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Deforming the reform?

Pre-Vatican Council II, celebrating Mass with only one lit candle was a mortal sin.

Pre-Vatican Council II, celebrating Mass with only one lit candle was a mortal sin.

I know no one my age or a bit older who would like to return to the pre-Vatican II Church, but ironically I know of a few people much younger than me who are nostalgic for a turning back of the clock.

In the Quotes and News section below, I reproduce Fr Joe Inguanez's comments about the resurgence of Lefebvrian fundamentalism. The same point was made in my presence recently by the rector of a foreign seminary.

The pre-Vatican II Church was very different than the post-Vatican II one. It was a more legalistic Church. For example, a priest could be suspended a divinis (such as not being allowed to celebrate Mass) simply for going to watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in a public cinema.

Moreover, a priest who celebrated Mass with only one lit candle (instead of two) would be committing a mortal sin (in the eyes of whoever made the law), probably earning for himself eternal damnation if he happened to die while that candle was still not lit. Who would want to return to such a Church?

However, in many quarters, there is fear that an attempt will be made to put the Church in reverse mode. Such fears are gaining ground in the English-speaking world because of the work currently being done on the English translation of the missal. And ever since the papal master of ceremonies, Mgr Guido Marini, called for a "reform of the reform", the suspicion that Vatican II itself is actually in danger has increased much more.

World-renowned liturgist Fr Anscar Chupungco OSB noted that Marini's recent statements were part of an agenda to turn the clock back 50 years, and that such a position "seems to conveniently forget that since Vatican II, the Church has been marching with the times, acknowledging the changes in social and religious culture, and adopting new pastoral strategies".

An English friend of mine who has spent most of his life in the media apostolate recently expressed the same fear while on a visit to Malta. He said many were afraid that the new translation of the English missal would have a lot of Latinised English. He said that saying "and with your spirit" instead of "and also with you" may make the text more mysterious but it would not be more prayerful or communicative.

I do not share this pessimism. I agree more with the editorial of the January 30 edition of The Tablet that "the gains of Vatican II are not seriously under siege: this is not a Church about to go into reverse". Most people would not accept such a move. Turning the clock back would be a disaster. Besides, as The Tablet notes, "at least on the evidence of his three encyclicals, it is hard to convict the present Pope of any such intentions".

• As a postscript, I wish to comment on Fr Jesmond Manicaro's letter to the editor (The Sunday Times, January 31) regarding the use of disability-related words during the liturgy. I very much appreciate his efforts - till now unsuccessful - to remove the offending words.

However, he is ill-informed to say that the word immankati "does not feature in any of the Maltese versions of the Bible". If he refers to the Gospel reading of the Wednesday following the first Sunday in Advent (Lezzjunarju Ferjali 1, p16) he will find the word immankati twice. I will change that word whenever I find it and in whatever text or book I find it.

joseph.borg@um.edu.mt

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