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Liturgy: opportunity for bishops to take control

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 Contents - Aug 2005AD2000 August 2005 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Liturgy: opportunity for bishops to take control - Michael Gilchrsit
What the Church can teach the secular world - Archbishp Barry Hickey
News: The Church Around the World
Campus Life: Cardinal Pell's program for a Catholic culture at Sydney's universities - Stephen Lawrence
International poll underlines growing secularist challenge - Michael Gilchrist
Media: Our Lord's name: responding to media blasphemy - Andre Van Der Linden
Feminist translation: Inclusive language and the Trinity: the latest from Brisbane - Michael Apthorp
Benedict XVI's pontificate: the possibilities - Damian Thompson
London's Balham parish, 'an icon of liturgical hope' - Joanna Bogle
John Paul II: a Jewish appreciation
Anglican update: an orthodox fight-back - Fr Christopher Seton
Letters: Dissenter's manifesto (letter) - Imelda Aslett
Letters: Origins of the Bible (letter) - George Simpson
Letters: Lay-led liturgies (letters) - M.T. Kennedy
Letters: An Islamic Holland? (letter) - Henk Verhoeven
Letters: Sacrifice (letter) - M.A. Ross
Letters: Abortion breast cancer link (letter) - Dr Tim Coyle
Letters: Real Presence (letter) - John Schmid
Letters: Small Catechisms available (letter) - Fr Edward P. Evans
Letters: Stem cells (letter) - Brian Harris
Letters: Government review of RE in State Schools (letter) - Maureen Federico
Letters: Brisbane Archbishop bans weekday Latin Mass (letter) - Tom King
Letters: The Mass (letter)
Letters: Appreciation from Nepal (letter)
Poetry: A Heavenly Surprise
Books: More Catholic Than the Pope, by Patrick Madrid and Pete Vere - Fr Glen Tattersal FSSP (reviewer)
Books: More Good Reading from AD Books
Reflection: How we will overcome the shortage of priests - Fr John O'Neill PP

Benedict XVI (before and after his election as Pope) has expressed strong views on long-standing problems afflicting the Church's liturgy worldwide. An opportunity for him to assert his authority in this regard will occur at the forthcoming Synod of Bishops, due to meet in Rome from 2- 23 October 2005 on the theme of the Eucharist.

The Instrumentum laboris (or working document) for the Synod was released on 7 July and summarises a large number of submissions from all over the world, following circulation of a Lineamenta document in 2004 to the world's episcopal conferences. The working document will provide the Synod with reference points for wide-ranging discussions.

The document devotes much of its space to widespread problem areas: low Mass attendances in most Western countries; the near-disappearance of confessions; liturgical abuses; a lack of both reverence and a sense of the sacred; a blurred liturgical distinction between priests and lay people; a lack of emphasis on the Mass as a sacrifice; declining belief in the real presence; poor quality church music; poor homilies; and the placement of tabernacles in obscure parts of churches. These are just a few.

The working document states: "The ongoing formation of the clergy needs to rekindle a spirit of communal prayer to strengthen a disposition of humbly adhering to the spirit and letter of liturgical norms."

In other words, many priests - and lay people - require re-educating as to the Church's liturgical directives. While the Holy See has issued a large number of liturgical documents since Vatican II, these have often remained unread or have been ignored.

The forthcoming Synod will present bishops with a window of opportunity to exercise stronger control over the liturgy in their dioceses.

The complete working document is available on the Internet at

Michael Gilchrist: Editor (Email -

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 18 No 7 (August 2005), p. 2

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