The archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica has made concessions to widen opportunities for priests to celebrate individual daily morning Masses in the basilica, but also has stressed that concelebrated Masses must nevertheless remain the norm there.
In a three-page note issued on Tuesday (see English translation here), Cardinal Mauro Gambetti acknowledged that exceptions need to be made for a priest to celebrate individual Masses “in which the benefit to the faithful does not require, or advise, otherwise.”
He wrote that groups with “special and legitimate needs will be granted as far as possible” and that “requests for individual celebrations can also be discerned on a case-by-case basis, without prejudice to the principle that everything should take place in an atmosphere of recollection and decorum.”
But he also stressed it was important to ensure that “what is exceptional does not become ordinary, distorting the intentions and meaning of the Magisterium.”
The statement marks a significant softening of a five-point directive from the Secretariat of State that caused a public outcry in March after it called for the suppression of Masses celebrated individually in the main body of the basilica.
That directive, circulated internally and initialed by the deputy secretary of state, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, was a break with the usual custom of allowing individual priests to freely celebrate their daily Mass at the basilica’s many side altars.
Since those rules came into force on March 22, the number of Masses celebrated each morning, often by priests who work as officials in the Vatican, plummeted from as many as 75 to less than 10, and few of the priest officials have switched to taking part in the concelebrated morning Masses.
At that time, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, called the directive a “merciless, authoritarian document, imposed without consultation or synodality,” which disregarded “the Catholic spiritual tradition of the priesthood to celebrate the Mass every day,” while Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect emeritus of the Apostolic Signatura, said it was in “direct violation of universal Church law” and called for it to be rescinded.
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