A Note On How Catholic Liturgy Is Falsified

From the Foreword of:

of the


Prepared by the Sacred Congregation for the
Sacraments and Divine Worship

Approved and Confirmed by His Holiness


April 17, 1980

" (The Church's liturgical reforms)..... cannot suppress concern at the varied and frequent abuses being reported from different parts of the Catholic world: the confusion of roles, especially regarding the priestly ministry and the role of the laity (indiscriminate shared recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer, homilies given by lay people, lay people distributing Communion while the priests refrain from doing so); an increasing loss of the sense of the sacred (abandonment of liturgical vestments, the Eucharist celebrated outside church without real need, lack of reverence and respect for the Blessed Sacrament, etc.); misunderstanding of the ecclesial character of the Liturgy (the use of private texts, the proliferation of unapproved Eucharistic Prayers, the manipulation of the liturgical texts for social and political ends). In these cases we are face to face with a real falsification of the Catholic Liturgy:

"One who offers worship to God on the Church's behalf in a way contrary to that which is laid down by the Church with God-given authority and which is customary in the Church is guilty of falsification .7

None of these things can bring good results. The consequences are – and cannot fail to be – the impairing of the unity of Faith and worship in the Church, doctrinal uncertainty, scandal and bewilderment among the People of God, and the near inevitability of violent reactions.

The faithful have a right to a true Liturgy, which means the Liturgy desired and laid down by the Church, which has in fact indicated where adaptations may be made as called for by pastoral requirements in different places or by different groups of people. Undue experimentation, changes and creativity bewilder the faithful. The use of unauthorized texts means a loss of the necessary connection between the lex orandi and the lex credendi . The Second Vatican Council's admonition in this regard must be remembered:

"No person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove or change anything in the Liturgy on his own authority.8
And Paul VI of venerable memory stated that:
"Anyone who takes advantage of the reform to indulge in arbitrary experiments is wasting energy and offending the ecclesial sense.9

Rome, April 3, 1980, Holy Thursday.

This instruction, prepared by the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, was approved on April 17, 1980, by the Holy Father, John Paul II, who confirmed it with his own authority and ordered it to be published and to be observed by all concerned.

James R. Cardinal Knox

Virgilio Noé
Assistant Secretary


7.   St. Thomas; Summa Theologiae, 2-2, Q. 93, A.1.
8.   V.C.II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, ¶ 22, § 3.
9.   Pope Paul VI address of August 22, 1973: L'Osservatore Romano, August 23, 1973.