Zaire Use

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The Zaire Use (French: Rite zaïrois) or Roman Missal for the Dioceses of Zaire is a variant rite or "use" of the most common Mass of the Roman Catholic Church approved in 1988. While containing many of the elements of the Ordinary Form of the Mass of the Roman Rite, it incorporates elements from sub-Saharan African culture, particularly Congolese, a process referred to as inculturation.[1] Additionally, the Zaire Use may refer to the other adjusted sacramental rites utilized by the Congolese dioceses.[2] The Zaire Use form of the Mass is unrelated to the earlier defunct African Rite.

It is largely a product of the Second Vatican Council's constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, particularly the move "for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups, regions, and peoples, especially in mission lands, provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is preserved."[3] Promulgated by the decree Zairensium Dioecesium on April 30, 1988, by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Missel romain pour les diocèses du Zaïre (Roman Missal for the Dioceses of Zaire) is an attempt to inculturate the Roman Missal in an African context, inspired by the liturgical reform initiated at the Second Vatican Council.[4][5] The missal is now officially entitled Congolese Missal for the dioceses of Zaire.[6]


It follows the 1956 Masses of the Savanes in Upper Volta and of the Piroguieres and the 1958 Missa Luba in Zaire.[3] Following the 1970 authorization from the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the 1973 draft presentation of a new Order of the Mass from the Commission on Evangelization, the Episcopal Conference in Zaire approved its use experimentally. As the "Zairean Rite," it was adopted formally in 1985.[7]

On 1 December 2019, Pope Francis celebrated Mass for the first Sunday of Advent in Saint Peter's Basilica using this rite to mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the first chaplaincy for the Congolese Catholic community in Rome.[6] A year later, on 1 December 2020, Vatican News released a video statement in which Pope Francis announced that a book regarding the 1 December 2019 Mass authored by Sister Rita Mboshu Kongo would be released.[8] Sister Rita had spoken at the conclusion of the 2019 Mass.[9]

Differences from the Ordinary Form[edit]

Liturgical calendar[edit]

Under pressure from Zairean President Mobutu Sese Seko to remove Western influences as part of broader cultural reforms,[10] a 1975 synod of the Congolese Episcopal Conference chose to not celebrate various feasts venerating saints when they fall during the week, moving their celebration to the nearest Sunday.[11] This choice was approved by the Holy See.[2] Similar pressures from the Seko government inspired a revision of the practice of baptismal names,[11] with some families selecting traditionally native African names for common use and baptismal names such as "Grâce à Dieu" and "Gloire à Dieu."[2]

Adjustment of the liturgy[edit]

Distinct from the Ordinary Form, the congregation stands in the presence of Christ, rather than kneeling as is done in the United States.[1]. and there is an "invocation of the Ancestors of upright heart" ("invocation ancêtres au coeur droit") in addition to the invocation of the saints. The intention of the latter act is the veneration of only "ancestors" "who have lived in an exemplary way."[2]

The Penitential Act is performed following the homily or the recitation of the Creed. One state intention for this placement is that only after listening to scripture that the congregation is able to seek forgiveness.[2]

Servers are permitted to dance around the altar as a form of veneration. Dancing is also permitted for the bringing gifts to those in need. Priests dress in traditional African priestly vestments.[1]

Participation of the laity[edit]

The Zaire Use was created with intention to better incorporate the congregation into the celebration of the Mass. To do this, responses were added, including one at the conclusion of the homily and Eucharistic prayer.[1] Additionally, the congregation is explicitly welcomed to raise their hands for the Lord's Prayer, a practice variously allowed[12] or prohibited[13] by episcopal conferences utilizing the Ordinary Form.[2]

Due to awareness of culturally normative displays of respect and attentiveness in the Congo, the congregation sits for the reading of the Gospel. An announcer also calls the congregation to attention at points in the liturgy. Dancing among the congregants is permitted.[2]


1.^ Per Paragraph 43 2010 Roman Missal: "The faithful should stand from the beginning of the Entrance chant, or while the priest approaches the altar, until the end of the collect; for the Alleluia chant before the Gospel; while the Gospel itself is proclaimed; during the Profession of Faith and the Prayer of the Faithful; from the invitation, Orate, fratres (Pray, brethren), before the prayer over the offerings until the end of Mass..."[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kangas, Billy (1 January 2013). "The Roman Missal for the Dioceses of Zaire". The Orant. Patheos. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya (August 2016). "Proceedings of the Third African National Eucharistic Congress: Responding to the New Evangelization: The African Catholic Family, A Gift to the Church in America" (PDF). Liturgy Inculturated in the Congo. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b Chase, Nathan. "A History and Analysis of the Missel Romain pour les Dioceses du Zaire". Obsculta. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  4. ^ New Catholic Encyclopedia 2003. The Gale Group Inc.
  5. ^ Chupungco, Anscar J. (1982). Liturgies of the Future. Paulist Press. ISBN 9781597526890. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  6. ^ a b D'Emilio, Frances (1 December 2019). "Joyous Congolese Dances, Songs Enliven St. Peter's Basilica". U.S. News & World Report. Associated Press. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Missal for the Dioceses of Zaire". Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  8. ^ "Pope: Zairean rite can serve as example and model for other cultures". Vatican News-English. Vatican News. 1 December 2020. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  9. ^ Wooden, Cindy (2 December 2019). "Pope celebrates Mass with Congolese, sharing hopes for peace". Catholic News Service. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  10. ^ Shaw, Karl (2005) [2004]. Power Mad! [Šílenství mocných] (in Czech). Praha: Metafora. p. 204. ISBN 978-80-7359-002-4.
  11. ^ a b Andre, Titre (2010). Leadership and Authority: Bula Matari and Life-Community Ecclesiology in Congo. ISBN 9781610974370. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  12. ^ Feuerherd, Peter (29 June 2017). "Should we hold hands or not during the Our Father?". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  13. ^ "Mass Practices: Holding hands during the Lord's Prayer at Mass". The CatholicNews Singapore. 28 February 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  14. ^ "The General Instruction of the Roman Missal" (PDF). 2010. Retrieved 3 December 2020.

Further reading[edit]