PCS 38-39: Adaptations of Bishops

Where sound sacramental practice is concerned, it’s never quite as easy as saying the black and doing the red. Conferences of bishops have the “right” to add to the Roman rituals what is needed for their territories.

38 In virtue of Sacrosanctum Concilium (See 63b), the conferences of bishops have the right to prepare a section in particular rituals corresponding to the present section of the Ro­man Ritual and adapted to the needs of the different parts of the world. This section is for use in the regions concerned once the acta have been reviewed by the Apostolic See.

“Responsibilities” are part of the picture:


The following are the responsibilities of the conferences of bishops in this regard:

a) to decide on the adaptations dealt with in Sacrosanctum Concilium 39;

b) to weigh carefully and prudently what elements from the traditions and culture of individual peoples may be ap­propriately admitted into divine worship, then to propose to the Apostolic See adaptations considered useful or necessary that will be introduced with its consent;

c) to retain elements in the rites of the sick that now exist in particular rituals, as long as they are compatible with Sacrosanctum Concilium and with contemporary needs; or to adapt any of these elements;

d) to prepare translations of the texts so that they are truly adapted to the genius of different languages and cultures and to add, whenever appropriate, suitable melodies for singing;

e) to adapt and enlarge, if necessary, this Introduction in the Roman Ritual in order to encourage the conscious and active participation of the faithful;

f) to arrange the material in the editions of liturgical books prepared under the direction of the conferences of bishops in a format that will be as suitable as possible for pastoral use.

Many of these are very practical. Take note of the option to retain older elements (c) and to adapt them in text and ritual. Take note also of the responsibility of the bishops to “prepare translations,” that will be adapted (“truly”) for languages and cultures. In other words, to help to craft an authentic rite that will be faithful to the pastoral needs of the people. Part (d) also provides for music, (e) shows that conscious and active participation was still very much on the minds of those in Rome in the early 80’s, and (f) allows bishops to arrange published materials for the benefit of clergy, ministers, and the people.


39 Whenever the Roman Ritual gives several alternative texts, particular rituals may add other texts of the same kind.

Roman options open the door for more choices, more options. We’ve encountered two of the hallmarks of post-conciliar liturgical reform: participation and truly pastoral rites. These factors were part of what has been acknowledged as a largely successful Vatican II sacramental effort. At the very least, I never hear complaints about the rites of anointing and viaticum. It may beg the question: If these rites work as well as they do, what is the purpose of Liturgiam Authenticam and its accompanying retrenchment?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Pastoral Care of the Sick, post-conciliar liturgy documents, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

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