KANSAS CITY, Kansas (LifeSiteNews) — The Archbishop of Kansas City has reportedly written to priests after two of his clergy discovered that Masses had been invalid for “any number of years,” due to using the wrong matter for the confection of the Sacred Species.
The Pillar reported on June 5 that Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas had issued a May 31 letter to his priests regarding the proper wine to be used for Mass. The circumstances that brought about the letter were, according to the letter from the archbishop, which LifeSite has received, the recent discovery of invalidly celebrated Masses.
“It has recently been reported by two priests, having served in three different parishes, that upon their appointment to these parishes they soon discovered the long-term use of wines that were in fact invalid matter for the confection of the Eucharist,” wrote Naumann.
Continuing, he noted that the situation had been thus for many years, stating that, “for any number of years all Masses were invalid and therefore the intentions for which those Masses were offered were not satisfied, including the obligation pastors have to offer Mass for the people.”
“This is a gravely serious situation for which we must now petition the Holy See for guidance on restorative matters,” added Naumann. He did not outline any possible options on what such “restorative matters” would resemble. LifeSite contacted the archdiocese for more information but did not receive a response to this particular question.
In his letter, Naumann ordered all clergy to “immediately discontinue use of all wines that have not been specifically produced to meet the requirements for sacramental usage.” Naumann noted that a number of readily available products that “contain additives such as elderberry extract, sugars, alcohol, etc.” are invalid matter for the Mass. Thus, their use would also mean that the Mass is invalidated.
In an accompanying decree, Naumann stipulated that priests should use “only those wines commercially produced specifically for use at Mass may hereafter be used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist in all parochial and non-parochial churches, chapels, and oratories within the Archdiocese of Kansas City.”
The Code of Canon Law 924 §3 states that wine used for the Holy Eucharist “must be natural from the fruit of the vine and not spoiled.” Therefore, the wine cannot be artificial or vinegary, nor can it be altered by the additional use of sugars.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) which governs the Novus Ordo celebrations of the Mass, repeats this instruction noting that “the wine for the celebration of the Eucharist must be from the fruit of the vine (cf. Lk 22:18), natural, and unadulterated, that is, without admixture of extraneous substances.”
As per the rubrics of the Mass, a small amount of water is mixed with the wine in the chalice, but if the priest notices after the consecration that somehow only water was poured into the chalice, he is allowed to repeat the words of consecration in this manner: “he pours the water into some container, pours wine with water into the chalice and consecrates it, saying the part of narrative relating to the Consecration of the chalice, without being obliged to consecrate the bread again.”
More expansive details are found in the Congregation for Divine Worship’s 2004 document Redemptionis Sacramentum, which states that:
The wine that is used in the most sacred celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances. During the celebration itself, a small quantity of water is to be mixed with it. Great care should be taken so that the wine intended for the celebration of the Eucharist is well conserved and has not soured. It is altogether forbidden to use wine of doubtful authenticity or provenance, for the Church requires certainty regarding the conditions necessary for the validity of the sacraments. Nor are other drinks of any kind to be admitted for any reason, as they do not constitute valid matter.
LifeSiteNews contacted the archdiocese seeking further information about what substance had been used in place of the correct wine, but did not receive a response to that question, being given instead the archbishop’s letter and decree.
However, the disclosure about invalid Masses taking place for many years comes on the back of the spate of revelations pertaining to priests who discovered they had not been properly baptized, resulting in the invalidation of the sacraments they had performed themselves.
In 2020, two priests in the U.S. discovered that their baptisms were invalid because the priest or deacon who performed the rite used the form “we baptize” instead of the correct “I baptize,” rendering all of their subsequent sacraments, including Holy Orders, invalid.
Father Matthew Hood of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Michigan, and Father Zachary Boazman of the Diocese of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, both discovered within weeks of one another that their baptisms had been invalidly administered, rendering their priesthood and related ministry invalid.
Both men had to receive baptism and confirmation before they could be ordained and begin active parish ministry in their respective dioceses.
Boazman’s baptism had been conducted by a deacon of the Diocese of Fort Worth, whose bishop – Michael Olson – then warned that Catholics should expect many more such cases to come to light.
Then in early 2022, Father Andres Arango of the Diocese of Phoenix resigned after it was discovered that he had also been using the faulty baptism formula for decades. Arango had been pronouncing the words “we baptize” instead of “I baptize” for baptisms as far back as 1995.
This prompted his bishop to issue a public call for Catholics to be baptized if they had received what they thought was the sacrament from Arango. Such individuals could not present themselves for Holy Communion, and their Confirmations would not have been valid, with the bishop noting that the validity of their marriages may also have been affected.