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Online Edition - Vol. V, No. 6: September 1999

Liturgy Update

New Latin Texts for Jubilee

The Vatican will soon release a new edition of the Roman Missal, and other texts are being prepared for the Jubilee Year, according to an August 31 report by Catholic World News.

Bishop Francesco Pio Tamburrino, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship told reporters from I Media that the new third edition of the Roman Missal (prayers for Mass) would include feasts of recently canonized saints and new liturgical directives, such as permission for female altar servers.

Other new texts being prepared will be Latin editions of the Lectionary (Scripture readings for Mass) and the Gospels (with instructions for chanting them); texts from Scripture and the Church Fathers for the Office of Readings; a list of saints and martyrs with their feast days; a guide for determining which local traditions and customs may or may not be appropriate for the sacraments; and a guide for priests on proper celebration of Mass.

Bishop Tamburrino said that the last document, now in outline form, will help priests "more fully to use the resources of the Roman Missal".

Ascension Can be Moved

The July 1999 Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy newsletter reported that the Vatican has approved the request of the US bishops to allow each ecclesiastical province (regional group of dioceses) to determine whether the Feast of the Ascension, a holy day of obligation, will be celebrated on the traditional Thursday of the sixth week of Easter or on the following Sunday.

The day for celebration of the Ascension may now be decided by a two-thirds vote of the bishops within a province, the results of which must then be communicated to the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. (The bishops' debate last November on the proposed transfer was reported in AB Dec/Jan.)

The decree was signed by Cardinal Lucas Moreira Neves, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops. NCCB president, Bishop Jospeh Fiorenza of Honolulu, issued the decree on August 6, to take effect September 8.

Canon 1246.2 of the Code of Canon Law states that although the Ascension is a holy day of obligation for the universal Church, "the conference of bishops can abolish certain holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday with prior approval of the Apostolic See".

Scattering Ashes Not Permitted

Although it does not mention the much-publicized death of John F. Kennedy Jr., the July BCL Newsletter reports that "recent events" have raised questions about cremation and burial at sea. Kennedy was cremated and his ashes scattered at sea.

The BCL said that while it is permitted to bury cremated remains at sea in an urn or other containers, "the practice of scattering cremated remains on the sea, or on the ground" is "not the reverent disposition that the Church requires".

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