Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

Catholic World News News Feature

Prelate makes case against liturgical abuse April 23, 2004

As he introduced the new Vatican instruction Redemptoris Sacramentum at an April 23 press conference in Rome, Cardinal Francis Arinze said that the Church must eliminate liturgical abuses.

The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, speaking to reporters in a relaxed manner and sprinkling his remarks with humor, admitted that some people might see the attempt to curb liturgical abuse as "a waste of time," because "it always exists, always will exist." But he countered that "not all abuses of the Eucharist are the same."

Some abuses actually might make the Sacrament invalid, the cardinal pointed out. "Others show a lack of faith, and still others create confusion and trouble believers," he continued. Still others detract from the solemnity of the Eucharistic celebration. For all these reasons, the African cardinal said, "abuses cannot be taken lightly." Cardinal Arinze stressed the duty of diocesan bishops to correct liturgical abuses.

Archbishop Angelo Amato, the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, also spoke at the Friday press conference. He stated that arbitrary changes in the liturgy "not only deform the celebration, but cause doctrinal insecurity, confusion, and scandal for the People of God." Rejecting the notion that liturgical novelties show the freedom of the celebrant, Archbishop Amato that obedience to the Church's norms provide real freedom, because the norms ensure that the rights of the faithful will be respected.

Questioned about the reports that early drafts of Redemptoris Sacramentum had caused serious disagreements within the Vatican, Cardinal Arinze said that numerous changes had been made in the text, "up to the last minute" before its final approval. The document was prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The cardinal said that these two dicasteries worked "hand in hand," without any severe disagreements. According to earlier published reports, the sharpest criticism of the early drafts came from other Vatican officials.