Heard in the hallway at Mundelein

A reliable source  (no, not Msgr. Moroney), citing a most reliable source, reports that some 10,000 changes were made by the Roman authorities to the missal text submitted to them. Many of the changes make the English text unfaithful to the Latin of the Missale Romanum.

This is getting curiouser and curiouser.


  1. Might it be that these elements are additions to the Missale from the 1965 ordo that bring the EF and OF closer together? Dum spiro spero.

    1. Robert, all of this is a translation of the 2002 Missale Romanum. Period. The odds that the English missal will deviate an iota from the liturgical structure of the 2002 MR are exactly zilch. But I sympathize with you – there are many things I keep hoping for! 🙂

  2. It’d be great if the missal translators could collate their notes and publish them in a critical commentary to go along with the new Roman Missal. The commentary could include the Latin and an analysis of the translation decisions. Yes, this commentary would be after the fact. Even so, it’d spare a lot of head-scratching among the clergy and faithful. At least then debates here on PT and elsewhere could have an official position to critique.

    I suspect that the 10,000 (!) changes might move the missal towards a more idiomatic expression. “Unfaithfulness to the Latin” could simply mean conversion of subordinate clauses to finite sentences or the reordering of vocatives towards modern English usage. Let’s hope that these changes strike a compromise that we can all live with.

  3. So, will the “Roman authorities” submit the changes to the ICEL bishops for their approval? If not, it will show an alarming and scandalous disrespect for our bishops, and will actually help undermine the credibility of the translation. Will the bishops care? Will they even notice? What was the point of even asking them in the first place? Perhaps the credibility of the ICEL bishops is really the issue and they are are already held in such low regard by the “Roman authorities” that they cannot be trusted to make sensible decisions about the liturgy anyway.

  4. It cannot be sensible that changes of this magnitude are occurring quickly and with not even a semblance of due process.

    What we need to do is to start again from the 1998 version, and have a proper, public and unhurried reworking, with full and open discussion of the issues. The 1973 version may be unsatisfactory–but it’s worth waiting another few years to get the revision right.

  5. Mr. Graham – you have already answered your questions above – ” it is way past the sell-by date”

  6. This is a rumor that was circulating recently, but it has been dispelled by Monsignor Moroney as completely untrue. Vox Clara did make recommendations to turn the gray book(ICEL text) into the white book (final edition that gets the recognitio) as is their task. The American bishops/ICEL were never intended to determine the final word choice, but to make recommendations to Vox Clara and then be finished with their work. Vox Clara makes recommendations to the Holy See and is then finished with its work. The the Holy See determines the final outcome. Sounds like a whole heck of a lot of consultation to me!

    1. No, I don’t believe this is how it works. The bishops’ conferences don’t submit anything to Vox Clara; they only submit things to the Congregation for Divine Worship. Vox Clara is a consultative body at the service of the Congregation. Things are complicated by the fact that everyone sends everything to Rome at every turn for feedback, but what I wrote is the established procedure, which has been publicized freely.

      As for the original post – to use words we’ve used before – Pray Tell stands by its sources.


  7. Thinking back to the German funeral texts. The German Bishops revoked their approval of the text and restored the previous one until the deficiencies could be resolved. Just because the recognitio has been granted to a text, doesn’t mean the Bishops are obliged to implement it. They could tell Rome, we are sorry this is not the text we approved, we won’t be implementing this text. Unlikely, but possible.

  8. It is a fact that the generic text of the Missal presented by Vox Clara and granted recognitio contains many changes from the text submitted by the Bishops’ Conferences. Even if there are many more changes, as Anthony’s source suggests, there are already enough changes in the Vox Clara version for us to be sure that (a) these changes do not bring the text closer to the Latin but further away from it (so defying the principles of LA) and (b) these changes sometimes consist of complete mistranslations of the Latin (e.g. one of the changes in the Roman Canon, which is a million miles away from the Latin text).

    The longer Rome fiddles about, the more it becomes apparent that the whole enterprise is a hollow enterprise with no substance. I too have heard rumours that Bishops’ Conferences may well reapply to Rome for recognitio on the basis that the text that comes back from there is not the text they approved. This could go on for ages.

  9. I attended a pastoral day at my diocese recently. The presentation was done by Fr. Dennis McManus (a member of the Vox Clara?). He did some excellent commentary on the new Missal, and it was my understanding that they are awaiting Rome to finish the “adaptations”. He expected that the official release would be around the end of the year.

    He also stated that this a 100 year project and we are about 40 years into it…..

  10. Let’s wait and see what was done. We’ll know soon enough. Many at this website seem to have a kneejerk suspicion of the Holy See. I don’t see why the Holy See, in addition to the Bishops, should not also have a legitimate role in the liturgy of the Roman rite. The Vatican II document Sacrosanctun Concilium contemplates the involvement of both. And it may be that some stylistic improvements by the Holy See without too much compromising on the goal of accuracy, which is what I am hoping for, Would not be a bad thing..

    1. Honestly, I don’t see it a knee-jerk, it is borne out of considerable experience. Many of the contributors have been involved in the liturgy for decades, so they are in a good position to comment on what they see or don’t see taking place.

      They “improvements” made are by all account actually making things even worse.

      What role the Holy See should have in the liturgy will depend a lot upon your Ecclesiology.

      1. “What role the Holy See should have in the liturgy will depend a lot upon your Ecclesiology.”

        How about the ecclesiology of the Vatican II Ecumenical Council, a magisterial teaching?

        “22. 1. Regulation of the Sacred Liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.” Sacrosanctum Concilium

        The first instruction on implementation of Sacrosanctum Concilium also contained this:

        “21. The Holy See has the authority to reform and approve the general liturgical books; to regulate the liturgy in matters affecting the universal Church; to approve or confirm the acta and decisions of territorial authorities; and to accede to their proposals and requests.” Inter Oecumenici

        While there is no question that the above documents also gave the bishops the primary task of translation, to say that the Holy See should not be involved in the process is not a Catholic ecclesiology. The Petrine ministry and all that… Also, translation involves two languages, not just English but Latin also. It makes sense that the bishops’ work product should be reviewed by someone interested in fidelity to the Latin and to the Roman liturgical tradition generally, and the Holy See would logically be the one to do it. Finally, I would also add that it is incorrect to maintain that the bishops have not had a substantial role in this process and are just being dictated to by eveil old “Rome”.

      2. “They “improvements” made are by all account actually making things even worse.”

        How can you possibly make that judgment when we don’t even know what the final text says? I just sense a lot of prejudice against the lawful Magisterium around here.

  11. “Oh I hope not. The EF is way past its sell-by date for the vast majority of Catholics.”

    Ah yes, the famous “tolerance” of liberals strikes again, which contradicts the true generosity of spirit of the Holy Father in Summorum Pontificum, now three years old. What would be so horrible about adding back as options some of the riches of the Roman liturgical tradition that were stripped out of the Mass by Bugnini’s civil engineers in the 60s, such as the prayers at the foot of the altar, some of the offertory prayers or the final Gospel? The tradition has value, unless you basically want to create an entirely new religion, which is not what Vatican II did. Particularly if they are options, which no priest has to follow if they don’t want to. I don’t see how there are any grounds for objection.

    1. I have heard similar suggests for a while. However, in light of sounds theology and history, there were very good reasons for changes and not to return to them.

      Prayers at the Foot of the Altar: A devotional practice that got inserted into the Mass, also it duplicates the Introit. Often it is asserted that Introductory Rites are overburdened, this would add to that. Even in the 1962 Missal the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar are omitted in the penitential seasons, reflecting an earlier practice.

      Offertory Prayers: Depends on what offertory means. In the case of the 1962 Missal, the prayers anticipate the “oblation” which take place in the Canon, so in addition there is a duplication.

      Last Gospel: A fairly late addition to the Mass, which was more devotional that liturgical, and completely out of place in the Order of the Mass. It is incongruous to have the blessing and then dismissal, suddenly followed by a Gospel reading. Admittedly, there is nothing preventing a priest from doing it as a devotional practice after Mass.

      The vast majority of the riches of the 1962 Missal are contained in the 2002 Missal or are at least options, as you suggest. I can think of one of two little thinks that were carried over that might have been, but certainly nothing that impoverishes the current Missal.

      1. Not everything that is a recent development is necessarily a bad thing, and these additions do have some value. I would agree that there is a certain benefit to the “streamlining” of the new form of mass in that it does more clearly bring out the structure of the rite, which is a goal that I believe Sacrosanctum Concilium mentions. I would not advocate making these items mandatory or saying that the should always be used, but they do have some value and should remain as options in my opinion. For instantce, the last Gospel might be of particular value in the Christmas season or on other fests of the Incarnation like the Annunciation.

      2. Anyways, I don’t think you should worry since I very much doubt that the CDWDS would go so far as to change the translation drafts by adding substantial new options from the 1962 form of rite without some discussion about it.

  12. I’m confused. Excuse my ignorance, but I see on the US Bishops’ website that the Recognitio has been recieved. They are also offering study materials and promoting workshops to learn more about the new translation. Everything I’m reading and hearing says that we will get the new translations (if the adaptations are approved before October) at the beginning of Advent 2011. So what gives?

    1. If only we knew, Tricia! It’s all quite a mystery.

      I don’t have any inside information and I don’t know all the players, so take this for what it’s worth: I’d give it a 50-50 chance at best that this missal will move forward on schedule.

  13. Unnecessary duplications are a liturgical problem, not duplications in and of themselves. We already have (among others) the triple mea culpa, the triple sanctus, and the Agnus Dei. Many here are no doubt aware of the frustrations we’ve had since 1970 with the 1st part of the Mass. The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar would do much to set the tone appropriately for Mass. As for duplicating the introit-something most Catholics haven’t heard since about 1965, I don’t see any concern there.
    The additional prayers made optional during the offertory would do much to assist in building the people’s devotion to and understanding of the sacrifice while also expressing that understanding.
    The Last Gospel…if its optional it will probably be rarely used outside of monasteries. In fact, all of these optional rites would be rarely used in most parishes because experience has shown us that given so many priests’ minimalist tendencies, if its optional it will be rarely employed. The Easter Vigil is a good example of that. Inserting these elements, however, would allow the prayers of the Mass themselves to be items of personal devotion even outside the liturgy. That is a beautiful thing. Personally, I believe it is inevitable that elements from the “62 RM will eventually make their way into the OF.

    1. “Unnecessary duplications are a liturgical problem, not duplications in and of themselves. We already have (among others) the triple mea culpa, the triple sanctus, and the Agnus Dei.”

      This is not an apples-to-apples comparison. The triple mea culpa and sanctus are repetitions for emphasis and degree (i.e., “holy, holier, holiest”); the Agnus Dei is a litany. There’s a difference between repetitions within a prayer and redundancies of the prayers themselves.

  14. Christian, I’m not sure the translators of the former ICEL would agree completely. Note that they removed the repetition in the confiteor whereas it was retained in the RM.

    1. Robert, this is splitting hairs, and frankly, taking a cheap shot. How does this strengthen your argument that somehow repetitions within the structure of a prayer are relevant to redundancies in the overall liturgy? You are confusing the forest for the trees.

      (And I hate to get into the hair-splitting contest, but the current translation preserves the trifold “Holy”s and the Lamb of God litany. But that’s not the point.)

  15. Christian,
    I don’t think my example is splitting any hairs and I never said anything about repetitions within the structure of prayers as being relevant to what you call redundancies in the overall liturgy. I only said that the triple mea culpa in the confiteor is one example where a repetition for emphasis was retain in the 1969 RM but was removed by the former incarnation of ICEL as an unnecessary repetition. My guess is that they deemed it to be redundant too.
    I also suggested that the re-insertion of certain prayers as options would be helpful. The Divine Liturgy of St. John Christendom, the Maronite Quorbono, and the 1965 RM have these kinds of options.
    The judgment as to whether a prayer itself is redundant is a strikingly bold judgment to make, in my opinion. With Summorum Pontificum I would hesitate to call any of the prayers of a living Catholic liturgy as redundant. That is a problem a liturgist must face-criticizing the prayers of an approved and living usage in the Church. Interestingly, many criticisms of the EF (i.e. redundant prayers) are implicitly also criticisms of the various Eastern Rites. To suggest that these criticisms are somehow only relevant to the Latin Church seems to be a difficult case to sustain today. It seems to place the eastern liturgies into a sort of ghetto making them museum pieces. It also seems to devalue the received tradition of the Roman liturgy as if the Holy Spirit was not active in the Middle Ages.

    1. Any more than Pope St Pius V devalued the traditions of the Roman liturgy from 1370-1570 as if the Holy Spirit were not active in the Late Middle Ages and early Modern era?

    2. “I never said anything about repetitions within the structure of prayers as being relevant to what you call redundancies in the overall liturgy.”

      Forgive me, Robert, but then I’m confused as to why you said this at all: “We already have (among others) the triple mea culpa, the triple sanctus, and the Agnus Dei.” Were you not using these examples as justification for the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, Last Gospel, etc.?

  16. “The vast majority of the riches of the 1962 Missal are contained in the 2002 Missal or are at least options, as you suggest.”

    I would basically agree, though some of the “riches” missing in the 1970 missal, though minor in themselves, have a cumulative effect.

    I’m thinking in particular of the abridgment of prayers – e.g. the omission of some saints in the confiteor, the embolism after the Lord’s Prayer, as well as the omission of the Trinitarian formula after the Prayer over the Gifts, the Communion prayer, and other prayers throughout the mass. It’s also interesting how the “options” – many now done routinely – are typically in the direction of poverty instead of enrichment, e.g. the omission of saints in the first Eucharistic Prayer. I would argue that decades of not praying explicitly to the Trinity or not invoking the saints does have an effect on the Church’s prayer.

    One could argue that the “useless repetitions” of SC 34 refer to such things as the 5 prayers of blessing for the feast of the Purification (Feb 2), or the similarly long nuptial blessings. It’s difficult for me to see how “the good of the Church” (SC 23) is served by micromanaging the prayers of the mass ordinary.

    1. I suppose that is always the risk with options. When present they have the opportunity to enrich the liturgy if embraced in the true spirit they were intended. If utilized to justify minimalism, then they represent an impoverishment of the liturgy. Conversely, it we remove options, we can ensure that certain elements are always included but we risk ossifying the liturgy. I have always seen the 2002 Missal as an attempt to serve as a mean between these extremes. This is very true of the 2002 Missal vs. the 1975 Missal, the Prayer over the People during Lent was restored, as were the feasts of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary.

    2. I would agree that there were a number of minor cases were the revisions were a bit excessive. A number of the ones you highlight are ones I agree with, especially the removal of the Saints from the Confiteor, and the Embolism of the Lord’s Prayers. However, in one regard the Confiteor was enriched with the addition of sins of “omission” or “what I have failed to do.” One area that I find anomalous in revised Missal is the lack of any prayers during incensing. Every other ritual action, especially during the Offertory is accompanied by a prayer, but the incensing is done in silence. I think this is a case where the old prayers could be restored. I also wonder, should we have some options in the Offertory? I recall some other prayers being proposed for the PotG. Restore the other Psalm for the Lavabo. Allow for the use of the prayer, Veni Sanctificator when EP 1 is used.

      One area we often fail to note as an area of enrichment in the revised Missal is the Propers. We have over 100 prefaces now, propers for the days in Advent, Lent, Christmas, and Easter, as well as various Ritual Mass, Masses of Various Needs, Votive Masses, and the Commons. Add to that the various inserts to the EPs for special occasions.

  17. Sam-beautifully said.

    Christian-only that there already are some repetitions in the ordo. The reinsertion of certain prayers are justified because they enrich the prayer and, in the case of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, because they set the tone for the Mass so well.

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