Redemptionis Sacramentum 14-16

Chapter I covers numbered sections 14 through 35. The topic? “The regulation of the Sacred Liturgy.” Let’s read about it.

[14.] “The regulation of the Sacred Liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, which rests specifically with the Apostolic See and, according to the norms of law, with the Bishop.[Sacrosanctum Concilium 22 §1; cf. Code of Canon Law 838 §1]

Note: bishop is singular. The bishop is of course the chief liturgist of the diocese. You’ll note that the role of the national conference isn’t mentioned here. It will come up later in this chapter, however. (RS 26-28)

[15.] The Roman Pontiff, “the Vicar of Christ and the Pastor of the universal Church on earth, by virtue of his supreme office enjoys full, immediate and universal ordinary power, which he may always freely exercise”[Code of Canon Law 331; cf. Lumen Gentium 22], also by means of communication with the pastors and with the members of the flock.

Modern communication methods make this much more possible today than ever before. The implication is that the pope can bypass the the bishop and the episcopacy and address pastors and laity directly.

[16.] “It pertains to the Apostolic See to regulate the Sacred Liturgy of the universal Church, to publish the liturgical books and to grant the recognitio for their translation into vernacular languages, as well as to ensure that the liturgical regulations, especially those governing the celebration of the most exalted celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass, are everywhere faithfully observed”.[Code of Canon Law 838 §2]

And this revision in canon law is not without some controversy, namely in the centralizing of power in Rome, and not with the local bishops. In effect, this reduces the role of bishop to branch manager, policeman, spokesperson, moderator.

One question might be: does this make the Church better? Is the liturgy more effective and fruitful? Does it respect the traditional role of the bishop?

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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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2 Responses to Redemptionis Sacramentum 14-16

  1. FrMichael says:

    I missed something here: what change in canon law are you referring to in this section?

    “Full, immediate, and universal” isn’t a reference to modern communications. It is a reference to Vatican I’s dogmatic definition of the jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff. Of course, the printing press & electronic communications allow the inherent powers of the Papacy to be perceived more clearly by Catholics outside of Italy than in centuries past.

  2. Todd says:

    I could have been more clear: this rollback in canon law is not from the prior 1917 edition, but Vatican II’s placement of the bishops as closer to front and center for the administration of liturgy, rather than the curia.

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