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In short, John Paul II practiced what he preached, and he undoubtedly took it for granted that other bishops should do the same. –Ian. Father Pro had organized so-called “Eucharistic stations” under special house arrest, where daily the body of the Lord could be secretly received during the years of persecution. until he learns that the obligation has been accepted and the offering celebrate Mass for the intention of the Christian faithful, especially the Then-Pope John Paul II publicly described what he considered to have been Father Pro’s greatest achievements: One reason for joy for the Universal Church and, especially for the Church of Mexico, is the beatification of Father Miguel Agustin Pro, a Jesuit priest whose virtues we today praise and offer to the people of God. Damien fought tooth and nail with the bishop who had authority over the Hawaiian Islands at the time—and many of their letters, which are still extant, attest to this fact. is otherwise evident. But what subsequently happened? The ordinary is obliged to examine these books Can. In other words, stating that you don’t need to receive the sacraments is heresy. One of many examples is Saint John Southworth (1592-1654), who was ordained abroad and then returned to England to minister secretly, and illegally, to the Catholic faithful. 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. –Eileen, Q2:  As a follow up to your most recent question/answer on receiving communion, can a Bishop cancel Masses for an indefinite period of time, essentially prohibit all public worship on an open- ended basis, and dispense EVERYONE generally from Sunday Mass attendance and Holy Days of Obligation? societies of apostolic life. The most common scenario is perhaps that of the elderly or otherwise infirm person who is homebound. What Happens When a Religious Who’s Vowed Poverty Becomes a Bishop? A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. 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. 948 Separate Masses are to be applied for the God alone knows the number of Catholic priests around the world, who over the centuries have had to struggle to minister to the faithful while risking arrest by a government hostile to the faith. Regarding Mass Stipends, the Canon Law of the Catholic Church states: Canon Law # 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. Today, the relics of Saint John Southworth are honored in Westminster Cathedral—the Catholic cathedral in London, not to be confused with non-Catholic Westminster Abbey—and Catholics praying at his tomb are a common sight. Blessed Antonio of Olmedo was a priest and member of the Mercedarians, who died of the plague in Chile, which he caught from those sick Catholics to whom he was ministering. (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.) John Paul II’s 1983 Apostolic Constitution Divinus Perfectionis Magister, esp. As Marc rightly puts it, this “essentially prohibit[s] all public worship on an open-ended basis.”  Can a bishop do this? The priest’s craven refusal to marry the couple causes a chain-reaction of tragic events, negatively affecting the lives of numerous people. 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. . That said, however, there are many entirely legitimate reasons why a Catholic couldn’t get to Mass on a Sunday, and this reality is addressed in canon 1248.2: it states that if it is impossible to assist at the Eucharist, either because no priest is available or for some other grave reason, a Catholic should do something else that is liturgical/prayerful instead, as a substitute. The use of the term “grave” in the Code of Canon Law was discussed in detail in “How Can a Priest Transfer to Another Diocese?” but in general, “grave reason” is serious stuff. And here’s a lovely story about an elderly lady being entertained (safely) by her next-door neighbor children, who get points for creativity. Presumably they were supposed to do this in order to save their own lives. 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. Perhaps the objection will be made that “these saints are different, because they ministered to plague-victims without disobeying their superiors! In this way he managed to celebrate Mass clandestinely and distribute Holy Communion to the people for over a year. It is the internal ecclesiastical law, or operational policy, governing the Catholic Church (both the Latin Church and the Eastern Catholic Churches), the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the individual national churches within the Anglican Comm… Church and by that offering share its concern to support its ministers and The Papal Bull decreed that the new book of law was to go into effect on Whitsunday, May the nineteenth, 1918. paragraph 4). Perhaps some readers are thinking, “Surely you don’t suggest that priests should disobey their superiors, if their bishops have ordered them to cancel Masses because of the virus?”  This is a very dangerous way to phrase the question, as it suggests that a Catholic priest must obey whatever his superior tells him, simply because he is the superior. was given, but subject to the rule that, except on Christmas, he is to keep the Rest assured that such declarations are utterly unprecedented! 20. of secular clergy and to the superiors in churches of religious institutes or 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. How Can You Get a Permanent Dispensation From Attending Sunday Mass? 956 Each and every administrator of pious Canon 1688 The judge of second instance, with the intervention of the defender of the bond and after consulting the parties, is to decide in the same way as in canon 1686 whether the judgement is to be ratified, or whether the case should rather proceed according to the ordinary course of law, in which event he is to send the case back to the tribunal of first instance. Cathy Caridi, J.C.L., is an American canon lawyer who practices law and teaches in Rome. 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. 1247, 1248.1) wasn’t invented out of thin air: it is based on the Third Commandment, given to Moses by God, telling us to keep the Sabbath holy. No Catholic is expected to risk his life in order to fulfill his Sunday obligation. The time within which Masses must be celebrated Father Damien, working all alone, set out to establish a Catholic mission among the lepers, building a church with his own hands, setting up a hospital and a school, and striving to establish an orderly and moral way of daily life for the poor suffering residents of the island. Set up in 1991, it has attracted the highest quality applicants. In accord with the approved practice of the Church, any priest celebrating or concelebrating is permitted to receive an offering to apply the Mass for a specific intention. The Virus and the Bishops: Twisting a Vatican Document to Further an Agenda. 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! 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. The saints we’ve just discussed were true shepherds, not hired hands, and like their divine Model, the Good Shepherd, they gave their lives for their sheep. and accepted. §2. ), and he knew full well that prolonged contact with the lepers was basically a death sentence. You could say that obedience wasn’t exactly a hallmark of Damien’s ministry. Canon Law regarding Mass Offerings. To date, it doesn’t appear that any of them have. –Marc, Q3: The Bishop here in Singapore decided to cancel and/or suspend all public Masses indefinitely. needy, even if they have not received an offering. a contrary intention. If you’re Italian, you understand perfectly the Pope’s reference to “Don Abbondio,” a fictional character in Alessandro Manzoni’s classic Italian novel I Promessi Sposi (often translated as The Betrothed). Can. on Moloka’i, which basically meant that they were unceremoniously dumped there and left to die, unable ever to receive visitors or return home again. Much more well known is Jesuit Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, who died while still a seminarian, at the age of only 23. The pastor and the rector of a church Now if the electrical power is out, many Catholics won’t even hear that the bishop has said that, but in the end it doesn’t really matter: if the weather is genuinely too treacherous to attempt to travel to church for Mass on a particular Sunday, consider yourself dispensed from the obligation. Why Would a Catholic Cleric Desecrate an Altar? Watch what this parish priest in northern Italy did. Every organization, whether secular or religious, requires … donor must be presumed legitimately to have been different. Because the matter directly affects the Most blessed Sacrament, even the slightest appearance of profit or simony would cause a scandal. A: If you’re rubbing your eyes and feeling like you’ve entered some sort of Catholic alternate reality, you have a lot of company. THE OFFERING GIVEN FOR THE CELEBRATION OF §2. Oct, 2010 Clergy. Our Lord Himself made much the same statement about character, in His well known description of the Good Shepherd: I am the good shepherd. Today, that particular period of plague is known as “the Plague of St. Charles,” because the Archbishop pointedly did not flee the city, instead personally attending to the thousands of sick and expending his own money to relieve them. He is also obliged to see to the celebration of the Masses It is a doctrine of Catholic Faith that such acts are infallible and irreformable, that is Jacob Jordaens’ “Charles Borromeo Intercedes During the Plague,” 1655. The servant of the Word consequently became a suffering servant, a leper with the lepers, for the last four years of his life. Can. In fact, the deepest root of his dedication to others was his passionate love for Jesus Christ and his ardent desire to empathize with Him, even in his death. THE OFFERING GIVEN FOR THE CELEBRATION OF MASS Can. Pursuant to which provision in Canon Law may a diocesan bishop suspend or cancel public Masses? it is certain that the excess over the sum fixed in the diocese was given for The Code of Canon Law (#917) stipulates, "A person who has received the Most Holy Eucharist may receive it again on the same day only during the celebration of the Eucharist in which the person participates, with due regard for the prescription of Canon 921.2. If the information on this website has helped you, please consider making a contribution so that it can continue to help others. But with the promulgation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the rule was broadened even further. Masses on the same day can apply each to the intention for which the offering He alone has words of life, yes, of eternal life. Note that some bishops are doing the first, while others are doing the second—and they are not the same thing. To sum up: if priests are being told in your country that “all public Masses must be cancelled, by order of the Bishops’ Conference,” this directive has no legal weight and should be disregarded, period. A priest who concelebrates a second Mass on the 947 Any appearance of traYcking or trading is 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? Open wide the doors to Christ…. The people of the parish need you, so when they ask you to minister to them, do it. established in the place where the donor resides, unless the intention of the 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. In those areas of the world where the civil government will not hesitate to arrest those priests who dare to offer Mass for the faithful (here’s a heart-breaking example up in Brescia, Italy, where the anti-Catholic mayor of the city personally busted into a parish church for a “routine check”), it is naturally far more difficult for parish clergy to minister to all the members of their parishes as usual. Make no mistake: obeying an unjust and illegal order is not virtuous! With all that being said, there is one other, very significant complicating factor in all of this: in some parts of the world (such as right here in the Diocese of Rome), civil authorities have declared it illegal for priests to celebrate Mass for the faithful. As was discussed at length in “How Can You Get a Permanent Dispensation From Attending Sunday Mass?” the requirement to attend Mass on Sundays and Holydays of Obligation (cc. (John 10:11-15). 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. In contrast to this model of clerical self-sacrifice, his hostile superiors and their unreasonable commands are long forgotten, and they certainly will never bear the title of Saint. §4. A conference of bishops can only issue general decrees in cases where either (a) universal law has prescribed it, or (b) a special mandate of the Apostolic See has established it (c. 455.1). larger or even smaller than the one defined. Sure, if you’re ill or otherwise homebound, watching Mass live-streamed on your laptop is certainly better than nothing. By now, the message to Catholic parish clergy should be clear. 945 § 1. A person who intends to entrust to What should parish priests do in such dire circumstances? force in the diocese is to be observed. While the Christian faithful make their offering in the collection basket, sometimes an offering is made for a special intention for the Mass. let Christ speak to man. He was executed by firing squad, and at his last moment of life he famously extended his arms in the form of a cross and cried out,  ¡Viva Cristo Rey! 957 The duty and right of exercising Mass for the intention of those who gave an offering is bound by the obligation Q1: The Irish Bishops have decided to cancel all public Masses and have told us that we have a dispensation from Sunday Mass obligations as a result of the Coronavirus. Commentary on Mass Facing the Altar (Ad Oreintem) Description. It only reveals it.”. 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. Mk 10:30)…. 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. Can. Priests who think of a thousand ways to be close to the people, so that the people do not feel abandoned; priests with Apostolic zeal, who have understood well that in times of pandemic, one mustn’t be a “Don Abbondio.”  Thank you so much to you priests. There is a huge difference between a bishop dispensing the faithful from attending Mass (i.e., telling them that they don’t have to come), and a bishop cancelling all public Masses (i.e., telling the faithful that they can’t come). Re-post: Can We Receive Holy Communion Twice on Christmas Day? 834 - 848), TITLE III. Lord, give us many holy priests! 951 §1. Canon (Canon Missæ, Canon Actionis) is the name used in the Roman Missal for the fundamental part of the Mass that comes after the Offertory and before the Communion. The canon of Sacred Scripture is the list of books recognized by the church as inspired by the Holy Spirit. For their heroism, these men have been beatified and canonized, respectively, by the Catholic Church—which did so in order to encourage the faithful to pattern our lives after theirs. Canon 387 is a good example: it tells us that the diocesan bishop, mindful that he is bound to give an example of holiness, charity, humility and simplicity of life, is to seek in every way to promote the holiness of Christ’s faithful. St. Charles Borromeo (1538-1584) was the Archbishop of Milan during the plague of 1575-1576. It’s worth noting, by the way, that St. Charles himself survived, despite his extensive contact with those who were infected. 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. a special book in which they note accurately the number of Masses to be 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?”). offering to apply the Mass for their intention contribute to the good of the If, in contrast, you’re young and healthy, and there’s no particular doctors’ warning in your area of the world because you’re not living in a place where the virus is widespread … you’d be hard-pressed to justify your failure to fulfill your Sunday obligation. 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From Lombardy about this creativity Becomes a bishop shepherds, not hired hands on their death you minister! You could say that obedience wasn ’ t exactly a hallmark of Damien ’ s Apostolic.

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