Only “inculturated” Roman Missal since Vatican II

Vatican News has an article on Pope Francis and the Missel Romain pour les Diocèses du Zaïre.  This is in the context of his cancelled trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo Where he was due to travel in July.

The Vatican Publishing House is publishing a book (in French) about this edition of the Roman Missal and Pope Francis wrote a prefect to the book.  In this preface he says that

The Congolese rite of the Eucharistic celebration is certainly the fruit of missionary preaching under the African sun and which was collected at dawn. In its triple fidelity to the faith and to the apostolic tradition, to the intimate nature of the Catholic liturgy itself, and finally to the religious genius and the African and Congolese cultural heritage, the Missel Romain pour les Diocèses du Zaïre is the only ‘inculturated’ Roman missal, born of the liturgical reform of Vatican II.

Pope Francis comments that the Missel Romain pour les Diocèses du Zaïre has “perfectly achieved the objectives assigned to it,” and that it “allows the Congolese to pray in their language, with their body and soul, and to use symbols that are familiar to them.”

He also “ proposed this Missal as a “model for other Churches seeking an appropriate liturgical expression to the  inculturation of the Gospel“ adding that:

The immense importance of a culture marked by faith cannot be overlooked. In the face of the onslaught of contemporary secularism, an evangelized culture, for all its limits, has many more resources than the mere sum total of believers. An evangelized popular culture contains values of faith and solidarity capable of encouraging the development of a more just and believing society, and possesses a particular wisdom which ought to be gratefully acknowledged.

I presume that all of us can take Pope Francis’ advice to heart and learn from the Congolese example.  However, I, for one, have never been able to find a copy of this Missal.  Nathan and Rita have posted on PrayTell on this use before (here and here ), but details on this use are still somewhat scarce. Does anyone know where an actual copy of the Missel Romain pour les Diocèses du Zaïre can be found?  Are there editions of it available for sale? Is there an English translation of significant selections of it, if not of the whole Missal?  I think I saw a YouTube video of a Mass in St. Peter’s in this use, but does anyone know of other resources for this missal? Maybe some publishing houses should consider publishing a study edition of this Missal for the use of those of us who are not in the Democratic Republic of Congo.



The cover picture of Ruins of the Cathedral of the Holy Saviour of Congo in modern-day Angola, constructed 1491 as one of the first Catholic cathedrals in the Kingdom of the Congo, is available as a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.o Unported license on Wikipedia Commons



  1. The concept of inculturation in the liturgy is interesting, and it’s an area where I do think the reformers of the Roman Rite were/are onto something. Two thoughts:

    Firstly, wasn’t the hostile reaction of many people to the reformed liturgy due to the fact that for many Westerners the traditional Roman Rite was already deeply inculturated? I.e. our great composers had written lots of Mass settings, Gregorian chant was one of our traditional musical forms, and the old prayers and devotions were firmly entrenched in our religious life. Many Westerners who felt themselves outside the traditional culture might have found the change a great improvement, but traditionally minded Westerners actually had their own perfectly inculturated liturgy taken away from them, and by Francis’s reasoning they are quite right to want it back.

    Secondly, was Pope Francis’s willingness to promulgate the Ordinariate liturgy partly due to a belief that Englishmen (like me) are a specific cultural group who needed an inculturated Roman Rite liturgy of their own? And if so does that signal a certain openness to attempts to make English Catholics’ liturgy more “traditional” in the same way?

    1. Thanks for this comment and pointing out that the “Divine Worship, the Missal” is an inculturated Roman Missal taking into account Anglican spirituality and liturgical developments, as well as chants, after Henry VIII named himself head of the Church of England. I suspect a Lutheran version could easily adapt to some Lutheran developments liturgically, consistent with Catholic doctrine, such as the order of the Liturgy, similar to the 1962 Liturgy and their music heritage as well as other aspects to include as the Ordinariate’ Missal kneeling for Holy Communion and ad orientem.

  2. Culture is an interesting one.
    Ask most Brits if plainsong and Mozart Masses were part of their culture and overwhelmingly the answer would be “eh?”
    English hymns would be closer to the mark.

  3. Here are a few good sources. If you want more information, send me an email:

    Conference Episcopale du Zaire. Missel Romain Pour Les Dioceses Du Zaire. Kinshasa: Editions du Secretariat General, 1989. [missal]

    Egbulem, Nwaka. The Power of Africentric Celebrations: Inspirations from the Zairean Liturgy. New York: A Crossroad Publishing Company, 1996. [english translation]

    Kabongo, Édouard Flory. Le Rite Zaïrois: Son Impact Sur l’inculturation Du Catholicisme En Afrique. Gods, Humans, and Religions, no 13. Bruxelles ; Oxford: P. Lang, 2008.

  4. FYI, the Holy Father (with others) is celebrating according to this Missal at St Peter’s tomorrow.

    This book on the Congolese Rite, cited in the post, is probably the most recent. It was published in 2020:
    Papa Francesco e il «Messale Romano per le Diocesi dello Zaire». Un rito promettente per altre culture; Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 228 pages, 20 euro., edited by Rita Mboshu Kongo.
    It’s available on Amazon, new, for $32.49.
    I don’t see the French edition, just the Italian. As far as I know it has not been translated into English yet.

    1. Thanks Rita. I’m in Rome this week, so I was able to pick up a copy of the book in the Italian original for €20. There was a lot of activity in St. Peter’s on Sunday morning for the Mass, but I didn’t manage to sneak in!

      1. Fr. O’Donoghue,
        Would you be willing to do a post or series of posts on this missal and the continuities and discontinuities with standard Roman Missal?

  5. Devin

    Different people have offered me different bits and pieces, both in the comments and by contacting me privately. This is a great help and much appreciated.

    Although part of the point of my post is that this is being held up as “the” example of an inculturated Missal in our days. Yet it is hard to get your hands on it.

    If I’ve time after the summer, I’ll try to put something together. But my hope is that a publisher will make it available as a book.

    That being said, if copyright wasn’t a problem, it might be a good joint project for PrayTell.

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