The following is a July 11 Catholic Culture article:
The Vatican has moved quickly to counteract a suggestion by Cardinal Robert Sarah that priests should celebrate Mass ad orientem.
Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, issued a statement on July 11 saying that Cardinal Sarah’s address to a London conference had been “misinterpreted,” and emphasizing that there were no new official directives regarding the ad orientem posture.
Speaking last week at a conference in London, Cardinal Sarah– the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Liturgy– had asked priests to begin celebrating the ad orientem liturgy on the first week of Advent. He had also urged bishops to encourage their priests to do so.
But Father Lombardi stressed that Cardinal Sarah had been speaking for himself, rather than issuing a Vatican instruction, and “there are no new liturgical directives starting from next Advent.” He went on to cite the General Instruction for the Roman Missal, which suggests that Mass should ordinarily be celebrated facing the people.
The Vatican spokesman said that these matters had been confirmed at a meeting between Cardinal Sarah and Pope Francis. The Pontiff had met with Cardinal Sarah on Saturday, July 9.
The statement appeared to be a direct rebuke to the cardinal, who had twice mentioned during his London address that we had the full support of Pope Francis in his quest to reform the liturgy along the lines suggested by Pope Benedict XVI.
Father Lombardi also said that “it is better to avoid using the expression ‘the reform of the reform,’ referring to the liturgy, given that this has sometimes been the source of misunderstanding.” That expression has been commonly used by Catholics who, like Cardinal Sarah, seek to restore a greater sense of reverence and dignity to the liturgy.