Friday, July 15, 2016

Fr Hunwicke Weighs In on the Ad Orientem Controversy

Everyone who is interested in the ongoing controversy over Cardinal Sarah’s proposal to begin celebrating ad orientem more generally should betake himself to Fr Hunwicke. The immediate controversy is, of course, largely not real, inasmuch as the celebration of Mass ad orientem has always been a perfectly legitimate option, one which is foreseen in the rubrics of the Missal, and which recent Popes, including Pope Francis, use on occasion. Fr Hunwicke has rightly understood what this is really about:

“Sarah and Nichols are both 100% right: this does matter. It goes to the heart of the question of what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass really is. It touches upon that whole raft of practical changes (“Reordering”) which were not in any way whatsoever mandated by the Council but which were put into effect by those who subsequently got their hands on to the levers of power. It bears powerfully upon the crucial question of whether the mighty task of the redintegratio of Catholic worship, set in motion by Papa Ratzinger, will continue under Papa Bergoglio’s successor.

Even further than that, it encapsulates the fundamental question raised by Benedict XVI, of whether we should see Vatican II in terms of reform within a hermeneutic of continuity, or whether the structural ruptures inflicted on the Church in the 1970s, with such catastrophic effects within the Church over the following four decades, are now to be set in dry, cold, inflexible stone.

We have reached a turning point at which every priest knows that if he heeds Cardinal Sarah’s exhortation, he makes it easier for his brother priests also to do the same; and that that if he opts for a quiet life, it will be that bit easier for the Tablet and ACTA (the English liberal group ‘A Call to Action’) to pick off his bolder brother clergy by demanding their episcopal persecution. There is no reason why a start cannot be made, after catechesis, by introducing versus Orientem on alternate Sundays, or even just on the first Sunday of each month. Advent, when priest and people go forward together to meet the Lord who Comes to us, is indeed a highly suitable occasion.”

And thanks to Eye of the Tiber for this hilarious take on the controversy: “Cardinal Nichols Asks Priests To Face Him During Mass.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: