Statute 2016/01 for the Diocese of Starling City

It is, of course, very easy to fault our bishops as weak, useless, spineless, ineffectual bumblers, the best of whom might, on a good day, rise to the dizzying height of “acceptable.” Very easy. Cf. St. John Chrysostom, Homily 3 on Acts. In response to such criticisms, I am sometimes asked to say just what it is that I would have them do. To answer that in the most direct possible way, this post will engage in an imaginative exercise: If I were to have been this afternoon installed as the Ordinary of Starling City, the following is the statute that I would promulgate this evening establishing new particular laws for the diocese. I would use every ounce of my authority and influence to end the postconciliar crisis in my diocese, and have little time for those clerics who could do likewise (spare a thought for curates and auxilliaries) but who choose not to. 

“As High Priest responsible for divine worship in the particular Church” to me entrusted, it is my task to “order[ ], promot[e,] and safeguard[] the entire liturgical life of the diocese….” AS 145. Considering, therefore, my “responsibility for divine worship to be [my] pre-eminent role,” AS 142, and mindful of the authorities and concerns of General Instructions of the Roman Missal 22, 92, 387, and 397, Sacrosanctum Concilium, nos. 22, 26, 41, and 114, Redemptionis sacramentum, nos. 19 et seq. and 176 et seq., Apostolorum successores, nos. 158-60 and 162, Ecclesia de myesterio, art. 8, and of canons 375 et seq. and 838 et seq. in the 1983 code, and in order that there be no “doubt about the law,” 1983 CIC 14, I do now ordain and establish the following as particular law for this diocese of Starling City.

Article 1: Particular laws

a) The physical arrangement of churches.

i) No parish of this diocese may erect a freestanding altar, nor demolish an existing high altar or communion rail. Cf. GIRM 192, 294. In cases where there is reasonable doubt as to the meaning of “freestanding” and “high,” the parish and the deanery representative of the Diocesan Commission on the Sacred Liturgy shall brief this office, which shall decide the question before any action may be taken. 

ii) Each parish without an extant high altar, in which there exists a freestanding altar constructed after December 4, 1963, is to anticipate the removal of that freestanding altar and construction of a new high altar as part of their next anticipated or scheduled renovation, with all deliberate speed. Cf. GIRM 299, 301; AS156.

iii) In parishes in which a high altar has been retained in addition to a freestanding altar constructed since December 4, 1963, use of the high altar shall resume immediately. Such parishes shall, within 365 days from the publication of this statute, remove the freestanding altar or show cause why this is not physically possible.

iv) In parishes where it is not physically impossible, the tabernacle is to be situated at the apse or natural apex of the church, and marked by a lit sanctuary lamp. 

v) Each parish that lacks an altar rail, where construction thereof is not physically impossible by reason of the general arrangement of the church building,  shall construct a temporary altar rail within two months, and  is to anticipate the construction of a permanent altar rail as part of their next anticipated or scheduled renovation, with all deliberate speed. 

b) The celebration of the liturgy.

i) It is the expectation of this diocese that the celebrant of a parish’s principal Sunday Mass will sing the ordinary chants of the Mass, that incense will be used, cf. GIRM 276 et seq., and that such Mass be celebrated at the high altar, with six lit candles thereupon, cf. GIRM 117. See generally AS148; art. 1(a)(ii), supra. 

ii) Provided that natural or candle light is sufficient, no parish is obliged to use electric lighting during the celebration of Mass. Adequate lighting for safe ingress and egress, however, must be provided before and after the Mass.

iii) The celebration of the Liturgy of the Eucharist in vernacular translations is suppressed in all circumstances whatsoever. Cf. GIRM 30, 352, 365; SC36.1; RS112; LA13. 

1) When celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Ordinary Form, priests shall say or sing the Eucharistic Prayer in Latin, with due attention to the relevant rubrics.

2) The chancery shall procure and make available altar cards for Eucharistic Prayer I in Latin to all parishes so requesting, at no cost to the parish.

3) Priests are encouraged to use Latin for any fitting parts of the Ordinary of the Mass, due attention being given that, “[i]n Masses which are celebrated with the people, a suitable place … be allotted to their mother tongue.” SC54 (emphasis added).

4) No pastor shall fault or penalize any curate for celebrating any part of the Mass in Latin, or for celebrating Mass in the extraordinary form.

iv) Whether at a freestanding or high altar, the Liturgy of the Eucharist is to be celebrated versus apsidem, except where the physical arrangement of the church building makes this physically impossible. Cf. art. 1(a)(ii-iii), supra. At the discretion of the celebrant, the introductory and closing rites and the Liturgy of the Word may be celebrated versus populum and in vernacular languages. Cf. SC54. General Instruction of the Roman Missal 310 notwithstanding, the sedelia or celebrant’s chair is to be located in an unobtrusive location within the sanctuary, perpendicular to the principal axis of the church.

v) “The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.” SC116. Accordingly, parishes are to make use of the proper chants in Latin or the vernacular from the Missal, in Latin from any of the books of longstanding approval, such as the Roman Gradual, or in English from the Simple English Propers. Cf. GIRM 41, 45, 48. Parishes are encouraged to form scholas for purposes of singing sacred choral music, and also to foster a participation by the congregation in the proper chants of the Mass. Cf. GIRM 40; SC 54, 118. It is the hope and expectation of this office that the congregation will within a reasonable time be able to sing the Gloria, Credo, etc., as anticipated and directed by the Second Vatican Council. Cf. SC54, 114. The liturgical use of instruments other than the pipe organ is therefore suppressed for this diocese. Cf. GIRM 352, 393; SC112, 120; RS57; MS12, 28-30.

vi) Allowing that the use of a cantor is “fitting,” GIRM 104, such use is available in this diocese where useful, but is by no means required, and a the use of a schola or choir is to be preferred.  Cf. MS19, 21. Where a choir loft is available, the schola or choir should be situated in it so as to avoid creating a focal point other than the liturgical action. Cf. GIRM 312.

vii) At the discretion of the celebrant, the presentation of gifts (“praiseworthy” but not required, GIRM 73, cf. GIRM 140), may be omitted. The offertory and communion chants shall not be amenable to substitution: If the assigned chant is not sung, the offertory shall be conducted pursuant to GIRM 142, and communion shall be conducted in silence. Cf. GIRM 45; contra MS32.

viii) The illicit practice of congregations holding hands during the Pater Noster is deprecated. Cf. SC22.3.

ix) The communal pax is hereby deemed to be “[never] appropriate,” GIRM154, in this diocese, ipso iure, and is therefore suppressed in this diocese. Cf. RS71.

x) Redemptionis Sacramentum and Ecclesia de mysterio require that all Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion have personal approval by the bishop. RS155; EM art. 8. In this diocese, only a person who has been personally commissioned for service as an EMHC by this office, in writing, for a specified period of time not exceeding six months, that has not expired, may serve as an EMHC, and all such approvals lapse at the end of each calendar year without regard to any other timeline or provision of the law. All standing approvals predating this statute are hereby declared null and void. If no deacon or other assistant is available, the celebrant may elect to distribute under a single species only. Cf. GIRM 281; RS102.

xi) For purposes of communion:

A) The adaptation of General Instruction of the Roman Missal 160 for dioceses of the United States is declared null and void in this diocese.  Cf. art. 3(g), infra.

B) The norm for reception of Holy Communion in the diocese of Starling City is on the tongue, kneeling at the altar rail (if one is present; standing if not). Cf. GIRM 160 (approved US adaptation); art. 1(a)(v), supra.

C) Nevertheless, communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they stand or choose to receive in the hand. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm. Cf. GIRM 160 (ET).

D) Although communicants generally retain the right to receive Holy Communion in the hand, Ministers of the Eucharist should take special care to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, pastors should suspend the giving of Holy Communion in the hand until such time as they are satisfied that the risk has passed, or for other good cause. Cf. RS91-92.

xiii) The addition of announcements preceding the closing rights, foreseen by GIRM 90 and 166, is suppressed. In Masses in both the ordinary and extraordinary form, such announcements and presentations as may be deemed necessary are to be given before the opening rites or after the closing rites. Cf. RS74.

Article 2: Implementation

a) Transitional indults and other provisions

i) An indult permitting the celebration of Holy Mass using an existing freestanding altar in parishes in which there exists a high altar, contrary to article 1(a)(iii) of this statute, shall be in force for 48 hours from the publication of this statute.

ii) An indult permitting the Liturgy of the Eucharist to be said in the vernacular shall be in force for 10 days from the publication of this statute.

iii) An indult permitting the congregation to sing (according to the chants provided by the Missal, cf. art 1(b)(v), supra) or recite the Sanctus and Agnus Dei in vernacular languages shall be in force for 4 weeks from the publication of this statute.

iv) An indult permitting recitation of the the Pater Noster and its response in the vernacular, shall be in force for 6 weeks from the publication of this statute.

v) In order that an orderly transition might be completed, parishes may, if necessary, celebrate Sunday Masses sine musica for up to 2 weeks following the publication of this instruction, presuming that appropriate steps to return chant to its “pride of place” are ongoing.

vi) Parishes are encouraged to engage in all appropriate instruction and catechization to ensure a smooth transition, but this statute comes into effect upon publication, and implementation is to proceed immediately, except as provided for in this article. The time limits on the indults provided above are not subject to tolling or discovery rules.

vii) Cake, and grief-counselling, will be available from the Chancery.

b) Enforcement

i) All persons in this diocese, lay, religious, or cleric, shall have recourse to the Diocesan Liturgy Office and the Diocesan Commission on the Sacred Liturgy for remedies against liturgical abuses and violations of this statute. 

ii) The bishop and the director of the Diocesan Liturgy Office shall be members of the Diocesan Commission on the Sacred Liturgy. The commission may meet, but may not vote on any question in their absence.

iii) An administrative fee of $1,000 shall be included with all applications filed pursuant to article 1(b)(x). All monies collected shall be immediately donated to programs for the the relief of the poor. 

Article 3. Additional provisions and general policies and norms

a) The policy of this diocese is that all souls be saved, that all persons should be converted to the Catholic Faith, and that, upon their arrival, they should find in their local parish a Mass celebrated in a manner consistent with the tenets of the Catholic Faith regarding the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

b) Priests who feel that the number of Masses that they are required to celebrate during the course of a weekend are encouraged to contact the Diocesan Liturgy Office. Where possible, it is to be expected that the bishop will personally and willingly take on as many as is feasible.

c) All practices in which celebrants place a congregation in the position of choosing between obeying an immediate instruction of the celebrant and the liturgical law of the Church or of this diocese are reprobated. Cf. GIRM 95.

d) A parish that is financially burdened by compliance with this statute may apply to the deanery and/or the diocese for assistance.

e) The policy of this diocese is to foster warm relationships with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, and the Society of St. Pius X, and to maximize the number of available confessors within he diocese. Accordingly, all priests in good standing with those orders who are not under penalty of excommunication from legitimate ecclesiastical superiors, may apply for faculties to hear confessions in this diocese, which will be granted liberally. Cf. 1983 CIC 969, 972-73.

f) The policy of this diocese is to foster vocations and to encourage experimentation calculated to achieve this effect. This office stands behind those pastors who choose to make use of female altar servers, but also behind priests who abjure female altar service for purposes of fostering vocations. The clerk is directed to disregard all complaints on this point. 

g) Directives and decisions of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are null and void within this diocese unless:

1) The conference was exercising an authority of the Holy See that has been explicitly delegated to it by the Holy See;

2) The instrument was adopted by the unanimous vote of all bishops, including the bishop of this diocese, in open session, after December 30, 2015, and the full text of the instrument is available publicly (lex occulta lex nulla).

3) The instrument separately receives the mandate of this office, or that of the Holy See.

Published 13:00 MST, Dec. 29, the year of our salvation 2015.
Simon +Dodd
3rd Bishop of Starling City, MT

Comment (1)

  1. Titus wrote::

    Diverting, but I(a)(ii) doesn’t account for the possibility of a recently constructed parish in a romanesque style, with a freestanding altar surmounted by a baldachin and no freestanding altar by design. The requirement that such an altar not be used versus populum also runs contrary to the ancient Roman practice of saying Mass towards the east on those sorts of altars. But perhaps there aren’t any east-facing romanesque churches in Starling City.

    Also, look to your cathedral under 1(a)(iv): it would benefit from a separate reservation chapel, in case a visiting prelate or auxiliary says pontifical Mass from the faldstool.

    And why on earth, having gored everyone’s sacred liturgical cows, would you spare the abominable practice of altar girls?

    Saturday, January 2, 2016 at 11:02 am #