How binding is Redemptionis Sacramentum?


#1

How binding is Redemptionis Sacramentum regarding the holding of Eucharistic Services (or 'Liturgies of the Word with Holy Communion')?

Are such services, without a priest, strictly to be reserved for extreme emergencies (as stated in the document, when there has been no Mass on either the Sunday before or on the following Sunday) and not to be used as a means of providing a 'service' to parishioners on weekdays if the priest is otherwise engaged?

In a country such as England, where there are many other Catholic Churches within easy reach by car, should such services where Holy Communion is given out in the absence of a priest actually ever be held?

Can a Diocesan Bishop set a policy for his diocese allowing routine services like this, and give his Parish Priests authority to allow such services to be routinely held without having to ask the Bishop to authorise each service individually?

Personally I feel such services, unless absolutely necessary in extreme curcumstances, to be treating the Eucharist with less than due respect.


#2

Do you have some portion you want to quote here? What I found was:

[164.] “If participation at the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible on account of the absence of a sacred minister or for some other grave cause,”[269] then it is the Christian people’s right that the diocesan Bishop should provide as far as he is able for some celebration to be held on Sundays for that community under his authority and according to the Church’s norms. Sunday celebrations of this specific kind, however, are to be considered altogether extraordinary. All Deacons or lay members of Christ’s faithful who are assigned a part in such celebrations by the diocesan Bishop should strive “to keep alive in the community a genuine ‘hunger’ for the Eucharist, so that no opportunity for the celebration of Mass will ever be missed, also taking advantage of the occasional presence of a Priest who is not impeded by Church law from celebrating Mass”.[270]

“Absence of a sacred minister” - that’s all - doesn’t say why - just that he is absent, and then it goes on to say, “or some other grave cause.” That would be "not this cause (sacred minister’s absence) but some other grave cause (too drunk to confect?) - I have no idea what other things they might be thinking of.

Now, as to the Bishop. He can, of course, have in place Standard Operating Procedures. The priest is called away on a sudden emergency. You think someone should ring up the Bishop? He’s probably celebrating Mass. So, everyone in the parish knows what to do. At least we did, because our Archbishop had already decided and our Pastor had made this known as needed to staff.

Now, to answer your question: it’s an instruction, not an infallible proclamation. Bishops have rather a lot of latitude, and this can be changed at any time.

It’s always best to assume that priests actually do know what they are doing and also to assume that you and I and all the rest of the laity are nit the ones to be deciding any policies about anything for anyone. Thus we are loyal to our Pope and His Bishops and our Priests, as we are required to be.


#3

To your last paragraph I would say that Redemptionis Sacramentum states that it is the RIGHT of the laity that the Liturgy should truly be as the Church wishes. This would mean that instruction from the Holy See is in fact what the Church truly wishes. It is not simply OK to assume that our parish Priest knows best. Redemptionis Sacramentum suggests that it is in fact the duty of the laity to raise the matter of abuses of the Liturgy (i.e. actions not in line with the document) with our priests, then bishops and then if necessary by lodged a complaint with the Congregation For Divine Worship.

[184.] 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

This is not a case of the laity being told to follow the lead of their Parish Priest and accept that he knows best

[12.] On the contrary, it is the right of all of Christ’s faithful that the Liturgy, and in particular the celebration of Holy Mass, should truly be as the Church wishes, according to her stipulations as prescribed in the liturgical books and in the other laws and norms.

As regarding the Bishop and his role, it also states

[24.] It is the right of the Christian people themselves that their diocesan Bishop should take care to prevent the occurrence of abuses in ecclesiastical discipline, especially as regards the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God and devotion to the Saints.

So we, as laity, have a right that our Bishop also prevents abuses in discipline. Nowhere does it say, "accept the decision of your bishop".

Other paragraphs include:

[42.]The community that gathers for the celebration of the Eucharist absolutely requires an ordained Priest, who presides over it so that it may truly be a eucharistic convocation.

[166.] Likewise, especially if Holy Communion is distributed during such celebrations, the diocesan Bishop, to whose exclusive competence this matter pertains, must not easily grant permission for such celebrations to be held on weekdays, especially in places where it was possible or would be possible to have the celebration of Mass on the preceding or the following Sunday. Priests are therefore earnestly requested to celebrate Mass daily for the people in one of the churches entrusted to their care.

The paragraph above is clear that such services should only take place on weekdays in extreme circumstances, and not if there has been a Mass either on the Sunday before or the Sunday after (which in effect rules out all weekday Eucharistic Services without a priest present, in places like England).

The following paragraph puts the onus on the clergy to ensure that they have respected the rights of the laity, in their right to demand that the Litirgy is carried out according to the wishes of the Church (i.e. as laid out in Redemptionis Sacramentum).

[186.] 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.

As to it merely being 'instruction' and not binding., the final paragraph of the document makes it very clear.

"This Instruction, prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments by mandate of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was approved by the same Pontiff on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, 19 March 2004, and he ordered it to be published and to be observed immediately by all concerned."

It says that it should be OBSERVED IMMEDIATELY BY ALL CONCERNED. That doesn't seem like a statement that gives leaway to clergy to take frtom it the bits they like and leave out the bits they don't (in a sort of pick and mix attitude).

I would suggest that the above shows that adhering to Redemptionis Sacramentum is NOT optional, either for priests or bishops; that the laity have a right to demand that it is adhered to in their parish; that the clergy are obliged to respect that right and that the laity have a right to complain to the Congregation for Divine Worship if it is not adhered to.

I think that the subservient attitude of, "we must have faith and be loyal to our priests, and accept that they know what they are doing" has caused a lot of harm within our Church over recent years. The laity have brains and can read, and such documents from the Holy See are readily available to us in order that we can understand what our Holy Church wants. If priests are not adhering to what Rome has stated as our right then we are entitled to expect our priest to adhere to this.

I wouldn't for an instance suggest we go about nailing copies of such documents to church doors, but we ought to insist that our rights (in terms of liturgy etc) as Catholics belonging to a universal Church be respected by our clergy. Redemptionis Sacramentum was created in order to stamp out abuses of the Liturgy that had become commonplace in parishes. If the Holy See gives instruction telling all concerned that this should be observed immediately, then we as members of the Church are failing in our duty if we turn a blind eye to abuses and take the attitude that, "it is not our place to question 'policy', our priest knows best". The instruction is to us also.


#4

[quote="Brendan_64, post:3, topic:313405"]

So we, as laity, have a right that our Bishop also prevents abuses in discipline. Nowhere does it say, "accept the decision of your bishop".

[/quote]

And who do you think is qualified to decide is an abuse is occurring? You or him?

BTW, your two graphs below, far separated and out-of-conte xt, do not prove whatever criticism you are wanting to make of whatever Parish you are targeting. What you are not, and I am not, are Canon lawyers. You want to write to the Bishop and report whatever, be my guest. But if he is fine with it, then what? You think we have nothing in our teaching that says we owe obedience and fidelity to our Bishops just because it's not included in this specific document? It also doesn't say there is only one God or that Mary is ever-virgin.

You owe obedience to your Bishop. Period. Unless he actually orders you to commit sin.

I read the rest of your post and you have, IMO, completely misunderstood the document. That's why we have Canon Lawyers and Bishops and people who do this for a living and know better than we do.

So, write to the Bishop and demand your rights. Maybe copy Rome. Let us know how that turns out.


#5

Julie Mae,

The aggression in your last post towards me on this seems quite astonishing. I simply asked a question and quoted paragraphs from an instructional document produced by the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Redemptionis Sacramentum was introduced by John Paul II to tackle abuses of the Liturgy by clergy "which in our day not infrequently plague liturgical celebrations in one ecclesial environment or another. In some places the perpetration of liturgical abuses has become almost habitual, a fact which obviously cannot be allowed and must cease."

[quote="Julia_Mae, post:4, topic:313405"]
And who do you think is qualified to decide is an abuse is occurring? You or him?

[/quote]

Who is is qualified to make such a decision? The Congregation for Divine Worship, that's who. Not our priests, not our bishops.

The document clearly states that the laity have a right to expect that the Liturgy is carried out in accordance with Redemptionis Sacramentum, and that the clergy are obliged to adhere to this document. It also states that the laity have the right to ultimately complain to the Holy See, should appraoches to the Parish Priest, then Bishop, not resolve the matter.

[quote="Julia_Mae, post:4, topic:313405"]
BTW, your two graphs below, far separated and out-of-conte xt, do not prove whatever criticism you are wanting to make of whatever Parish you are targeting.

[/quote]

What are you on about? I included no graphs. All I did was quote from Redemptionis Sacramentum.

[quote="Julia_Mae, post:4, topic:313405"]
You think we have nothing in our teaching that says we owe obedience and fidelity to our Bishops just because it's not included in this specific document?

[/quote]

I have said nothing of the sort, however we do not owe our bishops 'blind obedience'. Our bishops do not represent supreme authority. That authority rests with the Pope. It is also very clear, from this document, that we as laity have a right to expect that our priests and bishops carry out the wishes of the Holy See (to whom laity, priests and bishops are obliged to obey). The document also states that we as laity are entitled to ultimately report abuses of the Liturgy to the Holy See. The Liturgy is not the personal property of either bishops, priests of laity.

I really fail to see how it might upset you that the laity have such a right (which is clealy and specifically stated in Redemptionis Sacramentum). We are part of a universal Church and it is only right and proper that the Liturgy thoughout our Church is consistently carried out in accordance with the instructions of the Supreme Head of our Church.

Would you prefer that he Liturgy be adapted and changed to 'suit' the specific 'needs' of particular communities, parishes, priests, or bishops?


#6

[quote="Brendan_64, post:5, topic:313405"]
Julie Mae,

The aggression in your last post towards me on this seems quite astonishing.

[/quote]

I have no idea at all what you are talking about or why you would presume any such thing. So, God bless you abundantly and I'll withdraw.


#7

[quote="Brendan_64, post:3, topic:313405"]
As regarding the Bishop and his role, it also states

[24.] It is the right of the Christian people themselves that their diocesan Bishop should take care to prevent the occurrence of abuses in ecclesiastical discipline, especially as regards the ministry of the word, the celebration of the sacraments and sacramentals, the worship of God and devotion to the Saints.

So we, as laity, have a right that our Bishop also prevents abuses in discipline. Nowhere does it say, "accept the decision of your bishop".

[/quote]

Hmm... ok, earlier in your post, you seemed to be insinuating that your parish priests were committing abuses. Here, you seem to be saying that your bishop is, too?

Or am I reading into your comments? Are you simply pointing out things in the abstract?

[quote][166.] Likewise, especially if Holy Communion is distributed during such celebrations, the diocesan Bishop, to whose exclusive competence this matter pertains, must not easily grant permission for such celebrations to be held on weekdays

, especially in places where it was possible or would be possible to have the celebration of Mass on the preceding or the following Sunday. Priests are therefore earnestly requested to celebrate Mass daily for the people in one of the churches entrusted to their care.

The paragraph above is clear that such services should only take place on weekdays in extreme circumstances, and not if there has been a Mass either on the Sunday before or the Sunday after
[/quote]

I'm reading this one a lot less stringently than you. The text (see my emphasis) doesn't say "extreme circumstances", nor does it say that such services cannot take place when Sunday Mass is available. Rather, the tone is more nuanced in favor of the decision of the local ordinary, who may grant permission (although "not easily"); they may still grant permission even when there are Masses in the previous or upcoming Sunday (although this is a case in which RS says that the local ordinary should "especially... not easily" grant the permission).

So, on the whole, while there is a strong indication that RS recommends against it, there is nevertheless neither the prohibition against it, nor the implication that it is an abuse if the diocesan bishop permits it.

I would suggest that the above shows that adhering to Redemptionis Sacramentum is NOT optional, either for priests or bishops;

Agreed.

that the laity have a right to demand that it is adhered to in their parish;

Agreed. Yet, "adhered to" according to who's interpretation? The laity's? What if the bishop believes that he's following it, and some of his flock disagree?

the laity have a right to complain to the Congregation for Divine Worship if it is not adhered to.

There's a difference between "if it is not adhered to" and "if they don't think that it's being adhered to". In my comments above, I think I've demonstrated one case in which your interpretation could reasonably be held to be inaccurate by a diocesan bishop. In that case, what is one to do? Write CDW on every matter in which we feel that the bishop's gotten it wrong? I would suggest that, if one feels that strongly, one should have a rather airtight case before one presumes to write to Rome. Just my :twocents:

The laity have brains and can read

I think that the problem isn't in the reading, it's in the interpretation. :shrug:


#8

Yes you are reading things into my post. However it seems that the mere suggestion that the clergy (be they priest or bishop) might be capable of an abuse of the Liturgy seems to have some people spitting nails and demanding loyalty to priest and bishop. The document clearly says that abuses of the Liturgy have indeed become commonplace. The whole purpose of the document is to curtail these abuses. If abuses were not widespread, the document would not have been produced.

It does say that the layperson, as a member of the Universal Church, has a right to demand that the clergy carry out the Liturgy in line with the wishes of Rome, not that the layperson must accept the views of their priest of bishop on this matter.

Of course there has to be the facility for the bishop to allow such services, but it is clear that he ‘must not easily grant permission’ for such services to be held on weekdays. The implication here is very clear, i.e. they should not be held on weekdays unless absolutely necesssary. If they are allowed to be carried out routinely, then the bishop is in breach by granting permission too easily to allow these to occur.

Then the layperson has a duty (if dictated by his conscience) to write to the CDW (having of course exhausted all avenues to try to resolve the issue locally). The ultimate decision as to whether or not an abuse has occured is with the CDW, and not with the bishop, the priest, or the layperson.

Redemptionis Sacramentum is an excellent, and much needed document to help address the drift away from traditional, universal Liturgy that was occurring as clergy (and laity) sought to adapt practices to meet (as they saw it) the needs of their particular congregations (or even worse, in order to ‘modernise’ and try to fit in with our changing world). Once we start going down that road we could, in the long term, be in danger of ending up in the mess our Anglican brothers and sisters in Christ currently find themselves in.


#9

[quote="Brendan_64, post:8, topic:313405"]
Yes you are reading things into my post.

[/quote]

OK. I wasn't sure whether you were saying "this is going on in my diocese" or "let's talk about this in the abstract".

It does say that the layperson, as a member of the Universal Church, has a right to demand that the clergy carry out the Liturgy in line with the wishes of Rome, not that the layperson must accept the views of their priest of bishop on this matter.

However, you're making the implicit statement that you know the wishes of Rome better than your priest or your bishop, right? True, in some cases, there may be a priest who attempts to act without regard to the norms. However, you're making a different case, aren't you -- that you know better than a priest or bishop? That may be what rankles some who read your comments.

Of course there has to be the facility for the bishop to allow such services, but it is clear that he 'must not easily grant permission' for such services to be held on weekdays. The implication here is very clear, i.e. they should not be held on weekdays unless absolutely necesssary. If they are allowed to be carried out routinely, then the bishop is in breach by granting permission too easily to allow these to occur.

Then the layperson has a duty (if dictated by his conscience) to write to the CDW

And there's the rub. What you'd be writing and complaining about isn't that your bishop is allowing those Services, but that he's allowing them "too easily". How would you presume that this is the case? How would you propose that you might prove that this is so? Writing the CDW and claiming "too easily" would likely be conjecture. So, what it comes down to is that you wouldn't be telling the CDW "there's an abuse here", but rather, "my bishop is doing things that I don't like". That might rankle folks around here, too. ;)

(having of course exhausted all avenues to try to resolve the issue locally).

That's an important consideration. Let's give your bishop the benefit of the doubt: you write him, complaining, and he replies "thank you for your concern. I, too, am troubled by the necessity for these actions, and have acted in accord with existing norms. Thank you for your continued devotion to our Church." So... then what? He's told you that he's acting in line with his rights, having considered all the norms. What do you do then? Go running to Rome, tattling on him, because you know better than him? Hmm... :hmmm:


#10

My original post simply asks how binding is Redemptionis Sacrmentum on such matters. If people have drawn implications from that and assumed that I am actually saying things that I'm not, then that is their issue.

We do have a right (and a duty) to question what our clergy do (which in the main is entirely admirable). In fact the culture of lack of questioning, and simply having a 'blind obedience' has led to some very unsavoury events in the very recent past.

As to the last point in your post. The decision would rest with the conscience of the lay person, and it would not be about things happening that the lay person doesn't 'like', but rather things happening that the lay person after much prayer, still finds his conscience telling him are wrong. This combined with a reading of binding instruction from Rome which (at the very least in spirit) backs up his conscience, would mean that the lay person cannot in all conscience simply let it lie and say to himself, "I guess the bishop knows best regardless of what my consience dictates".

Anyway, you (and others on here) might be pleased to know that I do not have any intention of writing to the CDW.

God Bless


#11

[quote="Brendan_64, post:10, topic:313405"]
We do have a right (and a duty) to question what our clergy do (which in the main is entirely admirable).

[/quote]

Hmm... not sure that I agree. We have a right to the Liturgy of the Church. We have the right to the Eucharist (presuming we're properly disposed to receive it). I'm not certain that I've ever seen a magisterial document that says, "you have the right to question your clergy". :shrug:

As to the last point in your post. The decision would rest with the conscience of the lay person, and it would not be about things happening that the lay person doesn't 'like', but rather things happening that the lay person after much prayer, still finds his conscience telling him are wrong.

I don't know. In the end, it seems that there's a certain hubris in thinking, "although I don't know the situations and circumstances that my bishop's dealing with, I still know both the situation and Church norms better than he, such that I should write Rome and tell them that I think he's doing it wrong." :shrug:

Blessings,

G.


#12

[quote="Gorgias, post:11, topic:313405"]
I'm not certain that I've ever seen a magisterial document that says, "you have the right to question your clergy". :shrug:

[/quote]

Nor am I certain that I've ever seen a document that states that we must not question our clergy.

God Bless


#13

Can. 212 §3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.


#14

I am going to put my :twocents: in on this. Take it for what it’s worth. I am by no means a Canon Lawyer or scholar, but it is my hobby. I have taken a couple Master’s level classes in Canon Law, and am fortunate to work for a priest/canon lawyer who appreciates my passion for the subject, so we speak of it often. I am not an authority, and this is solely my opinion, based on my knowledge of the subject.

In a nutshell, it is up to the Ordinary (Bishop) of the Diocese to set the “litugical norms” for his diocese. The direction given by Rome, in this case Redemptionis Sacramentum, is addressed to Bishops as a way to say- (my paraphrase, obviously! :p)
"

Hey, we are getting some complaints here that things are getting sloppy, what’s going on? Fix it, NOW- ***you know ***what the rules are."

The “you know” is the key here. Bishops know what they can and cannot do. The ones who want to, know how hard they can “push the envelope”, no matter which way they push it. An “Ordinary” has a lot of lee-way in how he “interprets” what is the “norm” for his diocese. I do not have to like it. But, as long as what he is doing is within his perview as Bishop, in accord with Canon Law, I must accept it.

The example you give is a pefect example of this. Word Services w/ Communion are supposed to be used with a lot more discretion than they probably are in many dioceses. As a matter of fact, in my diocese, they are, at times, used in many ways that are not in the “spirit” of why this option exsists. The problem here is that our Ordinary gave the decision of this to the individual pastor. Something well within his rights, but maybe not the wisest thing to do? :shrug:

In the end, I need to have faith that my Bishop is doing his best to lead his flock the way he sees fit. It is not the mind of the Church that everytime my Bishop does something*** I think ***is wrong, that I run and tattle to Rome. The thing to do is create a dialogue with your Bishop. Ask questions, be respectful, try to understand the big picture, and be part of the solution! :slight_smile:
There are always going to be things that we do not know, and have no business knowing, that factor into any decision made by our Ordinary, and quite honestly, it is out of my “pay-grade” to worry about such things. I have a hard enough time keeping myself out of trouble than to be second-guessing a man who has 5 degrees and has devoted more than 50 years of his life to the Church. :o:blush:


#15

[quote="Oneofthewomen, post:14, topic:313405"]

The thing to do is create a dialogue with your Bishop. Ask questions, be respectful, try to understand the big picture, and be part of the solution! :)

[/quote]

What if you have a bishop that doesn't reply to correspondence?


#16

[quote="Brendan_64, post:15, topic:313405"]
What if you have a bishop that doesn't reply to correspondence?

[/quote]

I guess I would look at said correspondence and pray about whether or not I am presenting my case in the best way.

I think that I would have at least had a chat or 2 with my confessor/spiritual director and/or Pastor before I went around second-guessing my Bishop on something where I most likely do not have all the facts.

I think I would also see if there are others who feel the same way, who are willing to share their experiences. Again, with all charity, kindness, patience and understanding.

Now, if I have done all of these things, and have continually prayed along the way that the Holy Sprit guide me in my discernment, if I feel I must "go over his head", I must be willing and ready to accept any and all consequenses of my actions.

But that's just me... ;):p

eventually the horse gets thirsty enough! :D


#17

[quote="Julia_Mae, post:4, topic:313405"]
And who do you think is qualified to decide is an abuse is occurring? You or him? .

[/quote]

The Vatican. That why they listed them out in R.S.


#18

[quote="Gorgias, post:11, topic:313405"]
Hmm... not sure that I agree. We have a right to the Liturgy of the Church. We have the right to the Eucharist (presuming we're properly disposed to receive it). I'm not certain that I've ever seen a magisterial document that says, "you have the right to question your clergy". :shrug:.

[/quote]

Redemptionis Sacramentum #183

[183.] In an altogether particular manner, let everyone do all that is in their power to ensure that the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist will be protected from any and every irreverence or distortion and that all abuses be thoroughly corrected. This is a most serious duty incumbent upon each and every one, and all are bound to carry it out without any favoritism.


#19

Canon 212? Oh, yeah – that’d be the one that starts out “the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, … establish as rulers of the Church,” isn’t it? That’s what I thought :wink:

In any case, you’ve hit it square on the nose: does a person have a particular competence in a given context (let’s say, perhaps, canon law or Church governance)? Do they have prestige in that area of expertise? Does their competence or prestige give them particular knowledge? Then let them “manifest their opinion… with reverence toward their pastors”.

I still don’t see anything that says that the faithful have “a right (and a duty) to question what our clergy do”, which was what Brandon’s original claim was. (Granted, he backed down to a much weaker position – whether we may question our clergy – once pressed.)

Nevertheless, we’ve already been over that ground: having questioned the bishop and having received an answer, then what? Presume that we have greater competence, knowledge, or prestige than our bishop, and therefore go to Rome? Again, you’d have to be willing to claim that the bishop granted permission “too easily”. How would you substantiate such a claim? Just claiming “we have weekday ‘services in the absence of a priest’” doesn’t run afoul of RS.


#20

Quite right. However, #183 is talking about “irreverence or distortion” and “abuses” of the Eucharist. That’s not the context that Brendan64 was talking about. In the case of the question of whether it’s appropriate to allow a service in the absence of a priest, there’s the possibility of “confusion”, but not sacrilege or abuse of the Eucharist. So, #183 doesn’t apply in the context of our current discussion. (If the question Brendan64 raised was “what should we do if the bishop allows for the service, and I see the lay person who is leading the service profane the Eucharist?”, then you’d have a point. Given that this is *not *what’s at stake here, well… ;))


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.