New document on liturgy to appear soon, with "rigid" rules removed

In an email received early this morning, CWN is reporting on the imminent release of "a long-awaited new document on the Eucharist, delayed by high-level disagreements within the Vatican. The document will not contain any striking innovations..."

Following is the text of the CWN report:


Vatican, Jan. 07 (

A long-awaited new document on the Eucharist, delayed by high-level disagreements within the Vatican, will soon be made public. The document will not contain any striking innovations, CWN has learned.

The new document, which was promised by Pope John Paul II when he released his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia in April 2003, has been expected for several months. In September, the Italian monthly Jesus published what it claimed was the text of a draft version of the document, and reported that the draft had been rejected because it was deemed excessively conservative.

Several subsequent drafts have also met opposition, according to Vatican sources. The editors of the document-- which has been prepared primarly by the Congregation for Divine Worship-- were reportedly under heavy pressure to avoid causing controversy by taking positions that would be judged as extreme. The final document will avoid that danger by confining itself to a repetition of previous Vatican statements and standards. In effect, informed sources report, the new document will be a distilled version of the liturgical norms already published in the General Instructions for the Roman Missal.

In Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Pope John Paul had said that the new document would provide juridical norms regarding the celebration of the Eucharist. The purpose of the document, Vatican officials disclosed at the time, was to curtail liturgical abuse-- a problem that was viewed by the Holy See with grave concern.

In December 2003, the influential Jesuit journal Civilta Cattolica provided an insight into the current thinking of Vatican officials, in an article on the liturgical renewals since Vatican II. (Civilta Cattolica is generally seen as reflecting the views of Vatican officials, since all articles in the magazine are cleared in advance by the Secretariat of State.) The article condemned liturgical abuses and unauthorized innovations, but cautioned against responding to the abuse with new regulations.

"From an excessively rigid framework, we have passed over to an excessive freedom," the Civilta Cattolica article argued. The article spoke of "spontaneity without restraints" in liturgical celebrations. But it also warned against "a nostalgic return to formalism." The Jesuit journal made the argument that "abuses are best regulated not by reprimands," but by proper instruction and formation in proper liturgical celebration.

Home Page