Liturgy: 'Reform of the reform' on track

Liturgy: 'Reform of the reform' on track

Michael Gilchrist

As Archbishop Hart's letter to the editor (page 14) indicates, the finishing touches to the new Missal translation are well underway and Catholics in the pews can expect some interesting times in the next year or two. Much careful preparation will be needed to ensure full understanding and co-operation from priests and congregations.

This need is underlined by the do-your-own-thing liturgy in the parish of South Brisbane, as noted in several of our reports. At the time of writing the stand-off between Archbishop Bathersby and the dissenters continues, despite the passing of the 1 December deadline to resolve matters.

Meanwhile, as one of our news items reports (page 4), the newly appointed head of liturgy in the Vatican is a staunch supporter of Benedict XVI's 'reform of the reform' of the post-Vatican II liturgy. He faces a major challenge in restoring some semblance of liturgical order in the universal Church after decades of disobedience and confusion.

The Fathers at Vatican II had envisaged some necessary but moderate reforms, but for much of the time since then implementation has been largely driven by liturgists with a radical agenda.

In many parishes and dioceses the prevailing view seems to be that liturgy can and should be moulded to suit the whims of priests or the needs, wishes and causes of local groups of worshippers, as has occurred in South Brisbane and elsewhere, rather than be guided by the universal Church's officially sanctioned rubrics.

With the Latin Mass (1962 Missal) given official status as the extraordinary form of the liturgy and a much improved English translation of the ordinary form on the horizon, there will be two major steadying influences at work after decades of disorder.

As the Statement of Conclusions emphasised in 1999, Australia's bishops have the twofold responsibility to educate and to act decisively against serious liturgical abuses. This will be crucial when the time comes for implementing the new Missal translation. It could also be a window of opportunity to address the many unresolved liturgical problems.

Michael Gilchrist: Editor (email address available on request)

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