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Magnum Principium actually makes radical changes very difficult. Here's why.
Over the weekend, Pope Francis issued a new apostolic letter motu proprio. The document, called Magnum Principium, caused an instant stir because it reformed canon law for the mechanisms for preparing and approving new translations of the liturgy.
Corners - Catholic - World - Headline - Changes
Most corners of the Catholic world were quick to react to the headline changes, which were clear enough: from now on, the Holy See will not be playing any active role in the drafting or amending of new translations of the liturgy. In future, episcopal conferences will have responsibility for the whole process, the Congregation for Divine Worship will merely give a final confirmation once the local bishops have voted.
Of course, anything touching the liturgy is bound to grab attention, and many have leapt to the conclusion that this new level of initiative and autonomy for episcopal conferences is the first shot in a resumption of the so-called liturgy wars. If all one takes away from Magnum Principium is that Rome is effectively leaving future liturgical translations to the discretion of local bishops, then perhaps a snap reaction is forgivable. But when talking about legal reform, and especially a reform which touches the Code of Canon Law and a dozen other authoritative and constitutive documents stretching back to Vatican II itself, it’s important to look at where the changes fit within the whole legal framework.
Case - Pope - Francis - Move - Ground
In this case, while Pope Francis has definitely made a clear move to ground responsibility for translations of the liturgy in the principle of subsidiarity, the accompanying legal requirements for real unity among the bishops of local episcopal conferences are much stronger than people have understood.
Magnum Principium amends the wording of canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law, which treats the levels of authority in handling changes to and...
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