VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has ordered several changes to the Masses and liturgies that will mark the inauguration of the next pope's pontificate. Rites and gestures that are not strictly sacramental will take place either before a Mass or in a ceremony not involving Mass, Msgr. Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, told the Vatican newspaper Feb. 22. One of the most visual changes, he said, would be the restoration of the public "act of obedience" in which each cardinal present at the pope's inaugural Mass comes forward and offers his allegiance. When Pope Benedict celebrated his inaugural Mass in 2005, 12 people were chosen to represent all Catholics: three cardinals, a bishop, a diocesan priest, a transitional deacon, a male religious, a female religious, a married couple and a young man and a young woman recently confirmed. Msgr. Marini said Pope Benedict personally approved the changes Feb. 18; they include offering a wider choice of traditional Mass prayers in polyphony and chant, rather than the new musical repertoire composed for the 2005 book. After having personally experienced the liturgical rites drafted by Msgr. Marini's predecessor -- and approved by Pope Benedict immediately after his election -- the pope suggested "a few changes aimed at improving the text" of the rites for the beginning of a pontificate, formally known as the "Ordo Rituum pro Ministerii Petrini Initio Romae Episcopi."
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Papal biographer: Fixing Vatican bureaucracy is a top job for next pope
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Threats to religious freedom around the world, the human costs of globalization, media transformed by the revolution in information technology -- these are some of the challenges that the next pope is bound to face in leading the church. According to one highly informed observer, the next pope will also have an urgent task at home: reforming the Roman Curia, the church's central administration at the Vatican. "The curia not infrequently caused acute embarrassment to (Pope) Benedict XVI, putting obstacles in the way of his evangelical, catechetical and pastoral efforts, and ill-serving the pope's attempts to reframe the global agenda of debate on the crucial issues facing humanity," writes George Weigel in his new book, "Evangelical Catholicism." The author, a biographer of Blessed John Paul II and a well-known commentator on Catholic issues, paints a picture of an inefficient bureaucracy where incompetence often goes unpunished and all too many players serve their own ambition rather than the interests of the church. "Things are in fact worse now, in my view, than they have been in perhaps 40 years," Weigel told Catholic News Service. "Everyone who does not have a vested interest in the status quo understands that a major task in the early going of the next pontificate is going to be not only to change structure but to change attitude."