Father Lombardi: Liturgy Draws Toward Unity

Says Papal Document Invites Reciprocal Openness

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ROME, JULY 15, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi says Benedict XVI's "Summorum Pontificum" and the message accompanying it are a call to "enlarging the heart," reciprocal openness and reconciliation.



The Vatican spokesman commented on the July 7 papal document written "motu proprio" (on one's own initiative) during the most recent edition of the television program "Octava Dies."

Father Lombardi explained the Holy Father's hopes by referring to a phrase the latter used from St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians: "'Our mouth is open to you, Corinthians, our heart is wide. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return … widen your hearts also!'

"Benedict XVI makes his own these words of St. Paul in the culminating point of his accompanying letter to the recent [document issued] 'motu proprio' on the liturgy, to express in a more profound way the spirit that animates him. And he continues: 'Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.'"

Spirit of obedience

Father Lombardi acknowledged that the document has brought mixed reactions.

"As could be expected, after the publication of the document, there have been those who, on one hand -- thinking themselves better interpreters of Vatican II than the Pope -- lamented a betrayal of the liturgical reform of Paul VI," he said.

On the other hand, he added, there are those who, "hardening in their rigidity, proclaimed that they had always been right in the position they took of rejecting the renewal."

But, Father Lombardi affirmed, "the greater part of the faithful and all the bishops read and listened with attention and a spirit of obedience, so as to better receive the truer significance of the Pope's decision, which is a very clear message of enlarging the heart, of reciprocal openness, of reconciliation."

A mystery so great

Father Lombardi said the liturgy accompanies the Church in its journey through history.

"We have two forms -- one ordinary and the other extraordinary -- of a single rite of celebration of the Mass. The mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ is so great that it cannot be identified in a definitive and exclusive way with one form or the other of the rite that is celebrated," the Vatican spokesman emphasized.

The liturgy is "a continual journey, without ruptures, guided in faith and charity by he who has supreme responsibility for the unity of the Church," he said.

Father Lombardi continued: "Neither the Missal of Pius V and John XXIII -- used by a small minority -- nor that of Paul VI -- used today with much spiritual fruit by the greatest majority -- will be the final 'law of prayer' of the Catholic Church.

"In the Church's journey through history, there is also the journey of the liturgical celebration so that we may more and more perfectly encounter the Lord, his death and resurrection, source of our life. This is the central point, that draws us toward unity."