From a reader:
I wasn’t sure how to submit this for your column. By chance is there a provision in Canon Law relating to the use of materials put out by the SSPX and their publishing house Angelus Press?
As a gift I received a breviary – abridged 1962 edition. The text does not contain editorial content or other revisions favoring the SSPX, just the prayers for the Divine Office.
The book does not carry an Imprimatur.
Can I good conscience use this text or does it need to be burned?
Any help greatly appreciated.
This is a good question.
Yes, you can used this book. No, you don’t have to burn it.
To my knowledge, the book doesn’t have anything in it which didn’t have an imprimatur before.
I enlisted the help of a canonist for this.
A breviary would more properly fall under the canons for liturgical books, 826, and 838. Therein we find that it is the prerogative of the Holy see to publish liturgical books. In the 1917 Code this prerogative was exclusive ("unius", c. 1257) and so other publishers needed delegation to do so. This is no longer the case, so Angelus Press, acting under the provisions of the 1983 Code, is perfectly capable of publishing approved liturgical texts – especially those, such as the 1962 breviary which (I believe) do not fall under and copywright law.
You are also right that ecclesiastical approval given to a text retains its force unless and until it’s withdrawn. So, subsequent editions of a text are not required to seek ecclesiastical approbation anew.
However, c. 826, 2 establishes that republishing liturgical books require an attestation by the Ordinary of the place of publication that it accords with the editio typica ("concordat cum originali"). The British commentary notes that a 1966 decree of the Congregation of Rites issued in 1966 gives the detailed regulations on this (AAS 58(1966) 169-171)….
So, you’re right – there’s certainly no need to burn the book, and I would have few qualms about using the texts (particularly if this is coming from someone who is not bound to the recitation of the Office), but at the same time, Angelus Press should not have published this without getting a "concordat" from the local Ordinary (I’m not sure where Angelus Press is actually located – their website gives an office address in Kansas City, MO, so the local ordinary would seem to be Bishop Finn or one of his Vicars General or Episcopal).
I think if I were a priest, deacon or religious bound to the Office, I would write to Bishop Finn, notifying him of this – he might (and Finn would be the right sort of Bishop for this task) be able to have one of his censors review the text and give it a "concordat" now. If Finn is indeed the Ordinary with jurisdiction over Angelus, he might be able to exert some oversight.