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Cardinal Arinze criticises priests who meddle with the Mass

Cardinal Francis Arinze, the new prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has said that if priests make their own changes in the ritual, "there were will as many kinds of Masses are there are priests".

Arinze was offering his first public comments on the state of the liturgy in an interview published by the Italian monthly 30 Giorni.

The Nigerian cardinal, who was named to head the Congregation for Divine Worship on 1 October, was a participant in the proceedings of Vatican II, having been named a coadjutor archbishop of Onitsha, Nigeria, at the age of 33. The Council, he said, was "a great school" for those who attended, and a turning point for the life of the Church.

However, Cardinal Arinze observed that the introduction of the vernacular language in the liturgy "was not done without difficulty." Some traditional prayers, he said, "are not easy to translate".

And proper translation is an enormous task, he continued, because "we have to be faithful not only to the spirit of the Council, but especially to what was said and written."

He complained that "many bishops and priests have not adequately studied the texts of the Council," and as a result changes in the liturgy have often been done improperly.

Everyone involved in the liturgy, he said-- including lectors and choir members as well as ministers-- should be careful not to "attract attention to themselves rather than to the mysteries they celebrate."

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