Denver Newsroom, Sep 3, 2020 / 10:26 am
A New York priest said his parish added a “pledge for racial justice” to Masses as part of its anti-racism initiatives, and that no one at the parish is required to participate in it. While video of the pledge has been the subject of criticism in the media and from some Catholics, the Archdiocese of New York has not commented on the matter.
“Under the sponsorship of the Pastoral Council, we held a prayer service for the victims of racism and commissioned our Sacred Space ministry to produce a display so that there would be heightened awareness. In that context, someone found a version of the pledge from a Unitarian Church in Texas,” Fr. Kenneth Boller, SJ, pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in New York City, told CNA Sept. 2.
“We invite people to take the pledge after the post communion prayer and before the final blessing-a time when many churches have announcements. People are invited to respond yes to each question. Some choose not to. That's fine,” Boller added.
Liturgical law prohibits the addition of any components to Mass that are not prescribed by Church rubrics or approved by proper authorities.
The General Instruction for the Roman Missal directs that each priest “must remember that he is the servant of the sacred Liturgy and that he himself is not permitted, on his own initiative, to add, to remove, or to change anything in the celebration of Mass.”
Similarly, the Second Vatican Council’s apostolic constitution on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum concilium, says that apart from the Apostolic See, or the conference of bishops or diocesan bishop when permitted by law, no one else, “even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”
While the pledge was not approved for inclusion by the Archdiocese of New York, Boller told CNA that “It is common practice to have announcements before the final blessing. Often we are given messages from the chancery to be read at Mass. The Catholic bishops composed a lovely prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe in time of pandemic. At their suggestion we pray that before the final blessing during the week. The approved practice of many dioceses, while at variance with the GIRM, seems acceptable.”
On Wednesday, Boller told CNA that the pledge is part of a broader effort in the parish to be attentive to racial justice.