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Who has the right to lodge a complaint when there is a liturgical abuse? To whom it should be addressed and how it should be dealt with?

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Should the laity be involved with helping to correct liturgical abuses, or should they simply leave this up to professional liturgists and pastors?

In order that a remedy may be applied to such abuses, “there is a pressing need for the biblical and liturgical formation of the people of God, both pastors and faithful,” so that the Church’s faith and discipline concerning the sacred liturgy may be accurately presented and understood. Where abuses persist, however, proceedings should be undertaken for safeguarding the spiritual patrimony and rights of the Church in accordance with the law, employing all legitimate means (RS 170; cf. VQA 15).

Who has the primary responsibility on the local level for dealing with liturgical abuses?

Since he must safeguard the unity of the universal Church, the bishop is bound to promote the discipline common to the entire Church and therefore to insist upon the observance of all ecclesiastical laws. He is to be watchful lest abuses encroach upon ecclesiastical discipline, especially as regards the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God, and the veneration of the saints (RS 392).

What should happen when the local ordinary is notified that a significant liturgical abuse is taking place?

Whenever a local ordinary or the ordinary of a religious institute or of a society of apostolic life receives at least a plausible notice of a delict [“offense”] or abuse concerning the Most Holy Eucharist, let him carefully investigate, either personally or by means of another worthy cleric, concerning the facts and the circumstances as well as the imputability.

Delicts against the faith as well as graviora delicta [“more grave offenses”] committed in the celebration of the Eucharist and the other sacraments are to be referred without delay to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which “examines [them] and, if necessary, proceeds to the declaration or imposition of canonical sanctions according to the norm of common or proper law.”

Otherwise the ordinary should proceed according the norms of the sacred canons, imposing canonical penalties if necessary, and bearing in mind in particular that which is laid down by canon 1326.2 If the matter is serious [Latin, “grave”], let him inform the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (RS 178–80; cf. PB 52).

What happens when Rome is notified of a liturgical abuse that is taking place?

Whenever the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments receives at least a plausible notice of a delict or an abuse concerning the Most Holy Eucharist, it informs the ordinary so that he may investigate the matter. When the matter turns out to be serious [Latin, “grave”], the ordinary should send to the same dicastery as quickly as possible a copy of the acts of the inquiry that has been undertaken, and where necessary, the penalty imposed (RS 181).

Do the faithful have the right to lodge complaints regarding liturgical abuses, and to whom should such complaints be addressed?

Any Catholic, whether priest or deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan bishop or the competent ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity (RS 184).

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Is it okay for a lay person to preach during the Mass?

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Is it okay for a lay person to preach during the Mass?

This is clearly a liturgical abuse if it is truly happening. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states:

The homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to the deacon, but never to a lay person. In particular cases and for a just cause, the homily may even be given by a bishop or a priest who is present at the celebration but cannot concelebrate. (GIRM 66)

The Church recently released a new document dealing with liturgical abuses. The document is entitled Redemptionis Sacramentum (Latin, “The Sacrament of Redemption”). It was prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments at the request of Pope John Paul II, and it offers practical rules (norms) concerning how Mass is to be celebrated and how the Eucharist is to be treated. It focuses on liturgical abuses that have been occurring in recent years.

Redemptionis Sacramentum reiterates GIRM 66 and adds the following:

  • It should be borne in mind that any previous norm that may have admitted non-ordained faithful to give the homily during the eucharistic celebration is to be considered abrogated by the norm of canon [law]. This practice is reprobated, so that it cannot be permitted to attain the force of custom. (RS 65)
  • The prohibition of the admission of laypersons to preach within the Mass applies also to seminarians, students of theological disciplines, and those who have assumed the function of those known as “pastoral assistants”; nor is there to be any exception for any other kind of layperson, or group, or community, or association (RS 66).
  • If the need arises for the gathered faithful to be given instruction or testimony by a layperson in a Church concerning the Christian life, it is altogether preferable that this be done outside Mass. Nevertheless, for serious reasons it is permissible that this type of instruction or testimony be given after the priest has proclaimed the Prayer after Communion. This should not become a regular practice, however. Furthermore, these instructions and testimony should not be of such a nature that they could be confused with the homily, nor is it permissible to dispense with the homily on their account. (RS 74)
  • As was already noted above, the homily on account of its importance and its nature is reserved to the priest or deacon during Mass. As regards other forms of preaching, if necessity demands it in particular circumstances, or if usefulness suggests it in special cases, lay members of Christ’s faithful may be allowed to preach in a church or in an oratory outside Mass in accordance with the norm of law. This may be done only on account of a scarcity of sacred ministers in certain places, in order to meet the need, and it may not be transformed from an exceptional measure into an ordinary practice, nor may it be understood as an authentic form of the advancement of the laity. All must remember besides that the faculty for giving such permission belongs to the local ordinary [bishop], and this as regards individual instances; this permission is not the competence of anyone else, even if they are priests or deacons. (RS 161)
  • The document goes on to explain that abuses such as this “are not to be considered of little account” and are to be “carefully avoided and corrected.” (RS 174)

Any Catholic, whether priest or deacon or lay member of Christ’s faithful, has the right to lodge a complaint regarding a liturgical abuse to the diocesan bishop or the competent ordinary equivalent to him in law, or to the Apostolic See on account of the primacy of the Roman pontiff. It is fitting, however, insofar as possible, that the report or complaint be submitted first to the diocesan bishop. This is naturally to be done in truth and charity. (RS 184)

What does the Church say to those who have committed or turned a blind eye to abuses?

Let bishops, priests, and deacons, in the exercise of the sacred ministry, examine their consciences as regards the authenticity and fidelity of the actions they have performed in the name of Christ and the Church in the celebration of the sacred liturgy. Let each one of the sacred ministers ask himself, even with severity, whether he has respected the rights of the lay members of Christ’s faithful, who confidently entrust themselves and their children to him, relying on him to fulfill for the faithful those sacred functions that the Church intends to carry out in celebrating the sacred liturgy at Christ’s command. For each one should always remember that he is a servant of the sacred liturgy (186).

 

Written by Erineus

July 21, 2014 at 12:57 am