By Vatican News staff writer
Pope Francis, on Tuesday, sent a video message on the occasion of the presentation of a book titled “Papa Francesco e il Messale Romano per le diocesi dello Zaire”, loosely translated as "Pope Francis and the Roman Missal for the Dioceses of Zaïre.”
“I rejoice to be able to connect with you on this very important event for the Church in Africa. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to join this event of the presentation of the book on the Congolese rite of celebrating Mass,” the Pope said.
The book, prefaced by the Holy Father and edited by Sister Rita Mboshu Kongo, is published by the Vatican Publishing House - Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV).
A promising rite for other cultures
Taking up the idea from the book’s subtitle: “A promising rite for other cultures”, the Pope highlights that at the heart of the publication is “the testimony of a celebration lived with faith and joy.”
He notes that the spiritual, ecclesial and pastoral purpose of the celebration of the Eucharist in the Zairean rite are central to the book, underlining that its author was guided by the principles of the scientific study of adaptation and active participation in the Liturgy – an idea strong desired by the Second Vatican Council.
Being the first and only inculturated rite of the Latin Church approved by Vatican Council II, Pope Francis added that the experience of the Zairean rite can serve as “an example and model” for other cultures.
The Pope also pointed out that this latest publication comes a year after he presided at the celebration of a Mass in the Zairean rite which took place at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Inspired by the Second Vatican Council
The Holy Father highlighted that one of the main contributions of the Second Vatican Council was “to propose norms for adaptation to the character and traditions of various peoples.”
In that regard, he reiterated the words of Pope Saint John Paul II to the Bishops of the Congo during their 1988 ad limina apostolorum visit, urging them to commit themselves to the “whole ritual of the sacraments and sacramentals” they envisioned while creating the rite.
Pope Francis also recalled the appeal in the post-synodal apostolic exhortation “Querida Amazonia” to “take up in the liturgy, many elements proper to the experience of indigenous people in their intimate contact with nature, and to stimulate expressions in songs, dances, rites, gestures and symbols.” He noted that the Second Vatican Council had made this call for liturgical inculturation among indigenous people but more than 50 years have passed and only little progress has been made in this regard.
Inspired by culture and values
Bringing some of the strong points of the Zairean rite to the fore, Pope Francis said that it “emphasizes the different languages, colors, body movements which interact by leveraging all the dimensions of the personality of the faithful, always taking into account the specific values of each people.”
This publication, Pope Francis affirmed, “reminds us that true protagonist of the Congolese rite is the People of God who sing and gives praise to God and sing to the God of Jesus Christ who saved us all.”