Tag Archives: Code of Canon Law

Clarence Gallagher, SJ, RIP

The Church mourns Father Clarence Gallagher, SJ, who died yesterday in England.

My friendship with Father Clarence didn’t run long or deep as though who studied under him or sought him for spiritual counsel. But knowing him was a delight; he was helpful in some matters pertaining to me several years ago when he was just leaving the office of rector of the Pontifical Oriental Institute (PIO), Rome (1990-95).
His mission in England and later in Rome was as being the formation director of Jesuits in formation and who also served as professor, spiritual father, Dean of Canon Law and Rector of the PIO. Moreover, he was also a judge in the canon law courts of the Second Instance of the Lazio dioceses. Father Clarence is remembered for his humor and availability in a Church facing many ecclesial changes in the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s as he ably guided people of all ranks in the Church through the changes that came with the implementation of the 1983 Code of Canon Law and later the 1990 Code of Canons of the Eastern Church.

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Praying for the abbot in the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass?


Frequently do I go to places where certain liturgical practices catch my attention because of the novelty of what is said and heard. We always need a deeper understanding, a profound appreciation for the prayer of the Church as expressed in the sacred Liturgy. Some will say that canon law, particularly liturgical law, is the bad side of the Good News. As Catholics we are part of a Church; as Catholics we are not independent of sacred Scripture, sacred Tradition and the sacred Magisterium; as Catholics we follow a guided companionship on a journey to a deeper communio with the Triune God. We are not Marlboro people; we are, in fact, sheep in flock called to the Holy Synaxis, to the holy in-gathering of a people in Christ, or simply, Church. We have a good shepherd in Jesus and in His successors, that is, the bishops, and we follow the teaching authority of the Christ and His vicars.

This is a long introduction to a question as whether or not priests of monastic communities ought to name the abbot in the Eucharistic Prayer. There seems to be some confusion over this seemingly small, trite matter. It is not small, and it is not trite. We have an ecclesiology, and we have a liturgical practice that ought to be followed because we live our Catholic lives in communion with others. Abbots are minor prelates; they exercise their pastoral authority and power in their monastic community and not in a diocese, and by extension to the dependent priories. An abbot ought not employ the attitude of having a mitre and a crosier so that  you can do whatever you’d like, whenever you’d like, etc.

Can a priest commemorate Abbot X (or even the abbess if in the context of a woman’s monastery) along with the pope and the bishop in the Eucharistic Prayer at Mass?


The General Instruction of the Roman Missal gives four titles that may be named in the Eucharistic Prayer: “The Diocesan Bishop, or one who is equivalent to the Diocesan Bishop in law, must be mentioned  by means of this formula: together with your servant N., our Pope, and N., our Bishop (or Vicar, Prelate, Prefect, Abbot)” (no. 149). Each of these offices are  “equivalent to the Diocesan Bishop in law” by virtue of their appointment to act on behalf of the Supreme Pontiff within a particular area.

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Blessings, etc, at a priest’s First Mass

priestly first mass image.jpgWe are now preparing for the ordinations of men to the Order of Deacon and to the Order of Priests this time of year. With these ecclesial events, there is generally a lot of misunderstanding as to what is permitted, what is not, and who can restrict what. Imagine: liturgical and ecclesiological confusion in the Church! 

Plenty of newly ordained deacons and priests exhibit arrogance and a sense of entitlement that is both inconsistent with the gift of the priesthood and with the law of charity. Because a man is ordained, or given an office to exercise, e.g., pastoral care of souls in a parish or the abbatial office or the Vicar General’s office does not mean you’ve “arrived,” and that you can do whatever you want just because you are now “somebody.” Ask yourself, what example does Christ the high priest and head of the Church require? What does true priestly humility look like?
The ever attentive canonist Edward Peters on his blog (In Light of the Law) posted today a helpful primer to questions asked with regard to “Ordinations, first Masses, clerical blessings.” I recommend laity and clergy alike carefully read what Dr Peters has to say and carefully attend to the distinctions he makes.
***I hear that if you write for the special use of an indulgence, or the solemn pontifical blessing (a particular note needs to be added to your “worship aid”, or fax, the Apostolic Penitentiary, you will get a quick response. The Prefect is Manual Cardinal de Cordeiro. His address:
Palazzo della Cancelleria
Piazza della Cancelleria, 1
00186, Roma Italia

Bishop of Rome –appreciating its significance for the churches

Pope's chair, Basilica di San Giovanni in Late...

The chair of the Bishop of Rome, Basilica Saint John Lateran, Rome.

In the first moments of his introduction to the world, Pope Francis has spoken of his ministry as the bishop of Rome, and his exercise of said ministry. Nine times, in fact. I think many were surprised at the theological precision that Pope Francis expressed so quickly. How is this possible? Because Francis is clearly Christocentric, and the Petrine ministry located in service of the other and at the foot of the Cross.

We ought to recall that ministries in the Church have gradually taken on new significance over time as the issues of teaching, preaching and sanctifying and governing (leading) surfaced and challenged the unity of the faithful. We know historically that by the third century the parameters of the bishop of Rome began to develop because of the work of Saints Peter and Paul, and because of the importance of the imperial city of Rome, and by the fourth century the influence of the Roman bishop was well-situated; and by the fifth century “canonical” letters, i.e., decrees, were sent to the world’s bishops carrying with them certain authority. One can posit that from almost the beginning bishops from across the Christian world had appealed to the bishop of Rome for assistance in resolving with pastoral problems. 

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No charge for sacraments

I read a news item by an Italian journalist bringing to light a recent letter of the Most Reverend Socrates Villegas, VP of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines where he sternly criticized the practice of priests charging for the administration of sacraments and sacramentals. Villegas said, in part, 

My dear brother priests, the sacraments are not to be celebrated in exchange for money. The trafficking for money in spiritual things is simony. It is a sin.
News reports are here and here.

simony in MS.jpg

This is not a problem exclusive to the Philippines but North American priests do similarly in cash-poor parish. It is more subtle, but the attitude is the same.
The faithful are rarely taught to understand that you don’t buy a Mass, nor do you pay a priest to  pray for a loved one, living or deceased. All Souls is coming and there is a high concern that priests will try to rake in the cash.

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About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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