For Cardinal Sarah, the heart of all authentic Christian liturgy includes efforts to improve and esteem its beauty and sacredness as well as "maintaining the right balance between fidelity to the Tradition and legitimate evolution." This last point means "absolutely and radically" rejecting any interpretation that sees liturgical history as a break with the past.
The cardinal spoke at length of divisions over the liturgy, delivering some strong criticism for some abuses.
While the sense of the sacred is inseparable from the liturgy, some of the faithful have been so mistreated or deeply troubled by superficial celebrations of the liturgy that they have become "liturgically homeless."
Cardinal Sarah criticized a vision of liturgical reform that failed to fulfill the authentic restoration envisioned by the Second Vatican Council. This vision was carried out with "a superficial spirit" and wrongly aimed "to eliminate at all cost a heritage perceived to be totally negative and outdated in order to dig an abyss between before and after the council."
For Cardinal Sarah, the Second Vatican Council was not intended to be "a rupture with the Tradition," but rather a rediscovery and confirmation of tradition "in its deepest significance."
"In fact, what is called 'the reform of the reform,' and which should perhaps be called with greater precision 'the mutual enrichment of the rites,' to adopt an expression of the magisterium of Benedict XVI, is above all a spiritual necessity," he said.
"Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger tirelessly repeated that the crisis that has been shaking the Church for the past fifty years, principally since the Second Vatican Council, is linked to the crisis of the liturgy, and thus to the disrespect, desacralization, and horizontalization of the essential elements of divine worship."
As Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in his memoirs, he is convinced that "the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy."
Cardinal Sarah added: "we cannot close our eyes to the disaster, the devastation, and the schism that the modern promoters of a living liturgy have provoked by remodeling the liturgy of the Church according to their ideas."
He contended that those who enacted negative changes in the liturgy forgot that it is not only a prayer, but is especially a mystery "that we cannot understand entirely, but which we must accept and receive in faith, love, obedience, and an adoring silence."
This, he said, is the true meaning of the council's endorsement of "the active participation of the faithful" in the liturgy.
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The "crisis of faith" since the council has affected many Christian faithful, especially many priests and bishops, and has made them incapable of understanding the Eucharistic liturgy as a sacrifice identical to the Sacrifice of the Cross.
Cardinal Sarah emphasized that the Mass is " the living sacrifice of Christ who died on the cross to free us from sin and death, so as to reveal the love and glory of God the Father." Every celebration of the Mass aims for "the glory and adoration of God and the salvation and sanctification of men."
True worshipers of God do not reform the liturgy according to their own ideas and creativity to please the world. Rather, they "reform the world with the Gospel" to help the world access the liturgy that is "the reflection of the liturgy that is celebrated from all eternity in the heavenly Jerusalem."
Cardinal Sarah stressed Benedict XVI's approach. The Pope's 2007 letter to bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum said it aimed "to allow for the mutual enriching of the two forms of the same Roman Rite" and opened the possibility of perfecting them "by highlighting the best elements that characterize each."
The cardinal offered guidelines for Summorum Pontificum, saying it should be applied "with great care" and not as "a negative and regressive measure, turned towards the past." Neither should it be applied "as something that builds walls and creates a ghetto."
Rather, it should be "an important and genuine contribution to the current and future liturgical life of the Church." It can contribute to the liturgical movement, from which "more and more people, in particular the youth, draw so many true, good, and beautiful things."