Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio ‘Magnum Principium’


On September 9, 2017, Pope Francis issued a new Motu Proprio (on his own volition) “Magnum Principium,” granting authority on liturgical translations to Bishop’s Conferences. In this document, Pope Francis is making a change to Cn 838 in the Code of Canon Law. This is significant because prior to the Motu Proprio all changes and modifications to the liturgical texts used for worship needed approval by the Holy See as was mentioned in Cn 838. With the promulgation of “Magnum Principium,” Pope Francis, following the ‘great principle’ of Vatican II, wishes to accommodate the facilitation of the preparation and approval of liturgical texts to the local Conferences of Catholic Bishops. His aim is to foster more collaboration between the bishops and Holy See. The Holy See will still have the responsibility of vigilance over the recognition and confirmation of changes made to the liturgical texts, but the Conferences of Catholic Bishops can now approve and publish liturgical books for the regions which they are responsible for after the confirmation has been given by the Apostolic See. Even though there may be changes made at the local level concerning the liturgy, it should always be remembered that the liturgy also has a universal character that unites all Catholics in their worship of God. Cardinal Sarah, the head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, stated that, “The Liturgy is not about you and I. It is not where we celebrate our own identity or achievements or exalt or promote our own culture and local customs. The Liturgy is first and foremost about God and what He has done for us.”