This interview is certainly of great importance and interest liturgically. It is also very important doctrinally because of the Cardinal's insistence on Summorum Pontificum's importance for reading and interpreting the Second Vatican Council with a 'hermeneutic of continuity.'
Here is the True Reform of Pope Ratzinger: Cardinal Cañizares explains how to restore to Divine Worship the significance and vigor lost in the post Conciliar banalization.
January 9, 2010, Il Foglio
The ex-archbishop of Toledo and primate of Spain, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera has led the Vatican "ministry" which occupies itself with the liturgy for a little more than a year. A delicate task in a pontificate, such as that of Benedict XVI, in which the liturgy and its "restructuring" has a central role after the post conciliar drifts. Besides, the liturgy is the center of the life of the faithful. The Pope said it again at the Christmas Vigil: as for the monks, so it is for every man, "the liturgy is the first priority. Everything else comes after." It is necessary, "to put in second place all other occupations, as important as they may be, to set out toward God, to allow Him to enter into our life and our time."
Cardinal Cañizares says as much to Il Foglio and more in an assessment after having passed one year in the Roman Curia:
"I have received - he explains - the mission to complete, with the indispensable and most valuable help of my collaborators, those tasks which have been assigned to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus of John Paul II with respect to the order and promotion of the sacred liturgy, in the first place of the sacraments. For the religious and cultural situation in which we live and for the same priority which corresponds to the liturgy in the life of the Church, I believe that the principal mission which I have received is to promote with complete dedication and engagement, to re-vivify and develop the spirit and the true sense of the liturgy in the conscience and life of the faithful; so that the liturgy may be the center and the heart of the community; so that all, priests and faithful, consider it as the substantial and inescapable thing of our life; so that we live the liturgy in full truth; so that we live from it; so that it may be in all its fullness, as the Second Vatican Council says, "the source and summit" of the Christian life. After a year at the helm of this Congregation, I experience and sense with greater force every day the necessity of promoting in the Church, in every continent, a strong and rigorous liturgical impulse. An impulse which revivifies that most rich heritage of the Council and of the great liturgical movement of the 19th and first half of the 20th century - with men like Guardini, Jungmann and so many others – which the Church rendered fruitful at the Second Vatican Council. There, without any doubt, stands our future and the future of the world. I say this because the future of the Church and of the entirety of humanity is found in God, in the life of God and of that which comes from Him; and this happens in the liturgy and by means of it. Only a Church which lives the truth of the liturgy will be in a position to give the one thing which can renew, transform and recreate the world: God and only God and His grace. The liturgy, in its most pure character, is the presence of God, the salvific and regenerating work of God, the communication and participation of His merciful love, the adoration and acknowledgement of God. It is the only thing that can save us."
Guardini and Jungmann were two pillars of the liturgical renewal of the past decades. Figures which also inspired Joseph Ratzinger in his The Spirit of the Liturgy. Figures which, probably, have also inspired the promulgation of the Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum. It is said that the Motu Proprio has represented also (there are some who say before all else) an extended hand of the Pope to the Society of Saint Pius X. Is this so?
"In fact, it is. However, I believe that the Motu Proprio has a most important value for its own sake, for the Church and for the liturgy. Although this displeases some - judging by the reactions which have arrived and which continue to arrive - it is only just and necessary to say that the Motu Proprio is not a step back or a return to the past. It is to acknowledge and receive, with simplicity, in all its fullness, the treasures and inheritance of the great Tradition, which has in the liturgy its most genuine and profound expression. The Church cannot permit herself to prescind, to forget or to renounce the treasures and the rich inheritance of this tradition, contained in the Roman Rite. It would be a betrayal and a negation of her very self. She cannot abandon the historical inheritance of the ecclesiastical liturgy, or desire to establish everything from anew - as some have pretended - without cutting off fundamental parts of the Church herself. Some understood the conciliar liturgical reform as a rupture, and not as an organic development of the tradition. In these years after the Council, "change" was almost a magic word; it became necessary to modify that which had been, to the point of forgetting it; everything new; it was necessary to introduce novelty, in the end, a human work and creation. We cannot forget that the liturgical reform and the years after the Council coincided with a cultural climate marked or intensely dominated by a conception of man as 'creator' that only with difficulty co-exists with a liturgy which, above all, is the action of God and His priority, "the right" of God, the adoration of God and also tradition of that which we receive and has been given to us once and for all. We are not to make the liturgy ourselves, it is not our work, but the work of God. This conception of man as 'creator' which leads to a secularized vision of everything, where God, often, has no place, this passion for change and the loss of tradition has not yet been overcome. And for this reason, in my opinion, among the other things, stands the cause by which many see with such distrust the Motu Proprio or that it greatly displeases some to receive and accept it, to re-encounter the great riches of the Roman liturgical tradition which we cannot squander or to search for and accept the mutual enrichment of the one Roman rite between the "ordinary" form and the "extraordinary.” The Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, has a most important value which everyone ought to appreciate, whose value has not only to do with the liturgy, but the entire Church, of that which the tradition is and signifies, without which the Church turns into a human institution always in change. Obviously, the Motu Proprio has to be seen with the reading and interpretation one makes or would make of the Second Vatican Council. When one reads the Council and interprets it with the interpretive key of rupture and discontinuity, he understands nothing of the Council and he completely distorts it. For this reason, as the Pope indicates, only a hermeneutic of continuity brings us to a just and correct reading of the Council, and to understand the truth of that which it says and teaches in its entirety and in particular in the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium on the divine liturgy, which is inseparable, for the most part, with this same entirety. Consequently, the Motu Proprio also has a most high value for the communion of the Church."
The Pope stands behind the slow but necessary process of the Church's rapprochement to an authentic liturgical spirit. Also, divisions and contra-positions are not lacking. Cardinal Cañizares speaks about it:
"The great contribution of the Pope, in my opinion, is that he is bringing us closer to the truth of the liturgy, with a wise pedagogy, introducing us to the genuine 'spirit' of the liturgy (the title of one of his works before becoming Pope). He, before all else, is following a simple educative process which seeks to move toward this 'spirit' or genuine sense of the liturgy, to overcome a reductive vision which is still very entrenched in the liturgy. As Pope, he is the first to put into practice his teachings, so rich and abundant in this area. As his evocative gestures which accompany the celebrations at which he presides, move in this direction. To receive these gestures and these teachings is a duty which we have if we are disposed to live the liturgy in a way corresponding to its very nature and if we do not want to lose the treasures and liturgical inheritance of the tradition. Further, they constitute a great gift for the formation, as urgent as it is necessary, of the Christian people. In this prospective, one needs to see the same Motu Proprio which has confirmed the possibility to celebrate with the Roman Missal approved by John XXIII and which goes back, with the successive modifications, to the time of Saint Gregory the Great and even earlier. It is certain that there are many difficulties which those are having who, in utilizing that which is their right, are celebrating or participating in the Holy Mass according to "the ancient rite" or "extraordinary" form. Of itself, there need not be this opposition, or even less to be seen as suspect or labeled as "pre-conciliar" or, even worse, as "anti-conciliar." The reasons for this are many and diverse. However, deep down, they are the same which they will carry to a reform of the liturgy understood as rupture and not in the horizon of the tradition and the 'hermeneutic of continuity' which reclaims the renewal and true liturgical reform in the interpretive key of Vatican II. We cannot forget, in the end, that in the liturgy one touches that which is most essential to the faith and the Church and, for this reason, every time in history when one has touched something of the liturgy, tensions and even divisions have not been rare."
It is from the discourse of Benedict XVI to the Roman Curia on December 22, 2005 that the necessity to read the Second Vatican Council not under the lens of discontinuity with the past but in continuity has become central to this pontificate. What significance does this have from the liturgical point of view?
“It signifies, among other things, that we cannot bring the liturgical renewal to completion and put the liturgy at the center and source of Christian life if we approach it with the interpretive key of rupture with the tradition which precedes and which carries this rich source of life and of the gift of God which has nourished and given life to the Christian people. The teachings, the indications and the gestures of Benedict XVI are foundational in this sense. For this reason, one needs to promote the serene and profound knowledge of what he is saying to us, including that which he has said before becoming Pope, and which he so clearly reflects upon in Sacramentum Caritatis.”
The Congregation which Cañizares leads gathered last March in a plenary session and presented some propositions to the Holy Father.
“The plenary session of the Congregation was occupied, above all else, with Eucharistic adoration, the Eucharist as adoration and adoration outside of the Holy Mass. Some conclusions which were approved, were then presented to the Holy Father. These conclusions foresee a level of work for the Congregation in the coming years, which the Pope has both ratified and encouraged. The conclusions concern themselves with revivifying and promoting a new liturgical movement which, faithful to all the teachings of the Council and the teachings of Benedict XVI, place the liturgy in the central place which corresponds to it in the life of the Church. The conclusions of the propositions regard the impulse and promotion of the adoration of the Lord, based on the worship one must give to God, in the Christian liturgy; inseparable from the real and substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharistic sacrament; absolutely necessary for a living Church. To put an end to the abuses - which disgracefully are many – and to correct them is not something which derives from the plenary session of the Congregation, but it [the end of abuses] is something which the same liturgy and life of the Church and future of the Church and the communion it has protest. On this point, on the numerous liturgical abuses and on their correction, the Congregation published a most important Instruction some years ago called Redemptionis Sacramentum and we all must return to it. It is a most urgent duty to correct the existing abuses if we as Catholics want to bring something to the world, to renew it. The propositions do not have the purpose of putting an end to the creativity, but rather to encourage, favor, revivify the truth of the liturgy, its most authentic sense and its most genuine spirit. None of us can forget or ignore that liturgical creativity as it is often understood and as one often understands it, is an end to the liturgy and the cause of its secularization, because it is in contradiction to the nature of the liturgy itself.”
Do the propositions speak of the use of the Latin language?
“There is nothing said with respect to giving more space to the Latin language, including in the ordinary rite, nor to publish bilingual missals, which, in truth, has already been done in some places after the conclusion of the Council. Moreover, one must not forget that the Council does not dispense from Latin in the Constitution, Sacrosanctum Concilium, that venerable language to which the Roman Rite is connected.”
There are, moreover, so many other important questions, the orientation...
“We did not raise the question of “versus Orientem,” nor communion on the tongue or other aspects which sometimes bring out accusations such as “taking steps backward,” of conservatism or of elitism. I believe, besides, that questions such as these, the orientation, the crucifix visible on the center of the altar, communion received on the knees and on the tongue, the use of Gregorian chant, are important questions that we cannot make light of in a frivolous or superfluous manner and of which, in every instance, one must speak with knowledge of the cause and with foundation, as, for example, the Holy Father does. These things also correspond with and favor more the truth of the celebration. This can also be said of active participation, in the sense in which the Council speaks of it, and not in other senses. That which is important, is that the liturgy is celebrated in its truth, with truth, and that it favors and intensely promotes the sense and spirit of the liturgy in all the People of God in such a way that one lives from the liturgy. It is truly very important that the celebrations have and advance the sense of the sacred, of the Mystery, that they revive the faith in the Real Presence of the Lord and of the gift of God which acts in it, as in adoration, respect, veneration, contemplation, prayer, praise, thanksgiving and many other things which run the risk of being lost. When I participate in or see the liturgy of the Pope which has already incorporated many of these elements, I am always more convinced that they are not unimportant aspects but which rather have an expressive and educative force of themselves and in the truth of the celebration, the absence of which one notices.”
Cañizares has been for years a high-profile figure in the Spanish Church. He still is, although now he resides in Rome. In Spain, there has been a declaration by the secretary of the Episcopal Conference of the country, Monsignor Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, which said that those politicians who publicly express support for abortion, cannot receive Communion. Do you share this position of Camino? Because Spain has become the outpost of so called “secular” (laiciste) politics? How must bishops and the bishop’s conference carry themselves in the face of positions which negate life?
“Bishops, as pastors who guide and protect the people who have been entrusted to us, have the inescapable duty of charity to teach and transmit to the faithful, faithfully, with wisdom, doctrine and prudence, that which the faith of the Church believes and teaches, even if this costs us, even if this goes against the current or offends public opinion. That which is in play concerning the topic of abortion and that which one will legislate in Spain on this subject, when they will have approved all regulative procedures, it is something very grave and decisive, and we cannot remain quiet or hide the truth. It is the truth which, fulfilling the command of the Lord, the Church speaks of and requires of her faithful; it is the truth which she demands and expects of them. We must serve and direct the faithful with the light of the truth we have received, and of which we cannot set aside in moral questions and sometimes delicate ones at that. We must also help Catholics in public life to make their decisions with responsibility before God and men in conformity with reason as it corresponds to their condition as sons of the Church and believers in Jesus Christ. We cannot and must not, lest we be evil pastors, act in these questions with relativism, with political calculations or with skillful or subtle ‘diplomacy.’ The faithful exercise of our Episcopal ministry, besides, is not to be in absolute conflict, rather, with prudence, measure, mercy, gentleness and an extended hand which certainly must accompany us in everything. It is a difficult moment in which we are living right now in Spain. It is not easy for the bishops either. I do not believe, on the other hand, that Spain is the flag bearer or vanguard of political secularism. Secularism, evident and hidden, and political secularism have spread almost everywhere, in some countries more than others and in some with great power and force. There is a force, apparently unstoppable, engaged to introduce secularism all over the world or, which is the same thing, to erase the revealed God with the human face of Jesus Chris, His only begotten Son, from the conscience of man. It is true that this secularism has some special connotations, perhaps on account of her history and her very identity. Spain is undergoing a very radical transformation of mentality, in its thought, in its criteria of judgement, in its customs and ways of acting, in its culture, in summary, in its nature and identity. Further, this manifests itself in a great and profound crisis of values or moral rupture, behind which hides a religious crisis, both social and the fragmentation of man. However, at the same time, the roots and foundations which sustain Spain and its most genuine aspect derive from the Christian faith. These roots find there sustenance in it and in which it believes. And these roots have not been lost, nor will they be lost. A collection of laws, as that of abortion, which has already been approved in Parliament, beyond the other factors, are the sign of transformation already in motion. I have always believed that we bishops, being obedient to God before to men, must always announce the Gospel and Jesus Christ, not putting anything before Him and His works, to announce without rest and courageously the living God, the glory of Him being man fully alive, which constitutes the ‘yes’ most fully and totally which one can give to man, to his inviable dignity, to life, to his fundamental rights, to all that which is truly human. To announce and bear witness to Him who is love, by acting in all things with charity and carrying and bearing witness before all to the love of God, the passion God has for man, in a particular way for the weak, the indefensible and those who are treated unjustly. Everything aimed toward conversion, so that a new humanity rises up, made of new men, with the newness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their mode of being, of thinking and of acting which in Him, the truth of God and of men, we encounter and find its origin. One speaks simply to give impulse and bring to fruition a new and decisive evangelization. This is the condition in which the Church and bishops of Spain have found themselves in for a long time. It is a slow and arduous work, but which is bearing its fruits. Further, I believe, that the bishops in Spain, in virtue of the affirmation of God and the faith in Jesus Christ, have been in a great battle for man, of the right to life, of liberty, of that which is un-relinquishable for man as a family, the truth and the beauty of the family based on matrimony between one man and one woman, open to life, in love. They are in favor of the education of the person and of the freedom of teaching, and of religious liberty. The Church in Spain, looks every day and with more force and intensity on man and his fundamental rights, feeling the call to strengthen the experience of God so that the faithful may be ‘witnesses of the living God,’ as one of their most important documents from a few years ago says. Its task is not political nor to do politics, but only simply to be the Church, the presence of Christ among men, even if this penalizes the Church. The situation is hard but we look to the future with a great hope and a great call to allow ourselves to be strengthened by God and to keep Him at the center of everything and to proceed on our journey without tiring or without looking back, with our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ. I have absolute certainty that Spain will change and turn to the vigor of a living faith and a renewed society. We cannot let down the guard or let down our arms which must be held out to God in faithful and permanent supplication. It is essential that, before all else, it recuperates its vitality and its theological vigor and religiousness, that the God given in Jesus Christ, may truly be its center and its most solid foundation, to be capable and to make a new society arise. This is possible and, furthermore, nothing is impossible with God.”