The following is an except of an article by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington and co-founder of CREDO and Adoremus, two organizations engaged in liturgical renewal.
The cancellation of the public celebration of the Mass in dioceses across the US and the world—beginning in Rome—has established dangerous precedents. In addition to the breathtaking surrender to secular authorities with no public pushback on the part of Catholic bishops, chanceries have introduced the innovation of abbreviated Communion services (with ten or fewer people). The early response by parishioners has been favorable, and in some instances, exuberant. But without vigilance, could the practice become a Trojan horse of confusion and even schism?
Unfortunately, it has become too easy to dismiss the importance of liturgical appearances as long as we retain the essential Real Presence. Hence, bishops and people alike easily tolerate liturgical abuse. Even the most doctrinally orthodox among us can find ourselves sacrificing expressions of beauty and dignity to the bare bones of essential truths.
As a newly ordained priest in the early 1990s, I attended a meeting of priests in the Midwest. At the time, I was a co-founder of CREDO, a society of priests dedicated to the accurate translation of the Sacred Liturgy. The organization’s leaders asked me to give a talk to many mature priests who wore the battle scars of combatting the liturgical and doctrinal chaos that followed Vatican II.
One of the priests told me that his bishop assigned him to “ride the circuit” in his diocese, arriving for the Eucharistic Prayer of the Mass at many parishes and then departing before Communion. The bishop, dealing with a severe priest shortage, had assigned nuns to administer these parishes, and they would “celebrate Mass”—except for the Canon and the Consecration. (One nun even prohibited the priest from greeting “[her] people” after Mass.) Those who received Communion from these scandalous and illicit Masses were nevertheless nourished by the Real Presence. After all, if Masses could not be celebrated, why not come up with innovative alternatives in delivering the Communion essentials? Why make the imperfect the enemy of the perfect?
Some use the same argument today to promote Communion services that replace the public celebration of the Masses. In a recent Religion News article, Father Thomas Reese, S.J., an aged veteran of dissent, jumped on the bandwagon for the expanding Communion services. “On the positive side, the expansion of Communion services will contribute to declericalization of the church. It will also allow parishioners to see how well or badly laypeople can preside at liturgical ceremonies. If married men and women do just as well as the priests, we will see a growing groundswell for ordaining them.”
The response by many bishops to encourage brief Communion services instead of Masses in response to the Covid-19 pandemic may accelerate liturgical practices that have long-term deleterious doctrinal implications on the nature of the priesthood and the Mass.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the hierarchy’s quick surrender to secular authorities and the cancellation of public Masses could have devastating unintended consequences. The bishops must jump-start the public celebration of Masses (using sensible precautionary methods) even at the risk of offending immoral (and quite possibly illegal) government interference in the practice of religion.
Full story at Catholic Culture.
Editor’s note: the use of communion services without a priest was banned by Santa Rosa Bishop Vasa in August of 2018, preceded by Archbishop Sample in Portland, Oregon, who issued a similar prohibition in May 2018:
Santa Rosa Bishop to halt communion services without a priest
Reverence for our Eucharistic Lord