~by Bruno Volpe of Petrus via Papa Ratzinger Forum
'The clergy at every level have a duty to obey the Pope' is the central message from Mons. Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige, secretary-general of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in this exclusive interview.
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Excellency, how would you describe the reception so far of the Pope's Motu Proprio liberalizing the use of the traditional Mass? Some in the Church have turned up their noses at it...
There have been positive reactions, and of course, we cannot deny that there have been criticisms and direct opposition from some theologians, liturgists, bishops and even cardinals.
Frankly, I do not understand these forms of distancing from the Pope, or better still, call it for what it is, rebellion.
I invite everyone, especially bishops, to obey the Pope, who is the Successor of Peter. Bishops, in particular, have sworn their loyalty to the Pontiff, and should be consistent and faithful to that vow.
In your opinion, what is the reason for this display of opposition to the Pope?
You know that there have been, in some dioceses, 'interpretative' documents aimed, inexplicably, at delimiting the Pope's Motu Proprio. Such actions are partly motivated by ideological prejudice as well as arrogance, one of the gravest of sins.
I can only repeat: I call on everyone to obey the Pope. If the Holy Father thought that it was his duty to issue this Motu Proprio, he made his reasons clear, and I share them fully.
The liberalization of the traditional Mass also seems like a proper remedy to so many liturgical abuses that were unfortunately committed after Varican-II in connection with the Novus Ordo...
I don't criticize the Novus Ordo. But it makes me laugh when I hear it said, even by some friends of mine, that in a parish, the priest is a saint because of his homilies or how he speaks.
The Holy Mass is a sacrifice, an offering, a mystery, that is independent of the priest who celebrates it. It is therefore important - in fact, fundamental - that the priest knows his place in it: the protagonist of the Mass is Christ.
Therefore, I do not understand the eucharistic celebrations transformed into performances with singing and dancing and clapping, which unfortunately takes place in many Novus Ordo Masses.
Mons. Patabendige, your Congregation has often spoken against such liturgical abuses...
Yes. We have issued so many documents which, however, remain dead letters, that end up in dusty shelves, or worse, in the weatebasket.
Another point - sometimes, one has to sit through excessively long homilies...
Even that is an abuse. I am against dancing and applause during Mass, because one is not at the circus or a stadium. As for homilies, they should be exclusively catechetical, as the Pope has underscored, and avoid sociologisms and useless patter.
Often, the priest ends up talking about politics because he has not really prepared a homily [which should always be based on the Gospel and readings of the day]. And a homily should be prepared carefully, scrupulously.
An excessively long homily usually means little preparation. A homily should be about 10 minutes, 15 at the most. The priest must consider that the culminating moment of the celebration is the Eucharistic mystery. This is not to diminish the liturgy of the Word but to clarify the correct application of liturgy.
Going back to the Motu Proprio, there are those who criticize the use of Latin for the Mass...
The Tridentine rite in Latin is part of Church tradition. The Pope has dutifully explained the reasons for his decision - it is an act of liberation and of justice for the traditionalists.
As for the use of Latin, I would like to emphasize that it was never abolished. [The so-called 'typical' Missals, even that of the Novus Ordo - on which all other language translations are based - are in Latin.] Latin is a guarantee of the universality of the Church.
I can only repeat: I call on all priests, bishops and cardinals to obey the Pope, setting aside any pride or prejudice.