By David Clayton
I have heard some express disappointment that there was not enough emphasis on the liturgy in the apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium. It is true that there is little direct reference to the liturgy, and so it might appear at first sight that there is little interest from the Pope on this matter.
I have no special access to the personal thoughts of the Holy Father beyond what is written, so like everyone else, I look at the words and ask myself what they mean. In doing this, given that the Holy Father is for the most part articulating general principles, and given that I am not in a position to ask him directly, I am forced to interpret and ask myself what does he mean in practice? If I want to, I can choose to look at it as a manifesto in isolation and assume that is all that the Pope believes; or I can choose to see this in the context of a hermeneutic of continuity. In other words I will assume that in order to understand this document, I must read read it as a continuation of those that went before, and this means most especially the period just before the advent of Pope Francis, that is, the documents of the papacy of Pope Emeritus Benedict. So unless I see something that contradicts them, I will assume that they are considered valid and important still.
If we read it this way, then because he doesn’t have much to say on any particular issue, it doesn’t mean that he opposes it, or even that he thinks it is unimportant, rather it means that he feels that what is appropriate has already been said and so has little or nothing to add.
This is what traditionalists within the Church say that the liberals failed to do after Vatican II. Sacrosanctum Concilium must be read, we have been told (and I think quite rightly) in the context of what went before to be properly understood; and is one reason why Pope Benedict XVI encouraged celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass – so the people could learn from and experience of that context, so to speak. I accept this argument fully, and therefore, it seems reasonable to read the writings of the new Pope in this way too.
Now to Evangelii Gaudium and the liturgy. The following paragraph appears:
‘166. Another (Read More)