How long, really, is the catechumenate, and who decides?
77. It is the responsibility of the bishop to fix the duration and to direct the program of the catechumenate. The conference of bishops, after considering the conditions of its people and region (Sacrosanctum Concilium 64), may also wish to provide specifric guidelines. At the discretion of the bishop, on the basis of the spiritual preparation of the candidate, the period of the catechumenate may in particular cases be shortened (see RCIA 331-335); in altogether extraordinary cases the catechumenate may be completed all at once. (see RCIA 332, 336-339).
The US bishops do have national statutes which cover the catechumenate, and other aspects of RCIA. We’ll get to those 37 sections at the end of our examination of the universal norms.
Typical of Roman sensibility and pastoral practice, provision is given for “particular” or “extraordinary” situations. The bishop, not the pastor, however, is responsible for making the determination whenever the catechumenate period will be shortened.