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James Martin, S.J.August 25, 2009

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.

And now the story from The Telegraph, under the heading "At Last: Pope Benedict's Liturgical Reforms Are Taking Place, which translates the original story in Il Giornale, as reported by Rorate Caeli:

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.

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12 years 3 months ago
It would seem prudent to await definitive and official comments before posturing in one direction or the other.
The word 'institutional' in the Vatican response does suggest a possible difference in a 'personal' aside versus an official communication.
Patience rewards the beliver.
Mike  Iwanowicz
12 years 3 months ago
Fr. Martin: Lots of so called news organizations report  of ''news''  (esp in Europe) which ends up being just rumor or as I like to say, desperation for a return to the past.  Just this Spring a traditional journal reported that the pope was going to order the words of consecration be said in latin.  Never happened, of course to the dismay of the trads.  I think this is the same.  I'll take Fr. Benedettini at his word and PRAY he is correct:  ''At the moment, there are no institutional proposals for a modification of the liturgical books currently in use,''
God Bless. 
12 years 3 months ago
''Kneeling before the Pope'', as the article says, or kneeling before the Host? Dangerous confusion. If people started kneeling for communion, how would we make sure that they know that they are kneeling before the Host and not before the priest?
12 years 3 months ago
Sounds like a trial balloon to me - or a distraction to make the new set of translations seem less radical.  Frankly, I would not mind more Latin, more Greek, ad Orientum and the restoration of the Communion rail.  These are details and may add to the pagentry, which is attractive in a worship setting on occassion.  Of course, Rome may eventually push the English speaking world too far, leading to the re-establishment of the Galatian Orthodox Church, provided the Bishops get tired of these little curial flights of fancy.  This is not unlikely, given that according to Malachy, Benedict is the second to last or last pope (depending on whether you classify Peter the Roman as an anti-pope or not).
12 years 3 months ago
Galatian Orthodox Church ????
12 years 3 months ago
The Gallatians were the first Celtic Christians, living in Asia minor (the zone where Orthodoxy now predominates.  You could call it the Gallatian Catholic Church too.  The point being is that a new church does not have to be established, but merely reclaimed - avoiding the allegations of schism.

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