Sacra Liturgia 2015 is underway in New York City. This is the second year of the conference, which brings together an impressive number of church leaders, theologians and liturgists. The goal of Sacra Liturgia has always been to promote authentic reform and renewal in the liturgy, according to the Second Vatican Council and the teachings of Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI. Special attention is given by many of the speakers to the traditional Latin Mass and how it can help guide the new Mass to a better ars celebrandi.
Among those attending Sacra Liturgia is Cardinal Robert Sarah. This past year, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Sarah to lead the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, which, as the name suggests, oversees aspects of the Church’s liturgical life. Following the departure of Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, called the “Little Ratzinger” by many for his traditional approach to liturgy, some were hoping that Pope Francis would name someone far more progressive to the Congregation. So the appointment of Cardinal Sarah (well known and respected for his piety, humility and love for beautiful liturgy) as Prefect was greeted with surprise and a big sigh of relief. He is in New York for Sacra Liturgia 2015. During his remarks, he made the following revelation of a conversation he had with Pope Francis.
When the Holy Father, Pope Francis, asked me to accept the ministry of Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, I asked: ‘Your Holiness, how do you want me to exercise this ministry? What do you want me to do as Prefect of this Congregation? The Holy Father’s reply was clear. ‘I want you to continue to implement the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council,’ he said, ‘and I want you to continue the good work in the liturgy begun by Pope Benedict XVI.’
If you’re tired of reading story after story in the media about how Pope Francis is upending this and that in the Church and undoing the legacy of his predecessor, this anecdote comes as great news. It’s obvious that the two popes are quite different in many respects, but it is encouraging to hear that Pope Francis sees the liturgical vision promoted by Pope Benedict XVI and the Second Vatican Council as one.