Recitation of the Prayer to St. Michael at the conclusion of Mass was introduced in 1886 by Pope Leo XIII. As part of the liturgical reform at the Second Vatican Council, the Prayer to St. Michael was removed.
Pope Francis has recommended at various times that the faithful pray the St. Michael prayer, but its renewed use after Mass in many parishes has stirred debate about whether such a practice is liturgically appropriate.
CNA asked Torres-Fuentes in an email who gave him the directive to cease the Prayer to St. Michael and the Hail Mary after Mass, but received no response.
Since the video of Torres-Fuentes’s statement went viral, CNA spoke to parishioners who described the circumstances.
Dan Love, a parishioner who attends daily Mass at St. Joseph’s told CNA in a phone call on Saturday that recently several parishioners began to recite the Prayer to Saint Michael after Mass publicly. He told CNA that because several of the parishioners were reciting it publicly, the rest of the attendees joined in.
“I think some parishioners just started it,” said Love, who is also a member of the local Knights of Columbus (KofC). “I guess the question is what are they praying for protection from?”
Consistently after daily Mass—which are livestreamed on Facebook—Torres-Fuentes leads the congregation in the Hail Mary prayer. The livestreams do not show the associate pastor leading the congregation or participating in the Prayer to Saint Michael.
“We’re all Catholic and we're all called by Christ and if you feel that you need to pray for something, pray for something,” Love said. “I'm just hoping it's praying for the healing and all the other issues we have in the world, such as the war in Afghanistan and such as the pandemic.”
Love mentioned a member of his KofC council who is in South Africa being “rampaged by the pandemic.”
“They're fighting over food because there's no food and people don't have any money,” Love said. “So we're trying to help him financially. So there's more important calls for us as Catholics around the world than it is worried about this three or four people who can't say the St. Michael prayer after Mass. That's my opinion.”
Love told CNA he did not know the reasoning behind stopping the Hail Mary after Mass.
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A parish secretary on Friday told CNA that Torres-Fuentes had a meeting with Cupich. Love told CNA the meeting was a luncheon with other priests and was planned weeks in advance. He mentioned that the purpose was not for Torres-Fuentes to dialogue with Cupich about the prayer announcement.
After contacting other priests in the diocese, CNA found that there was no directive sent to all parishes in the diocese referring to the recitation of the Prayer to Saint Michael or the Hail Mary following Mass.
The diocese did not respond to requests from CNA for comment.