Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cardinal Martini on Summorum Pontificum

As stated in a previous article, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini was not a supporter of the Tridentine Mass. Soon after Benedict XVI's motu proprio Summorum Pontificum he gave his opinion on the 29 July 2007 edition of Il Sole 24 Ore.
Notwithstanding that Latin was one of the many languages that Cardinal Martini spoke, he declared that he would not celebrate the Tridentine Mass. 
Martini said that he had no problem with the Pope's decision to lift restrictions. On the contrary, he admired Benedict XVI's "benevolence" in allowing Catholics "to praise God with ancient and new forms" by permitting a wider use of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.
Cardinal Martini gave three reasons for his decision: 
  • Because "with the Second Vatican Council there was a real step forward in understanding the liturgy and its ability to nourish us with the word of God, offered in a much more abundant way than before".
  • It would be symptomatic of "that sense of closure that emanated from the entire kind of Christian life that people lived then". Martini wrote, "I am very grateful to the Second Vatican Council because it opened doors and windows for a Christian life that was happier and more humanly liveable". Although before the Second Vatican Council one could live a holy and happy Christian life, the "Christian existence lacked that little grain of mustard that gives added flavour to daily life".
  • There is the need for unity in prayer within each diocese and a practical concern for bishops already struggling to find and assign priests in a way that makes the Eucharist available to as many people as possible. "Here I trust in the traditional good sense of our people, who will understand how the bishop already struggles to provide the Eucharist to everyone and that it would not be easy to multiply the celebrations or pull out of thin air ordained ministers capable of meeting all the needs of individuals".
Still, Cardinal Martini was not against the Tridentine Mass per se. He said that the first 35 years of his life; his first Communion, theology studies and ordination were positively marked by the Tridentine Mass.

"It was in the framework of this rite that there began and developed that contact with the divine" and with the mysteries of God who "surrounds us, penetrates us, gives us life and makes us sense a holy presence," Martini concluded.