Jul 15, 2001

Bishops propose Liturgy adaptations for US; issue statement on Real Presence

Online Edition – Vol. VII, No. 5-6: July-August 2001

Bishops propose Liturgy adaptations for US; issue statement on Real Presence

New US rules for Communion in both species proposed

by Helen Hull Hitchcock and Susan Benofy

Lectionary for Mass – Volume II | Liturgiam Authenticam | The Real Presence Reaffirmed | This Holy and Living Sacrifice | The "American Appendix"

[Note: parts of the bishops’ discussion, transcribed from audio-tapes of the meeting, appear in the story below.]

Important liturgy items were on the busy agenda at the Atlanta meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops June 14-16, 2001.

During the meeting, the bishops approved a statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, on refugee protection, on global warming, and on the mandatum, (canonical mission) of professors who teach Catholic theology at Catholic colleges and universities, implementing the 1990 Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae.

They also voted overwhelmingly (209 -7) to revise the Ethical and Religious Directives concerning the relations, in consolidations or affiliations, of Catholic with secular health care facilities. The revision reaffirmed and clarified the prohibition of sterilizations, abortions and euthanasia in Catholic hospitals.

The bishops heard an address on evangelization from Cardinal Joseph Tomko, former prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, a panel presentation on the Middle East crisis, updates and reports from Cardinal William Keeler on opposing pornography, and from Archbishop Daniel Buechlein on progress with a National Catechism for Adults and for children and youth.

Conference president Bishop Joseph Fiorenza, Galveston-Houston, announced at the meeting that the new edition of the Roman Missal, the third "typical edition" since the Second Vatican Council, would appear in about two weeks. (There had been no announcement at the time of this writing.)

Liturgical regulations, the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (IGMR, also known as GIRM), appear at the beginning of the Roman Missal. The Institutio was released in July 2000.


Lectionary for Mass – Volume II

Bishop Fiorenza told the bishops that Volume II of the Lectionary for Mass had received approval from the Holy See. He said that Archbishops Jerome Hanus, Justin Rigali and William Levada worked with members of the Congregation for Divine Worship to amend the Lectionary translation originally submitted by the conference for approval in 1992.

Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb, Mobile, Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy [BCL] reported the Committee’s "careful review" of the revised volume, noting that about 800 changes required by Liturgiam authenticam had been incorporated into the text.

The bishops voted unanimously to print it as soon as possible. Archbishop Hanus pointed out that Volume I had been approved "with the condition that a review take place within five years". The first volume, for Sundays, has been in use since Advent 1998. Volume II contains the readings for weekdays and special feasts. Although it was not stated during the sessions, one reason for the urgency in getting Volume II published is the growing problem of the illicit use of the defective Canadian Lectionary in some parts of the United States.

The Canadian Lectionary was based on the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, which the Holy See rejected for liturgical use because of "inclusive language" and other problems. The Canadian bishops had already published the text, so they were given temporary permission to use it. It is not permitted for use in the US, although some "progressive" parishes have ignored this.
The American Lectionary is based on the New American Bible, published by the US bishops’ conference.


Liturgiam Authenticam

The leitmotif, in discussions surrounding all agenda items related to the liturgy, was Liturgiam Authenticam, the Holy See’s Instruction on translation of scriptural and liturgical texts, released in early May.

Archbishop Lipscomb summarized this Instruction and its impact on the Church in the United States. (A transcription of his remarks appears on page 5.)

A lively discussion of the wide-ranging implications of the Instruction ensued. The following excerpt (transcribed from Adoremus tapes) reveals the depth of the bishops’ interest and concern.

Bishop Emil Wcela (Aux. Rockville Centre; Committee for Review of Scripture Translations): I’d just like to say, I would like to see that fuller discussion. I think there are some issues, first of all, about what literal translation means. I think that in the document there are some statements about language that need to be looked at. And I also think the process, at least as I understood it, also we ought to talk about more. About what’s going to happen in the process of translating.

Bishop Fiorenza: Surely. OK. Bishop Rosazza.

Bishop Peter Rosazza (Aux. Hartford): Thank you. I, too, would like to see a fuller discussion after listening to Bishop Wcela, who is one of the experts in our Conference. I understand that there would be a change in the greeting: "And with your spirit" from "And also with you". And I’d like to also see what other mixed commissions are coming up with, other groupings of the major languages – the French, Portuguese – that would have some kind of reaction to this document. It’s so new, and I think it’s going to take time for the document to settle into the Church and to receive criticism, both positive and negative, so that we can understand and appreciate it better.

And another point: Maybe Cardinal George could answer this, but ICEL, for instance, as a mixed commission. In the past did this have to be set up by the Holy See, or did we set it up ourselves? I know that now the translators have to have documents from their own bishop and from experts testifying to their expertise. But I thought that it was the different countries that put this together, without the initiative of the Holy See. And as I understand it, the Holy See has to take the initiative after we’ve presented candidates for the translation, as translators.

Bishop Fiorenza: Bishop, I don’t want to speak when I’m not too certain. I’m going to turn to one who knows the history far better than I. Archbishop Pilarczyk, did the mixed commissions come at the initiation of the episcopal conferences or the Holy See?

Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk (Cincinnati, former NCCB president, former Doctrine Committee chairman, former US rep. to ICEL): It’s my recollection, Mr. President, that the mixed commissions came – at least the mixed commission for English in the Liturgy – came about as a result of the initiative of certain English-speaking bishops during the Council. They met in one of the coffee bars, and that’s where ICEL was born. At that time such commissions were encouraged.

Bishop Fiorenza: Yes, thank you. OK. Bishop Weigand.

Bishop William Weigand (Sacramento): Archbishop Lipscomb, would you be prepared to comment on numbers 132 and 133. 132 calls for within five years that each episcopal conference develop an "integral plan" regarding the liturgical books translated. But 133 would seem to me to impact what we’ve already done on the Sacramentary. "The norms established by this instruction attain full force for the emendation of previous translations and any further delay in making such emendations is to be avoided". That would seem to me they throw the ball back to us. Is that correct?

Archbishop Lipscomb: Yes. The Holy See would not institute translations. The Holy See receives the translations once conferences of bishops according to language groupings have seen the need for them, and begun the process to provide them. Then they go to the Holy See for review and recognition. And I think we probably – my own experience just in the time I’ve been in the conference – have been among the forefront of the conferences in conjunction with ICEL for a long time, and even now, please God, in providing such initiatives and in supplying such texts to the Holy See for review and recognition. So the initiation begins with the bishops’ conferences.

Bishop Weigand: I guess my specific query has to do with what we’ve already acted on. The Sacramentary would seem to need some emendation as a result of this. Are we going to take the initiative, or are they going to do it? In other words, will we as a conference, rather than just a committee someplace, deal with it?

Bishop Fiorenza: If I may respond, Archbishop, we’re still awaiting the recognitio of the Sacramentary. We inquired about that. We were at the Holy See. It’s still being processed by the Congregation, so what will happen to it – we are waiting for the recognitio of it. And what changes will take place, we’ll have to wait and see. At the moment, the Sacramentary is at the Holy See. The one we approved of we have sent to the Holy See, and we’re waiting now for the recognitio.
Bishop Braxton.

Bishop Edward Braxton (Lake Charles): Archbishop Lipscomb, I just wanted to ask for an explanation of a passage in the document. If I understand it correctly, it suggests that in five years the conference must submit the musical texts, hymnals and the like, but it wasn’t clear if it was referring to translations or to all hymnals. At least to me it was not clear.

Archbishop Lipscomb: It certainly concerns translations, but the production of translations and hymnals will fall under the purview of the conference of bishops. And the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy recently formed a subcommittee on music, precisely to deal with this issue, to present to the body of bishops in time.

Bishop Braxton: So does Liturgiam authenticam ask that in five years all music that the conference has approved be submitted? It wasn’t clear.

Archbishop Lipscomb: I’m not sure that they’re asking for a [unclear] of all the materials on music. We’re still in an early stage in dealing with this. It will have to be fleshed out. I don’t know whether staff has any further insights. It’s under study.

Bishop Fiorenza: Bishop Trautman.

Bishop Trautman: Thank you. I, too, would like to see a serious conversation regarding this document. I believe there are far-reaching ramifications for biblical studies, liturgical studies. My main concern would be with the Neo-Vulgate, which we know is based on deficient original texts, yet is now being laid out before us as a norm. So I would welcome a serious conversation some time during this meeting.

Bishop Fiorenza: Thank you. Bishop Boland.

Bishop Raymond Boland (Kansas City-St. Joseph): Archbishop Lipscomb, in the light of your explanation, does this mean that down the line the English-speaking countries, all of which speak a different brand of English, will they have separate translations for their Sacramentaries and so forth? Is that what you foresee? Have we gotten rid of the lowest common denominator type of English translation?

Archbishop Lipscomb: I don’t think it is dead, and it has served us so usefully and so powerfully in the past I don’t think it will ever disappear. But already there are variants in texts between different national groupings in the English language. Time will tell. I would hope that ICEL will continue with its newly revamped constitution and modus of operating under the authorization of the Holy See as the document requires. But I can only see that so much good has come from this kind of common effort that I hope it will continue. I’m sure everybody is anxious to work toward that end. Certainly this conference is.

Bishop Fiorenza: Archbishop Pilarczyk.

Archbishop Pilarczyk: I think fuller discussion of this would be very beneficial. I’m not sure it’s time enough to prepare for it during this meeting. However, that’s the choice of the leadership. I have four remarks.

First of all, Mr. President, you were quoted in a statement as saying that this is a wonderful document because it would ensure that now we’re going to get quicker responses on our liturgical texts. Was that a correct memory on my part?

Bishop Fiorenza: First of all, my statement was titled wrongly by some editor. It was not – I did not say what they said I said. I said it was good that we finally have a document that we’ve waited for for so long. And the reason why we have a problem, we haven’t received texts in a timely manner, and maybe we will start receiving them in a timely manner. And I also said that the presidents of the conference were in conversation with the Holy See about ICEL, and I would hope that we would continue those conversations about ICEL.

Archbishop Pilarczyk: Thank you. A second observation: It seems to me that part of what’s inherent in this latest Instruction is that the presupposition seems to be that translation is a science. I don’t believe translation is a science; it’s an art. And for art it’s very difficult to lay down universal rules, much less universal vocabulary lists, because words have meaning in a context.

Thirdly, I notice that the Holy See in this document is asserting competence over the statutes of these mixed commissions, saying that it, the Congregation, must approve the statutes, and in certain cases can write the statutes, which after appropriate consultation will then be imposed on the conferences in question. I guess one question that occurs to me is: If the Congregation for Divine Worship has competence to write the statutes, is the Congregation asserting competence over the assets of these mixed commissions? ICEL has a lot of assets; namely, they own the copyright to these texts. And I think that’s a question of some concern.

Finally, I note that the collaborators of mixed commissions must have the nihil obstat of the Holy See, of the Congregation. I suppose if I were paranoid I could read all sorts of implications into that, but I just want to observe that this is an interesting precedent. Because, can the Holy See, for example, request or demand that other consultants have the nihil obstat — for example, those who are consultants to our own Doctrine Committee? Or consultants to our Liturgy Committee?

For that matter, if consultants need to have a nihil obstat what about actual members of the Committee?

I think there are some issues here that are — I think the technical term that’s used is — they are perplexing.

Bishop Fiorenza: Bishop Myers.

Bishop John Myers (Peoria): I understand that there will be extended discussion, whenever it happens, over this Instruction. I want to offer an observation that’s based on memory, because I don’t have my document with me. So if I’m wrong, I apologize ahead of time.

But it isn’t just about translation. I think that there were changes or additions to rubrics and other things that were addressed by the Instruction; so I wouldn’t want us to reduce the Instruction to simply being about translation. I think I’m correct on that.

Bishop Fiorenza: OK. Archbishop Hanus.

Archbishop Hanus (Dubuque): Thank you. I certainly am in favor of fuller discussion of this document. There are many, many different issues, as we’ve already heard brought up by different people. But I think it’s important that we take our time to do this carefully, so I don’t think we ought to try to get everything discussed in this meeting. But rather fuller discussion at later meetings, and as we live out our life in our ministries in the Church. So I think we could have some discussion, initial comments, but I would think it would be better to prepare carefully, and have more discussions at later [dates?].

Bishop Fiorenza: Thank you. Does anyone else wish to comment at this time? I think there is sufficient – Oh, yes, Bishop Blair, Bishop Leonard Blair.

Bishop Leonard Blair (Aux. Detroit): Archbishop Lipscomb, I have a question and then I’d like to make a comment. With regard to the question, did I understand you to say that this new document mandates the creation of a liturgical Bible? Of a complete translation of the Bible for liturgical use?

Archbishop Lipscomb: Mandate may be too strong; it certainly recommends it.

Bishop Blair: Well, the comment I’d like to make is, I think on a pastoral level there is great need for something. Because immediately after the Council, of course, we had the Jerusalem Bible, the Revised Standard, and the New American, and we could be fairly confident that when people chose texts for some kind of liturgical service, even apart from the Lectionary, they would choose from those translations.

But I find on a pastoral level, for example, at the parish, if you have a penance service, and people are picking readings that are not necessarily in the Lectionary, or not the exact verses, you’re getting all of these mimeographed sheets.

Sometimes you don’t know where these translations come from. Even for our own conference, sometimes it occurs to me as I’m looking at the documents: which translation are we using in the documents that we’re creating? So I just think whether it’s a liturgical Bible or, perhaps, some other kind of Bible, we have some common ground about what is the text we can use. Thank you.

Bishop Fiorenza: Well, I think there is a significant amount of interest in having a longer discussion on this, and we will find time in the meeting, sometime before we adjourn on Saturday at noon, to have a fuller discussion on the Instruction. Is that okay with you, Archbishop?

Archbishop Lipscomb: Yes, indeed. Thank you.

Later, Bishop Victor Balke, Crookston, asked if the Instruction is "a case of Roma locuta est, causa finita est" [Rome has spoken, the case is settled]. Archbishop Lipscomb responded, to laughter, "Quodammodo" [lit.: in a certain manner].

Discussion of the Instruction was continued in the executive session on Saturday (closed to the press).


The Real Presence Reaffirmed

Besides the Lectionary Volume II, the bishops voted to approve three documents related to the liturgy.

The first was a review of Catholic teaching on the Real Presence in the Eucharist, produced by the Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine.

This doctrinal statement, The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist: Basic Questions and Answers, was written as a response to the request of 100 bishops for a clear teaching document on the subject. Their request was prompted by their concern that many people are confused about, or were poorly taught, this fundamental Catholic teaching.

The statement consists of answers to fifteen questions about the nature of the Eucharist. It strongly reaffirms the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, the real and substantial presence of Christ in the consecrated elements of the Eucharist.

Although Bishop Donald Trautman, Erie, chairman of the Doctrine Committee, stressed in his presentation to the bishops that the statement is intended for "pastors and religious educators", several bishops proposed methods of disseminating this teaching as broadly as possible.

Washington, DC Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, for example, hoped the Conference might develop a homily series on the subject. "It could be a tremendous blessing for the people of the Church in the United States", he said.

Some clarifications and amendments were incorporated into the final version of The Real Presence, which was unanimously approved. It will not require recognitio from the Holy See because, according to Bishop Trautman, it is a straightforward re-statement of Church teaching.

Bishop Trautman also said that the initial draft of The Real Presence was prepared by the previous Doctrine Committee, and Father Augustine DiNoia, former Executive Director of the Doctrine Committee’s secretariat was on hand for the presentation.

Also present for the presentation was a new consultor to the Doctrine Committee, Cardinal Avery Dulles. We spoke to him during a coffee break, and he told us that while he did not write it, "I went over it very thoroughly".

The statement will be warmly welcomed by parents and new Catholics, as well as by catechists, clergy and all who care about the Church’s worship. As one reporter observed, if Catholic teaching on the Eucharist is clearly understood, the celebration of the Eucharist will benefit.

The Real Presence is available on the NCCB web site.


This Holy and Living Sacrifice

The second action item involving the liturgy was a revision of a statement on receiving Holy Communion under both kinds, This Holy and Living Sacrifice.

This statement, because it contains proposed rules for extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist that deviate from the norms that appear in the IGMR, was directly related to the third item: the proposed "American Appendix", or adaptations of IGMR’s norms for the celebration of Mass for the universal Church to the Church in the United States. The proposed adaptations, in fact, incorporate the new version of This Holy and Living Sacrifice.

A year ago, after the Latin edition of the revised Roman Missal was complete, an English study-translation of the Institutio was made public by the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy. Some influential liturgists and groups objected strongly to the IGMR – in part because of its explicit restrictions on the service of extraordinary ministers.

These "progressive" groups sought to delay publication of the new Roman Missal, which would also delay putting the new IGMR into effect. They published lists of proposals for the American appendix, hoping to influence the bishops to "liberalize" some of the IGMR’s rules for the Church in the United States. They also wished to give a strict interpretation of the IGMR’s section on posture (§43), in order to alter the customary posture of kneeling during Mass. (Adoremus has reported on these efforts, principally those of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, and "We Believe!". See AB Februay 2001, p 7; April 2001, p. 11 and May 2001, p. #).

Both the American appendix to the IGMR and This Holy and Living Sacrifice will require approval (recognitio) of the Holy See. Both included the bishops’ request for "indults" (special permission) from the Holy See for changes in the universal norms that go beyond the authority of a conference or a diocesan bishop.

This Holy and Living Sacrifice is a rewrite with the same title of a little-known 1984 statement of the BCL on Communion under both kinds. The new version includes added items, which would permit extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist to perform certain functions that the GIRM reserves to the ordained.

In his introductory remarks to This Holy and Living Sacrifice, Archbishop Lipscomb noted that "the document incorporates [requests for] indults by which diocesan bishops would be able to allow: first, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to assist with the distribution of the Precious Blood to secondary vessels; second, the consumption of what may remain of the Precious Blood after Communion; and third, the purification of the vessels".

Some have objected to the proliferation of extraordinary ministers in recent years, a practice that stems in part from the administration of Holy Communion in both species, which has become prevalent in the Church in the US. Some also argue that the "priest shortage" necessitates laity assuming functions — like giving Communion and handling the sacred vessels — that are reserved to priests.

The new Institutio reaffirmed that only the ordained are to handle the sacred vessels. But some argue that to continue the rule that would limit these actions to a priest or deacon would disturb a "custom" that has arisen since 1984 when the US Church was granted permission to offer Holy Communion in both species.

The document was approved 214-2. Approval by the Holy See is necessary.


The "American Appendix"

After the appearance last July (2000) of the new regulations for the celebration of Mass, the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani [IGMR], there has been considerable discussion about the way these rules for the universal Church might be adapted as "particular law" for the Church in the United States. These regulations, widely known as the GIRM, appear at the front of the Sacramentary, or prayers for Mass, of the Roman Missal.

Discussion of the US proposals among the bishops at the June meeting centered primarily on two issues: 1) the posture of the congregation during Mass (see page 3), and 2) the service at Mass of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

The second of these, like a third important item, which would permit the Apostles’ Creed instead of the Nicene Creed for children’s Masses and on Sundays of the Easter season (§67), would require an indult, that is, a special concession, from the Holy See because they are departures from the universal law not within the authority of either individual bishops or bishops’ conferences.

Substituting Creeds

The matter of substituting Creeds is not new. Although the substitution of the Apostles’ Creed was not discussed at all at the June meeting, the matter did come up several years ago during discussions concerning the ICEL revision of the Sacramentary (prayers for Mass of the Roman Missal).

The substitution of Creeds has been promoted strenuously by advocates of gender-neutering liturgical texts because, unlike the Nicene Creed, the Apostles’ Creed does not contain the phrase "and became man", which feminists find objectionable.

The proposal the bishops voted on, however, did not allude to this, nor did it give a rationale for the change, merely stating that "the Church celebrates the mystery of the Resurrection of Christ in the Sacraments of initiation" during the Easter season, and noting that children need to "become accustomed to the Apostles’ Creed".

Postures of the congregation

The bishops reaffirmed the present norm that the people kneel from after the Sanctus (Holy, Holy) through the entire Eucharistic Prayer, and added two other places for kneeling that, although customary, had not appeared in the earlier edition of the American appendix: after the …ecce Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) and after reception of Holy Communion. However, if approved as proposed, a diocesan bishop could alter the norms and require people to stand (except at the Consecration, which the IGMR, like the old GIRM requires). If this proposal is approved as is, it would lead to variation in practice in different parts of the country.

Another departure from past norms on the congregation’s posture was a statement that said "the posture for receiving Communion is standing".

The first version of the proposed American Appendix the bishops saw had added a period of kneeling for the Penitential Rite during Lent; however the final version, amended before the bishops voted, eliminated this innovation.

Another posture that had been strongly promoted in some quarters, the so-called "orans" posture, extending the hands as the priest does during the Lord’s Prayer, also disappeared from the final version. There is no specified posture for the people during the Lord’s Prayer.

But the posture for receiving Holy Communion is standing. Although it was stated strongly that refusing Communion to a kneeling person is "reprehensible and should be corrected", making standing the norm was said to reflect an already general practice in the United States.

The "discretion of the bishop"

During the discussion of the Appendix, confusion surfaced about the meaning of the phrase "at the discretion of the diocesan bishop", particularly in connection with posture during the Eucharistic Prayer. (See page 3 for the text of §43 of the Institutio and the proposed American adaptation.)

The question was raised during the preliminary discussion on Thursday, and again before the vote on Friday. The question concerns the interpretation of a new chapter of the IGMR (9) on the authority of bishops and bishops’ conferences, to modify the Mass.

San Diego Bishop Robert Brom asked for clarification of the phrase. He said he presumed it meant "unless the diocesan bishop chooses to follow the general norm" (i.e., the IGMR) and that "it doesn’t mean that the diocesan bishop may establish a very personal norm". He asked, "if particular norms are enacted to replace general norms and allowing general norms to be followed at the discretion of a bishop — is that good legislation"?

Archbishop Lipscomb replied that the discretion clause allowed "particular dispositions in individual churches [to] be handled in a pastorally sensitive fashion", adding that "liturgy is seldom an absolute art".

Cardinal Law focused on the norm for kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer: "If we’re going to have a variety of practices the idea of a rite is being vitiated. The rite is that we all do it the same way".

Archbishop Levada observed that a different explanation of the phrase had been given earlier in the discussion: that it meant only that a bishop could decide what circumstances constitute "good reasons" for people to stand during the Eucharistic Prayer and/or Consecration.

He reminded the bishops that the IGMR says that where kneeling is in place, it is "laudably retained".

Cardinal Roger Mahony recalled the 1994 proposal to make standing during the Eucharistic Prayer an option, which the bishops had voted down. He thinks that all should follow the "general norm" (IGMR §43], that is standing except for the Consecration, for the sake of unity.

It seems clear that the bishops disagree on matters of considerable consequence, and further clarification is needed – perhaps from the Holy See.

The vote to approve the American Appendix: 205-14 (1 abstention). The Holy See’s approval is required for it to become effective.



Helen Hull Hitchcock Susan F. Benofy