Zenit has just run an interview of Francis Cardinal Arinze, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, published in Inside the Vatican magazine.
You should read it in its entirety, but here are some excerpts I thought you'd enjoy.
Regarding "music in the liturgy, we should start by saying that Gregorian music is the Church's precious heritage," he said. "It should stay. It should not be banished. If therefore in a particular diocese or country, no one hears Gregorian music anymore, then somebody has made a mistake somewhere."
"The local church should be conscious that church worship is not really the same as what we sing in a bar, or what we sing in a convention for youth. Therefore it should influence the type of instrument used, the type of music used."
"I will not now pronounce and say never guitar; that would be rather severe," Cardinal Arinze added. "But much of guitar music may not be suitable at all for the Mass. Yet, it is possible to think of some guitar music that would be suitable, not as the ordinary one we get every time, [but with] the visit of a special group, etc."
"Vatican II brought many good things but everything has not been positive, and the synod recognized that there have been shadows," Cardinal Arinze acknowledged.
"There has been a bit of neglect of the holy Eucharist outside Mass," he said. "A lot of ignorance. A lot of temptations to showmanship for the priest who celebrates facing the people.
"If he is not very disciplined he will soon become a performer. He may not realize it, but he will be projecting himself rather than projecting Christ. Indeed it is very demanding, the altar facing the people. Then even those who read the First and Second Reading can engage in little tactics that make them draw attention to themselves and distract the people.
Abuses not new
Contrary to what many think, he said, "even when there was the Tridentine Mass there were abuses. Many Catholics did not know, because they did not know Latin! So when the priest garbled the words, they were not aware of this.
"Therefore, the most important area is faith and fidelity to that faith, and a faithful reading of the original texts, and their faithful translations, so that people celebrate knowing that the liturgy is the public prayer of the Church."
The Washington Post has taken up the question of Catholics on the Supreme Court. Mostly a set of quotations from various commentators, the story at least asks the right questions. “Why have recent Republican presidents turned again and again to Catholic jurists when making appointments to the Supreme Court? It may be partly an effort to woo Catholic voters, but mostly it’s because so many of the brightest stars in the conservative legal firmament are Catholics, several scholars said.”
Those scholars included Notre Dame’s Gerald Bradley, who told the Post: “I do think that there is an important truth in saying that Catholics are the intellectual pillars of social conservatism. Compared to their political allies in that movement, Catholics are heirs to a richer intellectual tradition and . . . are more inclined to believe that reason supplies good grounds for the moral and political positions characteristic of social conservatism. Call it the ‘natural law’ thing.”
Cardinal Would Ban Communion for Certain Lawmakers Those Who Deny Christian Principles
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 9, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo asked a blunt question when addressing the Synod of Bishops: "May access to Eucharistic Communion be allowed to those who deny human and Christian values and principles?"
The president of the Pontifical Council for the Family raised the question in connection with politicians and lawmakers. He answered his own question with a "no."
"So-called personal option cannot be separated from the sociopolitical duty," the cardinal said Friday.
"It is not a 'private' problem. The acceptance of the Gospel, of the magisterium and of right reasoning are needed!"
"Today, the projects for laws and the choices made or to be made seriously imperil 'the good news' that is the Gospel of the family and of life, which form an indivisible unity," he continued. "The future of man and society comes into play and, in many aspects, the genuine possibility for integral evangelization."
"The social fabric is wounded in a serious way" as these laws attack the most fundamental rights, such as the right to life, "beginning with the abominable crime of abortion," the Vatican official warned.
"As can be often heard, there is a spurious argument for a so-called free political choice, which would have the primacy over evangelical principles and also over the reference to correct reasoning," he observed.
As a result, legislation has been introduced on de facto couples "which at least implicitly would constitute an alternative to marriage, even if these unions are simply a legal fiction," added Cardinal López Trujillo, 69. It is "worse yet, when dealing with couples of the same sex, something unknown in the cultural histories of people and in law."
He concluded: "Politicians and legislators must know that, by proposing or defending projects for iniquitous laws, they have a serious responsibility for, and must find a remedy for the evil done and spread, in order to be allowed access to communion with the Lord."
This mass is celebrated at Saint Matthew's Cathedral on the Sunday before the opening of the Supreme Court's term in October. The homilist is traditionally a prominent member of the Catholic hierarchy and Supreme Court justices, cabinet officers and members of the local judiciary traditionally attend to invoke God's blessing upon the administration of justice....At a brunch that follows the Mass the Society recognizes lawyers who have volunteered their time to represent indigents in the Archdiocesan Legal Network.
October 2, 2005 52nd Annual Red Mass
The Cathedral of St. Matthew, Washington, D.C., 10:00 a.m. Mass
Principal Celebrant and Homilist: His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick
Brunch following Mass at the Capital Hilton Hotel
On November 18, 1966, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops issued On Penance and Abstinence, which outlined the national norms for penance and abstinence.
In regards to whether we can consume meat on Fridays, I quote the pertinent parts:
PART III : SACRED PLACES AND TIMES
Can. 1249 All Christ's faithful are obliged by divine law, each in his or her own way, to do penance. However, so that all may be joined together in a certain common practice of penance, days of penance are prescribed. On these days the faithful are in a special manner to devote themselves to prayer, to engage in works of piety and charity, and to deny themselves, by fulfilling their obligations more faithfully and especially by observing the fast and abstinence which the following canons prescribe.
Can. 1250 The days and times of penance for the universal Church are each Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.
Can. 1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Can. 1252 The law of abstinence binds those who have completed their fourteenth year. The law of fasting binds those who have attained their majority, until the beginning of their sixtieth year. Pastors of souls and parents are to ensure that even those who by reason of their age are not bound by the law of fasting and abstinence, are taught the true meaning of penance.
Can. 1253 The Episcopal Conference can determine more particular ways in which fasting and abstinence are to be observed. In place of abstinence or fasting it can substitute, in whole or in part, other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety.
I believe Sean captures the situation incorrectly when he calls the school, and associated religious organizations, “too dumb to read their own scriptures.” He re-tracts his caricature a bit when he offers this explanation for the school’s behavior: “maybe they want to persecute these people because they know it will get the persecuted into Heaven.”
How he can at once caricature the school’s administrators for being too dumb to read their own Christian scriptures but then lavish the compliment that the administrators are doing what they’re doing to earn the lesbian couple and their children places in heaven, is beyond reasonable. For one, to know how one gets to heaven—at least for these Christians—the Bible serves as their roadmap. A book, however, they’re too dumb to read. So the act of persecuting this family, which Sean caricatures as an act of virtue for these administrators, must then be merely coincidentally consistent with Christian scripture since the Christians are in this case “too dumb to read [it].”
Of course Sean isn’t being completely serious with the situation. The tension that results from his two statements then cannot be taken too seriously. I am definitely extending what Sean said if I assume that he takes the actions of the school’s administrators as inconsistent with Jesus’ teaching of tolerance, as Sean sees it, in the Gospels. An assumption, however, consistent with Sean’s entire post. More simply, I believe Sean was trying to point out a situation of hypocritical Christians. So the argument typically builds: 1) Christ preached tolerance; 2) to follow the teachings of someone means to assume them; 3) therefore, to follow Christ means to be tolerant. If someone can then point to an instance where a follower of Christ—err, a Christian—isn’t practicing tolerance, then he can be charged with hypocrisy, “the practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess.”
Sean quotes Matthew’s account: “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:10). From that Sean takes that Jesus taught tolerance over intolerance: “I'm not sure, but this Jesus guy seemed to think that intolerance was a bad thing.”
What Sean leaves out of his analysis is the full context of the portion he quoted. Matthew’s account of Jesus’ excortication has Jesus qualify those instances where those who are persecuted will inherit the kingdom of heaven—because it isn’t merely being persecuted that earns one a place in the kingdom. Jesus says, to repeat: “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (emphasis added). Jesus more accurately qualifies those who are persecuted for their righteousness. Mere persecution isn’t enough. It’s persecution because the person is righteous.
At this point we can debate whether Jesus considered lesbian parenting a righteous act, but that’d be missing the point. Suffice it to say, however, that the scholarly understanding of righteousness in this context—that is Matthew’s gospel—means conduct in conformity to God’s will. While some may not agree that two lesbian parents is not in conformity with God’s will, we can safely assume that the Christians who run this school hold homosexuality as inconsistent with Scripture, including the portion Sean quotes. From this, is intolerance not the valid conclusion?
More simply, what these school administrators have done in this case shouldn’t strike anyone as betraying the creed they profess. They’re not unaware of Jesus’ exhortation of the Beatitudes, they’re merely capturing what Jesus said in the context of the rest of Scripture. They’re not neglecting a portion, which Sean has tried pointed out.
Sean invited me some time ago to contribute weekly on the topic but I have only gotten the time today to begin. It's a modest beginning to a topic to which I hope to one day contribute substantively. Please visit! (And comment!)