Cardinal Robert Sarah, a traditionalist whose name is mentioned among possible future popes, spoke out Monday in Dakar against a "destruction" of the Mass in the West and a denaturation of Catholic worship to adapt it to local customs in Africa and in Asia.
Cardinal Sarah, a prelate from Guinea neighbouring Senegal, celebrated mass in Dakar Cathedral.
He came to Senegal to participate in a conference on the liturgy in the suburbs of Dakar until December 8. He dedicated his homily to this subject and defended the traditionalist views for which he is known.
“We are witnessing today, especially in the West, a dismantling of the values of faith and piety... and a destruction of the forms of the mass,” he lamented from the pulpit.
“We work to sprinkle the liturgy with African and Asian elements, thus distorting the Paschal mystery that we celebrate. We place so much emphasis on these cultural elements that our celebrations sometimes last six hours,” he said.
“Our liturgies are often too banal and too noisy, too African and less Christian,” he assured.
The traditional Monday evening celebration took on a particular colour for the arrival of the eminent dignitary, with an organist, a choir and the presence around the altar of around forty bishops and priests.
In the absence of publicity given to the event, the vast nave welcomed in the darkness several dozen faithful and religious men and women, some of whom were called to participate in the Congress of liturgists.
Rarely, the building resonated with songs in French but also in Latin, and not in Ouolof, the local language, as is the case on an ordinary Monday.
“If we look at the liturgy as a practical question of pastoral effectiveness (...), we risk making the liturgy a human work, a set of more or less successful ceremonies,” said Cardinal Sarah.
He exalted the memory of Pope Benedict XVI, head of the Catholic Church from 2005 to 2013. "May we follow this great and dazzling star that was Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, the only scholar facing an army of pseudo-liturgists,” he said.