Do German bishops fear the gravitational pull of the old Mass?
In a press release following the Spring Meeting of the German Bishops Conference, Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, took up a position on among other things, the implementation of the Motu proprio 'Summorum Pontificum'.
The Cardinal sought to clarify: "The guidelines which we adopted at the Fall General Assembly on 26 Adopted in September 2007, have now been put into force by all diocesan bishops and been published in the official journals. "
This message calls into question: Have the bishops now adopted"guidelines" or "general implementing rules"?
What does Cardinal Lehmann mean here with "guidelines"?
As a canon lawyer, I present the following comments:
"Guidelines" are not "general implementation regulations' within the meaning of the decreta generalia exsecutoria (general implementing decrees) of Canon 32 CIC/1983.
Consequently, they cannot have binding force beyond those obligations which are created by the Motu proprio 'Summorum Pontificum' .
Implementation methods will be agreed exclusively by either an instruction following Canon 34, which is not primarily directed to the faithful, but to the church authorities, or by the general execution provisions provided by Canon 32 - but not by "guidelines".
Moreover, only general provisions can affect the implementation of the compliance Motu Propio - see Canon 32.
The term "guideline" is not a canon law term, that is, a category encountered in ecclesiastical law.
Guidelines in the true sense of the word cannot be put in place because they have no legal force, or only act as a regulation – as in the Motu proprio – with a solely executive function.
Rather guidelines are to serve general public understanding and act as an indicator of direction, as Cardinal Lehmann had rightly said following the autumn General Assembly of the German Bishops' Conference in September 2007.
The term "guidelines" used in the preface does not cover the ecclesiastical term "general implementing provisions” of Canon 32.
From the text of the press release, the requisite clarity for the legal security of the faithful of the old Rite is not provided, whether it concerns bishops who have already adopted for their dioceses either "guidelines" or "general implementing rules".
Only the latter would have binding force - but only in so far that they do not contradict the wording and the spirit of the Motu proprio 'Summorum Pontificum'.
The canonical lawgiver in Canon 33 § 1 is unequivocal:
General implementing provisions, even if they are published in directories or otherwise designated documents - as well as in diocesan official journals -" do not to annul laws, and to the extent that its provisions contradict laws, they are devoid of any legal force. "
In individual cases - from diocese to diocese – it should be checked in the official journals whether the relevant diocesan bishop for the diocese, has indeed published "the general implementation regulations' within the meaning of Canon 32 adopt or just" guidelines ", which in relation to the implementation of the Motu Propio 'Summorum Pontificum' are not canonically binding, but only have power to give some direction.
If the decrees in the official Diocesan journals act as general implementing provisions, this would clearly emerge from the title and text.