Can a Latin Priest say an Eastern Mass?

Let’s talk for a little bit about the liturgical differences within the Catholic Church, and whether or not there are barriers therein.

I was wondering if it would be acceptable for a Latin Rite priest to learn an Eastern liturgy, say, in the Maronite Rite, and offer that mass. I was just thinking the other day about how many Eastern Catholics are scattered across the globe, and Churches in their Rite are not always acceptable. Maybe if a concerned Latin priest were to learn that liturgy and say it for parishioners asking for it.

Please note that I am NOT talking about the EO Divine Liturgy. It a beautiful Rite, and it certainly validly consecrates the host, but it of course would be inappropriate for cross-celebration between EO and RC Churches.

Just wondering,


A Latin priest would have to be granted special ‘faculties’ by the appropriate Bishop or equivalent in whichever Eastern Rite to do so. For that matter priests have to be ‘incardinated’ (granted ‘faculties’) by the bishop their own Latin Rite diocese to celebrate most of the sacraments.

And are required to present credentials in other dioceses if they wish to say Mass or celebrate most of the Sacraments in any other locale.

But it can certainly be done, and is done. There are numerous priests who ARE bi-ritual (Fr Mitch Pacwa of EWTN can celebrate Maronite liturgy) or even TRI-ritual, as Fulton Sheen was.

My apologies if I’ve used the wrong terminology at any point - it doesn’t quite roll easily off the old brain.

Only if they are “Double Rited”. This was done on occasion prior to Vatican II. And Vatican II condemned this practice.

I only happen to know this because before converting from the Catholic Church to the Orthodox Church, I spent a few years in the Bysantine and Melkite Catholic Rites. One of the priests at the Bysantine Church here in Sacramento was Double Rited and we had this conversation.

Where did Vatican 2 condemn this practice? There are a number of post-Vatican 2 priests around who are biritual, so it can’t have been a particularly strong condemnation.

Especially odd in view of JP2’s remark about the church breathing with both its lungs and his encouragement of Latin Riters to experience the Eastern liturgies.

Note that a priest of one rite may concelebrate in another rite. Only the principal celebrant must have faculties in the rite being celebrated.

Good point, Joe! I vaguely remember reading an instruction somewhere that each is supposed to wear the vestments appropriate to his own rite when concelebrating.

I know there are some Latin priests who have sought permission to become bi-ritual and have been denied by their Latin bishops. There are legitimate reasons for a bishop to deny such a request ranging from issues in the diocese, parish, or with the priest himself. If the priest can get the two bishops to approve him, I understand that it is an easy process which requires some paperwork and then working out how to instruct the priest.

It is my understanding that the priest remains bound to the canons of the Church he is under (holy days, etc) and is further bound to the other Church’s canons when acting in the bi-ritual facility. It is possible for a priest to go on leave to another Church for a period of time without changing Churches. Then he’s bi-ritual but under the other Church’s canons and authority predominantly.

I know of someone who had a problem with receiving the Mysteries which was further complicated by her priest’s bi-ritual faculties. She and her husband were Latin and wanted their already baptized child to be fully initiated but they did not want to change Churches. The Latin priest believed he could chrismate and commune the Latin child by doing it under his bi-ritual faculties. No one seemed to know what was and was not allowed. I never did find out what happened. Anyone here know of any pertinent canons or instructions?

It happens everyday in the USA.

The actual requirement to say the liturgy of another rite is to be granted faculties OR be a concelebrant.

A roman priest, provided he has roman faculties, may celebrate the Ruthenian DL. To do so as primary celebrant, however, would require him to have been trained in saying the DL and granted faculties.

To do so in the other rite’s vestments, even as a concelebrant, requires formal faculties.

All the following references are to the CCEO; orchid text is quoted directly.
Canon 343 specifies that seminarians must be formed in their own rite (but this may be done in a seminary of another church sui iuris)

Canon 361 allows transfers to eparchies (dioceses) in severe need even across churches sui iuris.

Canon 379
Clerics of whatever Church sui iuris linked as brothers in the bond of charity to attain the unity of all, work together for the building up of the body of Christ and consequently whatever their condition, are to cooperate among themselves and help one another, even performing diverse functions.

Canon 393
Clerics, whatever their condition, are to care in their heart for all of the Churches, and therefore to serve her wherever there is great necessity; let them show willingness, especially with the permission or encouragement of their own eparchial bishop or superior, to exercise their ministry in the missions or in regions laboring under a shortage of clergy.

Canon 674

  1. In celebrating the sacraments that which is contained in the liturgical books is to be observed accurately.
  2. The minister should celebrate the sacraments according to the liturgical prescriptions of his own Church sui iuris, unless the law establishes otherwise or he himself has obtained a special faculty from the Apostolic See.

Canon 701
A concelebration between bishops and presbyters of different Churches sui iuris for a just cause, especially that of fostering charity, and for the sake of manifesting unity between the Churches, can be done with the permission of the eparchial bishop, while observing all the prescriptions of the liturgical books of the principal celebrant, having removed any liturgical syncretism and wearing the appropriate vestments and insignia of his own Church sui iuris.

Canon 702
Catholic priests are forbidden to concelebrate the Divine Liturgy with non-Catholic priests or ministers.

Canon 705

  1. A Catholic priest can celebrate the Divine Liturgy on the altar of any Catholic church.
  2. In order for a priest to be able to celebrate the Divine Liturgy in a non-Catholic church, he needs the permission of the local hierarch.

I had a friend whose Ruthenian parish’s new priest was a latin rite. The priest wiped out any Slavonic and other beloved long standing parish traditions (including taking icons that had been donated, painted by parishoners, and bought new ones because he claimed they all had to match) often had his Latin rite priest friends concelebrate. The congregation was greatly insulted as they saw the priests as using their parish as something like a novelty. Many people simply went down the street to another church, since many of the people had families on both sides of the fence. I highly doubt the countless Latin priests did the necessary paperwork or whatnot. All of this while the new translation came out and it sent many people in that parish packing.

I know a priest here in Vancouver who has bi-ritual faculties with both the Latin Church and the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. On Sundays he celebrates the divine liturgy for the Melkite mission (Eparchy of Montreal) in Burnaby (a suburb of Vancouver), and during the week he serves as the Latin-Rite chaplain for the prison in Surrey, celebrating daily mass. I’ve attended his Melkite DL and he commemorates, in this order, the Pope of Rome, the Melkite Patriarch of Antioch, the Latin Archbishop of Vancouver, and the Melkite Eparch of Montreal.

Thanks everyone.

By the way, just how many different Liturgies are there within the Catholic Church. While the west have two, the Novus Ordo and the Tridentine (both the same Rite), the East seems to have quite a few. I know that there are five principle Rites of Eastern Catholicism, but how many standardized liturgies are used? I’ve looked all over the internet, and I can’t seem to find an authoritative answer.

I’d really like to learn more about Eastern Rites, and would attend one if it were anywhere near me, and should I happen to be near one by chance while travelling and attend, and when I walk into one, whatever liturgy is used, I don’t want to look like a complete idiot.

I can’t answer for the other rites, but I believe the Byzantine rite has four affiliated liturgies: St. Basil’s, St. John Chrysostom’s, St. James’ and and the Pre-Sanctified Liturgy.

The Latin Rite has 7 in use:
*] “Novus Ordo” Roman Missal Ordinary Form
*] “TLM” Roman Missal Extraordinary Form
*] Dominican Missal (monastic form)
*] Carmelite Missal (monastic form)
*] Ambrosian Missal (Several diocese in Italy)
*] Mozarabic Missal (Diocese of Toledo, Spain)
*] Anglican Use Missal (limited use)
And all of these have non-consecration presanctified gifts liturgies for limited uses.

The Byzantines have the four listed, with some churches not using all four of them.

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