Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Vatican: "hands off" approach to liturgical planning for the Papal visit

Catholic News Service profiles Msgr. Guido Marini, Pope Benedict's "chief liturgist":

The papal venues in the United States are not directly under his nose, but Msgr. Guido Marini still knows every detail of the two evening prayer services and three Masses Pope Benedict will celebrate in Washington and New York April 15-20.

Msgr. Marini, 43, did not plan every element of the five U.S. services, as he does with Vatican services, although he did make suggestions and did have veto power.

In an interview in early April, the monsignor said the readings, the prayers of the faithful, the music, and the readers and servers, for the most part, are those decided by the liturgy organizers in the archdioceses of Washington and New York, who coordinated their efforts with a representative of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. ...

Early in the planning process for a papal trip, the monsignor said, his office sends the local church a set of guidelines, which is "substantially the same" as the set developed during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II.

"A few small things were modified to reflect the liturgical attitudes of Pope Benedict," he said; they include a request that a crucifix be placed on the altar for eucharistic celebrations, that concelebrating priests be as close to the altar as possible and that the offertory gifts be limited to the bread, wine and charitable gifts.

Msgr. Marini said the Vatican did not dictate the choice of music and hymns for the U.S. liturgies.

"The repertoire is rather vast," he said. "There will be Gregorian chant, polyphony and some hymns that are more popular in the American repertoire.

"I really like this variety of styles that has been prepared for the celebrations," he said.

(Further discussion at the New Liturgical Movement, which has expressed its misgivings about some of the musical selections at the event and the lack of congruity with Benedict's own liturgical and musical tastes>).