Friday, May 20, 2022

Pope Francis Mandates Ad Orientem Worship

Our readers will perhaps remember that in 2016, His Eminence Cardinal Robert Sarah, then Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, called upon the Church to return to its authentic custom of offering the Mass ad orientem, as a way of “putting God back at the center” of Christian worship. (Original interview in French here: They will also likely remember that was met with a swift Papal intervention on behalf of retaining the inauthentic custom of worshipping versus populum, which cannot perish soon or thoroughly enough.

This controversy does not impinge solely on the Roman Rite. The Syro-Malabar Church suffered a number of very unfortunate Latinizations in the 20th century, which the Congregation for the Eastern Churches has spent a good deal of time undoing, in obedience to the one decree of Vatican II that the Vatican itself seems to take seriously these days, Orientalium Ecclesiarum. In recent months, this has become such a very sharp controversy that (lamentabile sane dictu!), some members of the faithful even went so far as to publicly burn in effigy the prefect of the Oriental Congregation, H.E. Leonardo Sandri, and the Major Archbishop of the Syr-Malabar Church. H.E. Mar George Alencherry. In January, over 100 Syro-Malabar priests staged a protest and hunger-strike in front of Cardinal Alencherry’s residence in favor of the continuation of the inauthentic custom.

Given the events of 2016 in regard to the Roman Rite, we are very pleased to be able to report via the German website (brought to my attention by Peter) that the Pope has now changed his mind, and ordered the Syro-Malabar in toto to accept the proposed return to the authentic custom of the Church. Like the recent denunciation of the Novus Ordo by Abp Roche, we can only say that this bodes well for the future!

“Pope Francis settled a dispute by ordering that all (Syro-Malabar) diocesesthroughout the Church celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass ad orientem, versus Deum. Together, Francis said, priests and people have to look to the East, from where, according to apostolic tradition, the Second Coming of the Lord is expected. No satire. You read correctly. But how can this be?” Read the full article here: (German is a language which the automatic translator of Google Chrome handles very well.)
His Excellency Mar Joseph Pallikaparampil, bishop emeritus of the Eparchy of Palai in India, celebrates the Holy Qurbana ad orientem in the grotto of St Peter’s basilica in 2015. (Image from Wikimedia Commons by Emmanuel Parekkattu, CC BY-SA 4.0)

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