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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Pope Benedict speaks out from retirement. Modern liturgy "darkens" God.

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Benedict XVI: Modern liturgy "darkens" God

It is one of the life themes of Benedict XVI: the Second Vatican Council and its reception. The fact that he has not finished so far is shown by his latest publication.


Five months after his 90th birthday, Benedict XVI received a retrospective ecumenical birthday present: the Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion handed over a copy of the Russian edition of the Liturgy volume of the Ratzinger-Gesamtausgabe to the emeritus pope at the end of September. The volume entitled "Theology of the Liturgy" was published by the Moscow Patriarchate. And this is not the only peculiarity: Benedict XVI. himself had written the preface for the Russian edition. The Italian daily newspaper "Corriere della serra" had already published the text of the two-page text in April. But at that time he found little attention. On Wednesday the Italian daily "La Stampa" published the text again.

In it, the professorial writer writes about one of his theological life themes: the Second Vatican Council and, in his opinion, often distorted reception. The (emeritus) Pope, in the preface, is pursuing a core thesis that the deeper cause of the present crisis of the Church is the darkening of God in the liturgy. "The misunderstanding of the liturgical form, which is widespread in the Church, focuses on the aspect of submission as well as its own activity and creativity". The consequence: "The doings of men and women has certainly sent the presence of God in oblivion". The Church, however, lives from the "correct celebration of the liturgy," Benedict XVI emphasises.  If the pre-eminence of God were no longer clear in the liturgy and in life, the Church herself is in danger.

Benedict: Nothing is more preferable to worship

Pope Benedict XVI draws a pessimistic picture of the present in his text. "In the consciousness of today's people, the affairs of God and thus also the liturgy did not seem urgent," he complains. All things are urgent today, only the matter of God is not. The Pope recalls the principle of the monastic Rule of Benedict of Nursia (around 480-547) that nothing should be preferred to worship. The founder of Western monasticism had deliberately formulated this with a view to seemingly greater urgency in agriculture or science. But the priority of God does not only apply in monastic life, emphasizes Benedict XVI.

Written comments by the emeritus pope have repeatedly sparked debates in the past. His memory of the funeral of Cardinal Joachim Meisner lastly caused debates in August. Why "La Stampa" published the preface only now remained unclear.

Update:  Full text here of preface

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