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Vatican squelches rumors of new rules on Mass facing east

ROME- In the wake of recent comments by its chief liturgist recommending that priests celebrate Mass ad orientem, meaning facing east with their backs to the people, beginning in Advent, the Vatican released a statement on Monday saying no new rules along those lines are in the works.

A Vatican spokesman also rejected the vocabulary of a “reform of the reform” in liturgical practice, saying that phrase is “at times the source of misunderstandings.”

Father Federico Lombardi said the decision to release a statement clarifying comments made by Cardinal Robert Sarah, of Guinea, came after the prelate met with Pope Francis on Saturday.

“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,” Lombardi said.

The papal spokesman added that some of Sarah’s expressions had been misinterpreted by the press, as a signal that changes in liturgical norms were imminent.

“It is very important that we return as soon as possible to a common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction - eastwards, or at least towards the apse - to the Lord who comes,” Sarah had said July 5, opening a conference in London called Sacra Liturgia.

Although his comments were phrased as suggestions and not an edict, Sarah’s desire for a return to the ad orientem posture nevertheless generated wide reaction and debate, in large part because the posture is widely associated with the older Latin Mass in use prior to the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

In truth, the rules for the post-Vatican II Mass also allow for the use of the ad orientem posture, and some priests celebrate it that way. In the public imagination, however, it’s generally seen as a more traditional way of doing it.

In the aftermath of Sarah’s comments, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster in the UK sent a letter to priests in his diocese saying that the Mass was not the time for priests to “exercise personal preference or taste.”

According to the Catholic Herald, Nichols also noted the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, which lays out the rules for celebrating Mass, states in paragraph 299 that “the altar should be built apart from the wall, in such a way that it is possible to walk around it easily and that Mass can be celebrated at it facing the people, which is desirable wherever possible.”

In his statement, Lombardi quoted the same paragraph both in Latin and in Italian.

Sarah was appointed to the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments by Francis in November 2014.

Lombardi said that when he visited 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, meaning, after the Second Vatican Council. The pope 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.

“There are therefore no new liturgical directives for next Advent, as some have wrongly inferred from some of Cardinal Sarah’s words,” Lombardi said.

Lombardi’s rejection of the phrase “reform of the reform” is also noteworthy in light of Sarah’s comments in early July.

In his remarks, Sarah had said that during a private audience with the pope last April, Francis had asked him to study “the question of a reform of a reform” to see how to enrich the twofold use of the Roman rite - the “ordinary form,” meaning the post-Vatican II liturgy in the vernacular languages, and the “extraordinary form,” or the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass.
Well, he tried. 

It seemed to good to be true.  :(
Father Z gives good commentary and clarification on this:
Let's all pray for Father Sarah!
Back to the same old same old  >:(
Quote:Father Federico Lombardi said the decision to release a statement clarifying comments made by Cardinal Robert Sarah, of Guinea, came after the prelate met with Pope Francis on Saturday.

I have yet to meet an African clergyman I didn't have a profound respect for.

(07-11-2016, 06:57 PM)Sacred Heart lover Wrote: [ -> ]Let's all pray for Father Sarah!

Concurred 100%.

The Spirit of Vatican 2 Strikes Back

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Well that didn’t take long.

Like an imprudent Imperial officer questioning Darth Vader’s confidence in the Force, Cardinal Robert Sarah dared to address a central tenet of the erroneous Spirit of Vatican 2, and for his “lack of faith” in a post-conciliar liturgical innovation, he has been promptly given the Vader treatment…and in the Year of Mercy no less!

What was the great offense committed by this humble and soft spoken prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments?  What was said to actually prompt a clarification from the Vatican?…yes, you read that correctly…an actual, honest to goodness, clarification from Rome!

Cardinal Sarah had the audacity, the absolute temerity, to suggest that his brother bishops consider returning to ad orientem Masses beginning this Advent.  At their discretion.  Only following proper catechesis.  And in continuity with the liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church, east and west, for 1,900 years.

It wasn’t as if the Cardinal advocated giving holy communion to those living in adulterous relationships, where a valid sacramental marriage ended in divorce (no annulment) and yet a second, civil, marriage has been entered into.

It’s not like Cardinal Sarah authored an intentionally ambiguous exhortation which has resulted in entire bishops conferences offering conflicting interpretations of a magisterial document…when charity and justice would seem to demand an immediate clarification from Holy Mother Church.

No, all Cardinal Sarah did was suggest that all of us, priest and faithful together, turn toward the Lord, ad orientem, in those appropriate moments of the liturgy.

So, in the spirit of another Catholic blogger, here are ten things to know and share about Cardinal Sarah having his liturgical legs cut out from underneath him:

1. He gave his address a week ago at Sacra Liturgia UK.

2. The Catholic internet blew up over his suggestion for masses to be offered ad orientem beginning the First Sunday of Advent.

3. Aging hippies, Jesuits, and modernists (often one and the same) and readers of sites such as Pray Tell flipped out at the very thought that the Mass isn’t about them after all.

4. Cardinal Sarah met with Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, who proceeded to pull a Brutus to Sarah’s Caesar. Nichols promptly had a letter out to his priests advising them that they would most certainly not be turning eastward this Advent, as he apparently believes that worship of God cannot be sustained unless priest and faithful stare at each other unceasingly at Mass.

5. Cardinal Sarah returned to Rome on Saturday and, reportedly, was summoned to meet with the pope. One can only guess how this went. We can hope it was an opportunity for accompaniment…as opposed to some kind of sensitivity training…mandated (no doubt) for those still clinging to that whole “reform of the reform” business Benedict was so fond of.

6. By Monday, July 11, two more Jesuits had their crack at Sarah. First, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, papal adviser and editor of the influential Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica, tweeted a series of excerpts from the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal), apparently seeking to discredit Cardinal Sarah. It didn’t. Then, outgoing Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. also misinterpreted the GIRM in a communique released on Monday, arguing incorrectly (like Cardinal Nichols) that a recommendation for a free standing altar in #299 means that versus populum is the liturgical norm for the Ordinary Form. This tired and erroneous reading has been refuted before.

7. By Monday afternoon America Magazine, Rocco Palma, and their readers were celebrating the public “schooling” given to a celebrated voice for orthodoxy.

I don’t really have an 8, 9, or 10. Besides, why does a “ten things to know and share” list actually need to have ten things? That just strikes me as rigid legalism.

What happens next? Who knows. Will Cardinal Sarah end up on a metaphorical Malta; banished to the Trad gulag for failure to embrace liturgical rupture over continuity? We pray that is not the case.

What has been made very clear (again) for anyone still in denial about it is this: the Spirit of Vatican 2 is alive and well. The reform of the reform, so much a part of the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI, is simply as optional as the Ordinary Form of the Mass is itself option filled.

Go back and read the top 5 Quotes from Cardinal Sarah’s address. There is nothing in his talk that is earth shattering, revolutionary, or inconsistent with the tradition of the Roman Rite. That he and his suggestion caused such a reaction only speaks to how severe the rupture truly is.

Lord have mercy.
Somehow I always envisioned the Spirit of Vatican II as looking more like Tommy Chong than Darth Vader.
The oddest people now claim to be experts on the GIRM. Looks like the "doctors of the law"  have won.
Why so much clarity so quickly in this pontificate?

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