Vatican denies clampdown on liturgical reform

Mass CNA World Catholic News 2 9 11

The Vatican has denied an Italian newspaper analyst's claim that one of its departments will be dedicating itself to a stricter interpretation of the Second Vatican Council's liturgical changes.

Vatican analyst Andrea Tornielli of Italy's Il Giornale paper announced early on Feb. 9 that Pope Benedict XVI will soon modify the responsibilities of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

Tornielli is known for having advance knowledge of important Vatican information. But the Vatican has denied the Vatican analyst's latest report.

Tornielli reported that the Pope's coming changes would make it possible for the worship congregation to promote a liturgy “more faithful to the original intentions of Vatican II.” This would leave “less room for arbitrary changes” and put greater emphasis on the sacredness of the Mass, he said.

The papal order, he wrote, will have the principal function of shifting the jurisdiction of cases of marriage in the Church that remain unconsummated from the worship office to the Vatican's “Roman Rota” court.

He explained that around 500 such cases exist per year. The majority of cases come from Asia, where arranged marriages are common. In the West, cases result from couples psychologically incapable of carrying out the conjugal act. Without that caseload, the worship office would be responsible only for liturgical matters, said Tornielli.

The Vatican analyst said the Pope’s order “could cite that 'new liturgical movement'” which the congregation's prefect, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, has referred to in the past. In an interview with Il Giornale last December, the cardinal said that liturgical reforms were hastily carried out after Vatican II and that it is "necessary and urgent" to revisit them.

In this case, the development could mean a return to Second Vatican Council teachings to undertake a “reform of the reform,” said Tornielli.

The divine worship department would assume this “new liturgical movement” as part of its function, he explained. He also predicted that a new section of the department would be created for art and sacred music.

Tornielli's report evoked a response from the Vatican just hours after it was published.

Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, confirmed that the department has been studying the possibility of a “motu proprio” – the title of the Pope's order – to transfer the caseload of unconsummated marriages to the Rota.

“But,” added Fr. Lombardi, “there is no foundation or reason to see in this an intention to promote a 'restrictive' type control by the congregation over the promotion of the liturgical renewal desired by the Second Vatican Council.”

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