Which Ordinary to Mention at Mass

Author: Father Edward McNamara, LC


Which Ordinary to Mention at Mass

ROME, 27 SEPT. 2011 (ZENIT)
Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.

Q: When a priest is celebrating the liturgy of one rite in a church or institution of another rite, which ordinary has primacy of remembrance in the commemorations: the bishop of the rite being celebrated or the bishop whose diocese the church or institution is in? Similarly, I belong to an Eastern-rite religious community. But, because of our evangelical ministries — for example, Teen Encounter and Cursillo — in our community's spiritual center, we have biritual faculties in the Roman rite as well. The majority of our attendees belong to the Roman rite. Therefore, this question: When we celebrate Mass in the Roman rite, which ordinary ought to have primacy of remembrance, the ordinary of our institution or the local Roman-rite ordinary? Finally, I took over the ministry at a local assisted-living facility. The priest who did it faithfully for several years returned to Lebanon and the social director ask me to continue. Since he had been celebrating the Maronite liturgy (in English, of course) for the residents, I am doing the same. The majority of the tiny congregation, however, is Roman rite. Again the question: Which ordinary has the primacy of remembrance, the Maronite ordinary or that of the local diocese? (The facility is not a Catholic one.) — J.T., Methuen, Massachusetts

A: This is not an easy question and there may be no clear-cut answer as the situations can vary widely.

The purpose of mentioning the Pope, the local ordinary and in some cases the patriarch or major archbishop in the Eucharistic Prayer is not a question of honor or respect but of communion. As the Roman Canon says, we pray "una cum," "together with," the Pope and the local bishop. In a way this mention renders each local assembly a true manifestation of the universal Church.

In the Latin rite the criterion for mentioning the local bishop is based on territorial jurisdiction. Only a bishop who has present jurisdiction over the territory or place where the Mass is celebrated is mentioned.

The priest may optionally mention the auxiliary bishop by name; or do so collectively if there is more than one auxiliary. Not mentioned are bishops emeritus or bishops who preside over a celebration outside of their diocese.

There are some special cases in which territorial jurisdictions do not coincide with diocesan borders. For example, a military ordinary usually exercises his territorial jurisdiction over military bases around the country and it is his name which is mentioned when Mass is celebrated in those bases or on navy ships. The recently appointed Anglican ordinary will exercise his jurisdiction over the churches and other institutions that pertain to the ordinariate and his name is mentioned when Mass is celebrated in those churches.

When priests are traveling, they only mention the bishop of the place where they happen to be celebrating Mass, and never their own ordinary, even if they are celebrating for groups from their own diocese.

This is the case of the Latin rite. With respect to the Eastern Catholic Churches, my knowledge does not extend to the particular laws and customs on each and every one of them. I believe that they follow the same basic rule of territorial jurisdiction, but some might also have other special forms of jurisdiction.

For example, jurisdiction in India's Syro-Malabar Church is basically territorial, although the jurisdiction of the Archeparchy of Kottayam is co-extensive with that of the territory of the Syro-Malabar Church. This eparchy serves exclusively the members of the Knanaya community which traces its origin from a group of 72 Judeo-Christian families who arrived in India from Mesopotamia in A.D. 345. If a member of this diocese marries outside of the community, he or she ceases to pertain to the archeparchy and is incorporated into the eparchy of residence.

Thus the variety of the venerable Eastern Churches precludes a definitive answer for all cases. At the same time, I believe it is safe to say that when celebrating according to an Eastern liturgy the question of which bishop should be named should be resolved according to the laws and customs of the specific Eastern Church and not those of the Latin rite.

With this in mind I would say the following with respect to the specific questions.

If Mass is celebrated in a church or monastery which falls under the territorial jurisdiction of an Eastern bishop, then he should be mentioned even in those cases where the Mass happens to be celebrated according to the Latin rite. The local Latin-rite bishop would still have authority over the celebration of the Roman Mass at the church, and any norms he has given regarding liturgical practice for his diocese should be followed.

When, as mentioned above, an Eastern priest celebrates Mass according to his own rite outside of a place under the territorial jurisdiction of his own eparch, the mention of the bishop will be based on the laws and customs of the rite itself. If those laws allow for the mention of the local Latin ordinary, well and good; if not, then the priest follows his own tradition. The fact that most of the people assisting at an Eastern Mass might belong to the Latin rite would not determine which bishop was named.

* * *

Follow-up: Which Ordinary to Mention at Mass [10-11-2011]

In the wake of our remarks on which bishop to mention in the Eucharistic Prayer (see Sept. 27), several readers asked for clarifications.

A reader from Scotland wrote: "You stated, 'When priests are traveling, they only mention the bishop of the place where they happen to be celebrating Mass, and never their own ordinary, even if they are celebrating for groups from their own diocese.' In the only official document (Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, decree, Oct. 9, 1972) that I have found on this point, it states that priests celebrating [outside of] the diocese with groups from their own diocese should mention both their own bishop and the local bishop (Paragraph IV.c). The same is true of bishops [outside of] their territories (Paragraph IV.d). Do you think that this document is still in force or has it been superseded? The rule about bishops mentioning local bishops is continued in the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal (No. 149 of the Scottish edition), so I wonder if one could presume that the other rule is also still in force? The GIRM makes no mention of this."

GIRM 149 states: "The diocesan Bishop or anyone equivalent to him in law must be mentioned by means of this formula: una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N. et Episcopo (or Vicario, Prelato, Praefecto, Abbate) (together with your servant N., our Pope, and N., our Bishop [or Vicar, Prelate, Prefect, Abbot])."

The above-mentioned 1972 decree, "Cum de nomine," specifically states that it responds to a lack of clarity in the first edition of the revised missal, which says nothing regarding which bishop should be named. This vacuum was already remedied in part in the 1975 edition of the missal and was further clarified in GIRM 149, and in the rubrics of the third typical edition in 2002 with some slight but significant amendments in the 2008 reprint.

Since the decree was issued to cover an omission in the law, and a later law expressly fills the gap, I would suppose that the decree is now without legal force.

None of these editions repeats the norm in the decree regarding traveling priests. In fact, this norm contains an anomaly as it is the only case in which the local bishop would not be named first. I believe, therefore, that this norm was allowed to die.

An article published in Notitiae, the official organ of the Congregation for Divine Worship, would seem to confirm this. The article, written in Italian, was titled, "Regarding the Naming of the Diocesan Bishop in the Eucharistic Prayer" (Notitiae 45 (2009) 308-320). This study, while not itself a legal document, reflects the mind of the congregation on this matter.

It first comments on a change in the redaction of GIRM 149 from the 2002 to the 2008 editions. In the earlier version, a bishop who celebrated outside of his diocese mentioned first himself ("I, your unworthy servant") and then the local ordinary. In 2008 the order of mentioning was reversed, and the local bishop is named immediately after the Pope. The article points out that this adjustment confirms long-standing tradition and is grounded on solid ecclesiological principles (see Canon 369 of the Code of Canon Law). The article states: "Every legitimate Eucharistic celebration is directed by the bishop. This character of legitimacy derives from communion with the shepherd of the diocese in which the Eucharist is celebrated. Therefore, to recall, after the Pope, the name of he whom the Church has constituted Shepherd, means recognizing that the Eucharist, even when it is celebrated by a bishop outside of his own diocese, must be celebrated in communion with both the Universal shepherd, the Pope, and the shepherd of the particular Church, the diocesan bishop."

Another small change between the 2002 and 2008 printings involves a footnote to each one of the Eucharistic Prayers at the moment where the bishop is mentioned. The 2002 version says, "Mention may be made here of the Coadjutor Bishop, or Auxiliary Bishop, or other bishop, as noted in the GIRM 149." In 2008 the phrase "or other bishop" was removed. This was done largely because GIRM 149 makes no provision for the mention of other bishops but also, as the article notes, "to remove any doubt about the possibility of naming any other bishops except the diocesan and eventual auxiliary."

Another question, from a Kansas reader, derives from the mention of abbots: "Do all abbeys use the name of their abbot instead of the local bishop? Or is that just for territorial abbots? The GIRM seems not to make a distinction to me."

I believe that the key is found in GIRM 149 when it says, "The diocesan Bishop or anyone equivalent to him in law." Not all abbots are equivalent in law to a diocesan bishop but only those who effectively govern a diocese or similar territory. At the moment there are 11 still-functioning territorial abbeys, six in Italy, two in Switzerland, and one each in Hungary, Austria and North Korea. The territory of some of the Italian abbeys, such as Subiaco, has been effectively reduced to the monastery itself without, however, joining the abbey to a diocese.

Finally, another correspondent from Kokstad, South Africa, asked: "What does canon law say in situations where the local bishop is transferred to another diocese and consequently an apostolic administrator is appointed as a caretaker, who himself is a bishop of a neighboring diocese? Are the priests supposed to mention the name of this apostolic administrator during Mass? Some priests mention it while others do not."

An apostolic administrator named by the Holy See is for all practical purposes the bishop of the diocese, even though his period of government is usually temporal. Therefore, he is named in the Eucharistic Prayer even if he also happens to be bishop of another diocese or is himself the former bishop of the same diocese. A diocesan administrator elected according to the norms of Canon 413 of the Code of Canon Law is not named. In such cases, the clause mentioning the local bishop is omitted although mention could still be made of an auxiliary.

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