Thursday, 9 May 2013

On Liturgy and mediocre leaders

Pope Francis:
"During the Ascension 
Jesus made the priestly gesture of blessing, 
and the disciples certainly expressed their faith with prostration, they knelt with bowed heads."
The Ascension blessing - an act both liturgical and powerful.

I blogged the other day about  a book now available in English that is a "conversation" between a Rabbi and the (then) Cardinal Archbishop  Bergoglio.  I could only draw an impression of it from a review but James Preece at Catholic and Loving it managed to get hold of a copy ahead of time and has posted two interesting pieces about the Cardinal's views.

James' review On liturgy in the book:

It certainly seems to give a reason for the pared down style the Holy Father prefers.  Not giving out Holy Communion himself because of the scandal it might cause if those who are not in a fit state to receive it, according to the Church's teaching, were to be seen receiving from a cardinal or Pope.

Perhaps it also explains why he doesn't want a whole trail of people coming up at the Offertory with the Gifts. He has a concern that the liturgy can be used "to show off" instead of performing a religious duty.  As a pastor he says such things, "weigh on his conscience."

It seems to me that the liturgy is often used by some priests and people to make points - political or otherwise.  It must be inclusive - even if that means people who are not very good at reading proclaim the readings; a prominent role must be given to women to offset the "dominance" of the male on the sanctuary; Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion used unnecessarily just to give lay people a role in the liturgy, so it no longer becomes a means of service but a means of proclaiming an agenda.  Any innovation that is illicitly introduced has the very real possibility of doing the opposite of what it is supposed to do, which, according to the words of cardinal Bergoglio is to "unite the people of God".  In other words it is the wisdom of  saying the black and doing the red.

James' review On power in the Church in the book:

He speaks of the "circles of power" in the Church for those who are careerists. Mediocre men who should be removed. (Indeed, there is a suggestion that Pope Francis has already removed bishops from office.)   "How sad for the people that are under a mediocre leader, who thinks too highly of himself. When a mediocre person thinks too highly of himself and gets just a little power, I am sorry for those under him." It seems as a Cardinal, the Pope had a concern for where the damage of mediocre leaders was really done - to those suffering under their mediocre ministrations.  Again, the answer is to love the Church, to follow the Church's teaching so that leaders are not doing their own thing - promoting the greater good rather than pushing their own agendas.  Just like the liturgy really.


Anonymous said...

Fr, it appears that it was Pope Benedict who removed bishops from office per the article you gave a link to. But if the statements on Pope Francis' views is correct we can hope for the same approach

Genty said...

The conundrum for me is which came first: mediocre leaders or mediocre liturgy. Once that's resolved we can "move on", as they say.

Sixupman said...

"Luke Delmege" by the late Canon Sheehan a tale of two priests appears to be a good indication of the problem.