Archbp. Marini’s Farewell Letter

With great emotion I received and read the "Farewell Address" of His Excellency Most Reverend Piero Marini, Titular Bishop of Martirano, former Master of Pontifical Ceremonies, and now President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.  His Excellency’s reappointment, after so very very many many years of earnest service, came not so long after the release of His Holiness’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

His Excellency, after so very long as papal M.C., issued a letter to various personages in the Roman Curia.  It is both a Farewell Address and a long thank you note.

Here is the text of his three page letter in my translation.  I retained something of his style… which at times was a little stilted.  My emphases.

Vatican City, 1 October 2007

Most Reverend Sir,

In leaving the direction of the Office of Liturgical Ceremonies of the Supreme Pontiff, I feel the need to thank above all Divine Providence for the singular liturgical experience which was granted to me to live for almost 21 years of service to the Successor of the Apostle Peter, after the 21 years,  not any less extraordinary, spent in various organisms of the Roman Curia which guided  the implementation of the liturgical reform desired by the Second Vatican Council.

Those years of direct service to the Pope were the central years and the most demanding of my human and priestly life: from the time I had nearly completed 45 years when all my horizons opened up to me, until just short of 66 years of age.

Looking back over the journey now completed, I thank the Lord who called me to live a special ministry in the Church of God.  Above all for being in the immediate service of the Successor of Peter in the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries: first, of Servant of God John Paul II for nearly 18 years and subsequently of the present Pontiff Benedict XVI for the first intense two and a half years of the beginning of the Pontificate.   It was an ecclesial experience which allowed me to experience the presence of the shadow of Peter in the today’s Church: he, in fact, in his Successors continues to announce the word of the gospel and celebrate the Sacraments in the Church of Rome and in the different communities of faithful scattered through the whole world.  It was a unique and unrepeatable ecclesial experience, enough to think about the 80 international trips I completed twice, without counting those in Italy.  No liturgical experience in our time is comparable for the variety of salvific events commemorated, for the diversity of places of celebration, for the multiplicity of situations and of solutions, for the number of people encountered, for the composition of the assemblies, for the diversity of traditions and of cultural roots, than those lived in these years of service at the cathedra of Peter.

Together with the Successor of Peter, in these years I learned to love the liturgy of the Church, which I consider with the faith the greatest gift received which gives a sense to my human and priestly life in the world.

In any event, providence has called me to look forward.  In this glance, which pertains to my old age, the prospect of continuing to busy myself with the celebrations of the Sacred Mysteries of the Church consoles me.  Every time, in fact, I celebrate I feel that my being is in communion with life: every time the light of the Risen One illuminates and warms the hears, the eyes recognize and shine with joy in the peace of the Holy Spirit. 

At the end of these thoughts suggested by the heart, I desire to thank the two Supreme Pontiffs whom I had the grace to serve as Master of the Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies.  Above all, the Servant of God John Paul II, who nominated me at 43 years to be Undersecretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and two years afterward he entrusted the responsibility of the Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies and in 1988 he imposed hands on me in episcopal ordination.

I thank him for always having fostered the development of the Office of Liturgical Celebrations: he established it with juridical autonomy, and promised and gave his approbation for the updating (aggiornamento) of the papal ceremonies of the liturgy, and, finally, in Rome, and above all in the numberless communities visited in the whole world, he received and approved with conviction the proposals of adaptation to the different cultures in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.  During his Pontificate the papal celebrations thus became for the particular Churches a sure point of reference for recognizing the face of the liturgy which the Council wanted.  In reality, John Paul II was not an expert in liturgy in the technical sense, but he entrusted himself to his Maestro and with his pastoral enthusiasm for evangelization he became in the Church the most authoritative interpreter and the most tenacious executor of the liturgy of Vatican II.  For this, I feel the need to say thank you to him who now celebrated in the communion of saints the liturgy of the heavenly Jerusalem.

I extend a filial and special thanks also to Pope Benedict XVI who, as soon as he was elected, wanted to confirm me as Master of Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies.  In truth for me it was not an entirely new experience because I had already been his master of ceremonies at the beginning of his cardinalate.  Also for this reason from the first moment I felt myself welcomed by Pope Benedict as a son.  In him I was able to recognize, with my true satisfaction, not only a professor but a Pope expert in liturgy.  I will not be able ever to forget the emotion I had of finding myself alone with him in the Sistine Chapel just after his election, an emotion experienced during the carrying out of the rites of the beginning of his Petrine Ministry.  They will remain fixed in memory and heart because I consider them the most complete and successful icon which the liturgy has given of the Church after the Second Vatican Council.  Thank you, Pope Benedict, for having approved such rites and for having celebrated them with the Holy People of God.  Finally, thanks for having given me, at the end of my service as Maestro (Master of Ceremonies), a new task which permits me to continue to busy myself up close with the celebrations of the Eucharist in the Church of God.  It will be easier for me to continue to sense his friendly and paternal proximity. 

I desire to tahnk, at last, all the people who in these years helped me to carry out better my service in the pontifical liturgical ceremonies: the personnel of the Office, the pontifical masters of ceremony, the consultors, the personnel of various entities of the Holy See and so many other collaborators in Rome, in Italian dioceses and in the particular Churches in the whole world.  Without them it would not have been possible for me to live the marvelous ecclesial experience in the pontifical ceremonies.

To all my thanks from the heart for the help and the witness of the faithful.

+Piero Marini

A couple observations.

First, on the surface the letter seems to be a heartful expression of thanks.  I take him at his word.  I am sure he is grateful for what he had the chance to do.

Second, the real purpose of the letter, I think, is to provide a written apologia, which will remain part of the record, for his own liturgical views.

The letter is crafted to build up and defend his own liturgical sources.  He he says that John Paul II "accepted and approved" everything he did "with conviction".  He wanted everything he did to become the point of reference for all liturgies everywhere else.  This means that everything he did to adapt the liturgy to individual cultures.  He makes a distinction between the Successor of Peter celebrating in Rome and in other places.  This was all the "face of the liturgy the Council wanted".  Note the use of the image of "face".  This is important to Marini. 

Then he seems to make use of the approval that Pope Benedict gave to the ceremonies for the rite of the beginning of the present pontificate.  Remember that Marini himself put all that together.  He made the changes.  That whole thing was his baby.  Thus, Marini says, about his own rites (that John Paul II had approved first, and only later did Pope Benedict consent to use), that they were "the most complete and successful icon which the liturgy has given of the Church after the Second Vatican Council."  Note, icon.  He obviously has a very high opinion of what he did.  His own rites are effectively the "face", the "image" of what the Church needs, must have, should have, will have, etc.  This, his suggests, even Pope Benedict XVI approved.

To give you a taste of what I am talking about when we crawl into his thought, consider the funeral of the late Holy Father. 

In the Ordo Exequiarum Romani Pontificis (OERP) or “Order of Funeral Rites of a Roman Pontiff”, reveals that the rites for the Pope’s death are divided into three major moments or “stations”.  We have seen the Latin term statio on WDTPRS in the past, especially in connection with the traditions of Lent in Rome or the Stations of the Cross. 

The first statio, or “stopping place” is the Pope’s own residence, the Apostolic Palace, where the Pope’s death is certified, his body is placed for a more private review. 

The second statio begins when the body is carried in a translatio to the Vatican Basilica.  The second statio is comprised of the translatio, the public visitation of the body in the Basilica by all who would come, celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours and of Holy Mass, the deposition of the Pope’s body into its coffin, the funeral Mass with commendation and elements also of the Eastern Churches’ rites in Greek. 

The third statio begins with the procession with the body to the place of burial which will no doubt be in the crypt beneath the Basilica of St. Peter in the earth under the place where the body of Blessed Pope John XXIII once lay before its translation to an altar of the main Basilica.  In the third statio the biography of the Pope, called a rogitum, is read aloud in Latin and then sealed in twofold copy in metal tubes for interment with the Pope’s body along with a small bag or marsupium of the silver and bronze medallions minted in his pontificate.  

Then a white silk veil is placed over the face of the deceased Pope by the Master of Pontifical Ceremonies and the Supreme Pontiff’s Secretary (the perennially faithful Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, in this case). 

During the press briefing we journalists had before the evening, Archbp. Marini shared the prayer used for this moment of the third statio and as he did was quite clearly emotionally moved, his voice catching as he read:

LATIN TEXT (OERP 98):
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus,
vitae et mortis Domine,
speramus et credimus
vitam Summi Pontificis (Ioanni Pauli)
nunc in te absconditam esse.

Vultus eius,
cui lumen huius mundi evanuit,
vera luce quae ex te, indeficienti fonte, manat,
iugiter collustretur.

Vultus eius,
qui tua itinera est perscrutatus
ut ea Ecclesiae ostenderet,
tuum paternum vultum videat.

Vultus eius,
qui e nostro conspectu discedit,
pulchritudinem tuam contempletur
et gregem tibi, aeterno Pastori, commendet
Qui vivis et regnas per omnia saecula saeculorum.  R. Amen.

LITERAL TRANSLATION:
Almighty and eternal God,
Lord of life and of death,
we hope and we pray
that the life of the Holy Father, (John Paul)
has now been hidden in You.

May his face,
from which the light of this world has faded away,
be illuminated forever by the true light
which streams from You the inexhaustible source.

May his face,
which searched out Your paths
so that he might show them to the Church,
behold Your fatherly face.

May his face,
which is departing from our sight,
contemplate your beauty
and commend the flock to You, the eternal Shepherd.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  R. Amen.

There are many biblical references in this prayer, though space does not permit us to explore them all.  Note especially what we might call a theology of the face as a metaphor for contemplation and seeking the truth and, by doing so, revealing it to others.  In his letter for the special Marian year the Holy Father emphasized learning from Mary how gaze on and contemplate the face of Christ.  John Paul’s theology of the person starts from the point that we are made in God’s image and likeness and that Christ came into the world to reveal man more fully to himself (cf. Gaudium et spes 22).   We see Christ reflecting the invisible Father in all He said and did and, at the same time, we how we are to be in our lives.  To know who we truly are, we must seek Christ’s face so that our lives will always be “hidden in Christ” in death but even in life as well (Cf. Col 1:3).  To be true disciples of the Lord of life and death, we must be transparent so that we reflect what flows from God to and through us.

But aside from this theological look at the prayer, our reading of Marini’s "Farewell", leads us to discern some pretty clear ideological motives.

I leave you will a couple quotes from Marini’s letter:

During his Pontificate the papal celebrations thus became for the
particular Churches a sure point of reference for recognizing the face
of the liturgy which the Council wanted.  In reality, John Paul II was
not an expert in liturgy in the technical sense, but he entrusted
himself to His Maestro and with his pastoral enthusiasm for
evangelization he became in the Church the most authoritative
interpreter and the most tenacious executor of the liturgy of Vatican
II.

And also,

[The rites of the beginning of Benedict XVI's Petrine Ministry] will remain
fixed in memory and heart because I consider them the most complete and
successful icon which the liturgy has given of the Church after the
Second Vatican Council. 

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44 Responses to Archbp. Marini’s Farewell Letter

  1. Daniel Anselmo says:

    Fr. Z, could you put a link to the original text?

  2. Fr. Harrie says:

    Let’s call his letter politely “tendentious”.

  3. Daniel: No, I won’t. But that is the text. I won’t transliterate the Italian, at least right now. I have sources to protect at the moment.

  4. Le Renard says:

    In reality, John Paul II was not an expert in liturgy in the technical sense, but he entrusted himself to His Maestro

    Ahhh–hah!

    That’s why!

  5. Le Renard says:

    This was all the “face of the liturgy the Council wanted”. Note the use of the image of “face”. This is important to Marini.

    … as in to save face!

  6. Henry Edwards says:

    Father Z: With great emotion I received and read the “Farewell Address” of His Excellency Most Reverend Piero Marini

    So did we all, I’m sure. How great it is! The emotion, I mean.

  7. LeonG says:

    In all frankness and objectivity, when we recall some of the papal liturgies of the predecessor and their universal fallout, we can understand how it is that in the notion of imitation and obedience many parishes around Catholic Christendom have adopted some very exotic but hardly Catholic liturgical forms. In the hands of poorly instructed liturgists who have failed to comprehend the nature of licitness in The Mass, there is plenty of work to be done to “instaurare omnia in Christo”. I have witnessed some shocking modern Masses which to be fair had taken a cue, however misguided or misrepresentative it may have been, from some of Cardinal Marini’s liturgical offerings. It is certainly so that Pope John Paul II (RIP) was not a liturgical expert but the influence of his papal liturgies was universal in the church. Is this the “face” signified by his “Maestro”?
    Thankfully, Pope Benedict XVI has the expertise to be able to influence the liturgy in the right direction but he had better not tarry too long. The SP was a very definite corrective step, in this regard.

  8. Dob says:

    Is it normal not to mention “Jesus Christ” once. He does refer to the “risen one”. The prayer he shared does not reference the Trinity. Is this prayer his own creation?

    Given that
    1) the face of his liturgy reflected the norms and customs of cultural diversity.
    2) Pope John Paul II travelled so widely spreading this mutiform face.
    Is he saying that this multiform face of liturgy has become iconic? How does something variable become iconic?
    I suppose the variability itself has become the icon of this liturgy of his???

  9. The second-to-last little snippet about Marini’s style and the Liturgy of Vatican II recalls to my mind the inscription Abp. Weakland had carved into Milwaukee’s Cathedral: “not without great opposition, this Cathedral was re-configured EXACTLY in accord with the prescriptions of Vatican II by ME – I did it all and I did it the way I wanted to because I have (mis-)interpreted the council MYSELF!” Okay, Weakland didn’t say that, and neither does Marini, but if we read between the lines…

    Fr. Z., If you find this comment uncharitable, you may delete it!

  10. Jim says:

    Dear Fr. Z,

    Am I correct in thinking that the way your wrote your comments was intended to lead to a specific conclusion about your thoughts on Marini\’s work? What is your conclusion? I want to make sure that I don\’t think that you\’re implying something that you are not.

  11. Brian2 says:

    Does all this stuff about the face come from Levinas? I tend to think so, at least indirectly. One problem with Levinas’ thought is that it gives itself all to easily to a sappy emotionalism of ‘welcoming’ and ‘hospitality’ that avoids technical questions and rigorous analysis. (cf Dominque Janicaud’s critique) Sort of reminds me of the Bishop’s liturgical plans. I mention this for two reasons (a)I don’t like Levinas’ philosophy and will criticize it when I get the chance and (b) having an idea of the philosophical background of Marini will help us to see where he was coming from: not a bad guy out to destroy tradition and the Church (as he is sometimes viewed in some quarters) but someone representing a particular school of thought who, under the influence of that thought, thinks he is doing the right things.

  12. Malta says:

    Let\’s not forget the Papua New Guinea mass in 1985: this is also the \”mass of Vatican II\” even if it was slightly before Marini\’s time:

    http://www.trosch.org/jpi/jp01c19/newguinea.jpg

    The Eternal Sacrifice is second-place, while political-correctness, relativism and syncretism are legion. \”Our Lady\” of Medjugorje said that God reigns over each faith like a King. This is the \”fruit\” of Vatican II and the \”fruit\” of the New mass: the Novus Ordo: New Order (as if God would sanction a new order of the mass instituted by Christ Himself by a group of \”liturgical experts\” brought together by a probable member of the Masons: Archbishop Bugnini, who created a new order of the mass in three years, whereas the vetus ordo had existed, in it\’s present form, for 1,500 years, and largely in it\’s present form since the time of Christ.)

    Good riddance to Marini and his ilk; in fact, we need a general purge of the heirarchy in the Church. We need a complete return to tradition since the experiments of Vatican II (a legitimate but completely unbinding pastoral council) are a miserable failure.

  13. Malta says:

    a follow-up to my post supra:

    http://cathcon.blogspot.com/2007/10/you-aint-seen-liturgical-abuse.html

    (the thing is, this sort of nonsense is going on all over the world; I was recently in Paris and saw an evergreen-covered cross floating above the altar in one Church and what appeared like a giant white sail above the altar in Notre Dame, with a projector screen behind it projecting images. What a crock. The Sacrifice of the Mass is subsidiary to almost any other objective for many modern churchmen.

  14. Geoffrey says:

    I am no fan of Archbishop Marini, but that is a beautiful prayer. I got a little misty.

  15. Malta says:

    Geoffrey,

    Indeed, it is a beautiful prayer. I love and admire JP II, imperfect as he was. I hope he is contemplating the Face of Our Lord.

  16. David M.O'Rourke says:

    I thought the archbishop sounded rather defensive in his letter and wondered if I was being too cynical. I was happy to see that you (Father Z)picked up on the same thing.

    As for his high opinion of his work for the opening ceremonies of Pope Bendict’s pontificate it is understandable that he would feel proud of his own creation. But that is not to say that others have to share his enthusiam nor indeed that they will.

  17. Jamie says:

    Malta: those images and video make me feel physically ill. I am speechless.

  18. Graham says:

    Please can you provide a link to the website where the letter is taken from?

  19. Ultramontanus Norvegicus says:

    Marini scripsit: “became for the particular Churches a sure point of reference for recognizing the face of the liturgy which the Council wanted”

  20. Ultramontanus Norvegicus says:

    He reveals himself as a versus populus man in this sentence, I think.

  21. What is this thing called the “liturgy of Vatican II” ?
    When and where did Vatican II authorise such blatant departures from the prescriptions of the Missal of Paul VI ?

    I have always distrusted that other phrase “the spirit of Vatican II” (more correctly called the “false spirit of Vatican II”), used by people to justify their own (false) interpretation of the documents of Vatican II.

    I have always wondered how the importation of novelties, uncatholic innovations, secular celebrations, and even elements of pagan worship, into the Sacrifice of the Mass, (which have all happened in these past twenty years or so,) can possibly lead us deeper into the Christian mysteries of authentic Catholic worship.

    Why construct a liturgy which is such a distraction and departure from the Catholic nature of the Mass ?
    How far can you go with liturgical innovation and improvisation without introducing a new (and possibly alien) theology ?
    What’s wrong with the existing theology and ecclesiology which has evolved down the centuries, and is expressed in the prescribed liturgical books ?
    What Catholic could possibly want to, or need to, depart from this ?
    What authority has he to do so ?

    I wish Archbishop Marini, who has had so many years’ experience as papal ceremomiere, would more fully develop his thinking on this.

    It would make most interesting reading.

  22. Matthew Mattingly says:

    The parts of Marini’s letter which were so pro-Vatican II Mass, pro-reforms, pro-updating made me want to gag.
    It was a nice little “Thank you”, but also a pointed call for the reforms and the “Marini Masses” to go on. I would very much hope that there’s not much chance of that.
    I hope we see a slow but sure return to Papal Masses more resembling those of John XXIII and Pius XII rather than those of John Paul II (ugh)

  23. Mark says:

    Did anyone hear Sinatra crooning “I Did it My Way” as you read this letter.

  24. elizabeth mckernan says:

    ‘Malta’ – with reference to the ‘white sail’ in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris (invisible during the day) this is a screen for showing an ‘Opera d’Images’ during the summer months.
    On certain evenings it is unfurled and the spectacle is open to the public. I have been to four of them including ‘The Mystery of the Rosary’ and ‘The Nativity of Our Lord’ – the images of Art through the ages is accompanied by Gregorian Chant and other Sacred Music. In the darkened and silent cathedral it is a wonderful experience and may well help people to find or recover their faith which a day time visit there among the thousands of chattering tourists may not.
    I would add that I am not a fan of many church ‘innovations’ but this is one which is certainly reaching out to those who visit Paris.

  25. elizabeth mckernan says:

    One of the examples given should of course read ‘The Mysteries of the Rosary.’

  26. Paul Haley says:

    I was thinking: why is an apologia necessary for his actions if they were truly in accord with Tradition and the minds of the supreme pontiffs? It is sad to see an ego so damaged in my opinion that such a letter is even considered necessary.

  27. After reading all these comments I just hope more people will demand teh Tridentine Mass everywhere.We have all been struggling for so long, putting up with absurd inovations galore. The Lord i in His heaven and He will provide. Have Faith and keep praying.

  28. Rose says:

    The prayer is very beautiful indeed but it emphasizes the “face of the Holy Father” (which was appropriate for the ceremony. The Archbishop emphasizes the “face of the liturgy”. Intersting that Pope Benedict speaks often in another vein, about searching for the face of the Lord and showing the face of Christ, not the face of the “liturgy” itself. “Effacing oneself” “hiding your face” or “facing the people as an icon of the divine”- much to ponder.

  29. EJ says:

    I’ve defended the Archbishop’s person before(certainly not his style or preferences) against some personal attacks and also against those who attack John Paul II for appointing him and well, for putting up with him. But after reading this letter, frankly I don’t know what to think anymore, other than to pray for him- however sincere his sentiments of thanksgiving might be with it, some of it is so blatantly narcissistic, i.e. the references to “his” accomplishments and even the veiled reference to the late Holy Father entrusting himself to “His Maestro,” come on – perhaps we are being paranoid in our interpretation of this, but if that is so, then the Archbishop was extremely imprudent with his phrasing of it. He seems so sure that he carried out the wishes of the Council Fathers with respect to the liturgical celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, just as perhaps, his own mentor, Archbishop Bugnini was certain of this too with the Novus Ordo. I sincerely pray that Monsignor Guido Marini will not follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, and allow the Supreme Pontiff’s liturgical celebrations to reflect the fact that the Church and its faithful are servants of the Sacred Liturgy, and not the other way around. Già basta…

  30. Victoria says:

    Mattingly, Fr Harrie, Malta, Fr. Z et al. Most of you and yours comments, make me want to gag … they are disgusting, ungraceful undignified and vile. They tell more about yourselves than about Archbishop Marini

    Quote:
    “He obviously has a very high opinion of what he did.”
    ————–
    He should , he was/is the greater MC ever, although he is a humble and down to earth man. It doesn’t matter what you people in your clearly
    jealous attitude say. Many people will always remember/admire H.E.
    And Yes, the Prayer is very beautiful !
    We love you Maestro !

  31. Michael says:

    Victoria,

    I agree that people will always remembere Marini, but as the man who destroyed the Papal Liturgy and along with it, respect for the Papacy and the Chair of Peter. No one but a few tire revolutionaries in dying convents and retirement homes would ever see him as a hero, regardless of what you might think of his character.

  32. RBrown says:

    Actually, I like the Marini letter, not because I agree with it but rather because he puts his finger on the core of the liturgical problem: Enculturation vs Universality.

    Like Rahner, who considered dogmatic definitions to be culturally and historically conditioned, Marini considers liturgy to be culturally and historically conditioned: Each culture has its own liturgical expressions, none better than any other. And so the universality of Gregorian Chant and the Latin language is jettisoned (contra Veterum Sapientia).

    BTW, I noted that Msgr Marini failed to mention his mentor, Msgr Bugnini.

  33. Tom says:

    Apparently Pope John Paul II approved of most of what Archbishop Marini composed for his Masses as Pope Paul VI approved of most of what Archbishop Bugnini composed for the Novus Ordo Missae.

  34. Gustavo Ráez-Patiño says:

    There is something that worries me very much: to what extent has the Marini philosophy and “modus operandi” invaded the College of Papal Masters of Ceremonies? Because remember that these will be Msgr. Guido’s closest collaborators. I have read somewhere that these monsigniori didn’t expect any succesor but someone from among them. I hope this doesn’t mean that they will make things difficult to Msgr. Guido when it comes to implement some healthy changes in papal liturgies.

    Victoria: “We love you Maestro !”
    There seems to be a fan for each kind of person…

  35. Geoffrey says:

    I read in an interview in Inside the Vatican magazine that Archbishop Marini said that John Paul II was not a liturgist and so gave him a “free reign” as it were, in regards to papal liturgies. Benedict XVI, however, required that everything planned be sent to him for review and approval.

    How I envy John Paul II! He was such a contemplative and mystic that nothing could shake his focus and devotion at those Masses! I wish I was like that!

  36. EJ says:

    I don’t think he’s destroyed Papal Liturgy and most certainly did not diminish respect for the person of the Pope- the archbishop never had that kind of power- to say that is going a bit far. I think the archbishop’s WORK did put a certain mark on papal liturgy, however, just as his successor’s will. I also think that you can respect the man and have serious reservations for his work. Without a doubt, he tirelessly and faithfully served two pontiffs…but many will agree that he also allowed his personal perception of what Vatican II wanted for the sacred liturgy, at times at odds with reality, to influence his work. The Archbishop could very well be a humble man, but his farewell letter is not exactly the best expression of humility that I’ve come across recently. The Holy Father’s upcoming visit to Naples will be our first glance of the new Marini’s style. People here do not seem to sufficiently understand how difficult it is to be a good MC – I have served as a lay MC for many years and can only hope that the new Marini can count on all of our prayers for the challenging work that he has been called to do.

  37. RBrown says:

    How far can you go with liturgical innovation and improvisation without introducing a new (and possibly alien) theology? What’s wrong with the existing theology and ecclesiology which has evolved down the centuries, and is expressed in the prescribed liturgical books ?
    What Catholic could possibly want to, or need to, depart from this ?
    What authority has he to do so ?
    Comment by Dr. Peter H. Wright

    The theology of all this has already been written.

    Whereas Thomists would say that doctrine illuminates the intellect and inspires prayer and holy actions, the proponents of innovation take a different approach based mostly on pneumatic theology. Doctrine limits rather than illuminates: Do and think what you want (in theology, liturgy, etc.), but you cannot directly contradict doctrine. The presumption is that the writings of a theologian (or for that matter, the ad libs of a celebrant) are due to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as long as doctrine is not contradicted and the Zeitgeist is being expressed.

    And so liturgy stops being primarily a manifestation of doctrine, instead becoming an expression of individual religious experience, with doctrine as a limiter (i.e., what is not permitted). For example, it would be OK to say that the Eucharist is a meal (with the liturgical consequences of such) as long as there is no denial of the Sacrifice.

  38. RBrown: Well said. That was a good dense description of these approaches. Very interesting formulation.

  39. Croy says:

    I am really disappointed in the responses to this blog. I recognize that liturgical conservatives are often uncharitable, but to over analyze this letter and continue to berate this man is really inexcusable.

    Here is a man who dedicated his life to the Pontiff and the liturgy. You may not agree with his perceptions or his inclusion of different cultural traditions, but he attempted to be inclusive of the worship forms of all God’s children. I recognize that many on this forum look to the Tridentine liturgy as their primary source of worship, but it is it even a little possible for you to be somewhat tolerant of the views of others? Sometimes the comments are worse than Protestant Fundamentalists!

    Not every liturgical moderate or progressive is out to shun the Tridentine Mass and persecute consevatives. So, please have at lease a little respect towards your brethren.

  40. RBrown says:

    Well said. That was a good dense description of these approaches. Very interesting formulation.
    Comment by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

    Thanks. Being even more dense, I’ll also mention that the Zeitgeist is a reference to Hegel and the divinization of history–thus confusion in distinguishing the natural from the supernatural.

  41. Malta says:

    Croy,

    I understand your concerns, and I agree with you that we should be charitable to our Novus Ordo brethren. The NO is a valid mass, and I have seen and am friends with saintly souls who frequent that mass.

    But it is also true that we are experiencing a serious crisis in the Church. 90% of married catholic couples use birth control (arguably a mortal sin); only 30 % receive the Eucharist worthily (ie believe in the true Presence of Christ); thus, 70% of Catholics receive the Eucharist unworthily (and that, too, may be a serious sin). The Eucharist is often passed around, hand-to-hand, as if it is a wafer.

    The Catholic Church is in serious trouble. We need a few warriors out there willing to buoy it from the waters that surround Her.

    God Bless.

  42. Adam says:

    The translated ex-letter of +Marini is a fascinating document. Have other such letters been written by other outgoing MCs in the vatican? But this man has come under much attack by many nameless bloggers and others who think they know best and are quite adept at hanging this man. But as he points out he had the confidence of JPII for 18 years and of B16 since he was elected. He has had a long innings and guided the pontiffs with calmness, dignity and authority. What he did he must have done with the agreement of both pontiffs. If not, he would have been thrown out much earlier. yes? So let the critics of this bishop stop now and let’s just wait and see what his successor does over the next 6-18 months in his new role. Coming in as a Bertone appointment, for sure, we may well see either a reversal of all Marini did or a consolidation. One thing that does need to be done is: Bring in far better liturgical music; give the organ and the great composers greater place in the Vatican’s liturgy. The fact is the young sistine choir has had its day. There is need for greater music in the Rome liturgies and this ought start now. Bring in Mozart and Hayden and bigger choirs that can effect better liturgies. Thiswould be for the betterment of the liturgy in the heart of Catholicism. If Notre Dame can do it, so can Rome.

  43. RBrown says:

    But as he points out he had the confidence of JPII for 18 years and of B16 since he was elected. He has had a long innings and guided the pontiffs with calmness, dignity and authority.

    Agree on JPII, diagree on BXVI. It has been common knowledge for almost two years that BXVI wanted to replace Marini, but that the Maestro was resisting.

    When the new Sostituto (Filoni) took over, I wrote here that it was likely that his entrance would mean that Marini’s exit would come soon.

    The Sostituto is the most powerful operative in the Church. Among other things he organizes the Curia and handles curial appointments.


    What he did he must have done with the agreement of both pontiffs. If not, he would have been thrown out much earlier. yes?

    No. See above.

    So let the critics of this bishop stop now and let’s just wait and see what his successor does over the next 6-18 months in his new role. Coming in as a Bertone appointment, for sure, we may well see either a reversal of all Marini did or a consolidation.
    Comment by Adam

    Not a Bertone appointment, but he was recommended by him.

  44. Adam says:

    I must make a comment as RBrown has made an erroneous interpretation of my comment.
    I had indicated that if JPII had disapproved for 18 years the work of his MC he would have thrown him out and Brown disagrees. This is ridiculous, made more evident by the reality that +Marini was elevated to the episcopacy some 9 years before his recent change. That only makes more certain the approval of the pope to the work he was doing. let’s move on and really, who in fact knows the truth? I worked in the vatican for some time and one of my best friends worked there in the Sec of state office – no one really knows what happens except those close to the pope. Outside commentators really rely on rumours and conjecture and the sooner this is understood the better. There is too much guess work from outside these days and evene John Allen of NCR does not always get it right even if he has good contacts within the vatican walls. Adam