28 September 2007

President of the Italian Episcopal Conference speaks on the Motu Proprio

From the main address of the President of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, to the permanent council of the Conference (September 17, 2007).

The initiative regarding which even the intra-Church attention has been focused in the past few months is the "Motu proprio" Summorum Pontificum, on the use of the Roman liturgy prior to the reform of 1970 and officially in force from the past September 14. The goal of this pronouncement is clearly entirely spiritual and pastoral. In fact, on the one hand, "it behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer" - as the Pope writes in the accompanying letter to the "Motu proprio" -; on the other, it is necessary "to make every effort to enable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew".

Within this horizon, he deigns to include as an "extraordinary" expression in the lex orandi of the Church the Roman Missal promulgated by Saint Pius V and aggiornato by Blessed John XXIII in 1962, though the "ordinary" way remains the Roman Missal published by Paul VI in 1970. And he insists in clarifying that there will not be two rites, but "two uses of the one Roman rite", who all [of us] wish always to be at the center of the ecclesial life, an occasion of full "reconciliation" and of a living unity in the Church herself.

What the Pope encourages us to adopt, beyond the cultural forces to which one is necessarily susceptible, is thus an inclusive, and not a confrontational, interpretative key. In the history of the liturgy, as in the life of the Church, there is "growth and progress, but never rupture", as he had already had the chance to affirm in the speech to the Roman Curia of December 22, 2005. In fact, in that occasion, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, he indicated as valid not "the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture", but rather that of "reform, of renewal in continuity with the one subject-Church". In other words, it is the solicitude for the unity of the Church "in space and time" the motivating force which moves Benedict XVI, a matter which fundamentally pertains to the Successor of Peter.

But this passion for unity must move every Christian and every pastor considering the prospects which are opened with the "Motu proprio". And not, therefore, the search for a personal aesthetic fancy, detached from the community and often in opposition to others, but a will to include oneself always more in the Mystery of the Church which prays and celebrates, not excluding anyone and without a forestalling opposition regarding other liturgical forms or regarding the Second Vatican Council. Only thus will it be avoided that a measure intended towards greater unity and fervor in the Christian community be used instead to hurt and divide it.

I wish to add, nonetheless, that I am reasonably optimistic on a better appraisal of the "Motu proprio" in the life of our parishes. And I trust that certain pessimistic concerns, voiced [at the time], soon showed themselves to be unfounded. The sense of balance which has always characterized our clergy and, therefore, our pastoral [work], will allow [us] to find, thanks to the moderating action of the Bishops, the just way to make the new bud blossom in the living plant of ecclesial liturgy, and even, as a final result, to relaunch and increase the latter in its entirety

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