ANTONIO CAÑIZARES LLOVERA WITH THE POPE
The cardinal Prefect of the Cong. for Divine Worship talks about reorganizing the ministry and about the new department for music and art: “Churches are not just places to congregate, but also to encounter the mystery of God”
Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera has been Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship for four years. Since a few weeks ago his ministry has been the focus of a reorganization effort, which culminated with the institution of a new office to deal with the criteria for building new churches and for liturgy music. Cardinal Cañizares Llover talked about it with Vatican Insider.
The Congregation has been re-shaped and there is now a new office dedicated to architecture and sacred music: could you explain why this office was founded and what it is for?
“Yes, since the 1st of December a new office has been established in the Congregation. It is a department dedicated to art and sacred music for liturgy and it is intended for the implementation what is written in chapters 6 and 7 of the Conciliar Constitution “Sacrosanctum Concilium”. This is has been a necessary step in order to appropriately meet the needs of the liturgy in these two areas. Not all music or artistic expression complies with the nature of the liturgy that has its own rules to safeguard. Music and art are fundamental if we need to further the renewal of the liturgy as proposed by the Second Vatican Council and enhance the beauty of what the liturgy is, which is a must. It is therefore very important for the Congregation for Divine Worship to encourage liturgic art and music, to offer criteria and guidelines in compliance with the many teachings and the extensive tradition of the Church and to favour relations with musicians, architects, painters, goldsmiths etc. And all this requires specific and close attention. This is the cause and aim for the institution of such “office” or department”.
In the last fifty years we have witnessed the building of churches that resemble garages, lumps of lead or blocks of cement all over the world. What characteristics should a Catholic church have in your view?
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives a very clear and simple definition for this in two paragraphs on church building. In one it is stated that churches “ are not just places to congregate, but they also symbolize and represent the Church that lives there, the house of God and men reconciled and united in Christ”. Obviously the deeper aim of a sacred place of worship in not simply that of allowing the faithful to congregate. The gathering of believers is already a great achievement, but at the same time it not much of one at all. In truth a Church is the place to encounter the Son of the living God himself and is therefore a meeting place between us. The Catechism adds that “ the home of prayer, where the Holy Communion is kept and celebrated, where all the faithful gather, where the presence of the son of God, our Saviour, who sacrificed himself for us, is worshipped to support and console the faithful, needs to be tidy and appropriate for worship and for sacred functions. Thus, the truth and harmony of the symbols that make up the “house of God” need to represent Christ who is present and active there”. New churches ought to be built following these basic criteria, in harmony with the long and very rich tradition of the Church. This is the reason why we have such extraordinary art emblems. I’d like to mention a Church built last century which is a model of how these criteria can be respected, this church is the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family by Antonio Gaudì in Barcellona”.
What do you think is the situation of the Catholic liturgy across the world? Is the time of violations over?
“ I mentioned the need to further the liturgic renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council, which is a clear sign of the state the Catholic liturgy was in worldwide. The liturgy is not going through a happy time. Obviously it is necessary to revive the true sense of the liturgy in Christian life and in the life of the Church. A lot has already been done, without doubt. But it has not been enough and it is therefore necessary to go much further, especially in order for the teachings of the Vatican II to enter into our own consciences, in other words in the consciences of the people who make up the Church so that the liturgy can become the centre of the Church, source and culmination of Christian life. Unfortunately, beside a certain degree of superficiality, attention to appearance and the risk to fall into routine habits, there are also many violations. These violations are expressions of errors within one’s faith, which at the same time lead people to warp faith itself. It is necessary to put the outmost effort into rectifying these violations and working towards the faith. This responsibility is one we have always had, but especially so now in this Year of the Faith. And this is particularly true for bishops”.