, impregnated "by the methods of Eastern meditation", he insisted on "the contemplative action" of the liturgy and the need for increasing in the liturgy, "the experience of silence". He specified, however, that it would be "a distortion of the liturgy, to deprive it of its relationship with human life, in the name of its sacred character". "The Biblical God is certainly a thrice-holy God,” he concluded, “but He is also the God of the Incarnation, deeply inserted in the history of man.”
The proceedings of this conference are available from the Vatican’s publishing arm. In addition to the Apostolic Letter of John Paul II, Spiritus et Sponsa on December 4, and its document on sacred music November 22, 2003, the acts contain the interventions of Cardinals Francis Arinze, Eugene George, Joachim Meisner, Christian Tumi and Ivan Dias.