We continue with an examination of the role of the bishop (RS 19-25) with a brief reflection on the limits of the ministry of the diocesan bishop. A bishop is given competence, and he has the authority, but he is asked to consider the limits that pertain to the curia, as well as the pastors of the parishes and other communities of the local church.
[21.] It pertains to the diocesan Bishop, then, “within the limits of his competence, to set forth liturgical norms in his Diocese, by which all are bound”.[Code of Canon Law 838 §4] Still, the Bishop must take care not to allow the removal of that liberty foreseen by the norms of the liturgical books so that the celebration may be adapted in an intelligent manner to the Church building, or to the group of the faithful who are present, or to particular pastoral circumstances in such a way that the universal sacred rite is truly accommodated to human understanding.[Cf. Consilium for Implementing the Constitution on the Liturgy, Dubium: Notitiae 1 (1965) p. 254.]
This last piece comes from very early in the conciliar reform, an example of the subsidiarity promoted in many ways by Vatican II. We’ve lost something of the importance of local communities and their leaders making reasonable determinations for the pastoral good, especially the spiritual life of the community. The consilium mentions a “human” understanding. Does liturgy need to be human? How does that quality properly apply in rites for a worldwide Church? It’s not at all an easy discernment to make. I will easily concede that many post-conciliar decisions, especially the poor ones, were conducted without considering the full impact of some choices, and the gravity of the Church’s liturgy in the life of believers.