ACTION ITEM! POLL ALERT! Should priests be able to change the words of Mass when they want to?

Do you remember this story from a couple days back?  HERE.

Review: A priest was changing the words of Mass. He was corrected on more than one occasion by the bishop.  The priest, having refused to change, offered his resignation which the bishop eventually accepted.  Liberal lamentations abound.

In the newspaper account on there is a POLL.

As if this is a matter for a secular newspaper editor to stick his long nose into…

“Should a priest be allowed to change the words he says during Mass?”


I am not going to tell you how to vote, but I sure hope you will go there and VOTE!  Vote fairly.  Vote once.  But VOTE.

Click HERE.

Here are the results as of this writing the anarchists are willing, which I think is a darn shame.



It’s moving.


UPDATE 6 Feb 0055 GMT:

It’s still moving.


UPDATE 6 Feb 1458 GMT:

So far so good!


UPDATE 6 Feb 2140 GMT:

Please vote if you haven’t yet.


UPDATE 7 Feb 1623 GMT:

Good work, friends!


UPDATE 8 Feb 1539 GMT:

Our work here may be done.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, POLLS and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. lucy says:

    After reading the comments attached to the poll’s results, it’s easy to see that so many are lacking in true Catholic catechism. And this is sadly the result of many not doing their God given job these last 40+ years. That said, it’s also the responsibility of the faithful to learn their faith and continue to read and learn throughout their lives. Unfortunately, many do not do this.

    May God bless His Holy Church and prompt His people to learn about Him.

  2. Denis says:

    Unfortunately, this sort of anarchism is endemic to the culture of the Novus Ordo. When the requirements are minimal and the aspects of the liturgy with the most impact–architecture, vestments, bells, etc.–are entirely up to the parishioners, priest, and committee, why not tinker with the minimal requirements? The novus ordo is a chameleon, designed to accommodate itself to the local secular culture. When everything else is up for grabs, being “uptight” about the words makes no sense.

  3. Geoffrey says:

    I voted. I also shared the article on Facebook with the following quote:

    “Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority” (Vatican II: Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 22.3).

  4. Warren says:

    I voted “no”, the priest absolutely should not be able to willy-nilly change the words nor alter the ritual in any way other than what liturgical law permits.

    As I posted on the other linked story, we at our parish are facing a long Lent during our pastor’s sabbatical. For the next five months we will have to sit through his replacement’s goofy heterodox sermons, fumbling improvisations, omissions of rites and insufferable irreverent humour.

    If only these errant men could realize how much damage they are doing by setting a precedent of disobedience. If only they could realize that they are the servants of the Liturgy, not its master, what a better world it would be.

    Save the Liturgy, save the world.
    Take back the Liturgy, take back the world for Christ!

  5. rodin says:

    I voted. I noted that approximately 2/3 of the respondents like the idea of editing by the celebrant. That would indicate that 2/3 of the Catholics, at least in that parish, are improperly catechized and the Bishops had better get busy getting the priests in line.

  6. digdigby says:

    The church is here to serve us….GIVE US BARABBAS!

  7. Finarfin says:

    The right answer is now at 38%! Go WDTPRS!!!

  8. Romuleus says:

    I live in the Belleville Diocese. The poll response is not a surprise. I drive 20 miles each way to go to Mass in St. Louis. I only go to Mass here if it is Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation and the weather is bad.
    If I tried to ask for the TLM here at my home parish, I would be laughed out the door (or worse).
    Long ago (’90s), the Latin Mass community was “thrown a bone” with a Sunday TLM (at the Log Church now administered by ICKSP); but, most TLM people go the St. Francis De Sales Oratory in St. Louis (where Cardinal Burke celebrated Benediction last Tuesday).
    Unfortunately, whenever an article like this comes out, all the Anti-Catholic haters (protestant fundamentalists) and their so-called “catholic” supporters (liberal catholics) come out too and use this incident as an opportunity to take shots at the Bishop and faithful Catholics. If you read the Comments section of this article, you will see what I mean.
    I don’t know what Bishop Braxton did to deserve to be sent to this diocese …

  9. KAS says:

    The do-your-own-thing people need to realize that there is already a HUGE selection of places for them to go worship– called NON-CATHOLIC churches. This priest can follow the examples of two thousand years of rebellion and go “plant a church” at his own expense to do his own thing.

    Of course, these apostates will have to live with the wages of their rebellion, but at least they won’t be causing those of us who prefer to be CATHOLIC the misery they would inside the church. Nor will they teach falsehood inside the Church with the blanket of authority to give their false teachings a valid veneer. I mean, if they already reject the Catholic Faith, why stay except to poison the Catholic Church for anyone who desires to be Catholic? Let them take their poison elsewhere!


  10. Peggy R says:

    Fr Thanks for posting the poll! It had moved from 74% Y, to about 50-50% a day or so ago, but it got worse again.

    Romulous, this is my diocese too. The faithful of the diocese are poorly formed. There is much history I am learning about the diocese. Two local CTA types (gray haireds) had letters in the BND suggesting that Church courts have Bp. Braxton removed. Huh? Delusional. One letter writer (both from the same town) is a former diocesan priest who left the priesthood in the wake of the Cairo, IL, race conflict. Many men left the priesthood (some later married nuns who also left their vocations) b/c the bishop restricted their activities–many priests had crossed a line. I suspect the liberal priests have been running the shop here since. They kept Gregory in line, it appears. They have engaged in public character assassination and (secret) threats toward Bp. Braxton from they day his assignment here was announced. Our diocese greatly needs the Holy Spirit.

  11. rcg says:

    This is only partially related, but what about the inclusive language, done LOUDLY? Even the lector replaced ‘His’ with ‘God’s’ in today’s responses. This is also done in the Eucharistic prayer. Now we sound like a rabble as not only are we still stumbling through the ‘new’ translation, but are hearing words in prayers that are different even than the booklet they placed in the pews.

  12. APX says:

    I noticed most of the posts are about how wonderful the priest is and not on the actual issue at hand. I’ve also noticed this seems to be the “argument” or “answer” many liberal catholics give. “He’s making a mockery out of Mass.” “But, he’s such a wonderful priest. Everyone loooves him. He fills the pews.” “Oh, I just love hIs homilies. He gives such good homilies.”

  13. JimGB says:

    The comments accompanying the newspaper poll laud the priest as an exemplary pastor, homilist, leader, indeed the “backbone” of his parish as one gushing reader proclaimed. In their view, he is being persecuted for nitpicking over words in a book. Well, if the words in the missal are so inconsequential when compared to his overall priestly accomplishments, THEN WHY CAN’T HE JUST READ THEM AS THEY APPEAR IN THE MISSAL?? No, this is ego and selfishness at work, plus apparently a view that it is beyond the comprehension of the poor sheep in the pews to understand anything other than his dumbed-down rendition. Sadly, this view is substantiated by some of the comments of people who need things more “understandable.”

  14. I read this on a blogpost ( which was primarily talking about the importance of silence before Mass but I think this line says a lot about NO Masses in general. “A mistaken ecclesiology has crept in, based on a partial reading of Vatican II, which has, at the practical level, accorded a higher value to the group of people gathered for worship rather than to the God whom we worship.”

  15. laud1645 says:

    One would have to try hard to come up with a more biased question. So anything above 30% can be considered a win.

    Even one word changed is enough to makes thoughts turn to ‘why did he change that’

  16. Elizabeth M says:

    From his own lips Rowe wrote, “I realize that you can no longer allow me to celebrate the Eucharist as has been my custom.” Very self serving to say “my custom” and seems like he has no regard for the concept of a Universal Church.

  17. CAR says:

    My RCIA class was poorly formed. It was more Protestant than Catholic! I called it the “feel good” church for years! It was like I was attending a baseball game instead of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, because of the coffee-klatch loudness. I was, however, blessed to be able to receive a little formation before attending RCIA (after much reading—CCC; readings of the saints, et al), as well as female role models within my family who lived and practiced their faith. Oh, I couldn’t forget Mother Angelica! I watched her for many, many years prior to my conversion.

    While I did try for years talking to my fellow parishioners, they turned a deaf ear. I was cast aside so many times, leaving me with a heavy heart. However, the Lord placed me where I would continue to grow in my faith. As a rabbi once told me, “You can never learn enough about your faith.”

    Thank you, Fr. Z.

    P.S. Bought some Mystic Monk coffee for family birthdays last year & Christmas. Delicioso!! I enjoy that press travel mug, too!

  18. Jerry says:

    The vote is now 55% Yes; 44% No

  19. Blue clerical shirt; never a good sign. [You said it.]

  20. letchitsa1 says:

    Most of the time, I don’t bother with people who think like this, except to pray for them. As I told someone else recently who didn’t see a problem with so-called “gay masses” – the mass isn’t supposed to be focused on us, but is about our worshiping God as a community. The sacrament that focuses on us is the one we are most likely to take the least advantage of – confession.

  21. NoTambourines says:

    My rule of thumb: If it’s not the Mass, I don’t want to see it at Mass. Even in this day and age, one thing I love about the Church is that I can go to Mass in my home parish one week, the one near work the next, and my hometown parish several states away the next week, and not miss a beat. The reason for that is that other priests do bother to be faithful to the liturgy.

    I once heard our bishop tell a confirmation class: no matter where you go, wherever there is a Catholic church, you’re never far from home. That saying still brings tears to my eyes.

    We’ve got a wonderful thing going here as the universal Church, and no one should fiddle with it “just because.”

  22. St. Epaphras says:

    If a blue clerical shirt is never a good sign (see Fr. Richsteig above), is NO clerical shirt an even worse sign? I’m asking seriously.

  23. frjim4321 says:

    Indeed a blue clerical shirt is far worse than a normal shirt.

    On the subject of the post, I have done a bit of concelebrating lately and have yet to hear an EP read verbatim from the book. More to the point, I don’t think it’s an issue for the people in the pews. The vast majority have come to participate fully and consciously and do not see “following along in the book” as part of a healthy liturgical spirituality.

  24. Clinton R. says:

    No, the priest should not ever change the words of Mass. It’s not his Mass, it is Our Lord’s Mass. The priest should decrease, so the Lord may increase.

  25. ronconte says:

    Christ did not establish the Mass in immutable specifics. This is why the Church can and should change the form from time to time. Each Mass is unique: different hymns, different sermons, different personal prayers and intentions being offered, different prayers of the faithful. So there is no theological reason why the priest should not be given permission to make minor changes in the wording of certain prayers. Bishops, as the successors to the Apostles, should have authority to make limited, but more than minor changes to the form, esp. when they act in a Bishops’ Conference. But only the Holy See should make or approve broad changes to the form. The idea that only the Holy See can have any say at all in every detail of the Mass is contrary to the collegiality of Bishops taught at Vatican II.

  26. Tradster says:

    The Mass is not meant to be like fingerprints, with no two alike.
    One Church, one Mass done one way.

  27. Darren says:

    8:45 AM EST
    Yes: 49
    No: 50 (pulled into the lead)
    No opinion: 1

  28. wmeyer says:

    Tradster, amen. The differences are so substantial, even with the new Missal, that I have some difficulty finding my way in an adjacent parish.

  29. Andy Milam says:

    It’s now 48% yes and 50% no, as of my vote. 8:25am CST

    The needle has moved.

    Thanks Fr. Z!

  30. Patti Day says:

    The No’s have taken a slight lead at this point.

    In the article Father states that he has been changing the words slightly since the 1980’s and has been called on it by the Bishop once before. Why was he allowed to continue for so long. No wonder the faithful are confused.

  31. Andy Milam says:

    “In his reply to Braxton, Rowe wrote, “I realize that you can no longer allow me to celebrate the Eucharist as has been my custom. I therefore offer my resignation as pastor of St. Mary parish so that you may appoint someone who will follow the liturgical laws more closely.”

    That is part of the article. That is what Fr. Rowe wrote to Bishop Braxton. Since when has it been an individual custom? This is the key. And we’re not talking about the EF v. NO. No, we’re talking about the translation. This is a PERFECT example of the lack of faith of the “older generation of priests.” They rebel to rebel. They act out, simply to act out. Bottom line, friends…they are selfish and they are part of a generation of Americans who are supremely self absorbed. This is a big problem. I pray, strongly that the Bishop holds firm. It seems as though he is thus far.

    Finally, Fr. Rowe says this, “Rowe, who has served for 17 years in Mount Carmel without accepting his priest’s salary, relying, he said, on an Air Force pension and Social Security, said that he is unsure of what he may do when his career as head of a parish ends.

    “Maybe I’ll run a soup kitchen,” he said.”

    And this is the perfect explanation of the majority generation’s mentality regarding the priesthood. It is dominated by being either a) obsessed with social justice, or b) being pro-life, only. Sadly, they should have those two things supporting their Catholicism. Rather than allowing those things to define their Catholicism.

    My advice for Fr. Rowe, retire….buy the new books and spend a lot of time in a Cistercian monestary. It’s the best place for someone with his attitude. He can pray, he can be taken care of and he can stay out of the way…my unsolicited advice.

  32. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Now >50%

  33. Andy Milam says:

    @ frjim4321;

    “The vast majority have come to participate fully and consciously and do not see “following along in the book” as part of a healthy liturgical spirituality.”

    Really??? C’mon Father. One cannot participate fully, and consciously if they do not have the opportunity to do so. When a priest or bishop changes the words of the Mass on his own authority, he is not being authentic. Therefore, he is lessening the liturgical experience for the faithful and that is NOT a healthy liturgical spirituality.

    I don’t understand this aversion to “following along in the book.” We are a liturgical Church. We necessarily follow a very narrow structure when it comes to the authentic liturgical action, in the Latin Rite. There may be several structures, but the structure of each is clearly defined. And it is that definition which gives the Church her unity. To compromise that is to compromise the unity of Holy Mother Church.

    Many people bemoan the SSPX for being disobedient (and they are), but those priests who change the Mass on their own authority are doing the very same thing. They are being disobedient. Maybe it’s time to call a spade a spade, Father. Maybe it’s time for bishops to start suspending priests who are making up their own Eucharistic prayers…that is not Catholic. It is not consistent with Vatican Council II.

    By making the statement you do, you are now setting up a parallel magisterium. You are setting up a magisterium of conscience. And that conscience is incorrect, because that conscience is not illumined by the Church, it is illumined by man. Sadly, this is why people don’t go to Mass. This is why churches are faced with closing.

    A couple of honest questions for YOU, frjim4321; Why is it so hard to just do what the Church asks of you? Is it because you know better than the Church? Is it because you know better than the bishop? Is it because you know better than the Pope? What exactly is it?

    I really don’t understand why being “pastoral” trumps being Catholic. We find our pastors in the Church, we don’t find our Church in the pastors. I’m not Protestant and I am not interested in personal interpretation, yet that is what I’m faced with almost every Sunday. I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting protestantism at Holy Mass.

    frjim4321; I am a Catholic. I assist at Holy Mass every Sunday. I am imploring you to please celebrate the Holy Mass according to the books. That is the only way to allow the faithful at your Mass to fully, consciously and actively participate. Anything less is an act of disobedience on the very same level as that of the SSPX. If I were at your Mass this past Sunday, I would have visited your sacristy after Holy Mass. Maybe if I’m at your church next Sunday, I will. You never know.

  34. anthtan says:

    Just voted. “No” now edges “yes” 51% to 48%.

  35. dbqcatholic says:

    Interesting to see in the BND comments that “People are also forgetting to mention that many people have left St. Mary’s because of Father Bill committing other acts that were against the Catholic religion (i.e. marrying people in the church who weren’t even Catholic, etc.) ” (mchsaces, 2/3 at 2023). Perhaps the liberality with the liturgical prayers was just the straw that broke the camel’s back [or bishop’s patience].

  36. disco says:

    This is why all masses ought to be celebrated in Latin. A priest smart enough to ad lib the Latin would be smart enough to know better.

  37. Anglian says:

    Thank you Father. I have just voted ‘no’ and see that there is now a clear majority against anarchy – as there should be.

  38. Keep voting and tell your friends. The anarchists will resurge.

  39. ArtND76 says:

    Just voted no. The reason I have stayed with the Catholic church in spite of hearing a lot of modernist and other heresy from the pulpit is because of the faithfulness and soundness of the teaching of the bishops in unity with the Pope. I may not agree with everything they say (yet, because I am not blessed with the insight I assume they have), but scripture says they have “the keys of the kingdom.” If I as a lay person am to submit my faith and morals to Jesus Christ’s legates on earth (the Pope and the bishops in union with him), then I would expect a clergyman to even more fully submit to his bishop in union with the Pope.

  40. Bea says:

    Just checked out the poll (should words be changed)11:30 MTN Standard
    53 No
    46 Yes
    We’re pulling ahead.
    Yesterday at Mass we had a priest who constantly changes the wordings. I told our pastor the day before (I was chatting with him and he told us who would celebrate the Mass after we asked) that if he changed the wordings, I would walk out because of the new mandate to NOT change the wordings. He is a visiting priest who occasionally stops by at our “Parish Hilton” rectory. Our pastor must have said something to him as it was his first time to say the “new” version (he is currently retired in Mexico). He was at a complete loss. The “deacon-in-training” had to go up to the altar to point out where the next readings were.
    So the wordings weren’t changed and I didn’t walk out. Since he said the mass more slowly it was not his usual “theatrics” with word changings etc.
    I must start praying harder (and start fasting) that our bishop will relent and we start having the TLM in our parish. Our pastor was once very willing but the bishop has thrown cold water on him.
    Is that like “throwing out the baby with the cold water?”

  41. APX says:

    @St. Epaphras

    If a blue clerical shirt is never a good sign (see Fr. Richsteig above), is NO clerical shirt an even worse sign? I’m asking seriously.
    Yes! I equate it with the married men I know who take off their wedding rings when they go to the bar.

    If there’s a legitimate reason, that’s one thing. Probably the most disturbing incident I recall was this Christmas at Midnight Mass which was celebrated by the bishop. The priest was assisting with the music ministry wearing jeans and a sweater. My dad said something about it (despite his non-practicing ways he still thinks it’s disgraceful to show up for Mass, especially Christmas Eve Mass in jeans), to which my mom said, “he’s not functioning as a priest to tonight”. That blew my mind. I was even more annoyed that he and the other deacon weren’t required to assist with communion distribution to help cut down on the army of EMHC’s. I don’t like this attitude that being a priest is a function and not a state in life that one merely chooses to do at different times. There’s a serious identity crisis happening with priests. I’ve noticed a direct correlation to orthodoxy in relation to how priests dress themselves. The more lax and casual they are in their comportment and deportment, the more lax and casual they are in their orthodoxy.

    I am happy to report that those being ordained or who have recently been ordained are actually opting to wear their clerics. I’ve also noticed cassocks for diocesan priests and transitional deacons at formal functions are making a comeback as opposed to the clerical suit.

  42. LouiseA says:

    The results before we went and moved the poll are the real figures. Our votes just masked the extent of the crisis of faith in that parish. After voting, I realized that voting in such polls may be counter-productive. Perhaps leaving such polls alone would help to highlight the fruits of liturgical abuse…. where only 30% of the people expect a priest to “say the black”.

  43. Legisperitus says:

    I have done a bit of concelebrating lately and have yet to hear an EP read verbatim from the book

    What is an EP?

  44. Banjo pickin girl says:

    EP = Eucharistic Prayer

  45. poohbear says:

    I often ask people who think its ok to change the Mass if they have (or ever had) a job. I then ask them what would happen if they didn’t follow the procedures of their job as set forth by the boss or by company policy. Or I ask how they would like it if the mechanic who was replacing the brakes on their car decided to make up his own way of doing it instead if the manufacturer’s way. There are many other examples. While being a Priest and saying Mass is not the same as a mechanic changing your brakes, people usually get the point.

  46. Andy Milam says:

    @ Legisperitus;

    As unseemly as it is, an EP is a Eucharistic Prayer. The modern naming for the modified Roman Canon (I know, I know, it defies the meaning of canon) and the other formulas which contain the consecratory prayers.

    If you’re in the music world, it is an extended play. Smaller than an album, more than a single. Usually 3 to 5 songs.

    Just sayin’….

  47. Andy Milam says:

    @ Poohbear;

    “While being a Priest and saying Mass is not the same as a mechanic changing your brakes, people usually get the point.”

    Yes it is…if either/both are done incorrectly, there is the potential for irreparable harm to the immortal soul.

  48. St. Epaphras says:


    I had thought maybe my idea that there is a correlation between lack of orthodoxy and saying Mass/teaching/visiting the sick/going around town in civvies wasn’t shared by many, though some around here do get ticked off at some of the sermons and beliefs of a priest who doesn’t wear his clericals and they speak their minds about those things.

    We see cassocks on some of the younger priests even for everyday and the other younger ones wear the clerical shirts or suits.

    This post is about the poll, though. I voted No. Just let them say the black. Please. Real leaders are good followers when it is necessary, right?? If you cannot do what you are told by an authority over you, how can you expect those subordinate to you to obey you? It takes humility to obey rather than do your own thing and humility is still a virtue. God promised to exalt the humble (think of the Blessed Mother) but says He will bring the proud low.

  49. UPDATE 7 Feb 1623 GMT:

    Good work, friends!


  50. Legisperitus says:

    @ Andy Milam:

    Thanks. I’m familiar with Eucharistic Prayers, but hadn’t seen it abbreviated before. (And with Extended Plays, of course.) Thought it might be a sort of concelebrationy abbreviation for “Extra Priest” or something.

  51. Legisperitus says:

    The inanity of these polls.

    “Rules of the Church are set by a higher authority than the priest” is a statement of fact and a true one at that, while the main question of the poll is “should,” a matter of opinion. They’re changing horses without a paddle.

  52. Dr. Eric says:

    Ugh, did you read the comments? Our diocese is still in horrible shape. Kyrie eleison!

  53. pseudomodo says:

    So… a few Priests want to leave over this?


    I will help them pack AND and will drive them to the airport!

  54. jesusthroughmary says:

    When people think the Mass needs to be changed so people can understand it, it is a clear sign that they themselves don’t understand the Mass. Hardly a desired quality in a parish priest.

  55. aspiringpoet says:

    I really don’t understand all this stuff about “making the Mass more accessible.” It’s not like we are praying Heidegger. Liberal Catholics must think that Catholics in general are really, really stupid.

  56. filioque says:

    Should a priest be allowed to change the words he says during Mass?
    Yes, if it offers better understanding for parishioners. 2970
    No, rules of the church are set by a higher authority than the priest. 4396
    No opinion. 76
    Total Votes: 7442
    This has been holding steady since 7 pm ET.

  57. UPDATE 8 Feb 1539 GMT:

    Our work here may be done.


  58. wmeyer says:

    Father, our work may be done, but it is now 2980/4467. ;) Newer votes seem almost all to be in our favor.

  59. benedictgal says:

    Pray Tell is throwing a manor nutty about Fr. Rowe. A friwnd of mine who has begun commenting over there is being maligned and mistreated by a few posters. One, in particular. was equating Cardinal Medina’s support for proper liturgy to his support for Pinchet.

    This makes me wonder if anyone at Pray Tell is Catholic.

  60. benedictgal says:

    When I peeked at Pray Tell, all of my friend’s comments were removed. Evident,y, Pray Tell is not interested in the truth. I was disgusted at their treatment of my friend and Fr. Z.

Comments are closed.