Tag: Pope Francis

Pope releases new liturgical law paving way for revision of English missal

Pope releases new liturgical law paving way for revision of English missal

The new law says that bishops now have the power to complete translations of the Mass from Latin into local languages.

Pope releases new liturgical law paving way for revision of English missal

Pope Francis has issued a new law returning authority to bishops’ conferences over liturgical translations, paving the way for the current English missal to be revised. 

The new law, which is part of the Argentinian Pontiff’s attempts to shore up the the reforms to Catholic worship started by the Second Vatican Council, says that bishops now have the power to complete translations of the Mass from Latin into local languages. 

The Pope’s order “Magnum Principium” amends Canon Law (Canon 838.3) to say bishops are required to “faithfully” prepare and “approve” translations which are then confirmed by Rome. The words “faithfully” and “approve” are both new. 

This throws open the possibility that the 2011 English Roman Missal – which became mired in disagreement with claims that the Vatican had overly controlled the process – could be changed. The onus will now be on local bishops to take the initiative.  

Francis’ law also reverses moves by his predecessors to centralise the translation process, which saw Vatican officials editing, and re-writing the work of bishops’ conferences.    

The foundation stone to his new law, Francis explained, is the “great principle” of Vatican II which stressed that “liturgical prayer be accommodated to the comprehension of the people so that it might be understood.” This task, he pointed out, had originally been entrusted to the bishops in countries across the world. 

His law comes soon after a landmark speech to Italian liturgists where he declard that reforms to Catholic worship instituted after the 1962-65 council are “irreversible”, something he declared with “magisterial authority.” 

Both the recent interventions will be read as ending attempts by those who would like to roll back Vatican II’s changes with a “reform of the reform.” They feel that the reforms to worship which took place after the council undermined the sacred character of the Mass, while also wanting to see a greater uniformity to liturgical celebration. 

In 2001 the Vatican issued Liturgiam Authenticam which set out principles for translating the Mass into local languages from the Latin original. This called for more literal translations of the Latin into the vernacular, which contrasted with an earlier approach called “dynamic equivalence” where a translation took place according to the sense of words and phrases. 

But this was controversial by many local bishops conferences who felt it was an example of Rome over reaching itself in the translation process.

“It is no surprise that difficulties have arisen between the Episcopal Conferences and the Apostolic See in the course of this long passage of work,” the Pope said, hinting at past disagreements. 

The 2011 English missal was produced according to Liturgiam Authenticam and received a mixed response. Supporters praised it for being more faithful to the Latin and bringing in scriptural allusions, critics said it was clumsy and contained poor English.

Now, however, Francis’ new law undermines this ruling as well as Vatican attempts to interfere in the process of translations. 

In an article released by the Vatican to help explain the new law, Archbishop Arthur Roche, the secretary to the Holy See’s liturgy department, said the 2001 ruling now needs to be “interpreted in the light” of the Pope’s latest changes.

Significantly it was Archbishop Roche, and not Cardinal Robert Sarah, the liturgy’s department prefect, who wrote the article. Cardinal Sarah has been a supporter of “Liturgiam Authenticam” and critical of some changes to the Mass which took place after Vatican II.  

It was also Archbishop Roche whom the Pope asked to lead a low-key commission examining “Liturgiam Authenticam.” Although their existence was never formally confirmed by the Congregation for Divine Worship or anyone at the Vatican, the body met and reportedly sent a report to Francis.  

In  “Magnum Principium”, the Pope has been careful to stress the need for unity in the Roman Rite and that the Vatican still plays a role in translations. Francis also writes about the “sacrifice involved in the partial loss of liturgical Latin”, but said “it willingly opened the door so that these versions, as part of the rites themselves, might become the voice of the Church celebrating the divine mysteries along with the Latin language.” 

Many critics to changes of the liturgy post-Vatican II lament the loss of Latin, which they stress the council called to be preserved

Pope Changes Rules for Washing of the Feet on Holy Thursday

Pope Changes Rules for Washing of the Feet on Holy Thursday

Pope Francis has decreed that from now on, the people chosen for the washing of the feet in the liturgy of Holy Thursday may be selected from all the People of God, and not only men and boys.

In a letter, dated 20 December 2014 and published today, to Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Holy Father informed the cardinal that he had, for some time, reflected on the “rite of the washing of the feet contained in the Liturgy of the Mass in Coena Domini, with the intention of improving the way in which it is performed so that it might express more fully the meaning of Jesus’ gesture in the Cenacle, His giving of Himself unto the end for the salvation of the world, His limitless charity”.

“After careful consideration”, he continued, “I have decided to make a change to the Roman Missal. I therefore decree that the section according to which those persons chosen for the Washing of the Feet must be men or boys, so that from now on the Pastors of the Church may choose the participants in the rite from among all the members of the People of God. I also recommend that an adequate explanation of the rite itself be provided to those who are chosen”.

The change applies to the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite. 

Since being elected Pope, Francis has visited prisons to wash the feet of women inmates as well as men on Holy Thursday. He has also washed the feet of Muslims.  

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments today published the decree, dated 6 January 2016, the full text of which is below:


The reform of the Holy Week, by the decree Maxima Redemptionis nostrae mysteria of November 1955, provides the faculty, where counselled by pastoral motives, to perform the washing of the feet of twelve men during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, after the reading of the Gospel according to John, as if almost to represent Christ’s humility and love for His disciples.

In the Roman liturgy this rite was handed down with the name of the Mandatum of the Lord on brotherly charity in accordance with Jesus’ words, sung in the Antiphon during the celebration.

In performing this rite, bishops and priests are invited to conform intimately to Christ who ‘came not to be served but to serve’ and, driven by a love ‘to the end’, to give His life for the salvation of all humankind.

To manifest the full meaning of the rite to those who participate in it, the Holy Father Francis has seen fit to change the rule by in the Roman Missal (p.300, No. 11) according to which the chosen men are accompanied by the ministers, which must therefore be modified as follows: ‘Those chosen from among the People of God are accompanied by the ministers’ (and consequently in the Caeremoniale Episcoporum No. 301 and No. 299 b referring to the seats for the chosen men, so that pastors may choose a group of faithful representing the variety and unity of every part of the People of God. This group may consist of men and women, and ideally of the young and the old, healthy and sick, clerics, consecrated persons and laypeople.

This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disipline of the Sacraments, by means of the faculties granted by the Supreme Pontiff, introduces this innovation in the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, recalling pastors of their duty to instruct adequately both the chosen faithful and others, so that they may participate in the rite consciously, actively and fruitfully.

Notwithstanding anything to the contrary.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments,

Robert Card. Sarah

+ Arthur Roche
Archbishop Secretary.

With the decree In Missa in cena Domini the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, at the request of the Holy Father, has readjusted the rubric of the Missale Romanum regarding the washing of feet (p. 300 n. 11), variously linked down the centuries with Holy Thursday and which, from the reform of Holy Week in 1955, could also take place during the evening Mass that begins the Paschal Triduum.

Illuminated by the gospel of John the rite carries a double significance: an imitation of what Christ did in the Upper Room washing the feet of the Apostles and an expression of the self-gift signified by this gesture of service. It is not by accident this is called the Mandatum from the incipit of the antiphon which accompanied the action: «Mandatum novum do vobis, ut diligatis invicem, sicut dilexi vos, dicit Dominus» (Jhn 13:14). In fact the commandment to fraternal love binds all the disciples of Jesus without any distinction or exception.

Already in an old ordo of the 7th century we find the following: «Pontifex suis cubicularibus pedes lavat et unusquisque clericorum in domo sua». Applied differently in the various dioceses and abbeys it is also found in the Roman Pontifical of the 12th century after Vespers on Holy Thursday and in the Pontifical of the Roman Curia of the 13th century («facit mandatum duodecim subdiaconos»). The Mandatum is described as follows in the Missale Romanum of Pope Saint Pius V (1570): «Post denudationem altarium, hora competenti, facto signo cum tabula, conveniunt clerici ad faciendum mandatum. Maior abluit pedes minoribus: tergit et osculatur». It takes place during the singing of antiphons, the last of which is Ubi caritas and is concluded by the Pater noster and a prayer which links the commandment of service with purification from sins: «Adesto Domine, quaesumus, officio servitutis nostrae: et quia tu discipulis tuis pedes lavare dignatus es, ne despicias opera manuum tuarum, quae nobis retinenda mandasti: ut sicut hic nobis, et a nobis exterioria abluuntur inquinamenta; sic a te omnium nostrum interiora laventur peccata. Quod ipse praestare digneris, qui vivis et regnas, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum». Enlightened by the gospel which has been heard during the morning Mass, the carrying out of this action is reserved to the clergy («conveniunt clerici») and the absence of an instruction to have “twelve” would seem to indicate that what counts isn’t just imitating what Jesus did in the Upper Room but rather putting the exemplary value of what Jesus did into practice, which is expected of all his disciples.

The description of the «De Mandato seu lotione pedum» in the Caeremoniale Episcoporum of 1600 is more detailed. It mentions the custom (after Vespers or at lunchtime, in a church, a chapter room or a suitable place) of the Bishop washing, drying and kissing the feet of “thirteen” poor people after having dressed them, fed them and given them a charitable donation. Likewise this could be done to thirteen canons, according to the local custom and wishes of the Bishop, who might choose poor people even where it is the practice that they be canons: «videtur enim eo pacto maiorem humilitatem, et charitatem prae se ferre, quam lavare pedes Canonicis». This meaningful gesture of the washing of feet, although not applied to the entirety of the people of God and reserved to the clergy, did not exclude local customs which take into account the poor or young people (e.g. the Missale Parisiense). The Caeremoniale Episcoporum expressly prescribed the Mandatum for cathedrals and collegiate churches.

With the reform of Pius XII which once more moved the Missa in cena Domini to the evening, the washing of feet could take place, for pastoral reasons, during the Mass, after the homily for «duodecim viros selectos», placed «in medio presbyterii vel in ipsa aula ecclesiae»; the celebrant washes and dries their feet (the kiss is no longer mentioned). This now goes beyond the rather clerical and reserved sense, taking place in the public assembly with the direction for «twelve men» which makes it more explicitly an imitative sign, almost a sacred representation, that facilitates what Jesus did and had in mind on the first Holy Thursday.

The Missale Romanum of 1970 retained the recently reformed rite, simplifying some elements: the number «twelve» is omitted; it takes place «in loco apto»; it omits one antiphon and simplifies the others; Ubi caritas is assigned to the presentation of gifts; the concluding part is omitted (Pater noster, verses and prayer), as this formerly took place outside of the Mass. The reservation solely to «viri» however remained for mimetic value.

The current change foresees that individuals may be chosen from amongst all the members of the people of God. The significance does not now relate so much to the exterior imitation of what Jesus has done, rather as to the meaning of what he has accomplished which has a universal importance, namely the giving of himself «to the end» for the salvation of the human race, his charity which embraces all people and which makes all people brothers and sisters by following his example. In fact, the exemplum that he has given to us so that we might do as he has done goes beyond the physical washing of the feet of others to embrace everything that such a gesture expresses in service of the tangible love of our neighbour. All the antiphons proposed in the Missale during the washing of feet recall and illustrate the meaning of this gesture both for those who carry it out and for those who receive it as well as for those who look on and interiorise it through the chant.

The washing of feet is not obligatory in the Missa in cena Domini. It is for pastors to evaluate its desirability, according to the pastoral considerations and circumstances which exist, in such a way that it does not become something automatic or artificial, deprived of meaning and reduced to a staged event. Nor must it become so important as to grab all the attention during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, celebrated on «the most sacred day on which our Lord Jesus Christ was handed over for our sake» (i.e. Communicantes of the Roman Canon for this Mass). In the directions for the homily we are reminded of the distinctiveness of this Mass which commemorates the institution of the Eucharist, of the priestly Order and of the new commandment concerning fraternal charity, the supreme law for all and towards all in the Church.

It is for pastors to choose a small group of persons who are representative of the entire people of God – lay, ordained ministers, married, single, religious, healthy, sick, children, young people and the elderly – and not just one category or condition. Those chosen should offer themselves willingly. Lastly, it is for those who plan and organise the liturgical celebrations to prepare and dispose everything so that all may be helped to fruitfully participate in this moment: the anamnesis of the “new commandment” heard in the gospel which is the life of every disciple of the Lord.

How Does one become a Saint in the Catholic Church, and is it Changing?

How Does one become a Saint in the Catholic Church, and is it Changing?

Pope Francis has created a new category for beatification, the level immediately beneath sainthood, in the Catholic Church: those who give their lives for others. This is called “oblatio vitae,” the “ giver of life” for the well-being of another person.

Martyrs, a special category of the saint, also give up their lives, but they do so for their “Christian faith.” And so, the pope’s decision raises the question: Is the Catholic comprehending of sainthood changing?

Who’s a ‘saint’?

Most people use the word “saint” to refer to someone who is exceptionally good or “holy.” In the Catholic Church, moreover, a “saint” has a more precise meaning: someone who has led a life of “heroic virtue.”

This definition includes the four “cardinal” virtues: prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice; as well as the “theological” virtues: faith, hope and charity. A saint displays these qualities in a continuous and exceptional way.

When someone is declared a saint by the pope – which can occur only after death – public devotion to the saint, called a “cultus,” is authorized for Catholics throughout the world.


The process for being named a saint in the Catholic Church is called “canonization,” the word “canon” meaning an authoritative list. Persons who are named “saints” are listed in the “canon” as saints and given a special day, called a “feast,” in the Catholic calendar.

Before approximately the year 1000, saints were named by the local bishop. For example, St. Peter the Apostle and St. Patrick of Ireland were considered “saints” long before any formal procedures had been founded. But as the papacy increased its power, it claimed the exclusive authority to name a saint.

The investigation

Today there are four stages in canonization.

Any Catholic or group of Catholics can request that the bishop open a case. They will need to name a formal intermediary, called the “postulator,” who will promote the cause of the saint. At this moment, the candidate is called “a servant of God.”

A formal investigation looks into “servant of God’s” life. Those who knew the candidate are interviewed, and affidavits for and against the candidate are reviewed. Also, the candidate’s writings – if any exist – are examined for consistency with Catholic doctrine. A “promoter of justice” named by the local bishop makes sure that proper procedures are followed and a notary certifies the documentation.

The proceedings of the investigation, called “Acta” or “The Acts,” are forwarded to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints in Rome. The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints is large, with a prefect, a secretary, undersecretary and a staff of 23 people. There are also over 30 cardinals and bishops associated with the congregation’s work at various stages.

The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints appoints a “relator” (one of five who currently work for the congregation) who supervises the postulator in writing a position paper called a “positio.” The positio argues for the virtues of the servant of God and can be thousands of pages long. The congregation examines the positio and members vote “yes” or “no” on the cause. “Yes” votes must be unanimous.

The final decision lies with the pope. When he signs a “Decree of Heroic Virtue,” the person becomes “venerable.” Then two stages remain: beatification and sainthood.

Throughout most of Catholic history, the canonization process was rigorous. One of the key figures in the investigation in the Vatican was the “devil’s advocate,” who functioned like an opposing attorney by challenging the candidate’s holiness. This is the origin of the often-used English phrase referring to someone who takes a position to challenge another person to prove a point more fully.

Few people have received the title of “saint,” in as much as there are more than 10,000 that the Catholic Church venerates. Even 15th-century famous spiritual writer German Thomas à Kempis didn’t make it through the process. His body was exhumed and examined during his case for sainthood. There are stories that there were scratch marks on the inside of his coffin and splinters of wood under his fingernails. These discoveries recommended an escape attempt after being buried alive. The issue would have been that Thomas à Kempis did not peacefully accept death as a saint should. His case did not move forward.

Changes to the process

In the early ‘70’s, Pope Paul VI revised the canon of the saints to exclude those whose historical existence could not be verified. For instance, St. Christopher, the protector of travelers, was removed, although many Catholics still have a St. Christopher medal in their automobiles.

In 1983, John Paul II, who would become a saint himself, changed the waiting period from 50 to five years after the candidate’s death. He also reduced the role of the “devil’s advocate.”

These changes led to criticism that the Vatican had become “a saints’ factory.” This quicker process, however, has not reduced the six-figure costs essential for those who support the cause to fund an investigation and hire a postulator.

Types of saints

While the title “saint” is used for all those who are canonized, there are different categories of saints, such as “martyr” and “confessor.”

A “martyr” has been killed for his or her Christian beliefs; a “confessor” has been dealt with or persecuted for his or her faith, but not killed. If a saint had been a bishop, a widow or a virgin, that becomes part of their title as well.

For instance, St. Blaise is both a bishop and a martyr. Katherine Drexel of Philadelphia has the title “St. Katherine Drexel, Virgin.” St. Katherine Drexel was the second American-born saint and founder of Xavier University of Louisiana, the only American Catholic university established primarily for African-Americans.

At this point, it is unclear whether a special title is associated with the new category of saint declared by Pope Francis.

Miracles and Martyrs

Miracle is a relevant part of canonization.

A miracle is an event that cannot be explained by reason or natural causes. To be named “blessed,” one miracle has to be proved as having taken place under the influence of the candidate for sainthood. The process starts with a person praying to the saint who “intercedes” with God, usually to cure an illness. The potential miracle is then looked into by a medical board of nine members, who are sworn to secrecy. They can be paid for their work only through bank transfer, a rule to prevent under-the-table payments that could corrupt the process.

Martyrs have a different path to sainthood. They become “blessed” when the pope makes a “Decree of Martyrdom.” After a single miracle, martyrs are “raised to the glory of the Altars,” a phrase that refers to the public ceremony in which a person is formally named a saint.

A new kind of saint?

Given this complex history of Catholic sainthood, it’s fair to ask whether Pope Francis is doing anything new.

The pope’s proclamation makes it obvious that someone who gives his life for others should show virtue “at least as ordinarily possible” throughout life. This means that someone can become “blessed” not just by living a life of heroic virtue, but also by practicing a single heroic act of sacrifice.

Such heroism might include dying while trying to save someone who is drowning or losing one’s life attempting to rescue a family from a burning building. A single miracle, after death, is still important for beatification. Now saints can be persons who lead a fairly ordinary life until an extraordinary moment of high self-sacrifice.

From my perspective as a Catholic scholar of religion, this is an expansion of the Catholic comprehension of sainthood, and yet another step toward Pope Francis making the papacy and the Catholic Church more relevant to the experiences of ordinary Catholics.

9 interesting things you don’t know about the Catholic leader

9 interesting things you don’t know about the Catholic leader

Related image
Pope Francis

This was when Pope was an ordinary man. Before becoming a Pope, he was like any of us though till now. He has history and very funny one. Read and enjoy and not to be discouraged but to emulate his decision to serve God and become one of the most respected person in the world.


Did you know the Pontiff likes pop music and used to be a bouncer at a nightclub?

Pope Francis is the leader of the Roman Catholic church.

This makes him one of the world’s biggest figures, still, there is a lot most people do not know about him.

Here are nine interesting things you have never heard about Catholic leader.

Pope Francis is not his real name

Many years ago, the Pope was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Shocker, right?

He was on December 17, 1936, to parents, Mario and Regina (Sivori) Bergoglio.

Note —  this is not so strange because it is a normal tradition in the Catholic church for Popes to get a new name once they are appointed.

His current name pays homage to a Saint

Upon appointment, popes get to choose their own name. Pope Francis chose to pay homage to St. Francis of Assisi of Italy.

He is a well-known servant to the poor, who was born into a wealthy home but chose to devote himself to helping the poor in Rome.

Fun fact- This pope is the first one to choose St. Francis as his namesake.

He does not hate gay people

Four years ago, the Pontiff caused a controversy when he did not outrightly condemn homosexuality.

During an interview with reporters, he shocked people by saying, “Who am I to judge?” in reference to gay people.

He continued by saying: “If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They should not be marginalized.”

Officially, he is opposed to gay marriage and gay adoption. He was once quoted saying that same-sex marriage is “an attack on God’s plan.”

He likes pop music

Babble reports that the Catholic leader is a fan of One Direction. According to the pope, his favourite song is “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful,” adding that it is “a great pop tune with a killer hook.”

He used to be a bouncer

Once upon a time, Pope Francis worked as a nightclub bouncer. He did this to earn money as a student.

According to Express, this was before beginning his seminary studies.

After that, he was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1969, became Argentina’s provincial superior of the Society of Jesus from 1973 to 1979.

Next, he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, then a Cardinal in 2001 before finally becoming a pope.

He is quite funny

Being a pope is a serious job, one this Catholic leader approaches with a sense of humour.

Upon becoming pope, he reportedly told other cardinals, “May God forgive you for what you have done.”

His funny side was once photographed when he was seen trying on a red nose used by clowns.

Pope Francis used to be a romantic

Telegraph reports that he once wrote a love letter to a girl in his neighbourhood when he was 12 years old.

He said, “If I don’t marry you, I’m going to be a priest.” He was quoted saying, “She was one of a group of friends I went dancing with. But then I discovered my religious vocation.”

He has only one lung

This is due to an infection that he suffered as a young man.

He has had many firsts:

First and only pope to be on the cover of “Rolling Stone”,

To make a pop-rock CD,

To be-be honoured as “Person of the Year”,