Vatican Liturgy Chief asks all priests and bishops to face east for Mass, faithful to kneel for Communion

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And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD’S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. Ezekiel 8:16

Speaking at a conference on the liturgy in London yesterday, Cardinal Robert Sarah, the highest authority on the topic in the Catholic Church under Pope Francis, asked all bishops and priests to adopt the ancient posture in the Mass where the priest faces the tabernacle along with the congregation, rather than facing the people. He asked that the posture be adopted by Advent of this year, which begins November 27. During the same talk, Cardinal Sarah encouraged all Catholics to receive Communion kneeling. During the talk, the Vatican’s liturgy chief revealed that Pope Francis had asked him to “continue the liturgical work Pope Benedict began.”

The announcement was immediately recognized by Catholic Herald deputy editor Dan Hitchens as “the biggest liturgical announcement since Benedict XVI’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum gave greater freedom for priests to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass.”

The Guinean cardinal, who is Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, addressed priests who were present, saying: “It is very important that we return as soon as possible to a common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction – eastwards or at least towards the apse – to the Lord who comes”.

The cardinal continued: “I ask you to implement this practice wherever possible.”

He said that “prudence” and catechesis would be necessary, but told pastors to have “confidence that this is something good for the Church, something good for our people”.

“Your own pastoral judgement will determine how and when this is possible, but perhaps beginning this on the first Sunday of Advent this year, when we attend ‘the Lord who will come’ and ‘who will not delay’.”

These words were met with prolonged applause in the conference hall.


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