Varietates Legitimae 31-32: The Responsibility of The Episcopal Conference

National conferences of bishops have particular responsibilities, as we read in these two sections:

31. Since it is a question of local culture, it is understandable that the constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium assigned special responsibility in this matter to the “various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established.” (SC 22; cf. SC 39, 40, canons 447-448ff) In regard to this, episcopal conferences must consider “carefully and prudently what elements taken from the traditions and cultures of individual peoples may properly be admitted into divine worship.” (SC 40) They can sometimes introduce “into the liturgy such elements as are not bound up with superstition and error … provided they are in keeping with the true and authentic spirit of the liturgy.” (SC 37)

After the direct quotes from Vatican II, a few previews of what is to come later in VL:

32. Conferences may determine, according to the procedure given below (cf. Nos. 62 and 65-69), whether the introduction into the liturgy of elements borrowed from the social and religious rites of a people, and which form a living part of their culture, will enrich their understanding of liturgical actions without producing negative effects on their faith and piety. They will always be careful to avoid the danger of introducing elements that might appear to the faithful as the return to a period before evangelization (cf. below No. 47).

In any case, if changes in rites or texts are judged to be necessary, they must be harmonized with the rest of the liturgical life and, before being put into practice, still more before being made mandatory, they should first be presented to the clergy and then to the faithful in such a way as to avoid the danger of troubling them without good reason (cf. below, Nos. 46 and 69).

These steps all seem to be sensible, if they are carried out with due competence, study, and preparation.

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About catholicsensibility

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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