RP 32: Form III, The Role of the Bishop

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Much of this responsibility has been usurped by Rome: curia and Pope John Paul II:

32. It belongs exclusively to the local Ordinary, after consultation with other members of the conference of bishops, to make the judgment on whether the conditions stated already are verified and therefore to decide when it is lawful to give general absolution. If, apart from the instances established by the local Ordinary, any other serious need arises for giving general absolution, a priest is bound first, whenever possible, to have recourse to the local Ordinary in order to give the general absolution. If this is not possible, he is to inform the same Ordinary as soon as possible of the need in question and of the fact of the absolution. [SCDF, Pastoral Norms for General Absolution, 16 June 1972, Norm V.]

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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5 Responses to RP 32: Form III, The Role of the Bishop

  1. FrMichael says:

    Instead of “usurp,” I believe the synonyms you are looking for are “annul” or “abrogate.” Usurp has a negative connotation to it as if the Apostolic See had little or no authority over this matter.

  2. sacerdos says:

    Todd,

    YOu wrote:

    “Much of this responsibility has been usurped by Rome: curia and Pope John Paul II”

    you often talk (rail) about the “culture of complaint” which you often equate with that which you call the “reform2crew”. I would suggest that this statement reeks of the “culture of complaint”

    I hardly think this document intends to give the impression that the local ordinary may “willy-nilly” give blanket permission for reconcile-a-palooza.

    You make it sound as if the Holy Father was being heavy handed in correcting what obviously became an abuse.

    General Absolution has NO place in a typical North American Parish (unless fireballs are indefinitely raining down from the sky).

    If one is in mortal sin, he needs to go to confession to receive absolution – priests should do everything in thier power to make the sacrament available and accessible (people shouldn’t have to ‘call the rectory’) on a DAILY basis. If this is done, there will never be need of general absolution (even if it is raining down fire from heaven).

    I once attended a penance service where there were four priests available for confessions. About 100 faithful showed up and the pastor, in his zeal to go home and watch television, made the decision to give general absolution. He made a fool of himself when he got up in front of the faithful and stumbled over the words of absolution (if we hear confessions – and give absolution – often, the words come as second nature). After that, all 100 of the faithful still availed themselves of the Sacrament (thus nullifying the “need” for general absolution)

    If we are going to speak of General Absolution, lets keep in mind the proper application of it: Battlefield absolution where there is no time and not nearly enough confessors; a sinking ship or a falling airplane. Finally, a mission station in the African bush which is only visited by a priest once every six months and said priest has only enough time to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass and baptize and confirm a few souls.

  3. Todd says:

    sacerdos, I think it’s possible to be critical without engaging in complaint. I’m not convinced that Pope John Paul was addressing a lturgical abuse when he clamped down on form III. At minimum, it was a problem of the bishops, who should have been consulted on the pastoral application of this form. Rather than drastic medicine, a few doses of adjustment may well have been better for everyone concerned. I’m not convinced that nine years was sufficient time to merit the decision. I’m also unconvinced that immanent danger of death is the only possible scenario. The rite doesn’t indicate this.

    Having said that, I can happily get out of the way and let others comment. If I were indeed part of the Culture of Complaint, I’d post on it tomorrow, next week, a few times after Christmas. Piling on wouldn’t serve any productive purpose. The discipline isn’t likely to change. The clerical and lay approaches to the sacrament aren’t likely to change either. My approach is to finsih up my criticism, then work with what I’ve got. CoC folks generally pick up their toys and go home to play instead.

    I do know that you are decicated to the sacramental life of the Church, and I agree with you that Penance should be offered daily. Also, as you state, it is the reticence of many of your brother priests that harms many of the communal experiences, as well as limits the availability of the sacrament.

    As always, thanks for commenting.

  4. John Heavrin says:

    Perhaps I misunderstand, Todd, but your view seems to boil down to: when you express disagreement, it’s “criticism,” which is good, but when someone else does, it’s “complaint,” which is bad.

    “If we are going to speak of General Absolution, lets keep in mind the proper application of it: Battlefield absolution where there is no time and not nearly enough confessors; a sinking ship or a falling airplane. Finally, a mission station in the African bush which is only visited by a priest once every six months and said priest has only enough time to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass and baptize and confirm a few souls.”

    This is well said, sacerdos. It’s self-evident that extreme emergency situations are and have always been envisioned for general absolution. The burden is on its defenders to justify a reason for it in a parish context, other than as some sort of “shortcut,” so that penitents can “get around” having to confess individually.

  5. Todd says:

    I think you misunderstand, John. Simple complaint lacks a willingness to work for real change. It is part of the modern talk-show or blogging phenomenon: blow off steam on one’s favorite issue, but decline to do any actual work on the matter.

    Knowing him personally, I accept the distinction that sacerdos is a critic, not a complainer. While he and I don’t see eye to eye on a few issues, we can engage in the dialogue, and I know him well enough to know he’s got action behind the talk.

    And I disagree about the extreme emergency situations. That’s not part of what’s written into the rite, as we’ll see in future posts on form III.

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