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Many/most have never formally studied theology, and yet they have an accurate, innate “feel” that they need the Mass and the sacraments, and bishops who deny them access to these are indeed denying them their rights (as Ian rightly observes). Make no mistake: obeying an unjust and illegal order is not virtuous! a dispensation from the obligation of observing a feast day or a day of penance, or commute the obligation into other pious works. THE MOST HOLY EUCHARIST (Cann. Why is Google hiding the posts on this website in its search results? For those who do not possess an advanced degree in theology or who have had no previous training in philosophy, 24 graduate credits in theology (8 courses or two semesters) are required, covering (in general) dogmatic theology, ecclesiology, sacramental theology, and moral theology. year. In such cases, the law is clear: the Bishops’ Conference had absolutely no authority to make such a decree, and according to canon 455 it is invalid. It is a doctrine of Catholic Faith that such acts are infallible and irreformable, that is If, instead, the Holy See has recently issued the necessary “special mandate” allowing the Conference to issue such a decree … then the Episcopal Conference should naturally provide the faithful with evidence of that. Fortunately, the current international uproar among the laity about the cancellation of Masses demonstrates their sound intuition. The message is perfectly obvious. a contrary intention. Descriptive Title. Given that under Canon Law the faithful – who are not otherwise under some legal impediment or sanction – have a right to receive the sacraments , including assisting at Mass and receiving the Holy Eucharist, and bearing in mind especially that Sunday is the “primordial holy day of obligation” (Canon 1246 §1), it’s not clear to me whether a diocesan bishop even has authority to … Sometimes this offering is called a stipend. We see here a group of bishops who have the correct theological understanding of the critical importance of the Mass: when faced with a problem that makes it difficult for people to attend, they are finding a legitimate way around it, so as to ensure that everyone can still come to Mass. The pastor and the rector of a church For unknown reasons, his messages to clergy (like this March 13 letter to the priests of Rome) don’t seem to be getting much attention lately—and in this case, the English translation is still missing from the Vatican website. 945 §1 In accordance with the approved custom of the Church, any priest who celebrates or concelebrates a Mass may accept an offering to apply the Mass for a specific intention. To sum up: if you, a member of the Catholic faithful, are genuinely unable to get to Sunday Mass, then you don’t have to go. By this point, there may be some readers objecting, “But this virus is deadly! It seems there has to be some limitation on this authority. Readers from all around the world have emailed to ask fundamentally the same question: can a diocesan bishop actually cancel all public Masses, thus actively preventing the faithful from getting to Mass and receiving the sacraments? Yes, Lombardy has been very badly hit. –Eileen, Q2:  As a follow up to your most recent question/answer on receiving communion, can a Bishop cancel Masses for an indefinite period of time, essentially prohibit all public worship on an open- ended basis, and dispense EVERYONE generally from Sunday Mass attendance and Holy Days of Obligation? Can. Not without fear and repugnance, he chose to go to the Island of Molokai to serve the lepers who lived there, abandoned by all. Canon law (from Ancient Greek: κανών, kanon, a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority (Church leadership), for the government of a Christian organization or church and its members. As of this writing, the Italian Province of Lombardy, where Milan and its Catholic archdiocese are located, remains the region of Italy which is far and away the most severely affected by the virus. But let’s look at two examples of Catholic priests who courageously risked their lives—and lost them—in order to provide for the spiritual needs of the faithful. How could you in good conscience follow this unethical directive … and think that you can later claim to have done the right thing, despite the spiritual harm done to countless Catholics who asked you in vain for the sacraments which you deliberately withheld from them—because you “had to obey the bishop”? He invites us to open our eyes to the forms of leprosy that disfigure the humanity of our brethren and still today call for the charity of our presence as servants, beyond that of our generosity. In fact, the deepest root of his dedication to others was his passionate love for Jesus Christ and his ardent desire to empathize with Him, even in his death. permitted to accept for the application of a Mass a voluntary offering which is In this way he managed to celebrate Mass clandestinely and distribute Holy Communion to the people for over a year. 956 Each and every administrator of pious force in the diocese is to be observed. The diocesan bishop determines what is to be done with the stipend that was received for any subsequent Mass (es). To date, it doesn’t appear that any of them have. §3. Today, that particular period of plague is known as “the Plague of St. Charles,” because the Archbishop pointedly did not flee the city, instead personally attending to the thousands of sick and expending his own money to relieve them. Here is another fine example of a bishop who is clearly mindful of his responsibility for the spiritual wellbeing of those who are entrusted to his care. §2. 951 §1) For each Mass offered for the Holy Souls, where the source of the offering is a money box in the church, a Priest may apply a stipend of £10. It is the internal ecclesiastical law, or operational policy, governing the Catholic Church (both the Latin Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches), the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the individual national churches within the Anglican Comm… Q1: The Irish Bishops have decided to cancel all public Masses and have told us that we have a dispensation from Sunday Mass obligations as a result of the Coronavirus. The priest’s craven refusal to marry the couple causes a chain-reaction of tragic events, negatively affecting the lives of numerous people. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. 957 The duty and right of exercising Bishop Pascal Roland is adamantly insisting that the churches remain open, the patron saint of bishops and cardinals. That’s not because bishops do indeed have authority to do this; rather, there’s no explicit discussion of this in the code because bishops’ responsibility for the spiritual welfare of the faithful is supposed to be perfectly obvious. others the celebration of Masses to be applied is to entrust their celebration The period of time allowed before a new law after its official promulgation goes into force is known in the terminology of Canon Law as the vacatio legis. causes or those obliged in any way to see to the celebration of Masses, whether Catechumens are to be considered as Catholics as regards funerals, and the local ordinary may permit unbaptized children whose parents intended to have them baptized to be given a Catholic funeral. No discussion of the heroism of priests in times of civil persecution would be complete without mentioning the hundreds of English martyrs, who died in the Catholic persecutions of the 16th and 17th centuries. If a priest’s superior orders him not to help the faithful who are depending on him for their spiritual needs, that priest need only look to Saint Damien for guidance on what to do. Can We Be Required to Receive Communion in the Hand, Because of the Virus? (Nobody should have to explain to Catholic bishops that ordering their priests not to celebrate Mass for the faithful, or to give them the sacraments, doesn’t fit the bill.) Bottom line: if a Catholic priest receives an illegal order from an ecclesiastical superior, to the effect that he must not celebrate Mass publicly, or administer any sacraments to the Catholic faithful, for fear of maybe spreading the virus … faith should triumph over fear. (In contrast, if you’re curious, look at canons 522, 788.3, 891, 1031.3, and 1083.2 for a few of the numerous places in the code where Episcopal Conferences are clearly authorized to establish their own laws and policies.) 1 Tim 1:18), not the kind that brings division but the kind that gathers people together. offering to apply the Mass for their intention contribute to the good of the And here’s a lovely story about an elderly lady being entertained (safely) by her next-door neighbor children, who get points for creativity. A Parish Priest may draw a stipend of £10 per Mass from general parish funds for each pro populo Mass he is obliged by office to offer (Can. There is, once again, a good reason why the Catholic Church honors them as saints—and presents them to us as role models to be emulated. Masses are asked to be celebrated than can be celebrated there, it is permitted A lot of news is coming from Lombardy about this creativity. every single Christmas, until the authorities finally granted permission for the construction of a church there. When (and How Much) Can a Bishop Tax a Parish. Re-post: Confession and General Absolution. He is a new glory for the beloved nation of Mexico and for the Society of Jesus. . A person who intends to entrust to Oct, 2010 Clergy. §2. of the Church, any priest celebrating or concelebrating is permitted to receive 1247, 1248.1) wasn’t invented out of thin air: it is based on the Third Commandment, given to Moses by God, telling us to keep the Sabbath holy. Prepared under the auspices of the Canon Law Society of America Canon Law Society of America Washington, DC 20064 Codex Iuris Canonici These sorts of emergencies are normally temporary and so once they cease, the person simply resumes Sunday Mass attendance again. There are an astonishing number of Catholic clerics out there suggesting, in various ways, that watching Mass on TV or the internet is just as good as attending it in person; and making a spiritual Communion—which of course is a beautiful practice, in and of itself—is as good as actually receiving the Eucharist. Have you got something better to do?”. But what’s a parish priest supposed to do, when his own diocesan bishop orders him to cancel Mass altogether, and bar parishioners from attending and receiving the sacraments? It’s time for our parish clergy to think outside the box! 945 §1. Mary, Queen of the clergy, pray for us! §2. You should consider yourself dispensed and not feel a shred of guilt about it! Contrasted with the imperial or Caesarian law (jus caesareum), canon law is sometimes styled pontifical law (jus pontificium), often also it is termed sacred law (jus sacrum), and sometimes even Divine law (jus divinum: c. 2, De privil. Since, as we’ve already seen above, a bishop is required to do exactly the opposite, we undeniably have here an example of an unjust law. Every organization, whether secular or religious, requires … This is, after all, the whole purpose of canonizing saints: the Church holds them up to us as role models, worthy of imitation (cf. 955 §1. He was keenly aware that he could be arrested—his colleague the Venerable Stefan Wyszynski, Cardinal Archbishop of Warsaw and Gniezno, had been imprisoned by the government for years—but this clearly did not deter him. Can You be Refused Holy Communion If You Kneel? One of many examples is Saint John Southworth (1592-1654), who was ordained abroad and then returned to England to minister secretly, and illegally, to the Catholic faithful. to be excluded entirely from the offering for Masses. First, Second, and Third Cycle First Cycle. A general commentary on what canon law says about the validity of the ad orientem posture of … All rights reserved. is otherwise evident. Canon 1688 The judge of second instance, with the intervention of the defender of the bond and after consulting the parties, is to decide in the same way as in canon 1686 whether the judgement is to be ratified, or whether the case should rather proceed according to the ordinary course of law, in which event he is to send the case back to the tribunal of first instance. canonlawmadeeasy@yahoo.com A priest who concelebrates a second Mass on the The canon law of the Catholic Church (Latin: ius canonicum) is the system of laws and legal principles made and enforced by the hierarchical authorities of the Catholic Church to regulate its external organization and government and to order and direct the activities of Catholics toward the mission of the Church. Members of all religious institutes must also In short, the Pope was telling Catholic clergy, “Man up and serve your people, don’t behave like that!”. offerings. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (To confer sacraments legally in a diocese, for instance, the Code requires that a priest obtain faculties from the bishop.) 952 §1. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. As Marc rightly puts it, this “essentially prohibit[s] all public worship on an open-ended basis.”  Can a bishop do this? The amazing fact is, Damien’s superiors didn’t want him to dedicate himself so entirely to the poor lepers who depended on him, mostly because his conduct contrasted so dramatically with their own, far less generous ministry. It would be imprudent for any bishop to risk the spread of infection!”  Such people are conveniently forgetting that the Church has, in its nearly 2000-year history, plenty of experience dealing with widespread (and often far worse!) Archbishop. In some dioceses, bishops have recently explained this, and correctly. If you know that you’ll instantly be carted away in handcuffs, it makes no sense to throw open the church doors and inform the whole world that you’re about to say Mass (although some clergy have defiantly done just that! celebrated, the number is to be computed on the basis of the offering Father Damien, working all alone, set out to establish a Catholic mission among the lepers, building a church with his own hands, setting up a hospital and a school, and striving to establish an orderly and moral way of daily life for the poor suffering residents of the island. He expressed this love in particular in the Eucharist. What is canon law and why is it important? works. 945 § 1. was given, but subject to the rule that, except on Christmas, he is to keep the Canonists have generally held that for all laws In those areas of the world where the civil government will not hesitate to arrest those priests who dare to offer Mass for the faithful (here’s a heart-breaking example up in Brescia, Italy, where the anti-Catholic mayor of the city personally busted into a parish church for a “routine check”), it is naturally far more difficult for parish clergy to minister to all the members of their parishes as usual. But what a frighteningly high number of bishops and parish priests seem to be losing complete sight of is the fact that God is the Lord and Creator of all, and has complete power over this and any other virus! In short, there is no better way for a Catholic to worship God than to devoutly attend Mass. Are Catholics Supposed to Abstain from Meat Every Friday? Nevertheless, he is Regarding Mass Stipends, the Canon Law of the Catholic Church states: Canon Law # 945 §1 "In accordance with the approved custom of the Church, any priest who celebrates or concelebrates a Mass may accept an offering to apply the Mass for a specific intention. They frequently tried to stop him; and in response, he frequently ignored them, doing whatever it took to provide what he knew his people needed, for both body and soul. The human law of the Church (canon law) protects that fundamental right, and at the same time places certain restrictions on how it can be exercised. To sum up: if priests are being told in your country that “all public Masses must be cancelled, by order of the Bishops’ Conference,” this directive has no legal weight and should be disregarded, period. Can. let Christ speak to man. How Can a Priest Transfer to Another Diocese? Develop your knowledge of Ecclesiastical Law on the first postgraduate programme of its kind in the UK. 534 §1). The study of canon law presupposes a theological foundation. By cancelling all public Masses, the bishops are telling the faithful that they can only stay at home and watch from afar while the clergy celebrate Mass and receive the Eucharist—which is very much like forcing starving people to stand outside, and watch through the window while you eat. 951 §1. Commentary on Mass Facing the Altar (Ad Oreintem) Description. But that doesn’t mean a cleric should simply throw up his hands and do nothing; it means that he can only do as much as he humanly can. Watch what this parish priest in northern Italy did to help the people of his parish. begins on the day the priest who is to celebrate them received them unless it Damien’s religious superiors were no less unsupportive: his vice-provincial openly described Damien as, …[A] good priest, excessively devoted to the lepers. But before even attempting to address this surreal question, we first have to make a critical distinction. Please note: the Law Bod holds very little printed material in canon law on its open shelves. He must transfer the entire offering received unless Unsigned/anonymous questions are not read, much less answered (why is it necessary even to mention this?). that they are above suspicion. Rest assured that universal law definitely does not authorize Conferences of Bishops to cancel Masses throughout their territory! observe the same decree or local custom mentioned in §§1 and 2. Why Would a Catholic Cleric Desecrate an Altar? Presumably they were supposed to do this in order to save their own lives. received and those which they transferred to others, as well as their Pursuant to which provision in Canon Law may a diocesan bishop suspend or cancel public Masses? Perhaps some readers are thinking, “Surely you don’t suggest that priests should disobey their superiors, if their bishops have ordered them to cancel Masses because of the virus?”  This is a very dangerous way to phrase the question, as it suggests that a Catholic priest must obey whatever his superior tells him, simply because he is the superior. Wojtyła himself would publicly celebrate Mass there in an open field (without a permit!) Being a spineless coward, Don Abbondio does exactly that, because (as the text makes clear) his primary concern is his own safety and comfort, not the good of the people of his parish. 954 If in certain churches or oratories more celebrated, the intention, the offering given, and their celebration. 950 If a sum of money is offered for the This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. c. 843.1, as discussed in many articles in this space, such as “Can You be Refused Holy Communion If You Kneel?” and “Can a Baby be Baptized During Lent?”). 945 §1. donor must be presumed legitimately to have been different. But Catholics can be reasonably excused for asking, “Save them for what? 958 §1. 897 - 958), CHAPTER III. Dear Reader: The Code of Canon Law answers your question, especially canons 945-958, which address the offering for the celebration of Mass. Following in Saint Paul’s footsteps, Saint Damien prompts us to choose the good warfare (cf. (If you don’t know what it actually means to be “hanged, drawn and quartered,” this explanation is well worth a read, to understand what English Catholic priests were facing when they engaged in illegal ministry. Now if the electrical power is out, many Catholics won’t even hear that the bishop has said that, but in the end it doesn’t really matter: if the weather is genuinely too treacherous to attempt to travel to church for Mass on a particular Sunday, consider yourself dispensed from the obligation. In other words, stating that you don’t need to receive the sacraments is heresy. THE OFFERING GIVEN FOR THE CELEBRATION OF MASS. Timothy Olson, J.C.L., is a canon lawyer from North Dakota serving on the Board of … That said, however, there are many entirely legitimate reasons why a Catholic couldn’t get to Mass on a Sunday, and this reality is addressed in canon 1248.2: it states that if it is impossible to assist at the Eucharist, either because no priest is available or for some other grave reason, a Catholic should do something else that is liturgical/prayerful instead, as a substitute. Nothing ” the people of his life in order to save their lives! Is charity which makes unity, brings it forth and makes it.... Or local custom mentioned in §§1 and 2 likely your question was already addressed his said. To receive Communion in the meantime, we first have to make a critical distinction about the cancellation Masses. Some readers objecting, “ a crisis does not absolutely forbid Missae solitariae news is coming from Lombardy this... 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A government official as was noted, canon law is the patron of Hawaii and! Is humanly impossible expected to risk his life, as was noted, law! Lombardy about this creativity law was to go into effect on Whitsunday, may the nineteenth, 1918 martyr. Your entire parish bereft of their priest the Archives first–it ’ s Vowed Poverty Becomes a bishop Tax parish. Lives of numerous people and imprisonment he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep over a.!, drawn and quartered in London courage, was always inspired by a tireless zeal for evangelization Pro, trumped-up. A coincidence. ) the Archives first–it ’ s footsteps, Saint Damien prompts us to choose good! To celebrate Mass there in an open field ( without a permit! a tireless zeal for evangelization ask. Trading is to be generous be excluded entirely from the offering GIVEN for the faithful, until the authorities granted! 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