A CHURCH official from the Diocese of Cubao has criticized some liturgists for asserting that priests should always observe the practice of versus populum or “facing the people” while leading Eucharistic celebrations.
Fr. Jojo Zerrudo, head of the Catechetical Ministry of the diocese, slammed “liturgical experts” who impose modern preferences over ad orientem or “facing east,” the Catholic practice for millennia where the priest offers Mass facing the tabernacle.
“Why is there a dictatorship of the few so-called ‘liturgical experts’ who think that their way of doing the liturgy is the only legitimate way?” he said in an interview with the Varsitarian.
Zerrudo, parish priest of the Holy Redeemer Church in Quezon City, said ad orientem is as legitimate as versus populum, which is the current practice.
The UST Central Seminary alumnus said both practices are recognized by the Church. “[It] allows both legitimate practices to stand side by side,” he said.
Ad orientem, he said, is the objective way of speaking to God.
“Worship is offered by both priest and people to God and that to me is the most important argument, it is to “center” the worship to Him,” he explained.
He urged the clergy to be open-minded in recognizing other forms of worship, adding that they should not impose, but accept other forms of devotion that are legitimate and traditional.
No legislative authority
On July 5, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, appealed to the Catholic clergy at a conference in London to celebrate Masses using ad orientem on the first Sunday of Advent this year.
However, Fr. Fidel Pasiloc of the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila said the prefect from Papua New Guinea had no “legislative authority” over the Catholic liturgy.
“He has no [legislative] authority to initiate changes in the liturgy. Only the Holy See has that power,” he told the Varsitarian in an email.
Zerrudo agreed with the statement of Pasiloc, saying that Cardinal Sarah’s appeal should be done through a decree.
“He (Sarah) came up with the suggestion in a symposium. But it will not descend to that unless put in an official document, which he never did,” he said.