UPDATE: 18:47 GMT
I checked with a friend who is in a position to know these things in an authoritative way:
Lawfully, I do not think so. Provision is made for it in the Institutio Generalis. cf. Medina’s response to a quaesitum published in COMMUNICATIONES 25 September 2000.
From a reader:
Does a local ordinary have the authority to prevent a parish/ priest from celebrating the Novus Ordo ad orientem? Didn’t the Vatican have a clarification in the 80′s that permitted either versus populem or ad orientem celebration of the Novus Ordo? I am concerned because for years a parish in my diocese celebrated the Novus Ordo ad orientem until a few years ago when a new ordinary forbade it. Does he have the authority to do this or is there some politics at work here? I’m not including any names so as not to stir controversy but perhaps a letter to the CDW is in order – just wanted to check my facts before I did. Feel free to post this on your blog for general feedback.
My impression is that an ordinary does not have the authority to forbid Mass from being celebrated ad orientem. Nor does he have the authority to require that all Masses be celebrated versus populum.
It seems to the rubrics for Mass assume that Mass is ad orientem. The priest is instructed to turn to the people at certain times and then turn back to the altar. So, it seems to me very difficult for anyone to be forbidden from celebrating Mass according to the rubrics.
At the same time, if an altar is constructed such that Mass can be celebrated from either side, then it should be possible to use the altar from either side. GIRM 299 actually assumes that you are using the altar for ad orientem worship because it provides that you can when it is opportune use it also for versus populum Masses.
No… I don’t think a bishop can either forbid or require this, just as I don’t think he can forbid Latin, or Gregorian chant, or forbid Roman vestments, etc.
A query to the CDW would be interesting. I’ll dig some more.