This month’s issue of Pastoralia, the glossy subscription magazine of the Roman Catholic Church in Belgium, begins with a long article by the new Archbishop, André-Joseph Léonard, on the correct celebration of the liturgy. In it he politely, but firmly, insists:
- that the Bible readings in church services may never be replaced by other readings
- that the Nicean Creed and the Apostles’ Creeds are the only correct creeds, and home-grown versions are to be avoided. I quote “The Church prayed and meditated and fought against heretics for four centuries, to arrive at the profession of faith shared by all Christian communities. It is important not to waste this treasure in favour of compositions without a future”.
- that the intercessory prayers at funeral or marriage services (similar to Orthodox ectenias, but with freedom of wording, and very often spoken by lay people) “should remain a prayer addressed to God and not turn into a farewell message to the departed or a good wishes telegram to the newly-weds..."
- that, health permitting, one should stand (or in places kneel) during large parts of the liturgy.
His instructions point to a certain laxity that had crept in. While well-intentioned in the hope of bringing the Church closer to people, it undermined the idea that the Christian life is a disciplined one, and that, in the faith, as in anything serious in life, you have to make an effort.
Mgr Léonard has wide support in the Orthodox Church here, to which he is known to be more favourable than his predecessor. While we may not all agree with certain aspects of Catholic doctrine, like clerical celibacy, that he insists on, we are glad that our sister church has a strong hand at the helm.