The Foreword of the USCCB document Fulfilled in Your Hearing sums up the when and why:
In 1979 the Bishops’ Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry decided to address the question of preaching with respect to the Sunday homily for the following reasons:
1) the conclusions of numerous surveys indicating the questionable quality of preaching and homily preparation often experienced in Catholic churches;
2) to bring the attention of bishops and priests to the need for programs that emphasize homily preparation and delivery;
3) to provide useful information to bishops and priests in their efforts to improve the quality of their homilies;
4) to suggest to the NCCB certain recommendations regarding the improvement of the homily on national, diocesan, and parish levels.
With the publications of Fulfilled in Your Hearing, the Committee believes it has responded to these reasons. It now hopes that the information contained herein will serve not only to enhance the quality of preaching in the Sunday Assembly, but also to assist priests and bishops as they endeavor to fulfill their primary duty, namely, the proclamation of the Gospel of God to all.
It does indeed seem timely in light of our recent discussion on lay preaching and the questions of clergy competence to take a look at this important document. Sadly, few clergy and not many bishops are aware of it. I think our readers will be surprised at some of its recommendations and insights. Hopefully, we can enjoy a fruitful and edifying discussion in the weeks ahead.