Office of Pontifical Ceremonies – who was appointed, who not

I have received dozens of e-mail from people alerting me to the news that my friend Fr. Uwe Michael Lang of the Brompton Oratory and the CDW has been appointed as a consultant for the Office of Pontifical Ceremonies headed up by Msgr. Guido Marini.

Yes. I know that.  As a matter of fact I wrote about this in my weekly column for The Wanderer:

The Holy Father has appointed some new consultors to the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. This is the office of the Master of Ceremonies so long held by Archbishop Piero Marini, the disciple and former secretary of the late Archbp Annibale Bugnini, and now happily held by a man of an entirely different school, Msgr. Guido Marini, who is more along the lines of the late great Cardinal Siri of Genoa.  Among those now appointed as consultors are Msgr. Nicola Bux, professor at the Theological Faculty of Puglia and Fr. Uwe Michael Lang C.O., of the Brompton Oratory in London and presently working for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.  Fr. Lang and Fr. Bux both spoke at the recent conference in Rome for the anniversary of Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum.  Fr. Lang and Fr. Bux have both published useful books about the importance of celebrating Holy Mass ad orientem, priest and congregation on the same side of the altar of Sacrifice, facing liturgical East, whence Christ will return. 

Fr. Lang not long ago had an article in the Vatican’s paper L’Osservatore Romano, and elsewhere, explaining how it is false to argue in favor of the vernacular over Latin today on the basis that in the ancient Roman Church there was a shift from the liturgical language Greek to Latin for worship.  The Latin used in ancient times in worship was very stylized and not at all like people actually spoke.  An obvious point, to anyone who has every studied Latin in depth, but Fr. Lang provides excellent citations and arguments. 

Fr. Bux, a highly engaging speaker, had a wonderful response to a question put to him during the Q&A at the conference I mentioned above, which I attended.  When someone queried him about what lay people and priests can do regarding bishops who are dead set against the Holy Father’s provisions in Summorum Pontificum, Fr. Bux responded that we must pray to St. Joseph.  St. Joseph, he reminded the crowd, is the universal patron of the Church and a very powerful intercessor.  When bishops go off the rails we must, Fr. Bux said, “We must pray for them.  Pray to St. Joseph that God will open their eyes, or else close them for good”.

Fr. Lang and Fr. Bux, champions of the use of the 1962 Missale Romanum and ad orientem worship, are now consultors for the Office of Pontifical Ceremonies, collaborators with Msgr. Guido Marini.  Whatever else that might mean, the fact of the appointment is interesting.

These appointments strengthen Pope Benedict’s liturgical plans.  Liturgy is the key to a revitalization of Catholic identity.  It is the tip of the spear.  It may be too early to say that having Bux and Lang in associated with the Master of Ceremonies office signals a future shift in papal ceremonies to more frequent ad orientem worship.  The “Benedictine” arrangement of the altar (Cross front and center flanked by six candles even for versus populum worship) has taken firm roots far and wide.  It is clear from Papa Ratzinger’s earlier writings that this arrangement was a transitional compromise aimed toward an eventual reclamation of ad orientem worship.   It is also too early to say that this is a preparatory move for His Holiness’ own celebration of the older rite of Mass.   Frs. Bux and Lang will also be excellent resources for supporting a sound celebration of the Novus Ordo.  Nevertheless, Pope Benedict has been appointing very sound people to key liturgical positions.

Frankly, I am not surprised by these appointments.   Not at all.

The Holy Father has been gradually positioning his pieces on the curial liturgical board.

What I find more interesting here is that Fr. Manilo Sodi, SDB, was bumped from the Office of Ceremonies.

I have written about Fr. Sodi’s vile little pamphlet/book which in English would be entitled The Missal of Pius V: Why the Latin Mass in the Third Millennium?.  Sodi launches a long attack on Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum

Sodi forcefully stated that the older liturgy was "abrogated" and "abolished". He works from the perspective that people who want the older Mass are set against the wondrous reforms of Vatican II.

Ooops!

And yet Sodi was an editor of the edition of the 1962 Missale Romanum published through the Vatican Press.

Thus, he bites the hand that feeds him.

Sodi’s name was also once being bandied about as a possible successor of Archbp. Ranjith at the CDW should he be moved from his post.  

You don’t hear his name anymore.

When in Rome a week or so ago a friend gave me a copy of a collection of monographs in Rivista Liturgica.  Among the authors represented is Manlio Sodi, SDB.

It seems Sodi has somewhat changed his tune:  Now he sees value in having the 1962 Mass along side the Novus Ordo.  He doesn’t go so far as to say that it could be spiritually useful, but it might give us historical perspective and help us appreciate even more what Vatican II began.

As an aside, that Rivista Liturgica volume begins with an unsigned editorial which contains the following whiny comment about the provisions of and reactions to Summorum Pontificum: "The crowd of those who place themselves against the liturgical reform of Vatican II found ample space in many blogs on the web, internet news agencies, dailies and periodicals of various genres, on the microphones of some broadcasters, in mini-publications.  A consistent choir of voices to say… what?"

The editorial is unsigned, but the director of Rivista Liturgica is Fr. Manlio Sodi, SDB.

 
 

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20 Responses to Office of Pontifical Ceremonies – who was appointed, who not

  1. Bob K. says:

    Father is there anything going on as to how the Novus Ordo Mass could be changed to make it more similar to the Tridentine Mass. Ruberics, etc. I realize the new Missal may be out by 2010, but it is not just the missal that needs reforming. Like the Music, adding Gregorian Chant, ad orientum, etcc.

  2. Andrew says:

    Who appoints these consulters? I realise that the post says “the Holy Father” but it would be interesting to know if this is a case where he “appoints” them as an administrative function (i.e. he simply signs off on it) or if he chooses, or even personally requests, them himself. If the latter, then we would be able to put to rest any doubts about Pope Benedict’s intentions to reform the reformed liturgy.

  3. Andrew: The Holy Father appoints them, just as the news stated. Surely he gets recommendations, but the appointment is his.

    Furthermore, given that this touches on liturgy, the tip of Pope Benedict’s spear, he will have personally investigated whom he wanted in that office.

  4. chironomo says:

    Fr. Z;

    In a very practical sense, what would these persons actually DO in these positions that would have a real impact on the liturgical life of the Church as a whole? Is it simply to “set an example” with Papal liturgies, or do they serve as advisors on other issues, documents, papal decisions, etc…? These are some high power appointments , no doubt, but is there some specific reason why they have been put in this place at this time?

  5. Jeff Pinyan says:

    It seems Sodi has somewhat changed his tune: Now he sees value in having the 1962 Mass along side the Novus Ordo. He doesn’t go so far as to say that it could be spiritually useful, but it might give us historical perspective and help us appreciate even more what Vatican II began.

    That sounds close to “If we have the 1962 Missal alongside the 2002 Missal, we can see how far we’ve come.”

  6. William of the Old says:

    Father, what can you tell us about the other appointees: Fr. Paul C.T. Gunter, O.S.B.; Fr. Mauro Gagliardi (Legionaries of Christ); and Fr. Juan Jose Silvestre Valor (Opus Dei)?

  7. TJM says:

    Thanks for posting this news, Father Z. In my mind, it is a positive development because His Holiness cannot do everything by himself.
    He needs good men whom he trusts to advance his dream of a reform of the reform. All the best, Tom

  8. William: I don’t know them personally. Fr. Gagliardi teaches dogmatic theology at Regina Apostolorum run by the Legionaries. Fr. Valor of Opus Dei teaches Santa Croce; Fr. Gunter teaches at Sant’Anselmo in Rome. He is on the member of the editorial board of Usus Antiquior.

  9. William of the Old says:

    Father, what does your gut tell you (or do you have contacts who do know about their dispositions) about how they might effect the work of the OPC? I have been told that neither the Legionaries nor Opus Dei have any positive affection for the TLM.

  10. RC says:

    “…what Vatican II began.”

    The hermeneutic of rupture rears its head here! Liturgical renewal didn’t begin at V2. There were over 50 years of liturgical renewal efforts in the Church before the Council, going back to “Tra le sollicitudini” at least..

  11. Paul says:

    Quoting Chironimo

    “Fr. Z;

    In a very practical sense, what would these persons actually DO in these positions that would have a real impact on the liturgical life of the Church as a whole? Is it simply to “set an example” with Papal liturgies, or do they serve as advisors on other issues, documents, papal decisions, etc…? ”

    And for that matter do they actually have any affect on Papal liturgies? or is this largely just a fancy title… like “monsignor”.

  12. David Osterloh says:

    Fr. Bux said, “We must pray for them. Pray to St. Joseph that God will open their eyes, or else close them for good”.

    ouch, that was blunt, but I like it

  13. Noel Abbott says:

    I am distinctly uncomfortable with the quote attributed: v. uncharitable and unworthy of clergy now in an exalted post – hardly a Christian sentiment

  14. Margaret says:

    William of Old–

    I’ve never actually asked any of the priests of Opus Dei their thoughts on the EF. I doubt there is any hostility, although the server requirement would create some logistical issues, as they celebrate about half their Masses for women only.

    That being said, the priests of the Work are already “at” the place that Benedict appears to be leading us. I laughed to myself a few months ago when someone described a “Benedictine” altar arrangement– the six heavy candlesticks on the front altar, with a tall central crucifix facing the celebrant. That’s how every Mass is already celebrated in Opus Dei, unless the altar setup demands ad orientem. Similarly, even though I suspect the rubrics date from the EF, the priests (except one with terrible arthritis) keep the first three fingers togehter after consecrating the Host. Hands are always folded except when some other specific action is called for. Mass is said more often in Latin than in the vernacular, and the priests exercise tremendous reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament. It’s a beautiful thing to see.

    So if that is the “level of liturgy” Benedict would like to see re-established at the parish level, I’m delighted there is a priest of Opus Dei serving him in this capacity.

  15. RC: The hermeneutic of rupture rears its head here! Liturgical renewal didn’t begin at V2.

    Good catch! Excellent comment.

  16. joy says:

    What is the duration of the appointment? Someone else had posted that the old guys’ terms had expired and weren’t extended. How long can we look forward to the new consulters being in these positions?

    P.S. I think Fr. Bux rocks! He reminds me of a saint (can’t remember her name) who prayed for God to take her children if by leaving them they would commit mortal sin. God took her at her word…and took them out of the world! At least Fr. B is giving them an option.

  17. Cory says:

    I appreciate the placing of a box of matches next to the book.

  18. enrico says:

    Dear Father,

    I am the one that at the conference on the motu proprio, sitting at your side, asked Msgr Perl and Bux what to do if you’ve to manage a real nasty bishop. So I’m pleased to greet you via your blog. And to add that, yes, we followed Msgr Bux’s advice.

    But we had to stop quickly: our bishop has just come back from a pilgrimage in Turkey, with a very bad fever (they even feared the legion fever). Now he is better.

    Well, now we know that that advice does work!

    But still we cannot have more than a monthly mass at an odd time.

    Best regards

  19. enrico: It’s good to hear from you!