Motu Proprio “Magnum Principium” granting authority on liturgical translations to Bishops’ Conferences

Breaking: Motu Proprio “Magnum Principium” granting authority on liturgical translations to Bishops’ Conferences – Rorate Caeli

Speaking of storms on the horizon: Motu Proprio on approval of liturgical translations – Fr. Z(uhlsdorf)

Farewell Canon 838, and a new great principle — updated – Dominus mihi adjutor

Fr Hugh
Saturday, 9 September, 2017

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

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.

[“New and improved” version from the motu proprio – emphasis in the original]

Can. 838 – §1. The ordering and guidance of the sacred liturgy depends solely upon the authority of the Church, namely, that of the Apostolic See and, as provided by law, that of the diocesan Bishop.

§2. It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books, recognise adaptations approved by the Episcopal Conference according to the norm of law, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.

§3. It pertains to the Episcopal Conferences to faithfully prepare versions of the liturgical books in vernacular languages, suitably accommodated within defined limits, and to approve and publish the liturgical books for the regions for which they are responsible after the confirmation of the Apostolic See.

§4. Within the limits of his competence, it belongs to the diocesan Bishop to lay down in the Church entrusted to his care, liturgical regulations which are binding on all. Consequently this is how art. 64 §3 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus as well as other laws are to be interpreted, particularly those contained in the liturgical books concerning their revision. Likewise I order that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments modify its own “Regulations” on the basis of the new discipline and help the Episcopal Conferences to fulfil their task as well as working to promote ever more the liturgical life of the Latin Church.

I have not seen the text of the mooted motu proprio [now available at press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2017/09/09/170909a.html ] 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 disciple of Annibale Bugnini]. A red hat for him soon, I should think.

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

PS An interpretive document from the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Roche [not the Prefect, Cardinal Sarah!], 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 … [now available at press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2017/09/09/170909a.html ].

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