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Wednesday, September 13, 2017
The rupture has occurred - Francis vs Benedict XVI (and St. John Paul II)
Just a few weeks after Pope Francis announced that the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council was “irreversible", he made a widespread change to the ways, and words, in which Roman Catholics worship by amending Vatican law to give national bishop conferences greater authority in translating liturgical language.
By his action, Francis goes much further than the reforms of the Second Vatican Council had ever envisaged and erased some of the actions of his predecessors, Benedict XVI and John Paul II. With the motu proprio Magnum Principium, Pope Francis has altered a key 2001 instruction by Saint John Paul II (Liturgiam Authenticam), instructing that translations from Latin needed to be “in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content.”
That same year, the Vatican established Vox Clara, a committee to scrutinize English-language translations of the texts and prayers included in the Roman Missal. The committee advocated a close fidelity to the Latin. All this goes against the “reform of the reform” movement, which ultimately had advocates at the top of the Catholic Church during John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
The amendment is a significant development in a liturgical schism that has split Catholics across the world and was evident at the highest echelons of the church, especially in recent times. In our opinion, this is an attempt to undermine Benedict XVI's Summorum Pontificum, practically when we are supposed to celebrate its tenth anniversary.
Pope Francis, in fact, has recalled that the Second Vatican Council entrusted bishops with the “weighty task of introducing the vernacular language into the liturgy.” He added that “in order that the renewal of the whole liturgical life might continue, it seemed opportune that some principles handed on since the time of the council should be more clearly reaffirmed and put into practice.”
Unfortunately, under this pontificate, we have seen the undermining of Cardinal Sarah. Last year, Cardinal Sarah called for priests to celebrate Mass ad orientem, but Francis promptly issued an unusual public rebuke. And in April of this year, Cardinal Sarah sent a letter honouring Benedict XVI’s support of the Latin Mass, asserting that “modern liturgy” had caused devastation and schism. Benedict XVI wrote that “the liturgy is in good hands,” in an afterward to a book the cardinal wrote this year.
Alas, Francis argued that “vernacular languages themselves, often only in a progressive manner, would be able to become liturgical languages, standing out in a not dissimilar way to liturgical Latin for their elegance of style and the profundity of their concepts with the aim of nourishing the faith.”