See earlier posts: part one and part two and part three and part four.

Holy See Confirms English Third Edition of the Roman Missal” the headline reads in the issue which just arrived of the US Committee on Divine Worship Newsletter. This is old news – we all read this some time ago. Cardinal Caňizres, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, signed the decree on March 26, 2010 approving the entire missal, and wrote in the accompanying letter that the official text, after final editing, would appear “in short order.” (I think we’ve already missed that). On April 28th, members of the Vox Clara Committee hosted a luncheon with the Holy Father to celebrate the occasion. The Holy Father was presented with an elegant bound copy, what has become known as the “presentation text” or “presentation version.”

There are a few photocopies of this “presentation text” floating around. There is much speculation on how much “final editing” of this text will take place, since this text introduces over 10,000 changes, not all of them improvements to say the least, to the text prepared by ICEL (working with the national conferences) and then given to the conferences for their submission to Rome. And this does not count the fiddling around with the text of the Order of Mass which received the recognitio in 2008. (This is a novel canonical situation, as far as I know – can Church officials alter a text to which they’ve already given recognitio? Apparently they can now.)

The Newsletter reports that the final copy is expected from the Congregation before the end of the summer. And then the implementation will proceed as planned.

Another papal meeting, another press release, the usual formalities – no big deal, you say. But what is not said, and how the things that are said are said, is the real story here. The Pope, the members of Vox Clara, the officials of the Congregation – anyone you know missing from this happy picture? ICEL, for example? Helloooo?

Over the years I recall seeing posted in the monastery every so often a photo of Fr. Godfrey Diekmann with the Holy Father – another meeting of ICEL in Rome. But this time, nobody invited ICEL. Don’t you find that strange? The bishops’ conferences, and ICEL, which is the bishops’ inter-conference translation commission, have spent years and years working on this translation. Vox Clara’s role, we were told, was merely to advise the Congregation as it reviewed and approved texts. But now, Vox Clara hosts the festivities, Vox Clara celebrates with the Pope, and ICEL is shut out. Do you suppose the slight was unintentional? Yeah, right.

The Pope thanks Vox Clara for their work over the last eight years – “This has been a truly collegial enterprise.” The Pope continues, “you have been assiduous in drawing together contributions from Bishops’ Conferences in English-speaking territories all over the world.” Now that is interesting wording: Vox Clara coordinates the conferences! The Pope welcomes the news that the missal will soon be published, “so that the texts you have worked so hard to prepare may be proclaimed…” Vox Clara prepares texts now?? The Pope wants them all to know how much he appreciates “the great collaborative endeavor to which you have contributed.” Collegial, collaborative – how nice.

Now we hear a rumor from a reliable source – not yet confirmed but we’re working on it – of a meeting in Rome in October, and this time ICEL will be invited. To be told that they’re being restructured? Or, in the version we heard, to be told that they no longer exist? I expect more news to emerge in the next few days. Stay tuned.