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The Future of the Roman Rite: Reading Benedict in the Light of Ratzinger David G. Bonagura, Jr. In the preface to the first published volume of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI’s “opera omnia,” the Pope says that “the Church’s liturgy has been the central activity of my life, and it also became… the center of my theological work.” In this work, “I was not interested in the specific problems of liturgical study, but in the anchoring of the liturgy in the fundamental act of our faith, and therefore also its place in our entire human existence.” His deep knowledge and love of the sacred liturgy is evident from a glancing survey of his liturgical writings, all of which are capped by his comprehensive “vision of the whole,” The Spirit of the Liturgy (Ignatius, 2000). Nevertheless, Cardinal Ratzinger did discuss specific liturgical questions on many occasions. But with his election to the papacy in 2005, his opinions on the Church’s liturgical life since the Second Vatican Council have acquired considerably more weight since as Supreme Pontiff he has authority to regulate the liturgy. So far Pope Benedict has exercised his supreme authority only twice with respect to the liturgy. With his motu proprio Summorum pontificum of 2007, he has placed the 1962 Missal in full parity with that of 1970, designating them as, respectively, the “extraordinary” and “ordinary” forms of the one Roman Rite. The other exercise of papal authority involves   Benedict XVI, Preface to Theologie der Liturgie [Theology of the Liturgy ], ed. Gerhard L. Müller, Gesammelte Schriften [Collected Writings] 11 (Freiburg: Herder, 2008). English translation available at (posted 29 October 2008). Although the volume on the liturgy is the eleventh in the series, it was actually the first volume to be published.   Ibid.   Ibid.  Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium (4 December 1963) 22.   Benedict XVI, Apostolic Letter motu proprio Summorum pontificum (7 July 2007), art. 1: “Missale Romanum a Paulo VI promulgatum ordinaria expressio ‘Legis orandi’ Ecclesiae catholicae ritus Latini est. Missale autem RomaAntiphon 13.3 (2009): 228-246 229 The Future of the Roman Rite: Reading Benedict in the Light of Ratzinger an alteration to the Ordo Missae in the ordinary form: Benedict has approved three alternatives to the dismissal Ite, missa est. In his apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist, Sacramentum caritatis of 2007 (henceforth S.Car.), Benedict expresses his magisterial vision for a proper ars celebrandi of the reformed liturgical rites. In that same document he notes his willingness to consider moving the sign of peace to another place in the Mass. The writings of Joseph Ratzinger and the liturgical decisions of Pope Benedict leave no doubt about the Pope’s commitment to the fundamental liturgical principles of Vatican II. What are the emerging directions of the ongoing renewal of the Roman liturgy? By reading Benedict in the light of the strong opinions of Ratzinger, it seems that a large-scale juridical “reform of the reform” is not likely to take place soon. For Benedict, the first priority is renewing the “spirit” rather than the structure of the liturgy. This requires a vigorous deepening of liturgical spirituality, of an ability to be drawn by the holy rites into spiritual conversion to Christ. I. Joseph Ratzinger and Sacrosanctum Concilium Joseph Ratzinger had a profound love for the twentieth-century liturgical movement and its culmination in the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Liturgy Sacrosanctum concilium of 1963. The influences of Josef Pascher and Romano Guardini10 led the young num a S. Pio V promulgatum et a beato Ioanne XXIII denuo editum habeatur uti extraordinaria expressio eiusdem ‘Legis orandi’ Ecclesiae et ob venerabilem et antiquum eius usum debito gaudeat honore. Hae duae expressiones ‘legis orandi’ Ecclesiae, minime vero inducent in divisionem ‘legis credendi’ Ecclesiae; sunt enim duo usus unici ritus Romani.” Acta Apostolicae Sedis 99 (2007) 779.   Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments , “Reimpressio Emendata Missalis Romani,” Notitiae 503-504 (JulyAugust 2008) 367-87, here 372. The new dismissal formulae appear in Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia emendata (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2008) §144, p. 605: “Ite, ad Evangelium Domini annuntiandum,” “Ite in pace, glorificando vita...


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