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USCCB Approves Ordination of a Bishop, of Priests, and of Deacons

From the June 2019 Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy Newsletter

At the June 2019 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) plenary meeting, the Latin Church bishops of the United States approved the final translation (“Gray Book”) of Ordination of a Bishop, of Priests, and of Deacons, by a vote of 210-5 with one abstention. The text, which was prepared by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), will be sent to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for the requisite confirmation.

The body of bishops approved minor textual amendments in Ordination, as well as the incorporation of emendations resulting from the 1984 Cæremoniale Episcoporum. These emendations provide added clarity to the actions of the ordaining bishop at various moments in the Ordination rite (i.e., when he puts on or take off his miter, holds his pastoral staff, etc.).

Finally, the sole ritual adaptation currently approved for the United States—allowing those present to assent to the election of a bishop, priest, or deacon by either a sung or spoken acclamation, or an action such as applause—will remain as-is.

This edition of Ordination is the second time the Latin text has been translated in accord with the principles of Liturgiam authenticam. The United States previously approved and implemented such an edition in 2003, and that translation was reprinted in the 2012 Roman Pontifical produced by the Holy See’s Vox Clara Commission. No changes to the Ordination rite itself are found in this edition either.

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli, then-ICEL Chairman, explained in a cover letter to the Gray Book that a new translation of Ordination “was requested by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to alleviate the confusion caused by having several versions of the same ritual book in use in English-speaking Conferences of Bishops.”

Although the second typical edition of De Ordinatione Episcopi, presbyterorum et diaconorum was promulgated in 1989, a number of countries still use the 1978 translation of the first typical edition, where that version placed the ordination of deacons first, then priests, then bishops, and includes minor liturgical indications no longer in effect. Such a disparity in ritual editions has also resulted in different translations of the Prayers of Ordination, especially the sacramental formulas. Adoption of the new translation will provide greater unity for the rites of Ordination celebrated around the world.

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