Cardinal Sarah: "priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction – eastwards or at least towards the apse – to the Lord who comes"

Cardinal Sarah speaking at Sacra Liturgia, flanked by Bishop Dominique Rey (Photo by Lawrence Lew OP)
On June 4th, you may remember this post, which referred to the fact that Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments had called for priests to say Mass facing East, in the time honoured manner, so that both the celebrant and the people face God to whom they pray:
"As soon as we reach the moment when one addresses God—from the offertory onwards—it is essential that the priest & faithful look together towards the east."

Yesterday saw the beginning of the Sacra Liturgia Conference in London where the opening address was from Cardinal Sarah. Much of what he said has been posted in chunks on their FB page here. But Dom Hugh Somerville-Knapman has an excellent report on the day here.

The big news is that Cardinal Sarah reaffirmed his call to celebrate Mass facing East. The Cardinal, 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, His Eminence revealed that Pope Francis had asked him to “continue the liturgical work Pope Benedict began.”

by Dan Hitchens, The Catholic Herald's deputy editor called it
“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 Cardinal own words were:
“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. After this, Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon said that, although he was “only one bishop of one diocese”, he would celebrate Mass ad orientem at his cathedral, and would address a letter to his diocese encouraging his priests to do the same.

Fr Lawrence Lew, a Dominican Priest, was the photographer for the event and has kindly allowed me to use these pictures. He was priviledged to meet Cardinal Sarah after the event and noted that His Emminence repeatedly asked for prayers. Let us not let him down and pray fervently for this great leader of the Church!

You can see some more of Fr Lawrence's wonderful pictures of this event here.


  1. Thanks, Mark. Incidentally, were any of the E&W hierarchy present, even if only as a sign of fraternal respect, and, if yes, did any of them have anything to say about Cardinal Sarah's suggestion? Whilst I have huge respect for His Eminence, and don't disagree with him if his remarks are considered based on an assumption of 'Novus Ordo as norm' (not an assumption I share), isn't this essentially just another sticking plaster? Will turning to the East really be effective as a strategy for opening the minds of the largely brainwashed and semi-protestantised faithful to see the liturgical revolution of the 1960s for what it was, how it was the fundamental keystone of a larger strategy to essentially destroy the Faith, and will it lead to a return to the ‘Mass of Ages’? Perhaps it will be – or at least the catechesis that accompanies the change - I truly hope so. But I have to say I'm deeply sceptical. In times when even the Roman Pontiff is sowing confusion and error among the faithful on a daily basis (most of whom wouldn't even notice, let alone care, sadly), 'rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic' seems rather pointless, don't you think? I would be interested to hear what you and others think. But, all that said, God Bless this good Cardinal who stands out like a jewel among most of his brethren.

    1. I didn't hear that any of our bishops were present.

    2. I now see that Bishop Alan Hopes, a good man, presented. I wonder if he will set an example?

  2. No doubt most of our English bishops will react with the dismissive hauteur of Cardinal Hume: "This doesn't apply to England and Wales".

  3. Bishop Alan Hopes gave a paper: 'Sing a New Song to the Lord: Towards a Revised Translation of the Liturgy of the Hours'.

    1. Yes, I've also since seen that. He's a good man. May God bless him.


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