Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Compare this scandalously selfish, cowardly mentality with the heroism evidenced in Catholic saints and blesseds throughout the centuries, who died of diseases which they had contracted while ministering to and caring for others. There is no wiggle-room here. Canon law (from Ancient Greek: κανών, kanon, a 'straight measuring rod, ruler') is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority (Church leadership), for the government of a Christian organization or church and its members. When Pope (and now Saint) John Paul II was reviewing the draft Code of Canon Law before promulgating it in 1983, rest assured that he never, ever would have imagined in a million years that any diocesan bishop would dream of actually prohibiting Catholics from worshipping God in the way mandated by the Church. Of course this is probably just a coincidence.). And in an apparent attempt to assuage their own consciences, some of them (like the American archbishop quoted above) insist that they are abandoning the faithful for good motives, which evidently in their minds somehow makes it okay. Priests who think of a thousand ways to be close to the people, so that the people do not feel abandoned; priests with Apostolic zeal, who have understood well that in times of pandemic, one mustn’t be a “Don Abbondio.” Thank you so much to you priests. And here’s a lovely story about an elderly lady being entertained (safely) by her next-door neighbor children, who get points for creativity. celebrated, the intention, the offering given, and their celebration. 952 §1. A conference of bishops can only issue general decrees in cases where either (a) universal law has prescribed it, or (b) a special mandate of the Apostolic See has established it (c. 455.1). If you’re Italian, you understand perfectly the Pope’s reference to “Don Abbondio,” a fictional character in Alessandro Manzoni’s classic Italian novel I Promessi Sposi (often translated as The Betrothed). You would think that a Catholic priest, who willingly gave his life to minister to people who heretofore had been spiritually abandoned altogether, would have had the full support of both the diocesan bishop and his own religious superior (Damien was a clerical member of the missionary Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a religious institute). A major concern of the Church is that there be no appearance that Masses are being bought or sold. 1 Tim 1:18), not the kind that brings division but the kind that gathers people together. He must transfer the entire offering received unless Many/most have never formally studied theology, and yet they have an accurate, innate “feel” that they need the Mass and the sacraments, and bishops who deny them access to these are indeed denying them their rights (as Ian rightly observes). Your responsibility to minister to the faithful entrusted to your care, by celebrating Mass for them and administering the sacraments, trumps any illegal order by a superior, or any threats by civil authorities. causes or those obliged in any way to see to the celebration of Masses, whether As the old saying goes, “A crisis does not build character. Archbishop. that they are above suspicion. The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Canon Law states that the Holy Mass is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. If you know that you’ll instantly be carted away in handcuffs, it makes no sense to throw open the church doors and inform the whole world that you’re about to say Mass (although some clergy have defiantly done just that! If a priest’s superior orders him not to help the faithful who are depending on him for their spiritual needs, that priest need only look to Saint Damien for guidance on what to do. Develop your knowledge of Ecclesiastical Law on the first postgraduate programme of its kind in the UK. Rest assured that such declarations are utterly unprecedented! As was already discussed above, many people may consider themselves dispensed from their Sunday obligation; and to the extent that it’s possible to sit far apart, avoid coughing on others, refrain from shaking hands, etc., it’s only prudent to take these precautions. Can. 946 The Christian faithful who give an Sometimes this offering is called a stipend. it is certain that the excess over the sum fixed in the diocese was given for celebrated, the number is to be computed on the basis of the offering Blessed Antonio of Olmedo was a priest and member of the Mercedarians, who died of the plague in Chile, which he caught from those sick Catholics to whom he was ministering. THE OFFERING GIVEN FOR THE CELEBRATION OF MASS; TITLE IV. The name Canon Missæ was used in the Tridentine Missal from the first typical edition of Pope Pius V in 1570 to that of Pope John XXIII in 1962 to describe the part of the Mass of the Roman … Can. THE OFFERING GIVEN FOR THE CELEBRATION OF MASS. 834 - 848), TITLE III. (Quoted in Gavan Daws’ Holy Man: Father Damien of Molokai, p. 120). For a person of faith, does it make sense to fear that God will reward our trust in Him, by letting parishioners who confidently come to Mass catch the virus there? even if the offerings received have been lost through no fault of his own. The Virus and the Bishops: Twisting a Vatican Document to Further an Agenda. This isn’t supposed to be super-complicated. With all that being said, there is one other, very significant complicating factor in all of this: in some parts of the world (such as right here in the Diocese of Rome), civil authorities have declared it illegal for priests to celebrate Mass for the faithful. If we can’t live in Poland, would that we all lived in the French diocese of Pays de l’Ain, where Bishop Pascal Roland is adamantly insisting that the churches remain open, and Mass and the sacraments be available for whoever needs/wants them! Sure, if you’re ill or otherwise homebound, watching Mass live-streamed on your laptop is certainly better than nothing. Today, the relics of Saint John Southworth are honored in Westminster Cathedral—the Catholic cathedral in London, not to be confused with non-Catholic Westminster Abbey—and Catholics praying at his tomb are a common sight. These sorts of emergencies are normally temporary and so once they cease, the person simply resumes Sunday Mass attendance again. Today, many bishops and priests are likewise finding novel ways — such as livestreaming the Mass — to make the Mass accessible, despite many being restricted to their homes. an offering to apply the Mass for a specific intention. “Because I said so” does not constitute justification for violating the law and the rights of the faithful. Click here for more information. The saints we’ve just discussed were true shepherds, not hired hands, and like their divine Model, the Good Shepherd, they gave their lives for their sheep. In contrast to this model of clerical self-sacrifice, his hostile superiors and their unreasonable commands are long forgotten, and they certainly will never bear the title of Saint. 951 §1. As we saw last week in “Can We Be Required to Receive Communion in the Hand, Because of the Virus?” the Catholic Church has taught from time immemorial that lex iniusta non est lex, an unjust law is no law at all—and it should not be obeyed. Can. Can. on Moloka’i, which basically meant that they were unceremoniously dumped there and left to die, unable ever to receive visitors or return home again. –Ian. In this delightful twitter thread you can see how ordinary Italians are figuring out ways to pass their enforced time indoors, enjoying some good clean fun. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The most common scenario is perhaps that of the elderly or otherwise infirm person who is homebound. Can. It should be relatively easy to apply all this to the Coronavirus situation. . The human law of the Church (canon law) protects that fundamental right, and at the same time places certain restrictions on how it can be exercised. Nevertheless, he is In some dioceses, bishops have recently explained this, and correctly. You would be wrong. For unknown reasons, his messages to clergy (like this March 13 letter to the priests of Rome) don’t seem to be getting much attention lately—and in this case, the English translation is still missing from the Vatican website. Today Saint Damien is the patron of Hawaii, and his statue today stands in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Cathy Caridi, J.C.L., is an American canon lawyer who practices law and teaches in Rome. 949 A person obliged to celebrate and apply Lord, give us many holy priests! The canon law of the Catholic Church (Latin: ius canonicum) is the system of laws and legal principles made and enforced by the hierarchical authorities of the Catholic Church to regulate its external organization and government and to order and direct the activities of Catholics toward the mission of the Church. The priest made repeated requests for building materials and medicines, as well as for a second priest to assist him (and also to hear Damien’s own confessions, since his inability to receive this sacrament clearly distressed him), who never arrived. Timothy Olson, J.C.L., is a canon lawyer from North Dakota serving on the Board of … Our LLM in Canon Law is the first degree of its type at a British University since the Reformation. In other words, stating that you don’t need to receive the sacraments is heresy. Canon (Canon Missæ, Canon Actionis) is the name used in the Roman Missal for the fundamental part of the Mass that comes after the Offertory and before the Communion. If they had been disobedient, they wouldn’t be saints!” To this, one response should suffice: Saint Damien De Veuster of Moloka’i. which he accepted to celebrate and those which he has satisfied. As Our Lord Himself said, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matt. In this way he managed to celebrate Mass clandestinely and distribute Holy Communion to the people for over a year. Readers who are old enough to remember his election as Pope on October 16, 1978 may recall these memorable words, uttered at his inaugural Mass just after his election as Pope: Do not be afraid. And be sure to check out the pictures!) In such cases, the law is clear: the Bishops’ Conference had absolutely no authority to make such a decree, and according to canon 455 it is invalid. In the meantime, we lay Catholics need to pray for our clergy as never before. The diocesan bishop determines what is to be done with the stipend that was received for any subsequent Mass (es). THE OFFERING GIVEN FOR THE CELEBRATION OF With regard to the issue under discussion here, this is true both in cases where the ruling came from the national Bishops’ Conference, and when its source is one’s individual bishop or other religious superior. c. 843.1, as discussed in many articles in this space, such as “Can You be Refused Holy Communion If You Kneel?” and “Can a Baby be Baptized During Lent?”). Damien fought tooth and nail with the bishop who had authority over the Hawaiian Islands at the time—and many of their letters, which are still extant, attest to this fact. Church and by that offering share its concern to support its ministers and He is also obliged to see to the celebration of the Masses offerings. But Catholics can be reasonably excused for asking, “Save them for what? force in the diocese is to be observed. 958 §1. A Parish Priest may draw a stipend of £10 per Mass from general parish funds for each pro populo Mass he is obliged by office to offer (Can. Make no mistake: obeying an unjust and illegal order is not virtuous! The use of the term “grave” in the Code of Canon Law was discussed in detail in “How Can a Priest Transfer to Another Diocese?” but in general, “grave reason” is serious stuff. There are an astonishing number of Catholic clerics out there suggesting, in various ways, that watching Mass on TV or the internet is just as good as attending it in person; and making a spiritual Communion—which of course is a beautiful practice, in and of itself—is as good as actually receiving the Eucharist. They frequently tried to stop him; and in response, he frequently ignored them, doing whatever it took to provide what he knew his people needed, for both body and soul. celebrated are to record in a book without delay both the Masses which they In the past Cathy has published articles both in scholarly journals and on various popular Catholic websites, including Real Presence Communications and Catholic Exchange. Q1: The Irish Bishops have decided to cancel all public Masses and have told us that we have a dispensation from Sunday Mass obligations as a result of the Coronavirus. In some countries where the bishops have cancelled all public Masses, such as Ecuador, it is said that this was done by a decree of the Bishops’ Conference. But as we all know, it’s not only diocesan bishops who have responsibility for the spiritual welfare of the Catholic faithful; parish priests do too. (To confer sacraments legally in a diocese, for instance, the Code requires that a priest obtain faculties from the bishop.) In order to follow Christ, Father Damien not only left his homeland but also risked his health: therefore as the word of Jesus proclaimed to us in today’s Gospel says he received eternal life (cf. Does anyone know about the canon law stipulation regarding receiving Communion more than once in a day (and the requirement to participate at the Mass on the second occasion): does this use the regular 24 hour day or the liturgical day (e.g., starting Saturday evening) Thank you. observe the same decree or local custom mentioned in §§1 and 2. None of the content of this website may be reproduced, either in whole or in part, without the advance written permission of the author. In short, John Paul II practiced what he preached, and he undoubtedly took it for granted that other bishops should do the same. Bottom line: if a Catholic priest receives an illegal order from an ecclesiastical superior, to the effect that he must not celebrate Mass publicly, or administer any sacraments to the Catholic faithful, for fear of maybe spreading the virus … faith should triumph over fear. Neither his suffering of severe illness, nor his untiring ministerial activity carried out frequently in painful and risky circumstances, succeeded in stifling the radiant and communicative joy that arose from his love for Christ, and which no one could take away from him (cf. “All the priests of the diocese,” who did not have the virus, “were ordered by the bishop to self quarantine” instead of ministering to the faithful entrusted to their care—and they complied. If you’re at particular risk for contracting the virus (i.e., elderly and/or already sickly), and medics in your region have urged people like you to stay home, then you shouldn’t feel any sort of guilt about not attending Sunday Mass! §2. a year. There is no canonical rule against having a Mass said for a deceased non-Catholic. ), to administer the sacraments—thereby risking not only re-arrest, but possible contagion as well. He felt at home with them. For this reason, the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Canon 951.1 is very clear that, while a priest may celebrate multiple Masses, with a different intention for each one, he may keep only the stipend for one Mass. And that was what his superior said on a good day, when he was trying to be generous! THE OFFERING GIVEN FOR THE CELEBRATION OF MASS. Prepared under the auspices of the Canon Law Society of America Canon Law Society of America Washington, DC 20064 Codex Iuris Canonici Abbondio is a parish priest in a tiny Italian village, and has already arranged to celebrate the wedding of two young peasants—but when the wealthy lord of the manor decides he wants to sleep with the bride-to-be himself, he orders the priest to cancel the wedding. In accord with the approved practice 959 - 997) CHAPTER I. others the celebration of Masses to be applied is to entrust their celebration The Canon of the Mass ( Latin: Canon Missæ ), also known as the Canon of the Roman Mass and in the Mass of Paul VI as the Roman Canon or Eucharistic Prayer I, is the oldest anaphora used in the Roman Rite of Mass. It is for the provincial council or a In these cases there is no theological or canonical problem at all—and there is really nothing new here. by the ordinary, while allowing for some recompense by reason of an extrinsic Which Mass Fulfills My Sunday Obligation? I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. John 16: 22). They are under the authority of the bishop, who, as canon 384 tells us, is to ensure that priests fulfill the obligations proper to their state. In accord with the approved practice of the Church, any priest celebrating or concelebrating is permitted to receive an offering to apply the Mass for a specific intention. The study of canon law presupposes a theological foundation. Members of all religious institutes must also until he learns that the obligation has been accepted and the offering But what a frighteningly high number of bishops and parish priests seem to be losing complete sight of is the fact that God is the Lord and Creator of all, and has complete power over this and any other virus! The Papal Bull decreed that the new book of law was to go into effect on Whitsunday, May the nineteenth, 1918. While the Christian faithful make their offering in the collection basket, sometimes an offering is made for a special intention for the Mass. There is a huge difference between a bishop dispensing the faithful from attending Mass (i.e., telling them that they don’t have to come), and a bishop cancelling all public Masses (i.e., telling the faithful that they can’t come). If you’re in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital, your physical inability to attend Mass is in itself quite sufficient to dispense you from observing the law without your actually having to seek a dispensation. Have you got something better to do?”. If the Church can make the same sort of effort to come up with clever work-arounds, surely our parish clergy will be able to find ways to reach as many people as they can, and as frequently as they can. Canon Law regarding Mass Offerings. 945 §1. Father Damien, working all alone, set out to establish a Catholic mission among the lepers, building a church with his own hands, setting up a hospital and a school, and striving to establish an orderly and moral way of daily life for the poor suffering residents of the island. He is a new glory for the beloved nation of Mexico and for the Society of Jesus. He was executed by firing squad, and at his last moment of life he famously extended his arms in the form of a cross and cried out, ¡Viva Cristo Rey! diseases—and it holds up for worldwide emulation numerous clergy who over the centuries handled these situations a bit differently. 956 Each and every administrator of pious Can. CHAPTER III : THE OFFERING MADE FOR THE CELEBRATION OF MASS Can. It’s worth noting, by the way, that St. Charles himself survived, despite his extensive contact with those who were infected. His life, as an apostle full of dedication and courage, was always inspired by a tireless zeal for evangelization. Similarly, a Catholic who lives in a region where there is no Catholic priest for hundreds of miles, or finds himself stuck indefinitely in an active war zone surrounded by land mines, or is working for many months on the International Space Station orbiting the earth, obviously can’t get to Mass! The priest’s craven refusal to marry the couple causes a chain-reaction of tragic events, negatively affecting the lives of numerous people. You could say that obedience wasn’t exactly a hallmark of Damien’s ministry. Anybody who knows a thing about the long life of Karol Wojtyła/John Paul II will tell you that this man of God, who spent decades as a cleric ministering to the people of communist Poland, did everything humanly possible to ensure that the Polish faithful were not deprived of Mass or the sacraments—including bravely standing up to the communist government when necessary. The Catholic Church has considered Sunday to be the Sabbath day from time immemorial; it is presumed that the Apostles established this because Jesus rose from the dead on a Sunday. St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584) was the Archbishop of Milan during the plague of 1575-1576. Masses are asked to be celebrated than can be celebrated there, it is permitted 947 Any appearance of traYcking or trading is By now, the message to Catholic parish clergy should be clear. Those who entrust to others Masses to be let Christ speak to man. celebrate Mass for the intention of the Christian faithful, especially the The Code of Canon Law (#917) stipulates, "A person who has received the Most Holy Eucharist may receive it again on the same day only during the celebration of the Eucharist in which the person participates, with due regard for the prescription of Canon 921.2. The ordinary is obliged to examine these books is otherwise evident. In many weather-related emergencies that happen to occur on a Sunday, a diocesan bishop will often declare publicly that the obligation of the Christian faithful of the diocese to attend Mass is hereby lifted. Now contrast his declaration with that of this American archbishop, who—as incredible as it may seem—actually said this publicly, as he cancelled all public Masses throughout his archdiocese: My number one priority as your Archbishop is to ensure the safety and health of all who attend our Masses, the children in our schools, and those we welcome through our outreach and services. Commentary on Mass Facing the Altar (Ad Oreintem) Description. When we checked her into the hospital yesterday for pre-op tests we requested that a priest be contacted so she could receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. As was discussed at length in “How Can You Get a Permanent Dispensation From Attending Sunday Mass?” the requirement to attend Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation (cc. §2. (It is a cruel irony that St. Charles’ successor, the current Archbishop of Milan, was the very first Italian bishop to order all public Masses suspended—despite no urging from the government, and at a very early point in the crisis, while all Milan’s bars, restaurants, museums and shops were still open. 8:26). every single Christmas, until the authorities finally granted permission for the construction of a church there. Now, nobody is suggesting that in areas which have become hot-spots for the virus, everyone should crowd into church for Sunday Mass exactly as usual. If, in contrast, you’re young and healthy, and there’s no particular doctors’ warning in your area of the world because you’re not living in a place where the virus is widespread … you’d be hard-pressed to justify your failure to fulfill your Sunday obligation. Canon law scholars are also seeking a link with the empirical social sciences (e.g., sociology, anthropology, and other such disciplines), which is required for insight into and control of the application of canon law. defined by the latter the Mass obligations which have not been satisfied within It is a doctrine of Catholic Faith that such acts are infallible and irreformable, that is We were told that all of the priests in the diocese here were ordered by the bishop to self quarantine…, Wait, what? his statue today stands in the U.S. Capitol, Then-Pope John Paul II publicly described. Can. How Can You Get a Permanent Dispensation From Attending Sunday Mass? intentions of those for whom a single offering, although small, has been given Years later, he was caught, arrested, and condemned to death; but for unclear reasons Father Southworth was set free about 1636, whereupon he promptly began visiting English victims of the plague (! Presumably they were supposed to do this in order to save their own lives.
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