From John Allen’s current column:
This special issue is devoted to an Oct. 26, 2001, decision of three Vatican offices (the Council for Christian Unity, the Congregation for Eastern Churches, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) approving inter-communion between the Assyrian Church of the East and its parallel Eastern rite Catholic church, the Chaldean Catholic Church. In so doing, the Vatican accepted the validity of a Eucharistic prayer used by the Assyrians, called the “Anaphora of Addai and Mari,” even though it does not contain an “institution narrative” citing the words of Christ at the Last Supper: “Take this, all of you, and eat it,” etc.
Though this may seem a classic case of insider’s baseball, the decision has two levels of wide significance. First, according to liturgical experts, it suggests a break with traditional sacramental theology that concentrates on verbal formula, towards an approach rooted more in intention and overall meaning – a step, in other words, towards a more “modern” understanding of the essence of the sacraments. Second, by recognizing the validity of a Eucharistic prayer even though it doesn’t conform to the precise norms of the Catholic church, the Vatican seemed to signal a new level of ecumenical sensitivity.
The special issue of Divinitas offers six articles more or less supporting the decision, and four questioning it.
The fact that a Vatican-published journal would run material challenging a joint decision of three dicasteries would, by itself, be remarkable. The language in a couple of the articles, however, goes beyond the polite obfuscation in which such challenges are generally posed. German scholar David Berger, for instance, suggests that the church has no power to do what it did in this case, i.e., approve a Eucharistic prayer lacking the words of Christ.
Adding to the intrigue is the fact that another strongly critical piece was written by a veteran Vatican monsignore, Fr. Brunero Gherardini, who was the postulator for the beatification of Pope Pius IX. Gherardini is the editor-in-chief of Divinitas. Further, the journal comes with an imprimatur from Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, arch-priest of St. Peter’s Basilica and the pope’s vicar general for Vatican City.
All this suggests that the decision of 2001 has some powerful critics inside Vatican corridors.
Berger is unequivocal: “In none of the other sacraments does such clarity prevail as here: Christ himself, according to the unanimous witness of scripture and tradition, personally and immediately decreed the matter and form of the Eucharist and Baptism. The church thus has no authority to change something in the essential rites of these sacraments which is based on a divine ordinance.”
Berger, by the way, publishes in a German periodical called Una Voce Korrespondenz, put out by the German branch of a pro-Latin Mass group called “Una Voce.”
Gherardini, professor of ecclesiology and ecumenism for 37 years at the Lateran University and secretary of the Pontifical Academy of Theology, lists five arguments against the anaphora: …"