Celebration: In the Sistine Chapel, Pope Francis celebrates before the Last Judgement versus Deum. The People's Altar Was Removed by Pope Benedict
(Rome) Pope Francis celebrated also in this year's Feast of the Baptism of the Lord versus Deum.The feast is traditionally celebrated in the Sistine Chapel, where the Pope each year offers the sacrament of baptism to some newborn children.
Pope Benedict XVI removed the mobile "people's altar" and celebrated at the high altar below the representation of the Last Judgment versus Deum. For his first Holy Mass as pope, which Francis celebrated with the Cardinal's collegium on the day after his election in the Sistine Chapel, the plywood altar was again set up, which was feared to be a backward step. However, this remained the only exception.
Since then, Pope Francis has been celebrating this year in the presence of God for the faithful. Thus, the argument, which has been widely held since the first liturgical form of 1965, that the "people's altar" would have to be celebrated toward the people, because it would otherwise be rude to "turn your back to the people". To be precise, the argument was stupid then just as it is now. The change of the direction of celebration away from God to the people was a result of Martin Luther's Reformation-Revolution and was premiered for the first time in 1536 in the recently converted Strasbourg Cathedral.
In 2016 Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Roman Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, called to all priests worldwide to return to actual direction of celebration of the Church ad orientem or versus Deum . He firmly called upon them to make the appeal concrete and to do so from the First Day of Advent.
The Cardinal Prefect was publicly criticized by those circles close to the pope and "corrected" by the Vatican Press Office "no" liturgical changes were provided. Cardinal Sarah, who had been appointed by Pope Francis himself, has since been "left in the cold". He has been strongly isolated in his own Congregation, thus limiting his scope for action.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image: Vatican.va (Screenshot)