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Redemptionis Sacramentum and the Authority of the Diocesan Bishop

 

What is the role of the Diocesan Bishop in relation to promotion of the Sacred Liturgy?
The instruction itself recalls how the Diocesan Bishop is "the first steward of the mysteries of God in the particular Church entrusted to him, is the moderator, promoter and guardian of her whole liturgical life." (RS, no. 19) and quotes from the Code of Canon Law, which directs that it pertains to the Diocesan Bishop (CIC, no. 838 §4) "within the limits of his competence, to set forth liturgical norms in his Diocese, by which all are bound." (RS, no. 21, citing CIC, no. 838 §4)

What role does the Diocesan Bishop exercise in the correction of liturgical abuses?
Therefore, "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. (RS, no. 24) He accomplishes this task by directing, encouraging, and sometimes even reproving, (cf. RS, no. 22) while taking care "not to allow the removal of that liberty foreseen by the norms of the liturgical books so that the celebration may be adapted…" (RS, no. 21)

The instruction notes that liturgical "abuses are often based on ignorance." (SR, no. 9) How does this impact the Bishop's ministry?
As chief teacher, the Diocesan bishop should "elucidate the inherent meaning of the rites and the liturgical texts, and nourish the spirit of the Liturgy in the Priests, Deacons and lay faithful so that they are all led to the active and fruitful celebration of the Eucharist…" (RS, no. 22); He should "take care to ensure that the whole body of the Church is able to grow in the same understanding, in the unity of charity, in the diocese, in the nation and in the world." (RS, no. 22);

Who is subject to the liturgical authority of the Diocesan Bishop?
"All, including members of Institutes of consecrated life and Societies of apostolic life as well as those of all ecclesial associations and movements of any kind, are subject to the authority of the diocesan Bishop in all liturgical matters, apart from rights that have been legitimately conceded." (RS, no. 22);

How is the Bishop assisted in this regard?
The Bishop is assisted in this regard by liturgical commissions, and other councils or committees who "rely on his authority and his approval so that they may carry out their office in a suitable manner and so that the effective governance of the Bishop in his diocese will be preserved." (RS, no. 25) The instruction recommends that Bishops re-examine the workings of already existent consultative groups "to consider carefully which changes or improvements should be made in their composition and activity so that they might find new vigor." (RS, no. 25)

May the Diocesan Bishop change liturgical laws for his Diocese?
In regard to the celebration of the Eucharist, the Diocesan Bishop is given a particular role in the publication of norms for the regulation of the liturgy in his particular diocese. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal [GIRM] assigns to the Diocesan Bishop the publication of norms on concelebration (GIRM, no. 202), service at the altar (GIRM, no. 107), Holy Communion under both kinds (GIRM, nos. 282-283), the construction and renovation of church Buildings (GIRM, no. 291 and 315), posture [GIRM no. 43.3, liturgical music (GIRM, nos. 48, 87), and the establishment of days of prayer (GIRM, no. 373). (see "The Diocesan Bishop and the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, in The BCL Newsletter: July, 2002, page 82. Also available at http://www.usccb.org/liturgy/innews/072002.shtml). Other rights of the Diocesan Bishop to regulate the liturgy are described by documents other than the GIRM, including the regulation of Masses on radio, television and via the internet, and his responsibility to establish a diocesan calendar. With the exception of these and other modifications of the law explicitly assigned to the Diocesan Bishop, no additional changes to liturgical law may be introduced to Diocesan liturgical practice without the specific prior of the Holy See.



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