CDWDS Decree on Magnum Principium 9-12: On Significant Adaptations

The Episcopal Conference approves the adaptations of the liturgical books according to the norm of law (cf. can. 838 § 2)

And so, the following paragraphs are introduced. They include references to the 1994 CDWDS document on inculturation, examined here a decade ago. We wade directly into water that is sometimes deep: how to adapt the liturgy to the pastoral and spiritual needs of Catholics, especially those far flung from the cities and Roman-influenced centers of Europe.

9. The more radical adaptation of the Roman Rite (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 40), while always safeguarding the substantial unity attested to in the typical liturgical books, is motivated by cultural factors (ritual practices, symbols, gestures) and not by other reasons; in point of fact, this is called the “inculturation” of the Roman Rite.[Cf. CDWDS,  Varietates Legitimae 31-32] In other words, it is a matter of expressing ritually, through a typology of gestures and symbols, the same content expressed by the traditional gestures and symbols of the Roman Rite. There are also other cases of adaptation, such as Particular Calendars* or particular texts suggested by pastoral necessity.

* Cf. Paul VI, Litterae Apostolicae Motu Proprio datae Normae universales de anno liturgico et novum Calendarium Romanum generale approbantur Mysterii paschalis: AAS 61 (1969) 222-226; Calendarium Romanum ex decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Pauli PP. VI promulgatum, Editio typica, 1969, Normae universales de Anno liturgico et de Calendario, nn. 48-55, pp. 17-19, and also Missale Romanum ex decreto Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II instauratum auctoritate Pauli PP. VI promulgatum Ioannis Pauli PP. II cura recognitum, Editio typica tertia, Typis Vaticanis 2008, pp. 99-100; Sacra Congregatio pro Cultu Divino, Instructio de Calendariis particularibus atque Officiorum et Missarum Propriis recognoscendis Calendaria particularia: AAS 62 (1970) 651-663.

The main point here: how do local Churches remain faithful to the intent of the Roman Rite while remaining fruitful in the expression of liturgy? The level of discernment on this goes beyond any individual bishop:

10. The Bishops’ Conference assesses and approves any adaptations to be made that are not indicated in the editio typica, including the formulation of new texts. [Cf. Varietates Legitimae 64.]

This reference is fairly late in that document on inculturation. A brief discussion here. I agree that great care is needed here. Today’s CDWDS suggests collaboration with experts in bodies dedicated both to e liturgy and doctrine:

The study of these adaptations is entrusted to the Episcopal Liturgy Commission, which, in consultation with the Episcopal Commission for the Doctrine of the Faith, may avail itself of the collaboration of experts. [Cf. Varietates Legitimae 30, 65.]  The President of the Episcopal Conference then presents the acts of the Bishops’ decisions, along with an explanatory report on the choices made and the process followed in the light of the current provisions, to the Apostolic See for the required recognitio.[Cf. Varietates Legitimae 65-69.] 

Ultimately, the bishops are responsible, regardless of what doctrinal theologians and liturgists tell them. This document explains the importance of a wide consultation among bishops:

11. Any adaptations concerning one or more areas of a country require the approval of the Episcopal Conference. This allows a broader and more far-sighted evaluation of particular choices.

Taking care to note which elements of a ritual book is particular to a region and which comes from the original …

12. After obtaining the recognitio these more radical adaptations form part of the liturgical books of a given Episcopal Conference, and must be printed with a typographical indication which shows that they are proper to said Conference. Therefore, they cannot be adopted in the books of another Episcopal Conference, without the latter in turn approving them and requesting the recognitio of the Apostolic See.

This we’ve seen in the US with “different” ritual books in Spanish from neighboring nations in which Spanish is the official language. All this makes perfect sense: be diligent in adapting, consulting widely, and keeping the CDWDS in the loop.

The link of the English translation is here

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in CDWDS Decree on Magnum Principium, Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

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