Inter Oecumenici on Competent Liturgical Authority (20-31)

Let’s continue our look at Chapter I, where we’ve reached subheading VI which leads off with a reminder that lone ranger changers are strongly discouraged:


20. Regulation of the liturgy belongs to the authority of the Church; no one, therefore, is to act on individual initiative in this matter, thereby, as might well happen, doing harm to the liturgy and to its reform under competent authority.

… and though the authority belongs to the Church, there is an “order” to authority, beginning with Rome:

21. The Holy See has the authority to reform and approve the general liturgical books; to regulate the liturgy in matters affecting the universal Church; to approve or confirm the acta and decisions of territorial authorities; and to accede to their proposals and requests.

… and continuing with the local bishop within the norms of Vatican II, Rome, and national conferences. Note also that the “spirit” of Vatican II is explicitly invoked.

22. The bishop has the authority to regulate the liturgy within his own diocese, in keeping with the norms and spirit of the Constitution on the Liturgy, the decrees of the Holy See, and competent territorial authority.

We have some elaboration on groups of bishops:

23. The various territorial assemblies of bishops that have responsibility for the liturgy by virtue of the Constitution art. 22 should for the time being be taken to mean one of the following:

  1. an assembly of all the bishops of a nation, in accordance with the norm of the Motu Proprio Sacram Liturgiam X;
  2. an assembly already lawfully constituted and consisting of the bishops – or of the bishops and other local Ordinaries – of several nations;
  3. an assembly yet to be constituted, with the permission of the Holy See, and consisting of the bishops – or of the bishops and local Ordinaries – of several nations, especially if the bishops in the individual nations are so few that it would be more advantageous for a group to be formed of those from various nations sharing the same language and culture.

If particular local conditions suggest another course, the matter should be referred to the Holy See.

… and whom should be invited to such groups:

24. The following must be included in the call to any of the above-mentioned assemblies:

  1. residential bishops;
  2. abbots and prelates nullius;
  3. vicars and prefects apostolic;
  4. permanently appointed apostolic administrators of dioceses;
  5. all other local Ordinaries, except vicars general.

Coadjutor and auxiliary bishops may be called by the president, with the consent of the majority of the voting members of the assembly.

We get into more practical rules:

25. Unless there is some other lawful provision for certain places and in view of special circumstances, the assembly must be convened:

  1. by the one who is the president, in the case of assemblies already lawfully constituted;
  2. in other cases, by the archbishop or bishop having right of precedence under the norm of law.

26. The president, with the consent of the fathers, establishes the rules of order for dealing with issues and opens, transfers, extends, and adjourns the sessions of the assembly.

27. A deliberative vote belongs to all those named in no. 24, including coadjutor and auxiliary bishops, unless the convening instrument expressly provides otherwise.

28. Lawful enactment of decrees requires a two-thirds vote by secret ballot.

29. The acta of the competent territorial authority, to be transmitted to the Holy See for approval, that is, confirmation, should include the following:

  1. the names of participants in the assembly;
  2. a report on matters dealt with;
  3. the outcome of the vote on each decree.

These acta, signed by the president and secretary of the assembly and stamped with a seal, shall be sent in duplicate to the Consilium.

The Consilium is picking up the vernacular ball and running with it:

30. With regard to acta containing decrees on use of the vernacular and the manner of its introduction into the liturgy, the acta, following the Constitution on the Liturgy art. 36, § 3 and the Motu Proprio Sacram Liturgiam no. IX, should also contain:

  1. a list of the individual parts of the liturgy for which use of the vernacular has been decided;
  2. two copies of the liturgical texts prepared in the vernacular, one of which will be returned to the assembly of bishops;
  3. a brief report on the criteria used for the work of translation.

31. The decrees of the territorial authority needing the approval, that is, confirmation, of the Holy See shall be promulgated and implemented only when they have received such approval, that is, confirmation.

And once Rome gives approval for what they need to authorize, the bishops are good to go. Any questions, comments, thoughts?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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