Saturday, November 24, 2007

One Canonist's Preliminary Thoughts on the Controversial Matter of Certain Modern Liturgical Practices and the Usus Antiquior

Recently we were discussing the dubia sent to Rome by the USCCB. The matter at hand relates to the question of how certain liturgical authorizations that have come up in the modern Roman missal do or do not pertain to the usus antiquior

The question of these matters is certainly out there, and the claim by some to the effect that these are allowed is also out there. It therefore seemed worthwhile to put out this preliminary opinion of canon lawyer Philip Gray, which suggests another possibility. The response comes in the context of a claim made by Paul Inwood, a liturgical director for an English diocese. Trower is careful to note that he needs to study the matter more, but offers these preliminary observations about the the matter:

"(1) Inwood cites general principles of law, and from that makes certain applications. But, he does not address all the principles of law that may apply. For example, he does not address the fact that the Motu Proprio Ecclesia Dei required use of the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal. The rubrics of this edition would most likely correspond with liturgical laws in force at that time, and in fact, would presuppose them. Thus, while those liturgical laws may have been abrogated, the Motu Proprio would re-establish their application insofar as they relate to the 1962 Missale Romanum.

(2) Law is reasonable. And, statutory law in the Church is not as prevalent as custom and application of principles of law. This is particularly so when considering liturgical law. I haven’t done the math, and I haven’t researched it enough, but it very well may be that customary law would prohibit the very things Mr. Inwood claims are legitimate. Legally speaking... we may need to study the relevant liturgical laws and determine what relationship exists between them and the practices we commonly associate with the Traditional Mass. That will help us determine which “abrogated“ laws have been “re-instated” relative to the present use of the 1962 Missal. Also, I think it would be helpful to evaluate the application of custom relative to liturgical practices and how they can be applied to the use of that Missal today. Realistically, we need to recognize that what he is saying is, and will be used as, a way of diminishing the intended, liturgical atmosphere/celebration/grace of the 1962 Missal..."

An encouraging suggestion. Not being a canonist, I cannot comment upon the argument, but it sets up that the situation may be more nuanced than might be supposed.

(Source: The 1962 Mass with Post-1970 Innovations: Is It Likely?)

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