Authority in the Liturgy


Principle 1. Authority over the liturgy depends solely on the Holy See, which may delegate it by law to bishops and bishops conferences.

Sacrosanctum Concilium 22 
1. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop. 
2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established. 
3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.

Canon 838
1. The supervision of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church which resides in the Apostolic See and, in accord with the law, the diocesan bishop. 
2. It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the entire Church, to publish the liturgical books, to review their translations into the vernacular languages and to see that liturgical ordinances are faithfully observed everywhere. 
3. It pertains to the conferences of bishops to prepare translations of the liturgical books into the vernacular languages, with the appropriate adaptations within the limits defined in the liturgical books themselves, and to publish them with the prior review by the Holy See. 
4. It pertains to the diocesan bishop in the church entrusted to him, within the limits of his competence, to issue liturgical norms by which all are bound.

Principle 2. Adaptations of the universal norms by bishops and bishops conferences requires the recognition of the Holy See. 

General Instruction of the Roman Missal 395 
Finally, if the participation of the faithful and their spiritual welfare requires variations and more thoroughgoing adaptations in order that the sacred celebration respond to the culture and traditions of the different peoples, then Bishops' Conferences may propose such to the Apostolic See in accordance with article 40 of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy for introduction with the latter's consent, especially in the case of peoples to whom the Gospel has been more recently proclaimed. The special norms given in the Instruction On the Roman Liturgy and Inculturation should be carefully observed.

Regarding procedures to be followed in this matter, the following should be followed:

In the first place, a detailed preliminary proposal should be set before the Apostolic See, so that, after the necessary faculty has been granted, the detailed working out of the individual points of adaptation may proceed.

Once these proposals have been duly approved by the Apostolic See, experiments should be carried out for specified periods and at specified places. If need be, once the period of experimentation is concluded, the Bishops' Conference shall decide upon pursuing the adaptations and shall propose a mature formulation of the matter to the Apostolic See for its decision.

Principle 3. Customs, to be legally binding, must be ratified by the Holy See.  

Canon 23
Only that custom introduced by the community of the faithful and approved by the legislator has the force of law, according to the following canons. [see cc.24-28]

Principle 4. The interpretation of the law, including adaptations, rests with the legislating authority, the Holy See.

Canon 17  
Ecclesiastical laws are to be understood in accord with the proper meaning of the words considered in their text and context. If the meaning remains doubtful and obscure, recourse is to be taken to parallel passages, if such exist, to the purpose and the circumstances of the law, and to the mind of the legislator

Principle 5. Law is to be interpreted strictly, when it is a question of restrictions on people's rights. 

Canon 18
Laws which establish a penalty or restrict the free exercise of rights or which contain an exception to the law are subject to a strict interpretation.

Principle 6. In doubt of law (is it a legitimate law or is it not), such a "law" does not bind.

Canon 14
When there is a doubt of law, laws do not bind even if they be nullifying and disqualifying ones. 

Principle 7. Every Catholic is immediate subject to the Roman Pontiff and just as immediately has a right of appeal directly to him against the ecclesiastical judgments of others.

Canon 331
The bishop of the Church of Rome, in whom resides the office given in a special way by the Lord to Peter, first of the Apostles and to be transmitted to his successors, is head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the entire Church on earth; therefore, in virtue of his office he enjoys supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he can always freely exercise.

Canon 1417
1. In virtue of the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, anyone of the faithful is free to bring to or introduce before the Holy See a case either contentious or penal in any grade of judgment and at any stage of litigation.


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