Let us pray for the Catholic Bishops

Each Catholic Bishop at the head of a diocese in the English-speaking world has a challenging task ahead of him: implementing the new English missal. However much he supports the project, he can hardly be looking forward to carrying it out.

Each bishop must be asking himself: how much will my life be complicated by the new missal? What is the best I can hope for?

Perhaps only a very few priests in his diocese will take early retirement because of the new missal. Each of these priests serves perhaps one, or two, or three parishes. How will the Bishop staff those parishes?

Perhaps not too many priests in his diocese will continue to use the current sacramentary. Will the Bishop be able to dissuade these priests? Or will he suspend them from priestly ministry? How would the Bishop replace the suspended priests?

Perhaps only a few priests in his diocese will, from the experience of difficulties in proclaiming the new texts, ask the Bishop to return to the current sacramentary. What will the Bishop say to them?

Perhaps only a few of the faithful will intentionally seek out parishes and communities retaining the current sacramentary. (Will there be advertisements for ‘Mass in normal English’?) The Bishop will hope that none of the faithful voice their objection to the new translation by shouting out the well-known old responses at Mass. How will the Bishop respond to whatever objections the faithful raise? Will it be helpful to appeal to the authority of the Pope in the light of the recent scandals?

Is the Bishop prepared to live with divisions and parallel rites for many years, until he has enough younger, more conservative priests to staff his entire diocese?

Surely the Bishop hopes for a smooth transition. How worried should he be by the rebellion of English-speaking Catholics in South Africa against the new Order of Mass? How worried should he be by the recent decision of the German-language Bishops to withdraw the newly-translated Order of Christian Funerals already in its first three months? Is the Bishop prepared to advocate withdrawing the new English missal if it turns out to be, as the German-speaking Bishops described their new rituale, ‘a failure’?

It seems likely that even the best-case scenario will involve disagreement, rancor, hurt feelings, frustration, and anger. The Bishop will hope that this not last too long, and that peace and unity return in not too many months and years.

But the worst-case scenario could involve…

Let us pray for the Catholic Bishops.


  1. And what do you think can be done, Dom Anthony, to help the bishops? Your poignant description almost perfectly describes the plight of those who had to seek out indult Masses in the days before Summorum Pontificum. Let us hope it is not as bad as that. If what once was sacred always is, then, just as I choose to attend the EF wherever possible, those who prefer the current English translation may seek, rightly in my view, a similar accommodation. I cannot imagine Rome wanting an SSPX of the left. The only grounds on which I think such a request could be refused is for Rome to admit the current translations had such problems that the current translation must be suppressed – but I suspect, even if they believe that, the implications of such an admission would simply be too great.
    You clearly do not like the proposed translation yet you express reservations at allowing those of us who prefer the EF access to it. We did not like the situation before Summorum Pontificum but we obeyed our bishops and Rome and did not go to the SSPX. It would be a pity if ideology prevented your seeing the obvious analogy here. I think common cause can be made among those who seek provision for an earlier form of the Mass, whether it be the EF or the current translation of the OF , over the proposed translation of the OF. But we both lose, in practice and in principle, when we argue that the provision should only be for our preferred alternative form and when we threaten disobedience….

  2. …if we don’t get our way – for our preferred form only. I make this suggestion sincerely. If my access to the EF depends on a recognition that what once was holy always is, how can I refuse to support the request of those with a particular attachment to the current translation? Liturgy is a very personal encounter with God – it is tinkered with at one’s peril – as the Orthodox well know. Now, how can we co-operate in a spirit of co-operation, reasoned argument, and obedience?

    1. Ceile – thanks for your comments. My own tendency, FWIW, is to support the new translation when it goes into effect. I’m not real keen on 1962 or 1974 being allowed when 2011 goes into effect (but I’m open to compromise if truly necessary). Ideally, everyone in one rite would follow the same rite with the same translation, as I believe was pretty much always the case historically. I’m committed to doing my very best with the new missal. Whatever my criticisms, I will strive to focus on the good things, including the improvements, in the new missal.

  3. Certainly our bishops can rely on the promise of obedience each cleric made at his ordination.
    Additionally, these same questions were asked in the late 1960’s about a much more significant liturgical reform. My guess is that the priests of our present day are as faithful to their promises as the priests of that time were to theirs.

    1. The Austrian situation, although very different, might be illuminating. The Church there was mostly at peace until JP2’s term. Then came highly unpopular bishop appointments, laity lying down on the street to prevent the procession from entering church at a bishop’s ordination, thousands of laity demonstrating in cathedral square for the bishop’s removal, a Cardinal accused of abusing several young men who never answered the charges, a Pope who shut down any investigation, sexual scandals in the most conservative seminary with the bishop finally removed. The reaction? 1/3 of the priests were not saying the name of that bishop in the eucharistic prayer by the end of his term. Over a half million Catholics signed a petition for far-reaching reforms. 327 clergy recently called on Pope Benedict either to speak publicly to his failings in Munich and Rome or to resign. The misguided policies of the hierarchy, especially JP2, have given life to the most rebellious lay reform movement in the entire Catholic world. I don’t want that to happen in the US, and I’m not promoting that by my post above. Rather, I am supporting the bishops and hoping and praying that they do not divide the Church by their action or inaction. I don’t think appeals to absolute obedience are likely to work.

      1. Or to put it another way, appeals to docility that are likely to be percieved as self-serving are not a prudent course of inspiring such docility. As our Lord did not treat his divinity as something to be clutched, so too authority in the Church that is seen more as clutched than spent out in love is going to be seen more as power than authority.

  4. Another thing that occurred to me is the good reception that similar liturgical reforms saw among our North American Maronite brethren. The Maronites experienced little trauma when they introduced their new Qurbono with its equally elevated language in recent years. It makes use of many words that some have said are “unproclaimable” for contemporary North Americans. I guess no one thought to tell the Maronites. I am unaware of Maronite pastors (or rectors) who’ve suggested that the various Maronite eparchs should “just wait”.

    1. I know very little about the Maronites, but I suspect that their history and culture is unique enough that they are rather irrelevant to the US Latin rite situation. Telling the Latins to act like people they’ve mostly never met will probably not work.

  5. My sympathy is with those bishops who voiced legitimate concerns in the face of high-handed dismissals from BCDW functionaries and the few who voted against the texts submitted to the USCCB.

  6. The history of the post V2 Church in Australia suggests to me that the problems mentioned above did not develop until the post V2 period. It seems that their troubles precede Pope John Paul II by at least a decade or more. The witness of
    B. A. Santamaria attests to this. The obituary of this Australian layman can be found here:
    The Maronites seem relevant to me because their liturgy is celebrated mostly in English in the US and Canada, it has gone through a recent reform, and because their English liturgy is used by English-speaking Maronites in places like Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, and Richmond. Maronites have lived in the USA & Canada for as long as many Italians, Germans, and Polish Catholics and are fully assimilated in all aspects of contemporary US/Canadian life. They give evidence that the Catholic people can benefit from a rich liturgy with challenging words like “incarnation”.

      1. “Ah, you’re from Austria? Throw another shrimp on the barbie!”

      2. I was in Vienna and saw someone dressed as a Kangaroo at Mass. Just kidding. But if giant puppets why not that? 🙂
        But you’ll be relieved that no one was embarrassed by the cappa magna because it was no where to be seen.

  7. Fr. Ruff and others – excellent posts and responses. May I comment on your analogy – SC and Vatican II and the priests who followed that council compared to now and whatever priests choose to do going forward.

    FWIW – there is no comparison. Over 2,000 bishops at Vatican II supported, developed, and hoped for a new liturgy as a result of this council – the vast majority of priests and bishops had or felt like they had a part in these council decisions and saw them as legitimate and following the liturgical and ecclesiological history and theology of the church. Only a small minority opposed these changes.

    The 2011 proposed changes do not have the same legitimacy – no council; small inside Vatican group that has pushed for this; the mess around the legitimate 1998 ICEL changes; the more recent approval by bishops’ conferences which was seen as surrendering to Rome (especially after repeated attempts to make changes); and now the confusion between various english speaking conferences – who is in charge – feels very political vs. conciliar; is there a recognitio or not and when.

    As I have posted earlier – this change is the wrong move; at the wrong time; and the wrong place. The puts priests and bishops (think Trautman) in extremely difficult positions.

  8. Bill, where in V2 do you see a call for a “new” liturgy? Reform in an existing liturgy is not the same as a new one. We certainly don’t see a call even for an all vernacular liturgy in V2.
    The adaptation process for this new translation – a very modest change compared to what occurred in 1969/70 seems much more open & public than what took place then.

  9. My suspicion is that the changes will likely not have much effect either positive or negative in the near term. Many parishes will try to use them as an opportunity to generate a general renewed interest in the liturgy. Some parishes will just do the perfunctory things necessity to inform the people. A few parishes will drag their heels, probably the same ones that drag their heels on everything.

    Some of the educational materials are beginning to appear in parish bulletins. One pastor wrote that he was relieved that they do not involve postures or gestures like the previous changes.

    The social scientist in me has had some thoughts of going from parish to parish in the next couple of years to see if there are any detectable changes. Visiting a different parish last weekend, I was struck by how little participation there was in anything, either hymns, or spoken responses. It was even the main Mass for the parish choir.

    At the bishop’s level, it is unpredictable. People in our diocese whose parishes have been closed are very upset and will likely remain so until the bishop is gone. So a bishop who did a lot of unpopular things, e.g. being authoritarian, disciplining pastors, etc. could find himself in a mess. But there is little evidence that issues such as sexual abuse, financial accountability, or clerical celibacy have been able to generate widespread interest. Absent a bishop who digs his own grave, I doubt liturgy will generate much of an uproar.

  10. You make it sound like we are switching from English to Farsi!

    This change will be incredibly easy compared to the (unauthorized) changes brought about by Vatican II with the virtual disappearance of Latin.

    And, since a significant percentage of priests don’t follow the existing sacramentary properly, I don’t expect that the number will be much less when the new sacramentary goes into effect.

    And we’ll survive because all them eventually will retire and die.

  11. It is wise to call for us to pray for our bishops, but also we should remember in prayer all those working at the diocesan and parish level. As the bishops tend to be (unfortunately) removed from their flock because of the scope of their responsibilities, it’s the folks in the field who will have to deal directly with the spiritual confusion and hurt feelings. Maybe, as we conclude the Year for Priests, we should announce the Year for those charged with implementing the new Missal translation. Right now I’m fervently praying every day that whatever final (we hope!) tweaking the translation is currently undergoing addresses some of the obvious problems such as those discussed on this blog. As someone who believes in the extreme value of the vernacular liturgy, and at the same time looks forward to a more formal, elevated, and accurate translation of the Latin, I still have much hope, and will work hard to facilitate the transition in my little corner of the Church.

    1. “Right now I’m fervently praying every day that whatever final (we hope!) tweaking the translation is currently undergoing addresses some of the obvious problems such as those discussed on this blog.”

      I fear you may be disappointed, but I hope you are right. However, the signs are that the post-tweaked text may be even less satisfactory than the already-unsatisfactory current draft.

  12. Greetings,

    40 years ago the old priests didn’t want to change. Why would we expect it to be different. The Old priest are Conservative(Not wanting to change). They will not want to do something new. But overall, this is a GREAT opportunity for liturgical catechesis. If we use this New translation to have education on the liturgy then I am all for it, and I am excited.

  13. One could take away the translation-specific or even liturgy-specific language in the above article and it would still be very accurate. There are priests that will agree with the bishop on any number of issues and follow through. There are those who may not agree or question, but out of respect and obedience follow through. Then there are those overly clerical priests who always know better than the bishop and “can’t be told what to do in their parish.” This is true about anything. Regarding this topic specifically, an additional group should be added: those priests who do not like the new translation and will not use, but also never really used the current translation and instead used the “Missal of Fr. X according to the Use of Saint Y Parish.” For these men (and men and women lay staffers of the same mindset), the Church can say and do anything, even something they may agree with, but they will do their own thing out of principle.

    1. Yes, it could be about any issue, but it happens to be about the “source and summit” of the Church’s life.
      I gather that you’ve given the hierarchy a blank check to do most anything they want, and you will still be a model of obedience to it. And if you scold everyone else about their disobedience, in time they’ll all come around to your way of thinking. Lots of luck with this strategy.

      1. I don’t see how you can constantly paint priests who honor their promise of respect and obedience as conservative or out of touch and those who don’t as enlightened and thinking. In my diocese we recently had a priest pass out letters to his parishioners bashing an administrative policy. Newspapers and the local tv station were called in to publicize it. Write a letter or call the bishop to express your concerns, of course. Publicly rally your parishioners against the bishop through the homily, passing out leaflets, calling the press–completely separate and very wrong.
        Again, I am sorry for being a young totally unthinking blindly obedient priest. Perhaps if I had been better trained in the seminary I would have been intelligent enough to do my own thing and make up my own liturgy. My professors must have failed big time when they only taught the liturgy, theology, and ecclesiology of the Catholic Church. If only they had the “secret copy” of the Vatican documents that state a priest is totally independent of his bishop I would have been much more enlightened. Finally, to test my theory of the disappearing posts, I will again use the phrase “giant dancing concelebrating puppets.”

      2. I didn’t say (nor do I believe) most of what you attribute to me, but so be it. I don’t criticize you for being obedient. But I do tire of your way of constantly scolding others for not thinking and obeying like you. It just plain doesn’t work, and if anything, it probably gives authority and obedience less credence in others’ eyes. For the record, I follow the book 100% when I say Mass.

      3. I don’t see how I am “scolding” to assume that priests would follow the liturgy the Church provides for them. Is it “scolding” that when the bishop says “start using the new translation” the priest uses the new translation? One of my biggest concern with the implementation of the revised Missal is that I, and other priests, will have to implement it not only once but several times when being assigned to parishes where it was not effectively implemented. I would not want someone to come in behind me and start off five years behind because I did not do what I was supposed to do. I guess that is being overly obedient or scolding.

  14. What if we all just said wait. By that I mean, let’s wait and see what things are like five years after the implementation of the new translation. I suspect the dust will have settled and younger Catholics who are in their early teens now will think that the translation they have was the one always prayed. Catholics who don’t like it may have a bishop like Lefebre and will have gone into schism. Catholics who don’t care, will continue to go to Mass each Sunday and live their lives as they always have. Priests who have better things to do than to wallow in self-pity about being put upon by the pope and their bishop will continue to celebrate the Mass as prescribed and call their people to mature obedience in the areas of faith, morals and canon law, not to mention charity. And then as we have seen for the past 40 years, we have those laity and clergy who’ll just be doing their own thing and the Church despite all that is happening, will continue to make her pilgrimage to the Kingdom or, God willing, Christ will return, unless we stop praying for that and we get what we want even as Jesus proclaims, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”

  15. Dom Anthony – you clearly are obedient but it almost seems you view it as a ‘lifestyle choice’ – OK for some, but not for some others. I thought it was a vow taken at ordination. What do vows mean? My understanding is that the only time obedience may not be mandated is in case of heresy (that was certainly Archbishop Lefebvre’s argument), not mere personal disagreement.
    While policy is being set, differing opinions are fine, but when the decision by lawful authority is made, it is time for all religious to as you say you will do.
    Fr Costigan got it right in his last post above – there are clearly some very intelligent people here but that intelligence should always be deployed in support of church teaching – which can come *only* from the Magisterium, the only teaching authority – not to oppose it. Otherwise, the sin of pride, intellectual pride, can creep in – a particular temptation to baby boomers, it seems.
    The phrase ‘institutional church’ fell out of favour during the ‘groovy’ years but a younger generation has remembered that it is the “institutional” Church precisely because Christ instituted it. If one has a beef with that, take it up with Him.
    Obedience and pride truly are the biggest issues that I see here. I speak as one who was long disobedient and who is still, no doubt, too full of pride.

  16. I have to say too that I am puzzled by the antipathy toward obedience. I’m not speaking about blind obedience, but obedience to Christ, a well-formed conscience and obedience for the sake of unity and charity. Obedience to the will of Christ is at the heart of the Gospel and this entails big and small things. What I think we have inherited from the 1960’s-’70’s is the anti-authority, anti-institutionalism that many in that period thought would liberate us from the “law.” Church authority to a certain extent accommodated this shift of attitude toward authority and was very lenient and kind with the disobedient. We only need look at disobedience toward the promise/vow of chastity or celibacy and the winks and nods that took place in that realm. This “merciful” lenience even was extended to the maliciously immature and the predator in the area of sexual abuse. But it was all part of little or no ramifications for outright disregard or contempt for promises made with little accountability. Today in reaction to what has happened, we have zero-tolerance policies, one strike and you’re out much of it motivated by the other authority so despised, civil law, jail and lawsuits. But in terms of the promise/vow of obedience, we still see some in the “clerical culture of contempt for authority” pushing the envelope with little or no ramifications for doing so. Will it take “zero tolerance” and “one strike and you’re out” for this to turn around? Time will tell. But unlike failures in celibacy, the watch dog aspect of the press and the legal restraints of civil authority will not come into play. In fact the press will glorify disobedience to the vow/promise of obedience to Church authority.

    1. I’m not puzzled by the west’s problems with obedience. The 60’s and 70’s were only another stage in the general disenchantment with authority in the modern age. I’d say that the senseless Great War and the callous treatment of soldiers by the aristocracy (military and political) sending hundreds of thousands to their deaths, not to mention spawning a next generation of warmongers. Go back to any number of immoralities of the post-Tridentine era: the Thirty Years’ War, colonialism, the Franco-Prussian War. It’s miraculous enough that authority has survived this long.

      Fr McDonald also overlooks the continuance of the clerical subculture and its primacy of personal privilege. Priests have always disregarded sexual norms in significant, though thankfully not majority numbers. Conservative tend to blame liberals–so, what else is new?

      Critics of the new translation, at their worst, are not much different than Father Z and his “slavish translations.” And at best, have a far better theological and linguistic argument on hand. It really depends on which side of the argument one finds oneself.

      Scolds may be annoying, but some may well have a genuine charism. The problem is when the scolding is inconsistent, and personally convenient.

  17. Father Allen,

    Many to most of the younger Catholics who are in their early teens now will no longer be attending Mass much [if at all] in 5 or six years. Of course, this will be the case quite independent of what translation[s] of the Mass are in use, and pretty much independent of how they are educated during their high school and college years.

    Some, but by no means all, of those who aren’t attending in 5 years will wander back later, but you won’t need to set up extra seating for them.

    In any event, this is probably not a good group to use for your proposed experiment.

  18. Fr. Christopher has a good point. It is simply bad manners to give additional work to the next pastor in a parish simply because one does not want to implement the new missal. It is much like stamping one’s feet and pouting. The next pastor is left to clean up the mess.

  19. On obedience:

    Many perhaps most Catholics have worked for organizations in which they have implemented policies and even laws that were not of their choice. Many of us have learned to do so creatively in order to maximize the benefits and minimize the damage that may be done by those policies and laws.

    Most priests and pastoral staff members are busy people, and so I find it refreshing when they say “we didn’t design this but let’s see how we can make this work best for our parish.”

    On the other hand, I have listened to many pastoral presentations of the latest and greatest program for “everyone” in the parish, rolled my eyes and wished they would cut out the sales job, just give me the facts, and let me decide for myself!

    Many of us are not particularly happy with the upper levels of church management. Telling us that this is from them is like saying “We are from the government and we are here to help you.”

    So the big virtue I would advocate here is humility.

  20. Let me make it clear disobedience knows no allegiance, liberal, conservative, progressive, or traditionalists. In fact as is proven already, the traditionalists have more organization when it comes to schism than do progressives because progressives have no unity in their disobedience, it’s all personal or what I keep referring to as the dictatorship of relativism.

  21. The problem is not disobedience but the lack of supervision for pastors.

    There is simply no system of monitoring and accountability to detect problems of sexual abuse, alcohol abuse, financial abuse or even health problems.

    There is no real system for checking whether pastors are just doing their own thing, or actually serving their people’s needs.

    We need to maintain flexibility at the parish level. No two parishes are really the same.

    However parishes need to be more than the reflection of their pastor’s personality.

    The closing of parishes in recent years indicates that they are not really communities of the faithful, they are only business sites for “independent contractors.”

    1. Jack, we’re not calling for a police state, just mature obedience even in things as simple as the English translation of the Mass, which I was not consulted on, nor did I have any inkling that I should be. I think the majority of pastors and other priests are hard working, maybe opinionated and perhaps dismayed at authority, but do a very good job of doing what is asked and going beyond that. But in those instances where things are out of wack, I think the Church, meaning lay and clergy should expect a bishop to intervene in a timely, pastoral and paternal way and seek correction for the common good. If recourse to canon law is needed as a last resort, so be it.

      1. Now, consider that I was an early and sharp critic of the petition gambit by Msgr Ryan, and have shown no patience with priests who have complained about the new translation being oppressive to their personal spirituality, et cet.

        That said, authority functions best on a foundation of trust, and that trust has been sorely corroded. Not just by a dictatorship of relativism and narcissism. But also by those who would be shepherds. And there is a *long* way to go on the part of shepherds to remedy that corrosion of trust. Shepherds would be best served if they understood how untrusted they are likely to be. Events of recent months do make me wonder how well many of them understand this; as in all things, some are learning faster than others, and it cannot be otherwise given human nature (but it can be otherwise only with God’s grace, of course).

        While the flock needs to invited to greater trust, the shepherds need to be invited to presume less on such trust.

      2. Not a police state, just at little accountability like independent contractors in the public mental health system.

        Since 2002 I have had off the record conversations with a fair number of pastors with a variety of sophisticated, non-ideological analyses of issues and solutions. With such competent pastors, why can’t we get better bishops? I am very confident for this and a variety of other sources of information that we need a better early identification system and intervention for priests with problems, i.e. better supervision.

        My major retirement interest is voluntarism. Recruitment of volunteers in a parish is very biased by the pastor’s interests and prejudices, far more than most pastors are aware of or intend. This is not an uncommon problem with voluntarism since like is attracted to like, and cliques easily form. A pastor would have to spend a lot of time and effort to get beyond not only his own biases, but those of existing volunteers. Most pastors don’t have that kind of time.

        Finally no matter how wacky a pastor, even to the point of immoral and illegal behavior, there will always be a loyal fan club, who will see no evil and think the bishop or law enforcement officers are wrong when he is removed. That is why we had the Legionnaires, Waco, and Jonestown. Too many vulnerable people in this world need a father figure.

        Humility desiring accountability is better than faulty and prideful obedience

    2. Jack, you are ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY correct. These guys are ordained
      and sent to a parish. There is no “check-up” or “recurrent training” required in many cases. When it is offered, they blow it off, and in most cases, make fun of it. I’ve seen it all.

      1. Exactly right. In every diocese you have the priests that will be at every clergy conference, day of prayer, Chrism Mass, Ordination, etc. The majority make everything they can depending on schedule (especially guys by themselves now). But there is a group that will not come to anything unless they are dragged to it, oir have a very serious interest in the topic. But this isn’t limited to priests–it is the same in almost any vocation or profession.

  22. As the day of implementation arrives, I owe my bishop a few things:
    1. Avoid doing harm to what God is achieving in our assemblies and what we seek in prayer together;
    2. Respect what a majority of our bishops have settled upon;
    3. Channel constructive dissent into forums at this, my own and other websites;
    4. Praise what deserves praise in the contributions of others;
    5. Continue to honor the heritage that has spoken to me and all my readers;
    6. Pray in silence if I must and as I already do at certain times;
    7. Help to cushion the blowback that must come and has already begun.
    The sacred mysteries will still be celebrated, whatever the words we use, and we will always strive to deepen their hold on our lives.

  23. It’s nice that everyone has such sympathy for bishops. My own sympathy is limited. I doubt that most of them are worried in the least. They have no realism when it comes to the reactions of their people or their priests about virtually anything controversial, because they are surrounded by yes-men.

    You who have seized on the theme of obedience are evidently looking to blame somebody in advance for whatever may go wrong – the naughty pastors, the fractious laity, whoever does not toe the line — and so overlooking the very point Anthony is making, which is far more compassionate. But I see that you feel you have to do this, because your position with respect to the texts seems to requires it. If the translation is right and just and good and holy and perfect, then anybody who does not accept it has something wrong with them and must change.

    The problem is, your position DOESN’T require it. The translation could be spectacular, and still the cause of dislocation and controversy. Suffering attends the very best of our efforts, as well as the deeply flawed ones (which I believe describes the current translation). How come nobody sees this?

  24. I wonder how big an impact the new translation will really have in the parish. Father often uses words we’re not familiar with: special Eucharistic Prayers and rarely heard collects and prefaces. Often, the lack of familiarity makes us sit up and listen.

    So many of the people’s words – in any translation – are carried by music. Will the assembly notice that they’re singing “Lord God of hosts” instead of “Lord God of power and might”? I suspect not.

    Here in the UK, we have a clutch of settings which warp the text to fit the music so you end up singing Kyrie, Holy, Acclamation and Agnus all to the same tune. Will those who sing perversions of the present text drop them just because there’s a new translation around?

    So, apart from “And with your spirit” what difference will the translation really make in the parishes?

    It seems to me that the only people with a mega job on their hands are parish musicians and those of us who organise workshops with them.

    Perhaps this post should be retitled, “Let us pray for Catholic Musicians”.

  25. Listening to this conversation about obedience, I am wondering where on earth the middle ground is to be found. I suspect that someone of the calibre of Cardinal Bernardin would have been able to show us. Who has his mantle today?

    In the meantime, there is one group of people, including bishops, priests and lay people, saying “In virtue of holy obedience, you must do this”, and another group, also containing bishops, priests and lay people, saying “I am a conscientious objector. In good faith, I cannot do this.”
    Those who want obedience need to realize that it isn’t going to happen, no matter what they say.

    Somehow we need to create the conditions for both groups to talk to each other. But simply imposing obedience on the one hand, and refusing it on the other, is only going to result in hurt feelings and resentment, and will make it much more difficult to dialogue in the future.

    That is why I think Msgr Ryan’s initiative was praiseworthy. He was, in effect, saying “We have to talk about this, before we do something we may regret.”

    There is still time to talk. People just have to want it strongly enough.

    Otherwise, we are inexorably headed for a situation which, far from being unitive, which is what Rome wants, will only be divisive.

    Who will show us the way?

    1. Listening to this conversation about obedience, I am wondering where on earth the middle ground is to be found.

      I have been struck by how “modern” the account of obedience is that we have been discussing here. That is, it seems to presume the modern account of the human person as essentially characterized by will rather than by intellect, so that obedience in its most perfect form would be a case of submitting your will to a superior, even when your intellect is screaming “no! no! no!” But this is an account of obedience that anyone who thinks of himself or herself as a “traditionalist” should roundly reject. If, following the medieval tradition, we give primacy to the intellect then we should think of obedience as a process of reasoning together and not mere submission of one will to another. Perhaps at some point a superior simply has to say, “You will do it because I say so” and the subordinate will obey by sheer act of will, but this should be seen as a sign that the structures of obedience have failed, not as a sign that they are working really, really well. As a friend of mine in religious life once said, “If you have to invoke obedience, something has gone wrong.”

      Herbert McCabe wrote a great essay dealing with this issue entitled “Obedience,” which is in his book God Matters. Also see his book Law, Love and Language.

  26. Amen to that. I am amazed by many who think Msgr Ryan’s stance was seen as liberal or radical. It just seems to be common sense. He is saying, “let just ake a breath and think about what are about to doing.”

    Common sense.

    1. What I had hoped Msgr. Ryan was saying was ‘let’s talk to the people in the pews before doing this.’ That is, that we should be doing something like Fr. Ruff did with his music students.

      While I doubt the different views expressed on this blog could come together, even if they did would that middle ground text be preferred to the present text?

      Given that Fr. Ruff’s very inadequate data are still the only data around, maybe most people would prefer the present simpler version. Maybe most of the people in the pews would say “Let’s just not bother.”

      Of course most professionals think they know better than the people whom they serve, even when as in the present case they very much disagree among themselves. But professional superiority is questionable in many cases.

  27. The question that should be asked here is whether it is a sin for a priest/bishop to refuse to provide to the people the liturgical text authorized by the Apostolic See.
    Anyone who thinks it is legitimate to continue to impose a dated (lame-duck) translation on the people after the reformed version is published falls into a trap because that position would make every celebrant the master of the liturgy meaning he might choose the 1962 RM, the 1965 RM or any of the later versions on a whim.
    The most difficulty for the laity, as always, is found in religious communities and in rural areas where celebrants tend to find the most freedom to do as they please with the sacred liturgy and where the people have few options. Justice demands an obedient priest.

    1. On the other hand, one derivative (and actually intended) result of the Motu Proprio is that it can no longer be assumed (as it long was) that the release of a new edition of the Roman Missal necessarily abrogates preceding editions.

      1. I think the Holy Father was trying to show that there was enough of a difference between the 1962 and 1969 missals to constitute a “different form” but not a “different rite”. So it is not a matter of a new edition, but of a new form. The third typical edition of the Ordinary Form is just that: a newer edition, not another form.

        Still, I would expect to see some clear language from the CDWDS about the transition from one edition to the next. Of course, for those whose minds are already made up, it won’t matter what the CDWDS or any other authority says.

      2. Jeffrey, you are correct. Those who celebrate Mass of the Church will do so no matter what the texts say. Those who do their thing will continue to do their own thing. Some of the people I know (priests and liturgists) that are most vocal against the new translation frankly never use the current translation anyway (and still plug away with their ceramic and glass chalices, etc etc).

      3. The Motu Proprio also could be used to promote the notion that individual priests rather than pastors and bishops could do the choosing of Missals

        And that this might be done to satisfy the piety of the priest.

        A lot of unintended consequences perhaps in that Motu Proprio.

  28. Yes…our reception is really an issue of communion. It is a test of our communion with the Apostolic See.

    1. On the Memorial of Saint Iraneus, we have one of his writings quoted by the CCC: 834 Particular Churches are fully catholic through their communion with one of them, the Church of Rome “which presides in charity.”315 “For with this church, by reason of its pre-eminence, the whole Church, that is the faithful everywhere, must necessarily be in accord.”316 Indeed, “from the incarnate Word’s descent to us, all Christian churches everywhere have held and hold the great Church that is here [at Rome] to be their only basis and foundation since, according to the Savior’s promise, the gates of hell have never prevailed against her.”317

  29. David,

    It is not Msgr. Ryan’s place to encourage resistance to the new translation vetted by his bishop and already approved by the Holy See. He is making the work of most other pastors much more difficult than it needs to be.
    Interestingly, Msgr. Ryan, ordained in 1966, is old enough for us to wonder how much waiting he sought before the promulgation of Pope Paul’s reformed missal. Certainly if he seeks to just wait today he must have been even more adamant in seeking delay in 1970.

  30. Robert.. what do you mean when you say it is “not Msgr. Ryan’s place?”… again, if you read clearly he is not encouraging resistance necessarily, just asking people to wait, and take some time to dialogue and ask important questions of this process. He himself has said, that he will utilize the new translations, so his views are not anarchist. In terms of your comment that he is making the work of the other pastors more difficult is actually the opposite in my view. I think he is desperately trying to make things a bit easier for pastors and for all of us who are in leadership. If anyone thinks that a blind acceptance of this new translation is going to be easy to implement under these circumstances is in my opinion, not facing some serious reality.

    For myself, in workshops and other upcoming events I have no intention of doing anything but encouraging people to accept and use the new translations, and certainly I will not encourage people to ignore them and use the existing Sacramentary. Far from it… but I do think it is also important not to lie to people and tell the truth. What Msgr. Ryan is objecting to more than anything is the PROCESS in which this all happened, which was basically no process at all, and certainly not in the spirit of the council reforms. Not that the process means everyone gets a say or gets to “vote” on these things – but the lack of consultation, —–

  31. (con;t)— the lack of following their own principles (i.e. following the “original latin,” then ignoring it when it did not meet their own agenda, such as translation “calix” to mean “chalice”), and so much more. And also, the timing of this..

    Many of us have haggled through all of this already… I pray and hope that the venting that we do here does not become the dialogue that we engage our communities in… they will have their own angst and their own issues with this.. we need to be PASTORAL, but I do not think it is necessarily, to be “obedient.” My concern is that even with a translation that many will find objectionable, that we do our very best to help people to pray the liturgy, and to give God the worthy praise that we are called to offer – regardless of the quality of the words. It would be sad if different camps did their own thing… but it is not sad, or unhelpful, to as Msgr. Ryan is proposing, that we just stop for a minute, and WAIT… think it through, consider the consequences. Of course it will not happen, because it would mean that the bishops would listen to a voice different than their own… and gosh, we cannot have that.

  32. Couple of thoughts: I was getting close to agreeing with Rita Ferrone on a few points recently but she misses my (and that of others) point on obedience here. I do not advocate obedience simply because it furthers my cause in this instance. I don’t especially champion the new translation either but I will obey lawful authority. I really didn’t like changes to the Mass during the 1970’s (insofar as I remember them) and 1980’s but that never made me go anywhere near an SSPX Church.

    David Hass raises an important point – clearly many of you are concerned in good faith and this is a forum to express such concern and blow off steam. But remember, the Catholic clergy among you, you have willingly taken a binding vow and you have a wider audience here. Don’t be a General McChrystal!
    My rule of thumb: start out with a general rule of obeying your bishop. If you disagree with him, you have recourse to Rome. If that doesn’t work, sorry but game over. either you suck it up or you open your storefront Iglesia de Dios in a mall somewhere.

  33. HI Celle.. small point.. my last name is spelled Haas, not Hass… no big deal, but just wanted you to know.

  34. a long conversation about big issues of ecclesiology and law. But I’d like to say how much I appreciated the prayerful, sensitive tone of Fr Anthony’s original post. I suspect it’s through our all growing in that kind of sensitivity that we will get through whatever lies ahead–and because of the lack of such sensitivity that we are in this mess in the first place.

  35. David-
    I cannot imagine how you could infer that no process was followed. It was open and well publicized especially when compared to the way the consilium and the former ICEL worked years ago. I think Ceile’s point is a good one. I know other Christian communities operate differently but in ours…obedience is the rule and is especially meritorious because clerical obedience provides justice to the lay faithful by sustaining observance of doctrinal & liturgical norms.

    1. Robert, for the record, Rome has changed ICEL’s policies so that the names of those involved are no longer publicized, and ICEL no longer publishes progress reports with samples of its translation proposals. So…what on earth are you talking about?? Do you have facts to support your assertions?

  36. Mr. Dibdale – you are entitled to your opinion but your last combox is neither factual nor true. Why don’t you scroll down to the book by Bishop Taylor, “A Cold Wind from Rome”.

    Your desire to re-write history is amazing as is your opinion about either the vow of obedience or the obedience we are all called to – both will and intellect. Why don’t you read the books referenced earlier by McCabe.

  37. Bill,

    Indicate exactly (specifically) what you interpret as being false. St. Ignatius wrote some interesting things about obedience too.

  38. The current ICEL process (as also outlined by AWR) is basically in secret. The prior ICEL which worked for almost 30 years was transparent – with minutes; votes by national bishops’ conferences; prior publication of drafts, etc.

    You are comparing apples to oranges. Like AWR – show me the proof of your outlandish statements.

  39. I’m guessing that the obedience necessary here is the kind that flows from the first mark of the Church: oneness. Doing what we’re told to do without visible desire to be one with–and genuine compassion and even love for–those with whom we disagree is not an obedience that increases unity. It just broods resentment and fear. This may be why the vow of obedience in the ordination rite is coupled with a promise to respect as well.

  40. We’ve seen lots of drafts from the current ICEL aval. to the public & truly international. The former ICEL was dominated by Americans in its early days. Recall that a Canadian member resigned after realizing that his corrections and suggestions were ignored. British clergy were so appalled by (the former) ICEL’s early translations that they formed their own organization, the Assoc. for English Worship, to propose more accurate translations. It seems that the NCCB voted approval the translation of the canon on the recommendation of the BCL without the bishops ever seeing it. This time around, the procedure was more public with no-one claiming that the bishops did not get an opportunity to see the texts before debating (sometimes in public), voting, and approving them. The late ++Dwyer of Portland (OR) was clear in his criticism of the existing texts. In 1975 ++ Dwyer wrote in NCRegister that (the former) ICEL was “a self-perpetuating bureaucracy…(it did) disservice to the English-speaking Catholic world..(the old ICEL was) immune to criticism…(even) contemptuous of it.”

    1. Robert, in a word, No. You should not have seen any proposed text, because it is no longer permitted to publicize texts, as it was before. Any proposal you saw is because someone broke the new rules. For the rest, there have been lots of criticisms from lots of angles on the QUALITY of the translations. But none of that changes the fact (and this is a fact), that ICEL has been given strict rules which no longer allow it to be as open and transparent as before. We’re talking about clear changes in the rules, and these are facts.
      If you look at the drastic difference between ICEL’s work in the 70s and what ICEL did with the proposed 1998 sacramentary, I think it is hard to claim that ICEL was immune to criticism. Why did they change so much in the direction of formality, accuracy, elevated language?

      1. I think that some are confusing the fact that the advent of blogs has meant there has been more electronic conversation *about* the pending translation than there was about the 1998 translation with the questionable idea that the pending translation process was more transparent than that for the 1998 translation.

  41. May I addd another comment about the bishops voting on these changes – if you go the USCCB website and click on the November meeting in which they passed the final Roman Missal, you will find an interesting interchange between Cardinal George, the USCCB secretary, and a few bishops esp. Trautman. In a nutshell, George or someone made changes after the conference voted and forwarded to Rome. When questionned about these changes (which were not voted on) George asked his secretary and then basically excused the whole incident as just an oversight. In reality, the final vote was a kangaroo court and violated even the rules of the USCCB. George did not even have the courtesy to apologize for this. It was just business as usual.
    That is why some of us question the legitimacy of this new (who knows when it will be finnal) Roman Missal.

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