As Pray Tell reported this week, a majority of all U.S. Catholic priests, by a 52/42 margin, do not like the new Roman Missal implemented in Advent 2011. Only 39% think that the new missal is an improvement on the previous translation, and 54% agree that the new translation urgently needs to be revised. 57% do not wish other rites (marriage, confirmation) to be translated in a similar style as the new missal, though the bishops are in fact proceeding with this work. 63% are not confident that the views of priests will be taken seriously in future decision about liturgical translation.

The study was carried out by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and Georgetown University as a part of a larger study on parish life. According to CARA’s analysis, there is 95% certainty that the results from the scientifically representative sample are within 4.2% of the views of all U.S. priests in parish ministry.

At Pray Tell’s request, CARA has also provided a breakdown of the views of younger priests compared to older priests. These results distinguish between the views of  “Clergy of the Post-Vatican II and Millennial Generations” (born 1961 or later) and “Clergy of the Vatican II and Older Generations” (born 196o or before).

As perhaps to be expected, given the widespread perception that younger priests are more conservative in their theological views and more inclined toward obedience to church authorities, younger priests are more supportive of the new missal than their elders. But even within this cohort, nearly one-quarter (24%) dislike the new missal. 18% say that they were apprehensive before it was introduced and still do not like, and a further 6% say that they were looking forward to it but have changed their mind and now do not like it. 70% of younger priests say either that they were looking forward to it and still like it (54%) or that they were apprehensive but now like it (16%).

Further findings about younger priests include the following:

* 72% of younger priests like the more formal style of language of the new text (33% strongly so), while 26% do not (9% strongly so).
* Two thirds of younger priests think the new translation is an improvement on the old one, while 27% think it is not an improvement.
* 26% of younger priests think the new translation urgently needs to be revised, while 64% disagree with this.
* Only a minority (44%) of younger priests are confident that the views of priests will be taken seriously in future translation decisions, while a further 28% are not confident of this. Over one-fourth (27%) of younger priests do not know.
* Two-thirds (67%) of younger priests approve of the Holy See’s leadership in bringing about the new missal, while one-quarter (24%) do not.
* By a similar margin, 67/26, younger priests think that work should go forward translating other rites (marriage, confirmation) in the same style as the new missal

Because about two-thirds of all U.S. priests are old rather than young, the more favorable views of younger priests only go some distance in moderating the overall negative views of all priests toward the new missal.

Bottom line: the odds are 2-1 that your priest is old rather than young. If he is old, it is a bit more than likely that he doesn’t like the new missal. If he is young, there are three chances in four that he likes the new missal.

What weight you give to all that probably depends upon your views of the new missal.

Here’s Pray Tell’s proposal: let’s take the views of all clergy seriously – old and young.

Fr. Anthony Ruff has written an editorial on the way forward with the missal.


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