Parolin to Preside at USCCB Centenary Mass

The United States Catholic Bishops’ Conference is celebrating its hundredth anniversary next week, at its November 13–14 meeting. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin will preside and preach at the opening Mass on the eve of the centenary.

Rocco Palmo at Whispers in the Loggia had this to say:

At the same time, however, there’s more to it than just the keen symbolism: as the milestone commemorates the global church’s first modern effort of collegial governance by a national body of bishops – and with it, the inception of the church’s return toward a spirit of synodality which the pontiff has aimed to turbo-charge – between Parolin’s current role and his personal history as a doctoral student of the Synod of Bishops, the message the Cardinal-Secretary delivers with his master’s voice is likely to have a resonance far beyond these States. (Adding to the context, while the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, was initially slated to preach the Centennial Mass, the Canadian hatmaker-in-chief suddenly evaporated from the plans over the last year, with Parolin taking the homily for himself.)

Indeed, the scene is bigger than the moment: after decades of Curial attempts to crack down on the purview of the conferences, Francis’ new norms on liturgical translations (and the pontiff’s subsequent doubling-down on them) are just the latest proof of how dramatically the pendulum has shifted back in the benches’ direction.

Given the growing importance of Magnum principium (it is significant not only for questions about the liturgical texts but also to the broad questions of governance Pope Francis is pursuing) one wonders if the agenda of the bishops’ meeting will be altered to include discussion of the motu proprio and its implications.

In the bishops’ initial agenda—published on October 10, one month following the release of Magnum Principium—there was no mention of it. The bishops are scheduled to vote on the Order of Baptism, prepared according to Liturgiam authenticam.

Here at Pray Tell, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, chair of the Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship, said he would ask his committee to “review this matter [the motu proprio] along with our consultants at our next meeting.”

But if the bishops’ conference as a whole goes forward in approving texts without due consideration or discussion of the Pope’s motu proprio on translation, it could send a signal that they intend, for all practical purposes, to ignore it.

Stay tuned.

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4 comments

  1. I would be pleasantly surprised if they were to display any material appetite to take up the matter further considering that so many seem inclined to simply wait this current papacy out.

  2. Magnum principium seems to care more about authority over the translation process. It does address translation principles to some degree but I don’t think it requires a conference to wholesale revoke the principle of LA. Probably the intention is not to have Rome reject a formal equivalence translation, but rather give the conferences the option to do a more dynamic translation if they so desired. One can certainly disagree with the quality of translations produced, but I think it is hypocritical to criticize the conference for not following Francis when the are using the liberty he has given them to produce a translation as they see fit.

    1. Hi Devin,

      I get your point about respecting the freedom the bishops have been given, and I agree. But I don’t see my concern here as hypocritical. My point is that if they don’t discuss it, they won’t know what the bishops actually think and actually want to do. You can’t intuit how they will decide based on past performance, because in the past they didn’t really have a choice.

      Now they do. So to just “hold a vote” sidesteps a necessary discussion. Personally, I suspect a lot of bishops would appreciate the chance to develop translations that would be more fluent in English. But we won’t know that if (A) it doesn’t get on the agenda, and (B) if they keep on pressing forward to voting on texts without opening up the motu proprio seriously (not a quick read) and taking time to talk about what they DO want.

      1. My apologies for misinterpreting and being rash. Though I do suspect Magnum principium will have negligible impact on already finished texts but may influence those are still being worked on to significant degree.

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