Moral Theology and Using the New Translation

Moral Theology and Using the New Tranlsation

by Ligouri

As we prepare to use the new Missal for the first time next Sunday, Pray Tell and other fora are carrying eloquent statements about the need to grieve for what we are losing.

Such talk is understandable, but it seems to me to have some false implications. The normal context of grief-talk, of the move through denial, anger, depression and bargaining to acceptance, is when death or disaster cut across us in ways that we cannot do anything about. Our present situation is not quite like that.

There are points of likeness that sustain the comparison with the suppression of the 1973 Sacramentary, to be sure. We cannot now alter the fact that our official liturgical texts will be different. But it is not the case that we Catholics on the ground, priests and people, are powerless in the face of this reality. We remain, to a limited extent, agents. To the extent that we make a choice to “obey” misguided authority, then, prima facie, we are complicit, and are at least materially co-operating with this misguidedness.

That statement is of course far too rigorist; it needs immediately to be qualified and supplemented. Priests in particular will need to avoid scandalizing and disturbing members of their congregations who are accepting the changes in good faith. If decent people are following the new texts in hand missals, then generally priests will need to judge in favor of not further compounding the confusion. There are questions, too, of protecting immediate ecclesiastical superiors—who may themselves be uneasy about the new texts—from being placed in impossible situations. Double-effect reasoning, even proportionalism, will need to be deployed when we suspect that the temple police are watching. In practice, such considerations will probably demand outward conformity of priests, just as they are determining the decision to submit this post under a pseudonym.

Nevertheless, we still have choices. To the extent that it can be done without scandal, presiders can and should correct the excesses of Vox Clara 2010, perhaps drawing on the 1973 or 1998 formulations. And people in the pews aware of what is happening can, it seems to me, gently and without disruption whisper the old responses and prayers (just as many now say “for us and for our salvation,”) or alternatively keep silent. Perhaps it would be more honest just not to show up, and to pray at home or elsewhere—but perhaps too it’s important that we not overreact to the moral failures of our hierarchy by letting these failures provoke us into absenting ourselves from the Church of our baptism. Such integrity from the ordinary members of the Church amid authority’s failures has noble precedent.

Of its nature, the casuistry here is obviously difficult. The point of this post is not to argue for particular conclusions, but rather to insist that this casuistry can happen, should happen. In Kubler-Ross’s terms, the terminus of our grief-process is not, as in the case of death, acceptance of an inevitable reality over which we have no final control, but rather the fourth of her stages, bargaining. We cannot prevent the abuse of authority and many of its effects on our liturgical life, but we can at least maintain our integrity by seeking for and striking feasible compromises, as creatively and non-violently as possible. A Catholic belief in authority does not license our abdicating our own responsibility. To the extent that our consciences tell us that the new text is misguided, the acceptance of this new text can be justified only as the prudential application of principles to difficult cases. Compliance with these new directives is, at best, the least bad option in a most unsatisfactory situation.

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100 comments

  1. Circumspection is certainly called for in responding to this post. This is not Austria where the We Are Church movement has prepared a great many priests and people to entertain acts that are viewed as either prophetic or dissident. A few years ago, a movement known as Voice of the Faithful was birthed in the wake of the sex abuse scandal and coverup in Boston. While it has had some zealous members it seems to have mostly failed to galvanize rank and file Catholics who have serious reservations about some of the structures of the church. Most of them either just go away or they learn how to put up with things over which they seem to have no control.

    Now comes this juncture of the new translation which has both strong supporters and strong critics. Our authoritarian structure is geared for full compliance. But it is obvious from this forum and others like it that there are many for whom full compliance does not seem to be an option. I have examined the texts with the greatest of care and have made valiant efforts to wrap both my mouth and my soul around them. Those efforts are not going well. I know I must pray with and for the Church, but praying goes way beyond the mere enunciation of words–even words that are said to reflect more accurately our catholic and apostolic faith. I have learned over nearly 40 years how to pray the Mass and how to lead the faithful in that greatest of all prayers. If this new translation were in fact clearly superior to the one it is meant to replace, that would be one thing. But I cannot make that affirmation. I just turned 70. I’m reminded of the senior priests who in the 60’s were totally perplexed by the “new Mass”. I don’t remember what they did, but there was talk of formal but not wholehearted compliance. All I know is that I plan to celebrate the Masses this weekend. I can only promise to do what I can actually do. I pray, O God, that you may guide and inspire your humble servant.

  2. To the extent that it can be done without scandal, presiders can and should correct the excesses of Vox Clara 2010, perhaps drawing on the 1973 or 1998 formulations.

    I would recommend considering the 2008 texts.

    Perhaps it would be more honest just not to show up, and to pray at home or elsewhere

    I would advise against skipping Mass.

    1. Something tells me a *lot* of Catholics are going to find that the welcoming Eucharist of the Episcopalians, Methodists, UCC, and our other erstwhile ecumenical partners is far preferable to subjecting ourselves to the abuse of this new “translation.” Nobody is required to put herself in danger of violence. Many of us are literally afraid for ourselves this coming weekend.

      1. Vatican II says that move to another Church carries with it eternity in Hell…I urge you to reconsider…

      2. Vatican II says you’ll go to hell if you worship at another church, says your respondent. That is the kind of brutality that sends Catholics fleeing into the arms of other churhces. Cardinal Kasper said we rejoice when Anglicans become Roman Catholics but also when Roman Catholics become Anglicans — the Spirit is moving in both directions.

      3. Well said, Joe. We can definitely rejoice for all the people who will find a better religious (or spiritual) path outside of the hierarchical power structure of this church, or outside any church altogether. I just regret that the process has to be so violent, instead of gradual as it has been. Either way, you’re right, we do know that the Spirit is always blowing. And if she blows most Catholics into Lutheranism or wherever else, that’s nothing to be trouble about. I just hope she blows down the straw house the hierarchs have build for themselves in Rome while she’s at it!

    2. I won’t be “skipping mass”. My mass doesn’t exist anymore. There’s nothing there to skip.

      When it returns, so will I.

  3. Priests should be honest about the origin of the changes, the differences of opinions about translations, and their own opinions.

    There is nothing that I resent more than religious professionals talking down to me about how I ought to think and feel as if that was the only possible reaction that I could have. I suspect a lot of laity feel the same and will resent priests who think they should either like or hate the New Missal.

    So religious professionals should be honest about their differences of opinion, and that we people in the pews will likely have a lot of differences of opinion, and especially that we might not agree with them.

    So lets get on with the implementation, give people real opportunities for feedback, and see what happens.

    Most people have worked for organizations where not everything happened the way we would have preferred. Sometimes the issues have been serious enough that we have put our jobs on the line, taken action and succeeded. At other times the issues have been serious enough that we have left organizations that we felt we could not effectively change. But a lot of times organizations just have to learn the hard way, and its best to keep a low profile while things implode, and be there to pick up the pieces. Sometimes one has won so much that it is best to say “can’t win them all.” In my several decades of professional life I have been in all these positions. I guess figuring out which applies is what wisdom, courage, patience, fortitude and prudence are about.

    1. Agree. Our education here has been quite open and honest regarding not only the product but the process. It’s been clear to our parishioners that there is a range of opinions regarding the Vox Clara 2010 product and that in the final analysis the text will speak for itself.

      In general we have prepared our assemblies to make the best of the situation without pandering and lying by omission as do so many of the popular resource pamphlets and the USCCB website.

      When parishioners ask me what I think of the VC 2010 I generally say that what I think about it does not really matter much – if it is a wonderful success I won’t be able to take any of the credit, and if it is a horrible failure I don’t have to take any of the blame.

      I have been pretty clear that the “Sacred Vernacular” theory espoused by LA and the RT is just that, a theory, and not a doctrine requiring assent of the intellect and will. Indeed I have wondered aloud that the Sacred Vernacular theory may serve to undermine the doctrinal notion of the liturgy as the source and summit of our lives. Whether a language that by design is drastically different than commonly acceptable English will help strengthen the relationship between liturgy and life remains to be seen.

      These themes have all been part of our formation and discussions in preparation for the imposition. With respect to the immediate preparation last weekend and the weekend before that there has been some humor about a few things, since if we did not find something to laugh about with this me might end up crying.

      1. if the liturgy is currently the source and summit of our lives with the current translations…why the abysmal polls when we try to figure out how many Catholics (in name only is the conclusion) even believe in the Real Presence??

    2. Last night I talked about the new missal with two fellow priests and three organizers of the community — the moral and pastoral problem was quite apparent, and will be apparent to the whole congregation, I think. There will be a backlash, and the new texts will be jettisoned soon.

  4. Thinking about why I feel as I do about the new translation, it seems to me that the translation and the way it has been implemented is a type of linguistic racism. The Latin language, the vernacular of St Jerome’s day, which has been a valuable gift to our faith, follows the Aramaic and Greek languages in our tradition, and is not otherwise privileged. To insist that the Latin forms should be the paradigm which takes such dominant precedence over today’s vernacular languages is not Christianity, but cultural imperialism.
    Jack Feehily above wrote: “I have examined the texts with the greatest of care and have made valiant efforts to wrap both my mouth and my soul around them. Those efforts are not going well.” I found the same. I did some light tailoring of the four regular Eucharistic Prayers for myself, to make them more prayerfully proclaimable, while trying to avoid causing confusion. The result can be downloaded from
    https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B8j-Wgo_U2GJZTExNzU5MTItYTczNi00MDg2LWEyYWEtZjlkNTc4NzUyNTA4&hl=en_US

      1. I’ve uploaded the tailored Eucharistic Prayers as a .docx file for MS Word 2007. (If you can only read .doc, you can get a free .docx reader from Microsoft.) On the Google docs website, it has not recognised the WordArt on the title page, and the drop-caps in the text have separated, but these are easily rectified when you download it. The PDF (see above) shows the way I wanted it.
        The link for the .docx file is
        https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B8j-Wgo_U2GJOWU0NzhkZDMtODA5My00MmMwLTg3ZTktZTQ3MTQ1YzVmMzVk&hl=en_US

    1. Pádraig McCarthy on November 23, 2011 – 5:07 am

      Please Father, consider the mens of the Church. Many traditional priests I have known through the years despised the Sacramentary but nevertheless faithfully recited all of the prayers as printed. Some would say much of the ordinary and even the Roman Canon in Latin, which was an entirely licit means to avoid much of the old translation. Even so, all the priests were faithful to the propers even though they did not care for them.

      Your decision to reword the EPs is yours alone. However, I would probably not choose to worship in your parish should the hypothetical situation arise. Please, do understand that this is not a judgement against you. I am sure you are well-meaning and a good pastor. However, the integrity of the rite is that important to me.

      Gandhi marched against the British salt tax to protest the colonizer’s exploitation of the Indian people. Martin Luther King willingly went to jail even though his imprisonment was manifestly unjust. The question of the new translation does not even approach the ethical and moral gravity of Gandhi or Martin Luther King’s nonviolent civil disobedience. All disobedience, even disobedience to an ordinary, risks penalty. Whether or not this penalty is just or not is often considered post facto. Yet, the authority of the Church would be obeyed in true civil nonviolent disobedience.

      1. Jordan:
        As you write, the decision is mine alone. I assure you, I have no desire to act in disobedience; and as you write, “the authority of the church would be obeyed in true civil nonviolent disobedience”.
        I assure you, I have considered the “mens” of the Church – but the Church is not just the Congregation in Rome. I have considered also that Liturgy is made for mankind, not mankind for the Liturgy, as Jesus said in reference to the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).
        If the translation offered by Rome makes it difficult not only for me to pray, but also difficult to help and lead a congregation in prayer, I must consider that the supreme law of the church is the salvation of souls (Canon 1752). Rather than stumble through sentences which are difficult to speak intelligibly, and even more difficult for people to listen to and absorb and pray, I must consider what is required. The Congregation failed to implement Liturgiam Authenticam 25: “So that the content of the original texts may be evident and comprehensible even to the faithful who lack any special intellectual formation, the translations should be characterized by a kind of language which is easily understandable …”
        There are so many difficulties in the texts that it would be nearly impossible to adapt suitably as I go along. The only alternative I could see was to prepare a text beforehand which would at the same time be as close to the official text as possible, without in any way changing the meaning. My hope is that any person following the official text would hardly notice the slight alterations. I do not claim it is perfect; just the best I can do at present.
        Please look at the tailored text before rejecting the possibility of any alteration whatsoever.

      2. Fr McCarthy, what you propose to do is wrong. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you what Redemptionis Sacramentum 59 says, or for that matter GIRM 24.

        Please, Father, do not change the texts as you see fit. If you think that certain of the new texts are unclear or difficult to understand, surely you ought to preach about them and teach on them, not change them.

      3. Pádraig McCarthy on November 23, 2011 – 11:56 am

        Father, I have read over your changes. Your changes to the Communicantes are more logical than the literal gerund translation in the final edition of the translation. The Communicantes is one of the most idiomatic prayers in the Roman Canon. Many translations insufficiently grasp the Latin nuance. “We celebrate” is indeed an improvement.

        What I fear is a repeat of the “personalizations” priests often superimposed over the Sacramentary. Your modifications are almost imperceptible. However, what separates your changes from the priest who gravely mutilates the new translation for ideological or personal satisfaction?

        Again, you should, indeed must, exercise your conscience. Still, the Sacramentary era has shown, quite unfortunately, that many priests will pay no mind to the integrity of liturgy. We have a chance now to start anew and pray not only at a discrete Mass, but at the eternal Sacrifice with the whole Church and the company of heaven.

      4. Just to get the Latin right, that should be post factum.

        The CDWS under the South American friend of Pinochet abused its authority by subverting the relationship between bishops’ conferences and the Vatican civil service. It’s a moral duty to speak up against the repudiation of Sacrosanctum concilium by someone with the power but not the authority to do so.

        It’s the diocesan bishops who are successors of the apostles, not the Roman curia.

      5. Mary Burke on November 23, 2011 – 4:23 pm

        Thanks for pointing out the error. The reference was actually to the legal term ex post facto. I shouldn’t forget the ex, even though the legal phrase has been corrupted in English. ex fulfills the ablative facto. The post is adverbial.

        Pinochet’s ecclesiastical divide-and-conquer “justification” for his atrocities are not directly relevant to a priest’s personal modification of the Missal. sancrosanctum concilium is quite relevant, but perhaps not in the way you suggest.

        As I see it, there are two predominate ideological interpretations of SC, both of which are well-developed. The first, usually held by traditionalists, strictly interprets the reform measures. Others, often progressive in stance, interpret SC as a “living document” which changes according to developments in progressive liturgical ideology.

        Nevertheless, your position on SC does not justify a priest’s personal changes to the Missal. As Matthew Hazell has mentioned, Redemptionis Sacramentum 59 specifically condemns the practice of modification of missal texts by priests. Is not the secretary of the CDW a cardinal, a prince of the Church? Is not the Pope the Vicar of Christ? Both are undoubtedly successors of the apostles.

        Specific law of the Church overrides the modification of liturgical text under the pretense of a “living document” interpretation of SC. Pinochet’s reign of terror can never be justified. I do not know of a time, however, when the Holy See has encouraged liturgical anarchy under any pretense. This false liberty is also unjust.

    2. Fr Padraig, I gave your tailored texts to a fellow celebrant last night and they were much appreciated. All your improvements are manifestly good, and it is just shocking that they could not be made by the translators themselves.

    3. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

      That works well for me. I have a binder for everything at the altar from the Preparation to Communion. Your file is GREAT! The Word document is great too. I could make a couple other corrections for “chalice” and “many,” but that’s about it for now.

      THANKS AGAIN! I really appreciate it!

  5. When my father taught me how to drive, he told me to keep my eyes on the bigger picture, not just on the road directly in front of the car. That’s what I would recommend for the implementation of this missal, look to the bigger picture and be patient enough to see what becomes of it in one or two years. In just three short months I’ve not detected anything imploding in my parish as a result of implementing this missal and its music. Quite the contrary, I find people more engaged in their parts because these are new and I’m more engaged too. I was very positive about this translation as many of you will note from my comments but at the same time I told them that the language was more formal, a bit clunky and also somewhat stilted but overall it is an elevated language not to some distant, “Olympian” God, but to the God who is in our midst and maybe this elevated language might encourage us to use a more elevated language with one another at home, work and play, because God knows we need it in the world and in the Church. This language is for our elevation not God’s. But I recognize that you can bake the cake of elevated language with many different ingredients, but the cake that was baked is the cake we’re eating too.

  6. Re. “…people in the pews aware of what is happening can, it seems to me, gently and without disruption whisper the old responses and prayers (just as many now say “for us and for our salvation,”) or alternatively keep silent.”

    We can make our own corrections. “And with your spirit” can remain “And also with you” without causing any commotion. And “Consubstantial with the Father” has the same number of syllables as “One in being with the Father.”

    It’s sad that people who obviously don’t speak English as their firs language have imposed this on us.

    1. practically the rest of the world says the equivalent of “and with your spirit” it is also one of the most ancient responses of the people still retained in the liturgy…well…retained until we blew it…but now it will be back in English…and i love your argument for keeping “one in being”…it would be nice if to the argument you could add that it means the same…but it doesnt…therefore the change is needed…it could be argued that “of the same substance” could have been better for the sake of the vernacular…similar to the spanish…but “one in being”…lol…doesnt cut it…

      1. One in being with the Father is a correct translation of homoousios to Patri and consubstantialis Patri.

      2. “……rest of the world”…..not really; significant number of languages that do not use “and with your spirit”. And why do so many use that phrase – because the translation and linkage from Latin to a Romance language works via both meaning and literal word translation. It doesn’t when you get to languages such as Japanese, English, etc.

        And by the way, do you realize that the new translation only applies to the english speaking conferences right now – the German, French, and Italian conferences of bishops have delayed and pushed back on starting their MR3 translations. Wonder why?

      3. Quite right, Bill, about Japanese. Apparently they are goind to make Japanese faithful say “and with Father’s spirit” using the Japanese word “rei.” This has no basis in ordinary speech and will have us puzzling as to what this “rei” could mean — his aura, his ghost, his daimon?

      4. “substantia” as applied to God was disliked by St Augustine who preferred “essentia” which is closer to Greek “ousia”.

        “of one being with the Father” might be slightly more Nicene than “one in being with the Father”.

    2. It’s even sadder that in fact English is their first language, and yet they have foisted this Babelfish translation upon the English-speaking Church. That probably qualifies as one of the sins crying to heaven for vengeance from the old catechism.

  7. This writer suggests and then doesnt rule out committing an objective mortal sin to show frustration at the changes, advocates using a text (1998) never approved for use, or 1973 (supressed in a few days) over and against the only text that will be lawful. Finally, towards the end of the article he suggest that if ones conscience can’t allow for this…etc…This conscience issue is so bogus. The emphasis on individual conscience today that really does nothing more than give license, always leaves out the fact that the conscience must be well formed. In matters of liturgy that is determined by following and obeying and submitting the heart and will to the competent authority. Vatican I was clear in Pastor Aeternus that disciplinary matters (the chief among which is the liturgy) fall under teh scope of that which we must give full assent to. I suggest ignoring everything the writer said as much of it is dangerous. How can we as Catholics, take him seriously when he proposes committing an objective mortal sin and then does not rule it out???

      1. thats a ridiculous assertion…. 1. its not the “Tridentine Rite”…it wasnt before Summorum Pontificum…and it isnt after either…stop calling it that…2. you cant use any previous verions of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass other than the 1962 Missal…and in the same way..the ONLY Missal that will be allowed in the Ordinary Form in the English speaking world is the one we are going towards…all previous editions of the Extraordinary Form are NOT allowable for use…don’t act like this is something that doesnt happen…

    1. …over and against the only text that will be lawful.

      Not so much. As repeated many times, SC gives the authority to establish vernacular translations to the conferences of bishops, upon which they must vote. 2010 was never voted upon by English speaking conferences of bishops. Juridically promulgated by the Holy See, it may be, lawfully enacted, doubtful. Unless of course we plan to run the church by a type of radical sanation and moto proprio whim to the detriment of the majority – oh that’s right, he does.

      1. the Holy See is the supreme authority and the laws are interpreted most authentically when done by the law giver himself…

      2. Yeah, like the law-“givers” who gave the world apartheid?

        Using the word ‘law-giver’ betrays where you stand in relation to law. It is, after all a fallible human construct.

      3. @ MK: What dangerous circuitous logic. Laws have their original meaning by which they are to be interpreted. They are not to be re-interpreted after the fact. Simple logic. One simply needs to look at the history of decrees of rites to understand how the Holy See has of recent tried to “maneuver” a clear earlier intention of the law. e.g., Decree Prot. N 166/70 “And to the use of the new Roman Missal, it is permitted for the Latin edition to be put into use as soon as it is published…To the Conferences of Bishops is entrusted the responsibility for preparing editions in the vernacular and for setting the date for them to come into force, after due confirmation by the Apostolic See.” 1970 Cardinal Gut SCDW

      1. therefore it can’t be used…his suggestion that priests substitute prayers in the soon to be used Missal with prayers from the unapproved 1998 translation is therefore impossible

      1. Uh, what about it?

        The author suggests skipping Mass as a protest against the changes. While the use of “objectively mortal sin” is sloppy, it’s an objectively grave sin and a potentially mortal one.

      2. SLH – only in your universe. Can think of lots of both grave sinful matter and subjective/deliberate mortal sins but skipping mass would not be very high on my list. Reminds me of eating meat on Fridays – yes, a mortal sin.

      3. uhh yes Bill…skipping Mass on Sunday was/is an an objective mortal sin and eating meat on friday used to be one too…yes…no sarcasm…

    2. An objective mortal sin — what impressive and bullying language! It takes me back to the old days when it was said that the Roman Canon and its rubrics offered a hundred occasions of mortal sin. Things have moved on, thank God, since Pius IX.

      1. To portray prayer as an occasion of mortal sin is a weird view of things — priests in the past saw that as a joke; it is amazing that temple police today see it as a real danger.

    3. MIchael Kramer on November 23, 2011 – 8:47 am

      The emphasis on individual conscience today that really does nothing more than give license, always leaves out the fact that the conscience must be well formed. In matters of liturgy that is determined by following and obeying and submitting the heart and will to the competent authority.

      Michael, only a confessor under the seal of confession can determine the culpability of a penitent. Neither you or I are competent to judge priests for their decisions, as their decisions are binding on their souls and not ours. While I strongly disagree with Fr. McCarthy’s modification of the EPs, I unconditionally respect his conscientious autonomy.

      As Fr. Endean notes, “The moral life can’t be reduced to following rules; it involves, at every turn, choice and discernment.” I have previously defended the necessity of Redemptoris Sacramentum as an authoritative measure of liturgical integrity and ecclesiastical integrity. The risk of following one’s personal conscience could lead to conflict with ecclesiastical authority. Again, the autonomy of personal decision must be respected despite another person’s judgement of mortal sin for disobeying this authority. The reconciliation of a penitent is the true forge of conscience. Respect for God’s judgement and not ours is also a sign of a well-formed conscience.

  8. Mortal sin – please???

    You do realize that some noted canon lawyers including bishops would argue that this new translation, in fact, is itself invalid….the final printed version was not approved by the various english speaking conferences of bishops. It also (via LA & RT) violates the “higher” authority of the Vatican II council over any type of “passive” papal approval (which is what happened with LA that resulted in MR3).
    Would argue that your comments ….examples – “competent authority”; Vatican I’s Pastor Aeternus …..are questionnable, at best. Vatican II and the new code of canon law, 1983, have superceded any directive from Vatican I. What this new translation process has proven, if anything, is that the “competent authority” was anything but competent.

    You might want to review this article: http://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/when-dissent-not-just-dissent

    Key point: “According to Jesuit Fr. Ladislas Orsy, writing in the Encyclopedia of Catholicism, church law, like ordinary human law, has two stages. First, it is formulated by the lawgiver and promulgated or brought to the attention of the subjects. In the second stage, those who become aware of the law must try to understand it as they “encounter it in their concrete, particular and personal situations.” They must then “form a critical judgment about the law either by affirming it through steady obedience or by bringing to the legislator’s notice the difficulties the law may generate.”

    But what if the subjects, having presented their difficulties, are rebuffed by the legislator or are simply ignored? In that case, the second stage is incomplete and the law has no real effect. It’s a little like the tree falling in the forest when there is no one around to see it or hear it fall.”

      1. this suggestion was pretty peripheral to the argument, as a conclusion that might be drawn. In context it is clear that I am not, for the moment, endorsing it.

  9. The difficulty with the appeal to conscience turns on how we define ‘well-formed’. If we equate ‘well-formed’ with ‘conforming to official teaching’, then ‘conscience’ ceases to play any role in moral theology, and it is only an appeal to divine providence that distinguishes ecclesial from totalitarian belonging. That way danger lies. But any alternative, as Mr Kramer points out, at least risks making ‘conscience’ a legitimation for unbridled license. My sense is that you have nevertheless to take that second risk, and appeal simply to the honesty and good faith of believers, and the grace of God within them. The moral life can’t be reduced to following rules; it involves, at every turn, choice and discernment.

    One of the issues between Ligouri and Mr Kramer lies in the appropriate use of sin language. For Mr K., Ligouri is suggesting, and then not ruling out, the committing of an objective moral sin. Ligouri him- or herself, admittedly working from different premises, is pointing out that there is a moral wrong in complicity with other people’s wrongdoing. “Objective sin” seems to me a confusing category: there are objective rights and wrongs, and sin consists in the subjectively deliberate and free perpetration of a wrong.

    1. “Objective sin” seems to me a confusing category: there are objective rights and wrongs, and sin consists in the subjectively deliberate and free perpetration of a wrong.There’s nothing wrong with the idea of an “objectively grave sin” it’s “objectively mortal sin” that gets us in trouble. The church had developed a sophisticated language of formal and material sin and relearning that langauge will help us to discuss these issues with clarity.

  10. Pretty much wrongheaded. So pardon me for being really p*&%ed off by this.

    I don’t like this crazypants translation any more than the next person, but the truth of it is that poor preaching, subpar music, and a lack of genuine hospitality do far more to damage the liturgy than any stupid idea made incarnate by Vox Clara.

    Please spare me Fr Anonymous who, to my awareness, has never encouraged his brother priests to hire competent music directors, enlisted help to improve homiletics, or done anything along the lines of opening up their parishes to lay input. The clergy I know and respect have put their names, faces, and reputations on the line: Walsh, Baldovin, Ruff, etc..

    A request for any serious future input on this website: please spare us people who are unwilling to place their names with their positions. And spare me the moral preaching from the camp of anonymous.

    We could tell these people to muster up some courage, or just keep the hell quiet. We don’t want or need what they have to say. This moral “guidance” is unhelpful, cowardly, and damaging.

    1. ill just address the dig at “made incarnate”…born of and incarnate refer to two different events…they dont mean the same thing…suggesting we just “keep the old one” (and i know you didnt directly suggest that) is ridiculous…its not what we have ever professed in the Nicene Creed…EVER…until the HORRIBLE translation that we’ve been using….

      ok cant help it…opening things up for lay input….what exactly are we going to be voting on??? this isnt the episcopal church…

    2. In a world where serious input is requested and welcomed by ecclesiastical authorities that would work, Todd, but the sad truth is that no cleric can speak the truth about the VC2010 without sacrificing his career. That goes for clerics at all levels.

      1. I appreciate that Fr Jim, and I don’t doubt it. But priests sacrifice the careers of the laity all the time. I’ve made a few choices in my life to speak up against what I perceived to be persecution, and let’s say my job wasn’t always secure because of it.

        I don’t ask that a cleric follow in my footsteps. But let’s be real: my family has a lot more to lose than a guy in black angling for a well-off pastorate in a suburb who gets a mission posting in the boonies instead.

        All I’m suggesting is that if a person can’t put her or his own name to an opinion, they shouldn’t bother with it at all.

        It is a moral issue, yes. But anonymity brings its own moral challenges. It looks to me like Fr Anonymous just wants to blow off steam, to feel warm and fuzzy inside, while retaining his season tickets to the big city opera or football season. Count me unconvinced.

      2. but the sad truth is that no cleric can speak the truth about the VC2010 without sacrificing his career. That goes for clerics at all levels.

        And ironically, PrayTell has hosted anonymous clerics bemoaning the unwillingness of clerics to sacrifice their careers to stop the new translation.

      3. Indeed. And suggesting that lay people should consider skipping Mass. Or maybe not. Fr A doesn’t seem too sure.

        Another fine point for him: he doesn’t have to come here and be debated on his questionable morals. He can just lob bombs and watch it all from his recliner chair in a heated rectory.

    3. “…I don’t like this crazypants translation any more than the next person, but the truth of it is that poor preaching, subpar music, and a lack of genuine hospitality do far more to damage the liturgy than any stupid idea made incarnate by Vox Clara…”

      Right on, Todd. My sentiments exactly. But it seems that all folks want to do is carp about the translation. If a priest feels that the new translation will ruin his spiritual life, force him to act against his conscience or even endanger his salvation, then perhaps he should no longer celebrate Mass in public. One of the realities of adulthood is that you can’t always have it your way, unless you are willing to make major changes, like in this case leaving the RCC for some other denomination. I don’t think great numbers of the laity are going to do that because of “and with your spirit” however.

      After reading all the comments in this thread, I am not surprised that some folks would prefer the EF. It’s sounding better to me all the time…

      1. Ouch, Todd! I’m sure the young families who attend the EF masses in my neck of the woods will be surprised to hear that the mass they make great sacrifices to attend is unappealing, archaic and the equivalent of those who give scandal (“millstone”), not a few of whom seem to be regular contributors to this blog. And please don’t bring up the canards about them being merely nostalgic (they’re too young to be), living in the past (they seem pretty hip to me) and escapist. They’re escaping all right, escaping being ostracized for not wanting to hold hands during the Our Father, being “cajoled” into singing songs that any adult should be embarrassed to sing, asked to assent to Prayers of Petition that are thinly veiled political positions, receiving Communion from EMHCs in Bermuda shorts, ..you get the picture. When I attended, I was surprised at the level of participation, the robustness of the singing, the quality of the preaching and friendliness of the folks. Do you reject the Byzantine Rite as well? After all, it has a limited lectionary, is celebrated “back to the people,” is unreformed, does not admit women as servers, etc etc. Where I live we have many choices: the traditional Roman Rite (EF), the OF (“ordo fabricatus”), Anglican Use (soon to be established, I’m told), Maronite Rite, Ukrainian Byzantine Rite. Diversity is a good thing. Or is it that religious freedom is only for those with whom we agree?

  11. Michael, you’re too steeped in the secular world. Lay input in a church context means discernment, prayer, cultivation of gifts. Basic Pauline stuff. It’s the task of a pastor to facilitate this.

    Now, if he doesn’t I’m not going to call him immoral like Fr A would seem to suggest.

    Finally, the Creed is more than mere words.

  12. Todd, I didn’t say I reject the idea of lay input, especially in the context St. Paul promotes…I was just pre-emptively responding to what people usually consider that to be…

    Yes I understand that its more than mere words…its concepts and beliefs..and the concept/belief in the word “incarnate” refers to His Conception in the womb of the Blessed Virgin…a whole nine months earlier than “born of”…its not about words I agree…its about concepts and beliefs…obviously we profess that He was “born of” Her also…but it is not what is aimed at at that moment in the Creed…His Conception is the moment He became man…that is when the Divine and Human natures “collided” for the first and only time…it is more than words…which is why “born of” is inadaquate…

  13. Motives are always difficult to identify. I can assure you that the decision to go anonymous was not a casual one. What was driving it was not fear of the loss of reputation or status, but the impact my going fully public would have on others to whom I have obligations.

    1. That’s an important piece. I appreciate it, even if I can’t agree.

      I had one position where my standing up for a lay colleague may well have contributed to a strained relationship with a pastor. I didn’t have to be insulting. All I did was to ask questions and tell the truth as I knew it.

      It’s hard to tell how much it contributed to the suggestion a few months later I find another ministry position. That certainly had an impact on my wife and daughter, and it gave our financial security (such as it was) a big hit. My wife said I had to stand up for the innocent. There was no other choice.

      Do anonymous people who preach in this way, however well-considered, take upon themselves any sacrifice for the sake of those who may be harmed by their inaction on other fronts? I appreciate that it’s a difficult discernment. Forces that make it so are deeply evil–far beyond the political machinations of a translation.

      Personally, I find it refreshing to have dissenters in my parish. I welcome and relish their input. They keep me honest, and if nothing else, our exchanges are enriching, if not entertaining.

      That Catholicism, by and large, doesn’t enjoy this, is evidence of a deep spiritual poverty in the episcopacy and in Rome.

  14. That Catholicism, by and large, doesn’t enjoy this is evidence of a deep spiritual poverty in the episcopacy and in Rome.

    Other than you left out “the rectories” and “the pews,” you’re on a roll, my brother!
    Would that there was some sort of compulsory clerical “sabbatical” whereby the professional class of priests had to serve a mission like those poor bicycling LDS boys going door to door in some sort of barrio or ghetto (even amongst the pagan elite in the first world.)

    1. Charles, I think I can testify to a degree of infantilism among some clergy, borne out by my worst experiences. And certainly the laity, as sharers in the human condition, would seem to suffer from similar spiritual maladies. However, these people don’t make decisions on the universal governance of liturgy. Bishops and the curia do. Hence, criticism, admittedly bitter at times.

      In the real world there are consequences to juvenile behavior (ie people who dislike bad news): lost elections, failed businesses, divorce, bankruptcy, and the like. Unless a priest starts mewling about women’s ordination or gets caught in bed with non-adults, he’s pretty much set for life.

  15. Hey, Charles, some of us did do that. Bicycling, walking, riding horseback.

    Todd – recall the last significant psychological survey of the US priesthood – conclusion…only about 20% were considered psychologically developed; thus, able to handle adult relationships; handle disagreements, dissent, etc.

    Afraid that the current crop of newly ordained has only regressed from 1972.

  16. Hilarious! God must be laughing–if not the CDW!
    The new translation is not yet even in official use and already
    there is a modified version on the market! So much for the rigid uniformity and lock-step responses in the Catholic Church.

  17. I was always led to understand that the renewal in moral theology since Josef Fuchs and Bernard Häring (even Servais Pinckaers) has de-emphasized the neo-scholastic casuistical approach in moral matters. Is there a subtle irony that I am missing?

    1. Would suggest “invincible ignorance” – it continues in the next comment post that completely misses your point and the basics of moral theology in the name of blind obedience (even beyond what the church itself expects)

  18. Canon 331 lays out clearly for us that the Roman Pontiff is both the supreme legislator of canon law as well as the supreme interpreter of canon law.

    1. And as is well known Ratzinger and other theologians vindicate the rights of conscience even when they class with canon law.

    2. That uses circular logic because Rome wrote the Canon Law.

      Canon 331 says the Pope is in charge.
      Who wrote Canon 331?
      The Pope.

      1. LOL! then it must not be true! surely Jesus didn’t mean it when He gave the keys to Peter…my goodness…

  19. About anonimity – I think it subverts what’s spoken. I know that’s easy for me to say as I’ve no job to lose, but consider people who have made personal sacrifices to expose truths …. the tobacco executive, Jeffrey Wigand, Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon papers, Serpico and police corruption, the Jesuits in El Salvador who spoke up for the poor. In perspective, a priest being honest about not liking a missal translation shouldn’t have that muh to fear, and if he does, it’s a horrible indictment of our church, and one we should all speak up about.

    1. Priests who say they don’t like the new translations are a dime a dozen, and will soon include practically all priests.

  20. As we have a plethora of semantics/rhetorics/grammar experts with sufficient time to bust plebian chops and presume that disables the import of our voices in the grand scheme of THE ARGUMENT, would one of you be so kind as to ‘splain to me the value of the words “like,” “my”, “me” and “abuse” in such a lofty and erudite forum?
    I curtsy as I exit backwards from this noble court.

  21. MIchael Kramer :

    uhh yes Bill…skipping Mass on Sunday was/is an an objective mortal sin and eating meat on friday used to be one too…yes…no sarcasm…

    And in countries where the bishops declare that the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul is a holy day of obligation, the Catholics who don’t go to church that day commit a mortal sin, but in the countries where the bishops haven’t declared it to be a holy day of obligation, the Catholics who don’t go to church that day are not committing any sin despite the fact that neither went to mass.

  22. LOL! then it must not be true! surely Jesus didn’t mean it when He gave the keys to Peter…my goodness…

    When you prove to me that Jesus really said that, you’ll have a point. More likely, it was added by the early hierarchy to justify their existence. “If we tell the people that Jesus said WE are in charge, they’ll be too scared to question what we tell them.”

    People should follow God’s law because they believe it’s the right thing to do, not because of fear of eternal punishment. Threatening to punish someone is how you discipline children, not adults.

  23. The power of the keys was clearly given so that future leaders called popes and bishops could teach with authority all that Jesus had commanded. He could not have been handing them a mandate with which they could do as they pleased. Jesus Christ is still the chief teacher, sanctifier and servant of the Church. The Holy Spirit is poured out on all the members of the church so that we may look for the doctrine and way of Christ in all that the successors of the apostles propose. In 1968, Pope Paul VI, of blessed memory, made a noble attempt to clarify and define the teaching on contraception. While his observations and reflections were often prophetic and incisive, that teaching has not been well received. The promulgation of a new translation of the missal does not exist on the same plane as Humanae Vitae. Time will be needed to see how it shall be received. I don’t see a single figure like Abp. LeFevre on the horizon to lead a formal schism, but I do foresee many priests and people looking for ways to retain all that is good and noble about the 1973 and 1998 translations.

  24. If the popes and bishops taught these things as simply as Jesus taught them, they wouldn’t need to have authority. People would follow what they were being taught because it was clearly the most right and the best thing to do.

    People didn’t follow Jesus because he threatened them. They followed Him because his message was simple, Love God and love your fellow man. He didn’t set up this convoluted legal system that the church has where you have to basically be told do as we tell you to or else.

    This new mass is a piece of crap (and I’m only using the word crap because the word I want to use would be censored).

  25. MIchael Kramer :

    Vatican II says that move to another Church carries with it eternity in Hell…I urge you to reconsider…

    The Muslims say the same thing about Muslims who leave Islam. Nice to know the RC Church is in such good company.

    1. They do rely on fear, Sandi.

      But, not all Muslims are terrorists. Let’s not put a label on billions of people for the actions of a few.

      But I agree, that fear is a powerful weapon and the church has used it to control people.

      1. A fair point, though I was thinking specifically about the Muslims who will behead you or stone you to death (not just tell you off) for leaving Islam. Come to think of it, the Catholic church isn’t too far removed from those days . . . and we may be headed there again, to judge by the Ratzinger clique.

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