Recognitio Granted

30 April 2010

The Bishops of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy [ICEL] join me in welcoming the announcement of the approval by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments of the definitive English text of the Third Edition of The Roman Missal. This news ushers in the final phase of preparation for the publication and implementation of the Missal in our eleven member Bishops’ Conferences and the many other territories where the sacred liturgy is habitually celebrated in English.

It also brings to a conclusion the long and complex process by which the translation has been prepared, a process in which the Bishops of the Commission and the Bishops of the English-speaking world, together with the members of the Roman Missal Editorial Committee, the ICEL Secretariat and the translators and consultants who are our closest collaborators have worked together with national conferences and the various organs of the Holy See to ensure that we have a text of the highest quality that can truly be called a work of the Church.

Upon receipt of the definitive text and in accordance with established procedures, the ICEL Secretariat will prepare the electronic files of the Missal, which will assist Conferences in the task of communicating the text to their publishers. ICEL has also produced an interactive DVD ‘Become One Body, One Spirit, in Christ’  [], which will be of great assistance in the catechetical process that will accompany the reception of the new text. The date for the publication of The Roman Missal and its implementation in our territories is a matter to be determined by Bishops’ Conferences in conjunction with the Holy See.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have put their gifts at the service of the Church in the great endeavour of producing the new translation, men and women whose faith is matched by the refinement of their scholarship.

+Arthur Roche
Bishop of Leeds


    1. I think you misread most commentary on this topic. There was never a serious “what-if” in the picture. Most of us serious liturgists have been planning for the how-to for a few years now. It would have been nice to have gotten an elegant rendering of MR3. For the time being, this translation will do.

      It’s also time, I think, to start agitating for MR4 with a better integration of Scripture, an expansion of the Latin original to include original compositions from around the Catholic world, and a more lyrical rendering of the texts.

      PS For some of us, our belief in God is not predicated on pom poms and pep rallies for Things We Like.

  1. I wonder how long it will take the folks over at “What If We Just Said Wait?” to acknowledge that the recognitio has been granted?

  2. Well maybe if you rub it in like this you can help spur them to resist implementing it. I fear that might be a possible result of “our side won”-type comments.

    1. No, it’s not a wonderful thing, but I hope that God can still bring wonderful things out of it. The church is divided and feelings are hurt. It didn’t have to be this way. It would have been possible, with the right ground rules, to have a text which is quite beautiful, accurate, and well suited to proclamation. With the right kind of consultation and involvement of all the gifts of the Body of Christ, there could now be widespread acceptance, even joyful expectation, from the broad middle of the Church. The task of the hierarchy is to order the Church so that things work out like that. I’m sad that that didn’t happen. It didn’t have to be this way.

      1. Fr. Anthony, given the nature of people today, I should say Catholics today, we’ve become so divisive on so many issues and theological perspectives that no one is going to be pleased with anything anyone does and all will be pouting if their theology isn’t chosen. In other words, with all the supposed renewal we’ve had in the Church since Vatican II, we’ve basically become Protestant. If our side doesn’t win, we form a new congregation or a splinter group or whatever. Dissent has become an art form. I don’t think Vatican II or its spirit envisioned such idiocy. It seems that true renewal means accepting the decision once it has been made by the legitimate authority of the Magisterium, acknowledging that not everyone will be pleased with either the decision or the process and then getting down to work to implement what is asked of us in the most humble and Christ-like way possible. As Father Eugene Walsh SS, use to say, we’re adult Catholics, so act like it.

      2. That Catholics run with the pack of modern culture and wear division as a badge, proudly, is no credit to any of us. Sadly, it is an indictment of our leaders.

        That said, it is up to each of us to act like adults as Fr McDonald channels Gene Walsh.

        For my parish, I’m happy to report that a strong effort to reinvigorate an adult understanding of the Mass began months ago. I’m old enough to trust that Fr Anthony is right: the Holy Spirit is more than capable of making something of our human messes. So the work continues for most of us with responsibilities for liturgy.

        While some prefer ecstasy, I prefer the theological virtue of hope. I daresay we need more of that these days than most any warm feeling inside.

  3. Fr. Allan, either you missed my entire point or you disagree with me because you think authoritarian solutions will solve everything. I don’t think adult Catholics will ever accept your solution. I can’t imagine that Fr. Walsh had that in mind either. True renewal involves thinking creatively about structures very different from what we now have.

    1. and Fr. Anthony that’s creating another Protestant Church! Macon, Georgia has the most churches per capita in the USA because each time there is a disagreement in a particular congregation someone thinks creatively about the structures and forms a new congregation and takes a handful of people with them. With all the church buildings we have, we still have some Presbyterians and Baptists meeting in store fronts each creatively doing their own thing. I’ve lived in the Protestant South too long to be sold that bill of goods.

      1. Wow, you already know, Fr. Allan, that “structures very different from what we now have” are Protestant, even though neither you nor I know what those structures might be?? Now that’s a leap of faith! We had very different structures from what we now have back in, say, the 2nd or the 12th century. Were they Protestant?? Any change in structures from the present is Protestant? Sorry, but that’s absurd.

      2. Fr. Anthony, It’s easy to be a historian concerning the past and more difficult to be clairvoyant about the future. I’ve heard talk about changing ways to make decisions in the Catholic Church since about 1976, but have seen nothing of what was predicted since 1980 when I was ordained. Heard a lot of speculation a la Dr. Hans Kung, but have not seen anything concrete. Kung will go to his grave with a fantasy about what the Church should have been and I’ll probably go to my grave with the status quo and I suspect many people much younger than I will to. In the meantime as a pastor, I operate from canon law and the way things are now and will be for the long hall, so that the pastor that follows me won’t have a mess to clean up because I did it my way rather than the way it is to be. Someone once said the theme song of hell is “I did it my way.” I haven’t been there yet, so I don’t really know.

      3. Fr. Allan, I make no claims to be clairvoyant about what better structures lie ahead. But we’re doing theology here (that’s the purpose of this blog), so I hope it’s permitted to think and dream and make constructive contributions about the future. Meanwhile, I wish to assure you, I follow every rubric in the books!

      4. Fr. Anthony, I really wasn’t thinking about the Mass in my comments, but rather a more democratic system of governance in my parish where votes are taken, special interest groups take over and I’m just a figure head. I never doubted that you do the red and read the black and I suspect the liturgies at Collegeville are splendid especially the music and yes I am jealous.

      5. Fr. Allan,
        Splendid music? Oh, I suppose sometimes we reach that. I’m glad our reputation is better than the daily reality! 🙂
        Thanks for all your comments and the stimulating exchange.

  4. This isn’t an exercise of the Magisterium, the teaching authority of the church. It’s an exercise in governance.

      1. It’s only an authentic exercise of the Magisterium or action of the Holy Spirit if you agree with it. That’s one thing I have learned from many of these blogs.

    1. The point I am making is that we should be careful about our language and what words mean. The hierarchy has more than one function. The magisterium is the teaching office. Translations do not fall under the heading of “teaching”; they are translations. Translations are not the same as teachings. What we believe in is the content of the liturgical prayer, not the translations. What fidelity to the magisterium obliges us to is orthodoxy; nobody has to “agree with” a translation. Fidelity to the magisterium is too important to tag on all sorts of riders: it’s creeping infallibilism, if you like, to say everything the hierarchy does is an act of the magisterium. So let’s be clear. It’s a matter of governance, not of faith.

  5. I think maybe it did need to be this way. There can be a certain inertia that must be overcome by strong action, much as the preparatory drafts of the major documents of Vatican II were thrown out. The preparatory commissions may have been well-intentioned, but they did not yet “get” what the renewal was about.

    1. Kathy,
      Ah, sometimes organic growth in the liturgy is too little, and we need a big shake-up to overcome inertia? Everything from those who don’t “get” renewal needs to be undone quickly? Is that what you’re saying??

  6. Btw, the USCCB site for the Missal indicates editors are still working on the text, and it won’t be released to the bishops until later in the spring.

      1. I wonder as I wander, too.

        Or would that be better rendered as, “Having wandered, I wonder”? I do so want to keep in lockstep with the dominant paradigm, oops, syntax.

  7. I hope you won’t mind one lay minister’s input about “What If We Just Said Wait.” From my perspective, this was never about refusing to accept that translations were needed, or some kind of childish protest against the Vatican. As the liturgy coordinator for my parish, my immediate concern is finding the best, most pastoral way to implement any changes so that our faithful people in the pews understand what it is they are praying and why. In my opinion that takes time, sensitivity and dialogue. We had people leaving the Church the last time big changes to the Mass were made–do any of us really want to see that happen again?

    1. Holly, click my name if you’re interested in seeing one layman’s attempt at catechesis on the new translation that is designed to get “our faithful people in the pews understand[ing] what it is they are praying and why”.

  8. “True renewal involves thinking creatively about structures very different from what we now have.”

    Because the structure we have in place now didn’t come to a conclusion you approve of, we should change the structure? Sour grapes like that coming from a faithful priest who I admire does not make me very hopeful for an end to our liturgical warring.

    From my lowly point of view, true renewal involves less individual pontification and more seriously implementing what the Church instructs for the liturgy with joy and vigor. Could we all take a decade-long hiatus from our dissension and just work with what we’ve been given, for better or for worse, and see where we are?

    1. Jeff, In all honesty, I’m separating (at least in my mind) the results from the process. I don’t think the results (the new translation) are that bad, actually. But the more I think about Jesus, what he said about service, what he taught about lording it over, the kind of new relationships he called us to in the Kingdom of God, the more my conscience is bothered by the process. I’m thinking a lot these days about Gospel leadership and about how secular monarchies function(ed). For what it’s worth, that’s where my critique is coming from. It’s not because I didn’t get my way on the text. Your proposal, getting everyone to stop dissenting and to start accepting an authority which doesn’t have credibility – even if it might happen – wouldn’t necessarily be faithful to Jesus. In my judgment, it’s not going to happen anyway.

  9. Just hold it, everyone. This recognitio is for the universal English text. Like IGMR, it is not the recognitio for the US, nor for England and Wales, nor any other English-speaking country. The individual recognitios for those territories will follow in due course, along with the final text for those territories.

    At that point, we will be able to see (a) what the final text for each country actually is (probably not completely identical to the ‘universal’ text), and (b) whether the modifications requested by individual conferences have actually been granted and incorporated. No one seems to be expecting these individual recognitios for another month at the earliest.

    So I suggest that those crowing over the new Missal contain themselves until we actually have territorial recognitios. You never know what surprises may be in store.

  10. Honestly, all this wailing and gnashing of teeth is incredible to me. Where was all this sensitivity for the feelings of different groups of people when the post-Conciliar Ordinary Form was developed and imposed? Bugnini and his reformers had a lot of good ideas, but the post-Conciliar Consilium was not at all balanced and lacked any representation from those who valued the tradition and who could argue in its favor. Since you look at this in such partisan terms, it seems to me that “your side” won the whole enchilada with the reformed liturgy of Paul VI. I think this is a needed correction to have a more accurate translation using a modern, idiomatic, understandable and slightly elevated English to bring out the spiritual, poetic and biblical riches of the official Latin text better than the banal paraphrase that we are currently using. I think this will help to save the Ordinary Form, so it actually helps “your side” since you insist on viewing this in partisan terms

    1. Charles,
      1. “Sensitivity for the feelings of different groups of people”? Guilty as charged, I hope. But I think I still have a long ways to go in the sensitivity department.
      2. I’m not sure I’m on the side you want to put me on. I’d prefer not to be on any side but Christ’s. (I have a long ways to go there, too.) For a thousand reasons I don’t like the Mass of Paul VI and would have done all the reforms differently – I suspect in the direction you would like. But since that didn’t happen, I think a lot about the best way forward now. It’s probably way beyond anything we’ve seen before, or anything that has yet occurred to me.
      3. Even if Bugnini et al lacked sensitivity and weren’t consultative and were horrible in every way we can imagine, I don’t see how that gives good reason for “the other side” to do the same back and get even. Let’s all get on the same side, please! And let’s think creatively about very different, improved ways of being Christ’s followers.

  11. Charles said Bugnini and his reformers had a lot of good ideas, but the post-Conciliar Consilium was not at all balanced and lacked any representation from those who valued the tradition and who could argue in its favor.

    I’m afraid that this is a statement which cannot be substantiated. The Consilium included the premier liturgical scholars of the time — i.e. precisely those who were par excellence familiar with the tradition and its values, and who did indeed argue in its favor. I think that what Charles says is once again founded on a misconception of what the tradition actually was.

    1. Perhaps this is also the place to note how disappointing Gamber’s book was, to give just one example. Here was a scholar indulging in nothing more than one great rant, to the point where one might justifiably think that the man was no scholar at all.

      The distinguishing feature of the true academic is the ability to survey the panorama dispassionately. Am I alone in wishing that Gamber had been able to use less emotional language to bolster his arguments? Then it would have been easier to take his position on board.

      The purpose of this post, of course, is to suggest that “those who could argue in favor” of the tradition have not always done themselves a service by the way in which they have written about it.

  12. I’m 61 and have decided I’m still going to answer:” And also with you.” as well as ” Say only the word, and I shall be healed.” Been doing it for 40 + years, too old to change now.

    1. If that’s what you are going to do, please don’t do it loud and obnoxiously.

    2. John, so much for “May our voices be one with theirs in their triumphant hymn of praise”, eh?!

    3. I imagine, then, that those around your age would also not be fond of learning the new prayers and words of the constant ad-libbing priests.

      1. [I don’t know what the proper adjective to use is, so I’ll leave it blank for now.]

        I find it particularly ________ when the priest ad libs the introduction to some acclamation by the faithful to the point where he has to begin the acclamation for us so we know when he’s finished. This is often the case at the “Ecce Agnus Dei”, I find.

  13. Jeffrey, I agree with you. As to what I put to fill in the blank, it depends on my spiritual state at the time: irritating, amusing, infuriating, etc. I’m tempted to shout back to a botched “Ecce Agnus Dei” : “Gee, Lord, I guess I’m not really worthy on this beautiful sunny day…” (If he can, why can’t we?!) Fortunately I haven’t ever done that (yet). At my best I just shrug and brush it off and think about the great mystery of the Mass.

    1. “If he can, why can’t we?!”

      Yes, that has mentioned a good number of times on this blog, on several posts, about the clericalism hiding under the allure of ad-libbing.

    2. I have the joy of working with a priest who ad libs rarely but, when he does, it’s perfection: with one word, or a slight nuance, he can tie together word and eucharist perfectly. Similarly, his invocations in Penitential Rite III always gives us a hint of the day’s Gospel. We are blessed indeed in this neck of the woods.

    3. I recall one particularly enthusiastic priest back in the 80s greeting the congregation at the Pax with “May the peace of the Lord set your hearts on fire!”

      Dead silence.

      Finally, someone piped up, “You too, Father.”

  14. Suggestion: if we in Britain (I’m in Wales) are getting the new translation for Holy Week. Wouldn’t it be a mind changing thing if, starting from Ash Wednesday, all the communities did a catechetical version of the RCIA to grow in their understanding of baptism – having their own Bibles blest and returned to them and receiving the ‘new’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer at appropriate points on the pilgrimage?

    1. Sister, I think you hit on one of the ways we hope to introduce the new translation to the faithful.

    2. That’s an excellent idea, Sister Maria.

      However, the latest rumour is that Holy Week implementation may not happen in England and Wales and that we will tie our catechesis in with the Lectionary (how come no one thought of that before?!) and prepare during May-July 2011, take a month off from catechesis in August when everyone will be away, and have full implementation at the beginning of September.

  15. Just caught the USCCB media release on their website. It states that the recognitio is for the US version of the new Missal, including requested adaptations and proper texts for the dioceses of the United States.

    From what I’ve heard on the progress of the lectionary, I doubt if Australia and UK will be able to delay implementation of the Missal that long.

  16. I appreciate Sr Maria’s attempt to make the best of the situation. But I would not be happy with a link between the propaganda campaign for the new translations and the RCIA, as if the ‘new Creed’ that people were going to be given was an improvement. In South Africa, one effect of the premature introduction is that English-speaking parishes have abandoned the Nicene Creed, and have switched to the Apostles’ Creed instead. Such a link would add insult to injury, and bring the conciliar renewal of the practice of Lent into a disrepute that it does not deserve.

    1. Well, using the Apostles’ Creed on any given Sunday is one of the things MR3 permits. (I’m not saying I’m thrilled with that, but it’s what the Missal allows.)

      And I disagree with you, Paulus, about the quality of the new translation of the Creed.

      1. Yes, MR3 does permit that, and I imagine one reason people will seize on it is because the new Apostles’ Creed version is very little different from the old one, as opposed to the new Nicene Creed version, which is considerably different and which seems set to aggravate people.

      2. Why specifically does the new translation of the Nicene Creed seem “set to aggravate people”? Because it’s different, or because it uses particular words like “incarnate” and “consubstantial”? Because it uses “I believe” instead of “We believe”?

      3. All of the above. Add “for us men” (many already omit “men”), plus the ecumenical divergence that will result, and you’ve got a potent mixture for discontent.

      4. at the very least, CONSUBSTANTIALIS is a very bad translation of HOMOOUSIOS. ‘Substance’ applied to God must be metaphorical; and the need to catechise against the misapprehension that God is literally substantial is neatly circumvented if we follow the origianl Greek translation of what ‘we’ all believe.

      5. Yes, this is a problem. It also comes up with “transsubstantiation.” “Substance” today tends to have a very different meaning than did ‘substantia’ for Aquinas. We think that substance is a physical reality – Thomas didn’t. I suppose that the differences between us and Niceas are even greater, since that was longer ago. I wonder whether ‘consubstantial’ is really accurate.

      6. The GIRM admits that “there will always remain the need for some catechesis on the biblical and Christian meaning of certain words and expressions.” (392)

        I think I do a pretty good job of explaining “substance” (in “consubstantial”) in my book (pp. 80-81):

        What does “substance” mean? If we look at it in Latin, we have sub- (under) and stantia (to stand). In Catholic theological terminology, the substance of a thing is what “stands under” its form or appearance. For example, we say that the bread and wine are transubstantiated into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ; they are not transformed, because the visible form (the appearance of the bread and wine) does not change, but the substance, that which stands beneath the visible form, changes. In modern language, the “substance” of a thing is that which the thing really is. Our individual substance, who we are, does not change even though our outer form changes as we develop and age.

        What does “essence” mean? It is related to the word “essential.” If some characteristic is essential to an object, it means that object cannot be that object without that characteristic. For example, no matter what a chair looks like, it is essential that a chair can be sat in. The Latin verb for “to be” is esse. The “essence” of a thing is that which makes the thing be itself. If that sounds a lot like “substance,” it should.

      7. Jeffrey – This is more than “pretty good,” it’s very good! I agree that catechesis is needed no matter what term we use. But I would hope that the need for catechesis arises from the nature of unfathomable mystery and not the inaccuracy of our translation (whether 1973 or 2010). My musings were meant to question the false security some people find in cognates.

  17. Just caught the USCCB media release on their website. It states that the recognitio is for the US version of the new Missal, including requested adaptations and proper texts for the dioceses of the United States.

    From what I’ve heard on the progress of the lectionary, I doubt if Australia and UK will be able to delay implementation of the Missal that long.

    That the recognitio is now billed as applying to the US indeed appears to be so, but the point is that the US publishers need a minimum of 12 months’ lead time from the point of receiving the actual text in order to prepare, print and distribute. That is why Advent 2011 has for quite some time been indicated at the probable implementation date for the US. The publishers for the UK, Scotland and Australia Missal have indicated that they need slightly less time — 10 months. (ctd)

    1. As far as the Lectionary is concerned, the English liturgy office has recently received a first draft for Sundays and major feastdays, based largely on the Canadian Lectionary. Unfortunately it has proved to contain a significant number of inconsistencies, editorial problems and actual errors, all of which will need ironing out before it can be finally approved and go to press.

      Another complicating factor is that no recognitio (and therefore no final text) has been received in this country for the revised Grail psalter, which will be an integral part of the new Lectionary. Until that happens, it is not possible to harmonize the responses to the responsorial psalms with the actual psalm text in the verses.

      And yes, the plan is to introduce the new Sunday and major feastday Lectionary in England and Wales at the same time as the new Missal.

      Thosee who think we can just go ahead and launch new Missal and Lectionary into print immediately require a reality check!

      1. I’m sure if print-ready editions appear online, and an enterprising pastor wants to put his Xerox machine into heavy use weekly, ICEL and the bishops would be happy to collect a fee. Who needs publishers when you can run copies like they did “the purple” back in the good ol’ 70’s?

  18. It is completely daft to suppose that we can get the printing of the missal alone, let alone missal and lectionary, right on the first go. Even if authority persists in its stubborn deafness to ‘just say wait’ on the big issues regarding the translation as such , it would make a lot of sense for it to authorize only provisional editions to be produced now with the intention that they last some five years. Then, when we’ve become aware of the inadvertent mistakes–and even the gung-ho enthusiasts for the roll-back must surely admit that there will be some of these–it will be sensible to produce something more sumptuous and permanent. (It would, of course, have helped if the texts had been publicly reality-tested before the foreigners in Rome saw fit to recognise them.)

  19. Fr. Christopher,

    That’s ‘furriners’, in that sentence, please. And, yes, when ‘they’ start dictating how I am to speak my native tongue, I am highly inclined to watch out.

    My impression of the bits of the new translations that I’ve read so far range from awkward to truly awful, and that’s before we get to incomprehensible. Perhaps I’m really weird, but I like to be able to parse the words I pray into something more or less sensible. Otherwise I get quite distracted, and that’s already too easy to do.

    1. There is such a diversity of opinions on the new translations, all from well intentioned and well educated people, its hard to know what to make of them. I know what I think of them based on my own experiences with them, which is extensive, but at the same time, I find I cannot ignore the informed opinions of others who are as familiar with them as I am, or even more so.

      I pray that God grants us the grace to work together for the best.

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