The Holy See Search



Interview for L'Osservatore Romano
by Gianluca Biccini

22 February 2013 


On Monday, 18 February, at the Audience he granted to Mons. Guido Marini, Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, “with his Apostolic Authority” Benedict XVI approved several modifications to the Ordo rituum pro ministerii Petrini initio Romae episcopi and ordered its publication. L’Osservatore Romano asked Mons. Marini to describe these modifications and their significance. The following is a translation of the interview he granted to a journalist of the Italian daily edition of our paper.

First of all, what is the ‘Ordo rituum pro ministerii Petrini initio Romae episcopi’?

As the introduction to the Ordo itself says in n. 2, it is the Rite that “presents the celebrations provided for at different times and in places in Rome connected with the Episcopal See, with reference to the Bishop of Rome’s pastoral care for the entire flock of the Lord”. In other words it is the book that contains the liturgical texts used during the celebrations at which the new Pontiff presides from the moment of the solemn announcement of his election to the visit he pays to the Basilica of St Mary Major. The Ordo was approved by Benedict XVI with the Rescript Ex audientia Summi Pontificis, on 20 April 2005, the day after his election as Supreme Pontiff. I must say that the Office for Celebrations at that time undertook competently an important study prior to compiling and drafting the Ordo itself.

Using the same methods, Pope Benedict xvi has now approved certain modifications. Can you explain the reason for this measure?

It seems to me possible to identify at least two reasons. First of all, in 2005 the Holy Father had a first hand experience of the celebrations for the beginning of the Pontificate. That experience, together with the ensuing reflection, probably suggested some intervention that aspired to improving the text, in the logic of its harmonious development. Secondly, with this act he intends to pursue the line of certain modifications to papal liturgies made in recent years; in other words, to distinguish more clearly between the celebration of Holy Mass and other rites that are not strictly speaking part of it. I am referring, for example, to the rite of canonization, to the rite of the resurrexit on Easter Sunday, and to the imposition of the pallium upon new metropolitan archbishops.

What will actually happen?

As has been mentioned, in both the celebration for the inauguration of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome and the celebration for taking possession of the See of Rome in the Basilica of St John Lateran, the characteristic rites will take place before and outside Holy Mass, and no longer within it. Then regarding the celebration of the inauguration of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, the act of “obedience” will be made by all the cardinals present at the concelebration. Thus the act made by the cardinal electors in the Sistine Chapel immediately after the election regains a dimension that is also public and remains open to all the members of the College of Cardinals, while at the same time acquiring a character of catholicity. There is no question of innovation since everyone clearly remembers at the beginning of John Paul II’s Pontificate the act of obedience made by all the cardinals then present at the concelebration. Among these cardinals it suffices to think of the henceforth famous and moving photographs that show Pope Wojtyła embracing the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński.

The first acts prescribed for the new Bishop of Rome include visits to the two Papal Basilicas of St Paul Outside-the-Walls and St Mary Major. Have any changes been made in this regard?

Unlike what was indicated in the Ordo, the new Pontiff will be able to make these visits whenever he considers it most opportune, even some time after his election, and in whatever form he deems most suitable, whether a Holy Mass, the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours or a special liturgical act such as that currently prescribed.

Are any innovations planned for the musical section?

The current Ordo, without providing for other possibilities, points to a musical repertoire for the most part new, which was composed on the occasion of the drafting of the Ordo. What Benedict xvi has established with this act offers greater freedom in the choice of the parts to be sung, making the most of the rich musical repertoire of Church history.

L'Osservatore Romano, 22 February 2013