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Liturgist denies membership of alleged ‘ecumenical Mass’ committee

Pope Francis leads the Angelus in St Peter's Square last month (CNS)

The liturgist Andrea Grillo, who was alleged to be on a secret Vatican committee on an “ecumenical Mass”, has denied any involvement.

The Italian journalist Marco Tosatti wrote at First Things that Pope Francis had formed a committee to examine a possible “ecumenical Mass”.

Tosatti claimed: “Though never officially announced, a committee reporting directly to Pope Francis has been working on this liturgy for some time,” and named Grillo as a committee member, along with Archbishops Arthur Roche and Piero Marini, and Fr Corrado Maggioni.

But Grillo told the Catholic Herald (his words have been translated from Italian): “Regarding the ‘rumours’, I wish to insist that I am not part of any Vatican commission. I teach, study and publish: these are my only activities.”

The liturgist also responded to criticism over a statement he allegedly posted on Facebook, claiming that transubstantiation is “not a dogma”, and that it “contradicts metaphysics”.

Grillo said: “The distinction between substance and accidents, in the way we use the verb ‘to be’, implies that accidents are conferred to the substance they belong to and not to another one. The separation between substance and accidents, which occurs in the ingenious solution offered by Thomas Aquinas, threatens to shift the attention from the ‘mystery of the faith’ to a ‘metaphysical mystery’. Thomas Aquinas was already aware of this.”

Asked about the Council of Trent’s anathema against anyone who denies “that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood … which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation”, Grillo said: “When the Council of Trent alludes to transubstantiation, this is considered to be the most appropriate explanation of the real presence, but the Council of Trent never confuses this with the mystery, which can have different descriptions.”

Grillo said that transubstantiation “is not the ‘object of faith’, but an instrument to understand the object of faith, which is the presence of Christ in the Eucharist.”

This distinction can help ecumenical work, Grillo added: “the difference between the ‘object’ and its ‘name’ allows one to work theologically and ecumenically, to identify the ‘differences’ not as denial of the communion, but as treasures in the communion.”

Neither the Vatican, nor any of the other alleged members, has commented on the rumours.