Cardinal Sarah: Face east from Offertory on

Prefect for Worship says start with cathedrals


Cardinal Sarah

Cardinal Sarah: “This corresponds to what Council Fathers wanted”

The following comes from a May 26 story in the Catholic Herald (U.K.).

The Vatican’s liturgy chief has called on priests to celebrate Mass facing east.

In an interview with the French Catholic magazine Famille Chrétienne, Cardinal Robert Sarah said that the Second Vatican Council did not require priests to celebrate Mass facing the people.

This way of celebrating Mass, he said, was “a possibility, but not an obligation”.

Readers and listeners should face each other during the Liturgy of the Word, he said.

“But as soon as we reach the moment when one addresses God – from the Offertory onwards – it is essential that the priest and faithful look together towards the east. This corresponds exactly to what the Council Fathers wanted.”

Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, rejected the argument that priests celebrating Mass facing east are turning their backs on the faithful “or against them”.

Rather, he said, all are “turned in the same direction: towards the Lord who comes”.

“It is legitimate and complies with the letter and spirit of the Council,” he said. “As prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, I wish to recall that the celebration versus orientem is authorised by the rubrics, which specify the times when the celebrant must turn to the people. It is therefore not necessary to have special permission to celebrate facing the Lord.”

Cardinal Sarah’s remarks echo an article he wrote a year ago for L’Osservatore Romano, in which he said it was “altogether appropriate, during the penitential rite, the singing of the Gloria, the orations and the Eucharistic prayer, that everyone, priest and faithful, turn together toward the East, so as to express their intention to participate in the work of worship and redemption accomplished by Christ.”

The cardinal added in the article that Mass facing east could be “implemented in cathedrals, where the liturgical life must be exemplary”.



  1. “In an interview with the French Catholic magazine Famille Chrétienne, Cardinal Robert Sarah said that the Second Vatican Council did not require priests to celebrate Mass facing the people. This way of celebrating Mass, he said, was “a possibility, but not an obligation”.’
    After these 5 decades, the truth finally comes out.

  2. And of course it should be the TLM!! I think our next pope will be from Africa, they appear to love Tradtion and the TLM, European prelates are modernist Marxists!!

    • In light of the admonition by Our Lady of Fatima that “the apostasy in the Church will start at the top,” we may be at the last pope right now.

    • Linda Maria says:

      Janek, I agree! I have daily prayed for the return of the old Latin Mass, since the very day it ended! Bless you, and all who love and support the Traditional Latin Tridentine Mass! It should rightly be called our true “Ordinary Form” of the Mass!

      • Linda to most of us here it “is” the Ordinary Form!! Keep praying

        • The Ordinary Form, Janek, is the Mass of Paul VI.

          • You may keep your ‘man made” Mass of Paul the VI created by six Protestant ministers and a Free Mason!

          • Janek, you should be informed sternly that to denigrate the sacraments of the Church is heretical, condemned by the Lateran Council. OK?

    • Anne T. says:

      Jenek, please do not denigrate all the bishops and cardinals of the west. and put them all in the “same basket”. Please pray for any you think have gone astray. It is good to say when some are wrong, but in a charitable way as we all would like to be corrected. Please forgive me if I have not done so.

      • You know something Anne with all do respect we are tired of praying for bishops and cardinals who have destroyed the Roman Catholic Faith, it has been 50 years since the Council of disaster and praying has done nothing to restore the TLM and Tradition so please continue to pray but most of us hear will continue to call out the evil prelates and boy oh boy there are many!! Thank God for Cardinal Raymond Burke the ONLY man who can save the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

        • Folks, wake up from your daydreaming. The TLM will never supplant the Ordinary Form of the Mass. Never. The OF is here to stay. The best you can hope for is for more and more priests to reverently offer the OF according to the sensibilities of the TLM, such as ad orientem, and some Latin in the prayers, or even chants in the choir if not the priest also. But that’s it. You’re living in a fool’s world if you really hope that the TLM will somehow replace the OF.

          • Linda Maria says:

            Jon, the traditional, 1500+ year-old Latin Mass, is an awesome gem, a gift of Heaven! Plus, it is theologically accurate! The Novus Ordo has many problems– and is a modern ecumenical mess– as well as a big “political boondoggle,” too, in the Vatican! We all should have great respect for the original, ancient Latin Mass– although all Catholics are free to choose which form of the Mass they prefer to attend!

          • Joe how about you continue in your Novus Ordo dreamworld of dancing girls, altar girls, communion in the hand, felt banners, folk, rock, mariachi music, hand holding, kiss of peace, drums, guitars, no kneelers, no statues, no crucifix, female lectors, male lectors, we the holders of the TRUE MASS OF ALL TIMES will indeed see the day when the TLM returns to its proper place.

          • St. Christopher says:

            How do you figure this, “jon”? It is likely that one might have said the same thing in, say, 1960, but that person would be wrong, just as you are wrong. Cardinal Sarah is only tepidly saying what is everywhere known within the Church: the Novus Ordo is a failed experiment, one developed to add a Protestant luster to the Catholic “service” in the hopes that Protestants would come join us. Chirp, chirp — how did that work, jon? The N.O. can change the same way the TLM changed, with the stroke of the Pope’s pen. Of course, pride among the “NewChurch” types work to stop this, but it will happen, ultimately.

          • People, don’t you realize what you’re all saying? Can’t you hear ourselves? Since you can’t seem to, let me tell you what you are saying. It is not the Mass of Paul VI that you’re really against. Rather, it is the MANNER in which it has come to be celebrated in many parishes: dumbing down the hymns, casualness, lack of reverence.
            It is NOT that the Mass of Paul VI has failed; rather it was hijacked by those who want to push their own agenda. I say, celebrate the Novus Ordo Mass reverently (whether by using chants, Latin, ad orietem) and the demand for the TLM will almost vanish. *POOF* Just like that.

        • And Janek, do you really think that? That Burke is the ONLY man who can save the Church?? Really?? How about Our Lord? I propose to you, that it is Our Lord who has saved, continues to save, and will save the Church, NOT BURKE as right as he may be on many issues.

          • Linda Maria says:

            Jon, don’t you think Cardinal Burke is just WONDERFUL? I think it is so HORRIBLE, that Pope Francis deliberately ABUSED the great Cardinal Burke, and DELIBERATELY DEMOTED him– so that he would have no good influence in our Church!! Pope Francis wanted Cardinal Burke to be POLITICALLY OUT OF HIS LIBERAL WAYS OF RUNNING THE CHURCH, IN HIS PONTIICATE!! We so DESPERATELY NEED good prelates, just exactly like Cardinal Burke!! Instead– Pope Francis DEIBERATELY PROMOTES VERY BAD, LIBERAL PRELATES!! VERY SCARY, don’t you think??

          • Jon, it isn’t about being right but about being Catholic. The self center modernist hand clapping ideas is what you prefer or reverence which is what you have the Tridentine Mass and not the NO Mass. Christ is center not man.

          • St. Christopher says:

            “jon”: Yes and no. In orthodox diocese, such as Lincoln, where the N.O. is said “reverently’ there may be less of a call for the TLM. Yet, in Lincoln, they have the FSSP seminary for the USA. Why is that?

            The N.O. is inherently defective. Christ may choose to participate in this Mass, to preserve the Church’s indefectibility, but the N.O. is not “the same” as the TLM. You can live a long time on a defective diet, but you still live. Better to eat a balanced meal — and that is the TLM. The real part is teaching people about the true sacraments and how they were unilaterally changed for no valid reason. With education, people will choose to follow the TLM.

          • Anne T. says:

            Jon, I do not think the Traditional Latin rite is going to vanish totally any more than the Catholic Syro Malabar or Byzantine rites or any of the other Catholic rites.

  3. Cardinal Sarah should be the next pope. May the pontificate of Pope Francis be short so that no further damage is done to the Church by that jesuitical man.

    • Linda Maria says:

      Oh, what a WONDERFUL idea — Cardinal Sarah for Pope! Maybe by the grace of God— he could be our Pope someday! How WONDERFUL hat would be!

    • FromThePew says:

      Latest on P. Francis from ROME (Reuters Reported) – Pope Francis on Sunday awarded medals to American actors Richard Gere and George Clooney & actress Salma Hayek at an event held at the Vatican to promote the work of a foundation inspired by the pontiff, Scholas Occurrentes. The foundation’s name means “schools that meet” in Spanish, links technology with arts, aiming at social integration & a cultural of peace. Francis created a similar organization when he was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, but Scholas has now become an international foundation working out of the Vatican. UGH. What a contrast with Cardinal Sarah.

      • FromThePew says:

        continued……. Why are we NOT inspired by the fruits/work of this man, our dear Francis? Where I hang onto each and every word, deed and fruit of Cardinal Sarah, Cardinal Burke and those like them. My hope was he might retire soon but that idea was nixed recently by Francis himself. He must be having too much fun ‘confusing us’, disliking Americans but taking our donations, showing support for Cuba/socialism, etc. Can it be God is testing us somehow? Please, keep praying everyone. Mercy dear Lord.

        • JD Cahill says:

          Why does the Pope, as reported, not like conservative Americans but he likes to do business with Hollyweird types who are part of the MEGA-RICH, who support many intrinsic evils and are seen as sex symbols?

          • Your Fellow Catholic says:

            My read of Pope Francis is that he is not ideologically conservative or liberal, but he hates dissention and disunity. So he tries to make peace with SSPX, while at the same time ordering a monastery that was having fights of the OF vs the EF form of the mass to celebrate according to the OF. So it is not the conservatism that Francis hates about the American Church, it is that they tend to delate against people they disagree with. Just my take.

        • Bob One says:

          The majority of the world does hang on every word of Pope Francis!

  4. As I understand it, facing east is to face Jerusalem. I have always wondered where one should face while in Sydney, Austrailia, or Tokyo.

    • Anne T. says:

      Mikem, the answer is easy. The world is round, face east wherever you are. (Lots of laughs.)

      • Anne T. says:

        But if one wants to be fussy about it, one can face northeast or southeast depending on ones location. (Some more laughs.)

    • TheVeiledThreat says:

      Look up the phrase “liturgical east”…

      • Anne T. says:

        Veiled Threat, If you meant that answer for me, I was just joking with him. See all my other previous posts below. You gave a good answer for Mikem, though.

  5. Anne T. says:

    Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) explains all of this in his book, “The Spirit of the Liturgy” by Ignatius Press in the chapter called “The Altar and the Direction of Liturgical Prayer”.

    Most, or all, of the early Christian churches faced East, with the altar on the East side. Both the congregation and the priest faced East toward the crucifix above the altar, toward Christ the Sun of God, the Light of the World.

    Furthermore, Christ and the Apostles reclined on the same side of the table, as was Jewish custom, at the Last Supper. They did not face each other as in Michelangelo’s painting.

  6. Anne T. says:

    Another reason the early Christians built their churches facing East is from Matthew 24: 27 which states, “For as lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man..’

  7. Anne T. says:

    The east has great symbolism in the Judeo-Christian culture as both Zechariah 14:4 and Ezekiel 44:1-2 refer to the Messiah standing on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives and entering at the eastern gate of the temple.

    Many Christians, including myself, face east during morning prayer. The Jehovah’s Witnesses and others often accuse Catholics, the early Christians, of sun worship because they did and do so, but they just do not understand the symbolism behind it all.

    • Linda Maria says:

      I enjoyed all of your above posts, Anne T.! I also heard a lecture, once, on all of this– and one thing that was mentioned, that was interesting to me, was that the early Christians expected Christ’s Second Coming to be from the East! When a priest offers Mass, then, with the church and altar facing East– Christ’s return was fully expected, someday– at the end of time, I suppose– and then it would be the culmination of all that the early Christians hoped for, and the culmination of the Mass, and its original purpose! The Second Coming was fully expected by the early Christians! I love the traditional old Latin Mass, anyway, with the priest correctly facing God`!

  8. Bob One says:

    Most churches today do not has asps that point East. What then?

    • Anne T. says:

      Bob One, the priest and the congregation then face the crucifix above the altar with the tabernacle underneath, which holds the Blessed Sacrament. Thus they are still facing ad orientem (toward the east) — toward Christ the SUN of God, the light of the world.

      The Virgin Mary is often called the dawn in our liturgical books — such as the Liturgy of the Hours — and Christ is often called the sun. Such is the symbolism.

      • Campion says:

        Anne T., we all admire your attempt to instruct Bob One, and perhaps you can get through that dense mass of self-willed confusion; but keep it up, the rest of us appreciate your informative posts on ad orientem (=”The ‘East Thing’, Bob One, “ad orientem” = “toward the East “).

        • Anne T. says:

          Thank you for the encouragement, Campion. The symbolism is so beautiful, and it just sets my teeth on edge when some uninformed priest (as one did) says, “The priest used to face the wall in the old Mass.” It makes me think that they have never read any of the writings of most of the saints before Vatican II. They have no concept of Church history.

      • Ann, also teach the readers why, at least in traditional style churches, there is a round stained glass window in the choir loft, opposite end of the church from the alter. These are the sort of things that have been forgotten by our Bishops/Priests because again everything is man centered. If these things were taught and believed in the church wouldn’t be in this mess but instead we’re taught about social justice and global warming.

        • Anne T. says:

          Well, Joe, I will give it a try.

          According to one website, the Rose Window (stained-glass window in the choir loft), most often is at the west end of Gothic cathedrals and tend to depict scenes of the final judgment and the altar at the east end. Most likely they were constructed that way symbolically, based on the fact the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, to represent the beginning and the end (the Alpha and Omega). Most in the Middle Ages could not read, so the windows had to catechize.

        • Anne T. says:

          Anyone who wants to get more information about the Rose Windows can go to the website of St. Thomas Aquinas Church in New York, which has pictures of all its stained glass windows with descriptions of the symbolism contained in each window. One can also put in “The Development of Stained Glass in Gothic cathedrals” or “Symbolism in Stained Glass Windows” in ones search bar to get good websites.

          If my posts seem somewhat simple, I am trying to put all this in the “little box”.

    • Anne T. says:

      Bob One, the Holy Bible is filled with symbolism. Do you know that the candles in a church represent Christ? Well they do. Yes Christ, the LIGHT of the world. Even the numbers, such as three, seven and nine, have a meaning in Judeo-Christian symbolism. Seven days, seven stars, seven-branched candlestick — seven, seven, seven. It is the number for completion, and all the other numbers having meaning too. Try looking up “Liturgical East” and “Biblical symbolism for numbers on line. It is best to go to Catholic sites, though, for better accuracy.

      • Anne T. says:

        Correction: twelve stars, not seven, is what is mostly used. Twelve is the symbol for the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve apostles and twelve months in a year. Twelve is the Judeo-Christian symbol for human completion. Twenty-four is the Christian number for completion/restoration: OT tribes + NT apostles.

        One can find this on line under “The Symbolism of Numbers in the Bible”.

      • Bob One says:

        Anne T, remind me to put a 🙂 after my feeble attempts at humor. I was brought up “high-Catholic” in a parish that had every symbolism that you could imagine. Every Sunday High Mass had the boy choir, the adult choir and sometimes the girl’s choir. We very often had three Priest on the Altar – Celebrant, Deacon and Sub-Deacon, Masters of Ceremonies, thirty altar boys along side the Altar, etc. We had every devotion you could think of, from novenas to Corpus Christi processions. I know about all the symbols. I still know 90% of the responses in Latin. But, the current Ordinary Form of the Mass doesn’t use all the old stuff.

        • Anne T. says:

          Bob One, peace. I really do not think you have a “dense mass of self-willed confusion” as Campion implied, and he might have been joking also. In fact I actually agree with you at times. Not being able to see people’s faces when typing does not help any of us to know exactly what is intended. You probably know far more about the traditional Mass than I do as I am still learning. I think perhaps Campion and Joe’s intention was for me to learn more also. At least that is the result

    • St. Christopher says:

      So what, “Bob One”? The “wreckovators” of Paul VI were not put off by centuries old buildings or altars or statues? Simply put in place the architecture to make the Churches “Catholic” in function.

      One pastor in a Church in Richmond, VA was dumbfounded that we found it objectionable that they had no kneelers. He said the Bishop said it was OK in that “the Church was build this way in 1970 and it was too expensive to put them in. Complete rubbish, complete lies.

  9. Even the good Cardinal concedes the Council agreed the celebration of the Mass with the priest facing the people is permitted (” a possibility”). I suspect Cardinal Sarah is viewed as papible by his fellow Cardinal-electors and could very well become the Church’s next Pope.

  10. How does all of this square with our teaching that “In Christ there is no East or West?”

    • Anne T. says:

      C&H, you miss the symbolism behind it all totally. That verse is talking about a whole different issue.

    • Linda Maria says:

      C&H– I think this Scriptural passage has nothing to do with the ancient tradition of facing East, to worship God! I think it is only about the fact that the original Jewish sect of Christians, decided that Christ was not only the Messiah for the Jewish people, but Messiah for all the Gentiles of the world, too! Thus, anyone could be accepted as a follower of Christ, who was a Gentile, without first becoming a Jew. Christ was the Messiah for all, of every corner of the world!

      • Anne T. says:

        Exactly, Linda Maria.

      • Catherine says:

        Thank you, Linda Maria! We see what the good and merciful Cardinal Sarah is saying and that should surely start to open the hearts and uneducated minds of those who have only been trained or indoctrinated in some very fixed false ideas regarding the changes of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Those who have bad agendas will reject this truth and remain blind, that is, unless they repent and pray to ask God for the specific grace to help them see the truth. Those, who desire the truth, who have eyes to see, and ears to hear, will eventually be drawn to the fullness of the truth. Those who are innocent with good intentions will be judged by God accordingly. That is the meaning of Divine Mercy.

  11. Agreed, Cardinal Sarah would be a wonderful choice for Roman Pontiff, it seems Tradition and love of the TLM is coming from Africa of all places, Europe is being overrun by ISLAM by the millions and we must look to Africa to save them, how ironic is that? Only the Eastern Europeans such as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Bulgaria understand what awaits Europe if this ISLAMIC invasion is not stopped SOON!!!

    • St. Christopher says:

      Ah, yet, “Janek” but it will not happen. The Germans, to whom Rome genuflects, pretty directly oppose the “Africans.” It was C. Kasper, after all, that said some pretty overtly racist things about the African bishops opposition to homosexual sex and to giving communion to divorced/remarried (no annulment) “irregular” couples. It is long rumored that the Germans have told at least three popes that they would leave if the popes publicly said the TLM or tried to do more to institute it being available. Summorum Pontificum is a good start but it falls far short of imposing the Pope’s will that the TLM be treated as an equal mass.

      • “St. Christopher” the TLM will never equal the Ordinary Form. Never. You’re living in a dream world if you believe that. Even Benedict wrote the TLM will never supplant the Mass of Paul VI.

        • Linda Maria says:

          There is a good reason that the Vatican supports the Mass of Pope Paul VI– it has sold its soul to the secular world, leaving behind its true spirituality, as established more than 2,000 years ago, by Christ! The “ecumenized” Novus Ordo Missae of Bl. Pope Paul VI is a THEOLOGICAL and LITURGICAL MESS– and a POLITICAL TREAT for the Holy See!! By contrast– the ancient, 1500+-year-old Tridentine Latin Mass is THEOLOGICALLY CORRECT and LITURGICALLY EXCELLENT!! However, it is POLITICALLY problematic, with the interests and goals of the post-Vatican II Church!

        • St. Christopher says:

          Pride of the conquerors is all that you reflect. The N.O. is a made-up mess of a Mass, that ignores so much of what was forged and honored over centuries. Benedict, for all his good, unbelievably left us all with his “retirement.” And, he was a principal advisor during VII, so his pride is clearly on the line in maintaining the N.O.

          Soon, the anti-Traditionalists will have very few people attending the N.O. The growth is solidly behind Catholic Tradition. Look at the enormous seminary the SSPX is constructing in VA. Emerson is apt here: “foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by statesman, philosophers, and divines..”

        • Justin K says:

          Since Jon wishes to quote P. Benedict on the “Mass of Paul VI”, perhaps BXVI should also be cited where he says:

          ”What happened after the Council was something else entirely: in the place of the Liturgy as development came fabricated liturgy.” … “We replaced it …with a banal, fabricated, on-the-spot product.”
          (Forward to Monsgr. Klaus Gamber’s book, “The Reform of the Roman Liturgy”):

          Now what, Jon? By the way, the NO rite is not yet 50 years old (it was instituted 1st Sunday of Advent, Nov. 1969): At the time of Trent, rites less than 200 years old were all suppressed—a fact I am sure Jon knows of. This fabricated rite in time, will pass away.

          • Anne T. says:

            Justin K, I know a lot of converts who go to the older rite. It would be great if somehow the calendars for the older and newer saints could be combined in a more traditional Mass, but I have no idea how it could be done without having both the pre Vatican Latin and the post Vatican vernacular, but with God all things are possible. I do not know what will happen in the future.

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