Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hierarchy of Documents

I'm not sure if this is a much-discussed topic online or not, but where can I go to learn about the hierarchy of church documents? I mean, I know that "it still applies unless it has been specifically changed in a later document," but really, some are more important than others.

Vatican II Constitutions?
Vatican II Decrees?
Vatican II Declarations?
Papal Encyclicals?
Things put out by my country's bishops? (Music in Catholic Worship, Built of Living Stones...)
What about Musicam Sacram? (I tried googling "about musicam sacram," like maybe somewhere will tell me what IS this document, cuz I can quote it to my boss all I want, but he will still ask me what the document itself is...)
And what about pre-VII stuff? De Musica Sacra?


BONIFACE said...


I did some research on this for you and I'm emailing you a document to help clarify this confusing issue.

Teresa Benedicta said...

Hi, Mara,

I just came across your blog. We met this summer at the CMAA colloquium.

Regarding the hierarchy of legislative authority for these documents, you might try e-mailing Kurt Potterack at Christendom College for more specifics. In answer to your question, however, Musicam Sacram was a post-synodal exhortation and to my knowledge has juridical authority, but it was not one of the original Vatican II conciliar documents. Regarding things pre-Vatican II - documents with legislative authority (Sacrosanctum Concilium) have superseded statements in earlier documents when there is a disagreement between the documents. The question to ask, however, is if it is possible to interpret a new document in some way that makes it line up with the old document. When one looks at Sacrosanctum Concilium and Musicam Sacram, for example, one can come to different conclusions based on whether or not an understanding of the evolution of liturgy and liturgical music is taken into account. An interpretation of a document that essentially outlaws a vast amount of treasured liturgical music repertoire is probably an incorrect interpretation.