PopeWatch: Cardinal Sarah

Share on facebook
Facebook 0
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn 0
Share on reddit
Reddit 0
Share on delicious
Share on digg
Share on stumbleupon
StumbleUpon 0
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on print



The Pope has moved quickly to quash Cardinal Sarah’s ad orientem:


When it comes to those he disagrees with, Pope Francis’s approach is to avoid direct confrontation preferring instead to ignore them and get on with his job. But in the case of Cardinal Robert Sarah he has made an exception. 

Last week the 71-year-old Guinean prelate unilaterally announced that priests should start to turn their backs on the congregation and face east to say Mass – something which liturgical traditionalists often call for given it is how the priest celebrates the Old Rite Latin liturgy. 

This is all part of an agenda described as a “reform of the reform” which would make the Mass ordinary Catholics attend on Sunday more like the one celebrated before the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. It means more latin, more chant and less participation from the congregation.  

Soon after the cardinal made his remarks, however, the Vatican released a statement saying there will be no changes to this part of the liturgy and, crucially, that this had been “expressly agreed” during a recent audience between the cardinal and the Pope. It added that the phrase “reform of the reform” should be avoided.

Go here to read the rest.  Note the phrase  “turn their backs on the congregation” instead of the reality which is “joining their congregations in facing God.”  Here is Father Z’s take:

Speaking at a liturgy conference in London, Card. Sarah, clearly not acting in his role as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, made a personal appeal to priests to say Mass ad orientem and the world is coming down on his head.

Sarah’s unofficial appeal prompted a quick official response from the local Archbishop of Westminster, Card. Nichols as well as a clarification from Jesuit spokesman at the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Lombardi (which may have been the last official thing he did there [UPDATE: Greg Burke takes over on 1 August.]) via a communique replete with problems.

For example, Fr. Lombardi wrote (I include the typos in the original English version released):

Pope Francis, for his part, on the occasion of his visit to the Dicastery for Divine Worship, expressly mentioned that the “ordinary” form of the celebration of the Mass is that expressed in the Missal promulgated by Paul VI, while the “extraordinary” form, which was permitted by by Pope Benedict XVI for the purposes and in the ways explained in his Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificium, must not take the place of the “ordinary” one.

That was Lombardi.

Now look at what Fr. Thomas Rosica, hyper-visible when events at the Holy See require additional English language spin, added to the Press Office communique in a daily news summary blurb which he sends out to newsies, et al.

Fr Lombardi notes that Pope Francis made this view clear to Cardinal Sarah during a recent audience, stressing that the ‘Ordinary’ form of the celebration of Mass is the one laid down in the Missal promulgated by Paul VI, while the ‘Extraordinary’ form, permitted in certain specific cases by Pope Benedict XVI, should not be seen as replacing the ‘Ordinary’ form.

There is a problem in the communique itself and a worse problem in Rosica’s spin of the communique.

Regarding the communique itself, in the Letter which Benedict XVI sent out with Summorum Pontificum, we read: “As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted. At the time of the introduction of the new Missal, it did not seem necessary to issue specific norms for the possible use of the earlier Missal.”

Note that “in principle”, or perhaps better “de iure”. “De facto”, however, because of the fury of hell that bishops would rain down on priests who dared to say Mass in the way it was said for centuries, priests needed permission.  They didn’t need it legally.  They needed it practically.

On the other hand, while it is true that the communique points out that in Summorum Pontificum Pope Benedict laid out criteria for the celebration of Holy Mass in the traditional form, what Rosica did with that little interpolation “in certain specific cases” was to make Summorum Pontificum itself seem more restrictive than it is.  In fact, the “certain specific cases” mentioned by Rosica are, as it turns out from a reading of Summorum Pontificum, pretty much whenever and wherever any priest whosoever wants to say the older form of Mass.

I wonder if anyone in the Holy See Press Office has ever read Summorum Pontificum and Benedict’s Letter.  I wonder if anyone there read the whole of Card. Sarah’s address in London.

Think about this.  Rosica’s interpolation “in certain specific cases” applies also to the Novus Ordo.

Can. 932. 1 says that Mass is to be in a sacred place unless necessity requires that it be said somewhere else, and in that case it must be a suitable place.   That means just about anywhere where Catholic sensibilities aren’t horrified.  GIRM 288 says Mass can be in a “respectable place”.  Can. 933 says that a bishop can permit that Mass be said in a non-Catholic church.  The law also says when Mass can be said and who can say Mass.   It also says that the language of Mass in the Roman Rite is LATIN. All of this is to say that there are certain conditions laid down for the celebration of Mass in either Form.

Also, if memory serves, this isn’t the first time that Fr. Rosica seems to have added extra material when reporting.  During the Synod on the Family, he was called out for doing just that.  HERE

Finally, Fr. Lombardi’s press communique concluded

“All this was expressly agreed during a recent audience give by the pope to the said Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.”

How did Rosica frame that in his daily blurb?

Fr Lombardi notes that Pope Francis made this view clear to Cardinal Sarah during a recent audience,…

See what he did there?

Friends, as this develops, keep your eyes open.  What is going on here is important for more than just a liturgical motive… as if that weren’t important enough by itself!  We are our Rites!  This has to do with the status quaestionis of our Holy Church’s leadership and what course is being plotted.  This underscores the tremendous division which yawns ever wider.

Go here to read the comments.  Under the current pontificate the Heterodox have full liberty to say what they please and the Orthodox get the back of the papal hand.

More to explorer


  Hatttip to commenter Nate Winchester. I guess this was inevitable, Shea is tangling with Father Z: Mark Shea is sad because

Saint of the Day Quote: Saint Helier

IN the isle of Jersey and on the coast of Normandy the name of this servant of God has been in singular

PopeWatch: Omerta

The code of Omerta is alive and well in the Church:   Washington D.C., Jul 12, 2019 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- More


  1. If the Pope believed that at Consecration the host becomes Jesus’ very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, then he would have the priest and congregation facing in that way. But the Pope has the priest turn his back on the Tabernacle to given reverence to the people over Christ? Really?
    This Pope must be deposed and anathematized.

  2. Those quotes from Fr Lombardi and Fr Rosica don’t seem to contradict anything Cardinal Sarah said. They are talking about the extraordinary form vs the Novus Ordo, yet Cardinal Sarah is calling for a change in how the Novus Ordo is celebrated. A change that is already allowed by the text, that a priest can do without asking anyone’s permission (other than internal diocesan politics).

  3. Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus wrote, “But the Pope has the priest turn his back on the Tabernacle”
    The practice of placing the tabernacle on the high altar is an unfortunate innovation that came in with the Baroque.
    The earlier practice was to have a separate “sacrament house.” There are many surviving examples, especially in Germany and the Low Countries, which are gems of Gothic stone and metal work.
    Here is an example from Nuremburg
    and from Rheine, both in Germany
    and from Kortrijk in Belgium
    Moving the tabernacle to the high altar went hand in hand with the destruction of the rood screen or « jube »
    Here is a surviving example from the chapelle de Kerfons in Brittany
    and from the cathedral in Albi

  4. Cardinal Sarah needs to be Pope. In the mean time we listen to him and not the “other” guy.

Comments are closed.