Catholic World News

English cardinal warns priests against 'ad orientem' liturgy

July 11, 2016

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster has written to his priests, advising them not to follow a Vatican official's recommendation to begin celebrating Mass ad orientem.

Reacting to an address delivered in London by Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Nichols said that current liturgical guidelines assume that the priest will celebrate Mass facing the people. He said that it would be inappropriate for priests to "exercise personal preference or taste" by changing their mode of celebrating Mass.

The cardinal acknowledged that the Congregation for Divine Worship has said that it is permissible under current liturgical rules to celebrate Mass ad orientem. But he observed that the Congregation also says that "the position toward the assembly seems more convenient inasmuch as it makes communication easier."


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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Jul. 12, 2016 10:01 PM ET USA

    It makes communication easier? Communication between man and God or between man and man? I estimate that the priest faces the people roughly one-third of the time during the low Mass that I attend. That's enough face time for me, but maybe not for others.

  • Posted by: timothy.op - Jul. 11, 2016 8:37 PM ET USA

    Nichols refutes nothing but a straw man in counseling against the exercise of 'personal preference or taste,' as that was never the proposal in the first place. Rather, there are compelling, objective reasons illustrating why ad orientem celebration is more fitting to the nature of the liturgy, as Sarah made clear. In blatantly ignoring these reasons, Nichols acknowledges he has no substantive rebuttal.