VATICAN CITY, MARCH 22, 2002 ( The third edition of the Roman Missal in Latin is not simply the reprinting of an enlarged edition, but an "editio typica," an official, updated edition for the eucharistic celebration.

The result of 10 years of work by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, it serves as a basis for translation into various languages, a task entrusted to bishops´ conferences with the approval of the Holy See.

When the missal was presented to the media today, Father Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican Press Office, called the work a decisive volume for the Church becauses the "liturgy and the Eucharist [are] the apex of the relation between believers and God."

The most important novelties of the new edition include the introduction of several saints in the universal calendar, as well as rituals for votive Masses in honor of the Virgin Mary, said officials of the Congregation for Divine Worship noted when they presented the missal.

In addition, the appendixes include Eucharistic Prayers approved for reconciliation Masses, for Masses offered for a variety of needs, as well as for children´s Masses.

Especially significant is the "Institutio Generalis," the theological and normative introduction, which provides for the extension "of the possibilities to distribute Holy Communion under both species, according to the pastoral judgment of the diocesan bishop," according to the Vatican congregation.

Cardinal Arturo Medina Estévez, prefect of the congregation, explained that the new normative for Communion, which is "more simplified, takes into consideration the rather wide faculties granted after the second ´editio typica´ of the Missal, the historical precedents, and the generalized use of Eastern rites."

The cardinal explained that the "new normative is a notable extension of what had been established to date, namely, that it is the competence of the diocesan bishop to issue norms for his diocese on the distribution of Communion under both species."

"This is a primary competence of the bishop, as established by law; therefore, it is not subject to the previous authorization of the conference of bishops," the cardinal continued. He cited Canon 381, Paragraph 1.

"In addition," he said, "the diocesan bishop may confer the faculty to each priest, in his capacity as pastor of a particular community, to judge the opportunity to distribute Communion under both species, with the exception of specific cases where it is recommended."

Regarding the general "Calendarium Romanum," three obligatory memorials have been added for saints Maximilian Maria Kolbe (Aug. 14); Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and their companion martyrs of Korea (Sept. 20); and Andrew Dung-Lac and his companion martyrs of Vietnam (Nov. 24).

In addition, the missal includes 11 new celebrations: the Most Holy Name of Jesus on Jan. 3; St. Giuseppina Bakhita (former Sudanese slave), on Feb. 8; the Virgin of Fatima, on May 13; St. Christopher of Magallanes (Mexican martyr), on May 21; St. Rita of Cassia, on May 22; St. Augustine Zhao Rong and companions (Chinese martyrs), on July 9; St. Apollinar (bishop and martyr in the year 87), on July 20; St. Sharbel Makhluf (Lebanese priest), on July 24; St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), on Aug. 9; Most Holy Name of Mary, on Sept. 12; and St. Catherine of Alexandria (Egypt, third century), on Nov. 25.