Archbishop Wilton Gregory Elected Chair of USCCB Liturgy Committee

Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta, George was elected chair of the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship (BCDW) or the USCCB today at the conference’s fall meeting in Baltimore.

Archbishop Gregory earned a doctorate in liturgy is from Benedictine-led Sant’ Anselmo in Rome in 1980. He was USCCB president 2001-2004. He has served on numerous conference committees, including as chair of liturgy (then BCL) 1991-1993. He has published numerous articles on the subject of liturgy, particularly in the African-American community. He has nine honorary doctoral degrees.

Pray Tell reported earlier on Gregory’s statement that the newly translated English Missal of 2011 has “flaws and difficulties” and “needs correction.” When asked about the new Missal at a conference in March, 2014, Gregory said this:

Certainly the new translation is not… [pause] … without its difficulties. How’s that for being diplomatic? [laughter] I think that what we need to do with that translation, to be perfectly honest, its imposition, [correcting himself] – it’s in possession, we need to live with it for a while before we take up the task of saying, “This is not adequate to the worship needs of our church, for this reason, for that reason, for this reason,” the pastors of the church have said, “This is a difficulty, that is a difficulty, let’s look at it.” I think what we had to do was receive it, try to live with it, and come up with a much better and informed review of its flaws and difficulties. …

What we need to do now, after a period of time of living with it, come back and say, not: “We told you so!” – which I think a lot of pastors want to say – “We told you not to do that!” [laughter] – but to say, “It’s inadequate for this reason, that reason, this reason; we’ve tried it, we’ve lived with it, we think it needs correction.”

Archbishop Gregory was up against Bishop John Barres of Allentown, PA, whom he defeated 124-114. Gregory will serve as chairman-elect for one year before beginning a three-year term as BCDW chair.




  1. Given this development, it is well worth noting that in yesterday’s discussion of the publication of a “Book of the Chair” (prior to his election to this position), Archbishop Gregory just yesterday raised the question before the body of bishops of the conference doing an assessment of the quality and reception of the Roman Missal translation.

    The archbishop said yesterday: “When we agreed to submit the changes in the Missal, which is now in effect for four years, we did so I think with the understanding that there would be a time when we could examine the reception of the new translation and offer our observations on the quality of the prayers, how they’re being received, how people have found them, both the priest-presiders as well as the faithful. After four years, I think it would be helpful if our leadership could approach the Holy See and ask for some permission to conduct some type of a review of the reception, the quality. There are some wonderful things in the new translation, many wonderful things. But there are also some difficulties. There is an inconsistency between the quality of the opening prayer and the quality of the communion prayer. That kind of information would be helpful to look at improving, adjusting, amending the text. And after four years, I think it’s time, an appropriate amount of time, to offer those observations before we continue to produce texts that may also exhibit the same kind of difficulties.”

    It’s fair to say that Archbishop Serratelli’s response to the suggestion was less than encouraging.

    The conversation can be found here:
    Skip ahead to 1:52:20 for the whole Book of the Chair discussion, and to 1:57:42 for Archbishop Gregory’s comment.

  2. My thinking is we need about 20 years with the current translation, since we had to have so many years with the previous one.

    1. @Chip Stalter:
      Ye gods! I don’t think I can live with 20 years of this awful thing. If I were king of the liturgical world, my compromise position would be the following: a) leave the people’s parts alone; they’re clumsy, but not awful. b) change the presiders parts to the 1998 previously approved version. and c) restore the Christ has died etc. memorial acclamation.

  3. I had the opportunity to attend the (re-)consecration of a church, Madonna della Strada chapel at Loyola Chicago’s Lake Shore Campus, sometime in the 1980s, when Gregory was an auxiliary bishop of Chicago. His celebratory style was just that – celebratory. A wonderful presider.

    Above and beyond the possibility of more translation items, I wonder what will be on his agenda in this new post?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *