The order that has restrained the usage of a Tamil translation of the Roman Missal has brought out a keenly contested issue of law: whether the civil court has jurisdiction to deal with religious and theological matters.
In the litigation itself, the defendants comprising Archbishops and Bishops contended that the court had absolutely no jurisdiction on the matter as it purely dealt with matters of spirituality and religion.
If the petitioners had any grievance on the translated texts, they should have approached the higher-ups in the church and not the court. In dealing with this contentious issue of law, judge T Chandrasekar, in the order, points to the Canon Law 1401 quoted by the defendants which states that the church has exclusive rights in spiritual matters and violation of ecclesiastical laws. However, the judge says no such ecclesiastical forum is in force in the country. Translation and release of a liturgical book without approval of the Vatican, mandatory under the same Canon Law, will not come within the realm of theological questions warranting relief from the ecclesiastical forum.
“..when the translation and release of the Liturgy book of 1993 is not in accordance to Canon Law, the defendants lost the Locus Standi to dictate (that) the plaintiffs (should) only approach the forums under Canon Law...” the order said.