Pastoral Issues


Working Towards Liturgical Restoration: Can CIEL and Adoremus present a common front?

by Pete Vere, JCL and Shawn Tribe


If there is one element which unites the liturgical atmosphere of the Western Church at this present time, it is unfortunately that of conflict. More unfortunate is that this conflict is not absent amongst those who could be allies by reason of their mutual love of the Church and her traditions. Although both the Reform of the Reform and the Ecclesia Dei movement express concern over the present state of Catholic liturgy in the West, in the past much misunderstanding has arisen between these two schools of liturgical thought which has contributed to tensions between them.

However, this need not be so. CIEL-Canada, an organization rooted in the Ecclesia Dei movement, admires Adoremus’ work to improve the present state of liturgy. In carrying out CIEL’s work, we are hopeful for closer ties with the Reform of the Reform movement of which Adoremus is a primary proponent.

All that being said, it seems appropriate to first give a brief overview of CIEL’s nature and background. First off, CIEL should not be confused with ICEL -- as some have done in the past. The latter is the International Committee for English in the Liturgy, whereas CIEL is the French acronym for the “Centre International d’Études Liturgiques.” This loosely translates into English as the International Center for Liturgical Studies. CIEL is also the French word for heaven, of which the liturgy is a foretaste here on earth. Pope John Paul II upholds this relationship between heaven, earth and the liturgy as follows: “This is why the liturgy is heaven on earth, and in it the Word who became flesh imbues matter with a saving potential which is fully manifest in the sacraments…” [Orientale Lumen, par. 11]

From its roots within the Ecclesia Dei movement, CIEL promotes the usage of the 1962 typical edition of the Roman Missal. It does so exclusively in communion with the Roman Pontiff and the diocesan bishop. Nevertheless, CIEL is neither exclusive nor elitist in its liturgical view. Rather, in addressing the present debate over liturgy, CIEL recognizes both the good and the legitimacy of other liturgical movements within the Latin rite. These movements would include, but certainly are not limited to, the Anglican Use in the Latin Rite -- a movement originally born of Anglicans who desired to come into full communion with the Holy See, while retaining their own liturgical forms and ethos -- and Adoremus which proposes the need for a reform of the reformed liturgy according to the principles laid down in Sacrosanctum Concilium. In short, CIEL promotes the Ecclesia Dei Indult as one of many diverse, legitimate solutions to the current liturgical debates. As noted in CIEL’s introductory literature, such openness to liturgical diversity amongst those favoring a more traditional approach to the liturgy is clearly favored by Pope John Paul II:

“It is necessary that all pastors and the other faithful have a new awareness, not only of the lawfulness but also of the richness for the Church of a diversity of charisms, traditions and apostolates, which also constitutes the beauty and unity in variety: of that blended ‘harmony’ which the earthly Church raises up to Heaven under the impulse of the Holy Spirit.” [Motu Proprio, Ecclesia Dei.]

Nevertheless, this raises an important question, namely, how should one set about fostering a new interest in classical liturgy? Although CIEL approaches liturgy from the Ecclesia Dei perspective, it earnestly attempts to do so through scholarly and non-polemical dialogue, and always in a manner respectful of legitimate Church authority. “First and foremost,” Loïc Mérian forewarned, “the founder and organizers of CIEL in Europe and North America are Catholics loyal to the Church. Although our [personal] liturgical preference is for the traditional liturgy, this in no way separates or isolates CIEL from the liturgical mind of the Church. On the contrary, CIEL endeavors to present to the contemporary Church the multiple treasures of Catholicism. Church authorities have received CIEL and it’s published proceedings warmly.”

The proceedings to which Loïc Mérian refers are those of CIEL’s annual international colloquia on the liturgy. These proceedings feature the contributions of many scholars representing a range of academic disciplines -- all of whom share a common interest in the liturgy. Not infrequently, the speakers at CIEL’s colloquia have been comprised of curial officials, diocesan bishops, monastics and professors at some of the Church’s most prestigious Pontifical universities. In the months following each colloquium, the proceedings are collected into book format, translated into various languages, and published. Subsequently, CIEL makes a special point of officially launching the proceedings of the previous colloquium at the Vatican every year, during which time copies of the proceedings are presented to numerous curial dicasteries. The result of this effort, as noted by Loïc Mérian, is the following:

“Letters of support for CIEL’s work have been written by Cardinals Ratzinger, Medina, Mayer and Stickler, as well as many bishops, abbots, and priests. The liturgy should be a means of strengthening Catholics’ faith and charity, binding them closer to the hierarchy and the Church’s life. Toward this goal, CIEL works closely with ecclesiastical authorities to present the best information existing in the domain of the liturgy at its annual colloquium. […] The work of CIEL is respected because it is grounded in a solid approach to liturgical research. New contacts are opening up with university and seminary professors who are interested in CIEL. New lines of communication with Church authorities are being opened because CIEL carefully opens channels of communication.”

Here in the Americas, CIEL-Canada hopes to be the first of many national CIEL delegations to open the lines of communication with Adoremus. Having found Adoremus’ work towards a reform of the reform encouraging, the Canadian delegation of CIEL sees many issues where both movements share common interests and goals. Such issues include, but are not limited to, the preservation of Latin and traditional sacred music in the liturgy, the placement of the altar and the tabernacle, and the fostering of an interest in our western liturgical patrimony. These are issues which both CIEL and Adoremus have carefully researched and have interest in, and the Church could benefit if they were to share their findings with one another and work more closely together in a spirit of fraternity.

In a sense cooperation between the two movements has already begun. One comes across numerous individuals who support the efforts of both CIEL and Adoremus. One notes that two priests of the Oxford Oratory have given presentations at the CIEL colloquia in the past. As Oratorians, both regularly offer a liturgy similar to that being proposed by Adoremus, and with regards to their respective CIEL presentations, the topics chosen by these two priests are of interest to both the Ecclesia Dei movement and the Reform of the Reform. Therefore, future cooperation between Adoremus and CIEL is not only hopeful, but attainable as well.

Which brings those who support CIEL and/or Adoremus to the next question, namely how to go about achieving cooperation between Adoremus and CIEL on a wider scale? Is more formal dialogue between both groups possible, either in print or by means of a joint conference on the liturgy? What about co-operation in developing resources to assist dioceses in restoring the liturgical life of the local faithful? Granted, there will be those who oppose such cooperation, but does the will exist among the majority of grass-root supporters to promote further cooperation?

“Only time will tell,” is an all too common cliché, as is, “hopefully sooner than later.” However, both clichés are rather fitting given the present state of liturgy in the West. Simply put, both Adoremus and CIEL have found a common cause on many issues, have carefully researched these common issues in a scholarly manner, and in sharing their scholarship and jointly presenting their concerns, they would increase their potential to help stabilize the liturgical situation in the near future. For the sake of the liturgy and the Church, let us pray and work towards future cooperation between Adoremus and CIEL. More to the point however, let us hope for cooperation in general between the Reform of the Reform and the Ecclesia Dei movements.

Pete Vere and Shawn Tribe
The Catholic Legate
March 17, 2004
______________________________________

[This is an edited version of the article “CIEL and Adoremus – Working Toward Beauty and Unity in the Liturgy” by the same authors which originally appeared in the vol. 15, n. 6 of The Catholic Answer, a periodical published by Our Sunday Visitor.]