VER SINCE I RELEASED an article about Bishop Libasci’s letter, my inbox has been exploding. I had no idea there was such a groundswell of support for “ad orientem,” especially among younger priests. What’s even more surprising is the extremely positive feedback priests are reporting. Indeed, several Midwestern bishops publicly celebrated “ad orientem” even before the special appeal by Cardinal Sarah, who was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship by Pope Francis in 2014.
Some bishops are making an appeal for “uniformity” in Catholic worship, as Bishop Doherty’s terse letter does. Archbishop Naumann’s letter (SEE BELOW) seems to encourage uniformity, yet makes clear that “ad orientem” has equal footing with “versus populum.”
But the uniformity emphasis is hard to reconcile with numerous statements from the USCCB. Consider this official statement signed by Bishop Serratelli:
23 April 2009 — The reformed liturgy offers a variety of options, encourages ministerial creativity, and at times admits a diversity of forms. The participation aid should be so designed as not to establish, once and for all, a single or rigid pattern of liturgical celebration. […] The arrangement or selection of liturgical texts must not result in the suppression of alternatives and options for the congregation (or for the celebrant and other ministers, as applicable).
The following letter is the most extensive treatment I’ve seen:
When I lived in Kansas, my friend ARCHBISHOP KELEHER hadn’t retired yet. Because I’ve only visited Kansas twice since 2005, I don’t feel qualified to comment on the current liturgical situation. Nevertheless, if there’s an authentic move towards liturgical uniformity, I hope more dioceses will start enforcing what Vatican II mandated:
116. The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, under normal circumstances, it should be given first place in liturgical services.
There are more items which could use some “uniformity.” For example, Vatican II mandated the retention of Latin; it is not optional.
Several related articles: