RETURN TO TRADITIONS AT WORLD YOUTH DAY
By Andrew Rabel
At a press conference this morning, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney in answer to a question from Andrew Rabel, an Inside the Vatican magazine journalist, indicated that at the final WYD Mass at Randwick Racecourse on Sunday, in line with older practices that have been used in the Vatican and inside Italy in recent months, communion will most likely be received by those kneeling, from the Pope.
Australia will be the first place in the world where these changed customs will be used in a papal liturgy, outside of the diaspora. This was first introduced on the feast of Corpus Christi in Rome, where a select group of worshippers received Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue, from Pope Benedict, and was continued outside of the Vatican as well, when the Holy Father visited Brindisi in June.
Australia is a country well known for lax liturgical practices following in the wake of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, and this was particularly evident during liturgies celebrated by John Paul II on visits there in 1986 and 1995.
After criticism of liturgical music at a recent Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict in Washington DC, there was much debate over whether in spite of an evident return to older customs in the Holy See, whether liturgical committees would follow a similar pattern in a country like Australia, when the Holy Father visits.
When the news emerged of the older postures to be employed in papal liturgies, Fr Peter Williams, WYD08 Liturgical Coordinator was vague about whether this would happen in Australia, and indicated that the matter was not raised during the visit of Msgr Guido Marini, Papal Master of Liturgical Ceremonies to Sydney in June. (Marini had indicated this was to be the new custom in an interview in L’Osservatore Romano in the edition of June 25). Fr Williams said, "We are still liaising with Rome as to what should happen here".
According to an anonymous Italian journalist, Msgr Marini was disappointed at some of the liturgical preparations for the final Mass, expected to attract crowds roughly estimated at half a million. The journalist confirmed Cardinal Pell’s expectation, that communion would be distributed in the traditional manner by the Holy Father.
In 2001, the final book published by Cardinal Ratzinger before his election as pope, was a work devoted to an analysis of the fruits of the liturgical reform titled, "An Introduction to the Spirit of the Liturgy". It indicated that some of the innovations dear to the heart of John Paul II (like the celebration of Masses in an amphitheatre on papal visits in other countries) were a challenge to maintain the sense of the sacred.
By bringing back traditional postures in the reception of Holy Communion when the Pope celebrates Mass, (among other things) he is hoping to bring back to the faithful this sense of sacredness in divine worship, to be followed by all.
Andrew Rabel, an Australian journalist, is covering the Pope's trip to Australia.