Can someone please tell me why the American GIRM and the Australian GIRM are different?

I came across this website whilst searching for an online daily gospel site.

It says …

The version of the General Instruction on the USCCB web site includes these adaptations, which are not applicable to Australia, within the body of the Instruction. Care needs to be taken when using the USA version because it is different from the one being prepared by the Australian Bishops.

The version of the General Instruction approved at the November 2002 meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference is still awaiting confirmation by Rome. When that is received, the Australian Bishops will establish a timetable for its implementation. Then each Bishop will implement it in his own diocese.

It is unwise and confusing for parishes to presume what the outcome will be and to implement changes ahead of the completion of the approval process for an Australian version of the General Instruction.

[FONT=Arial]Anyone have any idea why Australia and America would be dissimilar when it comes to the celebration of Mass?[/FONT]


perhaps becuase the US verision has customs in it that are approved by ROMe for use in the US and no where else?
or Perhaps you guys are coming out with a better version?:slight_smile:



The document itself gives competence for some specification to the Ordinary, and for other specification to the governing Episcopal Conference. (If you don’t mind reading the US English: Chapter IX Adaptations Within the Competence of Bishops and Bishops’ Conferences) The US and Australia are governed by their own conferences, hence they may adapt the document differently.

More perplexing, perhaps, is why the Apostolic See (which needs approve any adaptations) might approve things differently in different places. An example being the (NRSV?) lectionary that was approved for use in Canada some years ago, but then denied to the US and other English speaking areas. The only answer I can speculate is that experience and hindsight allows them to recognize when an approval has been made hastily.

(If I understand the Canadian lectionary example correctly, approval has even been withdrawn there, but the territory is also granted limited continued use to provide time to produce new books and to do so without incurring undue cost or burden)



thinking about this some more…you know things woudl be so much easier if we all just followed the GIRM that the POPE uses when he gives Mass;)

That way I could travel from the States to Europe to Africa etc. and ALL the Masses and Customs etc. would be exactly the SAME…

But then this is just my humble opinion and does not hold any weight with anybody;)


Being too young and ill-travelled at the time, I wonder: Were there regional variations in the Liturgy prior to Vatican II?

For instance, one of the current “adaptable” instructions regards posture (#43). The “vanilla” GIRM indicates that the faithful are to kneel (if physically possible) at the consecration, but where it is the custom to kneel from the *Sanctus *to the end of the Eucharistic Prayer and from the *Agnus Dei *until Communion, the practice is laudably retained.

What period of time establishes this custom? 30+ years since the council? Was this not the universal custom prior to Vatican II? Are there places today where this is not (or: is no longer) the custom? I really don’t know.



yes there are many places where this is not the Custom any longer…:frowning: I have been to many CHurchs in NJ/MT/WA that this is no longer practiced…


Then how about Asia? I’ve been thinking about it for couple of days. Is there any GIRM to be used in Asia?


“Asia” is a large and diverse place – But since there are Catholics who are able to celebrate the liturgy in many of those places, surely there are GIRMs produced by one or more Episcopal Conferences and approved by the Apostolic See.



Are those places where the Ordinary has declared there shall be be kneeling only at the consecration (as specified vanilla)? Or are they individual spaces where it is “physically impossible”* to kneel at all due to the lack of kneelers? I would be interested to learn of it.

(* Yes, I know – *I *can kneel on a bare floor with little problem, but I am sympathetic to those who are unable to do so)

I *told *you I was ill-travelled,


the places I have visited have no kneeling period at any point or time in the Mass …and not for a lack of kneelers


I agree with you Karin.

And the sad thing is, I have always thought that a Catholic Mass is the same all over the world.

Obviously it isn’t. I wonder what adaptations need to be made for Australia, or what the Australian bishops find wrong with the USA GIRM.

We adopt so many Amercian ways.

Mass should be Mass.


Yes, but should the Mass unduly impose one culture upon another? Adaptation is provided for precisely because Catholics are not the same all over the world. As, perhaps, a more forgiveable example: Another gesture that is within the competence of the Episcopal Conference is the gesture of peace. In the US (and Australia?) a handshake is sensible, but in Japan (I am told) bowing to one’s neighbors, as is common in that culture, is the norm.



I’m reluctant to pass judgment upon a bishop, but my reading does not place such a decision within his competence? The Diocesan Bishop can establish norms for the constuction and ordering of churches (#387, 291), but the gesture of kneeling is the purview of the Episcopal Conference (#388, 390, 43). (Competence is explicitly granted to the US Diocesan Bishop in #43 regarding kneeling from the *Agnus Dei *until Communion, but I don’t think that phrase can apply to the previous sentence, governing kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer?)

And of course, I could be wrong about any of this


I also remember being told that, but evidently there is a difference between a common ritual form ( “the same all over the world”) and doing everything precisely the same everywhere. There have always been regional variations, from long before the Vatican ever regulated the Mass until the present day.

The usage for the USA was standardized at the first Council of Baltimore 1852AD, item #4:

The Baltimore “Ceremonial” is to be used all through the country.

The statement implies that there are other possible ceremonials. Presumably, the Baltimore ceremonial was heavily influenced by the original English Catholic usage in Maryland (which may have had more to do with York or London, than Paris, Toledo or Brussels).

The same Council also dictated in item #3 that only the Roman Ritual was permitted (this was reiterated in later councils as well), which is why there was so much conflict generations ago as Eastern Catholics arrived and were forbidden to worship in their customary fashion.

There has been a tendency to encourage local synods once again in the form of bishops conferences since the reign of Pope Benedict XV as expressed in the 1917 Code of Canons. This is more in keeping with the traditional ecclesiology of the church, pre-Trent.

I wonder when the very first GIRM was issued, does anyone know?


What are particularly “English” ways in the Baltimore ceremonial? I have only had the opportunity to look at the second part (for parish priests) but I’ve heard that the first part is the translation of the highly praised (Italian) manual by Baldeschi.

I would have to check up on it but I think that the Baltimore ceremonial tried to conform as closely to the Roman liturgical books. The second part is a little like the Memoriale (but expanded), it was designed with the mission status of the USA in mind so as to provide a standard reference for the priests. As such, it collated the liturgical material from the various books, manuals (including instructions from the SCR) and later, adaptations for the USA, strictures against popular infringements, etc. Interestingly, the first editions silently reflected the wish of Carroll, for the promotion of the vernacular with vernacular hymns after Mass, at Benediction, Vespers etc. while the later ones, particularly after the Third Plenary Council, insist on the sole use of Latin.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit