Richard McBrien on the New Missal

Here is Fr. Richard McBrien at the NCReporter on the impending new-translated English missal and Fr. Ryan’s proposal to wait before implementing it. You’ll never guess what side McBrien is on.



  1. In Pray Tells’ “comments on comments” post, there was a lament that liberal rantings were not commenting on the blog like repeated “conservative” rantings. Fr. McBrien and those in the more progressive and yes, waning wing of the Church are the reasons for the decline and perhaps fall of liberalism in the Church. I don’t want to count them out yet. The re-translated Mass in on the way, like it or not, and it is way past time to be dragging feet. This is English and our people properly led and catechized will adapt to it. It’s not like reverting to Latin exclusively, although my parish is belting out their Latin (greetings, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) with little complaining–due to catechesis. We’re into Latin until the new English.

  2. Thanks to a prior post on Pray Tell, I was able to listen to all of Archbishop Coleridge’s remarks about the new translation. He made a clear and pertinent point in his talk – this is not a New Missal (though both the title of this post and the article suggest it is). Rather, it is a new translation of THE Missal. In all charity, I’d like to wonder if a blog such as Pray Tell, which, I believe, has the potential to reach a lot of people, could do much more good by being careful about the title of its posts. It just may be that little things like this will make or break the way the new translation is received in our country.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Mark. Oh, the travails of an editor! In a headline we go for brevity to get people’s attention, and also how many words will fit on one line. But I have re-worded the post itself to be more accurate.

  3. Technically speaking, of course, it is a new Missal ─ the 3rd edition of the postconciliar Missale Romanum, which has significant differences from the 1st and 2nd editions. And, to make life even more complicated, the third reprint of this 3rd Latin edition has made yet more changes.

    I think that, whether we like it or not, people are going to perceive this as a new Missal, not only because that is how it is described in the common shorthand but also because the completely different philosophical basis for the style of translation will make it sound like a new Missal.

    1. And Paul if they don’t get the darn thing published and soon, my old missal, which is really, really old, is going to fall apart! It fact it is falling apart. My parish needs a new missal and quick! Although I do have the 2002 Typical Edition in Latin in my Sacristy and quite a handsome new missal at that, but now you’re saying that even that is old! Yikes.

  4. Why are people like McBrien purposely trying to sour people to the new translation and encouraging dissent againts lawful Church authority?

    1. Oh come on, Fr. Costigan, surely you know why by now. You’re not new to this discussion.
      “Dissent” is about doctrine or dogma, I think, not policy which this is, so I think your use of that term is heavyhanded here.

      1. I would consider “dissent” as applicable both to challenges to the munus regendi as well as the munus docendi.

    2. Because with each step forward the church takes, the further it moves from the influence of those who won’t move forward with it. When you can no longer command respect, you turn to fanning discord o disrupt those who have taken it away from you.

      As for the lack of liberal ranters as compared to conservative ranters….just ask why conservative talk radio has audiences in the tens of millions while so-called “liberal” talk radio projects all eventually fail when they are unable to attract even a large enough audience to keep advertisers. It’s not that there are necessarily more conservatives, although I think there are….it’s just that conservatives enjoy engaging in debate and conversation in greater numbers than their liberal…

  5. “Dissent” is about doctrine or dogma, I think, not policy which this is, so I think your use of that term is heavyhanded here.

    Yes, and Fr. McBrien has spoken out in opposition to issues of doctrine and dogma as well. I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to call Fr. McBrien a dissenter. It seems he would likely wear that label proudly.

  6. Could someone clarify for me which doctrines and dogmas that my esteemed colleague Fr McBrien has dissented from? Further, is Fr McBrien a Roman Catholic priest and Roman Catholic theologian in good standing or not? Anyone may certainly disagree with him but I am not sure where this is going viz his comments on the Missal translation.



  7. My problem with his article is not debating the translation on it’s merits. It is the next step that he, Ryan, and others are looking for. We all know this translation will be implemented in the next 24 months. But some people seem to really be hoping that is causes problems–instead of working to properly implement it. That attitude is found in lines like this, “If the bishops have nearly given up, what about the priests? Does obedience to the bishops mean that priests must be complicit in something they are convinced is pastorally wrongheaded?” He assumes that all priests think this is a bad idea and then encourages and who disagree to openly act against a legitimate exercise of Church authority.

    1. Such is the nature of dissent. The opposition to _Humanae Vitae_ did not suddenly appear when Paul VI promulgated the encyclical. Opposition to the Church’s teaching on artificial birth control developed long before the encyclical crisis point. I don’t think the translation war is any different.

      1. Of course they’re very different. One is a moral teaching, the other is a liturgical practice. What about the “hierarchy of truths”? You’re painting with a very wide brush.

      2. Of course they’re very different. One is a moral teaching, the other is a liturgical practice., That’s true, Fr. A., but it does raise some interesting considerations about the nature of the faith and its transmission. The West has tended to lose sight of the concept of the faith as an organic tradition, at the heart of which is liturgical practice, the ordinary means of our conscious encounter with God. It too readily substitutes a legalistic approach, emphasising law at the expense of that which is received and practiced. This has been a failing of much conservative and liberal discourse since the Council, but I believe it has its roots in an unhealthy dualism that has plagued Western thought and practice for far longer.

  8. The new translation may be clunky in places but it is a more accurate a translation of the original.
    According to Cardinal Roger Mahony the issue does go to theology. He writes:

    “Since the 1974 version was translated in haste, there were many errors in the translation which rendered the Missal inaccurate in many places.

    The Archdiocese of Los Angeles just completed a series of Workshops for all of our priests to inform them about the coming new Missal, reasons for changes, and a good grounding in the efforts taken to produce a Missal which is more theologically correct.”
    “Comnig New Roman Missal” 6 February 2010

  9. As I reread Fr. McBrien’s article, he’s basically quoting Msgr. Ryan. Fr. McBrien boarders on asking priests to disobey their bishops when it comes to implementing the new translation, but I don’t think he actually crosses the line. I continue to see both Msgr. Ryan and Fr. McBrien as more of the same “nit-pic” and stall tactics as it concerns Church authority. In this regard they are very, very, 1968ish! And we wonder why there is a decline in progressive rants? They are all in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s now, at least the ones living. 🙂

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