Canon Law and the Mass Pro Populo

Q: At my parish, the same Sunday Mass used always to be the one celebrated by the pastor pro populo.  No stipend was ever taken for that Mass because it was not for anyone’s personal intention.

In the past few years, though, the pro populo Mass has been routinely shifted to a different Mass which is almost never celebrated by the pastor himself, and is attended by very few people.

The only possible reason for this change that I can see is simply financial: more stipends for the other Sunday Masses by shifting the pro populo Mass to one that often has no stipend offered or intention requested at all.

Can the Sunday Mass pro populo be celebrated by another priest?  I believe that the parish priest can even celebrate the pro populo Mass by himself if he’s travelling, for example; he doesn’t have to celebrate it within the parish.  But can he effectively exclude the majority of parishioners from it and turn the duty of celebrating it over to another priest or priests, on a more-or-less regular or permanent basis? –Nellie Continue reading

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Why Would a Bishop Refuse to Ordain a Seminarian?

Q:  I was a seminarian for nearly five years, and in fifth year I was suddenly and unexpectedly dismissed as a seminarian by the bishop.  He gave me three reasons for the dismissal, each of which I protested.  For example, the first reason he claimed was that a priest told him that some people said that I was “standoff-ish” during a novena in our cathedral….  The bishop couldn’t or wouldn’t give me any clarification and I was therefore unable to defend myself, except to say that I had never been described in such a way before.  The bishop refused to discuss very positive reports about me….  I felt in the course of our meeting that I could respond to and “fix” the charges being leveled against me, but I had the sense that the bishop did not want me to fix the situation.

I later learned that the seminary authorities were expecting me to stay in seminary and were giving me a positive report.

A number of weeks later, my mother wrote to the bishop about another matter – I was not aware of this until after she sent the letter. My mother was astonished when she received a response from the bishop in which he outlined the reasons why he had dismissed me – information which my mother never requested or mentioned in her letter. In fact, the bishop revealed information to her about my dismissal which I was not even aware of myself! There were also inconsistencies in his response compared to what he had said to me…

I wrote a letter to the bishop after my dismissal in order to express my dismay at the lack of clarity during our meeting, and I also expressed my concern at his imprudence in revealing personal information to my mother. I never received so much as an acknowledgement of this letter.

A couple of months later, the bishop resigned on health grounds.  This has made this situation even more difficult for me – that a bishop can make such a drastic decision, knowing he is about to resign, but yet not be obliged to give any concrete reasons for his decision….

Don’t get me wrong – I am not questioning the bishop’s authority to make a decision about me, but it appears to me that he abused his authority in this case. Nor do I believe that I have a right to be ordained a priest. I am motivated by a strong sense of justice, and I believe strongly that a serious injustice has prevailed here.

Have you any advice regarding how I might proceed with this?  The whole situation has made it difficult for me to move forward in my discernment….  I do not want to jeopardize my chances of being accepted by another bishop, but I would like to know if someone in my position has any sort of recourse. –Nevil Continue reading

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Which Parish Do I Belong To?

Q: In my diocese there is a parish which describes itself as “a non-territorial parish established to preserve and promote the traditional Latin Mass.”

What is the difference between a non-territorial parish and a “normal” parish?  I would assume the purpose of the non-territorial parish would be to enable any Catholic in the diocese to attend and it would be as if it were their “local” parish as far as Baptisms, Catechesis, Marriages, etc. are concerned?

Here’s a scenario: Geographic Parish A and Non-Territorial Parish B are both in the same diocese.  John lives within the boundaries of Parish A.  Because of his love for the traditional Latin Mass, John and his family attend Parish B.  Is John obliged to support, according to the precept, Parish A or B or both?  Would John require the Pastor of Parish A to give permission for him to marry in Parish B?

In general, which Parish takes precedence? –Peter Continue reading

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Canon Law and Arriving Late for Mass

Q1: If you’re late for Mass on Sunday, how late is too late?  As a child I was told you can’t miss the Gospel.  Later in life I heard you can’t miss the Offertory.

If you do miss the Gospel/Offertory, are you bound to stay for the next Mass?  Or just the part of the next Mass that you had missed?  What do you do if the Mass you were late for was the last Mass? –Timothy

Q2:  I have a parishioner who comes to daily Mass just in time for Holy Communion. I have asked why she doesn’t attend the entire Mass. She said she tries to get up earlier but just can’t.

I then informed her that according to the Church’s teaching, we are not supposed to receive Holy Communion if we miss the Gospel Reading….  If you are going to come to Mass, the Church teaches you are to be here for the entire liturgy.

​Can you help me​ with where it states in Canon Law about the rules of receiving Holy Communion in this instance?  I was hoping you could help me because I cannot find the exact paragraph. –Father M. Continue reading

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How Can You Tell a Real Law from an Illegal Decree?

Q: In this period of such confusion in the Church, you sometimes point to the law as the final answer on the subject.  Other times, though, you have criticized a law as being unjust and said that it must be disobeyed or at least ignored.

I’m not disagreeing with your reasoning, but could you give some general pointers on how to identify a law as “unjust,” and how to know when we ought to challenge or disregard it? –Richie Continue reading

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