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Pope: Reform of the Church is spousal, for Christ the Bridegroom

Pope Francis leads a mass at St Peter’s basilica for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - Isabella H. de Carvalho - published on 02/11/24

In a speech to the members of the Vatican Dicastery in charge of liturgical matters, the Pope emphasized the importance of reform for the Church's renewal.

“Without liturgical reform, there is no reform of the Church,” Pope Francis told participants in the plenary assembly of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments – responsible for liturgical matters in the Church – whom he received on February 8, 2024, at the Vatican.

In his address, the Pope also emphasized that the question of women’s role in the Church should not be reduced to that of access to ministries.

For the Argentine Pontiff, liturgical reform is not “a specialization for a few experts, but rather an inner disposition of all the people of God” and the needs to be “at the center” of the Church. “It is a task of spiritual, pastoral, ecumenical and missionary renewal.” 

“A Church that does not feel the passion for spiritual growth, that does not seek to speak comprehensibly to the men and women of her time, that does not grieve for the division among Christians, that does not tremble with the eagerness to proclaim Christ to the nations, is a sick Church,” he warned. 

Addressing the members of the dicastery who had gathered in Rome from February 6 to 9, the Pope defended the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council, 60 years after the promulgation of the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium (December 4, 1963).

Like Paul VI, Francis placed the “scope of liturgical reform in the broadest context of the renewal of the Church.”

Women’s role in the Church

Without going into detail about the liturgical reforms of his pontificate, Francis emphasized the idea of the Church as woman and bride and reform as a “spousal fidelity” and responsibility.

“Every claim of reform of the Church is always a question of spousal fidelity, because she is woman,” the Pope explained. “The Bride Church will always be more beautiful the more she loves Christ the Bridegroom, to the point of belonging totally to Him, to the point of full conformation to Him.” 

He then reflected on the question of women’s access to ministry. “One cannot reduce everything to ministeriality. The woman in herself has a very great symbol in the Church as woman, without reducing it to ministeriality,” he said.

The importance of formation

The head of the Catholic Church also asked that the liturgical training of priests be handled in collaboration with the Dicastery for Culture and Education, the Dicastery for the Clergy and the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

He also called for this formation to have a “liturgical-sapiential imprint” in their studies and in their life at the seminary. 

Concluding his address, Pope Francis called for liturgical feasts and sacraments such as baptism, confirmation, and marriage, to be prepared with “care,” as it is “the first concrete opportunity for liturgical formation” of the faithful.

In a note published on February 3 titled Gestis verbisque, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith took a stand against liturgical abuses, reminding priests that they cannot modify the liturgy on their own initiative, on pain of rendering the sacraments “invalid.” 

LiturgyPope FrancisVatican
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