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Off with His Head!

Rita Ferrone wants Robert Cardinal Sarah fired. Immediately. Pope Francis can’t afford to leave this man in his post as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments any longer. Why? Because, Ferrone says, Sarah “does not speak for the mainstream of the church.”

Ferrone calls for the cardinal’s head in a column for Commonweal (Mar. 23). And she doesn’t hold back. She accuses the Church’s top-most authority on matters liturgical of “either appalling ignorance of or an indifference to liturgical history.” She says he is guilty of “promoting distrust and resistance to the mainstream liturgical reform” of Vatican II. Sarah’s crime? He hasn’t shown sufficient enthusiasm for the modern practice of receiving Communion in the hand.

Ferrone’s dander was raised by a preface Sarah wrote to a new book by Fr. Federico Bortoli, an Italian priest, titled La Distribuzione della Comunione sulla Mano: Profili Storici, Giuridici e Pastorali (The Distribution of Communion in the Hand: A Historical, Juridical, and Pastoral Overview). Specifically, she takes exception to this passage:

[W]e can understand how the most insidious diabolical attack consists in trying to extinguish faith in the Eucharist, sowing errors and favoring an unsuitable manner of receiving it. Truly the war between Michael and his Angels on one side, and Lucifer on the other, continues in the heart of the faithful: Satan’s target is the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated host…. Why do we insist on communicating, standing, in the hand? Why this attitude of lack of submission to the signs of God?

Ferrone interprets Cardinal Sarah as claiming that those who take Communion in the hand while standing “are on the side of Lucifer in the great cosmic struggle of good against evil.” What chutzpah! And she rightly identifies this type of “extreme rhetoric” as one of the standard contentions of radical traditionalists of the SSPX variety.

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