Liturgy News from Rome

Some interesting news out of Rome today:

  • Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Piero Marini as president of the Special Commission for the Liturgy  in the Congregation for Eastern Churches. It’s an interesting appointment, since Marini is a Latin-rite priest. Marini, long-time MC under Pope John Paul II who was known for inculturation and local adaptation of papal liturgies, is thought to be in the good favor of Pope Francis. He was discussed as a possible candidate to be prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, but then Cardinal Sara was appointed to that post.
  • As Vatican Insider reports,  priests in the break-away Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) will be able to absolve sins validly during the upcoming jubilee year of mercy, which Francis sees as a move toward full communion between them and the Roman Catholic Church. And all priests will be able to absolve the sin of abortion (which is otherwise reserved to the bishop in some places). And the jubilee indulgences can be gained not only in designated cathedrals, but also within prisons for prisoners unable to leave. John Allen refers to Francis’s “daring double play” on abortion and the SSPX –  and it is hard to know what to make of the pope’s delicate balancing act. Maybe he’s challenging the break-away SSPX to acknowledge his authority with respect to easier forgiveness for abortion, which puts the ball in their court.
  • Today is still the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation.  I sure wonder why the above moves were announced today of all days – I hope it wasn’t a move on someone’s part to overshadow the day of prayer!


  1. It is an interesting decision to put Marini there. Marini, I think, provided a sufficient response to his critics during the transition from John Paul II to Benedict XVI – his hand was all over those liturgies. This said, what in his background makes him appropriate for the position?

  2. “Additionally, I am thinking of those for whom, for various reasons, it will be impossible to enter the Holy Door, particularly the sick and people who are elderly and alone, often confined to the home. For them it will be of great help to live their sickness and suffering as an experience of closeness to the Lord who in the mystery of his Passion, death and Resurrection indicates the royal road which gives meaning to pain and loneliness. Living with faith and joyful hope this moment of trial, receiving communion or attending Holy Mass and community prayer, even through the various means of communication, will be for them the means of obtaining the Jubilee Indulgence.”

    Mercy extends not just to those in prison, but also to those impaired by sickness. And in an interesting step, even for those who attend Mass or community prayer “through various means of communication.”

  3. Number one (Marini) is just one more example of Latin interference in another ritual Church. I thought that we were past this type of behavior. In fact, it looks like the commission is stacked with Latins.

  4. I’m wary about extending the faculty of absolution to the SSPX. In my previous life I attended an indult Mass whose celebrant moonlighted at a SSPX chapel. This revelation, along with some anti-Semitic comments in the parish bulletin, convinced me to leave the parish in a very angry exit.

    It’s well known that many (most?) of the Lefebvrist clergy and prelates harbor anti-Semitic, homophobic, and misogynist attitudes. I can only imagine what “pastoral” advice SSPX priests offer to penitents. However, I can see Pope Francis’s point. Despite the dysfunction of Econe, worshipers at SSPX chapels require the grace of absolution for salvation despite the toxicity of confessional counsel.

    Please, Pope Francis, do not admit the SSPX to the Church unless the order in writing conclusively rejects anti-Semitism. Also, the Lefebvists must affirm the validity of the Ordinary Form and all documents of the Council. Since Econe will never do this, we can rest assured that they will never return to the apostolic Church. Deo gratias.

    1. @Jordan Zarembo:
      Commenting only on the issue of the Ordinary Form, the Lefebrists have always affirmed the validity of the form of the Mass. They may have some crazy stand about how even though it’s valid it is objectively evil, but they affirm its validity. In fact, it was offered at Econe for a short time. They definitely were crazed about the old translation of pro multis.

      Additionally, they have been very explicit about expelling those who deny the validity of the Ordinary Form, along with expelling those who deny the validity of the new episcopal ordination rite.

      Also, I am not a fan of the SSPX, but we should be exact in how we describe their stance.

    2. @Jordan Zarembo:
      While I think there are real risks to granting the SSPX faculties to absolve, there are already plenty of priests running around with those same faculties who advise contrary to the mind of the Church (especially when it comes to sexual sins, the great battleground of our age). I’ve lived in a diocese where the majority of the priests I encountered were proudly and openly disobedient to episcopal or papal authority in various ways (including dissent in matters of faith), yet all remained in “good standing” despite their undeclared “impaired communion” in faith and discipline. I actually thought the extension of faculties to the SSPX for this one-year period was a brilliant move on Francis’ part because it grants a generous favor (to the SSPX priests and the faithful they’ve been invalidly absolving) while also issuing a firm reminder that the same would otherwise have lacked the ability to absolve. Rebuke and olive branch in the same act. It’s hard to complain about that from either side.

      I think the concession for reconciliation after abortion is also a good grant for the Year of Mercy, but not quite as “politically” effective because in that case it reminds all of the latae sententiae excommunication, a penalty the continued existence of which many in the world and Church may view as lacking “compassion.”

    3. @Jordan Zarembo:

      “I’m wary about extending the faculty of absolution to the SSPX.”

      As am I.

      But, if you read the letter, the Pope is actually addressing the faithful, and not the SSPX. That is, he is telling “those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests of the Fraternity of St Pius X” that they will not be excluded from receiving God’s mercy. Technically, he’s not telling the SSPX that they will now be able to do this or that. In fact, the SSPX in its own statement thanking the Pope for his fatherly gesture said they learned about it in the press.

      It’s a small but significant, IMO, distinction.

      As to the rest of the letter, the most moving part of it for me was one where he addressed the prisoners, and the striking imagery of the threshold of their cell as the Holy Door.

      Which may also hit acutely those who consider themselves prisoners of their own sinfulness where they live. It did me.

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