Interrogation of Bishop Hart (from Acta Processus, In Causa Lilburne - Dowling, 301 00 165, First Instance, Tribunal of the Catholic Church, Victoria and Tasmania, pages 24 - 25):







Interrogation of Most Reverend Denis James Hart

The abovenamed witness gave evidence before the Very Reverend Ian B Waters, Judicial Vicar, in the Vicar General's Office, James Goold House, Victoria Parade, East Melbourne, on Tuesday 13th February, 2001 at 1.15 p.m.

1. Are you happy to give evidence on liturgical matters, and promise that you will not discuss the questions you are asked or answers given until this case has been concluded?


2. Please give your name, date of birth and dates of ordination?

Denis James Hart, I was born on the 16th May, 1941. I was ordained a priest on the 22nd July, 1967. I was ordained a Bishop on the 9th December, 1997. At present I am an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, and Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

3. What qualifications do you have to answer liturgical questions?

I was the secretary of the Australian Liturgical Commission from 1975 until 1990. I was Master of Ceremonies of the Archdiocese of Melbourne from 1969 until 1996. I was a consultor for the Congregation for Divine Worship at the Holy See from 1984 until 1993. At present I am a member of the Bishops' Committee for Liturgy at the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference.

4. Would you please comment on Number 51 of the General Introduction to the Lectionary of the Mass?

[Note: this paragraph was not printed in the Acts, but has been taken from the Lectionary for Mass, Volume 1, Collins Liturgical Australia, page xxix]

51. 'The reader has his own proper function in the eucharistic celebration and should exercise this even though ministers of higher rank may be present.' {Footnote 89: General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 66}. The reader's ministry, which is conferred through a liturgical rite, must be held in respect. When there are instituted readers available, they are to carry out their office at least on Sundays and major feasts, especially at the principal Mass of the day. These readers may also be given responsibility for assisting in the planning of the liturgy of the word , and, to the extent necessary, of seeing to the preparation of others of the faithful who may be appointed on a given occasion to serve as readers at Mass. {Footnote 90: See Paul VI, motu propiro Ministeria quaedam, 15 Aug. 1972, no. V: AAS 64 (1972) 532.}

The words "they are to carry out their office" are not exclusive, that means, the text should not be read to mean on every occasion. There certainly must be some flexibility. The text would be saying that it is highly appropriate that this occur. This is a perceptive thing in order to keep the importance of the Office of Lector, and it presumes that an instituted lector will have all the gifts necessary to be an effective lector.

5. Would you kindly comment on Number 66 of the General Instruction to the Roman Missal (1975 Edition)?

[Note: this paragraph was not printed in the Acts, but has been taken from the Sacramentary, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1985, page 30*]

66. The reader is insituted to proclaim the readings from Scripture, with the exception of the gospel. He may also announce the intentions for the general intercessions and, in the absence of the psalmist, sing or read the psalm between the readings.

The reader has his own proper function in the eucharistic celebration, and should exercise this even though ministers of a higher rank may be present.

Those who exercise the ministry of reader, even if they have not received institution, must be truly qualified and carefully prepared in order that the faithful will develop a warm and lively love for Scripture {Footnote 53: See SC, art 24.} from listening to the reading of the sacred texts.

I would comment on this text similarly. The sentence is there to emphasise the importance of this function, and the special gifts that are normally attached to it.

6. What obligation has Dean Dowling to know and follow the prescriptions of the Ceremonial of Bishops?

I would believe that anyone appointed to be Dean of the Cathedral - either through himself or through another - should see that the principles of the prescriptions of the Ceremonial of Bishops are followed. The custom for over thirty years has been to entrust the implementation to the Master of Ceremonies, who has been left to undertake that work. The Dean's over-sight has been general and not particular.

7. Please comment on Number 54 of the General Introduction to the Lectionary, specifically commenting on the distinctive vestment for a lector?

[Note: this paragraph was not printed in the Acts, but has been taken from the Lectionary for Mass, Volume 1, Collins Liturgical Australia, page xxix]

54. During the celebration of Mass with a congregation a second priest, a deacon, and an instituted reader must wear the distinctive vestment of their office when they go to the lectern to read the word of God. Those who carry out the ministry of reader just for the occasion or even regularly but without institution may go to the lectern in ordinary attire that is in keeping with local custom.

The distinctive vestment common to all Ministers is the alb. In other words, there is no difference in the vesture for a lector than for any other Minister.

8. Please comment on the general introduction to the Roman Missal, Numbers 148-149?

[Note: this was not printed in the Acts, but has been taken from the Sacramentary, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1985, page 35*]


Introductory Rites

148. In the procession to the altar, when no deacon is present, the reader may carry the Book of the Gospels. In that case he walks in front of the priest; otherwise he walks with the other ministers.

149. Upon reaching the altar, the reader makes the proper reverence along with the priest, goes up to the altar, and places the Book of the Gospels on it. Then he takes his place in the sanctuary with the other ministers.

They describe the normal procedure for a lector's participation in Mass. I notice the word "may". In other words, there is flexibility rather than rigidity.

9. Do you know anything about the publication or the date when the new edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal will be effective?

It was published in April 2000, but will not take effect or become law until the New Edition of the Roman Missal is published. There is no indication as yet when that will occur.

10. Is there anything else you would like to add?

It has been the practice of this Archdiocese of Melbourne only to have instituted lectors who are transitional. I am not aware of anyone in the Archdiocese of Melbourne ever being instituted as a lector who has not been in transition to the permanent diaconate or to the priesthood. I presume that most - if not all dioceses in Australia - would be the same. A number of dioceses have instituted acolytes. I am not aware that these dioceses have instituted lectors.

James Goold House

Victoria Pde


+ Denis J Hart

13th February, 2001

I.B. Waters.

Copyright J.R. Lilburne 13 October 2001.