Monday, August 20, 2007

"Extraordinary form" of the Ambrosian Rite? - first part

For my first post on The New Liturgical Movement weblog, I'd like to try and give some clarifications about an important question raised by a comment to a previous post: whether the recent Motu Proprio published by the Sovereign Pontiff created an "extraordinary form" of the Ambrosian Rite, or not.

First of all, a short historical and canonical preamble about the Liturgical Law of the Ambrosian Rite is in order.

Fr. E.T. Moneta Caglio, later appointed Major Canon of the Metropolitan Chapter of Milan, and one of the greatest scholars of Ambrosian Rite and Ambrosian Chant of the XXth century, made some very important remarks about the Liturgical Law of the Ambrosian Rite in a long series of articles published on the liturgical review "Ambrosius" in 1930. § 16 -17 dealt precisely with the problem of the power to publish or to change liturgical books by local Bishops.

He mentions that, after the Council of Trent, the Sovereign Pontiffs progressively reserved every right to give dispositions of any kind about Roman liturgical books to the Holy See: Bull Quod a Nobis (1568) for the Roman Breviary; Quo primum (1578) for the Roman Missal; Ex quo (1596) for the Pontificale; Apostolicae Sedis (1614) for the Rituale; Cum novissime (1600) for the Caeremoniale Episcoporum.

It is quite well known that the Sovereign Pontiffs explicitly excluded from their new dispositions all Rites and Uses older than two hundred years. Later on, many Uses, such as the so called "Rito Patriarchino", even though old enough to survive, fell into desuetude and were replaced with the Roman Rite. Of course, this wasn't the case for the Ambrosian Rite.

In fact, before 1859 the Archbishops of Milan never felt obliged to ask for a permission to modify Ambrosian liturgical books, or to publish new ones. Those books don't bear any public approval from the Sacred Congregation of the Rites, but only an introductory letter from the Archbishop to explain the reasons why a new edition -or a new litugical book altogether, as for the Caeremoniale Ambrosianum- was considered necessary, and thus published.

Those books are known as books of diocesan right, and some of them were in use until the post-conciliar reforms.

Things changed with the 1918 Code of Canon Law. In fact, can. 1257 read as follows: "Unius Apostolicae Sedis est tum sacram ordinare liturgiam, tum liturgicos approbare libros".

The new Code gives very similar directions under can. 838: "§1. Sacrae liturgiae moderatio ab Ecclesiae auctoritate unice pendet: quae quidem est penes Apostolicam Sedem et, ad normam iuris, penes Episcopum dioecesanum §2. Apostolicae Sedis est sacram liturgiam Ecclesiae universae ordinare, libros liturgicos edere eorumque versiones in linguas vernaculas recognoscere, necnon advigilare ut ordinationes liturgicas observentur".

In a word, while the Archbishop of Milan still keeps the title of "Capo-rito", since 1918 he can't publish or modify Ambrosian liturgical books without the approval -or recognitio- of the Holy See.

Very few outside of the Archdiocese know that the Congregation for Divine Worship is presently examining the new Lectionary presented by the Archbishop for the ordinary form of the Ambrosian Rite, and it is very likely that some parts of it won't be approved.

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