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Fr. Anscar Chupungco: Filipino Benedictine who tangled with Pope Benedict

February 19, 2013
Fr. Anscar Chupungco: Filipino Benedictine who tangled with Pope Benedict thumbnail

Pope Benedict XVI’s shocking announcement that he would renounce the Petrine office on Feb. 28, the first pope to do so in more than 500 years, has served as a fitting fillip to a man whose ecclesiastical career has been characterized by a dramatic struggle to come to terms with the tumultuous history of the Catholic Church and its grappling with change and modernity.

Propitiously enough, his decision to renounce the papacy followed the death of another theologian who, like him, had had to contend with issues revolving around the Church’s relevance: Fr. Anscar Chupungco, OSB, who died from a heart attack in the Monastery of the Transfiguration in Bukidnon last Jan. 9. He was 73.

Father Chupungco was a Benedictine liturgist who was a longtime president of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome during the time when the Pope was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

As is well-known, it had been Ratzinger‚Äôs single-minded resolve to check the excesses of the Second Vatican Council, especially the liturgical reforms that came with its constitution on liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC), the first document to be issued by the council and, as borne by events later on, perhaps the most contentious and far-reaching. The document called for ‚Äúactive participation‚ÄĚ of the people in the liturgy and the translation of the Latin Mass in the vernacular.

In 2007, as Pope Benedict, Ratzinger issued the motu propio or decree, Summa Pontificum, which basically restored the Latin Mass.

In 2010, in a forum organized by the University of Santo Tomas Ecclesiastical Faculties, his alma mater, Father¬† Chupungco took a subtle jab at the Pope for what he called as ‚Äúreform of the reform‚ÄĚ and for turning back the reforms of Vatican II. He explained there was a need to distinguish between papal decrees and the ‚Äútheological musing‚ÄĚ of Ratzinger, who wrote the celebrated book, ‚ÄúSpirit of the Liturgy,‚ÄĚ which decried abuses in the aftermath of Vatican II.

In the book, Ratzinger said changes in the liturgy undermine the sacrificial nature of the Mass as worship, placing the focus on the priest and tending to celebrate the community, not the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice.

But Chupungco, who had also served as¬† consultor to the Congregation for Divine Worship and Congregation for Catholic Education, said Ratzinger‚Äôs ‚Äúreform of the reform‚ÄĚ came at the expense of ‚Äúactive participation‚ÄĚ of the community not familiar with the old prayers and language that had long been discarded.

‚ÄúThe agenda is an attempt to retrieve the discarded liturgical practices and paraphernalia, sometimes at the expense of active participation,‚ÄĚ Chupungco said. [More]

SOURCE:

INQUIRER

  • Anonymous

    SC did not call for ‘the translation of the Latin Mass in the vernacular’. It allowed for the use of the mother-tongue. Here is what it says: ’36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

    ’2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment may be extended. This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants, according to the regulations on this matter to be laid down separately in subsequent chapters.’

    SC also says: ’54. In Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place may be allotted to their mother tongue. This is to apply in the first place to the readings and “the common prayer,” but also, as local conditions may warrant, to those parts which pertain to the people, according to the norm laid down in Art. 36 of this Constitution.

    ‘Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them.’

    And this: ’36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.’ At Dom Anscar’s funeral some of the chants were in Latin.

    Pope Benedict did not ‘restore the Latin Mass’, since Latin is still the norm. He made it possible for the ‘old Mass’ to be celebrated more widely as the ‘Extraordinary Form’ of the Mass with the ‘new Mass’ being the ‘Ordinary Form’.

    How about: ’55. That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended.’ At how many Masses in the Philippines is this implemented?

    How well is SC 22.3 observed? ’3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.’

    On active participation: ’30. To promote active participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalmody, antiphons, and songs, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes. And at the proper times all should observe a reverent silence.’ Sometimes ‘a reverent silence’ is totally absent from the celebration of Mass.

    In my native Ireland in the 1950s weekday Masses during Lent saw thronged churches, people going there willingly to participate. Now fewer than half go to Sunday Mass. Where is the ‘active participation’? A majority have walked away.

    The ‘excesses’ mentioned are not those of Vatican II but of its aftermath when ‘the spirit of Vatican II’ destroyed much of what the Council had decreed, especially in the Mass. I have seen it all and have been affected by it since my ordination in 1967. Pope Benedict has encouraged the implementation of SC. He is a true upholder of the Council. that’s what the ‘reform of the reform’ is about – following what Vatican II actually says.

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