Cardinal Raymond Burke believes that the “excessive” use of concelebration – the practice of priests saying Mass collectively – can result in their unique role in the sacred liturgy being obscured.
“I don’t think there should be an excessive encouragement of concelebration because the norm is for the individual priest to offer the holy sacrifice of the Mass,” the head of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura told Catholic News Agency July 9.
“If it is repeated too frequently, it can develop within him a sense of being another one of the participants instead of actually being the priest who is offering the Mass.”
One of the Catholic Church’s most senior American prelates spoke to the news agency moments after addressing an international liturgical conference in the Irish city of Cork. The three-day event, organized by the St. Colman’s Society for Catholic Liturgy, explored the issue of “Celebrating the Eucharist: Sacrifice and Communion.”
The former Archbishop of St. Louis worried that, whereas the priest’s action is distinct, he “can seem to be participating in the Mass in the same manner as the congregation” if he concelebrates too often. “That’s the danger I see in excessive concelebration,” he said.
The cardinal’s words of caution echo comments made recently by the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares. He told a gathering at Rome’s University of the Holy Cross on March 5 that that the “widening of the faculty to concelebrate needs to be moderated, as we can see when we read the (Second Vatican) Council texts.”
Cardinal Cañizares explained that concelebration “is an extraordinary, solemn and public rite, normally presided over by the bishop or his delegate,” surrounded by his priests and the entire community. But “the daily concelebrations of priests only, which are practiced ‘privately’…do not form part of the Latin liturgical tradition,” he said.
In a wide-ranging interview, Cardinal Burke also outlined the reasons why a priest should not ad-lib his own words or prayers during Mass, since he “is the servant of the rite” and “not the protagonist – Christ is.”
“So it is absolutely wrong for the priest to think, ‘how can I make this more interesting?’ or ‘how can I make this better?’” he said….
Read the entire interview here.