Pope tells liturgy chief what is and isn’t the norm at Mass

Pope Francis has expressly told the Vatican’s liturgy chief that the extraordinary form of the Mass should not be the norm.

Francis met with Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, on July 10.

This followed comments by the cardinal at a liturgy conference in London last week.

Cardinal Sarah invited priests to start celebrating the Mass “ad orientem”, towards the liturgical east, from the first Sunday of Advent.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, said that when the Pope visited Cardinal Sarah’s dicastery, Francis expressly told the Guinea cardinal that the “ordinary” form of celebrating the Mass is the one promulgated in the missal by Pope Paul VI.

Francis also said that the “extraordinary” form, while accepted under the means expressed by Benedict XVI in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, shouldn’t become the norm.

At the meeting, it was also decided that a statement should be issued clarifying the cardinal’s remarks.

Fr Lombardi said some of Cardinal Sarah’s expressions had been misinterpreted by the press as a signal that changes in liturgical norms were imminent.

The spokesman also quoted paragraph 299 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal about the placement of altars.

This states that Mass celebrated facing the people is “desirable wherever possible”.

Fr Lombardi said the GIRM remains “fully in force”.

“Cardinal Sarah has always been rightly concerned about the dignity of the celebration of the Mass, in order to adequately express an attitude of respect and adoration of the Eucharistic mystery,” Fr Lombardi added.

But the spokesman rejected the vocabulary of a “reform of the reform” in liturgical practice.

He said that phrase is “at times the source of misunderstandings”.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster wrote to his priests saying that the Mass was not the time for priests to “exercise personal preference or taste”.


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