What US Priests Really Think About the New Translation

The results of a new, broad-based study, released today, have provided a clear and detailed view of the opinions of priests concerning the new English translation of the Roman Missal. The survey reveals that the opinion of priests in the United States is sharply divided, with a clear majority disliking the new translation and calling for its revision. The survey will be an important milestone in establishing what priests really think of the Missal translation.

The findings are striking. 59% of priests do not like the new translation, compared with 39% who do. An overwhelming 80% agree that some of the language is awkward and distracting. 61% think the translation needs urgently to be revised. In what is perhaps the most timely element, 61% of priests do not want the rest of the liturgical books to be translated in the same manner. The process of re-translating the Liturgy of the Hours and the rites of the Sacraments is currently underway.

The survey was conducted under the auspices of the Godfrey Diekmann, OSB, Center for Patristics and Liturgical Studies at St. John’s University School of Theology-Seminary, in Collegeville MN. The project manager was Chase Becker, assisted by Audrey Seah and Christine Condyles, and advised by Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, with the aid of Dr. Pamela Bacon, a professional consultant. Every Latin Rite diocese in the US was invited to participate in the survey (there are 178), and of these, 32 from all regions of the country chose to take part. A total of 1,536 priests (diocesan and religious) responded, a response rate of 42.5%. The full results are available here.

More than half of the respondents submitted written comments as well as filling out the questionnaire. Their comments spanned a variety of subjects, including aesthetics, grammar and syntax, reception by their people, translation principles, ecclesiastical process, vocabulary, theological content, book format, and music. In these comments, critique of the Missal outweighed affirmation by a four to one margin. Full comments can be found here.

Two questions about process, unique to this survey, also showed sobering results. More than half (55%) of the respondents are not confident that priests’ views of the translation will be taken seriously. Nearly half (49%) do not approve of the role of the Holy See in bringing the new translation about, compared with 39% who do.

Fr. Edward Foley, Capuchin, professor at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, commented: “The most disappointing result of this survey for me is that most priests doubt that their views about the translation will be seriously addressed; on the other hand, this too is not surprising since they were never consulted in the first place.”

Bishop Robert Brom of San Diego was not surprised by the critical assessment of the new translation. “While we don’t want to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater,’ the new missal needs corrective surgery and this should take place without delay,” he said, “The views of priests must be taken into consideration.” Fr. Michael Ryan of Seattle agreed: “The high level of dissatisfaction among priests should be a grave concern for the bishops, assuming they care about what their priests are thinking and feeling.”

Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, executive director of ICEL questioned the representative value of the responses, pointing out that the respondents constitute less than 3.7% of priests in the US. Without some indication of selection bias, however, the absolute number would not seem to indicate that the sample is unrepresentative. The CARA survey concerning the Missal, for example, had 1,239 participants, a much smaller fraction of the total Catholic population which the survey is presumed to represent.

“The survey results initially surprised me,” said Jeffrey Tucker, managing editor of Sacred Music Journal and founder of The Chant Café blog, who is far happier with the new translation than he was with the old. “The survey lacks demographic data, but I suspect a generational split is at work here.”

The use of the Missal is a subject of high importance to priests. They are the ones who must lead prayer using it, and who must navigate the complexities of the language in ways that will bring forth meaning for their people. For those who are well satisfied with the new translation, its daily use will be rewarding. For the majority, however, it seems to have created obstacles and a burden. As Fr. Anthony Cutcher, president of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils observed: “The Eucharistic liturgy and the ability to celebrate it well is at the core of a priest’s identity. … [I]t is clear that America’s priests want to preside well and provide a meaningful experience of the sacred, but archaic language and unintelligible syntax have greatly hampered our abilities as presiders and effectively made that impossible.”

When a majority of priests are unhappy about something as important as the Missal, the situation calls for creative leadership and constructive responses. It is not clear, however, whether those in positions of authority are ready or willing to respond. Msgr. Rick Hilgartner, director of the office of the BCDW at the USCCB, declined to comment for this story, as did Bishop Gregory Aymond, chair of the BCDW, and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, incoming chair of the BCDW. Not replying to a request for comment were: Bishop Arthur Seratelli, former chair of the BCDW and current chair of ICEL; Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB; Cardinal Francis George, former USCCB president under whom the implementation date was set; Cardinal George Pell, chair of Vox Clara; Msgr. Jim Moroney, executive secretary of Vox Clara; and Fr. Dennis McManus, advisor to Vox Clara.

Reactions to the survey were provided by Bishop Robert Brom of San Diego, Father Anthony Cutcher of NFPC, Fr. Edward Foley, Capuchin of CTU in Chicago, Peter Jeffery of Notre Dame, Fr. Michael Ryan of Seattle, Jeffery Tucker of Chant Cafe, Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth of ICEL, Fr. Mark Wedig OP of Barry University, And Bishop Donald Trautman, retired bishop of Erie. The full text of their comments is available here. 

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147 comments

  1. I tend to think that surveys, unless they get a response from a majority of the presbyterate** of all the dioceses in the country, are of only limited use (and that, mainly of getting an opinion from priests who haven’t had a chance to express one).

    Otherwise the conclusions of any survey either (a) reinforce the opinions of those who agree with them (b) are criticized on grounds of their unrepresentative nature, bias, etc. by those who disagree with the conclusion. Either way, it seems to do little to change a previously held opinion, one way or the other.

    **I say presbyterate only because that was the demographic surveyed in the study in question.

  2. i agree with survey results. i personnally can’t relate much with new-recyled translation e.g “and with your spirit” . i am responding to a priest saying that Lord be with me and goes with priest’ spirit.

  3. How many respondents stated that English was their first language? I think this matters in particular in the US with the significant amount of foreign born priests from non English speaking countries.

  4. When a majority of priests are unhappy about something as important as the Missal, the situation calls for creative leadership and constructive responses.

    Indeed. But we have no idea if this is the case. The questionaire doesn’t even collect any demographic data that would give us some idea about the balance of the survey respondents.

    The fact that in the written comments “critique of the Missal outweighed affirmation by a four to one margin” a greater proportion than were negative in the overall response rates demonstrates that negative respondents are more motivated to respond in the first place.

  5. The substantial number of dioceses (32), the large size of the sample (1536) and the high response rate (42%) in combination with the fact that the results are not very lopsided (39% liked the Missal) make this study very credible, a benchmark for the future.

    By comparison the 2001 National Federation of Priests’ Council study, Dean Hoge sampled 1200 priests from 44 randomly selected dioceses and got 858 responses (72%).

    In the 2009 NFPC study, CARA sampled 2400 diocesan priests across all dioceses and got 678 responses (28%). Both NFPC studies also sampled religious order priests separately.

    A 2002 Los Angeles Times mailed survey and a 2002 CARA telephone survey of priests each obtained a response rate of 37 percent.

    Since all dioceses were invited to participate, all diocesan priests in theory had an equal opportunity to participate in the study. If all dioceses had participated and we had gotten the same response rate and the same results the study would have been the definitive study on this issue. It would also have been a landmark in seeking and receiving the opinion of priests.

    Perhaps there are dioceses that think their results would be substantially different; they should give their priests the survey and find out.

    Unless substantially different results begin to trickle in from other dioceses, simply replicating the study questions with either the Hoge two step selection process or the CARA one step random selection of all priests would spend a lot of time and effort for a more scientifically exact study that unlikely would produce different results.

  6. It’s likely that some in the hierarchy wouldn’t want to know the results of a scientific survey broad enough to encompass all the ICEL nations. This survey isn’t going to change their minds.

    I’m glad that CDWDS and ICEL and Vox Clara are getting hammered on this one. Their work was shoddy, uncoordinated, and decidedly non-consultative. And that doesn’t even take into account the lack of consultation outside of those three bodies.

    The challenge of the next generation will be to fashion a high quality translation that is artistic, singable, and inspires faith and unity.

    Msgr Wadsworth, it would seem that barring a poll of every English-speaking priest in the world, we’re not going to get a 100% sample. But this number of respondents is indeed statistically sound. 3 out of 5 of your brethren take exception to MR3 in English. Have you any response?

  7. But this number of respondents is indeed statistically sound.

    This number of respondents would be statistically sound if they were randomly selected. But they weren’t.

    1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #7:
      I’d agree with this. It’s important that we know the nature of the invitation process, especially whether participation was solicited directly from local presbyterates or through diocesan ordinaries.

  8. I sincerely hope that the Sacramentary would be universally permitted for all anglophone Catholics under an interim indult. This interim indult should continue until the completion of a well-planned revision of the current translation.

    I would also hope that Masses for the more recently canonized saints, as well as votives such as the nuptial and funeral Masses, would be released as supplements as soon as the revisions for these liturgies pass at least two stages of critical review. Critical review should certainly include not only the hierarchy and the clergy overall, but also lay academics of philology and theology. Also, Catholic laypersons from all walks of life should be often consulted to make sure that translations are easily understood and clearly convey the theological message of the prayer.

    While not a few of the 1998 propers are well done, a wholesale adoption of the 1998 propers is not an optimal solution in my view. The essential and foundational step of translation is a thorough dissection of the semantic and syntactic structure of the typical Latin. I have long suspected that the composers of the current translation placed a certain English style before a thorough consideration of the Latin substratum. A revision of the current book must include a sustained investigation of this substratum, even if doing so reveals grave difficulties for translation. Subjectivity only follows after an intense linguistic empiricism.

  9. Samuel J. Howard : But this number of respondents is indeed statistically sound. This number of respondents would be statistically sound if they were randomly selected. But they weren’t.

    I’m afraid Sam has a point here. This is not a random sample of a representative population. And we aren’t given detailed demographic data of the respondents to have any idea how representative it really is. All we know is that 32 dioceses out of 178 took part, and that they’re relatively scattered geographically. But geographic scattering by itself does not guarantee representativeness. And with a voluntary survey like this, all kinds of bias issues immediately present themselves. All of which is compounded by bias stemming from the surveying entity, which is ensconced in an institution – no offense intended – known for its liturgical progressivism. The Diekmann Center may be trying hard to be objective, but respondents of a different liturgical bent may be more reluctant to respond, whether that is fair or not.

    The Diekmann Center makes much of the fact that it has a voluntary response rate of 42.5%, which is much higher than the 30% achieved by a similar 2009 CARA survey on the priesthood. But as Paul Sullins of CUA has pointed out, that CARA survey had a vastly lower response than its predecessor surveys in 1970, 1985, 1993 and 2001. And unlike those earlier surveys, the 2009 survey only aspired to journalistic, rather than scholarly standards.

    Look, let us be candid: We all know there are a goodly number of folks, many of them priests, who are critical of the new MR3 translation – and how it came into being. Further, some of the criticisms aren’t made by just progressives. The translation truly is awkward in construction at points. But a survey like this doesn’t help us really know much about exactly how many feel this way.

    1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #9:
      No, Richard, he does not. He is grasping at straws. The random sample business is a red herring.

      You take random samples when you can’t sample the whole population. Random selection means that the sample is a good proxy for the population as a whole.

      Here, the survey went to every diocese, 100%. And in each of the 32 dioceses that chose to respond, it went to 100% of the priests on diocesan distribution lists. Only priests in religious orders NOT in pastoral service are likely to have been missed.

      So there was no selection bias.

      There could have been response bias, of course. I am guessing that either the bishop or someone in the chancery office of each diocese decided whether or not the diocese would participate. And each priest could choose whether or not to answer. I suppose you could tell a story that the priests who love the new translation were too busy with other duties to respond, where the whingers who dislike it rushed to respond.

      Equally, you could assume that those who love the new translation would eagerly vote in its favour, rather like the followers of an internet priest who encourages them to stuff various online polls. Why would you assume that only the negative would respond?

      So I think the claim of response bias can be discounted, and there clearly is no selection bias — 100% of dioceses and virtually 100% of priests within each diocese were offered a chance to reply. 42.5% is a VERY high survey response rate. Even if you take the 1,536 against the 40,000 some priests in the USA, you can draw conclusions from a 4% response rate, given that there was an invitation to 100%.

      Jack Rakosky, the social scientist among us, seems to agree.

      1. @Jonathan Day – comment #15:

        Hello Jonathan,

        I am arguing that there was both selection bias AND response bias. It’s beyond question.

        Now: the Diekmann Center may not have WANTED selection bias. They clearly hoped to get every single American priest, in every diocese, to respond, in full. But that did not happen. Most dioceses declined to participate (I will not speculate on why; I am sure the reasons were varied). So now we’re down to just 32 dioceses. And the risk is that these *may* have been a disproportionate number of dioceses who – how shall I put this? – tended to be led by clerics who tended to sympathize with the liturgical sensibilities prevalent at St. John’s. I don’t *know* that’s the case; but the risk is inherent.

        In any event, there was *certain* to be response bias, because that’s an inherent problem with *any* voluntary survey. Those who reply are mostly going to be those most motivated to reply. And those most motivated reply will tend be, disproportionately, those with negative responses on issues like this – negative emotions tend to crowd out positive ones in issues like these. That’s going to be especially true of those who bothered to offer additional written responses.

        There’s no way to know how representative this sample is. We are not told the dioceses participating; we are not told demographic details of respondents, or their backgrounds. There’s a reason why pollsters go to great lengths to create samples that really are representative of the larger whole.

        Let me be clear: I am not saying that this survey has no utility. I think it has real value. Anyone exploring reactions to the MR3 is going to *have* to take this survey into consideration. There’s no doubt that a fair number of priests are critical in some way (sometimes strongly so) of the new translation. I don’t doubt it, and I am sure Samuel does not either. But this survey is lacking critical information to help us get an accurate idea of just how many, and who they are.

      2. @Richard Malcolm – comment #17:

        And the risk is that these *may* have been a disproportionate number of dioceses who – how shall I put this? – tended to be led by clerics who tended to sympathize with the liturgical sensibilities prevalent at St. John’s. I don’t *know* that’s the case; but the risk is inherent.

        Should we not ask also how many priests devoted to the extraordinary form, priests of the Anglican Ordinariate, and “high church” priests in general agree that the new translation is stylistically troubled, not consonant with the typical Latin text, and even at points theologically ambiguous or erroneous? Perhaps this survey has insufficiently gauged the sentiment of the aforementioned subset. The projection of a laden prejudice such as “led by clerics who tended to sympathize with the liturgical sensibilities prevalent at St. John’s” is a distraction from the (perhaps dread) possibility that individual “members” of the high church “party” will issue non mihi placet if permitted to speak and vote freely on the future of the current translation.

        But this survey is lacking critical information to help us get an accurate idea of just how many, and who they are.

        At this point, this concern is of lesser importance. Fr. Anscar Chupungco’s research has amply proved, even without direct recourse to Latin analysis, that the Trinity Sunday collect is theologically unfit for Mass. No supposedly complete liturgical book for Mass should require a celebrant of vernacular liturgy to pray the parallel Sacramentary collect or the Latin typical collect merely to satisfy doctrinal qualms about the new collect.

        I still self-identify as traditionalist and high church. Even so, I will no longer support a missal translation which is simply unusable simply because the new translation has become an emblem of the high church. It’s time to break ranks and form a “multi-party coalition” of liturgical left and right to revise this half-hearted attempt. A unified and shared revision will not bring back felt banners and guitars, but allow for comprehensible vernacular worship regardless of whether or not a layperson frequently worships at Mass according to the vernacular Roman rite.

      3. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #23:

        Should we not ask also how many priests devoted to the extraordinary form, priests of the Anglican Ordinariate, and “high church” priests in general agree that the new translation is stylistically troubled, not consonant with the typical Latin text, and even at points theologically ambiguous or erroneous?

        That’s a fair point, Jordan – certainly at least as regards the stylistic problems. I don’t think anyone thinks it’s ideal.

        But in my experience, most in the cohorts you name all appear to think that, on balance, the MR3 is a significant improvement on MR2, despite its flaws. Because these cohorts were viscerally apposed to the old 1973 ICEL translation, and to the rejected 1998 ICEL translation as well. Given the alternatives, well…

        And that’s where the differences between them and the liberal objectors will lie.

        The problem is that we are deeply divided Church. We’re divided theologically, And because we are, it is not going to be possible to find a translation that will not alienate some significant percentage of clergy or laity.

        I’ll just add that I’m glad that my main exposure to vernacular English of the Mass is the Anglican Use, which preserves most of the stylistic beauty of the old BCP, and is reasonably theologically sound. We’ll see what the final Missal looks like when it comes out later this year.

      4. @Richard Malcolm – comment #54:

        The problem is that we are deeply divided Church. We’re divided theologically, And because we are, it is not going to be possible to find a translation that will not alienate some significant percentage of clergy or laity.

        I also once thought that the new translation would be a bulwark against a return to the comme le prevoit translation ideology. I have since changed my mind and now support revision of the current missal because I cannot support a translation which lacks theological integrity. Any person who reads Latin can easily see the glaring errors in this translation. I would rather that some parishes return temporarily to the Sacramentary rather than pray prayers which are not theologically orthodox.

        If liturgical conservatives and traditionalists wish to maintain the current translation tradition, then clergy and laity of this persuasion who are periti in Latin or English literature must step forward and cooperate with more progressive peers in the revision process. It would be an unnecessary and avoidable shame if not a few of the liturgically conservative and traditionalist clergy and laity refused any changes, or refused assistance in the revision project even if qualified, simply out of a fear that revisions might result in a return to a translation style which not a few in the aforementioned camp would find undesirable.

        Now is the time for the “high church” to demonstrate that it can reach across the aisle and contribute to a lasting translation. Perhaps you are right Richard that any revision will not be accepted by a segment of the faithful. Even so, is not the willingness to cooperate with Catholics of different persuasions a noble goal in itself?

        Translation is an exploration into the mechanics of liturgy. This science is exciting and a worthy endeavor at any time. I find the errors of the new translation exciting, mostly because of the many diverse possibilities inherent in the act of revision (or, better put, reinterpretation.)

      5. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #68:

        I would rather that some parishes return temporarily to the Sacramentary rather than pray prayers which are not theologically orthodox.

        This despite the numerous theological weaknesses of the old Missal?

        As for the project you propose: I have no objections in principle to trying to eliminate deficiencies in the MR3. But given how contentious and drawn out the fight over the translation has been over the last three decades, I wonder what gives you hope that such a project would escape the same pitfalls.

      6. @Richard Malcolm – comment #69:

        This despite the numerous theological weaknesses of the old Missal?

        One would have to prove philologically that the deficiencies of the Sacramentary are theologically heterodox. Since many, if not most, of the propers of the 1973 translations are paraphrases, verification of the propers involves not only a reading of the Latin but also an intermediate conjectured translation from which the paraphrase likely derives. By contrast, the errors in the current translation are quite obvious when compared directly to the Latin, given the translators’ (arguably failed) attempt at a literal word-by-word translation.

        But given how contentious and drawn out the fight over the translation has been over the last three decades, I wonder what gives you hope that such a project would escape the same pitfalls.

        Again, what is the benefit of praying theologically dubious or outright heterodox propers? I find your objection that a revision would be divisive to be merely a diversionary tactic designed to maintain a translation which fulfills certain arbitrary criteria of :”what English liturgical language of the Roman rite should be”. This attitude rejects the possibility of a translation based on a rigorous Latin analysis and then a more literal, but not exactly literal, English translation.

        I just cannot believe that my fellow high church Catholics are willing to be incredibly intransigent, given the stakes.

      7. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #71:

        Hello Jordan,

        I reached a point last night where I decided I’d said enough on this thread (as I am sure others agree!); agreement on some of these points seems unlikely, and I feel like I’ve imposed on PTB enough as it is. And I do appreciate the opportunity they continue to offer to allow differing voices like mine on these topics.

        I did find your parting comment, unfortunate, however, and I feel the need to clear the air:

        Again, what is the benefit of praying theologically dubious or outright heterodox propers? I find your objection that a revision would be divisive to be merely a diversionary tactic designed to maintain a translation which fulfills certain arbitrary criteria of :”what English liturgical language of the Roman rite should be”.

        Notwithstanding what’s already been said about MR3 here at PTB in the last few years, I remain in the dark about exactly which propers you find heterodox, and why. A couple of examples would suffice?

        More to the point, I’m not trying to engage in diversionary tactics; honestly, I’m not. And not least because, truth be told, MR3 is not my ideal of “what English liturgical language of the Roman Rite should be,” just as the original Latin ordinary and propers are frequently not my ideal, either. I’m simply observing what ought to be obvious. The fight over the MR3 took many years, and was famously bloody. We’re no closer to agreement between the camps on even what principles ought to guide translation, let alone how they might be applied. If there’s enough good will to be found, I am (believe me) all for revisiting the most problematic passages. I just think it’s naive to think that such a project , if it attempts (as you suggest) to draw on the full spectrum of translation scholarship, is not going to be every bit as contentious as MR3 was, from start to finish.

      8. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #68:

        I also once thought that the new translation would be a bulwark against a return to the comme le prevoit translation ideology. I have since changed my mind and now support revision of the current missal because I cannot support a translation which lacks theological integrity. Any person who reads Latin can easily see the glaring errors in this translation. I would rather that some parishes return temporarily to the Sacramentary rather than pray prayers which are not theologically orthodox.

        I can understand that there are numerous texts in the MR3 that are not ideally translated. That said, are there really so many that would justify returning to the inferior text of the Sacramentary?

        Instead, would it not make more sense to issue a correction only for the particular texts that are not theologically orthodox? In this sense, the manner of making the correction would be similar to the amendment that Pope Benedict made to the MR1962 Good Friday prayer for the Jews — a change to be written in, and placed in new printings of the MR3, but not justifying a completely new edition.

        In addition, even if such a project as you describe were started, we would still be looking at a project on the order of years (and that is if we don’t bother to translate any of the other liturgical books along the way). This length of time is unacceptable to either use the theologically dubious segments of text or to return to the bland paraphrase that is the Sacramentary.

        I just cannot believe that my fellow high church Catholics are willing to be incredibly intransigent, given the stakes.

        Given that the first two attempts that had large amounts of input from progressives were poor (one weak, the other so problematic that it could not be approved by the Vatican), I think you should be unsurprised that no small number of us would prefer to be a little intransigent than to risk losing the gains made in MR3.

      9. @Matthew Morelli – comment #73:

        Instead, would it not make more sense to issue a correction only for the particular texts that are not theologically orthodox?

        No translation is perfect. I heartily agree on this point. Even so, any revisions must necessarily blend with the overall translation methodology of the new translation. The most problematic prayers — those with theological defects — must be corrected soon. Yet, many aspects of the methodology are seriously flawed vis a vis the Latin typical text. I will not harp on the abuse of Latin imperatives and quaesumus (I have an inordinate interest here, as this is my research.) The bizarre translation of the Latin vocative is grating. However, oddities must be tolerated if the current translation project is to continue.

        I can understand that there are numerous texts in the MR3 that are not ideally translated. That said, are there really so many that would justify returning to the inferior text of the Sacramentary?

        Any use of the Sacramentary during a revision period would hopefully be under voluntary indult. I do not foresee an abrogation of the current edition and a forced return to the 1973 edition during the revision process.

        I have been humbled over time. I no longer criticize the Sacramentary as prosaic or “dumbed down”. I often sense that some of us higher up the candle would rather ignore that not all persons are comfortable with or understand the new translation. Be glad that we can understand spoken nested relative clauses and SAT flashcard level vocabulary. Do we not also have our personal challenges?

        I maintain for these reasons that priests should be able to say Mass according to the Sacramentary under indult and voluntarily, even after revisions to the current translation, for the good of Catholics who prefer or need this prayer.

      10. @Matthew Morelli – comment #73:

        Instead, would it not make more sense to issue a correction only for the particular texts that are not theologically orthodox?

        I think you might find that the texts requiring revision form a significant proportion of the 10,000+ changes that were made to the 2008 text that the bishops approved before the 2010 text emerged from the bowels of the Vatican. It seems clear that those responsible for those changes were not only linguistically inept and with little competence in Latin but also theologically inept. So, a rather more extensive exercise than just correcting one or two problem passages would be required.

      11. @Jonathan Day – comment #15:

        One other point, Jonathan:

        The survey suggests that 59% of priests in the U.S. are critical of the MR3 translation. That seems rather high to me, but I don’t doubt (let me repeat it again) that there’s a very significant number who don’t like it. I honestly don’t know how many, however.

        More to the point, I can think of certain U.S. (and Canadian) dioceses where, given the nature of the composition of their presbyterate, and the general perception of their attitudes on such matters, I actually don’t doubt that there might be as many as (or even more than) three in five priests who don’t like the MR3’s translation, perhaps strongly so.

        I think demographic and personal data would have helped here, given the suspicion I have that there’s likely to be a real cleavage by age/generation reflecting the divides we have seen in CARA studies on the priesthood in recent years (indeed, such as the one referenced in this survey).

        Again, I think the survey has real value. I’m not dismissing it out of hand. But it’s value is regrettably limited by the voluntary nature of its sampling, and the lack of any information on the background of the respondents.

      12. @Richard Malcolm – comment #18:
        It’s beyond question? Sorry, Richard, I don’t buy it.

        By “selection bias” I mean the surveyors choosing whom to sample and whom not to sample — and thus introducing bias into the responses. If I ask all car owners in a city whether a “gas guzzler” tax should be imposed, I will get one response; if I ask only the owners of hybrid cars, I will get another.

        Here — with the very small exception of religious priests on parish distribution lists — the surveyors attempted to reach every priest in the United States.

        No selection bias, because no selection.

        By “response bias” I mean that those with a particular opinion would be more likely to respond. We have agreed that there may be response bias. The problem is that it’s difficult to know which way it cuts. You say that “And those most motivated [to] reply will tend [to] be, disproportionately, those with negative responses on issues like this – negative emotions tend to crowd out positive ones in issues like these. That’s going to be especially true of those who bothered to offer additional written responses.”

        I could equally assert that those who love the new Missal — all those beleaguered priests, harassed in the seminaries by feminist nuns on the faculty, forbidden by modernist bishops from wearing their birettas, tortured for decades because the 1973 translation doesn’t say What The Prayer Really Says, would be more likely to respond.

        Unless we have a stronger case for response bias than your assertion or mine, I am inclined to discount it.

        Finally, for those dioceses you mention where 3 in 5 don’t like the new translation: so what? Do you discount those dioceses? That would be selection bias, ex post. Help me understand, please, why a diocese-by-diocese breakdown would lead us to conclude anything different about the US as a whole.

      13. @Jonathan Day – comment #19:

        By “response bias” I mean that those with a particular opinion would be more likely to respond. We have agreed that there may be response bias. The problem is that it’s difficult to know which way it cuts. You say that “And those most motivated [to] reply will tend [to] be, disproportionately, those with negative responses on issues like this – negative emotions tend to crowd out positive ones in issues like these. That’s going to be especially true of those who bothered to offer additional written responses.”

        I could equally assert that those who love the new Missal — all those beleaguered priests, harassed in the seminaries by feminist nuns on the faculty, forbidden by modernist bishops from wearing their birettas, tortured for decades because the 1973 translation doesn’t say What The Prayer Really Says, would be more likely to respond.

        Unless we have a stronger case for response bias than your assertion or mine, I am inclined to discount it.

        We would have a clearer picture of the situation for questions such as these if more of the internal data were released by the Diekmann Center. Statistics of the age and number of years ordained would be particularly useful, especially if the responses are then tabulated by these categories.

        Do we know if there is any plan to release internal data for the survey? I can understand if the Center wanted to release some findings immediately, even while they continue to tabulate more detailed statistics.

      14. @Jonathan Day – comment #19:

        Hello Jonathan,

        1. The fact that Diekmann did not choose the dioceses that participated doesn’t mean there’s not selection bias. I think you’re missing the point here about how selection bias works.

        2. And the fact that these 32 dioceses are relatively scattered does not mean that they’re representative. I can think of dioceses adjacent to others that have markedly different presbyterates.

        Note that I am *not* discounting dioceses with a larger share of critical priests. They have a right to their opinions, too. I *am* saying only that they aren’t necessarily representative of the whole.

        3. I would like to repeat what Matthew Morelli says above: Is it not possible to obtain more internal data about the background of the respondents? Because if we had that, it would be more readily possible for outsiders to evaluate how representative this might be.

        4. You still have not addressed my concern about Diekmann’s express reliance, methodologically, on comparison with CARA’s 2009 survey of the priesthood. It makes much of its considerably higher response rate than CARAs survey, but does not address the methodological problems identified by Prof. Sullins in the CARA survey, not least that previous CARA surveys on the same topic had response rates of 71%, 87%, 68%, and 70% from priests – all far higher than this survey. Link to review here.

        5. The larger problem, in the absence of the background data some of us are asking for, is that we’re confronted with a survey conducted by a research arm of a seminary known for skepticism toward MR3, producing a survey that suggests that most priests are, well, skeptical of MR3. Well: Maybe most are. But it risks looking self-serving.

        I think there’s value in what Diekmann tried to do here, as I said. But without more info, can we know how much?

      15. @Jonathan Day – comment #19:

        P.S. On my last point about self-serving concerns…let me try a hypothetical to make my point a little clearer.

        Let us say that an entity known for Reform of the Reform proclivities – let us say Adoremus, or, more analogously, Kenrick-Glennon (at least under Archbp. Burke) had commissioned a research group to conduct a similar, voluntary survey of priests on their attitudes about the new Missal. Let us say that a limited number of dioceses chose to participate. Let us say that it included little to no background data on respondents. And let us say that its findings suggest that a large majority of priests very much approved of the new Missal.

        If that happened, I think you, and Fr. Ruff, would be quite skeptical – and you’d have a right to be. You’d wonder if a disproportionate number of participating dioceses might be ones like (say) Lincoln, perhaps because they’d be more at ease cooperating with the likes of Adoremus or Kenrick-Glennon because they’re liturgically sympatico. You’d want to see a lot more background on respondents. And you’d be right to want that.

        I am not – let me be clear – accusing anyone at Diekmann of any conscious attempt at distortion, or bad motives. Charity demands that I not assume that. But I’m choosing this hypothetical to better make my point about how outsiders, especially those who greatly differ on this issue, might be skeptical at seeing Diekmann generate survey results that show that most American priests very strongly support the criticisms of the new Missal (and how it came to be) that seem common at St. John’s.

        The fact is that this survey might be fairly accurate. But without a lot more background data, how can we really know? And surely you can understand why those of us on the other side of the question might be a little skeptical.

      16. @Richard Malcolm – comment #26:
        Richard, we seem to be talking past one another here, unable to agree even on the meaning of “selection bias”, so I suggest we leave this debate where it is for now.

        I do think that it could have been better for the survey to have been conducted by an organisation perceived as more liturgically neutral — CARA, for instance — or even as a joint venture of St John’s and the CMAA. I don’t think this would have affected the responses much, if at all, but it would have removed a pretext for dismissing the survey, either wholly (Fr Z) or with faint praise (your good self).

        And yes, I can see that a survey conducted by a traditionalist organisation could be criticised in the same way. I hope I wouldn’t personally have attacked it, if it had been done with the care of this survey, but you never know.

        Suppose demographic data (not collected) had showed that priests under 40 were less critical of the new translation than those over 40. What would we have concluded from that?

      17. @Jonathan Day – comment #31:

        Hello Jonathan,

        Richard, we seem to be talking past one another here, unable to agree even on the meaning of “selection bias”, so I suggest we leave this debate where it is for now.

        Fair enough, Jonathan.

        I do think that it could have been better for the survey to have been conducted by an organisation perceived as more liturgically neutral — CARA, for instance — or even as a joint venture of St John’s and the CMAA. I don’t think this would have affected the responses much, if at all, but it would have removed a pretext for dismissing the survey, either wholly (Fr Z) or with faint praise (your good self).

        I think that would have helped.

        But I think a more rigorous methodology would have helped, as well. Believe me, I think it’s a worthwhile project to get a sense of the reactions on the ground. Really, I do.

        Suppose demographic data (not collected) had showed that priests under 40 were less critical of the new translation than those over 40. What would we have concluded from that?

        I think that would confirm what many of us already suspected was the case, wouldn’t you? 🙂

        Part of that – let’s be honest – is that it’s naturally harder for an older cohort to happily switch out a text they’ve been using every day for most of their adult lives than someone much younger. There was some of that when everything changed in 1965-1973, to be sure, though I can’t speak to the extent of it. And part of it is, yes, that there’s a different mindset among many of the younger priests, as I think we all know by now.

        I don’t mean to just dismiss the concerns of older priests, by the way (I know some outstanding ones). My point about demographics isn’t just to paint my picture of geriatric Spirit of Vatican II grumps versus Young Fogies. The point is that it would help us get a sense of how representative the sample is. That’s why demographics matter so critically to pollsters.

      18. @Jonathan Day – comment #19:
        By “response bias” I mean that those with a particular opinion would be more likely to respond. We have agreed that there may be response bias. The problem is that it’s difficult to know which way it cuts.

        Whether it’s selection bias or response bias, it’s still bias. And even if it’s only potential bias, it means that the survey constructors should not be making statements like saying that a majority of Catholic priests dislike the new missal. There’s no way that they can exclude the possibility of a 10% swing in the response bias.

  10. According to the survey there seems to be a lack of respondents from the South and Southwest where Catholicism is rapidly growing. (From the South only 3-5 states are represented depending on your own understanding of the South and 1-3 for the Southwest if you include California.) I wonder if there is enough data to extrapolate what the survey responses would be according to regions of the nation?

    This site often speaks about cultural differences and I think this can make a huge impact for understanding the texts. For instance, in some areas of the South, there is till a strong culture that appreciates and nurtures an oral tradition. This may be rapidly diminishing due to other influences in life, especially among younger folks. However, the spoken word, story telling, songster (chanting is very effective – a good story can be set to music) listening to others, and slower pace of life still have a great affect on the way Mass is celebrated in much of the South. Those of us who study and read the translations and spend a great deal of time with the written word, will hear what is spoken in a much different manner than just listening to it once. The person in the pew will hear and comprehend it or not according to many factors including the delivery, trust and familiarity with the orator (priest), belief and trust in the Church, etc. I can only speak from experiences in the South and Southwest, but these are important factors in the prayer of the people.

    1. @John J. Hoffman – comment #10:
      No, there’s not a lack of respondents from the south. Just take a map of the US and mark the states represented. You’ll quickly see it’s spread pretty evenly across the US, with the only region under-represented being the northeast.

      Now, strictly speaking, we don’t know to what extent the 32 dioceses are representative of all 178. But that proportion of representation (32 / 178) holds up for the south.

      awr

      1. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #11:

        I did just that and you will see that most of the responding diocese cluster in the upper mid-west. Yes, you are correct the Northeast is very under-represented as are other parts of the nation.

        The priest that serve in many regions of the South and Southwest for the most part are facing packed masses. That’s my point, how is this translation translating to the folks in the pews?

        What are they hearing and not what are they reading? As was implied by several commentators right after we started using the new translation at Mass poor preparation on the part of the priest with the prayers will not help in the praying of the Mass. I think this was also very true of the old translation. Sometimes (many the prayers were sped through at such a pace it became a sort-of ecclesiastical white noise.

      2. @John J. Hoffman – comment #14:
        Of the 14 ecclesiastical regions, 12 are represented. So there is no “clustering” in any region.
        You can’t possibly know, because of our agreement with dioceses for the sake of their confidentiality, how many dioceses from any given state are in the survey. There are 15 dioceses in TX, for example – and you don’t know whether we have 1 or 5 or 12 dioceses from Texas.
        Your objection doesn’t hold up.
        awr

  11. I was just wondering why ICEL still exists if the english speaking bishop’s conferences are not trusted enough to produce their own translations? 10,000 changes are really a nice way of saying thanks for your work but Vox Clara will take it from here.

  12. The great sadness is that what ever might be said regarding the statistical validity of this survey, we are paying the price of our Bishops meekly accepting a translation imposed by Rome.
    The signatories to the Seattle site-what if we just said wait-raised significant doubts and those doubts were just brushed aside.
    We are now paying the price for being directed in a dictatorial manner to accept something that frustrates many. The chaos and cost of repairing such a disatrous mistake beggars belief. Meawhile many are confused and hurt by the current situation.

    1. @Chris McDonnell – comment #13:

      The chaos and cost of repairing such a disatrous mistake beggars belief. Meawhile many are confused and hurt by the current situation.

      I’ll settle for some anecdotal evidence of this, much less empircal proof.
      Even the last holdouts in the back pews are coming around to “It is right and just.” And if one can’t relate to the simplest of translations, personally, of “Et cum spiritu tuo,” there’s not much more to say to that lack of theological integrity and honesty.
      And, again, Liam, +1 to your always reasonable analysis.

  13. FWIW, I am not yet persuaded by the the complainers’ veto interpretation proposed by some here. What we saw in 2011 and 2012 was that there was just as much energy going into promoting the changes and lauding their implementation as the other side: bishops and priests who want the changes to succeed have demonstrated they are incentivized to communicate that in surveys.

    Moreover, in the responses reported, there is a significant gap between liking the new translation and liking other dimensions of the change: that gap indicates we are not talking of two highly partisan sides in the survey audience.

    And we do live in an age where the Pauline Kael Syndrome* has purchase among Catholic clerics who feel threatened by the consequences of honesty. I know there are priests who implemented the changes faithfully, and said nothing to other peers about their reservations, but my sample is as worthwhile as Pauline Kael’s, too.

    Just sayin’… I otherwise defer to Jack, as he has a good read on these things from a process standpoint.

    * in reference to PK’s wonderment at Nixon’s landslide reelection in 1972, because everyone she knew voted for McGovern.

  14. This study is very interesting for what it tells us about priests. It needs to be interpreted in light of the series of studies sponsored by the National Federation of Priest Councils, the most recent of which I reviewed in the post on Same Call, Different Men: The Evolution of the Priesthood Since Vatican II

    http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2012/12/09/book-review-same-call-different-men-the-evolution-of-the-priesthood-since-vatican-ii-by-mary-l-gautier-paul-m-perl-stephen-j-fichter/

    That study like all the previous studies had found priests live very satisfying lives. In all the studies the largest source of satisfaction has been the “Joy of administering the sacraments and presiding over the liturgy” which steadily increased from 80% in 1970 to 95% in 2009. Therefore we should not be surprised that this 2013 survey has a higher response rate than many other surveys of priests. Nor should we be surprised that only 1.57% had not noticed much difference between this Missal text and the previous one.

    We should not be surprised that 54% were apprehensive about the new text or that 34% were looking forward to it. These reports are not simply ideological. In fact 15% of priests looked forward to the text but now don’t like it. Another 10% of priests were apprehensive about the text but now like it. In others words, 25% of priests changed their minds one way or another because of the experience of the text. If one looks at the rest of the survey and the many comments it appears that priests are being influenced by their experience. That says not only is the Mass important but the Missal text is important. More than knee jerk ideology is going on here.

    We are dealing with survey data from priests who take the Mass, the Missal text and the survey seriously. Given the workload of priests in the recent CARA study, and the expression of 55 % of priests in this study that their views would likely have no effect, it is surprising that 46% responded.

    In the recent CARA study, priests expressed deep concern about how the bishops had handled the sexual abuse scandal. They saw the bishops as concerned for themselves not for the priests whose lives have been changed by the sexual abuse scandal.

    When it comes to liturgy, the bishops again have acted without much consultation from priests or with much concern for the impact the new missal would have on their lives.

    Ironically it seems that the laity may have adapted more easily. We are used to putting up with bad homilies, poor music, why not awkward text? Perhaps now that many priests have to put up with distracting text they will become more sympathetic to our concerns about bad homilies and poor music.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #24:

      The 2001 National Federation of Priests’ Council study, Evolving Visons of the Priesthood (still available from Liturgical Press) was the last done by Dean Hoge. It features his model of priesthood generations in which he contrasts the“Servant Leadership Model“ of the Vatican II generation of young priests with the “Cultic Leadership Model” both of Pre-Vatican II generation of priests and of the younger priests since 1980 who have seen JP2 and B16 as their models.

      Generational models are important sociological explanatory tools. The basic idea is that each generation is overly influenced by the things that they experience in their youth (teens and twenties) and these experiences tend to shape them for life. While this is true, there is still much change that occurs throughout the life cycle even if later events tend to have less influence. Therefore I was glad that when CARA took over the latest study after Hoge’s death that they placed more emphasis upon the many other situational factors that are beginning to influence priestly ministry other than the generational model.

      However when it comes to the current 2013 Diekmann study, I have no doubt that generational factors and “servant leader” versus “cultic” models of the priesthood explain much (but not all) the results. The results seem to perfectly fit what I would expect from prior studies factoring in new ordinations and deaths. Unfortunately (for those who are skeptical of the results) old priests never die they just fade away (i.e. they continue to say Mass even after they retire).

      So the implementation of the New Missal has not only alienated the majority of priests, it has also thrown gasoline on the fires of intergenerational conflict. Shame on the poor management skills of the American bishops!

      In my review of the more recent CARA study I took pains to express my conviction that both servant leadership (emphasis upon ministry to people) and cultic (emphasis upon worship) models of the priesthood have long histories in the Church and both deserve support and should not be seen as in conflict with each other. As if we could ever separate the love of God and the love of others!

      Pope Francis as a Jesuit has a more “servant leader” model of the priesthood than Pope Benedict (whose cultic model was influenced to some degree by aspects of the Benedictine tradition). Will more “servant leaders” interested in evangelization and the poor began to show up in the coming years in our seminaries? We don’t know. Hoge in his book criticizes most of the explanations for the revival of the cultic model among seminarians since the eighties. The one certainly he points out is that it did not come from American Catholic laity in general since these have steadily become more liberal!

      1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #35:

        Social Science Methodological Note:

        While the methodological section of a social science report is important, the data section and how this relates to previous research and theory (the introduction and discussions) are just as important in evaluating the overall value of the study.

        One of the enlightening experiences of graduate study is to criticize all the many methodological faults of many of the classical studies that have shaped psychology and sociology. Theories and interesting data advance science as much as methodology. As with most things, both/and is necessary in the long run.

      2. @Jack Rakosky – comment #35:
        I think that Pope Benedict was more academic in his priesthood and style of leadership and a better description than “cultic model.” Certainly Pope Francis is less interested in academic rhetoric and models a servant leadership style but also clearly cultic, as evidenced in the impromptu, more devotional than by the book, exorcism he performed on Pentecost Sunday, but that ties in very well with his desire for the Church to recover popular devotions and sacramentals which are cultic too. But the real legacy of Pope Benedict following on the inspiration of the Pope John Paul II’s generation of priests is “evangelical Catholicism and priesthood” which is a mix of the cultic and servant style, denigrating neither.

      3. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #37:
        Fr. Allan,
        Pope Francis did not perform an exorcism on Pentecost Sunday.
        “The Holy Father had no intention to perform any exorcism,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a statement. “Instead, as he frequently does for the sick and suffering persons who approach him, he simply meant to pray for a suffering person who was presented to him.”

      4. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #40:
        So Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, appointed by Benedict XVI and continued by Francis, is a liar. This is a nice way to start off the day.

        And is the Church’s Rite of Exorcism just for optional use?

  15. I am struck by how the detailed comments echo those that were received in the Diocese of Portsmouth survey whose results were posted last autumn and every one of whose comments I read, transcribed and categorised in the course of processing the data. I am struck by the close correspondence in both the positive comments and the (greater number of) negative ones, many of which (in the Portsmouth survey) were received from priests (and even two bishops). The same concerns, the same phraseology, the same emotions, the same eloquence are quite clearly present.

    Even if some commenters here are reluctant to accept the validity of the survey, they can surely see from reading these 65 pages of comments that “all is not well in the state of Denmark”? Couple that with the statistics and percentages found by the survey, and anyone who tries to maintain that nothing needs to be done, no action needs to be taken, is IMO living in an unreal world.

  16. Something must be done, and the bishops of the English speaking world must give a sincere apology for their abuse of the laity, their slandering of critics, and their deeply unchristian pigheadedness in pushing this dreck on the people of God.

  17. “1. The fact that Diekmann did not choose the dioceses that participated doesn’t mean there’s not selection bias. I think you’re missing the point here about how selection bias works. ”

    So am I. Perhaps you would explain it?

  18. We have become a Church of critics. Like one spouse who continually criticizes the other, constant critiquing usually ends up in division and divorce. While I recognize that the professionals in the Church, mainly clergy and of a particular ideological bent, are dissatisfied with the translation, I’d be more impressed with a poll of the laity. But those polls should indicate how the new translation was implemented in the parishes surveyed, positively, reluctantly or negatively by those in charge of implementing it, the clergy. I suspect that would have an effect on the attitudes surveyed. Except for the inconvenience caused by the shift in some parts of the laity’s responses, after almost two years of this new translation, I don’t think I’ve heard any negative comments whatsoever and certainly none concerning what the priest prays. I suspect only those who are in tuned with the negativity that abounds in the Church today would have negative sentiments about the translation at this point. That begs the question, of the more than 60 million Catholics in the USA, how many read Praytell?

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #32:
      A church of critics … would that include criticisms of lay people’s use of contraceptives, who we invite to college commencements, our workshop line-ups, our materialism, our lack of Mass attendance on holy days, and our alleged lack of a sense of sin?

      I do think this poll gives us a window as to how MR3 was implemented by bishops with their clergy.

      “I don’t think I’ve heard any negative comments whatsoever …”

      This isn’t surprising. It’s also largely the experience of popes and bishops everywhere. Quick question: good thing or bad thing?

      1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #33:
        Well, Todd, as Pope Francis is calling for a reform of the clergy, religious and laity (what I’d like to call another phase of the “reform of the reform in continuity, but applied now to souls” I think it is appropriate to critique sin and call people to repentance and fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church in the areas of faith, morals and Church discipline (canon law, etc). Just this morning the Holy Father called the Chinese National Governmental Church to fidelity to the Successor of Saint Peter, i.e. the living Magisterium of the Church. Implicit in that is a criticism of separating oneself or group from the Magisterium .
        These are the Holy Father’s words, not mine, to the Chinese Catholics this morning:
        He said : “I urge all Catholics around the world to join in prayer with our brothers and sisters who are in China, to implore from God the grace to proclaim with humility and joy Christ, who died and rose again; to be faithful to His Church and the Successor of Peter and to live everyday life in service to their country and their fellow citizens in a way that is consistent with the faith they profess.”
        This pope is calling for fidelity to the Magisterium. I don’t think fidelity is a four letter word when applied to the legitimate authority of the Church and the faith and morals of the Church as well as her discipline.

      2. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #34:
        Really, it was a simple question. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that a pastor doesn’t hear any bad news?

        Also, I have no problem with fidelity to the Magisterium. But I don’t think it’s out of line to expect it of Vox Clara bishops. Do you?

        I think we’re getting the measure of MR3 supporters. They would have liked to see the 70% approval CARA polled among the laity instead of the 20% unconditional approval in the clergy. But some of them have a simple enough proposal. Just brand the 80% as old fogies opposed to the pope and discount their input entirely. Then say, “We heard no complaints from any faithful Catholic.” And be done with the whole mess. On to the Liturgy of the Hours and the Rites!

      3. @Todd Flowerday – comment #46:
        Catholic priests (even more so up the chain) with a strong personality and gift for self-expression will naturally tend to cause people who don’t agree to modulate and self-censor the expression of their own views. Especially if they are aware of the cleric treating conflicting views with contempt or mockery. They may be sheep, but they are not stupid. The stupid ones are the clerics who are in denial of this reality and of the insiduous effects it can have on their legacy; it creates a balloon interest payment, payable when they leave.

      4. @Todd Flowerday – comment #46:
        Todd, I hear bad news all the time, especially in the sacrament of confession and spiritual counseling. My parish is no shrinking violet and I do hear often of their disagreements with this, that or the other, especially some preaching I did during the election year but also with building programs and agendas of more of a parish political situation. But when it comes to the new English translation and I’m speaking of today, not a peep, people have accepted it. And when we first implemented it, the awkwardness was with their changed parts more than anything and not in an angry way, but amusing way because of the tendency to revert. Heck, recently at a concelebrated Mass with our bishop I responded “It is right to give him thanks…and caught myself).

  19. So, the majority of priest think that the new ‘translations’ are awkward and distracting; good, because they are and they seem to detract from simple communication in the liturgy.

    I find it bordering on obfuscation at times and completely without validity unless one’s goal is obfuscation.

    Who authorized this, what is the goal beyond alienation and, mostly, where were the voices of descent in this change?

    The Jesuits taught us that change for the sake of change, not for a valid reason, was always made to cloud or lesson a point.

    Perhaps the authors of these changes should run for Congress – they would fit right in with the present decline our country is experiencing.

  20. Thank you for sharing the survey results. I’m skeptical of the results since only 32 dioceses responded. I’m curious why only those 32 dioceses did respond. Furthermore, I completely agree with Fr. Allan McDonald’s comments that we have become a Church of critics. Whatever happened to holy obedience? I have good news. The vast majority of priests entering the seminary are more faithful to Church Traditions than the previous generation. The new missal is not going anywhere. I, for one, am very happy with new translation. It is much more precise and simply beautiful in its wording.

  21. Help me understand, please, why a diocese-by-diocese breakdown would lead us to conclude anything different about the US as a whole.

    Because dioceses in the United States are very varied. Depending on which dioceses participated you could get very different views.

    Nor is there any “internal data.” All data, responses, and comments are available for download here.

    Well not quite, right? As Fr. Ruff points out, you know what dioceses participated, but have agreed not to release that information.

  22. One of the enlightening experiences of graduate study is to criticize all the many methodological faults of many of the classical studies that have shaped psychology and sociology. Theories and interesting data advance science as much as methodology. As with most things, both/and is necessary in the long run.

    True, but “some priests don’t like the new missal” isn’t a new and interesting theory. We know that. Pinning down reliable numbers would be interesting, but this doesn’t do that.

  23. Samuel, even if there were a 10% swing, as you assert (on the basis of nothing, as far as I can tell), the results would still be significant: it is not just that “some priests don’t like the new missal”, but that a very large number don’t.

    Of course, more precise numbers would be great. Demographic breakdowns would be interesting. But that doesn’t mean that these numbers are useless. Far from it.

  24. The comments of Jack Rakosky and Jonathan Day seem to me to aptly express both an expert and a common sense approach to the data which are presented here, which ought to quell concerns about bias in the results of the survey. Thank you both very much.

    It is very interesting to me that no one has pointed to anything in the INTERPRETATION of the data which would suggest a bias. This is where one would expect to find bias if the survey were being conducted by people whose bias prevented them from seeing the real story, the meaning behind the numbers. But no. All the focus as been on the data itself as biased, i.e., unrepresentative, not that biased people have taken the data and argued wrongly about what it means.

    The suggestions of invitation bias and response bias are both red herrings, as I see it. Let’s take them one at a time, and look at what they really mean. The red herring of “invitation bias” could suggest that the survey report is LYING and actually, all dioceses were NOT invited. Now, I ask you. Really? I think we can dismiss that hypothesis.

    So how could the invitation be biased? Another implicit suggestion is that somehow the folks at the Diekmann Center ran around cultivating the participation of those dioceses most likely to agree with them. Again, preposterous. How would they do that? How would they know which places would show a greater likelihood of Missal affirmation or criticism?

    A third implicit suggestion: That those who worked on the survey cooked the results. They actually received a ton of responses that praised the new missal, and stuffed them into trash bins. Does anyone really believe this?

    While I can see the hypothetical point of asking about response bias — i.e. that more people who are hot under the collar will fill out a survey asking for their opinion — I think Jonathan nailed it. That hypothesis cuts both ways. Feelings have been strong on BOTH sides of the question. Yet I don’t hear anybody saying “Neutral response should have been higher.” (cont. @ #50)

    1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #50:

      Hello Rita,

      Another implicit suggestion is that somehow the folks at the Diekmann Center ran around cultivating the participation of those dioceses most likely to agree with them. Again, preposterous.

      I hope you’re not implicating me in that accusation, because it is not what I what I was trying to say.

      What I’m saying is that there’s a trust factor at work. Think of it this way – and I will use a somewhat extreme example: A polling outfit presents itself as polling for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. They end up calling a respondent who happens to be a NRA life sustaining member. There’s a good chance that the respondent isn’t going to want to talk to them, just because of who they are working for.

      Now that’s an extreme case, and that’s a quick phone poll. Here, dioceses and their priests are asked to fill out a lengthier survey. It’s not a question of Diekmann working hard to set up and interpret their survey in as objective and rigorous fashion as possible – I am willing to assume that they did just that. But because Diekmann is connected to Collegeville, I think you must entertain the possibility that more conservative bishops will be more skeptical about cooperating with such a survey, through no fault of Diekmann’s, which I have no reason to doubt has tried to create an objective survey here.

      In this regard, I really do think that Fr. Allen’s reaction just now encapsulates the phenomenon I’m talking about. It’s unfortunate…but it’s human nature.

      You said elsewhere here that bishops don’t want to know the answers to this. You’re likely right about some. But that’s a problem that goes back a long, long way, I’m afraid. And it seems to be getting worse, if the way priests are now treated post-Dallas Charter is anything to judge by.

      1. @Richard Malcolm – comment #57:
        Hi Richard,

        Thanks for agreeing in principle that those conducting this survey can be presumed to have done so out of an earnest desire to find out what priests actually think, and that they were willing to publish the results even if those results turned out to disagree completely with their personal views.

        Yes, I think it’s reasonable to assert that if an acute polarization exists, and if a hermeneutics of suspicion about “who’s asking” is highly active, and if that suspicion is coupled with the notion that “they will skew the survey and my opinion won’t be fairly represented” it could suppress participation of one “side” in the survey. That is a lot of “ifs” however.

        I think there are other hypothetical reasons why dioceses didn’t participate, which are at least as plausible.

        1. Opposition to opinion research per se. They don’t ask what people think because they don’t believe one’s opinion can or should make the slightest bit of difference. This includes the ultra-obedience view of priests (do what you’re told) as well as intellectual elitism (experts did the translation, the average priest doesn’t have the right to an opinion).

        2. Understaffing of diocesan offices and overload of work. It may not have been a heavy burden to get the distribution list and cooperate with the survey, but you’d be surprised at all the things that DON’T get done in dioceses anymore because there’s nobody in that office anymore, or they’re all out conducting child safety seminars or planning the fortnight for freedom or whatever.

        3. The strong expectation that the results would show just what they’ve shown, and the desire not to have to face those results.

      2. @Rita Ferrone – comment #59:

        Hello Rita,

        Fair points.

        In my experience, motive are usually mixed. And I don’t doubt that all the factors you just suggested were at work in at least some of the dioceses that declined to respond.

        If I had had to guess, just based on what I have seen and heard, I would have suspected that 30-40% of U.S. priests had major reservations about the new translation, with some dioceses having a majority critical. It could well be that this survey is right, and that I underestimated that opposition (which I still have believed was quite significant).

        I still wonder how representative this sampling is. But I don’t doubt that Diekmann tried to create an objective survey, regardless of whether the results turned out to confirm the beliefs of many in its parent institution.

    2. @Rita Ferrone – comment #50:

      It is very interesting to me that no one has pointed to anything in the INTERPRETATION of the data which would suggest a bias.

      One of the reasons that the data is being attacked is that it is being presented (quite wisely) with very little theoretical introduction, interpretation or recommendations. One of the reasons I have reviewed the results in terms of the prior NFPC studies is to provide some of the context of other research and theory through which the results might be best viewed and interpreted.

      However my own background comes as much from applied research as academic research; most of my data was presented to clinicians, administrators, and boards of trustees even though much of it was conducted with academic standards and found its way to professional meetings with academic presenters. My applied audiences had much reason to question the data both from their experience and their vested interests.

      Viewed from an applied research perspective I found much to admire in how this study was handled.

      One of my mentors in applied research said “Never sell data.” He said that of course when people first see data, they will deny it. “I talked to a client the other day and he said…” Several weeks later people will begin to say “You don’t really believe that data do you?” About a month or two later, “Who else knows about this data?”

      This study has wisely asked other people what they think of the data rather than focusing upon interpretations, conclusions, and recommendations. I employed similar strategies in presenting applied data. My object was to organize the data to make it as clear as possible without interpreting it. When someone would then say, “then from the data you would conclude.” My response was “is that what you conclude? Why do you think that?” By making the data the center of the conversation rather than my interpretation of the results, I found that I could use data to focus attention upon the issues and bring people together.

      In the church as in the mental health system there are many people (usually top administrators) who like their version of the facts. I always began by presenting data to program managers, then working up the chain to clinical directors, and finally executive directors. In some ways the strategy of offering the study to all dioceses, knowing that not all would accept, was similar. It allowed a conversion about data to begin, rather than being thwarted by vested interests.

  25. Finally, one could argue hypothetically that the number of dioceses responding might have been higher if the sponsoring organization were Georgetown, or Gallup, or Marist College, or whatever. But, as a matter of fact, nobody else has systematically sought out the opinion of priests or asked the priests what they think.

    This is where Peter Jeffery’s comment has its force. The elephant in the living room is that the bishops don’t want to know what the priests think, and the “sad result” which Ed Foley remarked upon is that most priests know their views will NOT be taken into consideration.

    Houston, we have a problem.

  26. The Diocese of Savannah was selected and I received an email with the survey instrument attached from our Bishops office with the Collegeville name on the survey. It was simple enough to fill out but certainly the Collegeville/St. John name on it from the Benedictines surely skewed the results. I clearly knew that I would be a minority respondant and that those who are in the Collegeville camp would seize the opportunity to sharpen or grind their axes. Complainers usually respond to sympathetic institutions whereas those who like the translation have accepted it and moved on with everyday Catholic life according to Pope Francis’ vision. In other words the name on the survey guarenteed the biased results which an amature could predict.

  27. Even the Gallup organization may have difficulties because people recognize its name. In the last election it consistently underestimated Obama’s lead by several percentage points. Gallup is now going through an extensive investigation of why that happened; there is talk they may conduct a random study in the off year elections, half the time using another name.

    However, even though those few points were critical in a presidential election, the results were not really biased by that much. You are grasping at straws.

  28. One more note about generational differences.

    The assumption seems to be if the younger priests think one way, and older priests think another, we can presume that the older priests are on their way to the old folks home and the younger priests will remain and continue to think the same way as they do today.

    That assumption is shot through with problems. First of all, young people change their minds. No one can say that they will continue to think the same thoughts or react in the same fashion years down the line. Second, the guys who have been in the priesthood a long time are much more likely to be around longer. Attrition among the younger generation is and continues to be significant, as we’ve seen with religious orders. They come in, but they don’t necessarily stay. And given some of the lowering of standards in screening for new priests, I see a lot who break down or give up or shift into a new mode and out they go.

    Someone said above that the new missal unfortunately poured fuel on the fire of generational conflict, and I agree that that’s unfortunate.

    What I want to register, however, is that if some are thinking that the priests who dislike the missal translation are going to die off and be replaced by those who like it, I think that the picture is more complicated than that. And we need to deal with the feelings of whoever is here NOW. That’s the important thing.

  29. I never expected or requested that the 1973’s horrible translation be changed and thought I’d be stuck with it till I die and made the best of it and appreciated the good that was in it. I didn’t truly realize all the warts and blatant disregard for the post-Vatican II Latin template until I started reading Fr. Z’s blog and he pointed out how skewed that1973 translation was compared to the post Vatican II Latin counterpart.
    What I liked about the survey that I took, even with the bias that I knew the Collegeville name would bring to the survey was the ability to write additional thoughts. I wrote that it would be nice and good for the more clunky aspects of the priestly prayers to be refined but not in a radical way and that the laity’s parts should be left alone. I also offered that changing the priestly prayers, such as collects and prefaces that need adjustment would probably not even be noticed by most rank and file Catholics in the pews. Openness to refinement of the translation, even if this could be accomplished next year, does not mean dissatisfaction with the overall product but recognition that anything can be improved including the post-Vatican II Mass and the reform of the reform of it.

  30. I also took the survey and found the questions themselves to be biased toward an overall negative response. The questions included such things as “I find some of the texts to be awkward and distracting” and “I do not like the changes made to the texts” but there were no questions such as “I find some of the texts to be more spiritually uplifting” or “I think the translation is a more faithful rendition of the Latin” or “These texts have the capacity to lift our minds and hearts to God” etc. I got the impression that there was a predetermined response that the survey was looking to confirm.

    1. @Fr. Andrew Beerman – comment #64:

      The rationale behind the wording of the survey questions is explained in our Executive Summary:

      This survey instrument is based in part upon a nonscientific survey completed by The Tablet on January 9, 2013. Some questions (nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 7) are substantially identical for the sake of comparison, one question (no. 3) is slightly revised, and some questions (nos. 6, 8, 9) are original to this survey.

    2. @Fr. Andrew Beerman – comment #64:
      Fr Beerman, I am puzzled by your comment.

      Here, from the survey website, are the questions that were asked:

      1. Which of the following best sums up your attitude toward the new text? (5 possible answers, 2 positive, 2 negative, 1 neutral)

      2. I like the more formal style of language

      3. Some of the language is awkward and distracting.

      4. I think the new translation urgently needs to be revised

      5. I think work should go forward in translating the Liturgy of the Hours and all the other rites (Marriage, Confirmation, etc.) in the same style as the new Missal.

      6. I like the Missal’s English chant settings.

      7. I am confident that the views of priests will be taken seriously in future decisions about liturgical translation.

      8. I approve of the leadership of the Holy See in bringing about the new Missal.

      9. The new translation is more prayerful and reverent – we need a special language with which to address God.

      Of the nine questions, only two could be construed as “negative” — 3 and 4. Question 1 seems balanced and neutral. And the other six could only be read as positive, e.g. question 9, which is very close to the one you would have chosen (“These texts have the capacity to lift our minds and hearts to God”).

      Are you sure you took this survey and not another one?

  31. I was so thankful to read that Priests are not happy with the new Mass translation. As a 67 yr old, lifelong Catholic, I decided that the Church leadership made these changes for themselves with little concern for what this would mean to their Parishioners. Removing what was familiar created confusion and a distraction and added nothing. I went from being able to recite all the responses by heart, to being forced to use a cardboard “cheat sheet”. Immediately, this was no longer my Church. In an age where we seem to be modernizing everything, and losing Parishioners, why would the Catholic leadership go backwards and make the language and participation in the Mass complicated. As my Church no longer seems interested in serving its followers, I choose to no longer worship or support my Church within its walls. I do continue to Pray and am confident that my Lord hears me and understands what is in my heart without the fancy terminology the Catholic leadership put into place.

    1. @Susan Sign – comment #67:

      Susan,

      Thank you for your comments. It is good to hear from a faithful Catholic like yourself regarding the new translation. The conversation here is often very academic. After reading what you wrote I was wondering what the other half of the Totus Christus was experiencing on a pastoral level.

      There is a new online survey that appears to be posted by the group whatifwejustsaidwait .org that is looking for the opinions of the laity. It should be interesting when the findings of this survey are compiled.

      The survey can be accessed at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MDL9Y37

  32. What it comes down to is that those who do not like the results of this survey are trying to discredit the survey instrument rather than facing what the results might actually mean. I am all for healthy skepticism, but it seems more like relativism to suggest that “these facts are not my facts and maybe they are not facts at all.”

    1. @Colin Clout – comment #69:

      What it comes down to is that those who do not like the results of this survey are trying to discredit the survey instrument rather than facing what the results might actually mean. I am all for healthy skepticism, but it seems more like relativism to suggest that “these facts are not my facts and maybe they are not facts at all.”

      The more traditionalist-minded among us are pointing out the fact that there are serious deficiencies in the instrument that prevent useful conclusions from being drawn.

      The lack of some demographic information, such as age and number of years ordained prevent us from cross-checking the data with the demographics of the American presbyterate. This means that we have no way of determining whether the sample is actually proportionately representative of the entire presbyterate. This demographic information would allow us to mitigate some of the effects of response bias that other posters have mentioned.

      The survey information that is provided (particularly the text of responses by individual priests) is quite useful. We can conclude that many priests remain dissatisfied with the Missal, and we can draw some conclusions as to why this is the case.

      However, the percentages given only are useful to measure responses WITHIN THIS SAMPLE. We cannot draw conclusions to say something like “3/5 of American priests dissatisfied with MR3” (or even “Majority of American priests dissatisfied with MR3”) because we can’t be sure that the sample is representative of the whole.

      Sadly, the deficiencies in the survey instrument make this a squandered opportunity to shed more light onto the issue of reception of MR3.

      1. @Matthew Morelli – comment #74:
        Several, such as Matthew here, have wished for (or demanded) demographic data in order to trust the results of the survey.

        This is another red herring.

        The purpose of the survey is narrow, clearly. It is not seeking to chart generational differences. It is not seeking elucidation about different cohorts or roles within the presbyterate. It is not seeking correlations between urban and rural and suburban settings, or correlations with the educational level or income (!) of the respondents. It is not attempting to find out whether there are geographical trends in these opinions. All these things might be interesting, but they are not the first order of business.

        The survey, as I read it, is deliberately simple and asks for the opinion of the presbyterate AS A WHOLE, because this is the elephant in the living room, the denial of which is making it impossible to discuss the most pressing questions.

        Now, having established that ‘THERE IS A PROBLEM’ of considerable proportions, in order to address the problem, it could very well mean that a more detailed study is called for.

        Let the US Catholic bishops put some money into a detailed survey, as a tool to help them put some creative and responsible thought into how to address the issues.

        As I look at this survey from a distance (I had no part whatsoever in assembling it or designing it or executing it) my personal take on it is that the most important outcome may be — indeed — the simplest one: To put this subject back on the table, as an unsolved problem which needs urgently to be addressed before more texts of the same style (and with the same difficulties) are produced and put into use.

        Stop and look. You are hurting a very significant number of your priests.

        That is the message I am hearing from this.

      2. @Rita Ferrone – comment #87:

        Hello Rita,

        It is not seeking to chart generational differences. It is not seeking elucidation about different cohorts or roles within the presbyterate. It is not seeking correlations between urban and rural and suburban settings….

        To which I would say that these would certainly be welcome pieces of data to have. But that’s a secondary concern. For those of us who have expressed concern about the survey methodology, like Samuel, Mr. Moretti, Mr. Rice and myself, such information is only a means to an end. What we want to know, simply, is: How representative is this survey?

        The truth is, we don’t know. We don’t know because we don’t have the data on the respondents to measure against what we know of the U.S. presbyterate. Or in the alternative, because Diekmann did not (for whatever reason, presumably lack of resources or access) attempt to construct such a representative sample itself to poll.

        Some of you are defensive about this, no doubt in part because people in the usual quarters (Fr. Z, etc.) are thrashing the survey as self-serving and worthless. What I hope is evident, however, is that I don’t come here for bombing runs. I come here because I really want to know how those in the PTB circles think, and if there’s room for any agreement. I think there’s real value, as I have said several times, in what this survey is trying to do. I even think the results have some value.

        If your point is that many priests have serious reservations about MR3, I’ll concede that point immediately. I’ve met or heard enough such priests. And at the end of the day, maybe it doesn’t matter if it’s 39% or 59%. It’s a lot, and the bishops ought to be aware and address it.

        The concern is only about how representative it really is, given the methodology used. I hope it’s possible to recognize that while still finding value in it.

        Thank you once again for the opportunity to take part in this discussion.

      3. @Rita Ferrone – comment #87:

        Several, such as Matthew here, have wished for (or demanded) demographic data in order to trust the results of the survey.

        This is another red herring. […]

        The survey, as I read it, is deliberately simple and asks for the opinion of the presbyterate AS A WHOLE…

        But without collecting rudimentary demographic information, and releasing said information along with the results, how on earth is it possible to know that the survey actually expresses the opinion of priests as a whole group? You don’t always get what you ask for!

        There’s a difference between simple and simplistic, and my own opinion is that this simplistic survey is by and large useless. Much like every other survey of its type that has come before, regardless of the results.

  33. To be honest with you as a German Catholic I do not quite get the ‘Sturm im Wasserglass’ over the translation. In Germany we have recited for decades pretty much exactly along the lines of the newest translation – for example we part with “und mit deinem Geiste” – which is “with your spirit” instead of “with you”.
    For me as a Progressive Catholic there are much bigger fish to fry than this. Our Popes clear words in yesterdays homily -embracing All and even Atheists for example have much more profound meaning in reality than various musings this way or that way concerned with a yet more precise translation of ancient latin words – words that came into existence in a rather unprecise process in the first place. Words will always follow the people – the people these days are marching in a rather progressive fashion – words will follow.
    The fact that extremist like Fr Z. and friends get all excited about the new translation certainly gives pause – but why should we attempt to out Pharisee those particularly backward Pharisee’s?

    As a Progressive Catholic it also concerns me when I read that folks are uncomfortable because rewording represents too much sudden change – oh Lord many of us would like to see married and female Priests – that is change one can worry about not shifting of words this way or that way IMHO.

    1. @Adrian Gregory – comment #72:
      But the German liturgy is correct and prayable German, whereas the new English translation is incorrect, unidiomatic, bad style, and unprayable.

      1. @Joe O’Leary – comment #97:
        Fair point perhaps – the one example I gave ‘with your spirit’
        would you consider that unprayable?
        Clearly the spirit behind the drive towards a new translation is rotten in my mind – it is the spirit of people for whom religion is not alive but a set in stone solidly fixed affair – its the spirit of the Scalias of our religion.
        This has no future of course but let them try.

        As a scientist I kind of like the “with your sprit” since in my mind it elegantly points away from the God as ‘person’ – you – as in you my good personal friend -(in many peoples imaginations it seems that Michelangelo’s depiction of God as a old man is rather solidly embedded:) – and reorients us to the Spirit – much more mysterious and unknown and difficult to catch – like consciousness.

      2. @Adrian Gregory – comment #99:
        I don’t mind “et avec votre esprit” or “und mit Deinem Geiste” so I don’t object to “and with your spirit” per se –but note that the phrase is not addressed to God but to the celebrant, and has nothing to do with personalizing of God.

  34. Jordan, I admire the spirit of intellectual curiosity and honesty that you bring to Pray Tell. It is a joy to be in dialogue with you on these issues.

    It would be wonderful if the 1973 could come back under indult, but I think that is unlikely to happen. The introduction of the new translation systematically and deliberately positioned the old one as “wrong” more than something to be improved on. I was too young to recall the nuances of the shift from the Mass of 1962 to that of 1970, but I don’t recall the old Mass as being denounced in the same way. It was more an exercise of power – Paul VI abrogating the old Mass – than of intellectual authority.

    But the new translation was introduced, in many places, by trashing the old one.

    You mentioned Comme le Prévoit in an earlier post. In my view, it was far superior to Liturgiam Authenticam – historically, philologically, philosophically. At least CLP recognised that every translation is an interpretation, and that

    A liturgical text, inasmuch as it is a ritual sign, is a medium of spoken communication. It is, first of all, a sign perceived by the senses and used by men to communicate with each other. But to believers who celebrate the sacred rites a word is itself a “mystery” By spoken words Christ himself speaks to his people and the people, through the Spirit in the Church, answer their Lord.

    Lit Auth, in contrast – by its very title – suggests that we can actually get to “what the prayer really says”. It proposes a sort of end-of-history (or end-of-hermeneutics) approach to the text.

    The 1973 has flaws, as does the current one. Neither is entirely true to the principles (CLP or Lit Auth) under which it was developed. But the two sets of principles are so far apart that I do not see how it will be possible even to allow use of the older form, without huge back-pedalling on the part of people way up in the hierarchy.

    I wish that the people in charge had your intellect and humility, Jordan. I fear that they don’t.

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #77:

      It would be wonderful if the 1973 could come back under indult, but I think that is unlikely to happen .

      The bishops have placed themselves in an untenable position. They have alienated themselves from the majority of priests. They also have a substantial minority of priests that are in favor of the New Missal but realize that it has many awkward moments in the midst of its elevated style that need to be changed.

      There is no easy answer. This requires a liturgical equivalent of Benedict’s resignation which increased the church’s options by telling us that is ok for a pope to resign.

      The bishops need to simply say that both the Old Missal and the New Missal are flawed, and therefore they should both be allowed to be used until we have a new translation or perhaps even two new translations. Perhaps by allowing both missals we may discover that having more than one missal in use at a time has its advantages.

      The bishops should commit themselves to greater participation by both parish priests and by the laity in future decisions about reform of the Missals. In doing this they have Pope Francis rhetoric and actions as a model to reaching out to others, and listening to them.

      A good way to begin that input would be to study and gather data from both priests and people about the good points and bad points of both Missals. In other words start the “reform of the reforms” from below rather than from lofty theories of translation.

      What is needed is a great deal of humility and a great deal of willingness to listen to others on the part of all. Included in that humility should be the willingness to consider the possibility that a one size fits all Missal may not be desirable. Included should be the willingness to discover that the people might be more interested in better hymns and homilies than in better texts.

  35. Susan,

    Thank you for your comments. It is good to hear from a faithful Catholic like yourself regarding the new translation. The conversation here is often very academic. After reading what you wrote I was wondering what the other half of the Totus Christus was experiencing on a pastoral level.

    There is a new online survey that appears to be posted by the group whatifwejustsaidwait .org that is looking for the opinions of the laity. It should be interesting when the findings of this survey are compiled.

    The survey can be accessed at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MDL9Y37

  36. Liturgy is not only about orthodoxy. It is also about poetry and icon (in the broadest sense of icon, or image of the divine). I doubt that many people are alienated by minutiae of theological niceties in the text. But I know people will be left uninspired, and left with even less of a sense of being touched by the divine, if the language is pedantic and catechetical.

    While I’ve grown used to some of the language, I think it is the convoluted sentence structure that is the most glaring problem, with the very long sentences composed of clauses of various degrees of dependency and phrases of uncertain function. They are intricate in ways that only a theologian could love, and this theologian finds them lovable only when read as theology, and not as prayer.

    I find that the best presidents proclaim the texts in such a way that those pesky clause constructions are downplayed. The result is a series of images that can convey a sense of delight in the divine that the convoluted sentences with their multiple clauses cannot. Those Latin reiterated parallelisms used for emphasis can do their work as poetry like this, rather than part of a sentence that uses them to drive home a doctrinal point.

    I think I could be more tolerant, maybe even appreciative, of the literal word choices if the sentence structures were given more freedom. Even there, however, I suspect that a more economical English version could have soared poetically at least as much as the more elaborated Latin flourishes.

  37. I am no huge fan of the new translation. However, the decision to release the results of this survey (especially the numbers) troubles me. Having worked in the development of pharmaceutical trials, a vital person in the development of any study is a statistician. Apart from the clinician, the statistician’s job is focused on designing a study that will produce a measurable endpoint within a reasonable margin of error. They often find themselves at odds with clinicians, because, for instance, designing a viable study that proves anything exceeds the budget!

    In this case, it doesn’t appear that a statistician was involved in this research, including the design (please correct if not true). Having been shown by statistician friends how easy it is to skew results based on faulty design, I am skeptical of these data.

    Why go through the dioceses? This immediately biases the data. The fact that the sample is a high number of priests from a small number of dioceses may increase margin of error. Why not randomly contact a certain number of priests representative of every diocese? And a wasted opportunity to collect demographic data. Age? Position (pastor, associate, instructor)? Theological spectrum? Liturgical spectrum? This would be welcome information (more than whether or not someone “likes” the chant music settings).

    So, to be honest, I feel it was irresponsible to release the numbers. In our society numbers are perceived (maybe even worshiped) as absolute truth, especially when they come from an academic institution. But in this case the numbers can’t be statistically measured or backed up as representative.

    What I do find useful is the treasure trove of comments from the priests. Most enlightening!

    There is one issue where everyone agrees… the process by which the translation came about was poor. Work on translating other liturgical rites should be halted until there is a guarantee that the project won’t be hijacked at the last minute, and the process is open and collegial.

  38. I have followed comments on the new translation for quite sometime – particularly those of Bishop Trautman, who is a fellow alumnus of the Jesuit school of theology in Innsbruck, Austria. Of all the comments here, I think his are most on target – and if you haven’t looked at his past commentaries, particularly in America Magazine, you should. In all the posts, I did not see any comment on the US Bishops’ revised translation that was completed circa 1998. I have downloaded it in its entirety and compared many sections with the new Sacramentary, and find this effort much improved over the original English translation – and much better than what we have now. This whole process actually points to a bigger problem: the document on the Liturgy from Vatican II gave Bishops’ Conferences the authority to develop vernacular translations with confirmation/approval of Rome. The Vox Clara effort took that authority away from our US Bishops; unfortunately they seemed to just roll over.

    1. @Joseph J. Koechler – comment #86:
      Joseph, I think you are exactly right…
      Most bishops are company “yes men” and many are spineless career men looking for the red cap.
      It all depends on what happens in the Vatican. Will Pope Francis lead the way and get involved? He seems to like shocking everybody by thinking and speaking outside the box but is there any substance? Only with direction from the top will the company men do anything.
      I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Pope Francis makes substantial changes or behave like a “bull in a china closet”?

      1. @Paul Inwood – comment #91:

        Paul, I didn’t say all were spineless. I stated: “…and many are spineless”.
        Yes, there are many that are courageous but despite this the body rolled over on this one.

  39. And Rita, not only priests #87 – “Stop and look. You are hurting a very significant number of your priests. ” – but also your people who now have to listen rather than participate. How did they get it so wrong?

  40. I fear we are stuck with this dreadful translation. There has been too a heavy an investment in terms of money and “face” for those responsible to change anything.

  41. I am wary of those who claim that the laity–even those in the back pews–have accepted the translation. After a year and a half of silence or mangled responses, I grew tired of holding out against the changes in “my parts” and just went ahead and said the new responses, though I still often mutter them in Latin or remember the old versions in my mind as I speak words that I find troublesome.

    More significantly, though, I continue to be either irritated by the grammar of the priest’s words or appalled by their confused and confusing theology. The fact that I do not rise up out of my second-row pew to object should not in any way be interpreted as acceptance or acquiescence.

    I often find myself going back to the missal after Mass to try to understand what, in fact, we were supposed to have been praying.

  42. as with one voice we ACCLAIM: Holy, holy, holy…

    This is a piece of incorrect English that I balk at. It cannot be assimilated, and familiarity with it will not lead to acceptance.

    And how can anyone pretend that the new Roman Canon is not a disaster — the old trans was much, much better.

    1. @Joe O’Leary – comment #96:

      Let’s use Trinity Sunday as an example. MR 2002 uses the Tridentine Holy Trinity preface without change. The close of the preface is the familiar una voce dicentes … You are entirely right that the “they acclaim” in the current translation is gratuitous. I suspect that part of the problem here is a somewhat muddled understanding of dicentes. It’s as if “acclaim” was chosen since Mass is sometimes said and at other times sung. However, dicentes and “acclaim” certainly do not have the same meaning.

      Modern Anglican liturgy might offer a window onto the insertion of “acclaim” into una voce dicentes or sine fine dicentes. In the Canadian Anglican Book of Alternative Services, the conclusion of each preface is “.. to proclaim the glory of your name.” In the 1979 American BCP, invariably the close of each preface contains either “proclaim” or “acclaim”. Eucharistic Prayer D preserves the dicentes, but offers the presider a choice between “sing” or “say”.

      In my opinion, una voce dicentes or sine fine dicentes need not be paraphrased as a finite sentence with an pronominal subject (“they” = “the angels”). Rather, why not have, “… with one voice, saying [singing]” or “… without end, saying [singing]” or similar? The present participle should stay in its place, as it already implicitly includes the angels.

      It appears that overall the translators of the current missal have an aversion to the present active participle.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #98:
        Jordan, my objection to “acclaim” concerns the grammar. In English you can acclaim a person or an event but you cannot “acclaim: ‘Holy, Holy..'” or “acclaim: ‘Long Live the King'”. I have never seen this incorrect use of the very in any other English text — it is one point where the always eccentric new translation invents a completely new and unique eccentricity of its own coinage, and it does it again and again in Preface after Preface. This is the kind of error that sticks in the craw and that one never becomes habituated to, contrary to the wishful thinking of the zombie bishops who pushed this dreck, like snake-oil salesmen, on the people of God.

      2. @Joe O’Leary – comment #1:
        I have had the same problem with “acclaim.” It’s not a correct use of the word, just as Joe O’Leary says here, and it continues to irritate me, even more than some of the other very irritating features of the text. Truthfully, the feeling of confronting gross stupidity continues to be part of every Mass I attend when I hear this. This is an uncomfortable feeling in the extreme.

      3. @Joe O’Leary – comment #1:

        Quite true, Father. I haven’t noticed this but I will listen to the next preface I hear closely to see your point.

        I agree that a false “liturgi-speak” perpetuates itself through the translation. When we (“we” includes not just closed-door translators but unaffiliated clergy and laypeople) revise the missal, hopefully these liturgical bad habits will be rejected by more sound minds. Perhaps the next set of interpreters should be called “pathologists” rather than translators, as their job will be to systematically trace and remove aspects of the translation which are ungrammatical or incomprehensible.

      4. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #98:

        The C. of E. Prayer Book had ‘evermore praising thee and saying’ as its preface ending. Our present ending with ‘acclaim’ doesn’t sound right and with its hard ending doesn’t chant happily either, at least not to my ear. I wonder whether it is the correct term?

        Is ‘acclaim’ used because earlier on in the concluding paragraph the word ‘sing’ is used (as in ‘we sing the hymn of your glory’)?

        For what it’s worth, I think that to distinguish too sharply between ‘say’ and ‘sing’ is a bit pedantic.

  43. So sad to see attempts to discredit this survey. These are all voices from the pastoral front line, priests who have to use the new English translation of RM3 day in, day out, week in, week out. They warrant our attention and deserve a better response than some defenders of the new translation are offering.
    For better or worse (??) I downloaded the comments that some added to their survey responses. Some 55 pages of small print. Whether there were problems with innaccurate transcription or not, the language level of some indicated a poor command of English. As many will be aware, across the US there are an increasing number of priests whose native language is not English, and they definitely will struggle with praying/proclaiming the texts of the new translation. But far more significant was the poor theology of the liturgy, ecclesiology and ordained ministry evident in the argumentation of some commenters. Having only read as far a page 30, there isn’t a page where one or other comment hasn’t made me wonder about the quality of the theological formation the author received. The blind obedience implicit in some pro translation comments made me saddest of all.

  44. The orations are very difficult to understand, not to mention the archaic wording over-all; some words are overworked: merit, oblation, graciously; is conciliation a word? prevenient?

  45. Joe O’Leary : @Jordan Zarembo – comment #98:In English you can acclaim a person or an event but you cannot “acclaim: ‘Holy, Holy..’” or “acclaim: ‘Long Live the King’”. I have never seen this incorrect use of the very in any other English text —

    It’s not incorrect.

    From the Oxford English Dictionary:

    3. trans. To shout in acclamation; to call out or utter approvingly. Also with direct speech as object (cf. acclamation n. 2a).
    1659 H. L’Estrange Alliance Divine Offices vi. 177 We presently all rise up acclaiming, Glory be to thee O Lord.
    1755 T. Smollett tr. Cervantes Don Quixote II. iv. xvi. 440 The voices of all the spectators, who acclaimed, ‘Live Altisidora! Altisidora live!’
    1799 Universalist’s Misc. Jan. 189 ‘Hail! mighty Prince!’ his saints with joy acclaim.
    1810 R. Southey Curse of Kehama in Wks. (1876) 606/2 Shaking their firebrands, the glad children run; Baly! great Baly! they acclaim.
    1850 E. B. Browning Poems I. 166 Who art thou, victim, thou—who dost acclaim Mine anguish in true words, on the wide air?
    1919 Independent 13 Sept. 360/1 As a lawyer, he acclaims on a shingle, ‘I am a court of intermediate conjecture, bring all your troubles and fees here.’
    1998 Muscle News No. 33. 17/5 Lee Labrada, Frank Zane, Greg Zulak, Steve Downs and others have all acclaimed that this is a revolutionary book!

    Grammar is not just a feeling about how words are or should be used. This usage is both venerable (Smollett, Browning) and current (“Muscle News”!). People are finding errors and “gross stupidity” where it’s not actually present.

    1. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #6:
      Thank you, Samuel, I’m too dense to understand the subtleties of why the grammar is incorrect according to Rita and especially Joe, whose explanation of “acclaim” seems to me to support its use.

    2. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #6:

      The English finite sentence construction “[subjects] acclaim” in the new translation, though perhaps grammatically correct from an English standpoint, does not carry the same meaning as the Latin participle dicentes. What puzzles me about the new translation is the reticence to translate dicentes as the participle “saying” or even in a finite sentence construction such as “[subjects] say”. “Acclaim” is much more specific than dicentes. “Acclaim” as a translation for dicentes is also not exactly warranted by either the Roman or Byzantine traditions.

      The “close of the preface” of the koine Greek recension of the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom reads:

      Priest: [τὰ Χερουβεὶμ καὶ τὰ Σεραφείμ etc.] […] τὸν ἐπινίκιον ὕμνον ᾄδοντα, βοῶντα, κεκραγότα καὶ λέγοντα … ἅγιος, ἅγιος, ἅγιος etc.

      [the cherubim and seraphim etc.] […] “singing, proclaiming, crying out, and saying the victory hymn … Holy, Holy, Holy etc.”

      both dicentes and λέγοντα are present active participles. Here the meanings are also similar. If the Byzantine liturgical tradition shares with the Roman tradition the use of “saying” to introduce the sanctus/ἅγιος, then why deviate from this ancient pattern in the new translation? English grammatical sufficiency is a minimal requirement. Certainly, standards can, and should, be set higher. Translation strategy should sweep a wider area of the past and present.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #8:

        Jordan, my guess is that any variation of “saying” or “say” was avoided precisely so some folks would not jump in with a spoken “Holy…” before the musicians had a chance to play the introduction to the musical Holy/Sanctus.

        It is important to avoid such train wrecks.

      2. @Fr. Ron Krisman – comment #9:

        I see your point Fr. Krisman, and why you’d want to avoid chaos at Mass. I’d like to give an assembly more credit. When I worshiped with the Prayer Book, no one in the congregation started to recite the choir’s Sanctus when the priest said […] “we laud and magnify thy glorious Name; evermore praising thee and saying” [my ellipsis] Yes, sanctus bells were rung. I suspect that the Pavlovian conditioning to kneel induced by bell-ringing superseded any person’s impulse to start speaking the Sanctus before the choir sings the Sanctus. Pavlovian conditioning is also prominent in the EF, both at this point and others. Parishes that don’t use bells at Mass might have different experiences.

        Still Father, you have pastoral experience which I do not have. So I must defer to you.

    3. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #6:
      No.

      It’s you who are confusing a dictionary with a grammar book. This is not good English usage today.

      If the relevant parallel is to found in that fine exemplar of English style, “Muscle News,” I rest my case. What has become of the “exalted language” in the liturgy that the new translation was determined to re-introduce?

    4. @Samuel J. Howard – comment #6:
      “with direct speech as object” is covered by the OED — interesting. But the usage seems ill attested for the last two centuries. Elizabeth Browning is not an illustration of direct speech as object, and if the OED complilers think she is, then they are being sloppy. The 1919 quote from a newspaper article on a lawyer and the quote from Muscle News are rather odd sources if one wants to see acclaim with direct speech as object as normal grammar today. After all “shined” was as correct as “shone” in Milton’s time, and many people say “shined” today in lapses from grammatical orthodoxy; it is nonetheless ungrammatical, and this also seems to be the current status of acclaim with direct speech as object.

    5. Oh, I see that OED does not claim that all these quotations illustrated direct speech as object —

      The last illustration of it is the quote from 1919, and before that the poetic quotes from 1799 and 1810 where poetic license or archaism may be in play. This use of “acclaim” has not been normal grammatical usage since nearly 300 years ago.

  46. So, this is yet another example of a good reason Liturgicam Authenticam was ignored?

  47. “Acclaim” as direct discourse with a quoted object is an archaism at best; I think it’s no accident that the latest example in Sam’s OED citation was in 1919.

    The horribly written sentence from “Muscle News” is different: it is indirect discourse — “We acclaim that you are our king.” Something close to this would be “We acclaim you as our new president” — i.e. we have elected you “by acclamation”.

    You could also turn the colon after “acclaim” into a full stop and interpret the word as “shout out”; in this case the “Holy, Holy, Holy” is no longer the direct speech object of “acclaim” but an exclamation at the beginning of a new sentence. Yes, well.

    In any case, it is bad usage, just as Rita says: either archaic, as with that lawyer from 1919, or simply clumsy, not at all appropriate for words at the very heart of the eucharistic celebration.

  48. And as Jonathan notes, Muscle News gives indirect speech, not direct speech as object — double sloppiness from OED, which should not quote such careless English as authoritative and which should have noted that it does not illustrate what they allege it to illustrate.

    In the 1933 OED, vol. 1, p. 57, under sense 3 of the verb “acclaim” as “to shout, to call out, and (spec.) to utter an acclamation, Lestrange 1690 “acclaiming, Glory be to Thee” is given, and so is the Mrs Browning quote — only the former illustrates “acclaim2 with direct speech as object. The justification of that use of “acclaim” as correct modern English savors of the bumbling faux-Oxonian, George Pell.

  49. This forced use of “acclaim” does not only occur in the texts themselves but endlessly in the rubrics. 🙁

    See Order of Mass, end of the Collect prayer, end of the first and second reading, beginning and end of the Gospel, end of both Berakah prayers, end of the Prayer over the Offerings, at the memorial acclamation and the end of all the Eucharistic Prayers, at the acclamation “For the kingdom…”, at the end of the Prayer after Communion……

    The cumulative effect of all these is to produce a rather unpleasant mannerism. The thrust behind it appears to be exhortatory: “acclaim” appears to mean “say/respond enthusiastically”. While one might applaud that sentiment, there are perhaps better ways of doing it.

    1. @Paul Inwood – comment #15:
      Interesting, Paul, thank you.

      The Latin verb in each of those rubrics is, of course acclamo, which the translators have rendered in a mechanical fashion as “acclaim”. Once again, an error that would have earned a schoolchild a poor mark.

      Too bad they didn’t consult a Latin dictionary. Whitaker lists “shout (at), cry out against, protest; shout approval, applaud”, but never “acclaim”.

      Lewis & Short list “to raise a cry at, to shout at, to exclaim (in a friendly or hostile manner); to shout at in a hostile sense, to disapprove or blame by shouting (so partic. in the time of the republic); After the Aug. period, to cry at with approbation, to shout applause, to approve with loud cries, to applaud, huzza.”

      I don’t understand why the compilers of the Latin rubric chose acclamo, but there is no benefit in compounding their error with a “false friend” English translation!

  50. I raised the use of “acclaim” way back in 2010. See
    http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2010/11/08/ncr-scathing-report-on-missal-translations-sent-to-bishops/

    which led to an interesting discussion, worth re-visiting, in which no-one contradicted my assertion then that acclaim was not a verbum dicendi though I see that Samuel Howard (comment #6) has found some historic precedents from the O.E.D.

    Withour reproducing what can be freely read in the 2010 discussion, it is interesting, is it not, that ” ever praising you, saying” has the same number of syllables as “as without end we acclaim” and as sine fine dicentes? Just saying 🙂

    Pace Fr.Krisman (#9), as I pointed out in 2010, “saying”, liturgically, has always been understood to mean saying or singing. “evermore praising thee and saying”, now in the Book of Divine Worship, and in Anglican use since 1549, has never caused any problems as the lead-in or cue-word for the Sanctus which follows, sung or said. In any case, does not a spoken Preface normally lead to a spoken Sanctus, and a sung Preface to a sung Sanctus?

    What I also find interesting is that the criticism of the English of the new translation unites both those who applaud its attempts to return to a more hieratic, dignified English for worship and more accurate rendering of the Lation, and those who would find these attempts leading to a more remote, clunky and out-of-touch English – the old tension between the immanence and transcendence of God?

    Whatever one may criticise in his theology, Thomas Cranmer still seems to me to be the translator into liturgical English who, holding to the principles of Lit.Auth., was not afraid to use dynamic equivalence when required nor was a slave to Latin word-order. The rythym of his translations is such that they readily stick in the mind, and, when sung, conform easily to traditional chant.
    Kind regards,
    John Henley

    1. @John Henley – comment #18:
      Thank you, John, for calling attention to your earlier comment and the discussion following. You’ve reminded me that the tiresome ubiquity of this (mis)use of acclaim in the new translation is because it was used to replace several different Latin words.

      The discussion is a rather long one on the 2010 thread, so I would like to quote your comment here, to make it easier for readers to find it:

      “[A]m I alone in being perturbed by the use (not picked up by the analysis) of we acclaim as a verbum dicendi translating the concluding phrases of the prefaces sine fine dicentes, dicentes clamantes, confitentes, clamantes atque dicentes, una voce dicentes, te laudamus in gaudio confitentes,laudis voce clamantes, supplici confessione dicentes, iucunda celebrations clamantes &c.
      Not only does this remove the perfectly acceptable participle – “evermore praising you and saying:”, “praising you without end saying:” and so on,
      not only does it usually fail to distinguish between
      dicentes = saying (in liturgical use normally encompassing “singing”) and
      clamantes = crying/crying out/crying aloud
      and
      confitentes = confessing/acknowledging
      But, but, I have never, in British English, encountered acclaim as a verbum dicendi. One can acclaim someone as something, e.g. “We acclaim you as Lord and King”, but I cannot think of an example of acclaim as an introduction to Direct Speech.
      Proclaim, yes, declaim, possibly, but not acclaim!
      For confitentes confessing is possible, acknowledging just makes sense in the contect of what follows, though would normally expect to acknowledge someone/thing as something.
      Is acclaim commonly used as a verbum dicendi in American English?”

  51. The tragedy is that the church has no language for collective prayer. Catholics cannot raise their voice collectively and with confidence in praise and thanksgiving. I see a huge difference from the Anglican church, where the faithful often join with relish in the collective utterance of prayers, which are generally finely shaped and a pleasure to recite.

    1. @Joe O’Leary – comment #19:

      The tragedy is that the church has no language for collective prayer.

      Gosh, that is a tragedy. You know, if only there were something that the Latin Church could use as a universal language for her prayer and liturgy! Why hasn’t anyone ever thought about this before?

      Wait… what’s that strange animal labelled “elephas” doing in this room?

      I see a huge difference from the Anglican church…

      You seem to be suffering from grass-is-always-greener syndrome. The Anglican communion (such as it is) is no better than the Catholic Church in this regard. I went to plenty of Anglican services in various different places before I converted to Catholicism, and there was little of the outward “relish” you speak of. (Inward “relish” is, of course, an entirely different question for both groups.)

  52. Jordan,

    In the former Sacramentary most of the lead-ins to the Sanctus included “we sing” or “song of joy,” or some such wording. Of course, in the example you provide, if the choir always sings the Sanctus and the assembly is used to that, the presiding priest’s use of “saying” is not going to cause the assembly to jump in with anything. However, contrary to what John says in comment #18, there are many U.S. parishes that always have a recited preface and a sung Holy, Holy at Sunday Masses. The presiding priest’s use of “saying” could result, at the very least, in visitors to the parish jumping in with a spoken “Holy…”

  53. Paul Inwood : The thrust behind it appears to be exhortatory: “acclaim” appears to mean “say/respond enthusiastically”. While one might applaud that sentiment, there are perhaps better ways of doing it.

    Don’t you mean, “while one might acclaim that sentiment…”?

  54. I personally love the liturgy in Latin (as at Farm St) but it is not a universal answer. In the Anglican church language is not an obstacle to prayer and it is indeed tragic that it has become so in English speaking RC churches. This is not a grass-is-greener perception but an observation made every month when I attend Anglican services.

    1. @Joe O’Leary – comment #25:

      Joe O’Leary: In the Anglican church language is not an obstacle to prayer and it is indeed tragic that it has become so in English speaking RC churches.

      I would rather say that the question of language in Anglican liturgy might not be as contentious as the new translation question in the Roman rite, but tensions exist in some provinces over traditionalism and language. A widow of a Canadian Anglican priest told me that her husband was not permitted by his bishop to celebrate the traditional Holy Communion service after the introduction of the Book of Alternative Services. As with the ordinary form in the Roman rite, contemporary services have almost entirely supplanted the BCP in Canada (as in England). Still, a small number of parishes in Canada celebrate the traditional liturgy in a manner analogous to Roman rite parishes which celebrate the EF.

      What I haven’t seen is overt internecine animosity between traditional and contemporary Anglicans. The Primate visited the Anglo-Catholic Prayer Book parish where I once worshiped without politicizing liturgy. Some Roman rite bishops might not even make an episcopal visit to a parish where the EF is celebrated, and especially if the parish wishes to celebrate the EF for his visit. I wish that liturgy were not heavily politicized in the Roman rite, but maybe coexistence is not possible for a number of reasons (Roman bishops are not members of autonomous provinces.)

  55. I am neither a scholar nor an academician, just a parish priest who has been praying the Mass and leading Christ’s faithful in worship for forty years. This should not really be a discussion about Latin texts but about what the church actually believes and how we best express those beliefs through liturgical prayer. The faith of the church was first expressed in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic. Then it was translated into the vernacular of the fourth century Roman Empire which was Latin. Then it got frozen into Latin because that was the language of the educated which included more clergy than laity. Then authoritative voices declared Latin the official language of the RCC. Wasn’t that special….with the effect of giving absolute hegemony over what the church believes exclusively to those in holy orders. Now since that turn of events, many of us have had access to the knowledge of the church’s faith through our reading of documents in modern languages, ones that, unlike Latin, are living and developing. So when I come across prayer texts that inarticulately express the faith, I know how to amend it with integrity. To suggest or demand that bishops and priests should simply read the words on the page or be guilty of distorting the faith of the church does not pass the smell test. I was at an ordination rite yesterday and felt pained for my bishop as he navigated the language of the rite including EPI. I give him a solid A for his efforts, but I could hear the struggle between the lines. Nonetheless, he has not called upon the priest to confide their difficulties about the translation. Nor, may I add, did he provide us with the opportunity to participate in the Diekmann survey. Wouldn’t want to give even the impression that church leaders erred, you know.

  56. Curious to see several criteria, ie. breakdown in the percentages regarding the ages of the participating priests. Maybe it’s listed somewhere. I cannot find it. Many more variables that could have or should have been addressed by the survey weren’t. How about including all the English speaking countries that use this translation? This is by no means a good representation of the clergy. It’s a snapshot at a political convention.

    1. @Mark A. Levandowski – comment #28:
      Mark, perhaps you should read the comments from some of the priests who took the survey. Their opinions vary, and nobody was shy about expressing them. Any “political convention” mentality is in your imagination, not in this study or the results.

      What it sounds like is that you did not like the results. You do not want to know what these priests really thought, so you are going to dismiss them and go on your way. That’s your privilege, but if you were running any other enterprise and more than half of a large number of your key collaborators voiced unhappiness with something, you’d be crazy not to pay attention.

      Opining that those priests who didn’t take the survey would greatly diverge from those that do is an exercise in mind-reading, no more and no less. I don’t know what they would say, and you don’t either. For all we know, a greater sample size would have resulted in more negative comments.

      1. @Rita Ferrone – comment #29:

        Nobody’s dismissing what these particular priests think. But some of us are just wondering exactly how representative they are of priests generally. Rudimentary demographic information, among other things, would have helped in this regard.

        For all we know, a greater sample size would have resulted in more negative comments.

        For all we know, it might have resulted in more positive comments. So what?

        The only certain thing about this survey is that it is ultimately useless. Just as all the other surveys regarding the current translation have been. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or a survey) to realise that some people are happy with the translation, some people are not, and most people aren’t concerned about it. And whether one likes the current translation or not isn’t going to change the fact that it’ll be around for at least the next 20 years.

      2. @Matthew Hazell – comment #30:
        Matthew,

        You are ignoring what I said. Your “so what” is exactly my point. We don’t know what the people who didn’t fill out the survey think. It could go either way. Or it could confirm the results we already have here. I’m not the one who is mind reading.

        Again, it’s wishful thinking to say that these results are “useless.” Not at all. A great number of priests filled out this survey, and the majority of them are unhappy. That’s not useless to know. It’s extremely important, if one wants to reckon with reality. I quote Jack Rakosky in saying the survey has “the best data in town right now.” If anybody wants to improve on it, go ahead, but it’s as good as it gets right now.

        Unless, of course, you don’t care what priests think anyway. Then, no surveys, and no amount of data will ever seem useful to you.

        Nice that you can confidently predict the future, though! (Would you care to give some tips on the stock market?) 😉

  57. Opining that those priests who didn’t take the survey would greatly diverge from those that do is an exercise in mind-reading, no more and no less. I don’t know what they would say, and you don’t either.

    Would that that were clearly reflected in the article Pray Tell published. Instead we got, “The survey reveals that the opinion of priests in the United States is sharply divided, with a clear majority disliking the new translation and calling for its revision.”

    But it’s not the case that we know, as you now admit, that “a clear majority” of “priests in the United States” dislike the new translation. But that’s what Pray Tell published.

  58. No, surveys are not like that. In properly designed survey research, you can write statements like those in the lede because, with a random sample of the population, you can say with usually 95% or 99% confidence that the survey percentages reflect the opinions of the population within a certain margin of error. The way this article is written is profoundly misleading, because you cannot draw such statistical inferences from this survey, which was not designed according to such statistical criteria.

  59. Dear fellow trads,

    Can we please stop trying to poke holes in a survey? Many clergy and laity do not like the new translation. This has been known from even before the conception of this survey, and indeed the imposition of the new translation. Count me in as someone who is dissatisfied, albeit not from a ideological standpoint but rather philological and theological standpoints.

    I’ll say it again: Catholic traditionalism has to stop finger-pointing and progressive Catholic shaming, and begin the construction of an alternate philological and theological hermeneutic for the vernacular translation project. So, many of us don’t agree with our more progressive brothers and sisters on the path to take? This should spur, and not stall, scholars of a more conservative bent from an exacting dissection and re-translation. If traditionalists do not do this, expect marginalization. No amount of whining will mitigate marginalization due to a just-because oppositional defiance.

    Right now I’m busy dissecting Christine Mohrmann. I can’t get around to a project like this for a few years, even though I’d really enjoy participating in an across-the-aisle proposed re-translation project. Those who have the time shouldn’t hesitate to start thinking and working now.

    It’s also crucial to remember that one can be trad/conservative and also cooperate with others. I often get the feeling that tradosphere is filled with those who don’t know how to or can’t share with others for fear that “we’ll get the Sacramentary again” or similar. Quit this.

    1. @Jordan Zarembo (#35): It’s the spin rather than the survey itself that I object to. Certain people are happy to draw conclusions they find agreeable from data that ultimately can’t support those conclusions. (This is as true for this survey as it is for any other survey about the current translation, by the way.) If you wish to caricature legitimate criticism as poking holes, finger-pointing and shaming, then I suppose that’s up to you, but I don’t see that that choice of vocabulary is going to achieve your stated aim of spurring cooperation between those of different views.

      @Rita Ferrone (#31): I’d be happy to put money on the current translation being around in its current form for at least the next 20 years. The Church in English-speaking nations has more pressing concerns right now, and I think the energy expended on producing a Missal translation since the late 1980s mitigates against a revision any time soon. (Though now I’ve said that, they’ll probably announce a revision next week!) 🙂

  60. Bravo, Jordan! Your observations greatly enrich this forum. They make it more difficult for me to lump all trads into one basket. Thanks.

  61. Why does the Catholic Church always have “more pressing concerns” than ensuring a decent liturgy? Do they not realize that the lack of a really prayerful and uplifting liturgy is the main reason why millions of Catholics are fleeing to other churches or none?

  62. Sorry Joe, the new translation is wonderful in this Catholic’s opinion. Far superior to what we had at anytime since the 1965 interim missal. I still believe that it is the theology contained in the prayers of the Roman liturgy: not the translation, that really bothers most who complain about it.

    1. @Daniel McKernan – comment #42:

      Daniel, translation is theology. The Missal must convey to the assembled the theology of the propers as contained in the typical Latin text. If a translation misinterprets or ambiguously translates the typical text, then a translation has failed to convey the theological message properly.

      It’s okay to be trad and admit that the new Missal has serious quality control issues. A revision is necessary simply because the errors of the Missal are sometimes quite grave.

      1. @Jordan Zarembo – comment #45:
        Jordan, it might be interesting to see you define just what you mean by “trad” as opposed to any other kind of Catholic, however, you’ve missed my point. It appears to me that most criticisms of the new missal are in fact objections to the theology communicated in the prayers of the original Roman missal itself irrespective of the language used. Thus, the issues are far deeper than any objection to word choice or process might suggest.

  63. Re. comment #31

    Matthew’s remarks seem cogent considering the CARA survey reported by NCR on Dec. 17th of last year. Especially pointed is CARA (Georgetown’s) report about the broad acceptance of the new translation among those who attend Mass most regularly (better than 80% it seems). Since priests can be presumed to be among those who attend Mass most regularly and the CARA survey is so well regarded questions arise when looking at this more self-selecting survey currently under discussion.

  64. I am glad that Ms. Ferrone has shared her feeling of “confronting gross stupidity” when she hears the new translation. It is a feeling I have often had, not as a result of the new translation, but as a result of surveying the works of a liturgical establishment that has worked so hard to replace beauty with banality these past few decades.

    Consider music, where Palestrina and Byrd were shoved aside to make room for “Gather Us In” and the like. A non-Catholic serving as a “Mystery Worshipper” recently conveyed this feeling perfectly, when he described the music at a Catholic church he visited: “The music consisted of the usual artless, tuneless ditties that line the bottom of the pit into which the rich musical heritage of the Church of Rome has fallen…”

    Or consider architecture, where we now build churches that look like auditoriums and older, beautiful churches are thoughtlessly gutted to satisfy the ideology of the liturgical establishment. I recently came across a quote on this phenomenon as well, from a review in “The Irish Catholic” of the archictectural guide published by Yale on Armagh. This is how the reviewer described the book’s discussion of Armagh’s Catholic cathedral: “The interior is ‘spellbinding, with an atmospheric brilliance owing to the stupendous scale of tall, narrow nave and a superabundance of shimmering mosaic decoration’. However Mulligan’s enthusiasm is tempered. ‘Twice reordered, the sanctuary has been at the forefront of post-Vatican II architectural vandalism, destroyed with an uncaring insensitivity to its High Victorian architecture.'”

    “Artless, tuneless ditties” and “architectural vandalism”–this is what the outside world thinks. And it is right. Fortunately, there are now many signs of attempts to recover the beauty that was so thoughtlessly tossed aside.

  65. I’d like to thank everyone for their comments. It has been a lively discussion, and I think we’ve fully covered all the angles at this point.

    The survey has received national (and international) attention. The press coverage is documented at the Diekmann Center website. http://www.csbsju.edu/SOT/Programs/Diekmann-Center/New-Roman-Missal-Survey-of-US-Priests/In-the-News.htm

    The importance for the Church of continuing the dialogue about the new translation of the Roman Missal, and including priests prominently in that dialogue, is evident.

    Future posts at Pray Tell will keep readers informed as this story continues to develop. You didn’t think it was going away, did you? 😉

    But for this thread, comments are now closed.

Comments are closed.