Priest suspended for rapping during Mass. POLLS!

It has been said that rap does for music, what B&D does for romance.

That said, there is a story at Daily Nation that a priest was suspended for rapping the during sacred liturgical worship.

Father Paul Ogalo of St. Monica Catholic Church in Rapogi, Migori County was suspended on June 3 for alleged misconduct by the Homa Bay Diocese.

Father Charles Kochiel, judicial vicar of the inter-diocesan tribunal of Kisumu, confirmed the priest’s suspension.

The church officials took issue with Fr. Ogalo’s style of preaching and suspended him for a year to ‘reconsider his manner of preaching.’


Right?  Wrong?

Let’s get your opinion.  Anyone can vote.  You have to be registered to comment.

Rap music during Mass for sermon, other moments?

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If we admit that rap music is wrong for Catholic worship,...

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  1. AndyMo says:

    The answer to the second question is…it depends. The story provided isn’t clear. Has this priest been warned about his preaching before? If so, and he continued this nonsense, then yes, suspension might be warranted.

    Right out of the gate it seems a bit much. A year’s suspension is a serious censure. But we don’t know what other factors have contributed to this.

  2. Richard McNally says:

    I don’t think he was rapping during Mass but after Mass.

  3. Charivari Rob says:

    The linked article and video say nothing about rapping during Mass. Is there some other source?
    The video shows a large, attentive congregation listening to spoken preaching – looks like during Mass. The video then specifically mentions Father rapping AFTER Mass.

    If he did use rap during his homily during Mass, what did he do?
    Play/sing some vulgar/violent/demeaning secular song in an ill-considered attempt to illustrate some point?
    Speak/sing his words in that musical style?

  4. JamesA says:

    It seems that suspension is rather harsh, but we have too little information to form a good opinion. Is there a pattern of such abuses ? Has he been warned before and persists ? Was this the last straw for his bishop ? The problem is there are so many different types of bishops out there – orthodox and not, rigid and permissive. It makes forming an opinion difficult.
    But, an Ave for the poor priest. He obviously has issues. Perhaps this is what he needs for the good of his soul.

  5. Fuerza says:

    I have no problem with suspending the priest, though a year seems kind of excessive for a first offense (if this is indeed a first offense, and the priest has not already been privately counseled on the issue). Perhaps a shorter break from public ministry, with “encouragement” to use the time to study homiletics and basic sacred music, would have been more beneficial. While a year does give one time to think and correct, it also gives one time to develop strong resentment.

    The only other issue that I can see arising from this is that, if the suspension stands, more liberal-minded bishops may be emboldened to attempt to penalize priests for using more traditional options. Seeing as how some bishops already attempt to put limitations on Latin, chant, ad orientem and the TLM the idea is not that far fetched.

  6. Fuerza says:

    It also occurred to me, after actually reading the article, that nothing was stopping this priest from using rap music in non-liturgical celebrations. If his true goal is to evangelize the youth, he can show them that it is possible to get together as a worshiping community more than once a week. Perhaps when he returns to ministry he can organize prayer services or bible studies outside of Mass that incorporate more popular music, while increasing the use of more traditional music within the Mass. There are all kinds of ways to include modern music, and even dance, in worship without damaging the integrity of the liturgy. This way the “young people” who desire “change” (or perhaps more likely the old people who seem project their desire for change onto the young without actually asking what they want) will get what they desire, while at the same time being exposed to the beauty that is true sacred worship.

  7. Southern Baron says:

    I chose “it depends.” It should never be used as liturgical music; but depending on context and content, I can imagine scenarios in which references or extended quotations could be relevant and useful in a homily. Some lyrics (some) are profound and important commentaries on the modern world and could be unpacked as much as any other work of literature.

    The priest’s claim to use it to bring youth into church, however, is pandering, and most young people are unimpressed.

  8. LarryW2LJ says:

    Suspension? I would have hoped a good ol’ fashioned tongue lashing at the Chancery would have been effective. But, if it creates a sense of what is proper and what is not for the other priests in the Diocese – then maybe it was appropriate.

  9. Sawyer says:

    If you’ve ever watched videos of Masses celebrated in Africa, often they are much more animated celebrations than what is common in the West. I’ve seen videos of the whole assembly joyfully singing vigorously and dancing and clapping to the song during Masses in Africa, and the joyful celebration is moving even though it isn’t my thing for Mass in the United States. Perhaps the priest in this case went too far in some way, but whereas I would say a priest in the United States would probably never be justified in rapping at Mass I cannot make that same general judgment about a priest in Africa. I’d have to see it and know the context or frequency before making a judgment. I don’t know why the priest in this case had to be suspended for a year. Sounds like there are greater problems concerning obedience/insubordination going on than we are being told.

  10. Chuck4247 says:

    Without having read the article, a distinction I would want to make is that there is a difference between rapping during Mass, and referencing a rap during one’s homily. I would suppose that one form of art is no less appropriate (given that the content itself is still appropriate, which admittedly removes a lot larger percentage of rap than it does certain other art forms) than references to popular books or movies, which I do recall hearing from time to time.

    I said that it depends, because of this distinction. Rap itself has no place in the Mass, but the lyrics of a rap could be referenced in a homily I think…

  11. yatzer says:

    I don’t know how to vote on the suspension. Too many significant details are left out of the story. At first glance it seems rather harsh. As to using rap music in the Mass, why does anything and everything have to be at Mass on Sunday? If I were dictator of music, chant would be for Mass and then branch out from there. There are other days and other devotional ways. What about a Christian rap sing? Protestants have hymn sings, why not a Catholic version that includes hip-hop, rap, whatever?

  12. I am so sick and tired of liturgical abuses, I am all in favor of suspending priests who commit them. We have developed this idea that liturgical abuses are unimportant. That needs to change. Either we believe the Mass is the unbloody re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Calvary, or we don’t. If we do, we ought to be appalled by anything that denigrates it.

    And I would like to resurrect the teaching that it is a mortal sin for priests deliberately to make changes to the Mass.

    [Right. There was and is, in the Missal of St. John XXIII and previous editions a clear declaration that certain flaws in the celebration of Mass were sins, some mortal. Rubrics are a matter of Moral Theology. Hence, some thought they didn’t belong in the Missal itself. These clear statements were removed after the Council and all hell broke loose. That was a enormously destructive change, the effects of which devastated liturgical worship and our identity through the subsequent decades.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  13. Absit invidia says:

    First, the modern Church needs to dig deep and regain Her equal application of the rules by applying them to more than just their hated traditional groups.

  14. rwj says:

    Poor souls all around. I’d wish the same approach would be used for liturgists who use Marty Haugen and Bob Hurd.

  15. ex seaxe says:

    You can’t believe everything written in the papers, or everything shown in a video. In this case however there is no evidence from the video that Fr Paul Ogalo was rapping during Mass. When we see him singing and jigging he is dressed differently from how he appears at Mass. and the commentator clearly says “immediately after the Mass”. So during Mass we see him comporting himself with dignity and liturgically dressed, and before the congregation disperses he reappears in t-shirt and bandana to lead them in song and dance. I don’t see a problem with that, any more than celebrating a Solemn Mass, and then tucking into a Good Meal.

  16. Robert_Caritas says:

    While I think Anita Moore would be perfectly right in a time in which the nature of the liturgy is widely understood (as it hopefully will be in the future), today suspension for a year seems way too harsh, especially if there were no other problems with this priest. I know places were hideous liturgical offenses occur regularly – and rapping does not come close to those things.

    A strong paternal correction and a public apology, or something of the sort, should have been enough…

  17. roma247 says:

    Let me preface my remarks by saying that I am a big believer in not using “folk” music in the liturgy, whether that be 70’s guitar music, calypso/bongo rhythm music, or other popular forms of music. I have been known to shed real tears over this.

    That being said, I cannot say with certainty that any use whatsoever of the rap idiom is, by its nature, precluded from being combined with the Gospel message. While most of modern rap is used in a hideous way to demean people, in its genesis it is rhythmic and poetic, and as long as the words being used are appropriate, I do not see why it can never be used. Aren’t there whole radio stations and Christian pop music groups that use this form to express themselves? And nobody seems to raise an eyebrow at that.

    I personally would never wish to attend a service (it wasn’t clear if this was being used in the Mass (I hope not) or only in outside preaching/prayer services…) where this music was used, but I can see that it may have potential to reach a group of people that otherwise would not be interested. Hearkening back to the early days of the Jesuits, I would say this sort of thing is fully in keeping with the idea of harnessing the cultural norms of the people you are trying to reach, to bring them to Christ.

    If it works, use it.

  18. APX says:

    The video specifically states the priest took off his priestly garments AFTER MASS, and then lead the congregation in rapping while the people danced in their own unique way. Based on that, the suspension seems a bit on the extreme side

  19. Josephus Corvus says:

    Rapping has not place in the Catholic liturgy, but then again, neither does Marty Haugen. In fact, someone could compose (?) a rap that is is theologically sound in which case it might be more appropriate than some of Marty Haugen’s music because it would would be lacking the heretical aspects.

    I’m not making a judgment on whether or not this priest should have been suspended. Was it the sermon, or the Eucharistic Prayer? Has he been told to knock it off multiple times and he has refused to obey? We are not talking about an option in the Mass where the authority / choice is solely with the priest. Is this diocese cleaning up the Mass and suspending priests over all abuses of not saying the black and doing the red, or just this one instance?

  20. TonyO says:

    I would comment that suspension for the rapping (if done during the Mass, which seems in doubt) is appropriate, IF AND ONLY IF it is specified in the applicable laws and norms for an offense of that nature.

    So, the real question is whether the applicable laws provide for such a penalty for this kind of action. And to that, I don’t know what the answer is, but it seems unlikely, very much unlikely. The rules have been written with so much vagueness and ambiguity and room for doubt that there is often room for dispute whether the act itself is even certainly against the norms, much less warrant such a heavy punishment.

    All in all, if the laws provide sufficient scope to the bishop to levy that kind of punishment for that kind of action, it STILL seems a bit excessive in weight, unless this was also an act of direct defiance of prior warnings / orders. Prudence suggests that there are many lesser punishments that would be far more useful and appropriate.

    That said, sometimes you have to set an example. If the bishop had (just for example) recently had talks with his priests in which he strongly emphasized the need to elevate the tone of Mass, and to employ special care in such things as jokes, references, and examples used (e.g. in the homily), then landing on an action like this like a ton of bricks makes sense – the priest’s choice would be taken to be not only in extremely poor judgment on its own, but also in repudiation of the express wishes of the bishop. Poor judgment deserves one kind of reprimand, but bad judgment with repudiation warrants much more.

  21. Elizium23 says:

    So, what I have not seen discussed is the content of the raps. Rap is a delivery method for words, such as singing, chanting, declaiming, whispering. I can raise my voice in a nu-metal rap about the Gospel message or I can effect a cover of NWA’s profane condemnation of peace officers.

    So he did it after Mass, in a bandana. Well, personally I would think it could be effective as a youth ministry for the unchurched inner-city boys, who may not trust the Church or necessarily believe in all she teaches. And it would seem that rapping is a gimmick to be used sparingly, not something a holy priest becomes “known for” every week immediately after the sacred liturgy.

    So what words was he using for his raps? Was he channelling Augustine of HipHop or was he extoling the virtues of his Glock? There’s a world of difference there. And as far as the canonical penalty goes, we do not know the background. He may have been “fraternally corrected” several times already. I would trust the Ordinary and his Chancery that this matter was handled appropriately. You never know, behind every censured priest there are five more who are nearly out of line: this penalty may be intended to send a message to the others.

  22. Suburbanbanshee says:

    News story from Kenya in English, which includes a video showing a typical parish Sunday:

    Unfortunately, the parishioner comments are not translated.

  23. The Masked Chicken says:

    Rap is not, technically, music. It is a form of rhetoric, borrowed from the Ancient Greeks or, rather, accidentally re-discovered by Black Poets, DJs, and gangs in the late 1930’s through 1950’s, although having roots in African tribal verbal games. It was proclaimed a musical genre in the 1980’s by record producers, eager to make sales. It has an association with music, but is not, itself, music, lacking an organized variation in melody (no, the background music which often accompanies Rap doesn’t count, nor the sing-song pronunciation, which is, technically, Sprechstimme).

    Let’s just call it third-rate poetry with a back-beat. If the priest really wanted to engage with the youth, perhaps he should have made plans to have them clean the sidewalks in exchange for lunch. To old-fashioned?

    The Chicken

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