A “Young” Priest’s View

Clerical Whispers reprints the article “A ‘Young” Priest’s View” by Paul Dempsey from the current issue of the Furrow. The entire post is worth reading. We reprint here two exceprts likely to be of interested to Pray Tell readers – on the revised translation and the celebration of the sacraments.   -Ed.

Revised Liturgy:  The introduction of the revised liturgy, we are told, is imminent.

This is a significant decision that will influence the way every priest and faithful parishioner (many who are clinging on by their fingertips) will celebrate the liturgy.

Personally I am somewhat embarrassed that I will have to explain to educated, faith filled people that they have uttered the incorrect responses at mass over the past forty years.

Further to this no priest or parishioner I know has been asked or consulted about these impending changes.

Does anyone with responsibility in this area of Church life want to listen to what many ordinary people and priests might have to contribute to this “discussion” around the liturgy?

Further to this are those leading the way in this process really serious when they tell us this is going to contribute to a great renewal in the Church?

I just find this a staggering claim in the context we find ourselves in the Irish Church engulfed by so many serious problems.


Sacraments: This is a huge area that deserves an article of its own.

Many ministering in parishes are worried about how we are celebrating the sacraments.  We seem to follow the same pattern every year.

Archbishop Martin in his address on The Future of the Catholic Church in Ireland (10th May, 2010), outlined that sacraments are more than something you automatically receive when you reach a certain class in school.

I agree wholeheartedly with the Archbishop, but I would go further and ask; what are we doing about it?

If we take Confirmation for example, we continue to celebrate this sacrament in the exact same way as we have done for decades, totally ignoring the fact that our cultural context has changed and changed utterly.

When a pupil comes to 5th or 6th class they are automatically in “Confirmation Class.”

Could I ask why we are still doing this in a more or less identical fashion as fifty or more years ago even though we are at a totally different place as Church?

Is it not time to reflect seriously on this?

Can someone with influence and leadership, such as an archbishop, listen to this, and at least start a real discussion around new possibilities in this area?



  1. Three comments, the first on consultation, I would have to ask the young priest about pastoral councils and consultation on the parish level in Ireland, and who really wields the “power” in the parish. I ask that seriously as I really don’t know. Are the laity taken seriously on the parish level by the local priests?
    Does the young priest think the laity will be disillusioned that the 1973 translation got it wrong in so many places but it was foisted on them in the most dogmatic way and with little or no advance catechesis? Can the laity today understand that the new translation has flaws too, but that there is plenty of time for catechesis and mature acceptance of the flaws that are present? Are the Irish laity so immature as to pout about other flaws in their lives including the Liturgy?
    Finally, does the young priest suggest that the Irish clergy should alienate parents already on the fence by refusing to baptize, confirm and offer First Penance and Holy Communion to their children when other children and parents are judged ready? Just how infallible and selective will the local clergy be in picking and choosing those worthy of the sacraments and is there no room for God’s grace to work in the sacraments even “ex opere operato” for those deemed unworthy to celebrate these sacraments?

    1. “Are the Irish laity so immature as to pout about other flaws in their lives including the Liturgy?”

      Is the abuse crisis one of those flaws they’re “pouting” about? You miss the silence don’t you Father- when nobody stood up for themselves and defended their dignity. Ah the good old days. That’s what the new missal is about- We understand that Father. Don’t be angry- we understand completely. We don’t agree with the good old days- but we understand what’s going on.

  2. +JMJ+

    Personally I am somewhat embarrassed that I will have to explain to educated, faith filled people that they have uttered the incorrect responses at mass over the past forty years.

    Are we to tell priests they’ve been praying the wrong prayers for 40 years? This sounds like an argument to not retranslate at all. And if a priest can accept a retranslation, why can’t the laity?

  3. The difference between the 1973 texts and the proposed new ones is that the 1973 texts are themselves catechetically effective, and have brought a deeper understanding of the Eucharist to most Catholics.

    1. Good gravy! How can you honestly say that the 1973 texts are catechetically effective, especially of the Eucharist? The 1967 ICEL translation of the unde et memores completely destroyed any reference to the essential meaning of the Eucharist. The trifold adoration of the Victim, hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam” became “this holy and perfect sacrifice” .

      Yes, the Mass is the Sacrifice. Moreover it is after the Consecration that we are faced with the awesome reality of the Victim, the He who Is before Is, the Sovereign of the Universe, sacrificed on the altar and now constrained within the boundaries of time and space for our salvation. I cannot believe that this “translation” was nothing other than a deliberate obfuscation of one profound truth of Holy Mass. Why would translators hide this most wonderful aspect of the liturgy? Simply boggles my mind.

  4. I think the real issue here is the state of the Irish Catholic Church and the crisis of authority. Surely it is that to which this young priest is responding. What he learned in seminary over 13 years ago, or what happened when the 1973 translation was issued, is quite secondary.

  5. Would agree but please read the complete interview and comments. 13 years ordained and he also focuses on some significant questions and issues in terms of the mission of the church and ministry – his quotes from Karl Rahner at VII highlight a tension he sees between the internal needs of the church and the external mission of the church…..he appears to question the constant inward looking of many, esp. leadership of the church when the call of Jesus was radical and directed outwards and forward?
    Yes, the Irish Church has deep challenges but he seemed to place things like the MR3/translation in a much larger context and questionned whether this is the time or place for such implementations….he seems to suggest that it is putting the cart before the horse in terms of addressing Irish society, Irish church, church leadership. the sex abuse trauma that is still on-going.

Leave a Reply

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