A Bishop in Africa urges ‘ad orientem’ worship. A lib has a spittle-flecked nutty.

ORIENTEM_MUG_02You might remember Robert Mickens.  He used to be a correspondent for an ultra-liberal UK weekly The Pill (aka The Tablet).  He lost his position when, channeling his inner Icarus, he engaged in seriously nasty comments about Pope Benedict in social media, even wishing openly for his death.  That was a step too far even for The Pill.

Ever since, Mickens has been trying to hold on to some space in the catholic media, contributing here and there to lib catholic sites, baying about on Twitter, etc.

Speaking of baying on Twitter, Mickens had a little meltdown about a bishop in Africa.

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Spittle-flecked nutty.

It may be that Mickens suffers from Acute Card. Sarah Derangement Syndrome, or perhaps from Chronic Orientitis.  Still, this seems a bit over the top.

Here’s the deal.

Archbishop Pascal N’Koue of the Archdiocese of Parakou in Benin issued a program of renewal for his diocese.  This is good and proper and exactly what bishops should do.  Of course, as I have been saying for years, no program of renewal will succeed unless there is a program to revitalize our sacred liturgical worship. Read his full program in French HERE.  If and when you do, you will see that he has taken to heart many things which Robert Card. Sarah has written and spoken about, e.g., silence… ad orientem worship.

Bishop N’Koue has asked that priests of the diocese, beginning on the 1st Sunday of Advent begin saying Holy Mass ad orientem.


Qu’est-ce qu’on abandonnera cette année pour le Christ ? Entre autres choses la messe face à facepour mieux goûter Dieu dans le silence.Les chorales élimineront progressivement les batteries qui font trop de bruit, “car chanter bien c’est prier deux fois”. On visitera les monastères.On fera revenir  certains gestes : au Confiteor, à l’Angélus, au Credo, au Gloria. On fera une révérence quand on passera devant un lieu saint, un calvaire, une statue de la Vierge ou de saint Joseph. On fera une génuflexion avant de communier,sauf ceux qui sont malades. Les prêtres apprendront à célébrer aussi avec le canon romain. On continuera de dire laprière pour les vocations. Mais le grand signe qui nous accompagnera toute l’année sera “la messe orientée”, vraie rupture pour un nouveau départ spirituel, et cela à partir du premier dimanche de l’Avent, dans les communautés prêtes.C’est une belle proposition du (Préfet de la Congrégation pour le Culte Divin et la Discipline des Sacrements).Son appel s’adresse à tous mais spécialement aux prêtres :

« Je veux lancer un appel à tous les prêtres. Peut-être avez-vous lu mon article dans L’Osservatore Romano il y a un an (12 juin 2015), ou mon entretien donné au journal Famille chrétienne au mois de mai de cette année. A chaque fois, j’ai dit qu’il est de première importance de retourner aussi vite que possible à une orientation commune des prêtres et des fidèles, tournés ensemble dans la même direction – vers l’est ou du moins vers l’abside – vers le Seigneur qui vient, dans toutes les parties du rite où l’on s’adresse au Seigneur. Cette pratique est permise par les règles liturgiques actuelles. Cela est parfaitement légitime dans le nouveau rite (de Paul VI). En effet, je pense qu’une étape cruciale est de faire en sorte que le Seigneur soit au centre des célébrations.

  Aussi, chers frères dans le sacerdoce, je vous demande humblement et fraternellement de mettre en œuvre cette pratique partout où cela sera possible, avec la prudence et la pédagogie nécessaire, mais aussi avec l’assurance, en tant que prêtres, que c’est une bonne chose pour l’Eglise et pour les fidèles. Votre appréciation pastorale déterminera comment et quand cela sera possible, mais pourquoi éventuellement ne pas commencer le premier dimanche de l’Avent de cette année, quand nous attendons le « Seigneur [qui] va venir sans tarder » ? (Londres, 5 juillet 2016).

Voilà le tournant irréversible. Voilà “l’étape cruciale”. Tournons-nous vers le Christ, soleil levant, et nous serons sauvés. La Vierge Marie, Notre-Dame de Komiguéa, nous aidera.

Bon Temps de l’Avent à chacun et à tous !

+Pascal N’KOUE
Omnium Servus

Brick by brick.  Mass by Mass.  Parish by parish.  Diocese by Diocese.

What’s Micken’s problem?  Does he, like Card. Kasper during the Synod, not think that Africans can give leadership?

The appeal of Card. Sarah is going to bear fruit.  His appeal for ad orientem worship could not to be put into practice everywhere in this calendar year, but the appeal is still sounding.   Slowly but surely, priests and bishops will make this move, especially after they see the fruits gathered in those places where ad orientem worship has been reinstituted.

Libs are terrified of ad orientem worship.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Filipino Catholic says:

    I would hope to see this come to pass here as well in my own corner of the world. Unfortunately considering the Primate of this country is Cardinal Tagle, the odds don’t seem to be in favor, as all the bishops of the Philippines are either indifferent or opposed to ad orientem. Perhaps this lone bishop’s stand will trigger a domino effect, and those still wavering will be spurred to make their moves as well.

  2. Gabriel Syme says:

    It is good to see that Cardinal Sarah’s appeal is starting to receive a response from the worldwide episcopate.

    Cardinal Sarah is excellent and the Church will reap much benefit from his work, if he is allowed to proceed unhindered by politics and conniving liberals.

  3. comedyeye says:

    The program can be translated into English on the home page.
    I have sent a portion of the text to my own bishop.

  4. AnthonyJ says:

    My pastor will be celebrating one of the parish’s Sunday Masses ad orientum for the Sunday’s of Advent.

  5. romanrevert says:

    I always chuckle when I see (supposedly) educated people refer to Ad Orientem worship as “Backs to People.” If that is true, then the opposite would be true regarding Versus Populum worship: that the priest would be turning his back to God in order to face the people. And that, in a nutshell, summarizes the Novus Ordo debacle in which we find ourselves.

  6. Kathleen10 says:

    I believe I read the other day that at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC a Tridentine Mass brought in 1000 people. Apparently it has been a while since the Mass in the Extraordinary Form has been celebrated at St. Patrick’s. That the EF is a threat to many clergy cannot be disputed. It has obviously been suppressed. Our state only has two or three EF Masses on any Sunday, and those are on the other side of the state. Oh they’re afraid of it alright. It’s actually beyond maddening at this point. What do they fear!

  7. majuscule says:

    I’m hoping to see some ad orientem worship when Advent comes. I know my bishop is in favor of it and so is my priest. It’s the Mickens clones entrenched in the parish that might be a problem (though I have heard that some of them do not often attend Mass in our parish).

    Do you suppose that turning to face the people is partly responsible for moving tabernacles off the altar, sometimes into another room? In my parish we are “fortunate” in that for the NO we use a table altar but have kept the back altar with its tabernacle.

  8. Moro says:

    Mickens is being a racist. That’s right I said it. How dare he lecture Africans on the Catholic faith and authentic Catholic liturgy?

  9. Bthompson says:

    Note the language with which he makes his will known, it is squarely a positive invitation with its rationale explained fully (and, his quote from Card. Sarah seems to suggest that where the change is not possible or feasible, he is not demanding a change). Compare to Western denouncements of +Sarah: (I paraphrase) “Facing the people is the norm here; reorient at your peril and the bishop’s displeasure.”

  10. stuart reiss says:

    Que Sarah Sarah

  11. Curley says:

    The parish I attend in Peoria IL started adorientum worship this weekend. Back in July they preached about it and included a flyer in the bulletin with a synopsis of Cardinal Sarah’s recommendations. Was a beautiful mass today.

  12. Jonathan Marshall says:

    Whenever Libs raise this old “backs to people” nonsense I tell them about my great-uncle, a subaltern in WW1 who was killed in action, and ask them if they think he died “with his back to his men”. That always confounds them. Of course, 2nd Lt Leonard Taylor (RIP) was leading his men towards their objective – which is just what a priest is doing when he celebrates Mass ad orientem.
    Romanrevert is also quite accurate in saying that if the priest is facing the people (in a cosy little self-regarding circle) then he’s turning his back on God – unless, of course, the Blessed Sacrament has been shunted off into some side chapel…

  13. benedetta says:

    Oh this is just so rigid. How can liturgies in Benin be any of this elitist’s business? So he’s the enforcer now on patrol for what’s going on other continents? Good luck with that. People can have ad orientem worship, and, they can apparently have a “jazz liturgy” for Christ the King…and women homilists…and all manner of thing…nowadays. It is entirely up to pastors and clerics. This is no business for any laity. Grow up. Find the bongo liturgy near you and leave the folks who like ad orientem alone!

  14. iamlucky13 says:

    Twittering @ Pontifex is a novel, if less formal way to address a concern to the Pope compared to issuing a formal letter relating a series of dubia.

    Interestingly, it sounds like Pope Francis actually already responded to Mr. Mickens:

    “I have at times found myself in front of people who are too rigid, an attitude of rigidity. And I ask myself: how come so much rigidity? You dig, you dig, this rigidity always hides something: insecurity, at times perhaps something else. . . .The rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid.”

  15. iPadre says:

    It’s always “back to the people,” but they never have a problem with their back to Our Lord. So inflexible, black and white.

  16. DJAR says:

    Does Robert Mickens not realize that we who worship according to the Byzantine rites of the Catholic Church, as well as the tens of millions of Orthodox and other Eastern Christians, worship “ad orientem”?

  17. GrumpyYoungMan says:

    God Bless Archbishop Pascal N’Koue.

    Would that we had many bishops throughout the Church cut from the same cloth (perhaps from Gammarelli?) as him.

  18. At Holy Innocents in Manhattan, Fr. Miara has started offering his weekday Novus Ordo Masses ad orientem. I hope it lasts.

  19. Grant M says:

    Yes, Eastern Christians worship ad orientem. So, I note, from my travels, do Muslims, Buddhists and Shinto priests. But Protestants do not, and the OF seems to be, to a degree, an ecumenical outreach to Protestants.

    Similarly Eastern Christians, Jews, Muslins, and Buddhists all have sacred liturgical languages. But Protestants do not, and so, once again…

    I would like to see the OF return to ad orientem eventually, but I’m not confident. The whole feeling and atmosphere of the OF is against it.

  20. kolbe1019 says:

    My heart breaks a little with every novus ordo Mass I attend… :( I am praying for Ad Orientem.

    This Robert Mickens fellow strikes me as a little bit “rigid”, “insecure”… perhaps if we dig down we will discover something more. Smh…


  21. Arlen says:

    “It’s gonna take a lot to turn me away from You,
    There’s nothing that a hundred altar girls could ever do,
    I bless the bishops down in Africa,
    I bless the bishops down in Africa,
    It’s gonna take the left time to learn the things they never have”

  22. Bthompson says:

    Grant M,
    There are a decent number of Protestants that celebrate Ad Orientem. High Anglicans come to mind, as do Lutherans; it’s not universal, but it does happen.

  23. Pingback: MONDAY EDITION | Big Pulpit

  24. Grant M says:


    Thanks for the reminder. I was an Anglican for ten years and never saw it, but then I was in the wrong sort of Anglican Church.

    My wife’s family worships at a Reformed style church, with the communion table set hard against the base of the elevated pulpit, so the minister must, err, seem to turn his back to the people to prepare the elements. Maybe that counts…

    I can just hear Mickens “OK, but apart from the Eastern Church, the High Anglicans, the Lutherans, the Orthodox Jews, the Muslims, the Buddhists, and Hindu, Chinese and Shinto priests, who these days bothers to worship Ad Orientem?” (Apologies to John Cleese.)

  25. Grant M says:

    And the EF of course….the EF goes without saying….

  26. Grumpy Beggar says:

    stuart reiss says:
    “Que Sarah Sarah.”

    LOL – priceless.


    I’m not referring to correct ‘ad orientem’ thinking here, but FWIW, I’ve never personally put that much stock in this “backs to the people” and “backs to the Lord in the tabernacle” argument/position. I’ve always found that the effort is best concentrated on my not turning my back on our Blessed Lord after receiving Him in Holy Communion.

    What struck me most profoundly in bishop N’Koue’s words (and it doesn’t appear to be a typo) is this part:

    “Les prêtres apprendront à célébrer aussi avec le canon romain.”

    If I’m interpreting this properly, roughly rendered, it says: “Priests will learn to also celebrate with [or ‘using’] the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I).”

    The notion that a man could ever be ordained to the priesthood without knowing how to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass using the Roman Canon, is quite unsettling to me.

  27. Sam Schmitt says:

    Wait a minute. We’ve been told for years that we shouldn’t get caught up in all these liturgical “externals” and “rubrics,” that they were a distraction from what really mattered.

    Except that everyone knows that they are intimately connected to “what really matters.” Which Mr. Mickens just proved once again.

  28. William Tighe says:

    “But Protestants do not …”

    Celebration ad orientem was the overwhelmingly predominant practice of Lutherans from the Reformation until “modern times” (ca. 1950), although Luther himself expressed for celebration versus populum based on his idea of the Last Supper (cf. Leonardo da Vinci’s depiction of it in his famous painting), and a small number of Lutheran churches in Germany implemented his preference, as did some in predominantly Reformed countries (such as the Netherlands), lest they leave themselves open to gibes as being “semi-popish”) – and possibly it was a Lutheran desire to differentiate themselves as much as possible from “the Reformed” that contributed to their maintenance of ad orientem. Conservative Lutherans generally still use ad orientem, as, in Germany and Scandinavia, do many liberal Lutherans.

    Anglicans, by contrast, generally celebrated from “the North end” (imagine a rectangular table placed where the altar once stood, and the priest conducting the service standing [or kneeling] at its left [from the perspective of the congregation], or North, side) and did not begin to switch – and those who did switch were originally exclusively Anglo-Catholics until versus polulum began to catch on among them in the 1940s and 50s – to ad orientem until the last three decades of the 19th Century.

  29. albizzi says:

    Due to the dramatically diminishing vocations and and the ageing of the french priests, many french dioceses that lack priests during the summer holidays took the habit to invite african priests for one month or more so that their parishes might stay open during this time.
    This is an advantage for these priests who can earn wages for their service in France an equivalent of many months in Africa.
    One may hope that the seeds of the Faith sown by the french missionaries long ago, often at the cost of their lives, in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Centrafrique, Congo, etc… will draw a lot of african missionaries to re-evangelize our poor paganized country.

  30. OldLady says:

    The renewal of orthodox faith coming from nations that are less developed sure seems to rankle. That an articulate African Cardinal should promote orthodoxy and be so popular, well, we can not have that! I hear a roar throughout the liberal world, could it be the Holy Spirit moving?
    The West was broken by the sexual revolution. We know now that contraception was slipped in under the radar with Catholic financial aid to Africa. Lord please save Africa from walking the same path that we have.

  31. The Masked Chicken says:

    “The West was broken by the sexual revolution. We know now that contraception was slipped in under the radar with Catholic financial aid to Africa. Lord please save Africa from walking the same path that we have.”

    There is correlation between wealth of a country and the use of contraception. As long as Africa remains poor(ish), they should resist the urge to contracept.

    The Chicken

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