Monday, July 11, 2016

Far be it for me to correct Cardinal Nichols but...

Image result for vincent nichols
Far be it for me to correct Cardinal Nichols but it does strike me their Eminences are often badly informed or confused nowadays, he has sent an email to his clergy warning them off of follow Cardinal Sarah's call for offering Mass ad orientem.

There is a paragraph here:
Following Cardinal Robert Sarah’s appeal last week during the the Sacra Liturgia conference in London, Cardinal Nichols who is Archbishop of Westminster, wrote to priests reminding them that, “the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, approved by the highest authority in the Church, 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. The altar should, moreover, be so placed as to be truly the centre toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns. The altar is usually fixed and is dedicated.’”

His Eminence is wrong in his interpretation of this rubric that "which is desirable whenever possible", is not Mass facing the people, but that the "altar should be built apart from the altar from the wall". Perhaps the Cardinal should read Fr Lang's excellent Turning towards the Lord. Fr Lang is actually resident in his diocese.

This is how the CDW interprets it:
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has been asked whether the expression in n. 299 of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani constitutes a norm according to which the position of the priest versus absidem [facing the apse] is to be excluded. 
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, after mature
reflection and in light of liturgical precedents, responds: 
Negatively, and in accordance with the following explanation.
The explanation includes different elements which must be taken into account. First, the word expedit does not constitute a strict obligation but a suggestion that refers to the
construction of the altar a pariete sejunctum (detached from the wall). It does not require, for example, that existing altars be pulled away from the wall. The phrase ubi possibile sit (where it is possible) refers to, for example, the topography of the place, the availability of space, the artistic value of the existing altar, the sensibility of the people participating in the celebrations in a particular church, etc.
I have the protocol number for this letter somewhere, I can't find it at the moment perhaps someone might help out with it.

The pre-Vatican II  Sacred Congregation of Rites, had always recommended the separation of altar and walls and also the building of gradines behind altars so that candles and relics might be placed on them and not the consecrated mensa which was reserved for things which were truly necessary for Mass.

Mass in his cathedral is always more beautiful when celebrated according the rubrics, perhaps they should be read by HE, particularly those parts which talk about turning towards the people, which assume at other time he is not.

Petrus tells me 
"Prot. No 2086/00/L is the one in question"

And see here too

43 comments:

Pétrus said...

Prot. No 2086/00/L is the one in question.



Lillibet said...

Slip of the finger: a pariete "sejunctum" for "dejunctum".

Pelerin said...

I am truly shocked. Hopes raised then dashed.

Liam Ronan said...

Perhaps His Eminence has his own personal anxieties about being summoned to face the wall.

Et Expecto said...

I think I am correct in saying that Cardinal Nichols quotes from the version of the GIRM published by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and that this differs in many respects from original version published in Rome for the Universal Church.

Can anyone confirm this? And if so what the original document says?

Tony V said...

Being a layman, I don't have to watch what I say about bishops, so I have no problem whatsoever in correcting the Cardinal. I think in this case the plain sense of the English language GIRM is that it's best whenever possible for Mass to be celebrated facing the people.

I also think the GIRM is wrong, and would encourage priests to ignore it, just as 'progressives' have ignored rubrics for decades. While I'm at it, I'd encourage priests to omit not only the sign of peace, but (except on Good Friday) the Bidding Prayers. But I digress...

Because by now you're challenging me with, 'Sure, the English translation of the GIRM says that, but what about the original Latin?' There you've got me--I can't for the life of me find a Latin version on line. Perhaps you have to buy a copy of the MR (which I don't believe the Vatican has made available on line)?

There is a limited set of translations on the Vatican website* in addition to the English: French, Italian, Spanish and Swahili. The French version actually omits the comment found in the other Romance versions: it only says Il convient, partout où c’est possible, que l’autel soit érigé à une distance du mur qui permette d´en faire aisément le tour et d´y célébrer face au peuple, with nothing corresponding to lo cual conviene que sea posible en todas partes/ la qual cosa è conveniente realizzare ovunque sia possibile.' This comment also seems to be lacking in the Swahili, which simply states, Kila inapowezekana inafaa Altare ijengwe hivyo kwamba imetengwa kutoka kwenye ukuta ili wahudumu waweze kuizunguka kwa urahisi; nayo Misa iweze kuadhimishwa waselebranti wakiwa wamewaelekea watu.

So there you have it. I know GIRM has been altered so that local variants exist...perhaps the comment on the superiority of the versus populum position was added to some (or removed from others)? In any case, you don't need to listen to Cardinal Sarah or Cardinal Nichols. Just do it.

Jeremy said...

He will be the first of many bishops to bury the idea. Remember the first papal mass too in the Sistine Chapel on a portable altar facing the people. It will be a hard struggle, alas.

vetusta ecclesia said...

Reminiscent of his predecessor's (Hume) dismissive hauteur when opining of some Vatican instruction, " This does not apply to E and W"..

Tony V said...

PS: forgot the link to the Vatican website, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_missale-romanum_index_en.html

Catechist Kev said...

The following from Fr. Z is helpful answering the misinterpretation of GIRM #299:

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2006/04/what-does-girm-299-really-say/

Catechist Kev

Pétrus said...

@Tony V

This is what the instruction is in Latin

"Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit."

This seems to state that the altar being seperated from the wall is desireable. Not that celebration facing the people is.

Michael d'Arcy said...

I presume that the Latin is the definitive text, and it reads as follows:

Altare maius exstruatur 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. De more sit fixum et dedicatum.

TheRoyspears said...

What will happen at Arundel Cathedral. It must set an example and follow Cardinal Sarah.

Pelerin said...

I have to say I agree with Tony V when he suggests omitting the sign of peace! My heart starts to pound as the Priest reaches this point if I am at a Novus Ordo as I have received some very painful handshakes in the past, one of which resulted in having an X-ray at the A & E.

I was so pleased when Cardinal Sarah went straight into the Agnus Dei after the Pax Vobiscum on Wednesday without asking people to offer handshakes. One lady did actually turn round to do this but quickly turned back when she realised no-one else was. I don't know if this is perhaps the norm in the Oratory or whether it was just the norm for Cardinal Sarah.

Visitors to Lourdes who also for various reasons do not wish to shake hands at this point in the Mass will be pleased to know that at Novus Ordo Masses in the parish church there the Priests omits it too - so it can be done.

Craig Smith said...

VATICAN STATEMENT: The following is a working translation of the Vatican press statement made by America’s Vatican correspondent, in the absence of an official translation.

SOME CLARIFICATIONS ON THE CELEBRATION OF THE MASS

A clarification is opportune following news reports circulating in the media after a conference held in London some days ago by Cardinal Sarah, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Cardinal Sarah has always been rightly concerned for the dignity of the celebration of the Mass, in a way that expresses adequately the attitude of respect and adoration for the Eucharistic mystery.
VATICAN STATEMENT: The following is a working translation of the Vatican press statement made by America’s Vatican correspondent, in the absence of an official translation.

SOME CLARIFICATIONS ON THE CELEBRATION OF THE MASS

A clarification is opportune following news reports circulating in the media after a conference held in London some days ago by Cardinal Sarah, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Cardinal Sarah has always been rightly concerned for the dignity of the celebration of the Mass, in a way that expresses adequately the attitude of respect and adoration for the Eucharistic mystery.

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Some expressions were nevertheless badly interpreted as if they announced new indications differing from those given to-date in the liturgical norms and in the words of the pope on the celebration (looking) towards the people and on the ordinary rite of Mass.

It is there good to recall that in the General Order of the Roman Missale (Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani), that contains the norms relating to the Eucharistic celebration and (which) are still fully in force, No. 299 states that “the altar is built separated from the wall, so as to be able to move around it easily and to celebrate looking towards the people, which thing is convenient to realize wherever possible. The altar is to be place in a way so as to really constitute the center towards which the attention of the people spontaneously converges.”

Pope Francis, for his part, on the occasion of his visit to the Dicastery (Congregation for Divine Worship) has expressly recalled that the “ordinary” form of the celebration of the Mass is that envisaged by the Missal promulgated by Paul VI, while that “extraordinary” (form), which was permitted by by Pope Benedict XVI for the purposes and the modalities explained by him in the Motu Proprio “Summorum Ponticium,” must not take the place of the “ordinary” (form).

There are therefore no new liturgical directives beginning from next Advent, as someone has improperly deduced from some words of Cardinal Sarah, and it is better to avoid using the expression “the reform of the reform,” in referring to the liturgy, given that this has sometimes been the source of misunderstanding.

Significantly, the Vatican communique added that “all this was expressly agreed during a recent audience given by the pope to the said Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.”

Statement from the Vatican, has Cadinal Sarah been slapped down? All very sad.

http://americamagazine.org/content/dispatches/vatican-denies-changes-celebration-mass

Elijahmaria said...

Father Ray: I don't know where to put this comment but I'm sure you'll see it from here...but that photo of our sweet Francis the Poor is just priceless. The expression on his face is classic Francis and the circumstance is lovely...Anyway if you have a copy that you would not mind sharing my email is mel5@lazerlink.com .....thanks much for your sense of humor and good thoughts....Mary Lanser

Cosmos said...

This conversation has become obsolete. All has been put back in place by our Benevolent Leaders. Disperse and go about your business.

PJ said...

I think that this cardinal like many catholics consider that a Priest turning his back to the congregation (audience) is more offensive than turning his back to God.Both Priest and congregation should be facing God during Mass. However I think many catholics today don't know what the Mass is.With regards to correcting cardinals I think many cardinals and bishops need correcting.

Pelerin said...

It now appears that Fr Lombardi has said that Cardinal Sarah's comments have been misinterpreted. They were said in English so I am not sure how they can have been misinterpreted. It gets more and more confusing.

Delia said...

Vatican press release very dispiriting. However, I was there, and the hall erupted in thunderous and sustained applause at Cardinal Sarah's announcement, which was unambiguous. And it was full of YOUNG priests and seminarians. But Cardinal Sarah also asked for our prayers - clearly he is in a very difficult situation.

Pétrus said...

Many in the Archdiocese of Westminster will be disappointed to discover the Cardinal Archbishop is so opposed to celebrating Mass ad orientem.

I understand many have longed to see the back of him for some time.

Lillibet said...

No slip of the finger. Seiunctum is in the original. Mea culpa.

Liam Ronan said...

If we might for a moment, for the sake of argument, put aside the matter of the Latin wording, translation, and parsing of the applicable texts, I think the 'event' which precipitated this (now world-wide)discussion is this:

Cardinal Sarah expressed an urgency that this be done and be done quickly, i.e. on or before the first Sunday of Advent of this year. He specifically connected this undertaking with Advent. Moreover, and as if underlining how best to accomplish this as soon as possible, Cardinal Sarah offered that no express permission from the hierarcy was required.

It strikes me as most mysterious.

Andrew said...

Of course as always it is not only about the orientation of the Priest at Mass - it is about control and power!

John Nolan said...

The 'quod expedit' clause wasn't added until 2002 and does not refer to 'celebratio versus populum' - if it did the relative pronoun would have to be 'quae'. Also 'expedit' does not mean 'is desirable'. A more accurate translation would be: 'It is suitable wherever it is possible that the altar be constructed apart from the wall so that it is easily walked around and that celebration towards the people can be done at it.' The French have got it right.

Regarding the 'sign of peace' it is the deacon, not the celebrant who sings 'Offerte vobis pacem'. To the best of my knowledge this has never been done at the Oratory.



Physiocrat said...

Does the structure recommended to be "separated from the wall" consist of the mensa only or of the mensa, gradines and reredos? How dies the Latin translate?

If the latter ie all three, then Mass can not practically be said facing the people.

GOR said...

So Cdl. Nichols expostulates apoplectically that the Mass is not the time for priests to “exercise personal preferences or taste”…

Gee, ya think, your Eminence? Where have you been for the past 50 years when priests have been doing just that? On your watch and under your nose also! But then you were complicit in it, weren’t you? Nice.

Now that Cdl. Sarah has said something you don’t agree with, you now ‘get religion’…? You now appeal to rubrics??? How hypocritical can you be and how naïve to think people don’t see through you?

Genty said...

Pelerin, The Oratory congregation doesn't 'do' the sign of peace. Enthusiastic visitors get caught out and look very disappointed at the non-reaction, but often persist in shaking hands with each other.

Robert said...

Get a hold of Cardinal Sarah and let him know Cardinal Nichols position. Let the two of them battle it out. Our Church is really turning into the Anglican communion.

Robert said...

Quote "has Cardinal Sarah been slapped down? All very sad.". Of course he has!. Those who are really running the church care less for traditions and rules. They want a "Protestant" Roman Catholic Church. Schism is drawing closer and closer!!!. Get rid of Nichols! and replace him with a worthy Archbishop!!. Not a liberal Vatican 2 loving a...e kisser!.

Deacon Augustine said...

To Liam, re:

"Cardinal Sarah expressed an urgency that this be done and be done quickly, i.e. on or before the first Sunday of Advent of this year. He specifically connected this undertaking with Advent."

Advent is the time when we specifically focus on the coming of the Lord in glory - and we know from Scripture that He will return from the east. That is why Advent would be particularly appropriate from a liturgical p.o.v. for the Church to repent and start saying Mass in the proper direction again. Both priest and people should be looking for the coming of the Lord rather than the present ubiquity of the people looking for the coming of the priest (and assorted hangers-on.)

As for the urgency, maybe Cardinal Sarah believes that St Francis' prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes, and that we have been given a destroyer rather than a pastor for a Pope as a sign that Christ's return is imminent.

Tony V said...

Well, it's no surprise that the Vatican apparatchiks have joined in Cdl Nichols's slap-down of Cdl Sarah. It's simply not possible for them to admit that they might have ever got things wrong. They'll go on facing the people until there's no people left to face.

Would someone please provide a link for the Latin GIRM, if it is indeed on line? Odd that I can find the Swahili so much more easily!

As for the Latin text that was kindly provided by a couple commenters (Altare maius exstruatur a pariete seiunctum, ut facile circumiri et in eo celebratio versus populum peragi possit, quod expedit ubicumque possibile sit.), I suspect the most natural sense is that a pronominal quod would refer to the nearest impersonal clause (in eo celebratio versus populum peragi), not necessarily the nearest neuter noun (altare)...Fr Z's translation notwithstanding. Infinitives are treated as neuter singular nouns, when it comes to gender and number, and so I would think are prepositional phrases. So it's true that quae would unambiguously refer to celebratio, while quod may refer to altare or to versus populum peragi, though the closer antecedent would be more likely.

And of course quod may also be construed as a conjunction ('because'): 'Let the altar be built away from the wall, so that it may eaily be gone round the celebration may be conducted towards the people, for it is expedient [to do so] whenever possible.'

Again, though I believe this is the plain sense of the GIRM, I think we should honour that noble document more in breach than in observance. I do recall, as John Nolan states, that this phrase may have been added relatively recently in the brief life of this document, but again I'm appealing for documentary evidence of this, if anyone can provide it. Ideally on line, as I have no desire to splash out on multiple editions of hard copies of MR. (Why doesn't the Vatican put the MR on line? The C of E can manage to do so with CW.)

Jacobi said...

Do not feel inhibited Father in disagreeing with Cardinal Nichols. The Holy Father has called repeatedly for Parrhesia, speaking out when in disagreement. if we are to do that in good faith against the Keeper of the Keys then we certainly can against a Cardinal.

We at present have this obsession with the last 40/50 years, a blink of an eye in the 2000 years of the Church and during that 2000 years the norm, based on scripture, has been to look to the East for the Second Coming.

There is no reason to change that ancient custom.

Rod George said...

Whichever way the priest celebrates the Novus Ordo Mass it does not alter the fact that it
"represents,as a whole and in detail, a striking departure from the Catholic theology of the Holy Mass as it was formulated in Session XX11 of the Council Of Trent." The quote is from the
critical study of the New Mass by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci. If you add to this the role played by the six protestant observers invited to the discussions on the New Mass we clearly ended up with a protestantised ecumenically friendly Mass. The Novus Ordo is still the Novus Ordo no matter how much you dress it up to look like the Traditional Mass. The answer is a return to the Traditional Latin Mass. When Cardinal Sarah starts campaigning for this I will begin to take him seriously.

Pelerin said...

Tony V sums up this controversy well by writing in his comment:

'They'll go on facing the people until there's no people left to face.'

A friend recently argued that they can't change to 'ad orientem' because 'everyone has got used to the Priest facing them.' She overlooked the fact that over some 1500 years 'ad orientem' was the norm and yet overnight the orientation changed with if I remember correctly no consultation with congregations whatsoever. It just happened and we had to get on with it.

PJ said...

It would seem that the cardinal and many others think that the congregation (audience) is more important than GOD.

Cathy said...

And Cardinal Nichols is well-known for clamping down on liturgical abuses, like he perceives this to be?

Sixupman said...

If you happen to be in Langholm [Scottish Borders] that which you will face at Mass
is a series of tables joined together around which the congregation sit woth the priest Celebrant at the head. Originally Mass was at a local convent then closed. The bishop acquired an ex Free Church and the subsequent arrangement arose out of a re-ordering. The diocese was dead on its knees. The then bishop praised the priesthood of the laity over the consecrated priesthood and did that at the 25th. anniversary of a priest friend. Just over the border, the first two churches you hit had a PP who used no liturgical books, but a loose-leaf folder containing proceedings of his own devising - he was a liturgist educated in France so what could you expect.

Pelerin said...

Regarding Cardinal Sarah's address last week which is now online his actual words referring to Mass being celebrated ad orientem were as follows:-

'And so dear Fathers I humbly and fraternally ask you to IMPLEMENT this practice wherever possible.'

How can these words have possibly been 'misinterpreted?' I fail to see how our Cardinal can now instruct his Priests NOT to celebrate ad orientem.

ALEXANDER VI said...

One of the great issues of our time,eh,Father?

CE User said...

"One of the great issues of our time,eh,Father?"

Save the Liturgy, Save the World

-- Fr. Zuhlsdorf

John Nolan said...

Ccwatershed has put on line all the versions of the GIRM in English and Latin, including (in Latin only) the 1969 version with its heretical preamble which was withdrawn by Paul VI after the 'Ottaviani intervention' and rewritten.

Google 'GIRM in Latin' and you will find the website easily.

Oddly there are two versions from 2002 or thereabouts, and there are some differences between them.

The more 'official' version omits the word 'maius'. I'm no Latinist so can anyone explain what this means? Lewis & Short gives it as an adjective, an older form of 'magnus', but then it doesn't agree with 'altare' which is neuter.

John Vasc said...

I find it interesting that the French version of 299 on the website has the correct translation of the latin:
"Il convient, partout où c’est possible, que l’autel soit érigé à une distance du mur qui permette d´en faire aisément le tour et d´y célébrer face au peuple."

Articles 296-308 of the GIRM are concerned exclusively with the actual building and furniture of the altar, and the phrase in 299 'wherever this is possible' (not 'whenever possible') makes it clear that it is about locations and structures, not about how Mass should be celebrated. It is possible some clever-clogs smuggled it in to create ambiguity, (as I believe even happens in some documents today:-) but it beggars belief that the Church would take its cue as to what is 'prescribed' from an optional preference for facing the people glossed over in a couple of casual words buried in a discussion of the altar's desirable structural properties, altar furnishings, candlesticks etc.

Given its architectural context, even the crudest mis-translation and the most stubborn misunderstanding of the wording cannot give 299 canonical force as a liturgical prescription of 'how to say Mass'. And the persistence with which it is quoted by adherents of ad populum liturgy makes one suspect that they can probably find no more binding magisterial document to justify their claims. Ad popolum' is all just 'custom and practice' - a custom and a practice instigated by its supporters.