Changes at Basilica of Holy Cross of Jerusalem in Rome due to “liturgical abuses”

I picked up from the Papa Ratzinger blog, an Italian site, that at the Basilica of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem in Rome, a basilica of profound historical importance, the Cistercian Abott of the monastery has been removed as the pastor of the parish and the pastoral care of the basilica has been removed from the Cistercians.

One of the reasons cite: liturgical abuses.


(AGI) – CdV, 4 giu.

Una visita canonica inviata dalla Santa Sede ha deciso la sostituzione dell’abate di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, padre Simone Fioraso.
Il vicario di Roma, card. Agostino Vallini, nominera’ a breve un sacerdote della diocesi come parroco in quanto la comunita’ dei cistercensi non ha nella Capitale forze sufficienti per garantire la cura della parrocchia annessa al Monastero. Lo ha confermato all’Agi mons. Marco Fibbi, direttore dell’ufficio Comunicazioni Sociali della diocesi di Roma. Padre Domenico Paccherini resta invece priore dei monaci e rappresentante legale.
I rilievi mossi all’abate riguarderebbero abusi liturgici e la conduzione della Comunita’.
La Basilica aveva ospitato in ottobre l’iniziativa "La Bibbia giorno e notte", lettura integrale della Sacra Scrittura promossa dalla struttura Rai Vaticano, manifestazione che era stata aperta con un collegamento con il Papa in Vaticano e chiusa dal segretario di Stato Tarcisio Bertone.
Ed e’ nota anche per il coro delle "Matite Colorate", il cui direttore artistico, fanno sapere gli organizzatori, rimane il cistercense padre Luca Zecchetto.


Followup articles in Italian:

Messa In Latino


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  1. Rome is listening, Deo Gratias

  2. LCB says:

    I’m a bit confused, did this stem from the october lecture, or is the article further identifying some of the things of note that occur at the Basilica?

    Obviously I’m presuming the choir isn’t the liturgical abuse being referenced ;-)

  3. Anthony says:

    I was there for Vespers one evening last May.. looked non-abusive to me.

  4. prof. basto says:

    It seems, from the post, that, as a result of the Visitation, the abbot was removed not only of his duties as pastor, but also of his role as abbot.

  5. Steve says:

    Somewhat if a translation of the article:


    (AGI) – CdV, 4 giu.

    A canonical visit sent off from the Holy Seat decided the substitution dell’ abbot of Holy Cross in Jerusalem, father Simone Fioraso. The vicar of Rome, card. August Valley, nominera’ short-term a priest of the diocese like parish priest as the comunita’ of the Cistercian has not in the Capital sufficient forces to guarantee the care of the parish annexed to the Monastery. All confirmed it’ Agi mons. I mark Fibbi, director dell’ Social office Communications of the diocese of Rome. Father Domenico Paccherini remains instead priore of the monk and legal representative. The wavy relief all’ abbot would check liturgical abuses and the management of the Comunita’. The Basilica had accommodated in October l’ initiative “The Bible day and night”, complete reading of the Sacred Writing promoted from the structure Italian broadcasting corporation Vatican, show that had been open with a connection with the Pope in Vatican and closed from the secretary of Tarcisio Been Bertone. And and’ note also for the chorus of the “Pencils Colored”, whose artistic director, make know the organizers, remains the Cistercian father Light Zecchetto.

  6. michigancatholic says:

    Yes, but honestly, it’s hard telling what the real reasons are. It could well be liturgical abuse, but defined in how many ways and associated with what factors? Is that the final straw or the reason used for something that may (or may not) have needed to doing anyway?

    In order to say much, we probably need more info, I’d think. And even then…from here? Meh.

  7. Matt Q says:

    Wow. As Joe said, Rome is listening. The only thing is, what does it take to get heard? How much clamoring and downtrodden suffering does a people have to go through before Rome does intervene? Since Rome has, it shows it can be done and WASN’T that hard.

    It does surprise me ( that Rome acted at all ) that this involves the Cistercians. For the most part they are known to be quite authentic in their practice of the Faith.

  8. I was at Santa Croce for two offices and the Mass last August and saw nothing unusual. The community actually has several young vocations and the offices were sung reverently in Italian. The Mass was a Saturday vigil and was respectable enough as I remember.

    I don\’t find anything relating to this on any of the Order\’s web sites, which seems odd given the place of Santa Croce in our history. After the dissolution of Citeaux and before our present system of government as an order, the abbot of Santa Croce was the Abbot General of the Cistercians, so it seems strange that there has been no word of this.

  9. Stephen says:

    This is particularly saddening because my experience with Cistercians has always been good. Well, hopefully if there are problems the order will grow beautifully from it in obedience, I’m sure they will, rather than act out in aggression against authority as we’ve seen elsewhere at other times in the Church.

  10. Justin in Ohio says:

    My hope is that once Rome has put in place a majority of orthodox bishops here in the U.S. (and we’re not there yet as the silence of many bishops in the Obama/Notre Dame flap showed), we’ll see those bishops grow more willing to start focusing on liturgical abuses in their diocese and in making more efforts to stop dissenting priests and parishes from confusing and scandalizing the faithful).

    I know we discuss it often on this site, but I was in the Chicago suburbs visiting family a couple of weeks ago and went to a more modern Catholic parish in Naperville, Illinois. The abuses were shocking. The music was bad enough with the drums and some of the choir members actually dancing and clapping….but I could have tolerated that if the rest of the mass would have been at least marginally acceptable.

    The worst offense I saw was that there was no Profession of Faith/Nicene Creed recited. Instead, they sang some sort of “Nicene-esque” song where the choir sang some portions of the Creed and the assembly repeated a refrain “Yes we believe!”

    Not surprisingly, the pastor gave a homily where he mentioned how he decided to become a priest in the “exciting and transforming period of the late 1960’s” where the “spirit of Vatican II” reformed the Church for the modern world.

    But I have faith things are changing. We just have to wait for some more retirements of “Spirit of Vatican II” priests and bishops and trust that Rome will replace those bishops with orthodox shepherds. One good sign is that it certainly seems the vast majority of seminarians are orthodox and count JPII and Benedict as their inspirations and models for the priesthood.

  11. Linus says:

    For the ignorant among us, please translate.

  12. dymphna says:

    Yes, Rome listens but how many years did it take
    to get to this point?

  13. TerryN says:

    There is more to this than meets the eye, or ears.

  14. Hidden One says:

    I’m with Linus. I’d have a better chance at that article if it was in Latin. Or German… Spanish… Irish… French… maybe even Japanese.

  15. Cyril says:

    If I recall correctly but I could not pull out any links off-hand, during the past Holy Week, there was a “liturgical dance” in the Basilica. Perhaps that was the last straw.

  16. TJM says:

    Justin in Ohio, unfortunately you went to the left-wing loon parish in Naperville. The other Church there, St. Peter’s, has a weekly TLM and they use Latin music in the OF. Also, St. Peter’s is a jewel of a building. So next time you’re in Naperville, tell your relatives, sorry I plan to attend a Catholic Church for Sunday Mass and go to St. Peter’s. Tom

  17. Kimberly says:

    More info please! Just judging by the headline, Joan of Arc in Minnesota should have had the axe a long time ago.

  18. Cel says:

    I doubt the problem is with being loud enough to be heard and get results. The Holy Father is very careful and deliberate. I think he is aware of what is happening here in the states. Adjustments take time if you want to avoid breaking things. He is just being sneakery abouts it. :)

  19. Mary says:

    Well I gave it a try, but it doesn’t seem to be much clearer in English about the issues:

    “A canonical visitation sent by the Holy See has ordered the replacement of the abbot of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Father Simone Fioraso.
    The vicar of Rome, Agostino Cardinal Vallini, will soon appoint a priest of the diocese as parish priest there, since the community of Cistercians does not have enough strength in the Capitol to guarantee the care of the parish attached to the Monastery. Mgr. Marco Fibbi, director of the office of Social Communications of the diocese of Rome, has confirmed this to Agi [the news service]. Father Dominic Paccherini will remain prior and legal representative of the monks.
    The removal of the abbot from his position seems to be related to liturgical abuses and the direction of the Community. Last October, the Basilica had hosted an initiative called “The Bible night and day,” a complete reading of Holy Scripture promoted by Rai Vaticano [a Vatican TV network], which shows that there was an open state with a connection with the Pope in the Vatican, and closed from the Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone. [Sorry, that last part is obscure to me also]. The basilica is also known for the choir of “colored pencils” [a place or a group?] whose artistic director–the organizers have made known–remains the Cistercian Father Luca Zecchetto.”

  20. John Polhamus says:

    Interesting and somewhat mysterious. This could be read at least two ways, based on the information available. First, it could be that the Cistercians – and outside of the couple of monasteries in Germany and the Low countries who have recently re-embraced tradition, I have never heard that they are much good these days – were largely orthodox, but unwilling to follow the Holy Father’s Hermeneutic of Continuity in the way that he would like them to, so he decided to replace them with diocesans over whom the Vatican may have more influence, especially in the Holy Land.

    Or, it could be that this is something hatched from the Secretariat of State, someone under the Holy Father, though I doubt it, and designed to cause trouble. We shall see. There may have been “other” hidden factors at work requiring a decision as well, before someone gets sued. Hard to tell. But look for a TLM at the Basilica there, and signs of tradition, or else the latter scenario may be operative.

    Nevertheless, an interesting development.

  21. Cory says:

    TJM, is the parish you are talking about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton?

  22. TJM says:

    Cory, I prefer not to say but note there are several parishes in Naperville. I will however endorse St. Peter and Pauls. Tom

  23. Cory says:

    Tom, I serve with Fr. Valentine down in Joliet. Have you been to any of his Masses at SS. Peter and Paul?

  24. Ray from MN says:

    Finding a good parish in a strange town is difficult.

    If you use, check to see how often Mass and Confessions are offered, whether or not they have special devotions or other clues that might indicate a church where they “say the black and do the red.”

    If you can find a web page for them, further details might give you clues also. I am of the opinion, in general, if the parish promotes itself as a “community”, you’d be better off looking for another one.

    Think horizontal (community participation) versus vertical (worship).

  25. Justin in Ohio says:

    Thanks for the tip, TJM. No, it wasn’t Seton that I was at, however I attended that one years ago (before I would have even realized there were any abuses or irregularities going on).

    Too bad the bishop in Joliet is allowing this stuff to go on in Naperville. I hope they’re not looking the other way just because some of these parishes are quite wealthy and may be bringing money into the diocese coffers. I’ve been to Protestant services that were more “Catholic” in sight and sound than the particular parish I was at a few weeks ago.

    Hopefully we can get to SS Peter and Paul next time we’re in the area.

  26. Could the pope have visited places that no one knew about publicly? We might not ever know.

    “The worst offense I saw was that there was no Profession of Faith/Nicene Creed recited. Instead, they sang some sort of “Nicene-esque” song where the choir sang some portions of the Creed and the assembly repeated a refrain “Yes we believe!””

    And that…is appalling. Some pastor’s seem more happy with a person believing in something and giving some effort, rather then believing in the right things and giving the right effort.

    Mormon’s believe in God, and Christ. But I am sure most Christians, without judging, would admit they are totally right…

    I have said it once and I will say it again. To believe in something implies you think you are right about that something. To have faith is to know inequivicolly you are right, without any proof needed. We are supposed to be catholic, we have to believe we are right, and that we are Catholic, and act like it, not how we think other people would want us to act just to get their tithe every week, or feel good that they are there and we can boast at the work thats being done, when in reality not much is done.

  27. trespinos says:

    Mary, the clause that seemed obscure was just a statement that the Bible reading (series) was opened by a contribution from the Pope (transmitted from the Vatican — he didn’t travel to the Basilica) and closed by Cdl. Bertone’s reading.

  28. Linus says:

    What in the world is all the fuss about? The several translations above would not seem to indicate ” abuses ” where going on. And is it any of our business why the Abott was removed? Why are we constantly searching for scandal?

  29. TJM says:

    Yes, Linus, we are. That’s our reason for being. All kidding aside, if this was the case, I think many of us here have an interest because if the Holy See is signaling a more proactive approach, some of us know of circumstances that would certainly warrant investigation. Tom

    ps to Cory, no I have not, but I follow this parish with interest. I typically go to St. John Cantius in downtown Chicago but I believe over the summer I will make the drive
    to Naperville to see for myself.

  30. r7blue1pink says:

    There is also a 10am EF Mass at St John Vianney in Northlake (corner of North Ave and Wolf Rd) Great priests, Wonderfully celebrated OF Mass too– PERPETUAL Adoration as well..

    I know the strange parish in Naperville.. I went there for a funeral some months ago… I didnt know WHAT was going on, it surely wasnt a Mass!! Bishop Sartain certainly has his hands full..and we continue to pray his strength to battle the abuses..

    SSPeter and Paul is great- a bit out of the way for us.. though we have been at the EF several times- its very disspointing that there are not many large- young families there- nor young boys serving. Also dont like that its at the END of the day. We much prefer attending Mass in the mornings rather than dinner time.. For us, it defeats the purpose.. relocating from another FSSP parish, I found Naperville community very cold and uninviting….

  31. PNP, OP says:

    As I am sure Fr. Z. will confirm, for an American, speaking/reading Italian fluently is not the same as “understanding Italian.” The Italians have a beautiful gift for saying everything by saying nothing and saying absolutely nothing beautifully. Throw in Vatican politics and you have an example of obfuscation and obscurity that would turn Barack Obama green with envy. As the Americans here in Rome say when perplexed by Roman Ways, “Sigh. Siamo in Italia!”

    Fr. Philip, OP

  32. tecumseh says:

    Years ago a Carthusian told me that the Cistercians had destroyed their office in the wake of Vatican II. “They no longer have a monastic office” were his exact words. They have no intention of correcting the situation, they are a dying order in the developed world. They are desperately trying to keep going by building monasteries in Africa, but have given up here. Rather than admit that they got it wrong back in the 60’s. After all Le Barroux and Bellague and the more traditional monasteries are attracting vocations. Why is it that the so called Bang up to date monasteries are full of old men hankering for the 60’s..??

  33. Mary says:

    “First, it could be that the Cistercians were largely orthodox, but unwilling to follow the Holy Father’s Hermeneutic of Continuity in the way that he would like them to.” -John Polhamus

    Sounds like the Cistercians I know. Incidentally, they do have a lot of vocations, contra Tecumseh.

  34. Mary says:

    Ah, the Messa in Latino link says that Sr. Anna Nobili (who used to dance in nightclubs but converted and joined the Suore Operaie della Santa Casa di Nazareth, but continues to dance although differently) was slated to dance at the Basilica for the \”Bible night and day” event. She was to present a “mystical choreography titled ‘Jesus, Light of the World.'” I don’t know whether this has actually happened or not.

  35. Mary, it’s good that you clarified. In this case the dance was NOT a liturgical abuse since it was not part of the liturgy.

    John Polhamus, the church in question, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, is locaated in Rome, not Jerusalem. This has nothing to do with the Holy Land.

    Folks, it seems to me that a little information is a dangerous thing. The original notice is in Italian we don’t have a solid translation (though Mary’s is very good) and people are jumping to all kinds of conclusions and making suppositions based on a little information from a source that, given journalism these days, may or may not be reliable. I’m thinking Orson Well’s broadcast of “War of the Worlds.”

  36. Francis says:

    In 2002, a Latin Mass Society pilgrimage was scheduled to say a TLM in Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. We had written ahead and all appeared to be in order. However, as Mass was about to start, one of the monks noticed the Altar Cards and the Abbot personally got in touch with the sacristy to forbid the celebration of the Mass, despite Fr Southwell being vested and ready and a congregation of 50 preparing to hear Mass. As God would have it, the group had an audience the following day with the Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, one Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. The refusal was brought up and the Prefect seemed genuinely shocked. Perhaps this incident had a little to do with this apparently surprising decision?

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