24 February 2009

Archbishop Ranjith on the Flaws of the Liturgical Reform

His Grace Archbishop Ranjith has written some important observations concerning the so-called liturgical "reform" following (in time, not in response to) the Second Vatican Council. New Liturgical Movement has written an excellent post on this, which I reproduce below in its entirety:

Clear Words of Msgr Ranjith on the Flaws of the Postconciliar Liturgical Reforms and the Need for a Reform of the Reform

Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, the Secretary of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has written a foreword to a book by Msgr. Nicola Giampietro (True Development of the Liturgy, due to be published by Roman Catholic Books in September) based on the diaries and notes of Cardinal Fernando Antonelli OFM, who was the Secretary of the Liturgical Commission of the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1964 and went on to be Archbishop Ranjith's predecessor as Secretary of the Sacred Congregation of Rites from 1965 until 1969. With his unique insight, then Fr Antonelli was very critical of the modus operandi of the Consilium, the body charged with preparing the liturgical reforms, and wrote a famous Nota sulla riforma liturgica (note on the liturgical reform) in which he deplored many of the symptoms of decay which we still observe today, such as a rampant disregard for liturgical norms or a lack of love and veneration for Sacred Tradition. Based on Antonelli's observation, Archbishop Ranjith finds some very clear words about the problematic genesis and the results of the liturgical reforms after the Council. Speaking of the influences on the work of the Consilium, he writes:

An exaggerated sense of antiquarianism, anthopologism, confusion of roles between the ordained and the non-ordained, a limitless provision of space for experimentation-- and indeed, the tendency to look down upon some aspects of the development of the Liturgy in the second millennium-- were increasingly visible among certain liturgical schools.

And regarding the result of the reforms, he observes:

Some practices which Sacrosanctum Concilium had never even contemplated were allowed into the Liturgy, like Mass versus populum, Holy Communion in the hand, altogether giving up on the Latin and Gregorian Chant in favor of the vernacular and songs and hymns without much space for God, and extension beyond any reasonable limits of the faculty to concelebrate at Holy Mass. There was also the gross misinterpretation of the principle of "active participation".


Basic concepts and themes like Sacrifice and Redemption, Mission, Proclamation and Conversion, Adoration as an integral element of Communion, and the need of the Church for salvation--all were sidelined, while Dialogue, Inculturation, Ecumenism, Eucharist-as-Banquet, Evangelization-as-Witness, etc., became more important. Absolute values were disdained.

Such an unblinkered look at the liturgical reforms can, Msgr Ranjith writes,

help us to be courageous in improving or changing that which was erroneously introduced and which appears to be incompatible with the true dignity of the Liturgy.

This is nothing short of a manifesto for a true Reform of the Reform, issued by a prelate handpicked by the Holy Father for the competent Congregation, and ought to fill us with great hope. You can read the entire article about the foreword at Catholic World News here.


Anonymous said...

We have been saying all of this for decades. Why is it that only lately people are starting to wake up? Better late than never I guess. Still, a lot of frustration, anguish and pain could have been avoided. Instead, divisions and animosity were allowed to develop.

Anonymous said...


The problem is muddled, ambiguous, quasi-heretic doctrines that have infected Catholics like a global viral pandemic since immediately following the Vatican II Council.

The liturgical reforms that followed the Vatican II Council merely reflect these doctrinal "reforms."

This is really a "no brainer."

All the "reform of the reform" regarding liturgy will make no difference so long as Vatican II "ecumenism" is left in place, since it really does mean that a sincere devout Christian in a Protestant sect can get all the graces that a devout Catholic can get in the Catholic Church, and that the Protestant has no need to convert to the Catholic Church in order to get completely within the grace of God or to get all the graces of God that he could possibly get.

What I've just described is not some spurious, dissenting interpretation of the current Catholic teaching, but is exactly and precisely what Pope Benedict believes and teaches today, and is what John Paul II taught every day of his papacy.

This is the problem, not the lack of reverence at mass, or the abandonment of Gregorian Chant, or the introduction of the sign of peace for the laity, etc., which are merely symptoms of the problem.

So, yes, it means that the problem is much, much more serious than most conservative, EWTN-type Catholics think it is.

This is what the SSPX bishops and priests what to talk to the Vatican authorities about.


Anonymous said...

I for one will welcome anything the Vicar of Christ wishes to give us.

While I welcome this news with great joy. I can't wait for this new document that "forbids" Holy Communion in the hand, Holy Mass facing the people etc...

Am sorry that I have to disagree with Javier.

I'm more on the side of the way we pray is how we belive, and Holy Mass is the perfect place to being the true teaching of Vatican II.

Go Pope Benedict XVI.

Thank you thetimman for posting more mainstream Catholic news.

Your blog is so wonderful and could really be the "bridge" that helps bring real faithful reform to the Roman Liturgy.

Keep up the good work. I will offer prayers for you on the Ash Wednesday.

thetimman said...

Thanks for the prayers. It is no secret that I am greatly attached to the traditional sacramental forms. But in light of the situation today, fixing the flaws of the new Mass can only help. In any event, the faithful who attend it have a right to the Mass as actually promulgated. It is not anyone's private property.

I hope this "reform of the reform" is merely a waystation to a full restoration of the traditional Mass. Others hope it is a waystation to a "reformed" Mass that looks awfully like the traditional Mass. Either way beats the current situation.

The bottom line is that the Church needs holy liturgy that reflects the truths that Christ has entrusted her to hand down. There are a growing number of priests, religious and lay in traditional and mainstream circles that are putting in the effort to help restore this reality.

The book "The Heresy of Formlessness" by Martin Mosebach is an invaluable read if you want to get the view of an intelligent layman on the issue of the traditional Mass.

I agree with Javier that the current ecumenical approach is a disaster, and that many, many of the Church's sons and daughters, clergy, religious and lay, and eschewed some of the grounding teachings of the Church-- consciously or not-- that have left us in a mess. I disagree that bad liturgy is not a huge part of that problem.