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True renewal must respect tradition, Pope reminds liturgists

May 06, 2011

In a blunt address to participants in a conference on post-Vatican II liturgical reform, Pope Benedict XVI expressed concern that “the liturgy has perhaps been seen…more as an object to reform than a subject capable of renewing Christian life.”

When Pope John XXIII encouraged the liturgical renewal, Pope Benedict said, he did not intend a radical break from traditional practices. His objective, the Pope said, “was not mainly to change the rites and texts but rather to renew the mentality and to put the celebration of Christ's paschal mystery at the center of Christian life and pastoral work.”

Pope Benedict made these comments in an address to participants in a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Liturgical Institute at the Pontifical Athenaeum. The conference was organized for the 50th anniversary of the Institute, which was founded to help advance the liturgical renewal that Pope John XXIII envisioned. Anne Arco of the Catholic Herald notes that the conference that the Pope was addressing had heard from several liberal speakers, including “the electric guitar-playing Abbot Primas Notker Wolf of the Confederation of Benedictines,” Cardinal Godfried Danneels, and Father Matias Augé, a liturgist who had clashed with then-Cardinal Ratzinger on the importance of tradition in liturgy. As he concluded his address, the Pope exhorted the Institute to “continue its service to the Church with renewed enthusiasm, in full fidelity to the rich and valuable liturgical tradition and to the reform desired by Vatican Council II.”

In her coverage of the Pope’s address, Anne Arco also points out that another Roman institutions, the Angelicum, will soon host a very different sort of conference on the liturgy, devoted to the implementation of Summorum Pontificum. The contrast between the two conferences, she notes, testifies to the keen interest at the Vatican in encouraging authentic liturgical renewal.


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  • Posted by: - May. 06, 2011 10:26 PM ET USA

    “the liturgy has perhaps been seen…more as an object to reform than a subject capable of renewing Christian life.” As usual, those who yet persist in calling Pope Benedict the 'Panzer Kardinal' can't hold a candle to him intellectually