About John Lilburne


Bishop Kevin Manning

On the weekend I became aware of a series of articles about the 2002 General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) by Bishop Kevin Manning.

He is the bishop of the Parramatta diocese and chairman of the Bishops Committee for Liturgy in Australia. According to the diocesan newspaper Catholic Outlook of June 2004 he is a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The series reveals decisions of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference awaiting the recognitio of the Holy See: "The Australian Bishops have determined that the fitting gesture of reverence used throughout Australia is to be a bow." (February 2004) It is not clear if this is a "head bow" as the USA has, or a bow of the body.

"The posture during the Eucharistic Prayer will be kneeling from the end of the "Sanctus" or "Holy, Holy, Holy" through to the proclamation of the Great Amen. The norm of kneeling during this very central part of the Mass, and again after the "Agnus Dei" or "Lamb of God", is another example of one of the special adaptations for the Dioceses of Australia." (November 2003)

I have not been able to find recent articles on the internet. But I have read them from the printed edition of Catholic Outlook:

Part 5, March 2004, page 3
Part 6, April 2004, page 4 and 6
Part 7, May 2004, page 4

The articles highlight how confused liturgical law has become since the publication of the Roman Missal in April 2002.

Bishop Manning wrote in the first article (October 2003): "There will be changes, but there will be no changes until the Instruction is formally promulgated and the Bishops of Australia decide on the date for the implementation of the General Instruction throughout Australia."

Perhaps he has a change of heart in the February 2004 article: "In Australia we are still awaiting the Holy See's approval of the English translation of the General Instruction, which will be fully implemented when we have the translation of the new Missal."

But he wrote in the November 2003 article were: "No longer are people to sit or stand during the Eucharistic Prayer once the new General Instruction comes into force."

The unfortunate message this gives is that now it is OK for people to sit during the Eucharistic Prayer. No liturgical book directs this. No decision has been made by the Australian Conference of Bishops for this. It is clearly a liturgical abuse. Yet Bishop Manning seems to allow it on the grounds that there is not yet an approved translation of the 2002 GIRM in Australia.

He began this article with "These are not to be implemented, of course, until the English translation and the Holy See has approved the Australian adaptations."

So he was saying "not yet" for this change:

"When the Gifts have been brought forward in procession and prepared at the Altar, the priest addresses the faithful saying: "Pray my brothers and sisters that our sacrifice ..." The people respond: "May the Lord accept ..." The practice up until now has been to stand after these two exchanges. The new General Instruction calls for the congregation to stand at the priest's invitation. It is interesting to note that nowhere else in the Mass do the celebrant and the people engage in a kind of dialogue of prayer from a sitting position. The new practice of standing for this dialogue between the priest and the people can be seen to better express the act of participation of the people in the offering of the gift."

I believe we should have made the change in March 2002, when the Roman Missal was published in Latin. According to the Code of Canon Law, canon 846: "The liturgical books, approved by the competent authority, are to be faithfully followed in the celebration of the sacraments."

The 2002 Roman Missal can be used today to celebrate Mass in Latin. Its rubrics should be followed when doing so. People should not be standing at different times when Mass is in English.

Obviously changes made by the Australian bishops should not be introduced until the recognitio is received from the Vatican. But changes made in the 2002 Roman Missal should not be delayed until there is approval of an English translation.

Canon 249 directs that seminarians should be "well versed in Latin". So priests should be able to understand the changes and implement them.

The Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum made changes. For example in the USA the instructions changed from consecrate the wine in one chalice (then distribute to other chalices) to consecrate in chalices. This was implemented immediately. More than two years after publication, why have the changes in the 2002 Roman Missal not been implemented?

In writing about the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum Bishop Manning is quite detailed. But he makes no mention of the Communion-plate. I think the instruction about it is important:

'[93.] The Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful should be retained, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling."

By J.R. Lilburne, 17 June, 2004. Link updated 13 July 2004. Typo correction made 14 August 2004. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain.

Other sites:


Bishop's Letters

Part 1 October 2003 Scroll down below Rosary article

Part 2 November 2003

Part 3 December 2003

Part 4 February 2004

Kneeling for Communion - answer to a question

June 2004 Redemptionis Sacramentum