Pope Benedict XVI‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs 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]