Reports Concerning Supposed “Ecumenical Mass” Are “Utterly False” Vatican Says

The British Catholic publication, The Tablet, reported today that the supposed “ecumenical Mass” which Vaticanologist Marco Tosatti described as being secretly in preparation, is fake news.

The Vatican has strongly denied reports that a commission has been established examining the possibility of a setting up an “ecumenical Mass” which would allow Catholics and Protestants to celebrate a shared Eucharist.

Archbishop Arthur Roche, the number two official at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told The Tablet that reports of a joint Mass were “utterly false” while Greg Burke, Director of the Holy See Press Office, described them as “simply untrue.”

A report in First Things quoted anonymous sources saying that Archbishop Roche and Archbishop Piero Marini – the former Master of Ceremonies for John Paul II – were both involved in the commission while the Prefect of the congregation, Cardinal Robert Sarah, whose views on the liturgy have sometimes clashed with Pope Francis’, had not been informed. The First Things story was later followed up in The Australian who put the claims of a possible joint Mass to the Vatican but did not receive a response.

Tosatti first publicized the “ecumenical Mass” story as a rumor in March 2017, but his recent repetition of the false tale as fact in First Things apparently triggered the strong and unambiguous response by Archbishop Roche and Mr. Burke.

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11 comments

    1. I can.

      Because it gets clicks.

      And FT has been meandering for a purpose for much of the past decade. It was an organ that spoke for the American GOP Catholic party until the collapse of the Bush 43 presidency, found an adjusted audience as an organ trying to refashion/reframe Benedict XVI for American GOP Catholic party purposes, and then lost that niche with the advent of a new pope.

  1. There’s been a lot of strange liturgy rumors in the Catholic blogosphere lately. About a month ago there was a rumor that the new calendar and lectionary would be imposed on the EF in 2018, for example.

    I’m actually surprised nobody tried to tie the two rumors together, as they fit beautifully for those who wear tinfoil hats. The Vatican replaces the OF with an “Ecumenical Mass” that denies its sacrificial nature as well as transubstantiation. Those who balk at this new Mass are told they can have the EF, which has now been made in conformity with the basic requirements of Vatican II. However, the EF is still so unappealingly traditional to them that it will eventually push them towards celebrating the Ecumenical Mass where they can still have vernacular, 70s music, communion in the hand, etc. It will also push the traditionalists away, since it will no longer be traditional enough. Seriously, this stuff writes itself.

  2. There are always alternatives to rumor mongering. For example, we could whip ourselves into self-righteous frenzies over bad liturgical art from the 1960s and 1970s, or even bad art from that era that wasn’t used liturgically … but might as well have been.

  3. The First Things blog post now includes this footnote:

    “* Editor’s Note: The Vatican denies the existence of a committee on the Ecumenical Mass”

    Whether that was affixed to the post when it was originally published, I don’t recall.

    Tosatti’s post is interesting above and beyond the question of an “Ecumenical mass”. The post essentially consists of a laundry list of alleged calculated slights, at the hands of Francis and his advisers and allies, directed toward Cardinal Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship; Sarah’s supposed exclusion from the secret commission (which apparently doesn’t exist) charged with hatching an ecumenical mass text is one item on that list.

    One might reasonably ask whether a pope’s desired program of liturgical reform must defer to an individual cardinal’s sense of dignity, or indeed to the legacies of the pope’s predecessors. And then, if we concede (as I suppose we should) that a pope should be free to pursue his liturgical policies, we may ask whether there are better and worse ways to work with, or deal with, cardinals such as Sarah who pretty clearly are out of step with the new program. Tosatti paints a picture of Vatican politics at its vicious worst. I yield to no one in my admiration of Francis, but I’d be disappointed if that portrait is accurate; Francis was elected to end, not play, those sorts of games.

    1. Hi Jim,

      To the point of whether the “editor’s note” was affixed initially, I can confirm that there was no such notice. Besides, how could there be? The denial followed the publication of the piece on First Things as the post states.

      As to the point about games, I see no reason to think Francis is “playing games.” There are disappointed courtiers who say things like this at a court that does not dance to the tune they wish to play. The accusation is itself a game, as I see it.

      Jim, I would quibble with only one statement you made here: “Francis was elected to end, not play, those sorts of games.” He was elected to serve God and the church in the Petrine ministry, period, not to clean up or end games or fix something, even though these goals may be important.

  4. The Ecumenical Mass has been around for a long time in the Novus Ordo Mass.

    Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, the chief architect of the Novus Ordo Mass, said in 1965:

    “We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren—that is, for the Protestants.”

    Jean Guitton, a French philosopher and close friend of Pope Paul VI, says in his book The Pope Speaks: Dialogues of Paul VI with Jean Guitton:

    “The intention of Paul VI with regard to what is commonly called the [Novus Ordo] Mass, was to reform the Catholic liturgy in such a way that it should almost coincide with the Protestant liturgy — but what is curious is that Paul VI did that to get as close as possible to the Protestant Lord’s Supper … there was with Paul VI an ecumenical intention to remove, or least to correct, or at least to relax, what was too Catholic, in the traditional sense, in the Mass and, I repeat, to get the Catholic Mass closer to the Calvinist Mass.”

    Also, Michael Davies, the Welsh critic of the post-Vatican II liturgy, cites in his book Pope Paul’s New Mass many Protestant theologians and pastors praising the Novus Ordo Mass for its “ecumenical” dimensions and having no qualms in using it (although only with the Second Eucharistic Prayer).

    1. But for the inconvenient fact that Calvinists aren’t at all keen on the Catholic Mass of either preconciliar or postconciliar form, other than that Mrs Lincoln, how was the play?

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