Interview with Card. Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Cong. for Divine Worship

The intrepid Andrea Tornielli has an interview in Il Giornale with the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, His Eminence Antonio Card. Cañizares Llovera.   The article is entitled: “Basta con la messa creativa, in chiesa silenzio e preghiera… Enough with the creative Masses, silence and prayer in Church”.  (That phrase was not in the interview.)

The Prefect spoke of the need for a “new liturgical movement” though he downplayed the phrase “reform of the reform”.  It is hard to figure out how a “new liturgical movement” doesn’t result in a “reform of the reform”, unless he means that there is nothing wrong with existing rites as they are in the books, but rather the books aren’t being followed, the ars celebrandi is bad, and there is discontinuity with the past.  Sounds like a need for both a “movement” and a “reform” to me.  And he doesn’t in any way speak about the desire expressed by the Vicar of Christ that use of the older, pre-Conciliar rites would have a influence on the post-Conciliar rites, one side of that “mutual enrichment” (what I call a “gravitational pull”).  But I digress…

Here is one of the questions and one of the answers:

Tornielli: How do you judge the state of Catholic liturgy in the world?

Card. Cañizares: “In view of a risk of the routine, in view of some confusion, impoverishment, and banality in singing and in sacred music, one can say that there is a certain crisis.  For this reason a new liturgical movement is urgent.  Benedict XVI, pointing to the example of St. Francis of Assisi, very devoted to the Most Holy Sacrament, explained that the true reformed is someone who obey the Faith: he doesn’t act in an arbitrary way and doesn’t claim for himself discretion over the rite.  He is not the master but the custodian of the treasure instituted by the Lord and entrusted to us.  The Pope asks, therefore, from our Congregation to promote a renewal in conformity with Vatican II in harmony with the liturgical tradition of the Church, without forgetting the Conciliare norm that orders not to introduce innovations when the true and verified need of the Church requires them, with the caution that new forms, in every case, must flow organically from those already in existence.”

Beyond this, the Cardinal doesn’t say much other than we need to celebrate the post-Conciliar rites better, in accordance with the books and in harmony with our tradition, and that we need to underscore the importance of beauty.

We will have a new translation in the English speaking world come next year.  Other language groups will receive new translations.  Getting that underway is “already something”, as we say in Italian.  More is needed.

May I suggest to His Eminence and the Congregation that, perhaps, the legislation issued by the aforementioned esteemed Congregation should be given some teeth?

Perhaps, after the incessant begging that bishops might ensure that the rites are following, pleading that priests obey the rubrics, there should be some consequences if they don’t?

How long can you beg before those not inclined to take Pope Benedict seriously  just hear a sort of vague buzzing?

The “biological solution” is taking care of some of what the Cardinal is talking about.

Priests and bishops of a certain age and formation, and the lay people who think they’re so groovy and with it, are declining in numbers even as they advance in age.  A new generation is taking over more and more of the devastated vineyard.  They are surveying the possibilities, making plans and rolling up their sleeves.

But if they really wanted something swifter than the “biological solution”, they had better provide for it by getting dirt under their fingernails with them and not just wringing their hands a lot and repeating… “reverence… obedience… beauty… pretty please…”.

Sure, the Holy Father is trying to lead by example.  No, we don’t want to create havoc by a too brutal imposition of X, Y or Z, as in the 60’s and 70’s.  But, after all these years of seeing that somethings aren’t working so well, perhaps it is time to change them?  If you have a tumor, you want it out.  Sure, sometimes you have to shrink it with chemo and radiation, but at a certain point you want it out. As St. Augustine mentioned in one of his descriptions of Christ as Medicus, the doctor doesn’t stop cutting just because the patient is screaming for him to stop.

If after all these years, priests, bishops, liturgists aren’t applying Redemptionis Sacramentum, which isn’t really too ambiguous, if there is still too much illicit creativity going on, then… do something about it.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. EoinOBolguidhir says:

    Maybe, with reference to the WaPo Marini story entry from Christmas day, we could start saying, “reform of the reformation,” or something like it. d

    While the corrected translation takes care of “the Black,” I personally would welcome a published translation of “the Red” in the form of new and clear rubrics. It stopped abuses after Trent, didn’t it?

  2. Well said Father! After tons of documents about liturgical norms have been published, nothing serious has been done in order that it be followed in the diocesan and parochial levels. Its time to make liturgical laws more like canon laws!

  3. Aaron B. says:

    At a Christmas dinner yesterday, someone was complaining about the guitars and the general chattiness of the choir at her parish on Christmas. When I told her that our Latin Mass is guaranteed 100% guitar- and chattiness-free, she said, “Yeah, but I don’t want Latin. I don’t want to go back to the 50s; I just want to go back to the 80s, when there wasn’t so much silliness.”

    Now, I was at Catholic school in 1982-83, and I remember not only guitars, but tambourines, so I think there’s some selective memory there. And she’s never tried the TLM, so she doesn’t really know how she’d react to it. But I couldn’t help thinking (but didn’t say) that she was talking about “reform of the reform.” Bring back some beauty and reverence, but don’t get carried away. Don’t make it hard, something we have to work at. Get people to start kneeling and genuflecting again, for instance, but don’t make us kneel for 20 minutes straight. Get people to respect the Blessed Sacrament again, but don’t make us stick out our tongues for Communion.

    Unfortunately for the wishes of people like her, I don’t think you can do it halfway like she wants. To torture a phrase, I don’t think you can put the irreverence genie back in the bottle without getting rid of the relaxation in rules that let the genie out in the first place. If you want the average Joe Catholic to respect the Real Presence again, you’re going to have to put him on his knees to receive it. If you want him to start thinking of Mass as a Sacrifice enacted by the priest for the worship of God, rather than a conversation between the priest and people, you’re going to have to turn the priest around and get the laity out of the sanctuary. In short, you’re going to have to make it “hard,” or at least less comfortable than he’s used to.

    My prayer for this year is that Pope Benedict will go further in discouraging Communion in the hand, if not eliminate the indult completely. He’s already gone there for papal Masses, and has spoken against the practice, so he seems headed that direction. I’d also like to see more encouragement of ad orientem worship. Make it clear that bishops and priests are encouraged to use it, and put out an encyclical discussing the advantages, which those priests can use to educate their flocks when they inevitably complain about “turning your back to us.” Those two things would go a long way to re-framing how ordinary people view the Mass; and would also help them realize that, if they were doing it right without all the exceptions and abuses, the “scary” TLM wouldn’t seem that scary.

  4. br.david says:

    Or perhaps, the CDW can come out with a “list” of appropriate EF “inculturations” into the OF…. I’ve commented before and I will comment again…. If we could have that, I think it help quite a bit. Too often priests and others complain about “mixing” of forms, which, while legitimate in certain circumstances, causes angst in some about bringing in traditional elements to the OF. (Of course, chant and latin are not included in these things….)…. E.g., osculations, bows of the head during the Gloria, Credo, signs of the cross, double genuflections, etc…..

  5. dad29 says:

    “….DO something…”

    The question is “what?” (to do).

    It may be time for Bishops to name names in the Diocesan paper, along with the (documented) offenses against the liturgy.

  6. Childermass says:

    Exactly, Father! The problem with longstanding toleration of things is that they become ingrained everywhere and almost become required!

    Consider versus populum worship and, to a lesser extent, communion in the hand.

    These two were shocking innovations in the 1960s and could have been rooted out in the 1970s, but Rome instead *joined* with the dissidents in these practices.

    Now they are firmly entrenched, and the rare priest who dares to celebrate Mass ad orientem could find himself in serious hot water from his bishop—while having free reign to commit all kinds of *real* liturgical abuses. So everything is diabolically topsy-turvy.

    It is nice that Pope Benedict only gives communion on the tongue kneeling, but the other ministers of communion at his Masses (with the new possible exception of St. Peters) freely give out communion in the hand standing.

    And what impression does this give to people? That they are kneeling and receiving on the tongue not because of Jesus their Lord, but because of the Pope. In other words, more clericalism.

    Father, you are right that “setting an example” is not enough. The liturgy has been in tatters for decades, and this state has become so entrenched and has developed such inertia that active action on the part of our supreme authorities is needed.

    Souls are at stake in this. I can’t imagine how many people today are not Catholic (both CINOs and those formally outside) because of the scandalous witness of the liturgy.

  7. Childermass says:

    The good Cardinal says that “someone who obeys the Faith” is someone who “doesn’t act in an arbitrary way and doesn’t claim for himself discretion over the rite.  He is not the master but the custodian of the treasure instituted by the Lord and entrusted to us.”

    Ironically, Liturgical-God Bugnini and his infallible committee did these very things in 1969.

  8. idatom says:

    Fr. Z.

    Is liturgical abuse a venial sin or a mortal sin? Surely much of it is sinful.

    Tom Lanter

  9. idatom: The principles of moral theology apply. Once, there were indications in the Missal itself that certain things were “at least venial”. Those indications were removed in “modern” editions.

    Again, this is a matter of moral theology.

    That said, a priest may not know what the rubrics are because of bad training. On the other hand, his state in life requires him to know those things his state in life requires. The priest who is ignorant of the rubrics is culpably ignorant. He ought to know. He ought to strive on his own to learn, even if he wasn’t taught in his formation.

  10. Joseph says:

    Objectively some action can be seen as a mortal sin, but rarely in specific cases. Only God knows all the details.

  11. Joseph says:

    Bishop Schneider from Kasachstan in an interview last week suggested a new Syllabus of Errors. I think the root of most liturgical abuse is erroneous thinking. A lot of priests simply do not know and try home grown stuff, thinking it is all just fine and actually mean well.
    One cannot steer a ship by standing besides the rudder. One has to actually grab the wheel.
    The big tragedy here is, so many souls are lost until then.

  12. Sandy says:

    “Enough with the creative Masses, silence and prayer in Church” – great summary, whoever thought of those words (since you say they were not in the interview)! Reminds me of yesterday’s Mass and my inward, sort of, groan, when we were asked to stand for the processional hymn and “introduce ourselves to each other”! At that church they do it all the time. Whatever happened to preparing in silence to worship? It’s like a duplicate “kiss/sign of peace” and I always just keep my eyes closed. The noise level is awful, just as at the sign of peace.

  13. benedetta says:

    Where I am currently residing, one would think, given the sheer frequency that it is cited as justification for just about, everything, that the documents of the second council would be required reading for the average Catholic, presented, anywhere and everywhere, in various parish book and discussion groups, parish blogs, parish websites, twitter and facebook, youth group meetings, retreat center presentations, bulletin advisories, Catholic newspaper, homilies…Yet, surprise surprise, no one ever cites chapter and verse to council documents. It is always the insistent reference, license to…do whatever on account of the mythic Vatican II, which leads me to believe that the much-celebrated “spirit” of the council in reality more closely resembles a mere “penumbra”. I don’t deny that the council took place, or that it was a legitimate council, just, the overwhelming tendency that continues to dictate that because of Vatican II, all manner of accountability may be just freely tossed out the window.

  14. kolbe1019 says:

    This is an issue that one shouldn’t take ones sweet time. This is about giving God latria. If they don’t want to worship God as God then they have no business being in a church.

    It’s time to admit to the faithful that their have been many abuses and great evil done. Seeds of deception have been planted and the fruit of that seed is no faith, sexual abuse of minors, and “on eagles wings”.

  15. kolbe1019 says:

    Forgive my use of “their” in the previous comment.

    Seriously… Does there exist any fortitude in the church today?

  16. Norah says:

    “….DO something…”

    A constant theme is my comments about is that unless the wonderful exhortations to “say the black and do the red” are backed up by consequences it will be business as usual. Unfortunately the Holy Father has said that he “proposes and doesn’t impose”. My New Year’s wish would be that he would impose a bit more. Like another of the posters I grieve about the souls lost from the Faith whilst these stirring proposals remain unread.

  17. becket1 says:

    You know we have been pondering this question for the last four to five years now. And still nothing has changed in many places. So whats the point!. Those with the real power in the church care less and are waiting with baited breath until this Pope breaths his last. The Pope hasn’t even had a public EF Mass. And these new translations will do nothing in most parishes around the world. Sure the translation will change, but the rest will not. So now what do we do?. Keep on talking about what should be done?. How do we give back the power in the church to those who will use it to the benefit of Pope Benedict’s vision?. What is needed is a sort of mandatory liturgical boot camp for all monks, priests, and deacons. And only for them, no liturgical committees invited. In the Orthodox Churches, the lay people participate in the choirs or as lay readers, not in performing the priests and deacons liturgical duties. And every Divine Liturgy, Matins and Vespers is ad-orientum.

  18. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Fr. Z says (rightly) of abuses in the liturgy and restoring reverence (IOW “say the black, do the red): “… do something about it.”

    The following is another reason *why* something needs to be done. It is a letter-to-the-editor by a priest in the Dec. 19 edition of “Our Sunday Visitor .
    “Translation is flawed”

    Re “Faithful Translation” (In Focus, Nov. 28).

    In her attempt to defend the terminally flawed new translation of the Roman Missal, Emily Stimpson mentions that it will be “more poetic, more reverent, more faithful,” etc. Is she reading the same thing that the rest of us have? The new translation is more grammatically awkward, more robotic and less faithful to the Scripture than what we have now.

    The new translation is based on the false premise that 500-year-old Latin texts have a credibility and authority that surpases that given to Scripture itself? The words and true meaning of Scripture, the 1,500 years of pre-Tridentine liturgy, the spirit of the Second Vatican Council are put aside in favor of a slavish (and often incorrect) translation of tired ecclesiastical Latin texts.

    There has not been, and apparently will not be, any attempt to consult and receive intelligent comment and criticism about the translation from pastors and the faithful before the Grand Imposition in Advent 2011.

    This new attempt at a translation is a disaster and, sadly, will be ignored or flatly rejected by tens of thousands of pastors, linguists, theologians and parishioners throughout the English-speaking world.

    Father R.G. Tamminga, Tucson, Ariz.

    Please, please, please…….let someting be done now!


  19. andersonbd1 says:

    well said, Fr Z!

    most priests here in Rochester, NY only mention the pope when they attack him. They only listen to his words when they make it into the MSM so that they can offer an apology to the people (on behalf of the senile old guy in Rome).

    Something must be done. With our kids we count to three. I’d say B16 has counted well beyond three by now.

  20. catholicmidwest says:

    I remember the 80s in the Church. People were standing around the altar in their platform shoes and blowback hairdos making stuff up and trying to be “relevant” in those days. We had this one priest, no longer in service, who dressed like a basket of easter eggs. Every day. And this was not his vestments but his CLOTHES. It was not something you, or anyone else, should want to go back to.
    We have another kind of nonsense now. Some of this stuff, generally not the worst of it, but still some of it, has been thoroughly institutionalized and is considered “tradition” by ignorant & short-sighted people who don’t know any better. Add a generous helping of arrogance, self-righteousness and therapeutic mindset and that’s where we are now. It’s disgusting, and probably just as bad as the 80s, but it’s not as…. flamboyant and goofy. It’s not groovy. Ooh, did I say that?

    I agree with your post 100%. We need to roll it back hard. Otherwise people are not going to get the point.

  21. catholicmidwest says:


    Careful. Don’t fall into a modern day moral blunder here. Although it is known only to God, and perhaps the sinner, what the state of a person’s soul is…….mortal sins are discrete describable moral entities. They can be described exhaustively and labeled for what they are as objects. And the conditions under which they are moral sins are known and can be stated conclusively.

    Just because no mortal can see an individual’s soul doesn’t mean that the person can’t commit a text-book-type certifiable mortal sin. They do it all the time.

  22. catholicmidwest says:

    PS, citing Vatican II gets nowhere with me. I am ignoring it until I hear the council of Ephesus cited. They are both ecumenical councils, are they not?

  23. benedictgal says:

    I was reading the New Liturgical Movement blog. They noted a particularly welcome announcement from Cardinal Canizares Lloera.

    “The new liturgical movement will have to discover the beauty of the liturgy. Therefore, we will open a new division in our congregation dedicated to “Art and Sacred Music” at the service of the liturgy. This will lead us to offer soon a criteria and guidelines for art, song and sacred music. As well we offer as soon as possible criteria and guidelines for preaching.”

    This made me sit up and take notice. Maybe there is some ray of hope!

  24. catholicmidwest says:

    This won’t have direct effects. What all this is is politics (and in this case, in a good way). A certain amount of posturing, sending out flyers and so on is necessary to make any changes and this is just one of those posturing twitches. Thank God for the good Cardinal and make noise to show your approval–all good. He’s at the side of the Church and on the right side of history, but nothing will come of it on the concrete level. Don’t let it tear up your nerves. Relax.

  25. catholicmidwest says:


    The change in the translation is absolutely enormous. It is a break in the ideological wall set up by the dissident minority that has been in power in some of the English speaking countries, including the US. Much good will come of it, whether anyone personally likes it better or not. It is a potent symbol that people will not be able to escape easily.

    The freeing of the 1962 mass was absolutely monumental too, no matter how many people choose to attend or not. It was the quintessential act of telling the truth after insisting on a big fat ugly LIE for decades. And it was out in the open, for anyone who cared to call it what is was, to do so.

    Pope Benedict XVI, when he called out the break in continuity as a fundamental error in 2005, was being very courageous too. The man has the heart of a lion in his little self. Have you ever seen him in person? He is a little man, but with a gleam in his eye, and he tells the truth.

    Patience. We will get where we are going. Keep working and keep praying.

  26. catholicmidwest says:

    PS, expect the dissident minority to swallow their vomit and try to use the new translation as if they had thought of it, just like they did the Catechism of the Catholic Church, another epic victory for Rome. It’s comical in a way.

    Each step of the way is however, irrevocable, and each step inches us back toward continuity. They’re dragging us tooth and toenail, but we’re moving, slowly but surely.

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