11Jul No Need to Face East: Cardinal Sarah corrected by Pope Francis

http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2016/07/11/it-is-better-to-avoid-using-the-expression-the-reform-of-the-reform/

Fr. Anthony Ruff

Well that didn’t take long.

As you’ve seen all over the internet, the Pope slapped down Cardinal Sarah quite strongly, with only a bit of face-saving spared him (as if he had been misunderstood – yeah, right). Now we know what the Saturday meeting between Francis and Cardinal Sarah was about.

No new directives for ad orientem celebration this coming Advent.

More significant, it seems to me, is the phrase “it is better to avoid using the expression ‘the reform of the reform’” – not least because it is an expression Pope Benedict XVI explicitly approved of in his introduction to Alcuin Reid’s book The Organic Development of the Liturgy.

So I gather that the Pope hadn’t asked Cardinal Sarah after all to begin studying a reform of the reform, as he claimed the Pope had done in April.

Pray Tell is happy to provide this translation of the Italian press release:

Some Clarifications on the Celebration of the Mass

Communication of the Holy See Press Office, 11 July 2016

“A clarification is appropriate following media reports circulated after a conference held in London by Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, a few days ago. Cardinal Sarah has always rightly been concerned about the dignity of the celebration of the Mass, in order to adequately express the attitude of respect and adoration of the Eucharistic mystery. Some of his expressions were, however, misinterpreted as if to announce new instructions different from those in effect in current liturgical norms and the words of the Pope regarding the celebration of the Mass facing the people and on the ordinary form of the Mass.”

“Therefore it is good to remember that the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (General Instruction of the Roman Missal), that it contains the relative norms for the celebration of the Eucharistic which remain in full force. # 299 states: “Altare extruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit. Altare eum autem occupet locum , ut revera centrum sit ad quod totius congregationis fidelium attentio sponte convertatur” (That is:” The altar should be built separate 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. Moreover, the altar should occupy a place where it is truly the center toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns. The altar should usually be fixed and dedicated.”).”

“For his part, Pope Francis on the occasion of his visit to the Congregation for Divine Worship, had specifically mentioned that the “ordinary” form of the celebration of Mass is that provided for by the Missal promulgated by Paul VI, while the “extraordinary” form, which was allowed by Pope Benedict XVI for the purposes and in the manner he explained in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, must not take the place of the “ordinary”.

“There are not, therefore, any new liturgical directives beginning next Advent as some have wrongly inferred from the words of Cardinal Sarah, and it is best to avoid using the expression “reform of the reform”, referring to the liturgy, as sometimes it has been a source of misunderstanding. This was the agreed view expressed during a recent audience granted by the Pope to the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship.”

The English translation is provided by Dr. James Hadley, lecturer in liturgical art and architecture at The Catholic University of America, Rome Campus. The original Bollettino notice is found in Italian only.

 

http://aleteia.org/2016/07/11/vatican-cardinal-sarahs-ad-orientem-invitation-misinterpreted/

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has said media has “misinterpreted” Cardinal Robert Sarah’s address last week at the Sacra Liturgia conference in London, in which he invited all priests to celebrate the Holy Mass ad orientem.

In a communiqué issued this evening, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Cardinal Sarah “has always rightly been concerned about the dignity of the celebration of the Mass,” in order that it might adequately “express an attitude of respect and adoration of the Eucharistic mystery.” But Fr. Lombardi added that Cardinal Sarah, who was appointed by Pope Francis as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, was not issuing a directive to priests, and that there is no instruction for priests to celebrate Mass facing east from the beginning of Advent.

Here below is an Aleteia translation of the communiqué issued by the Holy See Press Office.

Clarification on the celebration of the Mass
(Communiqué of the Press Office of the Holy See, 7/11/2016)

Following media reports circulated after an address delivered several days ago in London by Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, a clarification is opportune.

Cardinal Sarah has always rightly been concerned about the dignity of the celebration of the Mass, in order that it might adequately express an attitude of respect and adoration of the Eucharistic mystery. Some of his expressions were misinterpreted, however, as if they announced new indications differing from those given thus far in the liturgical norms and in the words of the Pope regarding the celebration versus populum [towards the people], and regarding the Ordinary rite of the Mass.

Therefore, it is good to remember that in the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (General Instruction of the Roman Missal), which contains the norms regarding the Eucharistic celebration and is still in full force, n. 299 states: “Altare extruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit. Altare eum autem occupet locum, ut revera centrum sit ad quod totius congregationis fidelium attentio sponte convertatur,” (that is: “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. The altar should, moreover, be so placed as to be truly the center toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns”).

For his part Pope Francis, on the occasion of his visit to the Congregation for Divine Worship, expressly recalled that the “Ordinary” form of the celebration of Mass is the one laid down the Missal promulgated by Paul VI, while the “Extraordinary” form, which was permitted by Pope Benedict XVI for the purposes and in the manner he explained in the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, should not take the place of the “Ordinary” form.

There are therefore no new liturgical directives envisaged to begin next Advent, as some have wrongly deduced from some of Cardinal Sarah’s words, and it is better to avoid using the expression “reform of the reform,” in referring to the liturgy as it is sometimes been a source of misunderstandings.

This was expressed during a recent audience granted by the Pope to Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Questions over translations

As noted in the Vatican press statement, the Latin text of the General Instruction for the Roman Missal states: “Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit.”

Many Latin scholars hold this passage ought to be translated: “The main altar should be built separated from the wall, which is useful wherever it is possible, so that it can be easily walked around and a celebration toward the people can be carried out.” They maintain that it was erroneously translated in the English to read: “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.”

Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ sent out several tweets earlier this week quoting from the General Instruction of the Roman Missal emphasizing Mass celebrated “facing the people,” while Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster sent a letter to all the priests of his diocese discouraging them from celebrating the Holy Mass facing east.

Cardinal Sarah has issued no immediate comment on the statement.

 

 

 

 

9 Responses

  1. Peter Shore

    At a recent conference (“Liturgical Music and Evangelization”, University of Notre Dame, June 20-23) Fr. Ruff bemoaned the creation of unnecessary divisions in the Church. I wonder did he reflect on that before he referred to a Catholic cardinal as being “slapped down” by the Pope. Maybe he thinks that not all divisions are equally unnecessary.

  2. Martin Harran

    I’m undecided about this, I can see arguments for the priest facing the people and for him facing towards God, the same as the people.

    What I’m delighted to see is Pope Francis so clearly slapping down Cardinal Sarah for trying to take on the authority to make this compulsory! Cardinal Sarah has form, by the way, earlier this year, he tried to water down Pope Francis’s extension of the Holy Thursday washing of feet to include women.

    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2016/03/17/cardinal-sarah-priests-are-not-obliged-to-wash-womens-feet-on-holy-thursday/

    It will be interesting to see if he can hold onto his job as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.

  3. Sean O Brien

    #3 “I can see arguments for the priest facing the people and for him facing towards God,”

    Facing towards God ??

    Surely God coming from the East (or the back wall of a church regardless of orientation) is our own construct? Though it is very convenient if God is to be found only where we expect or in a location of our own choosing.

    I suggest we look all about us. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

    Surely it just doesn’t matter and is of no importance where or in what direction we face when we worship God?
    “a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem”

  4. Martin Harran

    @Sean O Brien

    “Facing towards God ??”

    I meant facing in the same direction as the congregation. I would have thought that was fairly obvious as God is omnipresent so no matter what direction we are facing, we are facing Him.

    “Surely it just doesn’t matter and is of no importance where or in what direction we face when we worship God?”

    Do you think we should get rid of all symbolism?

  5. Sean O Brien

    My apologies Martin but to me what you say was fairly obvious wasn’t at all obvious. And in the context of this debate and what is said about ‘facing east’ by, among others, Cardinal Sarah it seems to me that they almost imbue some sort of magical quality about ‘facing east’.
    And yes, it is of absolutely no importance which direction we face when praying or worshipping! What matters is the intention of the worshipper, what is in the person’s heart. Is this not what Jesus was saying when he said “a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem”.
    You made a lively leap from that to question if I would “get rid of all symbolism”. Not all, but a lot of symbolism in our liturgy is defunct and without meaning; it no longer symbolises anything to a huge number of people. It is reduced to empty ritual. We need to examine this; if a symbol has to be explained surely it is no longer a symbol, To be effective it must speak of itself.But that’s a different debate.

  6. Martin Harran

    @SEan O Brien

    The point I was trying to make – somewhat clumsily, perhaps – was that the direction we face in at Mass this part of the symbolism involved in Mass. Symbolism is clearly of secondary importance, the important thing is participating in the Mass and in the Eucharist.

    Symbolism, however, does play an important part in our worship and its value should not be overlooked. In my experience, the priest facing towards the congregation is a symbol of communal worship. In modern churches like the one I worship in, where there is a semi circular arrangement, that symbolism is enhanced. On the other hand, I can see important symbolism in the priest and the congregation facing in the same direction, all moving together towards Christ. The congregation, including the priest, facing towards Jerusalem would also have a commonality with Muslims facing towards Mecca which might not be a particularly bad thing nowadays!

    To be honest, I’m easy either way but overall probably prefer the priest facing the congregation. I get the sneaking feeling, however, that much of the reaction against facing East is a knee-jerk reaction to rejecting things of the past. I think we always have to be careful not to throw the dirty water out with the baby.

    In the list of issues affecting our Church nowadays, however, this is probably item number 990 or something like that and I think that Cardinal Sarah and his ilk need to wake up and smell the coffee; that is why I was glad to see Pope Francis slapping him down 🙂

  7. Paddy Ferry

    From reading the Tablet I was convinced that Piero Marini was a cert to be appointed prefect of the CWD by Pope Francis. This I think explains why it never happened.

    https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/roman-observer/que-sera-sarah

  8. declan cooney

    Be respectful. Use appropriate language. Slurs and personalised insults may be edited.
    Why a lack of respect for Cardinal Sarah (not Bob etc…)???
    He was not slapped down by Pope Francis. He is to good a man. So people should not project their insecurities on others.
    Pope Francis authorised publication of the speech, with sustained applause at the conference, after meeting withe Francis. Please keep to the facts.

  9. Sean O Brien

    Declan, unless we are all going to adopt a “Trump like” attitude to truth, i.e. if I say it then it is true regardless of established fact, the calling in of Cardinal Sarah and the subsequent press statement shows that he was ‘slapped down’ or if you prefer corrected.
    Clearly Pope Francis did not approve of what he said and clearly Sarah overstepped the mark in claiming that he was commissioned by Francis to set about “reforming the reform”, to use that very unhelpful term which is of course code for a return to Tridentine like liturgy, the first step of which was the so called translation of the new missal under the infamous “Voice Clear” committee. (I take the liberty to translate their somewhat grandiose title according to that very flawed instruction Liturgiam authenticam.)
    The curia, especially those in charge of the different departments, seem to think they have been elected Pope for their own area instead of being appointed officials to serve at the pleasure of the Pope.


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