Interview: Cardinal Arinze on the Church, its sacraments and the Latin Mass
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Colorado Catholic Herald) - Cardinal Francis Arinze was in the Diocese of Colorado Springs for a few days last month to celebrate Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral, to speak to Catholics at Holy Apostles Parish the same day, and to speak at the International Fall Summit for Legatus International on Sept. 21.
VATICAN VISITOR - Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, speaks to Catholics at Holy Apostles Church in Colorado Springs last month. (Colorado Catholic Herald/Jim Myers)
CCH: What does the motu propio on the Latin Mass mean to Catholics?
CARDINAL ARINZE: It is important that we get the title of what the Holy Father spoke about in the document on the seventh of July. It isn’t about whether the Mass is in Latin or not. It is about whether you use the Missal used in the church just before Vatican II or whether we use the Missal issued by Pope Paul VI in 1970. What the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI is saying is this: After the Second Vatican Council, the way the Mass is celebrated was retouched because the church is alive in every age.
There are some people in the church, however, who prefer the former way in which the Mass was celebrated because it nourished their spirituality more. This document is issued to say to them, "All right. You can have it." The pope calls it the extraordinary form. The way we have said Mass these 40 years is the ordinary form, presuming the priest is following what is in the books and is not adding or subtracting anything.
CCH: Do you see any liturgical changes coming in the future?
CARDINAL ARINZE: The Church is alive. The Church does not live in the Vatican Museum. As long the Church is alive, that Holy Mother Church can retouch how we celebrate baptism, confirmation, holy Eucharist and so on. The one that touches everybody immediately is the Mass because Mass is a daily event and is especially on Sunday a high point.
The missal itself has been enriched. The last edition was in 2002. This Missal has 1,300 pages with plenty of votive Masses. The eucharistic prayers are tied in. The prefaces are 89 pages. So, when all that is put into the various languages of the world, it will be an enrichment for the people of God. Then there will always be new prayers or new Masses — we call them votive Masses — that will be introduced.
CCH: What should be the primary focus for Catholics: evangelization, the culture of life vs. the culture of death, the sanctity of marriage?
CARDINAL ARINZE: All of these you have mentioned are serious concerns for the church worldwide. If you would allow me to put it in one word, it is evangelization; to carry out the mission Christ gave the church through his apostles. He said to them, "As my father sent me, I also send you." He also said to them, "All power is given to me on heaven and earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them. Teach them to observe whatever I have said to you." So, that's the mission of the church. It is always urgent.
One particular aspect may need more attention at a particular time. For if you ask me what would be most urgent, I would say the prayer life in the Church is very important. That has no substitute, so that remains a priority. But also, of course, the areas you mentioned remain very important.
You mentioned the culture of death. That is a type of mentality not peculiar to one country where people don’t seem to respect life which God has given. To defend life, life in the womb — the unborn child, the most innocent person on earth is an unborn child. Yet some people wage war on the unborn child. They kill that child, and they turn around and call it pro-choice. Then, a child already born, some people kill children. Infanticide is a terrible crime. Then, there are those who kill old people. They say that this person is rather old and is sick and is expensive to maintain. So they call a doctor and say, "Please, kill this person gently." That’s not correct because life doesn’t depend on us. It comes from God. Of course, there is terrorism — those who bring violence and kill people who have done no harm at all. That is obviously the culture of death.
In all these areas, the Church has no option but to call people to respect God and respect life because life comes from God — whether that life is a child conceived only two months ago or a sick old man who is 90 years old, or a handicapped person. It is life, so we have to respect it.
We therefore have to respect the context in which life occurs: marriage and the family. Life does not fall from the sky. It was God who made marriage, and he made the family so that the child coming into this world has a father and mother. The child needs a father and mother, absolutely, in order to grow in a very balanced way and to become all that child can become.
So marriage needs to be respected. The family needs to be defended. Unfortunately, there are many forces militating against the family. We can also regard them as part of the culture of death.
CCH: What steps do Catholics need to take to ...
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