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New Eucharist rules set for April publication

The Vatican will publish strict new norms on the Eucharist next month, permanently changing the way Mass is celebrated throughout the world.

London's Catholic Herald reports that Pope John Paul II has authorised the publication of the norms on Holy Thursday - 8 April - a year after his landmark encyclical on the Eucharist.

The final draft of the document, which is now being translated from Latin, will be a carefully edited version of the draft text leaked last September.

The draft, which discouraged the reception of communion in both kinds and limited the role of altar girls, provoked an angry reaction from bishops in the English-speaking world.

After intensive episcopal lobbying, the Vatican is understood to have simplified the document and moderated some of the more controversial proscriptions.

The Catholic Herald reports that a source close to the Vatican said the document is part of a drive to "solemnise" the celebration of Mass and to counter a perceived lack of reverence for the Eucharist among Catholics.

It is also likely to challenge the view that the Second Vatican Council gave local bishops the authority to adapt the liturgy. It will also emphasise that Rome must guarantee the universality of the Mass.

New rules on the Eucharist (Catholic Herald 10/3/04)

Sweet sacrament divine (The Tablet 11/10/03)
Bishops promote reverence for Eucharist (CathNews 28/5/03)
Australian bishops welcome Papal Encyclical on Eucharist (CathNews 22/4/03)
Encyclical Letter Ecclesia de Eucharistia of His Holiness Pope John Paul II (full text, Vatican website)

'Vox Clara' begins studying proposed translation of Order of the Mass (Catholic News Service 12/3/04)
New Vatican effort to promote liturgical chant (Catholic World News 12/3/04)

16 Mar 2004