Redemptionis Sacramentum 169-171

Chapter VIII deals with “Remedies.” It is the final chapter of Redemptionis Sacramentum and will take us through numbered sections 169 through 184. The end is in sight.

[169.] Whenever an abuse is committed in the celebration of the sacred Liturgy, it is to be seen as a real falsification of Catholic Liturgy. St Thomas wrote, “the vice of falsehood is perpetrated by anyone who offers worship to God on behalf of the Church in a manner contrary to that which is established by the Church with divine authority, and to which the Church is accustomed”.[St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theol., II, 2, q. 93, a. 1]

First, we have to come to an agreement on what constitutes “abuse.” Must it be any rubrical variation? Must it be intentional on the part of the person perpetrating it? Must it be a consistent variation, and not just a mistake, a misunderstanding, or a point of ignorance? There is far from a common understanding on liturgical abuse, and I don’t say this to be evasive or obfuscating. Some of what I perceive as “abuse” is really “liturgical stuff I don’t like.” You can be sure that priests, bishops, and the CDWDS get complaints all the time about things that are well within the realm of options given in the Roman Rite.

So there needs to be formation in the Bible and in the liturgy. And for everybody, clergy and laity alike:

[170.] In order that a remedy may be applied to such abuses, “there is a pressing need for the biblical and liturgical formation of the people of God, both pastors and faithful”,[Cf. Vicesimus Quintus Annus 15; cf. also Sacrosanctum Concilium 15-19] so that the Church’s faith and discipline concerning the sacred Liturgy may be accurately presented and understood. Where abuses persist, however, proceedings should be undertaken for safeguarding the spiritual patrimony and rights of the Church in accordance with the law, employing all legitimate means.

Bishops are largely responsible for these, even if the chain of communication is sometimes twisted, coming from the Temple Police to Rome to bishops to priests. I suspect that Pope Francis’s reforms will short-circuit the first connection, and that people will need to be prudent about complaints unless they want bishops to turn a deaf ear to most everything.

[171.] Among the various abuses there are some which are objectively graviora delicta or otherwise constitute grave matters, as well as others which are nonetheless to be carefully avoided and corrected. Bearing in mind everything that is treated especially in Chapter I of this Instruction, attention should be paid to what follows.

And we will get to these in the posts to come in this week. Meanwhile, any comments on liturgical abuse in general, what constitutes it, and what can practically be done in terms of formation/education of the clergy and laity, most of whom are not interested in the details?

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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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