Responding to Cardinal Robert Sarah’s suggestion that priests celebrate Mass ad orientem, or facing east, Pope Francis today praised the idea, asking all priests to face Mecca while saying Mass.
Speaking to a large crowd at his weekly Wednesday Audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said that facing Mecca during Mass could be the ecumenical boost the Church and the east need “in these dark times.”
“It is very important that we return as soon as possible to a common orientation, of priests and the faithful turned together in the same direction, toward Mecca, the holiest site in all of Islam. This will accomplish two things…first, it will be as a sign of unity between east and west. Second, when we kneel at Mass, we will not only be kneeling for Christ’s forgiveness, but kneeling to those we harmed during the Crusades, which was our fault. They will, thereby, act in pseudo persona Christi as we humbly ask for God’s forgiveness.”
Francis went on to ask all priests to “implement this practice wherever possible, unless of course you’re already located somewhere in the east, in which case, ad populum will be permissible.”
After close to a ten second paused, Francis smiled, saying “Man…Sarah’s so smart, right? How does he come up with this stuff? He’d make such a great pope. He’s nothing like the Burke idiot I got rid of.”