Vatican Denies Liturgical Reform Reports
I'll let you make up your mind what, exactly, is going on. First the story from CNS:
Vatican official downplays report of planned liturgical reforms
By John Thavis
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A Vatican spokesman downplayed a report that major liturgical reforms are being considered by Pope Benedict XVI. "At the moment, there are no institutional proposals for a modification of the liturgical books currently in use," the spokesman, Father Ciro Benedettini, said Aug. 24. He was responding to a report that a document with proposed liturgical modifications, including a curb on the practice of receiving Communion in the hand, had been sent to the pope last April by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
The article, published by the newspaper Il Giornale, said the document was a first concrete step toward the "reform of the reform" in liturgy planned by Pope Benedict. It said the congregation proposed to promote a greater sense of the sacred in liturgy, recover the use of the Latin language in celebrations, and reformulate introductive parts of the Roman Missal to end abuses and experimentation. The article said the worship congregation had voted on and approved the recommendations almost unanimously during its plenary session last March. Vatican sources told Catholic News Service that the worship congregation did not, in fact, suggest a program of liturgical change, but simply forwarded to the pope some considerations from its discussions focusing on eucharistic adoration, the theme of the plenary session.
Some individual members may have added opinions on other liturgical issues, but they in no way constituted formal proposals, one source said. The article in Il Giornale said one idea being studied by the worship congregation was a return to celebrating Mass with the priest facing the same direction as the people, known as "ad orientem." The Vatican sources told CNS that this issue, however, was not discussed by the congregation at its plenary. The debate over Communion in the hand drew attention in 2008, when Sri Lankan Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, then secretary of the Vatican's worship congregation, said he thought it was time for the Catholic Church to reconsider the current policy.
The archbishop said the Second Vatican Council never authorized the practice of Catholics receiving Communion in the hand, a custom that he said was "introduced abusively and hurriedly in some spheres" and only later authorized by the Vatican. Archbishop Ranjith recently left his Vatican post when he was named archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka. He was replaced by Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, a U.S. Dominican. Last year, the Vatican announced that receiving the Eucharist on the tongue while kneeling before the pope would become the norm at papal liturgies. At that time, the Vatican's chief liturgist, Msgr. Guido Marini, noted that the distribution of Communion in the hand remains an exception granted by the Vatican to the bishops' conferences that have requested it.
ROME. The document was delivered to the hands of Benedict XVI on the morning of last April 4 by Spanish Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. It is the result of a reserved vote, which took place on March 12, in the course of a “plenary” session of the dicastery responsible for the liturgy, and it represents the first concrete step towards that “reform of the reform” often desired by Pope Ratzinger. The Cardinals and Bishops members of the Congregation voted almost unanimously in favor of a greater sacrality of the rite, of the recovery of the sense of eucharistic worship, of the recovery of the Latin language in the celebration, and of the remaking of the introductory parts of the Missal in order to put a stop to abuses, wild experimentations, and inappropriate creativity.
They have also declared themselves favorable to reaffirm that the usual way of receiving Communion according to the norms is not on the hand, but in the mouth. There is, it is true, and indult which, on request of the [local] episcopates, allows for the distribution of the Host also on the palm of the hand, but this must remain an extraordinary fact. The “Liturgy Minister” of Pope Ratzinger, Cañizares, is also having studies made on the possibility to recover the orientation towards the East of the celebrant, at least at the moment of the eucharistic consecration, as it happened in practice before the reform, when both the faithful and the priest faced towards the Cross and the priest therefore turned his back to the assembly.