Faith/Spirituality Forum: Authority of the Bishop
Authority of the Bishop QUESTION from Ann on August 20, 2002 There is some debate in my diocese over the proper time to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, whether to kneel during mass, etc.
In the case of questions such as these, do the statements of the bishop hold primary authority for the lay members of the diocese, or are the bishop's statements subordinate to the directives of Rome?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on August 30, 2002 Dear Miss Ann:
Both. There are some things that the Bishop can do since he is the primary authority over the sacraments and over the liturgy in his Diocese.
But he cannot do just anything.
I believe there was a bishop who ordered the faithful to not kneel when receiving the Eucharist. I believe that directive is being appealed to the Vatican.
The new missal, if I remember right, does make standing when receiving the Eucharist the norm, but a sign of reverence still must be given. The documents I have seen so far state that the Vatican does not intend to prevent people from genuflecting or kneeling.
On matters where there is question if the bishop is giving a legal directive, you should contact the St. Joseph Foundation. They are a group of canon lawyers who specialize on protecting the rights of the laity in matters of disputes with bishops and the like.
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