); this will likely do little except to leave your entire parish bereft of their priest. But that doesn’t mean a cleric should simply throw up his hands and do nothing; it means that he can only do as much as he humanly can. THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE (Cann. We’ll first have a look at what the law says about diocesan bishops’ responsibilities and the extent of their authority; and then we’ll turn to the responsibilities of our parish clergy. 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. 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. Every organization, whether secular or religious, requires … 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. 957 The duty and right of exercising 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. In these cases there is no theological or canonical problem at all—and there is really nothing new here. THE OFFERING GIVEN FOR THE CELEBRATION OF MASS Can. And that was what his superior said on a good day, when he was trying to be generous! celebrated, the intention, the offering given, and their celebration. him personally. Damien’s religious superiors were no less unsupportive: his vice-provincial openly described Damien as, …[A] good priest, excessively devoted to the lepers. Before his arrival, those who were diagnosed with leprosy on other islands in the then-Kingdom of Hawaii—which today is part of the United States—were quarantined (again, sound familiar?) How Can a Priest Transfer to Another Diocese? To be blunt: if our parish clergy aren’t at the parish to celebrate Mass, administer the sacraments, and otherwise minister to the spiritual needs of the parish faithful, then what are they there for? Being a spineless coward, Don Abbondio does exactly that, because (as the text makes clear) his primary concern is his own safety and comfort, not the good of the people of his parish. Think about that for a moment: the Pope is praising priests who disobey the (illegal) directives of their bishops. §2. Sure, if you’re ill or otherwise homebound, watching Mass live-streamed on your laptop is certainly better than nothing. ), and he knew full well that prolonged contact with the lepers was basically a death sentence. 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. 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. THE OFFERING GIVEN FOR THE CELEBRATION OF MASS; TITLE IV. defined by the latter the Mass obligations which have not been satisfied within In the 1960’s, it was Bishop Wojtyła who for years openly fought with the civil authorities in the Polish city of Nowa Huta—a new “ideal city” built by the communists, which had no church. established in the place where the donor resides, unless the intention of the Can. By cancelling all public Masses, the bishops are telling the faithful that they can only stay at home and watch from afar while the clergy celebrate Mass and receive the Eucharist—which is very much like forcing starving people to stand outside, and watch through the window while you eat. Canonists have generally held that for all laws Are Catholics Supposed to Abstain from Meat Every Friday? There is no wiggle-room here. to be excluded entirely from the offering for Masses. But why should the alternative for everyone be “nothing”? Once again, we can turn to events and individuals in the Church’s historical past for guidance. In the past Cathy has published articles both in scholarly journals and on various popular Catholic websites, including Real Presence Communications and Catholic Exchange. a dispensation from the obligation of observing a feast day or a day of penance, or commute the obligation into other pious works. is otherwise evident. But what’s a parish priest supposed to do, when his own diocesan bishop orders him to cancel Mass altogether, and bar parishioners from attending and receiving the sacraments? Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro (1891-1927) was a Mexican Jesuit priest who lived during the regime of Mexican President Calles, who brutally persecuted the Catholic Church and unapologetically sought to stamp it out altogether, executing thousands of priests in the process. The ordinary is obliged to examine these books –Marc, Q3: The Bishop here in Singapore decided to cancel and/or suspend all public Masses indefinitely. Of course this is probably just a coincidence.). How Can You Get a Permanent Dispensation From Attending Sunday Mass? each year either personally or through others. In this way he managed to celebrate Mass clandestinely and distribute Holy Communion to the people for over a year. Make no mistake: obeying an unjust and illegal order is not virtuous! 945 §1. The most common scenario is perhaps that of the elderly or otherwise infirm person who is homebound. She founded this website to provide clear answers to canonical questions asked by ordinary Catholics, without employing all the mysterious legalese that canon lawyers know and love. THE OFFERING GIVEN FOR THE CELEBRATION OF 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. As Our Lord Himself said, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” (Matt. 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. 534 §1). As we saw in “Tithing and Excommunication,” nobody can be required by law to do something that is humanly impossible. §2. It shouldn’t be necessary to point out to any Catholic that our clergy are supposed to be shepherds, not hired hands. Watch what this parish priest in northern Italy did to help the people of his parish. St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584) was the Archbishop of Milan during the plague of 1575-1576. But far, far different are the shockingly high number of announcements that all public Masses are cancelled, and the faithful are not allowed to come to Mass or receive the sacraments. Descriptive Title. 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. Masses on the same day can apply each to the intention for which the offering offerings for Masses to be applied by himself than he can satisfy within a 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. an Episcopal Conference, is.) Canon Law regarding Mass Offerings. A person who intends to entrust to On March 15, Pope Francis gave his regular Sunday Angelus address via livestream from inside the Vatican. 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. Can. No discussion of the heroism of priests in times of civil persecution would be complete without mentioning the hundreds of English martyrs, who died in the Catholic persecutions of the 16th and 17th centuries. Sometimes this offering is called a stipend. Where there is no such decree, the custom in (Nobody should have to explain to Catholic bishops that ordering their priests not to celebrate Mass for the faithful, or to give them the sacraments, doesn’t fit the bill.) Why Would a Catholic Cleric Desecrate an Altar? (See “Are Catholics Supposed to Abstain from Meat Every Friday?” for more on what a Conference of Bishops, a.k.a. 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. It only reveals it.”. You don’t have to be an expert in church history to know the answer already! As of this writing, the Italian Province of Lombardy, where Milan and its Catholic archdiocese are located, remains the region of Italy which is far and away the most severely affected by the virus. We were told that all of the priests in the diocese here were ordered by the bishop to self quarantine…, Wait, what? 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? 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. This is, after all, the whole purpose of canonizing saints: the Church holds them up to us as role models, worthy of imitation (cf. 945 §1 In accordance with the approved custom of the Church, any priest who celebrates or concelebrates a Mass may accept an offering to apply the Mass for a specific intention. We see here a group of bishops who have the correct theological understanding of the critical importance of the Mass: when faced with a problem that makes it difficult for people to attend, they are finding a legitimate way around it, so as to ensure that everyone can still come to Mass. Develop your knowledge of Ecclesiastical Law on the first postgraduate programme of its kind in the UK. 8:26). It is recommended earnestly to priests that they 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. 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. that they are above suspicion. It’s astonishing, because they seem to be entirely missing the irony that during the protestant reformation, the Catholic Church formally condemned as heretical the notion that the sacraments are not necessary for salvation (Session VII, Canon IV). CHAPTER III. 950 If a sum of money is offered for the Our LLM in Canon Law is the first degree of its type at a British University since the Reformation. He must transfer the entire offering received unless Re-post: Confession and General Absolution. Because the matter directly affects the Most blessed Sacrament, even the slightest appearance of profit or simony would cause a scandal. It is a doctrine of Catholic Faith that such acts are infallible and irreformable, that is Note that some bishops are doing the first, while others are doing the second—and they are not the same thing. –Ian. 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 (! The servant of the Word consequently became a suffering servant, a leper with the lepers, for the last four years of his life. Can. ), as it concerns holy things, and has for its object the wellbeing of souls in the society divinely established by Jesus Christ. Before the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, the single eucharistic prayer used universally in the Latin Mass was called the Roman Canon. It strains the bounds of credulity to think that there is a Catholic diocesan bishop on this planet who doesn’t understand that his “number one priority” is the salvation of souls, rather than of bodies … but there you have it. larger or even smaller than the one defined. received. He was keenly aware that he could be arrested—his colleague the Venerable Stefan Wyszynski, Cardinal Archbishop of Warsaw and Gniezno, had been imprisoned by the government for years—but this clearly did not deter him. year. 951 §1. or other pious place which regularly receives offerings for Masses are to have First, Second, and Third Cycle First Cycle. During the plague which struck Rome in 1591, the Jesuits opened a hospital to minister to the victims, tending to both their bodies and their souls; and while Aloysius could not administer sacraments to them (since he was not yet a priest), this member of a wealthy noble family voluntarily served them as a nurse, and paid for his generosity with his life. Readers from all around the world have emailed to ask fundamentally the same question: can a diocesan bishop actually cancel all public Masses, thus actively preventing the faithful from getting to Mass and receiving the sacraments? 948 Separate Masses are to be applied for the Can. Which Mass Fulfills My Sunday Obligation? Take a look at this heartbreaking true story, recently recounted on this outstanding Catholic website in Canada: My 84 year old mother-in-law is having surgery this morning. What is canon law and why is it important? A lot of news is coming from Lombardy about this creativity. Contrasted with the imperial or Caesarian law (jus caesareum), canon law is sometimes styled pontifical law (jus pontificium), often also it is termed sacred law (jus sacrum), and sometimes even Divine law (jus divinum: c. 2, De privil. I say excessively, because he does not know how to have sober wisdom, and sometimes indiscreet zeal leads him to say, to write, and even to do things which ecclesiastical authority can only criticize … his blind zeal does not permit him to correct himself. clerics or laity, are to hand over to their ordinaries according to the method Masses are asked to be celebrated than can be celebrated there, it is permitted an offering to apply the Mass for a specific intention. Given that under Canon Law the faithful – who are not otherwise under some legal impediment or sanction – have a right to receive the sacraments , including assisting at Mass and receiving the Holy Eucharist, and bearing in mind especially that Sunday is the “primordial holy day of obligation” (Canon 1246 §1), it’s not clear to me whether a diocesan bishop even has authority to … received and those which they transferred to others, as well as their If the information on this website has helped you, please consider making a contribution so that it can continue to help others. As a general rule, therefore, Sunday Mass attendance is not optional! In the part of the Missal containing the Order of Mass, the section titled Ordo Missae sine populo in the 1970/75 editions, now called Ordo Missae, cuius unus tantum minister participat in the 2002 edition, presuppose one server. THE OFFERING GIVEN FOR THE CELEBRATION OF MASS. §3. While the Code of Canon Law which John Paul II promulgated doesn’t say anything about bishops prohibiting people from going to Mass and receiving the sacraments, it certainly does give us plenty of information about what bishops are supposed to be doing. No Catholic is expected to risk his life in order to fulfill his Sunday obligation. In some dioceses, bishops have recently explained this, and correctly. How did/do these clergy react to the possibility of getting jail-time for their priestly ministry? 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?”). Bishop Pascal Roland is adamantly insisting that the churches remain open, the patron saint of bishops and cardinals. (Long live Christ the King!). Wojtyła himself would publicly celebrate Mass there in an open field (without a permit!) And here’s a lovely story about an elderly lady being entertained (safely) by her next-door neighbor children, who get points for creativity. John Paul II’s 1983 Apostolic Constitution Divinus Perfectionis Magister, esp. Those who entrust to others Masses to be Eventually, the Calles regime managed to arrest Father Pro, on trumped-up charges of conspiracy to assassinate a government official. intentions of those for whom a single offering, although small, has been given Can. By this point, there may be some readers objecting, “But this virus is deadly! To sum up: if you, a member of the Catholic faithful, are genuinely unable to get to Sunday Mass, then you don’t have to go. The programme provides an opportunity to study the canon law of the churches of the worldwide Anglican Communion, particularly the Church of England, … In accord with the approved practice let Christ speak to man. It should surprise no one that the Church subsequently beatified Miguel Pro as a martyr. Can. 834 - 848), TITLE III. The amazing fact is, Damien’s superiors didn’t want him to dedicate himself so entirely to the poor lepers who depended on him, mostly because his conduct contrasted so dramatically with their own, far less generous ministry. 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! others the celebration of Masses to be applied is to entrust their celebration The Papal Bull decreed that the new book of law was to go into effect on Whitsunday, May the nineteenth, 1918. 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. 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