The Diocese of Orange has issued a clarification regarding Fr. Martin Tran’s apparent statement that kneeling after the Agnus Dei contrary to the norm in his diocese constitutes a "mortal sin."
HERE’S THE DOCUMENT ON THE DIOCESAN WEB SITE.
(CHT to the reader who emailed.)
And here’s the money quote:
Fr. Tran regrets any concern or hurt caused by the misuse of the term "mortal sin" in this context. The Diocese concurs with Fr. Tran’s clarification.
The context in question is the passage from the parish bulletin where Fr. Tran threatened with mortal sin those parishioners "disregarding the permission of the local Bishop or despising the authority of the local Bishop" by "setting their own norms" in the liturgy.
So Fr. Tran and the diocese are refusing to endorse the claim that kneeling after the Agnus Dei is a mortal sin, which is a good thing, because as I pointed out before, that claim is totally absolutely 100% crazy.
So the clarification is good.
Unfortunately, the statement on the diocesan web site (which is unsigned) appears to have a couple of notable drafting problems.
Immediately after the above quotation, the statement goes on to say:
The bulletin article by Fr. Tran was never about "kneeling" or "standing" during Mass, it was about respect for the liturgical practices of the Church as approved by the Pope.
This is not plausible, for reasons discussed before. To those reasons might be added the fact that Fr. Tran explicitly referred to the authority and the permissions granted or not granted by the diocesan bishop, which focuses attention on the actions of the diocesan bishop, and the only norm established by the diocesan bishop that the parishioners seem to have been accused of violating was the norm of standing after the Agnus Dei (which, it must be pointed out, is within the competence of the local bishop according to the U.S. edition of the GIRM).
Still, the key point–that it is not a mortal sin to kneel after the Agnus Dei in those places where standing is the norm–has been acknowledged, so this difficulty need not detain us further.
A second drafting problem with the statement is found in its first sentence:
The LA TIMES, Sunday, May 28, 2006, story about the liturgical practices at St. Mary’s by the Sea stated that the determination of some parishioners to kneel during the Agnus Dei at Mass was a ‘mortal sin’ because it violated the liturgical norm (to stand) of the province of the USCCB Region XI (CA, Hawaii and Nevada)
Although Region XI does not seem to have its own web site, and although there is precious little about Region XI on the web, I happen to live in Region XI, and it is not the practice in my diocese to stand after the Agnus Dei.
Further, the American GIRM does not empower a region to establish a norm on this question. It is the local bishop that is empowered to do so.
Unless there is a norm that I am not aware of, there is no Region XI norm for standing after the Agnus Dei.
Hopefully this statement will not cause needless consternation or confusion on the part of others in Region XI whose dioceses follow the practice of kneeling after the Agnus Dei.