Adoremus on bishops
I think Adoremus have made a good contribution in the March 2003 Bulletin.
There is considerable confusion over how ceremonies should be conducted. What is the ultimate authority? People seem to be giving three answers:
My answer is the liturgical books. I think this is clear from the Code of Canon Law, 846:"The liturgical books, approved by the competent authority, are to be faithfully followed in the celebration of the sacraments." The decrees of promulgation of books like the Roman Missal also highlight this, saying "All things to the contrary notwithstanding."
In theory there seems to be no grounds for dispute. But in practice there are these difficulties:
- there are not yet approved English translations for two important liturgical books: Ceremonial of Bishops (Caeremoniale Episcoporum) of 1984 and Roman Missale (Missale Romanum) of 2002.
- the expense and complexity of the liturgical books
- the 2002 Roman Missal gives its authority to the bishop and to the customs of the people (in some places)
For example, should people kneel after the Lamb of God? Or should they remain standing when the priest says "This is the Lamb of God"?
According to the 2002 Roman Missal, n. 43:
This is followed by:
Unfortunately this does not give uniformity. It creates confusion about which standard to follow. The custom? The liturgical books? The direction of various people during the ceremony?
If instructions to a computer, in a program, were like this there would be all sorts of error messages from the conflicting instructions.
Perhaps Conferences of Bishops will clarify this with their adaptations. Perhaps there will be clearer translations. Perhaps the liturgical books will be enforced through Church tribunals. Perhaps a papal encyclical will contribute to the resolution of such issues.
The Adoremus Bulletin is encouraging because it means there is a wider recognition of these problems. Hopefully it will contribute to improvements.
An issue discussed by Adoremus is whether a diocese should follow the direction of its bishop, Arthur Tafoya:
According to the adaptation of the US bishops, approved 17 April 2002:
The question is when does the "period of religious silence after communion" begin? Adoremus Bulletin argues after an individual recieves communion. Bishop Tafoya believes it is when the presider has returned to his chair.
Clearly its wrong to say there is silence when the Communion hymn is being sung. Hymns are not silent. For people to be standing and singing is to be faithfully following the liturigical books.
What if there is no singing and so the Communion Antiphon is recited? Is it the "period of religious silence after communion" when it is finished? I don't think so. People are still receiving communion.
I think Bishop Tafoya is reasonable in his interpretation, providing a clearer point for when the period of religious silence after communion begins.
I wrote about this on 24 August 2002, quoting from the meeting when the U.S. Bishops voted on this in November 2001. The discussion on this issue concluded:
Was the point of the question understood? Archbishop Lipsomb could have said: "Of course the period of silence does not begin while we are singing the communion hymn." But he did not, the point did not seem to be appreciated.
It presents a difficulty. A reasonable understanding from the discussion before voting is that people could kneel as soon as they received communion. But a reasonable understanding of the adaptation voted is that people should not kneel until there is silence, until the communion hymn is finished.
I think the U.S. bishops should reconsider this wording.
In 2001 the bishops were asked to vote on changing the 2000 General Instruction. But the 2002 General Instruction was different. They should be given the opportunity to vote on adaptations for this 2002 General Instruction.
By J.R. Lilburne, 7 March 2003. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain.