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Bishops Meet, Struggle with Liturgiam Authenticam

At their annual November meeting, the U.S. Bishops elected Bishop Wilton Gregory of Belleville Illinois as president. Gregory is the first African-American and the first Catholic convert to be elected president of the U.S. bishops in history. Gregory holds a doctorate in liturgy and has written extensively on the subject, particularly on liturgy in the African American community. He also meets regularly with the Fellowship of Southern Illinois Laity, a Church renewal organization in Belleville. Gregory will serve for three years. The newly elected vice president (who normally becomes president) is Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane Washington. Skylstad is a moderate, experienced in ecumenism and Church social policy.

The bishops also had a three hour presentation and discussion on Liturgiam Authenticam (LA), the controversial Vatican document requiring that the Neo Vulgate be normative for liturgical translations. Cardinal Dulles noted that Liturgiam Authenticam had a number of internal consistencies and would need to be reconciled with other authoritative teachings. Cardinal George acknowledged that it is "not a perfect document" but that it would be a mistake to act as if it hadn't been promulgated. Others expressed concerns about awkward translations that in some cases contradict the careful work of the U.S. conference over a ten-year period. One bishop voiced his belief that Liturgiam Authenticam "may have over reached." While he was willing to accept the decision, he also felt duty bound to "exercise pastoral judgement about what has gone too far and what is really needed."


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