USCCB Secretariat of Divine Worship responds to Question about General Instruction of Roman Missal
  • G.I.R.M. No. 48 says that Catholics are allowed to substitute "another liturgical chant . . . similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop" for the Entrance chant, Offertory, or Communion at Mass.

    My priest does not allow us to use songs in GIA Worship IV or OCP Glory Praise because they lack our Bishop's approval (Archdiocese of San Antonio). This has led to a long series of E-mails to the Secretariat and publishers.

    OCP's books do not have approval of any bishop. They do have approval from the Benedictine Abbey of Mount Angel and they have an Archbishop on their Board of Directors.

    GIA's books are all approved by Francis Cardinal George of Chicago.

    DUBIUM (17 July 2012):

    The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says that in order for hymns to substitute as the Entrance chant, Offertory, or Communion, they must be a "liturgical chant ... similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop." [full quote: "another liturgical chant that is suited to the sacred action, the day, or the time of year, similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop."]

    GIRM 48 does not say "or any Diocesan Bishop." Nor does it say "by some Diocesan Bishop." Nor does it say "by a Diocesan Bishop." It says "by the Diocesan Bishop."

    The hymns in GIA's Worship IV are approved by Francis Cardinal George for the Archdiocese of Chicago. Can these same hymns substitute for the Entrance chant, Offertory, or Communion in the Archdiocese of San Antonio? My priest says they cannot unless Archbishop Gustavo of San Antonio approves them, and this would seem to be the intended sense of GIRM 48.

    RESPONSE from USCCB (Wed, Jul 18, 2012 at 8:28AM):

    Allow me to clarify the policy at the USCCB so as to alleviate any ill will toward the publishers. The current practice at the Conference of Bishops is that the approval of hymnody, as I have explained to you before, is that collections of hymns or other liturgical songs—such as hymnals—are approved by the bishop of the place where they are published (in lieu of any kind of approval by the Conference itself). There is no expectation that the diocesan bishops of each of the 190 dioceses of the United States would have to follow up with their own review and/or approval, though an individual bishop may choose to offer some particular clarification about what is used in his diocese. This is the USCCB’s way of implementing GIRM # 48. The Holy See (The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments) is aware of and supportive of this method of enacting the norm. I am not aware of problems or questions resulting from this procedure.

    If your pastor has a concern about this, he is free to write to the Chairman of the Committee on Divine Worship (care of me) and I will happily explain the policy and the procedure in further detail. The publishers of the major hymnals in the United States have the support of the Committee on Divine Worship (which acts on behalf of the Conference of Bishops in liturgical matters), and I can personally attest that their complete cooperation with the bishops of their dioceses assures the proper review of the content of their collections. || Msgr. Rick Hilgartner, Executive Director || Secretariat of Divine Worship || phone: (202) 541-3060
    Thanked by 1Chrism
  • OCP's books lack approval by any bishop (but they have an Archbishop on their board):
    Wednesday, 18 July 2012 || Be assured that the leading publishers of liturgical music for Catholic worship, both here in Portland and in Chicago, always work diligently to follow all the guidelines and work with the permission granting authorities relative to the content and accuracy of the content in our worship resources. || Here in the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, our Archbishop, the Most Reverend John Vlazny, faithfully serves as the Chair of OCP’s board of directors. Furthermore, we routinely route proposed song texts for review by trusted theologians who serve on the faculty of the nearby Benedictine Abbey of Mount Angel. || Bari Colombari, Senior Research Editor 800-548-8749 ext 5303

    GIA's books are approved by Francis Cardinal George:
    Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 1:46 PM || Our Archbishop's name is Cardinal Bishop Francis George, OMI. All of our hymnals have been approved, in his name, by the archdiocesan censors. Our hymnal editor, Jeff Mickus, sent you the wording as the text appears in our hymnals. Again, all are approved in the name of the Cardinal Archbishop. His name does not appear in the text, but under his authority as chief liturgist for our archdiocese. || David J. Anderson Vice President for Church Music GIA Publications, Inc. ||
  • benedictgal
    Posts: 798
    Unfortunately, this does not explain why such horrible music winds up being included in both publications. Furthermore, what criteria are they using when they review the music that is to be a part of the song books?
  • Perhaps you should give them a phone call and find out
  • benedictgal
    Posts: 798
    A couple of years ago, I had a similar conversation with Msgr. Hilgartner. I was not too pleased with his response because he noted that, since his was a small office, they did not have time to review everything that came out. Given the fact that there is so much questionable music out there from these publishers, maybe it's about time that CDWDS intervene.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,711
    I don't want to hear excuses.

    Make the whitelist and be done with it. It would only take a week to compile a pretty good list. Everything else would have to go through a procedure to be approved. I don't care if it takes ten years to get approved. That will slow down the paper mills and money machines, and put us back on track.

    Meanwhile, we are basically left to our own whims and judgements concerning what is and what is not appropriate. Until the Diocesan Bishop is willing to make a stand, you and I are it, folks! Pew Wars.
  • BachLover2BachLover2
    Posts: 330
    Unless I've read him wrong, Hilgartner is basically saying, "The rules don't apply to us."
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    Hilgartner is basically saying, get a life you nitpickers with too much time on your hands. I'm understaffed and overworked and this is far beyond what I can handle. Give the guy a break.
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,006
    And he is correct that the Vatican is aware of this practice. It was part of what was submitted to Rome in response to the requirements of Liturgicam Authenticam. (Was it as fully responsive LA requires? Not by my reading, but then again, the musical dimension to LA was definitely underemphasized by Rome almost immediately - I don't think any bishops' conference met the five-year deadline*, and Rome never appeared to make an issue of it or even what was sent in - to my knowledge, on the US conference ever bothered to submit anything, but I'd be happy to be proven wrong about that.) Rome has shown less than zero appetite to micromanage this issue, unlike, say, Missal translation texts. Rome, like any institution, picks its battles. That's the Roman way, and it drives thorough-going American types batty, while the Romans narrow their eyes, shake their heads, and go on their muddling-through way. The Roman national gesture is to shake one's shoulders and say, What can one do?

    * Over those 5 years, I sent occasional emails to the BCL asking what their plans were to respond. I never got a substantive answer.
  • the Vatican is aware of this practice. It was part of what was submitted to Rome in response to the requirements of Liturgicam Authenticam.

    Can you please tell me more about this? I have no idea what this is and never heard of it. Where can I download the statement? Thanks.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,956
    My impression is that Hilgartner is a good man doing the best job he can. Liam is right with his observations. Rome is where the problem lies.
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,006
    SAC - do you mean #108 of Liturgicam Authenticam (3/28/2001)?

    108. Sung texts and liturgical hymns have a particular importance and efficacy. Especially on Sunday, the “Day of the Lord”, the singing of the faithful gathered for the celebration of Holy Mass, no less than the prayers, the readings and the homily, express in an authentic way the message of the Liturgy while fostering a sense of common faith and communion in charity.[78] If they are used widely by the faithful, they should remain relatively fixed so that confusion among the people may be avoided. Within five years from the publication of this Instruction, the Conferences of Bishops, necessarily in collaboration with the national and diocesan Commissions and with other experts, shall provide for the publication of a directory or repertory of texts intended for liturgical singing. This document shall be transmitted for the necessary recognitio to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments."

    The USCCB voted on its directory at its November 2006 meeting. A summary:

    I don't think Rome has even started considering the matters, nor is there any evidence it has a timeline to do so. The advent of a music office in the CDW should not raise hopes in this regard. Just sayin'.

    Anyone who awaits a legal resolution of all this better have good life insurance for his or her survivors.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,183
    It's understandable that Fr. Hilgartner might not want the job of reviewing and approving songs to flow through his office: not in a country where there are 178 Latin-rite dioceses and archdioceses. Considering that the review of books for the imprimatur takes place in each diocese, it's thinkable that the work of reviewing songs and service music could be done there too: at the diocesan level, or perhaps at the level of the ecclesiastical province -- there are 32 of those.

    Just to pay for the necessary staff, it might be necessary to charge composers for the time of the reviewers.

    And that's assuming the standards for suitability can be codified in a clear form so that they can be applied consistently, in order that the outcome of the review not depend on the particular reviewer assigned to the task.
  • @chonak,

    I agree, but if what you say is true, why didn't they change the GIRM to reflect their practice? Didn't they recently make a new translation of the GIRM?

    In other words, their current practice (which I have no problem with) does not match the GIRM wording: why?
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,006

    Because they didn't think they needed to. The term "the Diocesan Bishop" is equivocal; they've interpreted it to refer to the location of publication. They didn't feel the need to drill down any further textually. And, so far as we know, Rome has not gainsaid their interpretation. Whoever wants to rattle the cages of Cdl George of Chicago, Abp Vlazny of Portland and Bp Kinney of St Cloud is welcome to try to do so, but, remember, be careful what you ask for.
    Thanked by 1Jeffrey Quick
  • RagueneauRagueneau
    Posts: 2,592
    For those interested, the entire Vatican II Hymnal is approved by the local, Diocesan bishop. However, the wording at the front simply says, "approved by the Diocese of Corpus Christi." That is simply the wording used: it means the book is approved by the Bishop.

    However, the Mass settings ("Mass Ordinaries") require an additional approval by the USCCB. All the Mass settings in the Vatican II Hymnal have been approved for liturgical use in the United States by the USCCB. It also says this in the front of our book.

    The Ecclesiastical approval was very important to us.
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • benedictgal
    Posts: 798
    I am not afraid to rattle some cages. I am beginning to feel like that little Labrador puppy in the K9 Advantix commercials, tired of having to endure substandard music from both publishing houses. At some point, something has got to give.

    Msgr. Wadsworth's speech at Colloquium gave me some serious food for thought. I still intend to send the CDWDS my arsenal of OCP music books so that they can review them. Unfortunately, given the fact that Rome pretty much shuts down during the month of August, I will have to wait until September.

    Liam, as I read your posts, you may not have much confidence in Rome, but, if people start writing to the CDWS to cmoplain about the shoddy music that we have to endure (bearing in mind that Pope Benedict XVI, himself, had to put up with it during the DC Papal Mass), maybe the dam will finally break. I only wish I knew just what kind of music the USCCB submitted to the CDWDS for its review.
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    All politics is local.

    It all comes down to what the PASTOR will allow in his parish and what the BISHOP will allow in his diocese. Getting Rome and the CDWS to do something about this is going to be like trying to steer the elephant by its tail. The ones who have got to be convinced are the local authorities who can make small but real changes- the associate pastor who says the 10 am mass who refuses to go along with silly traditions during it, the pastor who says "I want to find a way to give Gregorian chant pride of place by resolving to begin using two chanted ordinaries, one in latin and one in english this year, and the bishop who says "I don't want to hear All Are Welcome in this diocese; it's bad theology."

    I know that many of us are sick and tired of waiting and we daydream of a wide sweeping edict from Rome that says "Chant only, anything else must get approval in writing from the bishop." It's not going to happen, and if it did it would be ignored in some places anyway.

    I've seen individual priests and bishops go a LONG way towards catechesis and changing the midset of the liturgy by simply making some relatively small decisions and changes and emulating a proper liturgical mindset while celebrating mass.
  • Well Said Paix,,,,,, well said!

    Besides, I am sure, like most of those "departments" they have a file on the "complainers" they know who you are, and could careless, and the minute something comes in, it goes right to the ...........
    Thanked by 1Gavin
  • benedictgal
    Posts: 798
    MichaelM, I would not be so flippant about that. The CDWDS is not so cold and callous as you would think. They very much care about legitimate complaints. Why else would they have said that the faithful have the right to lodge them under Redemptionis Sacramentum?

    I have dealt with the CDWDS on a couple of matters and they have been very helpful. In fact, they have been much more helpful than the USCCB.
  • The term "the Diocesan Bishop" is equivocal.

    I'm going to have to disagree here: most Canonists have no difficulty understanding what "the Diocesan Bishop" means.
  • Benedictgal, I have had a few instances, where friends have lodged complaints, and you know where it went...... no where. Perhaps you have had better luck. If you think you can get them to police the liturgy here, go for it. I wouldn't hold my breath though.
  • benedictgal
    Posts: 798
    MichaelM, all I am saying is this: unless one has had personal experience with the CDWDS, one should not be so flippant in making such comments about how the Congregation works. Thanks to their efforts, we were able to correct some major policy issues at both the parish and diocesan level.
  • I have had experience with them, as well as a few friends. I am glad you have had good experiences, others are not so fortunate. Now you have the power to go police the world. Good luck with that.

    All I am saying, I wouldn't hold my breath, lest we sing In Paradisium for such a long wait.

    And, I know first hand, they have a file on people they consider complainers.
  • PaixGioiaAmorPaixGioiaAmor
    Posts: 1,473
    I'm sure that the Congregation itself would love to be able to respond to every complaint.

    Think about how many people work there. I don't know how many - let's say hundreds, even thousands? I doubt it - but even if it is that many ... now think of how big the world is, how many dioceses there are, etc.

    Complaints from LA and Rochester alone could probably occupy them for some time ...
    Thanked by 1a1437053
  • benedictgal
    Posts: 798
    MichaelM, it has never been my experience with the CDWDS to be identified as a "complainer". For you to make that kind of a reference is a bit insulting. PGA, sometimes one has to be persistent.

    Again, I remind both of you that RS states that we do have the CDWDS as a recourse for serious matters.
  • Another thought for you Benedictgal, what you makes you think the Congregation doesn't know about OCP, WLP, and GIA, or their hymnals? That they haven't seen one before? I am sure they have seen them. Question is, why isn't the Liturgy Police enroute to the US, to fix the problem? Do they see everything in those big companies as a problem? The Vatican is concerned about nuns not being in tune with what they want, but they aren't concerned about all this musical problem too??? I am not debating that those 3 don't have their problems, but the problems lay at the local level. If you are a DM, and can effect positive change on your community, Thanks be to God, but you aren't going to police a giant like that. I am sorry.
    Thanked by 2MarkThompson Gavin
  • benedictgal
    Posts: 798
    Again, MichaelM, there is no need for you to be condescending and insulting. For you to constantly be throwing insults like "liturgical police" is not helpful.

    Remember, David only had five stones against a giant like Goliath. Don't count the little people out.
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • It's not a matter of being insulting or condescending, benedictgal, its about reality, and being practical, and using common sense, to make things work. Yes, David did that. So now that he has done that, go for it.

    The reality is, good solid change can be effected, in this case, from the bottom up. Promote good music to all the local DMs, try to work to get them on board with promoting solid music, and it will make a come back. Try to police it from the top, and again, they will just continue ignoring the problem till it is self resolved.

    And yes, I use the word or term "policing" because, one, you tell me how many people, "like" being policed into doing something. I can imagine most don't. It's why people speed and get tickets. Now extending an olive branch, and working at the lower level to educate, broaden, and get DM's enthusiastic about doing the right thing, will get you a lot farther, than trying to beat up 3 companies with billions of dollars that run against you. The more people that you work with, and train, encourage, and show them new things like Vatican II, Adoremus, etc.... as well as the wonderful vast amount of Commons music, free to all, the better your chances of seeing positive change.

    On an additional note, why not try to continue encouraging those musicians/composers on here, that are putting out wonderful repertoire, propers, masses, to continue growing these resources. One thing that I note, and this is a message for those composers on here, I appreciate having the works all put together and concise. When I am on here trying to search for propers this and that, it is chaotic. How many other DMs are going to want to really put all that effort in, especially as busy as it can get if your in a very busy parish. Let's continue to encourage and help all of the great composers on here, to get their works consolidated, offer them up in a central location, this way DM's, like myself, aren't searching all over the place to find things. That's one reason a lot of DM's run to things like R&A from OCP, or other resources, that are already organized and ready to go.
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,006

    The issue is *which* one. The USCCB has its interpretation, and until Rome gainsays it, what you or I or any canonist thinks is rather beside the point.


    Precisely. This is a bottom up, not a top down, thing. The Roman office involved does not have the staff (and how many of them are fluent in English, pray tell, let alone poetic/musical English?) to police this for the world, and the USA is not even the most important Catholic country in the Roman view of the world, and our own episcopal conference lacks staff for our own country. I just think the complaint to Rome route is worn out.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,183
    BG, have you written about your success story? If not, you might start a thread to tell it for the benefit of other people.

    I'm not sure that success in correcting some specific problems will translate into success at getting OCP books vetted. That is: if CDWDS gets a request to review a book with 200 songs, that may not evoke the same sense of urgency that a case of ongoing liturgical abuses evokes.
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • No, that's not going to fly. After all, if you're sitting in a class and the teacher hands out a test with Name_________ at the top of it, whose name do you put on? Yours, or the guy who sold you a used car a few days ago? Your name, of course. Context and common understanding tell you this.

    Similarly, any Canonist reading G.I.R.M. 48 understands exactly what "the Diocesan Bishop" means.
    Thanked by 1BachLover2
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,006
    Well, right now, it's been flying for years....
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,183
    I don't think this requires any special interpretation of GIRM 48.

    It just seems that the USCCB ODW has invented a procedure by which they approve music: first, they require as a prerequisite that it be approved by the local Ordinary of the place where it's published. Then, when that is done, ODW automatically approves it.
  • That makes sense, chonak. How do you know that is the case? My ordinary just approved a collection of music, and said that he didn't have the authority to approve it for universal use in the US, only in his diocese.

    He did, however, send it on to the USCCB for approval. That was over a month ago and I've heard nothing. Maybe I should be talking to them about it instead of musing online...
    Thanked by 2JennyH E_A_Fulhorst
  • On a side note, thanks Andrew for those wonderful Communion Antiphons. Just was I looking for. Thanks!
    Thanked by 1JennyH
  • JennyH
    Posts: 106
    Yes, Andrew, your Communions are an amazing piece of work.
    Thanked by 1ContraBombarde
  • I have had experience with them, as well as a few friends. I am glad you have had good experiences, others are not so fortunate.

    Often, what will happen is the congregation simply forwards your letter to the very Bishop you're complaining about!
  • benedictgal
    Posts: 798
    Not necessarily, SanAntonioCath. In my case, we were assured by the CDWDS that we would not be retaliated against. Furthermore, we were told that if adverse action were taken against us by the local Ordinary/Chancery, we were to contact the CDWDS as soon as possible.
  • @SanAntonioCath Probably very true. I know someone who had a beef about some changes that were implemented at a parish level. This person was upset with some decisions of the pastor, sent a letter, fax, and called the Archdiocese, to request clarification of some of the internal things. Needless to say, I found out from the pastor, the Cancellor called him, and told him there was no problem if he wished to terminate the said employee. Really, it wasn't a harsh inquiry, but all in all. :o(
    I was surprised that it evoked such a response. The pastor luckily had compassion enough not terminate the lady.

    In Benedictgal's case, I am very happy to see they offered to assist against retaliation. I hope that is a trend that continues, though I am cautious to believe it will.
  • benedictgal
    Posts: 798
    MichaelC, you seem so quick to be harsh against the CDWDS. They are not some cold, remote organization that you paint them out to be. They are here to help, as they reminded me in their reference to Redemptionis Sacramentum.
  • I am not harsh against them, and in fact if they do as you say, I support that. What I am saying is, I have had friends with experiences even up to that level, with not the same results you have had, and making any complaints to them, would worry me about future job holdings.

    As chonak suggested, please, start a thread detailing the successes you have had. Honestly, I think it would help us all in the end, most especially if they are willing to support concerns.
  • E_A_FulhorstE_A_Fulhorst
    Posts: 381
    How do we storm the gates of the local liturgical committee? Better yet, how would a radical like us get on that board?
  • BachLover2BachLover2
    Posts: 330
    San Antonio Catholic is absolutely right. The way the General Instruction of the Roman Missal is currently written:

    "another liturgical chant that is suited to the sacred action, the day, or the time of year, similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Diocesan Bishop."

    Any Canon lawyer knows exactly what that means: it means the local Bishop.

    However, the GIRM could be easily fixed by changing it to:

    "another liturgical chant that is suited to the sacred action, the day, or the time of year, similarly approved by the Conference of Bishops or the Bishop in the diocese of publication."

    Why do they not fix this?
  • Carl DCarl D
    Posts: 992
    I would imagine it's because that would remove the local Bishop's ability to NOT approve it. Some strange composer with a weirdo Bishop could get something approved, then by implication all Dioceses have to accept it.

    Nope, the Bishop has leadership of his Diocese, subject to Rome.
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,183
    In practice that's what we have now, inasmuch as the USCCB has delegated its approval role to Chicago and Portland. (Would they add more cities where publishers are based?)

    I don't think it really reflects what was intended by the Church when the GIRM was written, but that seems to be the status quo.
  • Having seen it with mine own eyes, RC, I would use the verb "abrogated" rather than "delagated." Were that it wasn't so.
    Thanked by 1DougS
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,069
    I see this with secular politics all the time: Team A creates a novel state power in order to accomplish a particular goal. Team B comes to power and uses the novel state power against Team A and its goals. And once created, it is impossible to get rid of the (formerly novel, now customary) state power.

    Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I see nothing preventing any diocesan bishop from banning any particular song, mass setting, hymnal or publisher from use in his diocese. The only impediment on the parish level is what the parishioners will tolerate, or diocesan mandates to be familiar with a particular setting.

    To say that the USCCB is wrong in its implementation of GIRM 48 doesn't actually do anything to improve the liturgy. Building a better bureaucracy to fix the liturgy isn't going to fix it. And the same power that can mandate chant or anything else can also ban it. As Liam said, "be careful what you ask for."
  • DougS
    Posts: 793
    To my knowledge, our bishop has a black list of songs for diocesan liturgies (e.g., confirmation). The DMs hosting multi-parish events like this are instructed not to select these songs.
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • francis
    Posts: 10,711

    can we get the list?
    Thanked by 1E_A_Fulhorst
  • So, here's the question: why does nobody seem to care that none of the Praise and Worship, Life Teen, or other music is approved by the Bishop?

    And here's another question: according to what the Secretariat has said above (how one Bishop can approve for use by everybody) does that mean it applies to the entire world? Canada? South Africa? Etc?