"Sacramentum Caritatis" a New Step, Aide Says

Exhortation Shows Maturing of Liturgical Reform

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 18, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's postsynodal apostolic exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis" represents a new step toward the maturation of liturgical reform, says Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi.



The director of the Vatican press office said this during the "Octava Dies" program of the Vatican Television Center.

"Benedict XVI's new document on the Eucharist -- 'Sacramentum Caritatis' -- is a new sign of the continuity between the two pontificates," Father Lombardi said.

He added: "John Paul II’s last great initiatives were dedicated precisely to the Eucharist: His last encyclical, entitled, 'Ecclesia de Eucharistia'; … the proclamation of an entire pastoral year dedicated to the Eucharist, during which he died; the convocation of a Synod of Bishops on the theme of the Eucharist.

"John Paul II obviously saw and lived the Eucharist as the center and summit as well as the source of the life of the community of the Church that was given to him. And almost symbolically the period of his pontificate was concluded before this great gift and mystery."

The Vatican spokesman highlighted that "Benedict XVI carried the Year of the Eucharist and the synod to completion, and now he is communicating the fruits to the Church with a document that already in its title shows itself to be strictly linked to his first encyclical -- 'Deus Caritas Est' -- almost a natural development."

Characteristic concern

Father Lombardi says the "new text also manifests a concern characteristic of Benedict XVI: the liturgy, its richness and significance, the dignity of its celebration."

He continued: "There are truly many points on which the Church is invited to reflect so that it is rendered always more evident that the liturgy is a living event of the communion of the community with God.

"The liturgical reform initiated by the Second Vatican Council thus continues to mature in an always greater balancing of the horizontal and vertical dimensions.

"Theology, spirituality, liturgy, and life find in this new text an admirable balance and integration. A gift for the Church to receive, meditate, and bring to fulfillment."