Given the great theological knowledge of quite a number of our readers, I would like to ask for some advice for the following problem:

While in Germany, unfortunately, the custom of priests changing the words of the Liturgy seems even more widespread than in other parts of the western world, there is one priest in the city where I live who goes even further in this than must be expected hereabouts. In particular, he regularly uses what would seem to be a Eucharistic Prayer written by himself. Now this, as such, would be awful enough, even if it did not contain or imply a number of heresies, as it does. However, after the consecration, where the prayer for the Holy Father and the bishop(s) should be said, he prays for “the leaders of the Christian churches […] the bishop of Rome, Pope Benedict, and the communion (Gemeinschaft) of bishops, no matter what confession”. This, as Aelianus tells me, constitutes a formal (?) act of schism.

The first things one should do is, of course, to talk to the priest, and, if he does not mends his ways, write to the bishop, nuntio, and CDF.

It also seems clear that unless he mends his ways, one should avoid going to Mass there.

This, however, is not quite as easy as it sounds: Firstly, there are a number of other priests saying Mass in this particular Church, and while there are probably some general rules who says Mass when, there are also many exceptions, so one can never be sure. Secondly, this being the Diaspora, there is not such a large choice of churches, and on weekdays this may well be the only place Mass is being said in the city.

The following questions therefore arise for me:

  • Is Aelianus right in maintaining that this particular change of the Eucharistic Prayer constitutes an act of schism?
  • Given that the priest (a) changes the Eucharistic Prayer, and (b) changes it in this particular way, is the Mass valid? If it was a weekday, should one just walk out? If it was a Sunday, would one’s Sunday obligation be fulfilled by going there if one had reason to suppose Mass would be said by a Catholic priest?
  • Given the above, are the gifts actually consecrated? – This has the wider implications that if this is not the case, one could not receive Holy Communion in this Church at all, even if another priest said Mass, as generally the hosts distributed for Holy Communion are taken from the tabernacle and not necessarily consecrated during Mass. There would hence always be the possibility of receiving a host not consecrated during one of the (invalic) Masses of said priest.

As this is a real practical problem for me, and, given the unfortunate state of the Church in Germany, and probably other places as well, similar problems might exist for other people, I would be very grateful for any informed opinions on this.