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In case anyone is interested in establishing a private chapel or oratory in their home or on a piece of private property somewhere, the following research may be helpful.  It touches on how to properly establish a chapel or oratory, as well as a number of related issues (e.g., reservation of the Eucharist, furnishings, episcopal delegations, etc.).

Overview of Terms:
In the Roman Catholic Church, an oratory is a structure other than a parish church, set aside by ecclesiastical authority for prayer and the celebration of Mass.  It is for all intents and purposes another word for what is commonly called a chapel.

Previously, canon law distinguished several types of oratories: private (with use restricted to an individual, such as a bishop, or group, such as a family, and their invited guests), semi-public (open under certain circumstances to the public), or public (built for the benefit of any of the faithful who wish to use it), cf: 1917 Code of Canon Law ("1917 Code"), Canon 1223.

The distinctions between public, semi-public, and private have been eliminated in the 1983 Code of Canon Law ("1983 Code")  in favour of new terminology.  Oratory now means a private place of worship for a group or community which could be opened to the public at the discretion of the group's superior. This definition corresponds with the semi-public oratory of the 1917 Code.  The private oratory of the 1917 Code corresponds very closely with the 1983 Code's chapel, as they are both places of worship for specific individuals.

Options:

• Establish a Private Chapel under the 1983 Code, by permission of regular authority; or
• Establish a Private or Semi-Public Oratory under the 1917 Code, by permission of irregular authority (e.g. SSPX, CMRI, etc.).


Relevant Excerpts from the 1983 Code of Canon Law:
The following Canons are relevant  to the establishment of a Private Chapel under the 1983 Code (emphasis added):

SACRED PLACES

Can.  1205 Sacred places are those which are designated for divine worship or for the burial of the faithful by a dedication or a blessing which the liturgical books prescribe for this purpose.

Can.  1206 The dedication of any place belongs to the diocesan bishop and to those equivalent to him by law; they can entrust the function of carrying out a dedication in their territory to any bishop or, in exceptional cases, to a presbyter.

Can.  1207 Sacred places are blessed by the ordinary; the blessing of churches, however, is reserved to the diocesan bishop. Either of them, moreover, can delegate another priest for this purpose.

Can.  1208 When the dedication or blessing of a church or the blessing of a cemetery has been completed, a document is to be drawn up, one copy of which is to be kept in the diocesan curia and another in the archive of the church.

Can.  1209 The dedication or blessing of any place is sufficiently proven by one witness who is above suspicion, provided that no harm is done to anyone.

Can.  1210 Only those things which serve the exercise or promotion of worship, piety, or religion are permitted in a sacred place; anything not consonant with the holiness of the place is forbidden. In an individual case, however, the ordinary can permit other uses which are not contrary to the holiness of the place.

Can.  1211 Sacred places are violated by gravely injurious actions done in them with scandal to the faithful, actions which, in the judgment of the local ordinary, are so grave and contrary to the holiness of the place that it is not permitted to carry on worship in them until the damage is repaired by a penitential rite according to the norm of the liturgical books.

Can.  1212 Sacred places lose their dedication or blessing if they have been destroyed in large part, or have been turned over permanently to profane use by decree of the competent ordinary or in fact.
• [NB: Link to Can.  1238 §1, below]

Can.  1213 The ecclesiastical authority freely exercises its powers and functions in sacred places.

ORATORIES AND PRIVATE CHAPELS

Can.  1223 By the term oratory is understood a place for divine worship designated by permission of the ordinary for the benefit of some community or group of the faithful who gather in it and to which other members of the faithful can also come with the consent of the competent superior.

Can.  1224 §1. The ordinary is not to grant the permission required to establish an oratory unless he has first visited the place destined for the oratory personally or through another and has found it properly prepared.

§2. After permission has been given, however, an oratory cannot be converted to profane use without the authority of the same ordinary.

Can.  1225 All sacred celebrations can be performed in legitimately established oratories except those which the law or a prescript of the local ordinary excludes or the liturgical norms prohibit.

Can.  1226 By the term private chapel is understood a place for divine worship designated by permission of the local ordinary for the benefit of one or more physical persons.

Can.  1227 Bishops can establish a private chapel for themselves which possesses the same rights as an oratory.

Can.  1228 Without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 1227, the permission of the local ordinary is required for Mass or other sacred celebrations to take place in any private chapel.

Can.  1229 It is fitting for oratories and private chapels to be blessed according to the rite prescribed in the liturgical books. They must, however, be reserved for divine worship alone and free from all domestic uses.

ALTARS

Can.  1235 §1. An altar, or a table upon which the eucharistic sacrifice is celebrated, is called fixed if it is so constructed that it adheres to the floor and thus cannot be moved; it is called movable if it can be removed.

§2. It is desirable to have a fixed altar in every church, but a fixed or a movable altar in other places designated for sacred celebrations.

Can.  1236 §1. According to the traditional practice of the Church, the table of a fixed altar is to be of stone, and indeed of a single natural stone. Nevertheless, another worthy and solid material can also be used in the judgment of the conference of bishops. The supports or base, however, can be made of any material.

§2. A movable altar can be constructed of any solid material suitable for liturgical use.

Can.  1237 §1. Fixed altars must be dedicated, and movable altars must be dedicated or blessed, according to the rites prescribed in the liturgical books.

§2. The ancient tradition of placing relics of martyrs or other saints under a fixed altar is to be preserved, according to the norms given in the liturgical books.

Can.  1238 §1. An altar loses its dedication or blessing according to the norm of ⇒ can. 1212.

§2. Altars, whether fixed or movable, do not lose their dedication or blessing if the church or other sacred place is relegated to profane uses.

Can.  1239 §1. An altar, whether fixed or movable, must be reserved for divine worship alone, to the absolute exclusion of any profane use.

§2. A body is not to be buried beneath an altar; otherwise, it is not permitted to celebrate Mass on the altar.

THE RESERVATION AND VENERATION OF THE MOST HOLY EUCHARIST

Can.  934 §1. The Most Holy Eucharist:

1/ must be reserved in the cathedral church or its equivalent, in every parish church, and in a church or oratory connected to the house of a religious institute or society of apostolic life;

2/ can be reserved in the chapel of the bishop and, with the permission of the local ordinary, in other churches, oratories, and chapels.

§2. In sacred places where the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved, there must always be someone responsible for it and, insofar as possible, a priest is to celebrate Mass there at least twice a month.

Can.  935 No one is permitted to keep the Eucharist on one’s person or to carry it around, unless pastoral necessity urges it and the prescripts of the diocesan bishop are observed.

Can.  936 In the house of a religious institute or some other pious house, the Most Holy Eucharist is to be reserved only in the church or principal oratory attached to the house. For a just cause, however, the ordinary can also permit it to be reserved in another oratory of the same house.

Can.  937 Unless there is a grave reason to the contrary, the church in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved is to be open to the faithful for at least some hours every day so that they can pray before the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Can.  938 §1. The Most Holy Eucharist is to be reserved habitually in only one tabernacle of a church or oratory.

§2. The tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved is to be situated in some part of the church or oratory which is distinguished, conspicuous, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer.

§3. The tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved habitually is to be immovable, made of solid and opaque material, and locked in such a way that the danger of profanation is avoided as much as possible.

§4. For a grave cause, it is permitted to reserve the Most Holy Eucharist in some other fit-ting and more secure place, especially at night.

§5. The person responsible for the church or oratory is to take care that the key of the tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved is safeguarded most diligently.

Can.  939 Consecrated hosts in a quantity sufficient for the needs of the faithful are to be kept in a pyx or small vessel; they are to be renewed frequently and the older hosts consumed properly.

Can.  940 A special lamp which indicates and honors the presence of Christ is to shine continuously before a tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved.

Can.  941 §1. In churches or oratories where it is permitted to reserve the Most Holy Eucharist, there can be expositions with the pyx or the monstrance; the norms prescribed in the liturgical books are to be observed.

§2. Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament is not to be held in the same area of the church or oratory during the celebration of Mass.

Can.  942 It is recommended that in these churches and oratories an annual solemn exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament be held for an appropriate period of time, even if not continuous, so that the local community more profoundly meditates on and adores the eucharistic mystery. Such an exposition is to be held, however, only if a suitable gathering of the faithful is foreseen and the established norms are observed.

Can.  943 The minister of exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament and of eucharistic benediction is a priest or deacon; in special circumstances, the minister of exposition and reposition alone without benediction is the acolyte, extraordinary minister of holy communion, or someone else designated by the local ordinary; the prescripts of the diocesan bishop are to be observed.

Can.  944 §1. When it can be done in the judgment of the diocesan bishop, a procession through the public streets is to be held as a public witness of veneration toward the Most Holy Eucharist, especially on the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.

§2. It is for the diocesan bishop to establish regulations which provide for the participation in and the dignity of processions.

OTHER POTENTIALLY RELEVANT CANONS

Can.  1171 Sacred objects, which are designated for divine worship by dedication or blessing, are to be treated reverently and are not to be employed for profane or inappropriate use even if they are owned by private persons.

Can.  932 §1. The eucharistic celebration is to be carried out in a sacred place unless in a particular case necessity requires otherwise; in such a case the celebration must be done in a decent place.

§2. The eucharistic sacrifice must be carried out on a dedicated or blessed altar; outside a sacred place a suitable table can be used, always with a cloth and a corporal.

Can.  933 For a just cause and with the express permission of the local ordinary, a priest is permitted to celebrate the Eucharist in the place of worship of some Church or ecclesial community which does not have full communion with the Catholic Church so long as there is no scandal. 

Key Content for Letter to Bishop Seeking Permissions, Blessings & Dedication:
The following requests should therefore be included in any letter to a Bishop seeking permission to establish a Private Chapel:

1. Acknowledge the role of Bishop/Ordinary in the establishment of Sacred Places pursuant to Canons 1205, 1206 & 1207
2. Seek permission to establish of a Private Chapel pursuant to Canon 1226
3. Seek delegation of authority to bless to a Priest, according to the Bishop's schedule or preference, pursuant to Canon 1207
4. Seek permission for celebration of Mass, and other sacred celebrations (e.g. Divine Office, Exposition, Benediction, etc.), pursuant to Canon 1228
5. Seek permission to have the altar blessed pursuant to Canon  1237 §1, and if desired to have authority to bless granted to a Priest, pursuant to GIRM ?
6. Seek permission for reservation of the Most Holy Eucharist pursuant to Canon  934 §1 (2)

Consideration should be given to seeking the advice or assistance of a Canon lawyer known to the Archdiocese to petition for the permissions sought.  As well, consider offering to provide the Archdiocese with keys to the home, chapel and tabernacle.  Consideration may also be given to having the application for establishment come directly from a religious institute or group, as a proxy. 
What Canon does the SSPX invoke in reserving the Eucharist in their chapels without the Ordinaries permission?
I do not see this Canon but I might have overlooked it.
If a person wants to just set up a chapel for private or public use, if the eucharist isn't involved, can't they just do so?
(06-05-2012, 01:53 PM)Melkite Wrote: [ -> ]If a person wants to just set up a chapel for private or public use, if the eucharist isn't involved, can't they just do so?
I asked our Vicar General of our diocese and he said that anyone can set up a private oratory.
One has to get permission to have it blessed for a priest to offer Mass, by the Ordinary.
(06-05-2012, 01:53 PM)Melkite Wrote: [ -> ]If a person wants to just set up a chapel for private or public use, if the eucharist isn't involved, can't they just do so?

I have been a "home-aloner" since we lost our SSPX mission in 2008.  In my apartment, I have a prie dieu, a large statue of St. Francis (I was an SFO for 10 years; however, I left due to their support of homosexuality and joined the TO/SSPX).  I have candles and a beautiful statue of Our Blessed Mother as well as a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I have a picture of St. Pius X and one of Archbishop Lefebvre as well as a small lending library of traditional books in general and SSPX materials in particular.  Anyone interested in Tradition/SSPX is welcome to borrow books or to take SSPX pamphlets I keep here for that purpose.   Of course, I do not have the Eucharist here, but I have tried to make this space as conducive to private worship as I can.  I use it to pray the Divine Office, to pray the rosary, etc.  On Sundays, I shut my BB off, do not make/take calls, and just try to have a quiet day of worship.  Of course, this comes nowhere near to equaling getting to go to mass, but it is what I can do to make my private worship as reverent as possible.  Meanwhile, I pray every day for a new chapel in SLC!
SLC

Do you have access to any Catholic church to fulfill your obligation?
(06-05-2012, 02:08 PM)Old Salt Wrote: [ -> ]I asked our Vicar General of our diocese and he said that anyone can set up a private oratory.
One has to get permission to have it blessed for a priest to offer Mass, by the Ordinary.

Alas, there is some misinformation here; as you can see from my research, above, there is in canon law no longer any such thing as a "private oratory".  The terms "private", "semi-private" and "public oratory" were done away with in the 1983 Code, replaced with a simple "oratory" (corresponding to the 1917 Code's definition of "semi-private pratory") and private chapel (corresponding to the old "private oratory").

Perhaps what Monsignor was trying to say was that any person can simply furnish a room and call it their "chapel" without any approvals whatsoever, provided Mass will not be said there and so on.  A much more difficult exercise is getting the local Ordinary's approval for erection of your chapel as an "official" (read: sanctioned with ecclesiastical approbation) chapel.

The latter may be desireable to those who: 1) Wish to have a place where Mass may be said at their home due to their circumstances (i.e. shut in, personal friend/relative who is a priest and willing to say mass when visiting, etc.), 2) Desire the graces that may flow from having a canonically erected "sacred space" under their own roof, and in which they could pray.

Here in the Philippines almost everyone has a room in their house set aside as a chapel. Some even have very nice altars too. I kind of doubt anyone even knows the canons involved though.

C.
What is the difference between a private home oratory and the one's you hear about  Toronto Oratory, London Oratory, Brompton Oratory
(06-05-2012, 08:23 PM)salus Wrote: [ -> ]What is the difference between a private home oratory and the one's you hear about  Toronto Oratory, London Oratory, Brompton Oratory

See explanation of terms in the OP.  Short answer is that they are basically semi-private sacred places belonging to a religious community (Orations) for their private liturgical use, but which may also be opened up to the public by the religious community that has them.  Under the current Code of Canon Law they are called simply "oratories", while previously they were called "semi-public oratories".
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