Cardinal Arinze Tells Bishops They Are Custodians of Liturgy

In a Seminar for New Prelates in Mission Territories

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VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 21, 2004 ( A bishop’s duty to sanctify by means of the liturgy «is the summit of the service» he is called to exercise in the Church, says Cardinal Francis Arinze.

The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments delivered that message to bishops attending a seminar organized by the Vatican dicastery, the Fides missionary agency reported. The seminar drew 118 new bishops who oversee mission territories.

«The Second Vatican Council underlined that the liturgy is the summit to which all the activity of the Church tends and at the same time it is the source from which she draws all her strength,» the cardinal said.

«The Church’s many different works of apostolate,» he continued, «have the common aim of leading people to believe in Christ, to be baptized and take part in liturgical celebrations, especially the sacrifice and sacrament of the holy Eucharist.»

The bishop, «as the first dispenser of God’s mysteries of God in the particular Church entrusted to his care,» is the moderator, promoter and guarantor of liturgical life in his diocese, the prefect said.

It is the bishop’s duty, Cardinal Arinze added, to foster in priests, deacons and the laity «an authentic sense of liturgy,» so they make take part in the Eucharistic celebration consciously, actively and fruitfully.

A bishop also has the duty to ensure that liturgy is celebrated with due dignity, without additions or suppressions or changes, to produce the maximum of fruits of sanctification for the diocese, the prefect said.

«In the name of Christ the Bridegroom, bishops communicate the grace of salvation to the people of God especially by celebrating the holy liturgy and the sacraments,» the cardinal said.

He also stressed the importance of preparing Sunday homilies, «the main channel of religious formation for most Catholics.»

The cardinal spoke about enculturation, «a normal part of evangelization» so long as it is the result of «proper and careful» reflection.

He encouraged the bishops to follow instructions issued by the Holy See in this regard and to avoid «frequent changes or the introduction of rites invented by the celebrant and which have not been approved,» and offend the sensitivity of the faithful.

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