The Liturgy is the Expression of the Faith
Jul 15, 2005
I met the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when he was Archbishop of Munich, in 1977 or 1978, during a visit to Germany I made when I was Archbishop of Onitsha, in Nigeria. By Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
(30Days, May 2005) I had heard him spoken of as a theologian, but had never met him beforehand. I got to know him a lot better when I was nominated by John Paul II as President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, in 1984 that is, and then in the role of member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
I would say that he is a great personality. In him I see a priest, a bishop, a cardinal and now a Pope dedicated to Jesus Christ and the Church; a person of faith, of Catholic faith without reduction, intelligent. Pope Benedict knows how to articulate the faith in clear, lucid form; in a form that works for the instructed and is not too difficult for the simple. When one has the good fortune to hear him, one remains enriched doctrinally and spiritually. He is a very intelligent person, but at the same time does not oppress the other, he knows how to listen. If the other truly presents a positive argument, he does not hesitate to accept it. I myself have seen him ready to change his position when he found himself faced with arguments that were truly persuasive.
It is often forgotten that the role of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is that of promoting and defending the faith and not of repressing dissenting theologians. Thus people imagined Cardinal Ratzinger only as a severe and meticulous referee ready to whistle an offside or disallow invalid goals… Well –if it’s right that there should be a referee to avoid the game finishing in “broken bottles” – the faith is something much more important than a game of football, and the figure of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, cannot be reduced to that of a petulant referee. Enough to look at L’Osservatore Romano of 24 April with two dense pages of the bibliography he has produced in the last forty years. Truly impressive!
To the people who do not know him personally, I say: wait, listen, open your eyes, open your ears also, because a person cannot see if he closes his eyes, and cannot hear anything if he doesn’t want to hear.
Some are frightened of the truth, so that when they hear the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith being talked about they immediately say that they are suffering from a headache or high blood pressure, but I say to them don’t be afraid: when you read more of the texts of this Pope, you will feel, you will taste more the joy of being faithful witnesses of Jesus!
Pope Benedict XVI as theologian and cardinal wrote much about the liturgy, because «lex credendi, lex orandi»: the liturgy is the expression of faith and it is the faith that guides the liturgy. The liturgy is not the field of those who like to do things their own way, it is not a field for “do it yourself”. The liturgy is the official expression of the faith of the Church, the celebration of the mysteries of Christ. And Cardinal Ratzinger – now Pope Benedict – had rather clear ideas about the liturgy, and was not afraid to express them. This encourages us greatly in our work at the Congregation for Divine Worship, as might well be guessed. Those who are not afraid to open their ears, let them understand!