Priest who offered Mass on inflatable lounge chair in sea: ‘I was perhaps imprudent’

Courtney Mares   By Courtney Mares for CNA

 

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Rome Newsroom, Jul 27, 2022 / 06:33 am (CNA).

After photos of a shirtless Italian priest celebrating Mass in the sea using an inflatable lounge chair went viral this week, the local Catholic archdiocese has called for liturgical decorum and respect.

Father Mattia Bernasconi, a priest of the archdiocese of Milan, publicly acknowledged in an interview on July 26 that his liturgical choice to swap out his vestments for swim trunks was “perhaps imprudent” and said that he would not do it again.

The 36-year-old priest explained that he had been helping with a week-long summer camp for high school students in southern Italy organized by Libera, an anti-mafia organization.

“We wanted to spend the last day at the beach; it was Sunday and there arose the issue of Mass, which we always celebrate,” Bernasconi told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

“It was 10:30 in the morning and the sun was scorching, so we decided to veer into the only comfortable place: in the water,” he said.

The Mass off the shore of Crotone in the southern Italian region of Calabria caught the attention of beachgoers. Some joined the Mass, while others posted photos online.

The online response to the photo of the barechested priest in the water holding a chalice above his head was immediate. Some social media users asked why this liturgy was allowed at a time when the Traditional Latin Mass has faced restrictions.

Giuseppe Capoccia, the head prosecutor of the city of Crotone, said that he considered it appropriate to investigate the priest for “offense to a religious confession,” according to a report from the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

The Archdiocese of Crotone-Santa Severina issued a statement on July 25 responding to the incident that said it is “necessary to maintain the minimum decorum and care for the symbols necessitated by the very nature of liturgical celebrations.”

“In some special cases, during retreats, school camps, in vacation spots, it is also possible to celebrate Mass outside of a church,” the archdiocese said.

“It is always necessary, however, to make contact with the ecclesial leaders of the place where one is, in order to advise each other on the most appropriate way to carry out such a Eucharistic celebration.”

The statement went on to quote Pope Francis’ recent letter on the liturgy: “‘Let us be clear here: every aspect of the celebration must be carefully tended to (space, time, gestures, words, objects, vestments, song, music…) and every rubric must be observed.’”

“‘Such attention would be enough to prevent robbing from the assembly what is owed to it; namely, the paschal mystery celebrated according to the ritual that the Church sets down,’” it said, quoting Desiderio Desideravi.

In response to the archdiocese’s call for restraint, Bernasconi said: “I blame myself for being perhaps a little naive.”

The priest said that his gesture was “misunderstood” and that he was shocked by the many “resentful messages” that he received.

He added defensively that the parents of the students who participated in the summer camp were not upset at how he offered the Mass.

“One lady thanked me, telling me that she felt the Church had reached out to her even at the beach. Any place is good for spreading the word of the Lord,” the priest said.

Bernasconi is the assistant parish priest at the Church of San Luigi Gonzaga in Milan. The official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Milan republished the note on the liturgy from the southern Italian diocese at the request of local Church authorities.

The note, quoting Pope Francis, said: “‘If there were lacking our astonishment at the fact that the paschal mystery is rendered present in the concreteness of sacramental signs, we would truly risk being impermeable to the ocean of grace that floods every celebration.’”


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5 Comments

  1. to swap out his vestments for swim trunks was “perhaps imprudent”…
    How can he be “perhaps”? This is the dying church of F1 & the fr martin brigade…
    Only for them, in turn, to restrict, attack & defame those who prefer mantillas over water mattresses!?!

  2. “One lady thanked me, telling me that she felt the Church had reached out to her even at the beach. Any place is good for spreading the word of the Lord,” the priest said.”
    *******
    Well sure. You can set up a respectful outdoor Mass at the seaside or anywhere else. But not shirtless in the water on a floaty. Unless you were a shipwreck survivor maybe but even then…Just no.

  3. Bernasconi said: “I blame myself for being perhaps a little naive.” Perhaps? A little naive?

    The priest said that his gesture was “misunderstood” and that he was shocked by the many “resentful messages” that he received.

    – The priest misunderstands the Church and her sacraments, instead knowing and kowtowing to some silly sense of a self-styled God and counterfeit church.

    He added defensively that the parents of the students who participated in the summer camp were not upset at how he offered the Mass.

    – Certainly, fools and other teachers touched by stupidity, idiocy, and irreverence for both man and God have catechized those parents.

    “One lady thanked me, telling me that she felt the Church had reached out to her even at the beach.

    -Entitled to her feeling, the poor woman appears not to know thought. It’s probably too strange and unusual an occurrence, so her neurons misfire, misalign, and malfunction.

  4. “We wanted to spend the last day at the beach; it was Sunday and there arose the issue of Mass…” This, in a nutshell, is the Novus Ordo church. It’s that bothersome Mass, when you would rather be at the beach.

  5. If God is indeed everywhere, what on Earth is wrong with Father Bernasconi’s mass; it’s creative, innovative, refreshing, inclusive and is in no way, disrespectful, in fact, it’s just the opposite; as opposed to no mass at all? Yet, those in opposition, define yet one more reason why people leave the Church; it’s utter impudence, self importance, ecclesiastical legacies, arrogance… Raised as a Catholic, living through the decades of denials of the Holy See’s inexcusable, undeniable hidden abuses, the constant solicitations for Diocese legal expenses… I finally had my fair share of the intentional deceptions, the moving of problematic nuns/priests around, like chess pieces. IMO, my God wouldn’t allow for such insolence against its own people.

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