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Spanish Cardinal Appointed Prefect of CDW

Online Edition:

February 2009

Vol. XIV, No. 10

Spanish Cardinal Appointed Prefect of CDW

Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera of Toledo, Spain, was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) by Pope Benedict XVI on December 9.

The Spanish cardinal succeeds Cardinal Francis Arinze, who served six years as prefect of the CDW. Cardinal Arinze celebrated his 76th Birthday on November 1, 2008, and the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on November 23. Before his appointment to the CDW, Cardinal Arinze had served as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue for 17 years.

Cardinal Cañizares has been archbishop of Toledo since 2002, and was named a cardinal in 2006. From 2005-2008 he was vice-president of the Spanish bishops’ conference. Born October 15, 1945, he was ordained in 1970. He taught at the University of Salamanca for many years before becoming archbishop of Granada in December 1996.

A specialist in catechetics, Cardinal Cañizares has been a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since November 1996, when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) was Prefect. He is also a member of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”, the office that oversees the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missal (“extraordinary form”).

Last November, Cardinal Cañizares responded to the decision of a Spanish judge to remove crucifixes from schools by calling it a “Christophobic” effort to “impose a new culture”. The removal of crucifixes “is an attempt to impose a new culture, a project of humanity that implies an anthropological and radical vision which changes the vision that constitutes our identity”, the cardinal said. “Forgetting God is like forgetting and denying man himself”, he said. “We are suffering from a real pathology caused by the weakening, or even, the destruction of family which, along with the Church, is seen as an obstacle to be removed in order to impose the new project of man and society which has no future because, at the end, it is a project that destroys him”. (Reported by Agenzia SIR Nov. 24, 2008).

In a December 14 interview with the Spanish journal La Razón, Cardinal Cañizares observed that liturgical formation is necessary to help people come to understand that the Eucharist is truly the center of our lives — but he sees this formation as a great challenge. “The solution”, he said, “is not merely … to change one form [of Mass] for the other”; rather, a “much more profound change is needed: to recognize that God is the center of all”.

Cardinal Cañizares commented on the manner of receiving Holy Communion in the La Razón interview. Receiving Communion on the tongue while kneeling “is not just a matter of form”, he said.

What does it mean to receive Communion in the mouth? What does it mean to genuflect before the Sacrament? What does it mean to kneel during the consecration at Mass? It means adoration, it means recognizing the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; it means respect and an attitude of faith of a man who prostrates himself before God because he knows that everything comes from Him, and we feel humbled, dumfounded, before the marvel of God, His goodness, and His mercy. (Adoremus translation)

Our manner of receiving Communion is not a matter of indifference, the cardinal continued, because it expresses our attitude toward the sacramental mysteries. When we are about to receive Communion, he said, “we must bring a profound attitude of the man who prostrates himself before God, and it is this that the pope wants”.

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