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Online Edition - November 2006
Vol. XII, No. 8

USCCB to Meet in Baltimore: Lectionary Revisions;Directory for Approval of Music Proposed

The Fall plenary meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will take place November 13-16, in Baltimore -- where the first plenary meetings of the bishops of the US were held in 1852, 1866, and 1884.

The Third Plenary Council, which was the largest meeting of Catholic Bishops held outside Rome since the Council of Trent, established six feasts of obligation: The Immaculate Conception, Christmas, Circumcision of Our Lord (New Year’s Day), Ascension, Assumption, and All Saints’ Day; decreed that the foundation of parochial schools was “an absolute necessity” and the obligation of Catholic parents to send their children to these schools, and commissioned the Baltimore Catechism.

One reason for holding the USCCB plenary meeting in Baltimore this year is the recent renovation of its cathedral, officially known as the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a masterpiece of classical-style architecture, built 1806-1821, as envisioned by America’s first bishop, John Carroll, and designed by Benjamin Latrobe, the architect of the Capitol building in Washington, DC.

Several items at this meeting concern the liturgy -- but as of press time there was no indication that the bishops would be voting on another section of the translation of the Roman Missal (the Order of Mass approved in June awaits recognitio from the Holy See). The bishops will 1) consider a proposal to make changes in the Lectionary for the Season of Advent -- the first part of a planned revision of the entire Lectionary for Mass; 2) vote on a “question and answer” guide designed to help Catholics properly prepare to receive Holy Communion (Catholics should not receive “when they lack adherence to what the Church authoritatively teaches on matters of faith and morals or when a person is publicly known to have committed serious sin”); 3) vote on a proposed Directory to provide guidelines for approving music for the liturgy.

The Directory is a partial response to Liturgiam authenticam’s call for bishops to give more careful oversight to music that is used in the Liturgy. (See LA 107, 108, sidebar p 2). The proposed directory would require music to be approved by the bishop in whose diocese it is published. It is unclear how this directory would work, in practice. Most liturgical music used in the United States is published in two archdioceses, so it would be approved by two bishops (Portland, Oregon and Chicago) with the aid of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy and selected consultants. The Directory includes several comments on the nature of sacred music, and three brief “norms” for the approval of music. It also cites “Music in Catholic Worship”, a 1972 statement of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, which may be interpreted as affirming the principles of MCW.

The proposed Directory will require approval by the Holy See.

For details, see the USCCB web site: http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2006/06-201.shtml

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