Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Vatican’s liturgical chief, has spoken of a “serious, profound crisis” in the liturgy and the Church since the Second Vatican Council.

In a message to a liturgical conference in Herzogenrath, Germany, translated for Catholic World Report, Cardinal Sarah praised Vatican II’s document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, but said it had been followed by a “serious crisis of faith, not only at the level of the Christian faithful but also and especially among many priests and bishops”.

The cardinal, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said the “crisis” was particularly visible in the way the Mass has been understood and celebrated. He argued that many Catholics had neglected “sacred silence” and gestures such as kneeling which express reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.

They had also forgotten that the Eucharist was a sacrifice, “identical to the act performed once and for all by Jesus Christ, making present the Sacrifice of the Cross in a non-bloody manner”.

He added that the Church had experienced “devastation, destruction and wars” not only in the liturgy, but also in doctrine, morals and Church discipline. “More and more voices of high-ranking prelates stubbornly affirm obvious doctrinal, moral and liturgical errors that have been condemned a hundred times, and work to demolish the little faith remaining in the people of God,” he said.

The conference was on the 10th anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, Benedict XVI’s motu proprio which called for “mutual enrichment” between the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms of the Mass, and gave greater freedom to celebrate the older form.

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