Liturgical Norms Have Key Role, Says Cardinal Schönborn

Insists That the Faithful Have a Right to a Valid Celebration

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VIENNA, Austria, MARCH 6, 2005 ( Priests and laity who seek to change established liturgical norms probably don’t properly understand the rules, says Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.

The archbishop of Vienna, in an interview with, commented on the deep meaning of the liturgy and the Mass as an «event.»

«The faithful are entitled to participate in a celebration of the liturgy that is valid,» said the cardinal.

Furthermore, he said, the clergy are obliged to celebrate «in community» with the universal Church.

«This right and this obligation are not confining,» he said. «They are the necessary prerequisites for the faithful to participate in the service of the Church and not in something that is the fruit of somebody’s hobby or of private liturgical ideas — however well-meant these might be.»

The most profound reason for insisting on liturgical order is because the Mass is a divine service, said Cardinal Schönborn.

«Christ himself is the celebrant, who is addressing us in his word and who leads us into his devotion to the Father for the salvation of all mankind,» he said. «Therefore it was always the primary concern of the Church that Jesus Christ is the center of the liturgy.»

Regarding those who say the liturgical norms leave no place for creativity, the cardinal suggests that this might be due to misunderstandings.

He recommended meditating «the beautiful and rich General Instruction of the Roman Missal. In the liturgy of the Church there are quite a few places which allow for creativity.»

He offers as an example the «services with the Holy Father on different continents, which have shown much of the possibilities to allow for cultural and local elements.»

Cardinal Schönborn continued: «The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are made present for us. Can there be anything more magnificent than this event?»

When the faithful see the Mass as «more thrilling than any show and more beautiful than all plays,» he said, they are more motivated «to get involved as much as possible in this event and to celebrate it with body and soul.»

The cardinal added: «When the Mass is seen as boring, the fault is not that of the liturgy, but the result of our poor disposition and lack of faith.»

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