By Hilary White and John Jalsevac

ROME, July 27, 2009 ( – For Catholics, between the Eucharist and the defense of human life there is an unbreakable connection, said the head of the Vatican’s liturgical office in an interview last week. Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments, spoke to on Thursday, saying that from the viewpoint of the Catholic Church there is “no doubt” about the inherent connection between Catholics’ faithfulness to the Church’s liturgical norms and faithfulness to her teachings on life and family. (Read the complete interview here)

The question of the link between the Church’s beliefs about the Eucharist and its teaching on the value of every human life has received its most public airing in the controversy over whether or not pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be denied communion. In an earlier segment of this interview, printed last week, the cardinal spoke to this more specific issue, suggesting that the guiding principle for bishops considering withholding Communion from pro-abortion politicians in their dioceses should be “caritas in veritate” or “charity in truth” – the title of the Pope’s recent encyclical.

However, the cardinal also spoke to the broader issue of how for all Catholics the Church’s whole liturgical life is inextricably linked to a pro-life worldview.

“Between the Eucharist and the defence of life there is a link that cannot be separated,” he said. “To live the Eucharist, is to enter in communion with Jesus Christ and as a consequence with His love. This is a communion of life and makes us participate in the life which is Christ. Divine life, eternal life, but at the same time it makes us be givers or carriers of love and defenders of life.

“If the Christians would live all that the Eucharist means, we would be defenders of life in every moment.”

Formerly Archbishop of Toledo, Spain, Cardinal Cañizares is the current Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, that has competence over the way in which Mass is celebrated throughout the world. He was elevated to the cardinalate in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI.

The cardinal spoke with on July 24th at the offices of the Congregation on the Via della Conciliazione in Rome, down the road from St. Peter’s Basilica and the papal residence. He spoke about the influence of Pope Benedict XVI, who, he said, has made it a priority to “rekindle in the conscience of all the true sense of the liturgy.”

He said it is the mission of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments to work to promote Pope Benedict’s emphasis on the traditional practices of liturgy, such as reception of Communion on the tongue while kneeling. In this pope, he said there is hope of a “great new unstoppable liturgical movement.”

“We want a Church that should be present in the world, that is ready to transform the world and [lead] the renewal of mankind in accordance with God’s will.

“In other words, there is no new humanity and there is no hope for man that is not grounded in God that would come from God and would return everything to God as His glory. The future of humanity is in the liturgy.”

He added, “When we read the last encyclical of the Holy Father, we can understand that the liturgy occupies a central role in the concerns of the Holy Father.”

Read a transcript of the interview in full here.

Read previous coverage:

Interview: Head of Vatican’s Liturgical Office says Principle of Refusing Communion is “Charity in Truth”