An Italian bishop has pioneered an ecumenical Mass without a public recitation of the Creed so as not to offend non-Catholic guests.
Driving the news
Bishop Derio Olivero of the diocese of Pinerolo made the interdenominational gesture January 6 in a Mass for the Feast of the Epiphany.
Olivero rebaptised the liturgy as the “Mass of the Peoples”, and invited Christians of other denominations as well as civic authorities to the celebration.
After delivering his homily in the cathedral in the town in Piedmont, near Turin, the prelate announced that instead of reciting the Creed out loud, Catholics would say it inwardly instead.
“Since there are also non-believers, everyone will say it silently”, Olivero announced, to the surprise of faithful expecting the ordinary turn of events at Mass.
“Those who believe [the Creed] can say it, and those who don’t believe or have other beliefs will silently contemplate the reasons for their beliefs”, the bishop added.
After receiving criticisms for the gesture of the silent Creed – the key proclamation of the Catholic faith – Olivero later justified his innovation in an ecumenical, conciliatory tone.
“I respect the Missal 52 Sundays a year and I always respect the liturgy, but on the occasion of this Mass there were people from other confessions in church and I thought that Catholics could silently say the Creed, and those like the Waldensians and the Orthodox could proclaim something in which they believe”, the bishop explained.
For his part, a spokesman from the Pinerolo diocese said the bishop had made the decision to say the Creed silently so that attendees at the Mass could “better internalize” their beliefs.
Why it matters
Bishop Olivero, 58 years old and appointed by Francis to the see of Pinerolo in 2017, is well-known around the diocese for his ecumenical and interfaith commitment, which has extended to attending local Islamic Ramadan celebrations in 2017 and 2019.
In 2018, Olivero defended Pope Francis’ overture to divorced and remarried Catholics in the 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia, saying: “Marriage continues to be indissoluble but not unbreakable”.
Asked whether the Church can bless the new union of a Catholic in an “irregular” matrimonial situation, Olivero said: “We have not contemplated this in the Piedmontese Episcopal Conference, but I think it could be a good solution. Having made a proper journey, a blessing can be expected, which means recognizing the validity of the relationship”.
Observers have pointed out other similarities between Olivero’s thought and that of Pope Francis.
Particularly with regard to the former’s Creed-less “Mass of the Peoples” January 6, which echoed such ecumenical and interfaith gestures of the Pope’s as not invoking the Trinity or making the sign of the Cross when blessing groups including non-Catholics, which Francis has done on several occasions.
Olivero has summed up his ecumenical and interfaith beliefs in the following terms: “We Christians do not have the truth in our pockets, but we are in search of the truth like everyone else”.
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