New architecture and music “team” at the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship?

From the intrepid Andrea Tornielli of Vatican Insider. Not my translation, but my emphases and comments:

New Vatican commission cracks down on church architecture

The new commission will be established shortly, as part of the Congregation for Divine Worship. It will also be in charge of music and singing in the liturgy

A team [It “equipe”] has been set up, to put a stop to garage style churches, boldly shaped structures that risk denaturing modern places for Catholic worship. [I wonder how that is going to work.] Its task is also to promote singing that really helps the celebration of mass. [Ah yes…  Primum non nocere.] The “Liturgical art and sacred music commission” will be established by the Congregation for Divine Worship over the coming weeks. This will not be just any office, but a true and proper team, [It “squadra”] whose task will be to collaborate with the commissions in charge of evaluating construction projects for churches of various dioceses. The team will also be responsible for the further study of music and singing that accompany the celebration of mass.  [“responsible for study”?  “collaborate”?  “team”?  How on earth is this going to function?  Such a “team” would have to have some actual power.  If it merely a resource local commissions can collaborate with, it is toothless.  No?  Am I getting this wrong?  Of course, if it has some teeth and says to the Bishop of Black Duck that the Church of St. Ipsidipsy in Tall Tree Circle will not be reoriented so that it is apse-backward, won’t the usual suspects start shouting that this was how the CDW ruined the new translation? Vatican IMPOSITION! TYRANNY!]

Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Benedict XVI, consider this work as “very urgent”. The reality is staring everyone in the eyes: in recent decades, churches have been substituted by buildings that resemble multi purpose halls. Too often, architects, even the more famous ones, do not use the Catholic liturgy as a starting point and thus end up producing avant-garde constructions that look like anything but a church. These buildings composed of cement cubes, glass boxes, crazy shapes and confused spaces, remind people of anything but the mystery and sacredness of a church. Tabernacles are semi hidden, leading faithful on a real treasure hunt and sacred images are almost inexistent. The new commission’s regulations will be written up over the next few days and will give precise instructions to dioceses. It will only be responsible for liturgical art, not for sacred art in general; and this also goes for liturgical music and singing too. The judicial powers of the Congregation for Divine Worship will have the power to act.

As is known, last 27 September, Benedict XVI transferred jurisdiction of two areas, from the Congregation for the Divine Worship to the Rota Romana (the Holy See’s Court of Appeal), under the motu proprio Quaerit simper. [Great typo!] The first of these areas is the nullity of priestly ordination, which similarly to marriage, can be annulled due to defect of form, consensus and intention, by both the ordaining bishop and the priest who is ordained. The second area is the special licence for marriages that have been contracted but not consummated. These are practices that occupied a lot of Cañizares’ time as head of the dicastery. [Really?]

In his motu proprio, the Pope explained: “Under the current circumstances, it seemed convenient [“è parso conveniente che”] for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the discipline of the sacraments to be mainly devoted to giving fresh impetus to the promotion of the Church’s sacred liturgy, according to the renewal required by the Second Vatican Council since the establishment of the Sacrosanctum Concilium.” The dicastery must therefore devote itself to “giving fresh impulse” to the promotion of the liturgy, giving it the focus insisted upon by Benedict XVI, including and above all by showing an example. In this aspect, in contract [sic] to the initial plans, the idea of a liturgical “reform of the reform” (an expression used by Ratzinger himself when he was a cardinal), seems to be eclipsed by a large-scale project favouring the ars celebrandi and a loyalty to the dictates and instructions of the new missal. It does so without proposing any modifications to the mass. [Ehem… I recall something about a “mutual enrichment”.  Apparently that isn’t supposed to happen yet.]

It is worth remembering, in fact, that the abuse of the liturgy that has gone on in recent decades, becoming common practice, is committed against the laws established by Paul VI’s liturgical reform. It is not therefore the reform that needs to be amended; [The phrase “Say The Black – Do The Red” comes to mind.] rather, further study into the sense of the liturgy and its proper celebration is needed and must be salvaged in some cases. It is for this reason that the Congregation for Divine Worship intends to promote the training of priests, clerics and catechists, starting from the bare basics. By following the example and teaching of Benedict XVI, the Congregation aims to revive a sense of the sacredness and mystery of the liturgy.

Some liturgical texts need to be reviewed, because they are dated, as is the case of the penitence ritual, published in 1974. Indeed, in the years that followed, an apostolic teaching, a motu proprio, a new Code of Canon Law and a new Catechism were published. In this and in some other cases, updates will be needed. The idea Cardinal Cañizares is working on, is that of reaffirming the primacy of grace in human actions, of the need to give space to God’s action in the liturgy as opposed to actions which are left up to human creativity. There will be many opportunities to reflect on these topics. The year 2012 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the year after that will mark the 50th anniversary of the first approved conciliar text, the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium on the sacred liturgy.  [Not to mention Inter mirifica. Perhaps a coordinated effort with the New Evangelization office and Social Communications might be in order.]

There can be no renewal or effective “new re-evangelization” until our liturgical worship is revitalized. Worship is the key. I believe that Summorum Pontificum must play an important role in this revitalization. At the same time, a concerted effort must be made at every level to make sure that our liturgical books are being followed.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. EXCHIEF says:

    Too bad this new “team” cannot prevent the Diocese of Orange from purchasing, at a cost of $37 million dollars, the “Crystal Cathedral which does not look anything like what a Catholic Church should look like.

  2. dep says:

    Oh, for the Mass to suddenly be enriched by things called “hymns,” which were formerly located in a book called the “Hymnal.” For a start, we might eliminate everything written since, say, 1900, allowing such material back in only after it had proved its worth. I was recently at a Mass in which the processional sounded like new words to the tune of the theme from “Gilligan’s Island,” and two other “songs,” would have been appropriate in a Serio Leone spaghetti western. We have such as “Taste and See,” which sounds like a cigarette ad. Alas.

    [Oh for a Mass with the texts actually prescribed by the Church in Gregorian chant, which the Council said has pride of place in all sacred liturgical music!]

  3. TNCath says:

    This is a very strange article. Why is a “team” needed? And who will be on this “team”? I hope this “team” has more power and influence than poor Mother Clare Millea’s “team” for the Apostolic Visitation for Women Religious in the United States did.

  4. catholicmidwest says:

    Maybe the Diocese of Orange took the frequent comments people make about “transparency” somewhat literally. ;) All jokes aside, yes, I can’t imagine why someone might think you could make a Catholic church out of that glass-encased airplane hangar. Go figure.

  5. Rellis says:

    We can’t have mutual enrichment until the Ordinary Form is coherent in its own, internal “ars celebrandi.”

    We need to remove the liturgical abuse before the good praxis of the Ex Form tradition can really start to influence the Ordinary Form.

  6. Mitchell NY says:

    I believe the Crystal “Cathedral” costs 57 million….Perhaps it was the announcement and the people’s reaction to it that provoked the release of this information on the new office being created. I hope they have the teeth to do what they need to do. It is absolutely true that so many buildings called Churces look nothing like a Church at all. Only to become obsolete in 20 years facilitating the need to spend millions more on a new “box” or “office type” worship space. None of these places offer a Catholic the opportunity to spend his or her lifetime in a parish where they can discover in the many niches and corners, throughout their lives, different images and stories hidden and depicted in the arts of the inside of the building. To look at the arts and ponder the mysteries before Mass. The blank, barren walls offer nothing.

  7. Sadly the Diocese of Orange paid $57.5 Million. And they expect to spend $100 Million renovating and adapting the Crystal Cathedral.

    You would think that if this ( ) could be built for $20-25 Million, something larger and equally grand could be built for $157 Million.

    This New Commission sounds like a great idea!

  8. catholicmidwest says:

    This ought to be interesting. I agree with Fr. Z that there’s not yet enough information to see what this might look like or how much juridical clout might come to the fore. It could appear to be pretty heavy-handed in the wake of the new translations from a modern point of view-agreed. And then, the point could be made that the Holy See takes a long time to act, but when it does, it does; and now it is, and perhaps it’s retroactive in scope, meaning that there was really leniency in that they allowed people time to right themselves and they didn’t, so it wasn’t heavy-handed at all. Actually, this second line of thought is rather more in line with historical behavior from Rome than the first.

  9. ljc says:

    “It does so without proposing any modifications to the mass”

    How long has it been since Sacramentum Caritatis when the Pope said he had “asked the competent curial offices to study the possibility of moving the sign of peace to another place”
    Will this ever happen? Won’t modifications to the Mass have to take place?

  10. EXCHIEF says:

    Aw…I posted on the Crystal Cathedral without thinking. 57 mil + 100 mil to refurbish. Might outspend the Archdiocese of LA which would, I’m sure, make the Bishop proud.

  11. leonugent2005 says:

    Mutual enrichment in my mind has always meant that someday soon the Novus Ordo will go away and we will finally have the 1962 missal back in place everywhere

  12. Peter in Canberra says:

    and it has made a splash of fury here in Oz – – see the comments for what I mean. And sadly the ‘architecture’ and ‘decoration’ here is more like something you might expect to see on the set with the Wizard and Dorothy …
    The theology of place here seems to have allowed a perversion of poverty to be superimposed on archetecture to promote an almost universal revelling in squalor.

  13. APX says:

    @Fr. Z
    There can be no renewal or effective “new re-evangelization” until our liturgical worship is revitalized. Worship is the key.

    I asked about this in relation to the corrected translation, and the transcendence that the EF Mass offers on the weekend during an open forum in our diocese. This was after one of the priests was comparing our liturgy to that of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy and how when we’re at Mass “we act chummy with God” and the Byzantine Divine Liturgy there’s that “heavenly transcendence”. Another one of the priests told me “Mass is not a show.” Grrr! I know it’s not a show!! But how we pray and worship reflects how and what we believe! I can assure you, we don’t “get chummy with God” at the EF Mass.

  14. Nicole says:

    I feel better that I’m not the only one who thought of the “crystal cathedral” in conjunction with this article…haha!

  15. inara says:

    “apse-backward” …ROFL!

  16. APX says:

    Sadly this came too late for the new Cathedral in Saskatoon. I abhor it in all it’s hideousness, especially it’s practically circular seating arrangement. I’m not even sure which (or if a) bishop approved it, as the diocese was bishopless for some time around its beginning.

  17. digdigby says:

    It doesn’t matter, really. We’ll probably be meeting in each other’s basements.

  18. Zavodny Margarett RBC says:

    Too late for our parish as well. Our Tabernacle is located in a wind tunnel of a tower behind the altar. The doors to this “chapel” are closed during the Mass so that we may “focus on the Sacrifice on the Altar”. As if we would not focus on that in a church where the Tabernacle is not hidden? Add to that the rather spooky Stations of the Cross which seem to “grow” out of the walls. The original side entrances were converted into a Crucifixion Chapel and a Lady Chapel (how’s that for traditional terminology?)–probably the only redeeming renovations made. No Crucifix over the altar–rather a painting that is changed seasonally with one of the Risen Christ. Very strange wall and ceiling angles, plus a brick floor to make for such lousy acoustics that there is no way for the over-priced sound system to compensate. Too many blind eyes turned, too much blind trust over simple common sense. Yet still, the Sacrifice occurs…

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