Naming the Bishop in Eucharistic Prayers

Today I want to address the naming of the diocesan bishop in the Eucharistic prayers or the Canon in the 1962 missal. Under most circumstances, the naming of the pope and the diocesan bishop is rather routine and looks the same in both forms of the mass. In the ordinary form of the mass, the naming of the pope and diocesan bishop is governed by 2002 GIRM 149. First it covers what a bishop says when he celebrates in his own diocese and then when he is in another bishop’s diocese. Of interest to me is the next paragraph which states that:

The Diocesan Bishop, or one who is equivalent to the Diocesan Bishop in law, must be mentioend by means of this formula: together with your servant N., our Pope, and N., our Bishop (or Vicar, Prelate, Prefect, Abbot).

In the extraordinary form, the naming of the pope and diocesan bishop is determined by Ritus servandus VIII, 2:

2. […] When he says “et Antistite nostro N.,” he specifies the name of the Patriarch, Archbishop, or Ordinary Bishop in the respective Diocese, and not the name of any other Superior, even if the Celebrant is entirely exempt, or under the jurisdiction of another Bishop. If, however, the Bishop who is Ordinary of that place, in which the Mass is being celebrated, is deceased, these words are omitted, and are omitted even by those who are celebrating at Rome. […]

One will immediately notice that the 1962 missal tries to provide direction for when a diocese is occupied and when it is vacant, but it is silent with regards to vicars and prefects and other transitional situations. The new law, while being very helpful about how a bishop can reference himself and others and what is done is non-diocesan territories, is entirely silent about what happens when the see is vacant. What happens in the situations that fall into these holes in the law is where this topic gets interesting.

I want to dive into these differences because they affect those priests who celebrate both the ordinary form and extraordinary forms of the mass. As I explored earlier with regard to deacons, the differences in ecclesiology that underpin the discipline of the ordinary and extraordinary forms can, at times, produce results that are opposite to each other. And, because the Summorum pontificum derogates from liturgical laws promulgated after 1962 and which are incompatible with the rubrics of the pre-1962 liturgical books (cf. Universae Ecclesia [UE] n. 28), priests have no choice but to juggle these differences.

Extraordinary Form

As early as 1722, it was the opinion of the Sacred Congregation of Rites that during a vacancy, that name of the administrator of a diocese should not be mentioned in the Canon (S.R.C. Decree 2274 [3952], Sarsinaten, n. 5). This was repeated in S.R.C. 3047, n. 4 and 4288, n. 2. Following the promulgation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the same congregation answered a dubium whether apostolic vicars and apostolic prefects should be named in the Canon, because they enjoy in virtue of 1917 CIC 294 the same rights within their territory as territorial bishops. Relying on 1917 CIC 2 (liturgical laws retain their force unless expressly changed by the code) and a distinction made in 1917 CIC 308 between vicars and prefects augmented with episcopal character, the Congregation of Rites responded negatively (S.R.C. Dubium, 8 Mar 1919, AAS 11 [1919], p. 145). The one exception rubricists made was in allowing apostolic administrators who are of episcopal character and who are permanently constituted over a territory to be named in the Canon because 1917 CIC 315 extends to them the same rights, honors, and honorific privileges that residential bishops enjoy (Cf. O’Connell, The Celebration of the Mass [Bruce: Milwaukee, 1964], 259).

Ordinary Form

The first edition of the post-conciliar missal provided no direction regarding who may be mentioned in the Eucharistic prayer. The Congregation for Divine Worship addressed this omission in 1972 with the decree Cum de nomine (AAS 64 [1972], pp. 692-694), which forms the basis of the current language in the GIRM. Reflecting the increased awareness of local and universal communion which the documents of Vatican II highlight, the decree reads

[the] mention of the bishop in the eucharistic prayer is not simply or mainly a matter of honor but of communion and charity […]. Such considerations obviously apply also those who, whether marked by episcopal consecration or not, preside over some community of the people of God.

The decree goes on to say that the follow must be named: a territorial bishop, a bishop still retaining administration of one diocese after being transferred, apostolic administrators who is a bishop whether permanent or temporary whether a see is vacant or not, apostolic vicars and prefects, and a prelate or abbot nullius having jurisdiction over a territory not attached to any diocese.

In the American Experience

In the American context, the only tricky situation that one is going to encounter is a vacant diocese with either a diocesan administrator or an apostolic administrator. A diocese is vacant if the bishop dies, takes possession of a new see (i.e. is transferred), is granted retirement, or is removed from office (cf. 1983 CIC 416). One of three situations follow:

A) If the Holy See names an apostolic administrator who is a bishop to administer a diocese, he is certainty named in the ordinary form. In the extraordinary form, it’s a bit less clear since the canonical distinctions upon which the 1962 rubricists relied are no longer present in the 1983 code, which doesn’t even discuss apostolic administrators. It might depend on the details of his appointment. There is some precedent for naming apostolic administrators in the Canon, so it would not be entirely improper, especially if one has a view toward organic development in the liturgy, to also name an apostolic administrator who is a bishop in the extraordinary form.

B) If a diocesan administrator is elected by the college of consultors (cf. 1983 CIC 421), if he is a bishop, he is named in the ordinary form; if he is not, he wouldn’t and the line “and N., our bishop” would be omitted entirely. In the extraordinary form, a diocesan administrator is not mentioned at all and the Latin phrase would be omitted.

C) When a bishop is transferred, from the time of the announcement of his transfer until he takes possession of the new see, he is still technically bishop of his current see but his power is limited to that of a diocesan administrator (cf. 1983 CIC 418, §2). Because he is still the bishop of the see, the 1972 CDW decree stipulated he must be named. The extraordinary form would do the same since who possesses a see is a matter for the Code of Canon Law, from which Summorum Pontificum does not derogate (UE, n. 27). When he does finally take possession of the new see, he ceases to be bishop of his former diocese and that diocese is then vacant. At that point, he would cease to be named in both the ordinary or extraordinary forms.

An Interesting Alternative

I mentioned at the start that Summorum Pontificum derogates from laws connected to the sacred Rites promulgated after 1962 and which are incompatible with the rubrics of the pre-1962 liturgy. As one may have noticed at the outset, what the liturgical laws actually say is rather limited. One may ask the question, in this very narrow matter, how much of the post-conciliar law is actually incompatible with the pre-conciliar law?

Certainly, the provisions in the post-conciliar law allowing for apostolic vicars and prefects and abbots nullius are incompatible with the pre-conciliar law since it calls for an alteration of the Canon from Antistite nostro N. to Vicario, Praelato, Praefecto, Abbate nostro N.. The same goes for the post-conciliar law allowing for the naming of auxiliary and coadjutor bishops as well as a bishop referencing himself and the local bishop, since all these require insertions or adaptations of the Canon text. The post-conciliar situation with regards to diocesan and apostolic administrators who happen to be bishops is different. Since neither the post-conciliar rubrics nor the pre-conciliar rubrics provide for this situation, there can be not incompatibility of law. Moreover, there is no alteration of the Canon text(antistite being a synonym for episcopo). The post-conciliar practice is based on the interpretation of the Congregation for Divine Worship as explained in Cum de nomine regarding the purpose of naming the bishop, while the pre-conciliar practice is based on earlier interpretations of the same congregation (before its name was changed). The more recent interpretation should carry more weight not only because it is more recent, but because more accurately reflects the doctrinal and canonical reality of the Church today.

In that case then, at least in the American experience, what a priest does when he reaches that point in the Eucharistic prayer or the Canon will be the almost same regardless of the form of the mass being celebrated.

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