Monday, September 29, 2008

Msgr Gänswein on the Pope and the Liturgy

From NLM:

German weekly Die Zeit has an interview with Msgr. Georg Gänswein, the private Secretary of the Holy Father (hat-tip to the blog). Several interesting topics come up, but here are some excerpts regarding the liturgy in an NLM translation:

Of a different calibre are the interventions of Benedict in the liturgy of the universal Church - the gentle, but decidedly pursued renaissance of ecclesiastical forms, of which many Catholics seem to be ashamed since the reformist Second Vatican Council of the sixties. "Preconciliar" is the fighting word against the old, that which has to be overcome. It sounds like the word "premodern" in certain secular debates. Who is one of the two is as good as done. Pivotally "preconciliar ", i.e. to be overcome, was the venerable Mass with the face of the priest to God and the back to the people. By now, it is vice versa. Benedict is now rehabilitating the formal vocabulary of the traditional Mass, thought by the reformers to be overcome, wherever he can. This is not a matter of style anymore. Here everything is at stake.


"Anyone who knows him," replies Georg Gänswein, "knows him very much as someone who stands for continuity in the liturgy. It is a sort of dogma that the Second Vatican Council had brought ruptures. It can not be that a Vatican Council creates any ruptures. It is the Pope’s task to maintain the continuity of the Church and not to interrupt it. No, Pope Benedict has remained true to himself."

But does not the Catholic Church also have, albeit at a lower dose, the "Protestant problem" of the oblivion to form? On this very morning it could still be seen, in the middle of the Vatican, at Benedict's general audience. The Audience Hall could also be thought to be the town hall of Sindelfingen [a small German town, NLM]: no cross, no image, two abstract stained-glass windows and behind the Pope an enormous sculpture, reminiscent of the psychedelic record covers of the seventies.

Gänswein avoids reacting to the comment on the papal audience hall, but it is apparent that he is not precisely an ardent fan of it. "The hall was intended as a functional building for audiences. Five to ten thousand people could not be accommodated before."

Incidentally, the plans for the demolition of Vatican buildings of rich tradition in favour of the new hall went even further. "It was also intended to tear down the Palazzo del Sant'Offizio," Gänswein re-counts - one of the most precious palazzi there and the seat of the Congregation of the Faith, which his Pope directed as cardinal for so long. "The demolition was only prevented by the respect of then Pope Paul VI for Cardinal Ottaviani, the prefect of the Congregation of the Faith at that time."

"That there have been wrong developments within and outside the liturgy, in sacred art," Gänswein continues, "is clear for anyone who has healthy senses. But Pope Benedict is not an iconoclast, by his very nature he is not. He does not act with a bulldozer. He looks at the things and acts gently, but decidedly." Who for instance had expected that there would be a cut in the personnel policy under Benedict, found that he had been wrong.

But how will it go on - will Benedict XVI, who always stresses the continuity of the Church and its forms, stop at the corrections implemented so far, or are there more to follow?

"Where the continuity has not yet attained its goal, it will go on. Within the clergy there are of course some who do not like to see this. [But] Many who are younger than I am, are a lot more adamant there." He means: as regards corrections to the reforms of the sixties. If Catholic, if a priest, then do it right (“go the whole hog”)

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