In a move especially significant for English-speaking Catholics around the world, Pope Benedict XVI named U.S. Dominican Father J. Augustine DiNoia an archbishop and secretary of the Vatican's liturgy office, known as the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
In his position, Archbishop-designate DiNoia, 65, will have a direct role in the final stages of approval of a new English translation of the Roman Missal, or the Mass prayers, which aims to provide a more faithful rendering of the Latin-language text. In addition to liturgical texts, the congregation oversees norms for liturgical celebrations around the world.
Archbishop-designate DiNoia has served as undersecretary -- the No. 3 official -- of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2002. For his first three years at the congregation, his superior was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, elected pope in 2005.
Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Divine Worship, welcomed the appointment and said the new secretary's experience in serving the Church both in the United States and at the Vatican "more than adequately prepares him for his new work."
His expertise also will help in the months ahead as the Church prepares to implement the the new Roman Missal, Bishop Serratelli said.
At a meeting last month, the U.S. bishops were unable to find enough votes to approve remaining sections of the missal and will have to turn to mail-in ballots from the country's active bishops. Once the texts are approved, the Vatican congregation where Archbishop-designate DiNoia will become secretary must give recognitio, or confirmation, of the final translation as well.
A "titular" archbishop?
Archbishop-designate DiNoia will be the first "titular archbishop" of Oregon City, Ore, an archdiocese that no longer exists. Honorary titles to such former dioceses and archdioceses are given to bishops if they are not in charge of a diocese -- such as auxiliary bishops and most bishops in Vatican service.
Most titular sees are in ancient cities of the Middle East and northern Africa.
Father DiNoia told Catholic News Service that Oregon City is the oldest metropolitan see in the United States after Baltimore, the first U.S. archdiocese. Oregon City became an archdiocese in 1846, but the archdiocese was transferred to Portland in 1928. Oregon City became a titular archdiocese in 1996, but no archbishop had been assigned the title until now.
Why a doctrinal theologian in the liturgy office?
It's no coincidence that Pope Benedict XVI has moved a theologian from the Vatican's doctrinal office to the liturgy office (whose top official, Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, was a leading member of the doctrinal congregation).
For the pope, good liturgy is more than pleasing aesthetics -- it is an expression of Catholicism's fundamental truths, starting with the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
The pope recently noted that our focus on these beliefs can be derailed by distractions, or worse. During a Mass for the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, he said: "Today we run the risk of secularization creeping into the Church, too. It can be translated into formal and empty Eucharistic worship, into celebrations lacking that heartfelt participation that is expressed in veneration and in respect for the liturgy. The temptation to reduce prayer to superficial, hasty moments, letting ourselves be overpowered by earthly activities and concerns, is always strong."
Good liturgy makes a difference for the life of faith. After all, the Second Vatican Council called the Eucharistic liturgy "the source and summit" of Christian life.
When New York City native Father DiNoia was called to the Vatican, he was serving as director of the Intercultural Forum for Studies in Faith and Culture, a Catholic think tank at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C.
Prior to the center's opening, he served for eight years as the executive director of the Secretariat for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices at the U.S. bishops' conference in Washington. In that position, and especially as a member of the papally appointed International Theological Commission from 1997 to 2002, he already had worked with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- now Pope Benedict XVI -- before moving to the Vatican.
Archbishop-designate DiNoia has taught theology at the Dominican House of Studies and at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Washington and at St. Joseph's Seminary in Dunwoodie, N.Y.
He served as editor in chief of The Thomist, a quarterly journal of philosophical and theological studies. In addition to writing numerous articles, essays and lectures, he is the author of a 1992 book, "The Diversity of Religions: A Christian Perspective," and a co-author of the 1996 study, "The Love That Never Ends: A Key to the 'Catechism of the Catholic Church.'"
Born July 10, 1943, he was ordained a priest June 4, 1970, after studies at Cardinal Hayes High School in New York, Providence College in Rhode Island, and the Dominican House of Studies.
He has a master's degree in philosophy and several theology degrees, including a doctorate from Yale University in 1980.
When: July 11
Where: Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Who: presider will be U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation
"My understanding was that the pope was looking for someone with a broad theological background. "
-- Archbishop-designate DiNoia, shortly after his appointment was announced.
"I think the liturgy should give us a sense of the heavenly liturgy; it's about God, not us."
-- Archbishop-designate DiNoia, shortly after his new appointment was made public.
"He always showed himself a fine scholar dedicated to the pursuit of truth and a generous co-worker available to friends and colleagues."
-- Chicago Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. bishop's conference, noting that Archbishop-designate Di Noia headed the U.S. bishops' doctrinal office for eight years starting in 1993.
"When he is on, he is one of the finest teachers of the Catholic faith that one would ever want to meet. ... As a preacher, a teacher of the faith, he is almost without parallel."
-- Dominican Father Brian Mulcahy, vicar of the New York-based province to which Archbishop-designate DiNoia belongs.