BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Instead of requiring that implementation of all parts of the new Roman Missal wait until the first Sunday of Advent, bishops who head dioceses can authorize the gradual introduction of the musical settings of the people's parts of the Mass beginning in September.
Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New Orleans, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship, announced that decision June 16 at the USCCB spring general assembly near Seattle.
The change was authorized by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York, USCCB president, and adopted by the committee to allow parish communities to learn the various parts of the new translations "in a timely fashion and an even pace," Archbishop Aymond said. It primarily affects the Gloria, the Holy, Holy, Holy and the memorial acclamations.
"I ask you to encourage this as a means of preparing our people and helping them embrace the new translation," Archbishop Aymond said.
Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Santa Fe, N.M., asked whether some implementation would be allowed before September, but Archbishop Aymond replied, "We would suggest not, in order that there be some uniformity."
In addition, Archbishop Aymond cited difficulty in introducing any liturgical changes during the summer months.
Full implementation of the new missal translation is to take place Nov. 27, the first Sunday in Advent.
But in a report to the bishops June 15 about the work of the National Advisory Council, a 48-member body that includes laypeople, religious, deacons, priests and bishops, Bishop William C. Skurla of the Byzantine Eparchy of Passaic, N.J., said the council was split about whether implementation of the missal should be gradual or all at once.
"Some believed strongly that the new missal should be fully implemented, as planned, beginning with the first Sunday of Advent 2011, citing the fact that gradual implementation could cause significant problems and confusion," he said.
"Others encouraged the bishops to allow pastoral discretion in introducing the changed parts of the Mass with full implementation not being required until the first Sunday of Lent 2012," Bishop Skurla added. "This encouragement for more gradual implementation was based on the belief that most people assimilate changes in stages and there could be some complications in implementing the new missal all at once."
The National Advisory Council also suggested that consideration be given to allowing some priests who were unable to adopt the Mass changes "because of age or infirmity" to use the 1974 Roman Missal "when celebrating Mass in a private setting."
Archbishop Aymond did not address that recommendation in his remarks to the bishops.