Tampering with the Liturgy

Q: You have said that individual priests cannot change the Church’s liturgy on their own authority. What is your authority for that?

A: The Code of Canon Law, which is as official as it gets. Nobody can tamper with the Church’s liturgy. The Code states:

“The liturgical books approved by the competent authority are to be faithfully observed in the celebration of the sacraments; therefore no one on personal authority may add, remove or change anything in them.” (CIC 846:1)

All changes in the liturgy and all liturgical books (sacramentaries, lectionaries, etc.) must be approved by the Vatican prior to publication in order to prevent abuses. The Code states:

  1. “The supervision of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church which resides in the Apostolic See and, in accord with the law, the diocesan bishop.
  2. It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, to publish the liturgical books, to review their translations into the vernacular languages and to see that liturgical ordinances are faithfully observed everywhere.
  3. It pertains to the conferences of bishops to prepare translations of the liturgical books into the vernacular languages, with the appropriate adaptations within the limits defined in the liturgical books themselves, and to publish them with the prior review by the Holy See.
  4. It pertains to the diocesan bishop in the church entrusted to him, within the limits of his competence, to issue liturgical norms by which all are bound.”(CIC 838)

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