Apr 15, 2002

Holy Father Receives New Roman Missal

Online Edition – Vol. VIII, No. 2: April 2002

Holy Father Receives New Roman Missal

Revised rules for Mass now official; await adaptation, translation

by Helen Hull Hitchcock

On Monday morning, March 18, a copy of the new Roman Missal, the editio typica tertia (third typical edition), was presented to the Holy Father by Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estévez, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Antonio María Javierre Ortas, Prefect emeritus, Archbishop Francesco Pio Tamburrino, OSB, Secretary, and by the officials of the Congregation. The new Missal replaces the 1975 version currently in use.

This new edition of the Roman Missal was officially promulgated by Pope John Paul II on Holy Thursday, 2000, and the Latin text of rules for the celebration of Mass for the universal Church, the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, was released in advance in July 2000.

The publication of the third editio typica of the Roman Missal is the result of a process that began more than 10 years ago. The text is substantially the same as that of the previous edition, but with the introduction of several saints now in the calendar of the universal Church, the addition of new formulas for votive Masses in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the inclusion in an appendix of the Eucharistic prayers approved for the Masses of Reconciliation, Masses for various needs and the Masses when the majority of the congregation are children. The Institutio Generalis of the Missal provides greater possibilities for distributing Holy Communion under both species, under the pastoral guidance of the diocesan bishop.

A "typical edition" is an authoritative version upon which translations are based. The new Missal, in Latin, will need to be translated into the vernacular languages. This work will involve the national bishops’ conferences. 

All translations must faithfully transmit the official Latin text in accordance with the Fifth Instruction on the faithful implementation of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium. This Instruction, Liturgiam authenticam (Authentic Liturgy) was approved a year ago by the Holy Father.

After the vernacular translations are completed, they must be approved by the national bishops’ Conferences, then submitted to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for the necessary recognitio for the translated texts.

Global revision necessary

In his statement at the Vatican press office on March 22, Cardinal Medina said that the new edition follows editions in 1970 and 1975, noting that the decree ordering the Missal’s publication was approved by the Holy Father on April 10, 2000. "The edition that we present is the result of much labor on revising and updating the Missal which began in 1991 and continued in 1996, years in which the Congregation has celebrated its plenary meetings", the cardinal said.

He stated that the new Missal is "an official, updated edition, to be used for the celebration of the Eucharist in Latin, and it forms the immediate base for translations into the national languages.

"The decree of promulgation of this third edition establishes the necessity of a global revision of the Missal used until now, through a new presentation of the translated texts to the Holy See for the necessary recognitio", he explained.

The new Missal contains some amendments and new features in the text of the Institutio Generalis, the part of the Missal that consists of "a directory about the Eucharistic celebration, with information about its theological, liturgical, pastoral and spiritual character", the cardinal said.

Cardinal Medina mentioned that among developments in the new Institutio Generalis is "the possibility of administering Holy Communion to the faithful under both species", and that it is "the responsibility of the diocesan bishop to establish norms for his diocese" regarding this issue. In addition, "the diocesan bishop can leave the decision to distribute Holy Communion under both species, outside of the specified cases in which it is not advised, to the discretion of each priest, as pastor of a particular community", he said.

The cardinal also called attention to a new chapter (the ninth) concerning liturgical inculturation, in which the "principles and criteria that must be applied when an episcopal conference deems it necessary to introduce in the Missal different adaptations from those anticipated for the same Missal" are clarified. He stressed that such adaptations "are an exception" and must yield to the "spiritual good of the individual churches, safeguarding the substantial unity of the Roman Rite".

Cardinal Medina enumerated the various memorials for new saints and patrons that are now included in the universal calendar of the Church. A new Preface for the martyrs has been added, the Common of the Blessed Virgin Mary has new formulas, and among the votive masses there is now the formula De Dei Misericordia (for Divine Mercy Day).

Archbishop Tamburrino explained that this third edition of the Roman Missal "has taken note of particular adaptationsin the last thirty years in many local churches through the translations into spoken languages and confirmed by the Holy See. In this sense, the new Roman Missal gathers together some usages already official in the translated Missals and represents a development of the Roman Rite".

The IGMR: new rules for Mass

The new regulations for celebrating Mass, Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (IGMR) have occupied American bishops, liturgy officials and others since the Latin version was published in July 2000, accompanied by a "study translation" in English. Debate and discussion concerning the "American adaptations" followed. In June 2001, the US bishops proposed a set of adaptations that were sent to Rome. (See AB Report July-August 2001)These were revised and the final version voted on at the November 2001 meeting of the US bishops (see text below). They were then sent to the Holy See for the necessary recognitio (approval). These "American adaptations", when approved by the Congregation for Divine Worship, are to be incorporated into the English text of the IGMR for use in the United States, rather than as a separate appendix as in the present "Sacramentary".

As of press date, it is not known if the Congregation for Divine Worship will approve all these adaptations as submitted, or whether further changes or adjustments in the final text will be made.

At the bishops’ meeting last November, the English translation of the Institutio Generalis produced by ICEL was returned to that group for correction in accordance with the translation principles in Liturgiam authenticam. It is not yet known whether the English translation of the IGMR is near completion, nor by whom it is being translated. Presumably the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy will send copies of the translation to the dioceses as soon as possible.

US document would amend "Communion under Both Kinds"

A document submitted by the bishops that would give directions for administering Communion under both kinds, provisionally titled One Bread, One Cup, was the subject of considerable discussion last year, because it would amend IGMR’s norms for extraordinary ministers of Communion. Some liturgy groups had objected to the restrictions on the use of extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist in the Institutio Generalis (§ 283).

The bishops proposed a rewrite of an earlier set of norms, This Holy and Living Sacrifice, that contained regulations for extraordinary ministers. Inclusion of this text was proposed as an amendment to IGMR §283 (see above sidebar).

In a letter to the US bishops last year, Cardinal Medina Estévez requested changes in this document, including a change of title.

Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb, chairman of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, told his brother bishops in November that discussions with officials at the Holy See indicated that a revised document following Cardinal Medina’s recommendations would likely be approved.

As we go to press, there is no word on the status of these norms, nor about the proposed adaptations. It is anticipated that the translation of the Missal and the IGMR, including the future role of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, will be discussed further at the June meeting of the USCCB.

Although the IGMR is now officially in effect, it may be several months before the liturgical changes it requires will reach the parishes.


Information from the Vatican Information Service and L’Osservatore Romano was used in this story. As of this writing, the Latin IGMR and a summary of changes are still available on the USCCB web site, Liturgy section (www.usccb.org). Earlier AB stories on the new Missal are on the Adoremus web site.


USCCB’s proposals for American adaptations to the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani

Revised November 2001 – awaiting recognitio by the Holy See

The following summarizes proposed variations for the Church in the United States of certain paragraphs of the new Institutio Generalis, voted on by the bishops during their November 2001 meeting. It is expected that most of these will be approved with relatively minor changes. No announcement has yet been made about the appearance of an approved English version of the IGMR with the US adaptations incorporated. – Editor.

(For the bishops’ November discussion of the adaptations, and Cardinal Medina’s letter to the USCCB see AB Dec 01-Jan 02)


43 – Posture of the Faithful

43.2 – People may sit or kneel during the period of religious silence after Communion.

43.3 – People should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer. The faithful kneel at the Ecce Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.

48 – Opening Song

Four options for the opening song: (1) the antiphon and Psalm from the Roman Missal as set to music by the Roman Gradual or in another musical setting; (2) the seasonal antiphon and Psalm of the Simple Gradual; (3) a song from another collection of psalms and antiphons, approved by the USCCB or the diocesan bishop, including Psalms arranged in responsorial or metrical forms; (4) a suitable liturgical song chosen in accordance with IGMR no. 48.

61.4 – Responsorial Psalm

One of the following may also be sung in place of the Psalm assigned in the Lectionary for Mass: either the proper or seasonal antiphon and Psalm from the Lectionary, set either in the manner of the Roman or Simple Gradual, or, in another musical setting; or, an antiphon and Psalm from another collection of the Psalms and antiphons, including Psalms arranged in metrical form, providing that they have been approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops or the diocesan Bishop. Songs or hymns may not be used in place of the responsorial Psalm.

67 – The Apostles’ Creed

The Apostles’ Creed may replace the Nicene Creed at Masses with Children and on Sundays of the Easter season.

87 – Communion Song

Four options for the Communion song. [Same as for the opening song.]

154.2 – The Sign of Peace

On special occasions the priest may offer the sign of peace to a few of the faithful near the sanctuary.

160.2 – Distribution of Holy Communion

The norm for reception of Holy Communion is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel.

When receiving Holy Communion standing, the communicant bows his head before the sacrament as a gesture of reverence, and may receive either on the tongue or in the hand.

283.3 – Communion under Both Kinds

In all that pertains to Communion under both kinds, One Bread, One Cup: Norms for Holy Communion under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America is to be followed (see §§ 27­54).

[NOTE: The status of this US document has not been reported as of press date. – Ed.]

301 – Materials for Fixed Altars

Wood which is worthy, solid, and well-crafted may be used for the mensa [top] of the altar.

304 – Color of Altar Cloths

When, more than one cloth is used to cover the altar, cloths whose colors possess special religious, honorific or festive significance in individual cultures may be employed, provided that the uppermost cloth covering the mensa is always white in color.

318.3 – Veiling of Crosses and Images

Crosses and images in the church may be covered from the conclusion of the Mass for Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent until the end of the celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday (crucifixes, crosses) or until the Easter Vigil (other images).

326 – Materials for Sacred Furnishings

Wood, stone or metal which are solid and appropriate may be used.

329 – Material for Sacred Vessels

Vessels may be made even of ceramics or glass, provided that such materials do not break easily or deteriorate and are not common or domestic in their appearance.

[NOTE: IGMR §328 requires sacred vessels to be"noble metal"; but §329 permits bishops’ conferences to use other "noble" material that does not "break easily or deteriorate".]

339 – Vesture for Lay Ministers

Acolytes, altar servers, readers and other lay ministers may wear the alb or other suitable vesture or other appropriate and dignified clothing.

346 – Color of Sacred Vestments

White, violet or black vestments may be worn at funeral services and at other offices and Masses for the dead. Gold or silver colored vestments may be worn on more solemn occasions.

362 – Readings for Mass

The adaptations to the Ordo Lectionum Missae as contained in the Lectionary for Mass for use in the Dioceses of the United States of America should be carefully observed.

373 – Special Days of Prayer

The diocesan bishop may designate special days of prayer. In all US dioceses January 22 (or January 23, when the 22nd falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life. The Mass "For Peace and Justice" (no. 21 from "Masses for Various Needs") should be celebrated with violet vestments.

393 – Musical Instruments and Approval of Musical Settings

All musical settings of the texts for the people’s responses and acclamations in the Order of Mass and for special rites must be submitted to the USCCB Secretariat for the Liturgy for review and approval.

Various wind, stringed or percussion instruments may be used in liturgical services, especially when they are an authentic expression of the culture of the faithful.



Helen Hull Hitchcock

Helen Hull Hitchcock (1939-2014) was editor of the <em>Adoremus Bulletin</em>, which she co-founded. She was also the founding director of Women for Faith & Family and editor of its quarterly journal, Voices. She published many articles and essays in a wide range of Catholic journals, and authored and edited <em>The Politics of Prayer: Feminist Language and the Worship of God</em> (Ignatius Press 1992), a collection of essays on issues involved in translation. She contributed essays to several books, including <em>Spiritual Journeys</em>, a book of “conversion stories” (Daughters of St. Paul). Helen lectured in the US and abroad, and appeared frequently on radio and television, representing Catholic teaching on issues affecting Catholic women, families, and Catholic faith and worship.