The Church’s liturgy has been affected by a “serious, profound crisis” since the Second Vatican Council, says Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
“It is necessary to recognize that the serious, profound crisis that has affected the liturgy and the Church itself since the Council is due to the fact that its center is no longer God and the adoration of Him, but rather men and their alleged ability to ‘do’ something to keep themselves busy during the Eucharistic celebrations.”
The cardinal gave these remarks in a speech at a recent colloquium in Germany to mark the 10th anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, which allowed for greater use of what is now called the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.
Cardinal Sarah said he didn’t think the extent of this problem was fully recognized in the Church.
“Even today, a significant number of Church leaders underestimate the serious crisis that the Church is going through: relativism in doctrinal, moral and disciplinary teaching, grave abuses, the desacralization and trivialization of the Sacred Liturgy, a merely social and horizontal view of the Church’s mission.”
He also identified the problem as a lack of faith in the Church’s teaching about the Eucharist by both clergy and laypeople.
“The serious crisis of faith, not only at the level of the Christian faithful but also and especially among many priests and bishops, has made us incapable of understanding the Eucharistic liturgy as a sacrifice, as identical to the act performed once and for all by Jesus Christ, making present the Sacrifice of the Cross in a non-bloody manner, throughout the Church, through different ages, places, peoples and nations.”
You can read the full text of Cardinal Sarah’s remarks on Catholic World Report.
Last year, Cardinal Sarah called on priests to start celebrating Mass ad orientem, or facing liturgical east in the same direction as the congregation, on a voluntary basis. Some bishops and priests have followed his call.
Cardinal Sarah has served as the the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments since 2014 when he was appointed to that role by Pope Francis. Originally from Guinea, he is one of the most powerful African bishops in the Church.