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Bishop urges priests to drop the Hail Mary from Masses

By on Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Bishop Kieran Conry  (Photo: Mazur)

Bishop Kieran Conry (Photo: Mazur)

The Hail Mary should not be part of the bidding prayers at Sunday Mass, Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton has told his clergy.

Bishop Conry wrote to his priests, saying: “Questions come up again and again about the inclusion of Marian prayers with the Prayers of the Faithful. There should be no Marian prayer at this point.”

But a liturgical scholar has suggested that the use of the Hail Mary may be an acceptable “local expression of prayer”.

Parish priests in Bishop Conry’s diocese have asked those who prepare the bidding prayers to exclude the Hail Mary. “However, this should not in any way undermine the importance of devotion to Mary and we strongly encourage the use of Marian prayers in the home and other non-Eucharistic liturgies,” said the newsletter of the parish of the Nativity of the Lord in Redhill, Surrey.

A spokesman for Bishop Conry said: “Bishop Kieran has recently reminded his clergy that the Hail Mary should not be included in the Prayers of the Faithful in line with the sample prayers provided in the Third Edition of the Roman Missal, the guidance provided by the bishops’ conference liturgy office, and his own previous Guidelines for Prayers of the Faithful issued in 2005.”

The guidelines state: “The Roman Rite does not, in fact, envisage the inclusion of devotional prayers in the Prayer of the Faithful. Following a medieval practice in England, the Hail Mary has been customarily said after the final intercession. Properly understood, a set of prayers directed to the Father, through the Son and in the power of the Holy Spirit, contains no obvious place for prayers to the saints. This is why, some years ago, the Holy See wrote to the Bishops of England and Wales advising that such devotional prayer should not have a place in the Prayer of the Faithful. The Holy See asked that the, by then, widespread practice be gradually and gently discouraged.”

Bishop Conry also told his clergy that “when the papal Masses for Pope Benedict’s visit in England were being prepared any set of Intercessions that were sent to Rome that included the Hail Mary were returned with this prayer removed”.

The diocesan spokesman added: “In offering this advice to his clergy Bishop Kieran is endeavouring to follow the mind of the Universal Church and encouraging them to do likewise.”

Prof David Fagerberg, author of Mary in the Liturgy, said that because the practice of including the Hail Mary was widespread in England but not elsewhere, there was a tension between national and universal practices.

He said: “Need things be the same in all countries? In matters of popular piety and devotion, certainly not. But the case of the official liturgy is different. So the question turns on this: is the use of the Hail Mary a local expression of prayer, or does it become a liturgical formula, part of the cultic act of the Church?”

He added: “We have suffered many decades of a false opposition between liturgy and devotion, with some liturgical scholars looking down their noses on Marian devotion. I would hope none of that is involved here.”

  • Cestius

    I really think there are more important things than the bishop should be exercising himself about.  The Hail Mary in the mass has long been part of English tradition, in line with England being considered devoted to the Virgin and often called “Mary’s dowry” during the Middle Ages. We have a prayer for England that mentions that and it is still in some Catholic prayer books (although we don’t use it in mass.)  The Vatican has long been comfortable with the saying of the Hail Mary in the mass in England – it seems to me that it is the bishop himself that is demanding the change, not the Vatican.

  • Adam

    How about he cracks down on real liturgical abuses like no use of Latin, ugly vestments, an army of EMHC, etc. Start with the things which actually damage the Mass.

  • Anon

    ‘benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus’  I often finish the prayer at this (original) ending; it is beautiful and helps when being obliged to consider the subject of abortion.  

  • Leftyo48

    they are going to keep the dresses and the pointy hats but drop the hail mary  just started my day in new york and needed a good laugh  the war on women now includes mary.

  • Bfc8484

    Allelulia. They finally saw the light and the Vatican should do so too. Even the former Pope JP2 tried to do so indirectly by introducing the luminous mysteries which focused on Jesus as the centre…The Hail Mary will not save you… Pray the Our Father just like Jesus did and the Glory Be which praises the Trinity.
    Then pray to God the Father through Jesus Christ (this has been lacking in the Catholic Church because everyone is praying (wrongly) to Mary as if Mary has the power to do or deliver anything. She can’t do anything anymore. Her work is done. It has been done for 2,000years. ! The “Mary department” in heaven is closed down. She came to earth to deliver the saviour and looked after him until his death. The doctrine was that she was “assumed” into heaven body and soul. Her Mission is over.

    Pray to God the Father (more), God the Son, Jesus (as now) and God the Holy Spirit. Ask your priest how to pray to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the only God left here on earth by Jesus. Pray to the Holy Spirit which has been so neglected until now…. Jesus himself said that the Spirit will be your guide, and he will be your counsellor. Whenever you need guidance, counselling, comfort from distress of sickness, depression, and during time of bereavement pray to the Holy Spirit. If you need happiness, also pray to the Spirit because one of the gifts of the Spirit is goodness, kindness and happiness. Pray more to the Spirit and say less Rosaries. Bravo to the bishop and the British RC church. After 2,00years they finally got on the right track. Martin Luther will be so pleased and smiling down from heaven now!

  • teigitur

    Oh when you said “Bishop” I was stunned.Now I understand.

  • teigitur

    Wrong on every possible level.

  • Cestius

    Of course, it would be ironic if a Catholic bishop succeeded in silencing the Hail Mary in England when Edward VI, Elizabeth I, Cranmer, Cromwell and 300 years of oppression all failed!

  • Scott

    How about the practice of saying “for thine is the kingdom…” as part of the Lord’s Prayer.

  • Lanfranc

    Remind me where in the Mass the Hail Mary was recited during those 300 years?

    If it wasn’t, then you’re missing the point. The Hail Mary doesn”t belong within the Mass. If there was any doubt about the application of the rubrics, the removal of the Hail Mary by the Vatican from the draft liturgies for Pope Benedict’s visit ought to have made the situation clear.

  • signum_magnum

    The ‘Hail Mary’ might not always have been part of Holy Mass, but then neither where ‘Bidding Prayers’, at least not in the form they are today. Since they have become included by usage throughout the land, and since this prayer alone honours Our Blessed Lady who, in turn, honours most gloriously her Son, then I cannot conceive that this in anyway contradicts V2 which allowed for national variations as long as not ‘tampering’ with the liturgical formula of the Mass.

    +Kieron is following the mind of Kieron rather than the mind of the Church. God help him.

  • chiaramonti

    They are even censoring the hymns. In the present hymn book ‘I’ll sing a hymn to Mary”, no longer ends with ” while wicked men blaspheme thee, I love and bless they name.” but with some mudane chorus repeated at the end of each verse.
    Who is responsible for this and why? The original author is long dead. Why should his words have been changed?

  • JByrne24

    Really! - 
    Does it really matter? - 
    No, of course it doesn’t. - 
    Why should a Bishop, or you, even bother about this? -
    It doesn’t matter either if you celebrate Ascension “Thursday” on a Thursday or a Sunday.

    There ARE lots (and lots…….and lots…….) of things that actually DO matter, but never mind.

  • teigitur

    Its amazing you waste so much of your valuable time on here , commenting on stuff that, as far as you are concerned, matters not a jot.

  • JByrne24

    Stop trying to stir it up Scott.

  • JByrne24

    But it does matter that so many people worry about the bathwater, but not the baby.

    This really matters. The masterly interest in the trivial by orthodox Catholics and their equally masterly disinterest in what is of great importance to the Church today is mind-boggling. 

  • teigitur

    Utter tosh. Many important issues are discussed hereon. I would also add, if you get the minutiae correct, the larger issues fall into place. Like I say, amazing; non-subjects attract so much of your interest.

  • JByrne24

    Yes, a non-subject – but so many of these articles are; while the “real meat” is often ignored.
    This only attracted my attention because of the above.

    We already have “Leftyo48″ making hay “while the Sun shines”.

    However I’m not surprised it attracted your attention for the usual traditional condemnation.

  • Charles Martel

     You ably impart a whole new meaning to the word ‘wrong’.

  • JByrne24

    You left out the latin.

    QUOTE: “… the war on women now includes mary ”

    I didn’t think of this – but you could well be right.

  • Scyptical Chymist

     I think you mean “uninterest” not “disinterest” which negates your argument = – look it up.

  • Scyptical Chymist

    Why not bring back “Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of mercy, Hail ——— ” which was said AFTER all “Low” Masses before the great revision  which took away the familiar norms.

  • teigitur

    Do you ever feel light-headed? Rushing around in circles as you do.

  • Scyptical Chymist

    But – Mary DOES have a part to play. Recommended by my confessor and also by the founder of “Aid to the Church in need” – in extremis – “Jesus mercy, Mary help”.

  • Zaren38

    Ps,   Our Lord Jesus gave us Mary as our Mother when He said to John this is your Mother. Mary is 
    above all Saints . There is nothing wrong if it is mentioned during a mass. After all we adore only GOD
    but Mary is something special for the Son of God and to us chritians.

  • JByrne24

    I’m sure you’re right; but even surer that you know what I mean.

  • JByrne24

    Ho-Ho-Ho, with SHORT “o”s like Bridget Jones; (not like Father Christmas, with long “o”s. )

    But yes, talking about the “real meat” should be unnecessary.
    But, with some, it is necessary to try to get the point home – often still without success.

  • Honeybadger


  • JByrne24

    I very much doubt it.

  • Honeybadger

    At the Wedding Feast of Cana, Mary tells Jesus: ‘They have no wine.’
    When we pray the Hail Mary, she does the same for us.

    Then Mary tells the servants and tells us down the ages to the present day: ‘DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU.’

    What we are saying in the Hail Mary is steeped in the Gospel. We are reciting the Gospel every day. We are NOT worshiping Mary.

    It is downright silly to ask a god to pray for us!

    Why on earth is this FACT not getting through to the boneheads on here and – sadly – the Roman Catholics?

    Bishop Conry is better off being a Calvinist.

    Leave Our Lady – Christ’s Blessed Mother – out of the equation and you are asking for trouble… as if Conry hasn’t woken up to smell the brew already!

  • Honeybadger


  • JByrne24

    “Jesus mercy, Mary help”
    Also quoted by Cardinal Newman in his Gerontius.

  • JByrne24

    Then Bfc8484 MUST be right.

  • Honeybadger

    When I say boneheads, I mean people like bfc8484 – whose knowledge of Our Lady is as empty and as skewed as a 10cm bike lane…

  • JByrne24

    THAT settles it!!

  • Honeybadger

    We must pray industrial strength prayers to Mary, Mother of the Church and the Holy Ghost that Bishop Conry will one day get his priorities right.

    He doesn’t appear to be doing this, judging by his latest pronouncement.

    Disheartening. My heart goes out to the Roman Catholics of Arundel and Brighton.

  • teigitur

    You are nothing if not predictable.

  • Moc

    Not every Bishop was a Fisher or a Campion, it is an unfortunate fact that the reformation in the UK got its episcopate from heretical Catholic Bishops, plenty were all too willing to bend the knee to Luthers new learning. I believe that there was not a herecy that didn’t have at its heart a Catholic Bishop, Piest or Monk, but even Jesus Christ Himself had problems with loyalty.

  • Jae

    Sad indeed! though the bishop has the prerogative and Marian prayers in the Mass is just part of the practice of the Church which can be changed from time to time…..but anything specially an invocation of our Holy Mother even in the Mass is always beneficial. May the bishop change his decision.

  • Lanfranc

    Personally, I’d be glad to see the back of the Bidding Prayers. I dislike the inclusion of the Hail Mary in the Mass for the same reason as I dislike someone using that point in the liturgy to parade their favourite causes for our approbation. Not that this should be about personal likes or dislikes, anyway: just stick to the rubrics, and avoid shoehorning in other stuff which hijacks the Mass to our agenda (however laudable) rather than that of the Church. In the context of the Mass, our Lady is quite sufficiently and distinctively honoured, as she has been down the centuries, by her inclusion in the Canon. Why do we need anything more than that?

  • Mother27

    Keep The Hail Mary In Our Mass is a pro-active UK PR Campaign set up to generate awareness and support to preserve and secure the much loved Catholic tradition of praying & saying the Hail Mary as part of our Sunday Mass. 

    This has been launched in response to Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel & Brightons potentially catastrophic decision to drop & exclude the Hail Mary in Sunday Mass.

    We need more prayers not less and by taking out the Hail Mary, Bishop Conry is destroying our faith and leading his flock astray.

    We say NO MORE Bishop !

    First our Holy Feast Days were eradicated and wiped out of the traditional Catholic calendar and now the Hail Mary is being destroyed. We have to stand up and say STOP! 

    We want The Hail Mary! We need the Hail Mary. 

    Please support the future of our Catholic faith and share & support this important campaign by liking the Keep The Hail Mary In Our Mass Facebook Page, adding your comments and thoughts and following the campaign on Twitter @keepthehailmary 

    Please take time to discuss with your Parish Priest & your fellow Catholic parishioners, family & friends the serious long term damage and implications the removal of The Hail Mary will have on the future of the UK Catholic faith both for us now & for our children & childrens children. 

    We owe it to Mary, the Mother of God – our heavenly Mother – to stand together and defend her blessed honour here on Earth. 

    Please write to your local Bishop & also to Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel & Brighton to voice your concerns, disappointment & appeal to him to Keep The Hail Mary In Our Mass.

    May Our Heavenly Mother Bless this campaign & all who support it and graciously open the minds and hearts of Englands priests and bishops to listen to their people and help us to Keep The Hail Mary In Our Mass. 
    Great Britain needs you Our Lady, we ask you today to stay in our mass, in our churches & in our lives and please bless our nation. Amen.

    Thank YouKeep The Hail  Mary In Our MassEmail:

  • Lanfranc

    “First our Holy Feast Days were eradicated and wiped out of the traditional Catholic calendar …”

    I quite agree. The restoration of the Solemnities is an entirely appropriate object of our prayer and even (within proper bounds) our protest.

    “… and now the Hail Mary is being destroyed.”

    Destroyed? To be faithful to the rubrics and to virtually the entire history of the Roman Rite is to destroy the Hail Mary? However much some may wish to retain it in the Mass, what purpose is served by such an absurdly exaggerated statement?

    If you were to concentrate your energies instead on promoting the public recitation of the Rosary before or after Mass, that would represent a net gain of 52 Hail Marys. Some “destruction” that would be!

  • Friar Adrian-John Mary

    Bless you, some of us orthodox Catholic priests still do recite the Salve Regina here in Australia.

  • Parasum

    “The Hail Mary should not be part of the bidding prayers at Sunday Mass, Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton has told his clergy.”

    ## 1. From a strictly liturgiological POV,  his point is correct.

    2. The Angelic Salutation is quasi-liturgical.


    1. It has been used at that point long enough to become a liturgical custom (which in 1983 Code takes 30 years)
    2. It is justified as an expression of prayer for the intecession of the Mother of God, Who is also Mother of the Church (the earthly part of which is adoring God at the Liturgy)
    3. The Angelic Salutation in both its parts expresses total docility to God’s Will, on the part of the angel, & of the Mother of God
    4. The AS is both a proclamation of the Good News, & the reverent acceptance of it. This matters because all Christians should do, and be, like that.
    5. In the AS, Heaven & earth meet – this is a very appropriate introduction to the Prayers of the Faithful
    6. Apart from the conclusion, it is entirely from St. Luke 1 (& the conclusion is a modern addition, from the 16th century)
    7. It is an example of Marian “hear[ing] the Word of God and keeping it” – something we are supposed to do.
    8. By hearing  & obeying, Mary becomes the first disciple of her unborn Son; so later in the chapter, she visits SS. Elizabeth & Zachary – Christians are meant to do likewise.

    On balance, STM the Hail Mary should stay. It makes a genuine contribution to the Liturgy of the Eucharist. And now that the Confiteor has been shredded (thohgh the addition to it is good), it is perhaps even more  important. Not because it’s “RC”, but because it is Christian & evangelical. And well-placed.

  • John Windsor

    Isn’t self denigration a psychological negative of Catholicism? If we constantly focus on guilt and unworthiness isn’t it inevitable that the church as a whole will denigrate herself and self sabotage?

  • Parasum

    The *symbolism* matters – Catholicism, as a liturgical, sacramental religion, & one for which the Incarnation is *immensely* important, sets great store by signs perceptible to the senses, that lead the believer to the unseen realities of which they are signs.

    The number of candles on an altar is important
    So are liturgical colours
    & liturgical seasons, feasts, positions, gestures, times, places

    These all matter, because they are used by beings who are animals  endowed w/ immortal souls; who are called to nothing less than the enjoyment of the Beatific Vision of God. God has no need of the Liturgy – we do, because we *need* to adore God. The Liturgy is the “great means” by which, as a People, we do so.  And as a body of human acts, the Liturgy needs to be performed in a certain order, not chaotically or messily.

    The Liturgy is the “en-acting” of a Divine Mystery, & therefore, a sacred drama. And for that  are needed:
    somewhere for the action

    The Liturgy is also a rehearsal – and rehearsal needs work. So we have to practice.  Besides, symbolism makes the Liturgy available to all – not everyone can study liturgical theology, but anyone can learn that things are related as signs & things signified.
    What we see, we are conformed to: the sacred signs & significances of the Liturgy have a part to play in arming us against signs that are far from benign or good, of which there are plenty. So the Liturgy & its rich language of signs can help to purify our hearts. 

  • Craig


    How dare you use common sense and good knowledge of the rubrics?  Believe it or not (website readers), the Traditional Latin Mass is more “flexible” depending on day, need (eg, before work or a journey), or priest preference (eg, if an alter server kisses the cruets before handing to celebrant).  No more of the 1960′s experiment.  Attend and support the Traditional Latin Mass!

  • Parasum

    “…no longer ends with “while wicked men blaspheme thee, I love and bless they name.””

    ## That’s crazy. That’s a very good line in every way – & very good hymn: almost as good as:

    Hail, Queen of heaven, the ocean star,

    Guide of the wanderer here below,

    Thrown on life’s surge, we claim thy care,

    Save us from peril and from woe.

    Whole hymn here:,_the_Ocean_Star

    It really is time to stop being so PC.

    Similar bad stuff happens to other Christians:

    A snippet: “Why, oh why, do the editors of hymns books think that it is a good idea to try to ‘improve’ on the poetry of the original hymn writers and poets? And why, oh why, do churches buy new hymn books that have ruined the old hymns and substituted garbage for fine words?”

    The weblog is named: “Bad things in new hymn books and other sad tales”. STM that the worst hymns, & the worst butchery of hymns, are to be found in Catholic books.

  • Desertwatch333

    I agree.  Mary is essential to us as the Mother of Jesus but one Priest offers the prayers of the faithful “through the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus” and then has the congregation pray the Hail Mary.  Parishioners have discussed this wondering if this Priest thinks that the sacrifice of the Mass is not powerful enough to hold all those intentions…

  • Parasum

    It’s a very ancient (4th century ?) liturgical formula, that passed from the Liturgy, into the text of St.Matthew 6.13.

    It is incorrect as a reading of the Gospel text – but correct as a reading of a liturgical text.

    The same set of words can be the correct reading  for one type of text, while being completely wrong as a reading in another type of text: one can’t automatically say that because reading X is wrong as a reading in a particular Biblical text, it has no place in the Bible, or no place in the Liturgy, or no place in the works of a particular Father or other Church writer. This means one can’t always correct the reading of a liturgical text by a Biblical reading, nor the other way about: the  correct reading of a Biblical liturgical/manuscript (= what the copyist/author wrote) may not match the correct reading of the liturgical/Biblical source it is taken from or influenced by. What a reading in a Father (say) can tell us, is what reading of a given passage that Father was familiar with. Mistaken readings definitely have their value.

    FWIW, the reading of those words in Matt.6.13 is attested in some important & ancient NT manuscripts: they just happen not to belong in Matt.6.13.