Jurisdictions & travel

When we travel, are we still bound by the ecclesiastical disciplines in our own diocese, or by the disciplines in the place we are temporarily staying. I’m thinking, for example of the way abstaining from meat on Fridays is not prescribed in America, but is in Europe. Is an American registered at a US parish but on holiday in Europe under the European or American rules on this one?

Does it make a difference if you travel to an area that’s under a different canonical rite, e.g. the Middle East?

When it comes to different rites, one is bound by the rules of one’s own church, so you would not be bound by their fasts and days of obligation. Within the same church, you should follow the liturgical norms of the place to which you have traveled but I suspect you would remain bound by the other disciplines of your home diocese (it is your ordinary, after all, who has the care of your soul). We have some resident canonists, though, so wait around and see if someone in the know can answer.

Not quite true.

One is bound by the disciplines set by one’s own bishop.

For example, if your home diocese had a Holy Day of Obligation and you were in another diocese (or country) which did not observe an Obligation on that day, you would still be obliged to go.

On the other hand, if one was in a diocese\country that had a Holy Day that was not observed in your diocese, there is no Obligation to attend Mass.

Consult canon 13:

§1. Particular laws are not presumed to be personal but territorial, unless it is otherwise evident.

§2. Travelers are not bound: 1) by the particular laws of their own territory as long as they are absent from it unless either the transgression of those laws causes harm in their own territory or the laws are personal; 2) by the laws of the territory in which they are present, with the exception of those laws which provide for public order, which determine the formalities of acts, or which regard immovable goods located in the territory.

Travelers are bound to universal laws, of course. Since a Catholic is ascribed to the Latin Church or one of the Eastern Churches, he or she would be bound to those universal laws of that Church.

They would also be generally bound to any personal precepts. (For example, a bishop may forbid his clergy to enter gam(bl)ing casinos anywhere. The precept “sticks to the bones,” regardless of where they are.)

Otherwise, they would not be bound to the particular law of their own diocese. (For example, the bishop establishes a holy day of obligation as a general law. This is the particular law mentioned in the canon. His subjects are not obliged to observe the obligation outside the diocese, unless this would cause harm in that diocese of origin.)

Would assisting at a Mass on a day that is a Holy Day of Obligation in the USA but not in another country fulfill the obligation if the Mass in the foreign country was just a regular daily Mass?

That’s very interesting. I didn’t realize (basically) all particular law went out the window when you travel. As a follow-up question, though, for my clarification:

You said one is bound by universal law when traveling, but not the particular law of either their home territory or that to which they have traveled. So let’s say I’m from the US, where Friday abstinence has been commuted to a penance of one’s choosing, and I’m traveling in a jurisdiction with a similar particular relaxation of that discipline. Would I nevertheless be bound by Friday abstinence because, in traveling beyond my ordinary’s territory, I have become bound by the universal law and not my ordinary’s particular law?

As a second example, if I come from a jurisdiction with an emended list of 6 (non-Sunday) holy days of obligation and travel to a jurisdiction with 8, am I obliged to attend on a feast not binding in either simply because I am now bound by the universal law which has a full list of 10?

I find this doubtful, as the obligation is not just to attend Mass, but to attend the Mass of the feast day. In a diocese where the Feast was moved to Sunday, the Mass of that day during the week would not be the feast day Mass, and would not suffice to fulfill the obligation of celebrating that feast. And since the obligation could not be fulfilled, it would not exist (similar to being somewhere where Mass is not available on Sunday; the obligation ceases).

Obligations of that sort are tied to the day (and preceding evening) not the texts of the Mass.

I don’t think so. In ordeer to fulfill the Sunday Mass obligation, it is my understanding that one needs to attend a Mass with the readings of the Sunday. The same would apply to the obligation of the feast day; if the Mass was not of the feast day, then one would not have attended to the Mass of the feast - and therefore, since the feast was not being observed, the obligation would cease. As in, Canon 13 above.

This is a common misunderstanding. Canon law is straightforward on this point:

Can. 1248 §1. A person who assists at a Mass celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the feast day itself or in the evening of the preceding day satisfies the obligation of participating in the Mass.

Hence you don’t need to worry that the mass you attend at lunchtime on a holy day may use the readings of a secondary solemnity etc which takes place on the same day. Likewise, you don’t need to worry that the Armenian or Coptic or Ruthenian Catholic liturgy you attend may use different readings than the Latin Catholic lectionary. Your obligation is still fulfilled according to Canon 1248.

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