05 July 2022

African Zairian Rite Celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica – Upated: Meanwhile, Down Under….

Fr Zed offers his thoughts on the 'Zairean Rite' and a similar travesty in Australia.

From Fr Z's Blog

In Rome, Francis “presided” at a Mass at the Altar of the Chair in the “Zaire Use” of the Roman Rite (“Zairian Rite” according to the announcer), so far the only “inculturated” Rite approved, in 1988, since the Second Vatican Council. Apparently, the Zairian Rite was put together in 1961.  Congolese bishops asked for approval in 1969.  Congo was Belgian colony and there was a strong influence in one strain of the 20th century Liturgical Movement in Belgium.

Francis decided not to go to Congo, so they did something in St. Peter’s Basilica. He “presided”: sat there and preached. Another Archbishop was at the altar.

(There is, according to the broadcast announcer, another approved African Rite, the Ge’ez Rite, an adaptation which I understand is based on the ancient class of Alexandrian rites (which includes the Rites of St. Mark, St. Basil, etc.). It is used in Ethiopia and Eritrea. However, I think this is something else. It is an adaptation of something ancient whereas the Zairian Rite was put together.)

Do you suppose that in Congo, where the “Zaire Use” is, that Use is used faithfully according to the rubrics of that Use whenever it is used?   That’s what Francis said he wants in Desiderio desideravi, right?  The document he signed says, “50. … [T}he art of celebration is not something that can be improvised.” Of course when the Vetus Ordo is used, it use is so consistent that you can go anywhere in the world and it will in almost all liturgical respects be as if you were at home.

In any event, in St. Peter’s there was all sorts of spontaneous clapping and dancing and singing and shouting, as one would expect in the Zairian Rite.

BUT… the Vetus Ordo must be suppressed.

There was some jabber about the Zairian Rite during the Pachamama Synod (“walking together”) about the Amazon. If Zairian, why not Amazonian? The same thing was attempted by early Jesuit missionaries in China. The were fairly quickly suppressed. Common thread: they were illicit experimentations, but one got approval.

In the document after the Pachamama Amazon Synod (“walking together”) Francis said that the Second Vatican Council called for such liturgies, inculturated, and that, decades out from the Council we have a long way to go.  (Querida Amazonia 82)

The implication of the proliferation of “inculturated rites” makes the head spin, especially in view of the hatred and fear shown by many in power for the Roman Rite.

There is only so much fragmentation that can occur before, because of differences in Rites, there are effectively different religions. We are our Rites.

So, the Zairian Rite is celebrated at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s, Francis presiding.

Will he preside at the Roman Rite celebrated in October for the annual “Summorum Pontificum” celebration? Come to think of it, will there have to be a new name for the Summorum Pontificum meeting in Rome? How about the Traditionis custodes pilgrimage?


If it is okay, even desirable, that there should be efforts in the Roman Catholic Church to minister to people who, being in different cultures, want to express themselves in those cultures as Catholics, then isn’t in okay, even desirable, that there should be efforts in the Church to minister to people who want to be Roman Catholic?


A reader sent:

Below is a link to the opening Mass for the Second Assembly of the Plenary Council in Australia. In the video (the beginning, in particular) you will find invocations of the ancestral spirits (for a bit of irony, the plenary motto is taken from Rev 2:7 et al), coals from the smoking ceremony placed in the thurible, and an anticolonial Catholic-critical rant.

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