Prelate Explains How Council Decisions Might Be Carried Out

October 1, 1963

Decrees enacted by the Second Vatican Council and approved by Pope Paul VI will automatically go into effect.

However, there may be some time lag before they can be carried out in the individual dioceses of the world.

This was explained at a press conference Oct. 1 by Archbishop Pietro Palazzini, secretary of the Sacred Congregation of the Council.

He also said a distinction should be made between dogmatic decrees and disciplinary ones.

Dogmatic canons are automatically effective and need no specific implementation. However, disciplinary measures or other changes may be subject to delay until they can be carried out in individual nations, regions or dioceses.

Archbishop Palazzini spoke of the way in which the Roman curia, the Holy See’s central administrative staff, would assist in carrying out the decisions of the council in light of the existing Church law. He conceded that this process itself may be altered by the council Fathers.

But speaking in terms of past history, Archbishop Palazzini said that the first step necessary in terms of disciplinary changes would be their incorporation into canon law.

This will be done, he said, by the special commission for revision of canon law appointed by Pope John and confirmed by Pope Paul.

The Archbishop said that once the canon law commission has finished revision of Church law in the light of the general directives laid down by the council Fathers, it will be necessary for this legislation to be applied in every diocese around the world.

“This will be done, at least according to present Church legislation, through particular councils on a national or a provincial level,” he said.

“Once a national council or a provincial council has adapted the legislation to local conditions,” Archbishop Palazzini said, “then it will be necessary to submit the legislation to some central and unified criteria.

“This is necessary so that harmony may be preserved between the local adaptations made by the local councils, and the general legislation voted into effect by the council Fathers for the entire Church.”

Archbishop Palazzini said, in answer to questions, that there could be changes voted by the council Fathers in the rules now governing national episcopal conferences so they might have real jurisdiction in their decisions. At present, decisions of the conference have the force of recommendations or suggestions, but perhaps in the future the conferences could be given judicial power to implement their decisions.

Asked about the Pope’s proposals of curial reform, Archbishop Palazzini said the Holy Father’s proposals were “explicit and precise.” He noted that all human organisms have good and bad aspects. Although the Pope has said what is to be done in terms of curial reform, he hasn’t made it clear yet how it is to be accomplished and that we must wait for the sequence of events to disclose, the Archbishop added.

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