Liturgy Newsletter — September 2006


Changes to Holydays of Obligation

In May the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales voted its approval to transfer to Sundays those Holydays of Obligation which are Solemnities of the Lord, namely, Epiphany, Ascension and The Body and Blood of the Lord. The importance of these days is such that the bishops were anxious that all members of the Catholic Church should be able to celebrate them. The bishops have long been concerned about the way that large numbers of the faithful are unable to take part in the celebration of Mass on days of obligation which fall during the week. Their consultation within their dioceses, and in particular the representation made by Councils of Priests, persuaded that it was now timely to approve the change.

The decision of the Bishops’ Conference was advised to the Holy See and its recognitio was granted on 13 July. The changes take effect from the 1st Sunday of Advent, 2006. The Liturgy Office website contains full details of the changes, and confirms calendar dates for these celebrations from 2007-2010.

In a statement advising of the changes, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor wrote that they have been made to assist the Church in England and Wales to celebrate more profoundly the mysteries of the life and mission of the Lord. The Liturgy Office has prepared two sets of materials under the title Keeping These Days Holy. The first is discussion material to help deaneries review present practice and plan for the future; the second contains background information regarding the changes; pastoral notes regarding the worthy keeping of Sunday and other Holydays and extracts on the same theme from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter, Dies Domini. These resources can be downloaded from the Liturgy Office website.

Bishop Roche at USCCB

As has been widely reported in the Catholic Press, Bishop Roche, Chairman of the Department for Christian Life and Worship, was invited in his capacity as Chairman of ICEL to address a recent meeting of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. Following his address the Bishops of the United States voted their approval, with amendments, of the grey book translation of the Ordo Missae submitted to them by ICEL.

That translation has now been approved by a number of English speaking Bishops’ Conferences, including that of England and Wales. The English and Welsh Conference has submitted its approved text to the Holy See for recognitio. However the translation will not be introduced, until the whole of the Roman Missal has been translated and received the recognitio of the Holy See. It is not possible to say yet when all this work will be completed.

The full text of Bishop Roche’s address can be read on the Liturgy Office website.