Similar to the policy in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the Dec. 19 document from Archbishop Dennis Schnurr states at least one public Mass must be celebrated facing the people on Sunday and holy days.
CINCINNATI — The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has restricted the celebration of the Mass ad orientem, joining a number of dioceses that have done so in the past two years.
With his decree, Archbishop Schnurr joins other bishops across the country who have either restricted the use of ad orientem or banned it, a trend some may find disturbing, but which others, including Archbishop Schnurr, see as furthering unity in liturgical practice.
In a decree issued Dec. 21 and effective Jan. 19, Archbishop Schnurr ordered that in every church where a public Mass is scheduled, at least one Mass be offered versus populum (facing the people) on Sundays and other days of obligation . Further, the chancery must be informed in writing in advance of implementing a parish Mass schedule that includes Mass regularly celebrated ad orientem (facing, along with the congregation, toward the liturgical east).
On other days when a public Mass is celebrated, at least one must be offered versus populum in each family of parishes. Additionally, the policy states that when a freestanding altar and an older “high” altar are present, the Mass, regardless of whether it is celebrated ad orientem or versus populum, is to be at the freestanding altar. Also, movable freestanding altars are not to be moved to use older altars.
The archdiocese declined a request to speak with the Register about the decree, instead issuing a statement saying that in addition to fostering unity, it was promulgated to ensure that the People of God have reasonable access to versus populum Masses. The statement concluded, “It is important to note that, regardless of whether Mass is celebrated versus populum or ad orientem, the principal spiritual orientation for all present is always versus Deum (toward God).”
Among other dioceses that have banned or limited the use of ad orientem are Venice, Florida, and Chicago, both of which require permission from the bishop to celebrate ad orientem, and Seattle and Boise, Idaho, which have prohibited the posture for the Mass of Paul VI, also referred to as the Novus Ordo.
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