Farewell Canon 838, and a new great principle — updated

There is quite some buzz afoot about an impending liturgical change. Fr Z outed the issue last night.

UPDATE: See the developments, the ominous here, and the positive here.

It seems that the change will not be to liturgical law but to canon law. In particular, canon 838. Currently it reads:

Canon  838

§1. The direction of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church which resides in the Apostolic See and, according to the norm of law, the diocesan bishop.

§2. It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books and review their translations in vernacular languages, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.

§3. It pertains to the conferences of bishops to prepare and publish, after the prior review of the Holy See, translations of liturgical books in vernacular languages, adapted appropriately within the limits defined in the liturgical books themselves.

§4. Within the limits of his competence, it pertains to the diocesan bishop in the Church entrusted to him to issue liturgical norms which bind everyone.

I have not seen the text of the mooted motu proprio and what changes it will make to this canon, but the word is that bishops’ conferences will be granted the power to choose their own liturgical translations, with Rome only exercising the power to confirm them… or not to confirm them.

Clearly this has the potential to set bishop against bishop within a particular conference. The secular politics of language will be let loose to rampage through the peace of the Church again. Yet more changes will be made to the ever-evolving, never-stable liturgy. The curia will have been emasculated even more. “Power” will be devolved to the ecclesial novelty of bishops’ conferences as part of the theological novelty of collegiality. Parishes, monasteries and religious houses will have to spend even more money on new liturgical books.

The motu proprio will need to be read carefully to see what positive things it might also contain. But it seems set to establish a new great principle in the post-conciliar liturgy. For now, read and farewell canon 838. For soon it shall reflect the triumph of Piero Marini. A red hat for him soon, I should think.

Latin is looking good. The Extraordinary Form is looking even better.

Archbishop Piero Marini


PS An interpretive document from the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Roche, is doing the rounds. It does not give the text of the motu proprio but it does give a good idea of what is coming. I feel it indelicate to share the interpretation before the motu proprio is itself released. And I need to study it more carefully. But here is its opening lines:

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Join the Conversation

  1. What is the norm in your house Father? Are abbots subject to the E&W Bishops’ Conference or are you ruled by your monastic superiors?

    1. That’s a complex one. The abbot ranks as an ordinary so we are under him not the bishop. That said, the bishop has certain responsibilities for the liturgy throughout his diocese. We would be loathe to upset the bishop. That said, we have a good one!

  2. It is increasingly difficult to avoid the conclusion that the papal agenda principally involves the creation of autocephalous national churches. I always thought that was the real objective of Amoris Letitiae, rather than the proclaimed pastoral concern for people in irregular marriages. Thus it progresses the project for, say, the Polish bishops to interpret it in one way and the German bishops in another.

    This motu proprio, assuming it says what we expect, simply makes the agenda more explicit.

  3. Father–my little observation here is not so much in the law or of the mandates set by either Rome vs the bishops but in the Church as a whole..

    I do greatly appreciate that as a cleric, you are doing your utmost to inform and share what is taking place to a confused flock….yet I can’t help but fret as I sit watching a world spinning out of control.

    What with the devastating attacks against Western Civilization from both those within and with out…..as I watch Christianity being attacked by citizen and politician alike.
    I read a good many posts by “Christian” bloggers of all denominations.
    There is often the bickering and squabbling over who is right and who is wrong theologically. There is the Catholic bashing, the Protestant bashing, the Evangelical bashing….
    all from one another as the atheists and nonbelievers revel in the madness.

    I simply pray that the Church, yes, that being the Church of Rome can and will somehow become the bastion of defense in this mad mad world.

    I am certainly no doomsdayer or Revelationist who is carrying a placard reading “Repent, the end is near”…however I can’t help but read the writing on the wall.
    Times are indeed grave and spiritual leadership—the right spiritual leadership, is going to be, if not so already, key as well as paramount.

    What seems to be taking place in the Church is much the same of what is taking place in society—a distraction and distortion. It’s as if Satan is gleeful in thinking “if I can get them confused enough and distracted by their own little battles and issues, taking their attentions from the real issues at hand, then real havoc can play out and by the time they take notice, it very well may be too lat!”

    Do I feel the leadership is there in Rome to be the polestar during these most precarious times, I don’t know.
    I think it was there with John Paul—however perhaps it was during his tenure that the groundwork for the cardinals and bishops to become so divisive began.

    Anyway—I know you’re thinking I am so off topic and please don’t think I am trying to rain on your parade of decimating the latest on necessary news—I just want the Church to stand up and be that guiding light speaking the Word of Truth to a world now lost in the lies….

  4. “…he shall make a firm covenant with many for one week: and for the half of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease; and upon the wing of abominations shall come one that maketh desolate.” Dan. 9:27


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