ASK FATHER: Who is in charge of the Moon?

From a reader…


It occurs to me that two of the three people on Apollo 11 were in the military at the time of their trip the moon. The command module pilot, Michael Collins, and the lunar module pilot, Buzz Aldrin, were both active duty military at the time of their trip. Is there an argument to be made that this is sufficient to make the moon part of the Archdiocese of the Military?

Thanks for your good work, and for keeping it light at times too.

There are a few bishops and priests, etc., whom I would happily send to your planet’s Moon, so that they could straighten the situation out for good.

However, as it stands now, it seems that the Moon is under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Orlando.

“ORLANDO?!?’, you may be saying.   “Disneyworld?  EPCOT?  THAT Orlando?”

The idea is that, back in 1969 when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, the Diocese of Orlando included Cape Canaveral.  Because the journey to the Moon began from the Diocese of Orlando, Orlando had jurisdiction.

There is an anecdote about this.  The late Archbishop Borders, at the time Bishop of Orlando, during an ad limina visit in Rome told Paul VI that he was the bishop of the Moon.

I would have given anything to have been there with a camera to record for history Paul VI’s expression as he considered this statement.

That said, we also must consider that the 1917 Code was in force at the time of the Moon landing.  In the 1917CIC, can. 252 said that the competence of the Congregation for the Propogation of the Faith extends to “those regions which, since the sacred hierarchy has not been constituted, retain the status of a mission.” (Eius iurisdictio iis est circumscripta regionibus, ubi, sacra hierarchia nondum constituta, status missionis perseverat.)

This is a strong argument in favor of Propaganda having jurisdiction (hence, “Rome”).  However, if Orlando, having a competing view, wanted to press its claim, the diocese could bring a case before the Apostolic Signatura to assert its claim to jurisdiction.

I suspect that the Archdiocese for the Military Services is, right now, stretched a bit thin and won’t immediately want to make any claims.  I could be wrong.  I’ll ask around.

And since we are in pre-Lent, and starting to think about fasting and abstinence, etc., regarding whether astronauts are obliged to fast, can. 13 of the 1983 Code (in force now) says that travelers are not bound to the particular laws of their own territory while they are absent from it, or by the laws of the territory in which they are present (with the except of laws which establish good order).

Hence, if there is going to be any colonization of the Moon, someone is going to have to work this jurisdiction thing out.

Maybe the Moon would be a good place for future retired Popes?  Popes Emeriti?   I deeply esteem Pope Benedict, but the thought of having a bunch of these ecclesiastical outliers around strikes me a lunacy.  And, if that’s lunacy, what better place to plant them than on the Moon?  With their great experience, they would do well in governance there, quiet as it might be.

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  1. Andrew says:

    If I am attached to the ancient Latin liturgical tradition, can I attend an SSPX chapel on the Moon? (I haven’t heard of the FSSP making any plans to start a lunar mission).

    [The gravity is lower, but perhaps you could form a stable community there. (And by lower gravity I don’t mean clown Masses.)]

  2. kurtmasur says:

    Could the moon be considered a part of the “periphery”, as per “Francis”-speak?

  3. Credoh says:

    It would be nice if his Holiness, when his Lordship informed him that he was Bishop of the Moon”, simply, face unchanged and after the classic perfectly-timed pause, replied “yes my Lord, you probably are…”

  4. Charles E Flynn says:

    And the answer is: Christ Pantocrator.

  5. Thomas Stewart says:

    Ah, but just imagine the sorts of things Pope Francis would say to reporters while on a flight of that length, even if one way. Heaven forfend!

  6. Imrahil says:

    As for the right of Propaganda one could argue though a “mission” doesn’t need its own proper Catholics, it does need people. People not subject to other jurisdictions, that is.

    However, there’s still the argument “nothing explicitly stated otherwise, so the Pope’s directly in charge”.

  7. Grant M says:

    Dante visited the Moon in AD 1300, departing from an island in the South Pacific, thus giving jurisdiction to ….umm…(need an expert in Canon Law here)

    For his first semon on the Moon, the Pope Emeritus could preach on the verse: “E’n la sua volontade e nostra pace.”

    [Well done.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  8. frjim4321 says:

    I know an astronaut was given permission to take some Eucharist to the Space Station. I wish that would have happened on the moon also.

  9. Grant M says:

    Or the Pope Emeritus could preach on the text “luna sub pedibus ejus” from Apocalypse 12, to a congregation who have the Moon under their feet in a more prosaic sense.

  10. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    They should preach on:

    “et cum haec dixisset videntibus illis elevatus est et nubes suscepit eum ab oculis eorum…” Acts 1:9.

    And forget the Moon. Let’s go to Mars instead!!

    “The Benedict Option” and “The Case for Mars” two books that I consider must-reads for Catholics.

    I want to set up a Catholic Colony on Mars.

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