Religion: Reviving an Ancient Rite

For centuries the Roman Catholic Mass, the church's central act of worship, was celebrated by a priest reciting Latin prayers, facing the altar as the laity behind him provided a devout but silent background. In 1963 the Second Vatican Council, seeking to give the laity a greater role in the liturgy, authorized a sweeping reform of worship that included prayers in the vernacular and a rite in which the priest faced his congregation. For many conservatives, most notably the dissident French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, the new Mass, even though it can be said in Latin, became a rallying point for defiance...

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