Varied voices on this version

“Many will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after nearly forty years of continuous use of the previous translation. The change will need to be introduced with due sensitivity, and the opportunity for catechesis that it presents will need to be firmly grasped. I pray that in this way any risk of confusion or bewilderment will be averted.” – Pope Benedict XVI

“I believe that the new translations are a step backwards and confusing to the people in the pews.” – Fr. Thomas Reese, Woodstock Theological Center, former editor of America magazine

“I believe that what is most fundamental is that it be a translation very faithful to everything said in the original texts of writings in Latin, and without interpretations that truly disfigure the text. Quite simply, that the text of Tradition be transmitted to us. I believe that this is the great contribution of this translation.” – Cardinal Cañizares, Prefect, Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship

“Some things will be found that the next generation will maybe want to take a look at, but we need to be open and allow the Spirit to help us appreciate the positive elements these new texts can offer us.” – Msgr. Anthony Sherman, U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship

“I have heard my brother priests (including some who are quite traditional, by the way), state that they will not implement the new Missal or that, if they do, they will make their own changes as they see fit. I personally think this is inevitable. … We will follow the directives given us. As a cathedral church we are called to model liturgy for the entire archdiocese. – Fr. Michael Ryan, “What if We Just Said wait?”

“I am happy that after years of preparation, we now have a text that, when introduced late next year, will enable the ongoing renewal of the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy in our parishes.” – Bishop Arthur Serratelli, Chair, Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship

The new translation could lead to a “breakdown in liturgical discipline and a pastoral disaster.” – M. Francis Mannion, founder of Society for Catholic Liturgy, letter to America magazine

In praying to the omnipotent God at Mass, it is not appropriate to “talk in the same way we do at a barbecue.” – Cardinal Pell, Chairman, Vox Clara advisory committee to the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship

“I found quite a number of instances where the word order or the baldness or the ponderous quality of the translation diminishes the beauty, strength and flow of what is said. I am left with a sense that, with some very clear exceptions, many of the prayers in the proposed translation cry out for poetry or at least for less ponderous prose.” – Jeffrey Rowthorn, Bishop, Episcopal/Anglican Church

“It is a vast improvement over the uninspiring, banal and all-too-often theologically problematic texts we have been using for nearly 40 years. Endless dialogue gets us nowhere. The Holy See should have been much more decisive much sooner in handling the ‘translation wars’ and should not have been sending mixed signals for a long period of time.” – Fr. Peter Stravinskas, author, apologist

51 comments

  1. I find that last 2 quotes to express my own thoughts on the matter. It certainly is an improvement, but what Bishop Rowthorn expressed is very much true as well.

  2. It’s unfortunate that the AP reporter whose piece is getting picked up everywhere couldn’t have found even one priest who supports it. He quotes Fr. Reese and Bp Trautman, who certainly cast a gloomy pall over the proceedings! Guess the reporter must have been too rushed to find anyone with an alternate viewpoint. He’s only had a few years.

  3. “ So what?” – the seventy percent of Catholics who don’t attend Mass regularly.

    Just a “minority” viewpoint to consider along with all those who think it is a big deal one way or another.

  4. There is a certain theological density to the Latin prayers that has been missing from the English language Mass throughout all the years of my life that I’ve been old enough to understand these words. I’m hoping that the richer meaning will help people to be much more in touch with the greatness of our Catholic religion.

    I’m reminded of the ongoing theme throughout the Latin office hymns: Lord, wake us up! The world is sleepy, wake us up!

    So for me, the more meaning, the better.

  5. The true test will be the People of God. We can argue until we’re Advent Blue in the face, but ultimately, the people will accept or reject it. Of note however, the South American use and Order of Christian Burial use in Germany have both been greatly rejected. Will the people say “who cares?”, will they be happy with this, or will they raise hell? Time will tell.

  6. No, Sean, Ours is an apostolic Church, not a democratic one. The People of God are expected to learn from the clergy, not to order up the liturgy they want. We all have preferences to be sure, but speaking as a traditionally-minded Catholic, I would give all that up if the Church decided to dispense with it. I might not be happy about it, but that’s my call.

    1. MC, with all due respect, I think you need to read some ecclesiology! And some church history. Where did you get the idea that apostolic and democratic are mutually exclusive? What about all the democratic elements once part of our church, such as clergy (and laity) electing bishops? The view that People of God learn from clergy and it only goes in that direction is not represented by any ecclesiologist I could think of in the last 50 years. This is all a one-sided overstatement.

      And for all that, Sean said that people will have whatever reaction they have, no matter what arguments we give them. That seems exactly right to me. I don’t read him saying that the people will “order up” the liturgy, only that people will accept it or reject it. Or in your ecclesiology must people even react as the clergy tell them to?

      awr

      1. Democracy is a more recent political phenomenon; I’d doubt that the early Christians would consider the vote for Bishops a democratic exercise, any more than people together would think the election of the Pope or Patriarchs by Cardinals or Synods a democratic exercise. Such loose use of terms don’t fit the Catholic ecclesiology.

        Also, when Jerome’s Vulgate came up, didn’t the people revolt over that new and foreign translation also? Look where it is now (or should I say 40 years ago?). It is naivety to think that the Holy Spirit only speaks through the majority of the laity. He works through both the Hierarchy and the laity.

        But Fr Ruff, you should indicate which form of the translation some of these comments were made. I doubt most of the commentators have seen the final, approved version of the texts.

      2. Simon Ho, here is one example of Pope Benedict praising democracy in secular government: http://www.nysun.com/new-york/pope-praises-democracy-focuses-on-unity/74867/. Note that Popes once condemned democracy very strongly! Note also that Vatican II, unlike some earlier teachings, never referred to the Church as a monarchy or laity as subjects.

        People voting is precisely what democracy is! Whether they used the term in the early Church is irrelevant – the reality is what is interesting.

        The deeper problem with your remarks is the attitude that anything in the modern world is probably at odds with Christianity. This attitude cannot be reconciled with Vatican II, eg Gaudium et Spes. The Catholic Church’s relationship to the secular world must be nuanced. We reject what is contrary to the Gospel, of course, but we always look for commonality, and we’re opening to learning from the modern world, and changing because of it.

        The final version of the Order of Mass is online for anyone who wants to see it.

        awr

      3. “What about all the democratic elements once part of our church, such as clergy (and laity) electing bishops?”

        The history is more nuanced than this appears. “Elections” should not be confused with modern-day plebiscite and that is the impression left when we refer to “democratic elements” the process alluded to here would not perceived as “democratic” by our contemporaries.

      4. JF, Huh? Democratic election then should not be confused with democratic election now? Why not? Why all the phobia about democracy? I don’t get it.

        And for all that, given how much Church structures have changed in the course of history, of course it is possible that new democratic structures would be developed in the Catholic Church in the future which are more democratic than any historical precedents. I would favor this.

        awr

  7. I find it quite inconsistent that 40 years ago it was no big deal to completely change the Mass, and the same guys today that were all for that change are now making a big deal out making some changes on the translation.

    1. I don’t. A point like yours has been expressed several times now on the blog, and the response is usually something like this: look at everything which is DIFFERENT about the two situations and you’ll see how the comparison limps. Then authority did something most people welcomed, now that isn’t the case. Then people were predisposed to accept Church authority without much question, since Vatican II they have learned that they (with their leaders) are the Church, hence now we have parish councils, diocesan councils, etc., which we didn’t have then. Then the changes moved the liturgy closer to people in their perception, now it is moving it further from them. And so forth.
      awr

      1. I don’t think we can objectively state that people generally accepted the post V2 liturgical changes they were given. The dramatic decline in mass attendance and the pastoral disaster that fell most tragically in the same places where the liturgical renewal was both anticipated and implemented most zealously, e.g. religious houses and seminaries, indicates otherwise. The reaction of the Tablet and many bishops to the early ICEL translations, the petitions that led to the Agatha Christie indult, the problems over the initial “69 GIRM and the way it had to be rewritten in “70, the formation of the SS Pius X, the other religious communities tied to them, the diocese of Campos in Brazil maintaining the former liturgy, persistent problems with translations, “for all men”, inclusive language debates, rejected ICEL submissions, the necessity to issue Eccesia Dei and then summorum pontificum, People may have thought the vernacular would be nice but what indicates they welcomed what they were given? The people obeyed because they were told this is what the pope & the bishops wanted. Diocesan press told them this was for their pastoral good. Loyal priests implemented the new liturgy and the old was no longer offered. Continued attendance at Mass was not a vote in favor of the changes in 1969-these people would have attended anyway and the truth is that millions did stop attending Mass regularly after the vernacular liturgy was introduced. The Jesuit Fr. Edwin Haungs wrote in 1978 that the “changes introduced since (V2) with promises of enormous spiritual returns have proven useless”(HPR June). He said it led to confusion, division, & anger. We see it here too.

    2. A further point on the alleged inconsistency.

      Some people favor liturgical changes, even massive changes, which are pastorally advisable in their view. They resist liturgical changes which are pastorally inadvisable. This is not inconsistent.

      Unless, that is, if one frames the issue like this: People who favor liturgical change should favor every liturgical change, whatever direction it goes. “Change for its own sake” should be their motto. But I don’t know anyone who holds this position. Hence, I don’t see any inconsistency in those who are skeptical of recent changes.

      awr

      1. The inconsistency is that the same people/journals/institutions calling reluctant Catholics to obedience in accepting the earlier liturgical changes are now opposed to that same authority calling all of us to renewal today.
        Additionally, little quarter was given by these same people/journals/institutions to those who 40 years ago maintained that the earlier liturgical changes were pastorally inadvisiable, e.g. ++ Dwyer, Cardinal Spellman, Evelyn Waugh, Christopher Sykes, ++ Murphy, Cardinal Heenan.
        My favorite proponent of the earlier liturgical changes was Dom Gregory Murray who shows how progressives can be highly clerical. He wrote in The Tablet: “The plea that the laity as a body do not want liturgical change ….is, I submit, quite beside the point….it is not a question of what people want, it is a question of what is good for them” (March 14, 1964).

  8. The way the new translation will be received by various parishes hinges greatly on the leaders both lay and clergy who will be promoting it. If a parish has priests, deacons and lay leaders who don’t like it and make it known to the people their antipathy toward it, those parishes will have a difficult time accepting the new translation and every perceived flaw in the translation will be like a fly in the ointment of the liturgy. But those parishes where the priests, deacons and lay leaders put aside their own prejudices and promote the new translation in the most positive way possible will have parishes that will accept the new translation very well. In about five years, the old translation will be long forgotten as well as any controversy surrounding the new one.
    Could you imagine priests who hate celebrating Mass each and very Sunday telling their congregation about their antipathy toward celebrating Mass every Sunday and in fact call in sick many Sundays during the year? I would suspect that in those parishes Sunday Mass attendance would suffer greatly. The same with the translation, negativity breeds negativity and it seems rather sophomoric at this point in the game. It’s time now for bloggers, priests, deacons and lay leaders to be precisely that, real leaders, not belly aching pundits.

  9. The kind of appeal to maturity and good sense that Fr Allen invokes here presupposes that the leaders of local communities in the Church have trust in its leadership. It is that trust which for at least some of us has broken down. There are limits to the extent that people can summon up the faith that can find the Kingdom of God mediated through an institution whose public style is all too often one of mean-spirited and pig-ignorant illiberality. The scriptures may commend hope against hope, but weak human beings cannot live off that for ever. Smears about the sophomoric will miss the point unless and until that faith and trust is rebuilt. We need somehow to do this together. I see little sign of the resources and leadership we actually need.

    I nevertheless agree with Fr Allen that there is something dreadful about the thought of priests who will hate celebrating Mass continuing to do so, and that this scenario needs to be avoided. If I cannot get beyond my present contempt for this new translation, and if the outrage nevertheless goes ahead, I have no responsible alternative except to stop presiding at public eucharists in English, and doing what I can to meet my personal spiritual needs through other means. Maybe it’s a question of hoping that there are enough of us who will go that far for the integrist project to collapse.

    1. The example of holy men and women who enthusiastically embrace the new translation will also complement the cerebral catechesis. Holiness and good example can be very infectious.

  10. Not exactly the same thing, but if your parish uses any one of the hymnals published by a major publisher, they are introduced to new and changing texts every year. I believe that was the reasoning behind LA 108.

  11. I’ll weigh in as another voice critical of the text itself.

    The welcome change to the vernacular was distributed over several years (1964-1970), excepting places where clergy resisted. So nobody disputes poor implementation in some corners.

    Second, this isn’t a straight-up comparison between the late 60’s and the Medina-Arinze Era. ICEL consulted long and wide in the 80’s and 90’s on MR2. By all reports, we had a more accurate text with a higher level of artistry. Even though it may be in the circular file today, it is the standard of comparison for MR3, like it or not. And in comparison, it merits a D-minus. So much for ars celebrandi.

  12. Okay, let’s see:

    Team A: Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Canizares, Bishop Serratelli, Cardinal Pell, Father Stravinskas.

    Team B: Father Reese, Father Michael Ryan, Msgr. Mannion, and Jeffrey Rawthorn

    Uncommitted but hopeful: Msgr. Anthony Sherman

    I’ll pick Team A.

      1. Guess what!? Team A “wins”. The translation is going into effect, despite all the polls, blogs, naysayers and so forth. Personally, I am eagerly looking forward to 11/27/2011.

      2. Paul Joseph, I must clarify something. We’re doing *theology* on this blog, which involves batting around opinions. When you do theology, of course there can be a choice about things purely disciplinary which involve no doctrine of our faith whatsoever – for example, the advisability of the coming translation. It just isn’t the case that everyone must agree with the Pope even in non-doctrinal issues. Or do you think that we all must like and drink Fanta because Benedict XVI does?

        I want us to be clear about basic ecclesiology, lest anyone think that it is more Catholic to sell your intellect to (your understanding of) the Pope. It is not more Catholic.

        awr

  13. Fr Ruff,

    You must have misread my comments #9. You have attributed some quite negative (and honestly quite insulting ones too, considering where I live) comments to me that are neither my position, nor could they be read out of what I have written. I think an acknowledgement that you have made a mistake is well in order.

    If, according to you as long as people votes there’s a democracy, then surely the election of the Pope and the Patriarchs must be democratic, since people vote. You could hold to that position if you’d like, but I don’t, and we can certainly disagree on this issue charitably.

    And certainly we all know the final texts are online for everyone to see. What I was asking was whether the comments were with regards to the final version (Order of Mass only? Whole Missal?) or to the earlier, pre-recognitio versions. If they all refered to the final version of the whole Missal, I’d be quite surprised that so many of them have had access to the full text, while so few of us have even caught a sniff of the other texts.

    1. If I’ve misread your comments, you’ll have to tell me where, and how, before I acknowledge anything. What is my misreading of you?

      Sure, election of popes and patriarchs are examples of democratic aspects in the Catholic Church. But in a limited sense, since the cardinals are an elite group and they aren’t elected representatives of the demos. For all that, I’m not sure what your issue is here. What do you understand by “democracy”? Is it something generally bad, in your view?

      awr

      1. Modern democracy and our bishops? We would see the Commonweal party supporting one candidate and the First Things party supporting another. My guess is that, if practicing Catholics actually voted for our bishops, the progressive party in the Church would not be pleased with the result.

  14. Fr Ruff, regarding your comment #23,

    If this blog does *theology* (what’re the asterisks supposed to mean anyway? that this really isn’t theology? or just for emphasis?) then I must have missed the core principles (or starting point) from which the theological reflections on this blog are based. It would be helpful to state what these non-negotiables are.

    While we can hold to a different opinion from the Hierarchy in matters of prudential judgement, we should strive to be of a common mind and heart, and have that charity for one another just as Christ loved us. Perhaps Paul Joseph is asking for that unity that St Peter and St Paul ask for in their letters. Opinions have been offered during the process, heard, considered and some rejected (carefully or otherwise) by those with Christ’s authority in the Church. Now, it’s time to implement the new translation successfully, rather than trying to hedge who won and who will win eventually.

    1. Throughout history, theology has reflected upon the faith in light of new questions. It contributes to the development of doctrine. No one would have known yet in the 2nd c. that Christ is 1 divine person with 2 divine natures, but theology contributed to that magisterial definition in the 4th c. No one knew how many sacraments there were in the 1st millennium, but theology contributed to the magisterial definition of 7 sacraments in the 13th c.

      By its nature, theology contributes to the development of doctrine by raising questions or providing new answers. Thus, theology is oftentimes “out ahead of” the magisterium. Sometimes the magisterium condemns theologians for going too far. Sometimes the magisterium errs in doing this. Eg., theologians favoring freedom of the press, of conscience, of religion were condemned by the magisterium, but then vindicated when the magisterium came to agree with them. Or again, several theologians condemned before Vatican II were later vindicated and named to Vatican commissions.

      This blog does *theology* within this understanding. If someone wants only to restate where Catholic theology was in, say, 1950, or if someone thinks that every issue can be settled for good by quoting current magisterium’s statements, or if someone thinks that Catholic doctrine has stopped developing, then they have little to contribute to this blog because of their misunderstanding of what Catholic theology is.

      Asterisks = emphasis.

      1. And for some, it is difficult to accept that LA or the new translation is a liturgical development, a “sign of the times” as it were. Maybe that is the rub – one man’s perceived development is another man’s perceived misguided attachment to the “current magisterium”.

  15. “But those parishes where the priests, deacons and lay leaders put aside their own prejudices and promote the new translation in the most positive way possible will have parishes that will accept the new translation very well.”

    As a teacher my experience is that it is a bad idea to try and teach material that I do not believe in, out of a misplaced sense of duty. Try as I may, I can’t inspire much enthusiasm when I fake interest, and my teaching is simply not very good then. If the situation with presiders is analogous, those who dislike the new version will be put in a situation that is not just highly uncomfortable but also ineffective.

    1. “it is a bad idea to try and ateach material that I do not believe in”

      Claire, this is exactly what happened in many places in 1970.

      The late Msgr. Schuler wrote how pastors in 1970 faced “carefully orchestrated propaganda (that) deceived pastors into thinking that what they were proposing was the will of the Church, the directives of the Council, and the pope. They turned around the altars, the abolished Latin, they threw out the choirs (this should be noted by the musicians here), they destroyed statues” (11/2/78). The Msgr. goes on “pastors noted that numbers at confession grew fewer, Mass attendance declined, converts declined,….. (but that) pastors were superseded by commissions, committees, experts, consultants, coordinators, facilitators, & bureaucrats….. and pastors were told that “…anyone educated prior to 1963 needed “professional knowledge” and was in need of “updating” (78).
      It was a tough time to be a pastor.

    2. Claire, the teaching of the new translation is going to have to happen during Mass for the overwhelming majority of the people in the pew, learning by doing. If the priest or the music director is negative about what is being implemented especially in the early stages, a dismal experience will be had by all and negativity will abound. Just say, some of this will be clunky, but overall, we will get use to it and we will be saved by the grace of God. I do think, though, that teaching what you feel like you personally believe in a Catholic setting is a bit questionable, especially if you are a catechist. I’d have to have a talk with you if I were your pastor.

  16. Claire, that’s an excellent observation. I think that the truth will out. Effective teaching is teaching based on what is held by the teacher to be true, useful, and good to know.

    I think that the truth will out. Effective teaching is teaching based on what is held by the teacher to be true, useful, and good to know.

    Paul Joseph, liturgy is not a team sport. Realize, if you will, that the Church is not a team sport either. This is sectarian thinking.

    Simon, I’d take issue with your sense of history. You say: “I’d doubt that the early Christians would consider the vote for Bishops a democratic exercise,” yet Ambrose was chosen by public acclaim. Not democracy? Sure looks like it. What did people of late antiquity think public acclaim was? Anarchy? What is it, then?… It’s surely not the same as “do what we tell you” because it’s divinely ordained that we tell you what to do.

  17. Oh dear, we seem to have veered from what the original post is about. But since this has come up from 2 persons, perhaps I’d offer a very short reflection. In an unpolished thought, democracy works on the assumption that power (to govern for e.g.) comes from the people, and through a process, they appoint an agent to exercise that power on their behalf. In the absence of the consent of the people, the actions of another agent to exercise that power is invalid.

    In the Church, the power to govern (among others, but I’ll restrict to this in this para) doesn’t derive from the people, but from God. And there are many ways in which God’s choice is discerned, including (a) unconsulted choice by Jesus himself, (b) popular acclaim, (c) voting by groups of clergy (and perhaps important laity), (d) choice by political authoirity, (e) choice by the superior in ecclesiastical hierarchy, (f) drawing straws, etc. Most of us would recognise that not all methods are as good in the discernment of God’s choice, and these different opinions are legitimate and valuable. Even in the election of the Pope, the “power” of the Pope doesn’t come from the Cardinal electors (or even the whole Catholic world if we ever go that way), but from God himself. [Popular] vote isn’t sufficient to be a democracy. Heck, even in PRC and North Korea, there are “votings”, but I don’t think many people will call them democracies simply because some ballot is cast.

    1. Simon, you are right that we are off on a tangent, and I don’t want to prolong it unduly, but believing that God rules through appointed agents has been a subject of deep ambivalence since the establishment of the monarchy in Israel. Corrupt and syncretistic rulers, kings disobedient to God, and so forth, are amply attested. Does God therefore no longer reign? Of course God reigns. But God’s voice was heard through the prophets, and in and among the people themselves as well; the people never ceased to be in God’s hands. In the book of Acts, the Spirit is active in selecting individuals to lead the community, but the Spirit is also manifest in the community directly. St. Paul’s letters confirm this, contrary to those apologists who would like to suggest that no one moved a little finger without the apostles telling them what to do. So, does the Church = a secular democracy? No, of course not. But how is God’s will exercised is the real question. Is God’s will co-terminus with whatever our appointed leaders have to say? Again, no. The people can be right, as you know. And right with God, even if—at times—at odds with the established religious authorities. The Spirit is given at baptism. Where do you live, BTW?

  18. We must also not forget that the Church’s embrace of democracies is not total, as some people think it is. While the Church’s position seems to be that democracies are the better form of government, the Church continues to affirm that civil laws must take reference from divine law, and that democracies, i.e. the people, have no authority to change morality. Thus for example, if majority of the people decide that slavery is morally ok, it doesn’t become morally ok because the majority (or even if all the people) think it is. From the Church’s perspective, what is legal is then in contradiction to what is right and Catholics have an obligation to work the process to change the law to do away, or minimise the gap.

  19. Reply to #12

    Popular acclaim for a bishop in the Church many centuries ago does not equate to plebiscite today. The crowd that acclaimed a bishop in an ancient see was only a small proportion of the population, there is no reason to presume that it was a general sample of the population. It may have been stirred by an orator, a few zealous monks, it may not have included women or those under a certain age. It would be incorrect to presume it equated to a modern democratic election with universal suffrage.

  20. John, why do you presume that modern secular elections would or should be the model for church democracy? Honestly, look at religious orders, if not the college of cardinals. Democracy happens all the time in Catholicism. While it’s important not to make an idol of the American version, it’s also vital not to demonize it, especially out of ignorance.

    However, like secular democratic leaders, popes and their initiatives will be judged on their effectiveness (or lack thereof) as seen by the ordinary clergy and laity. The new translation might return Catholics to the pews in droves. Or the SCGS* mission might gain steam. More likely, much of one camp will sit in resentment, and some of the other will return to Latin Masses. So much for the virtue of unity.

    Anyway, there’s no exit clause for prelates on MR3. They’re stuck with both the flowers and tomatoes getting hurled their way.

    * Small Church, getting smaller

    1. The religious orders. Which ones? Election of an abbot/prior by committed monks is not too different than an election by Cardinals.

      Someone asked why modern democracy would be unworkable in the Church, in my opinion. We can see what it has done among some of our separated brethren where it has led to plebiscite overruling revealed truth and it is not the norm in the Eastern Church either. Historically, in our own rite, it has led to excessive secular interference in the Church. Just my .02 of course.

  21. Father Anthony,

    I fully understand that we are discussing theology here, which I believe at times gets very dangerously close to disloyalty to the Holy Father and the Church. While there might be differing opinions and discussions, it is ultimately the Holy Father who has the last word, and this is why I will always side with the Pope, whose primary job is to lead the Church. We aren’t talking soft drinks here. I hate orange Fanta and am happy to disagree with the Holy Father about his beverage of choice. However, when it comes to the Mass, the most significant act of worship and measure of our identity as Catholics, I will defer to the successor of St. Peter over anyone else who may have another opinion, for “where there is Peter, there is the Church.”

    I do not believe a blog under Catholic auspices should ever publicly disagree with the Church. Apparently this blog does. That said, this will be my last comment on this blog.

  22. About teaching the new translations —

    There is a significant danger if one is TOO enthusiastic in teaching the new. That is, if one gives the impression that this version is “better” or “superior” to the present. Do that, and the natural response is going to be, “So, the Church was wrong before? The Church has been in error?”

    Open that door of the possibility of error by the Church, and you risk those of a weak faith having the entire ediface crashing down. “If the Church was wrong about that, then what else is the Church wrong about? If it is possible for the Church to be wrong about the Mass, surely it can be wrong about women priests and gay marriage and contraception, etc.”

    No, in teaching the new version, it would seem wise to simply say that it is different, not better. That is it solely a matter of linguistics, and not a matter of liturgical quality.

  23. “Open that door of the possibility of error by the Church, and you risk those of a weak faith having the entire ediface crashing down.”

    That sounds healthy. Questioning one’s “weak faith”, especially in the context where one is accompanied by your pastor and congregation, seems wonderful to me as a way to a stronger faith. As to the risks, well, we have hope and prayer and trust in God to not be afraid of where that might lead us.

  24. “I do think, though, that teaching what you feel like you personally believe in a Catholic setting is a bit questionable, especially if you are a catechist. I’d have to have a talk with you if I were your pastor.”

    Father McDonald, here is how I would do it. If someone asks me about, say, indulgences, or how missing Mass one Sunday is a mortal sin, or any of the many quirks that have developed in our Catholic tradition over time, I call search engines to the rescue, quickly find the relevant section of the Catechism on the web, and I can say: “This is what the Catechism claims:… I don’t personally ascribe to a literal version of that, but that’s what we are supposed to believe.” If it’s something I have thought about before, I may be able to propose my way of interpreting that controversial section in a way that is consistent with my beliefs, making it clear all along that it’s just my personal perspective; but if not, I just stop there. I will never defend positions that are in direct contradiction with the Catechism – that’s fine when chatting around coffee, but not appropriate for catechism classes.

    That is the most I can do in all honesty. It is impossible for me to declare a statement to be the truth when I don’t believe it, and no one should be expected to do that; it would go against our integrity, and (from a utilitarian perspective) also damage our credibility and effectiveness. Don’t you agree? How else would you go about it?

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