The Roman Curia Wakes Up and Strikes Three Blows
1. In "L'Osservatore Romano" on January 5, cardinal Cláudio Hummes, prefect of the congregation for the clergy, announced that he had sent to bishops, pastors, religious superiors, and seminary rectors all over the world a letter to ask that in every diocese "cenacles" of perpetual Eucharistic adoration be established, with the aim of "sanctifying" priests through prayer.
Among the motivations for the initiative, Hummes explicitly referred to the sexual "sins" committed on the part of a "minimal" but still significant part of the clergy:
"We ask all to do Eucharistic adoration in order to make reparation before God for the grave injury that has been done, and to recover the dignity of the victims. Yes, we wanted to think of the victims, so that they might feel that we are near. They are uppermost in our thoughts; it is important to say this."
2. In an interview with "L'Osservatore Romano" on January 9, and in an unsigned note published by the same newspaper four days later, cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the congregation for the causes of saints, announced that toward the end of February there will be the public presentation of the instruction "Sanctorum Mater," on the opening of causes of beatification, an instruction that until now was known only to those directly involved in the process.Finally,
The document – dated May 17, 2007, the Italian text of which was published in "Acta Apostolicae Sedis" issue no. 6, June 1, 2007, pp. 465-510 – translates into precise norms the guidelines that Benedict XVI gave to the congregation for the causes of saints in a message on April 27, 2006.
Caution and accuracy: these are the criteria that the pope and the congregation want to see more closely observed.
Don't miss this excellent review of how changes in the Curia have assisted the plans of His Holiness.
3. On Monday, January 14 "L'Osservatore Romano," in reporting on the Mass and baptisms celebrated by Benedict XVI in the Sistine Chapel the previous Sunday, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, emphasized that "for the first time since the beginning of his pontificate," the pope "celebrated the Mass in public from the traditional altar" (see the photo at the top).
And it explained:
"He decided to celebrate at the ancient altar in order not to alter the beauty and harmony of this architectural gem, preserving its structure from the viewpoint of the celebration and making use of a possibility provided for by the liturgical guidelines. At certain moments the pope thus found himself with his back to the faithful and his gaze upon the Cross, orienting in this way the attitude of the entire assembly."
A few days later, in a January 20 interview with Vatican Radio, the new master of ceremonies for the pontifical liturgies, Guido Marini, gave these additional explanations:
"I believe that it is important first of all to consider the orientation that the liturgical celebration is always called upon to display: I refer to the centrality of the Lord, the Savior crucified and risen from the dead. This orientation must determine the interior disposition of the whole assembly, and in consequence, the exterior manner of celebrating as well. The placement of the cross on the altar, at the center of the assembly, has the capacity to communicate this fundamental aspect of liturgical theology. There can also be particular circumstances in which, because of the artistic conditions of the sacred place and its singular beauty and harmony, it would be preferable to celebrate at the ancient altar, which preserves the precise orientation of the liturgical celebration. This is exactly what happened in the Sistine Chapel. This practice is permitted by the liturgical norms, and is in harmony with the conciliar reform."