More on the Association of Catholic Priests

Pray Tell has reported on the new organization of Irish priests. NCR reports today on their first meeting. Excerpt:

“The association hopes to speak to the members of the Vatican’s apostolic visitation to Ireland to voice our opposition to the new English-language translation of the Mass,” Father Hoban told Catholic News Service. “We believe the new translation, which is to come into effect next year, is over-complicated and over-Latinized. There has been very little consultation about it, but nobody seems to want it — it’s another example of the church trying to fix things that don’t need to be fixed and not fixing the things that need fixing.”


  1. Bravo, Brendan, for making this one of the first utterances of our new organization. The new translation is going to have a huge negative effect on every English-speaking priest.

  2. The hostility to “dynamic equivalence” goes far beyond liturgical translation. It is also a rejection of theology, insofar as theology tries to give a contemporary sense to ancient formulae, as urged by John XXIII at the opening of Vatican II. No wonder theologians have had such a dreadful time in the Ratzinger-epoch — not their alleged errors, but their very effort to translate doctrine into intelligible terms in today’s world, is what elicited a phobic reaction.

  3. I agree with Fr Joe’s point at the level of large-scale theology. But when we are talking about translation, I think we should try to get beyond this rigid distinction between dynamic and formal equivalences. Good translation involves judgment calls at every turn. There may be some general principles to have in mind (the nature of the text, the likely use of the translation), but prudence (in the technical sense) is required each time they are applied. What I do when translating Ignatius is often slavishly literal, because it’s for a technical readership; when I’m translating a contemporary article in spirituality, I’m much more free. The question is: granted the principle of translation at all, what do we need in order to make something effective and faithful in English?

  4. +JMJ+

    Say what you want about the new translation, but realize that these 300 priests apparently see nothing wrong with the current translation: “the church trying to fix things that don’t need to be fixed.” Anyone concerned about changing their minds in that regard, or…?

    1. I’m not sure that its so much a judgment that the current translation doesn’t need to be “fixed,” but rather, a matter of priorities. In the Irish ecclesial and cultural context there are things heinously wrong that require immediate attention and effort. The current ICEL translation and the implementation of a new translation pale in comparison in the estimation of the Irish presbyteral body. If anything, the process of translation and the projected affect of its implementation are considered indicative of issues that are of concern: ecclesiology, church governance, transparency, the participation of the laity in church life (including liturgy), etc. There is much healing and restoration that must take place in the life of the Irish church… and a new translation just doesn’t garner consideration.

  5. “Anyone concerned about changing their minds in that regard, or…?”


    If the current translation is a bugaboo, we had a fix for it twelve years ago. It was approved by all the English-speaking bishops’ conferences. By your analysis, Jeffrey, the CDWDS didn’t see any problem with the current translation, at least nothing serious enough to worry about it being in place for another decade.

    1. +JMJ+

      I don’t see how you made that conclusion.

      The CDWDS didn’t want to replace the current translation with a re-ordered Order of the Mass, however good the translation accompanying it was. That’s my guess, at least.

      On the face of it, this comment from this association of priests says that the current translation does not need to be fixed. If they meant to say that the proposed fix is a disaster, that’s one thing. But they didn’t say that.

    2. Todd, with all due respect, The CDWD did nothing that could be understood as saying that there is nothing wrong with the current translation; it simply said that it was better than what was offered to it in the late ’90’s. It can reasonably be inferred that these priests categorize implementing the new translation under “trying to fix things that don’t need to be fixed”. Moreover, there is no nuance in the Fr. Hoban’s statement; he effectively says that a new translation isn’t even the bottommost priority.

      I also disagree with Fr. Hoban that, “a re-evaluation of Catholic sexual teaching and practice that recognizes the profound mystery of human sexuality,” must necessarily be considered part of a “full implementation of the vision and teaching of the Second Vatican Council.” To what document of Vatican II is he referring?

  6. “I don’t see how you made that conclusion.”

    I didn’t. I’m applying the logic you used.

    I could imagine how non-liturgist priests might think what’s been adequate for forty years isn’t too bad, considering the mismanagement of sex abusers and other greater priorities that find the Church hemorrhaging believers and credibility. I think MR3 should be deep-sixed because of its own lack of quality.

    1. +JMJ+

      Todd, I really don’t understand how my logic produces the observation you made. Help me out here, please.

      Father Hoban said that the new translation is an “example of the church trying to fix things that don’t need to be fixed.” That sounds, to me, like he’s saying that the current translation does not need fixing. (Okay, perhaps they don’t think nothing is wrong with it. They just don’t think it needs fixing.)

      You say that my logic can be used to infer that “the CDWDS didn’t see any problem with the current translation.” I assume you’re talking about the CDWDS rejecting the 1998 translation. Did the CDWDS say that the 1998 translation was trying to fix something that didn’t need fixing? Or did they reject for other reasons?

      I really don’t understand how you’re getting from A to B, so if you could be as clear and explicit as possible, I’d really appreciate it.

      By MR3, do you mean the English translation of MR3, or the whole third edition of the Missal itself?

      1. Jeffrey, neither of us was there in Ireland, so when you mention it “sounds” like the current translation is fine, you’ve speculated. I don’t see anything wrong with speculation, especially if it’s open to correction.

        Without another translation on the horizon, it’s similar speculation that the 1998 CDWDS “liked” the MR1 translation well enough. But between you and me, I don’t think the Irish clergy nor the CDWDS have meant either of what this thread has attributed to them. My sense is that they’re saying Rome should prioritize. It hasn’t gotten bishops right. It doesn’t appear to have gotten the translation right. Maybe it needs to tackle one big problem at a time.

        “By MR3, do you mean the English translation of MR3, or the whole third edition of the Missal itself?”

        Pretty much, yes.

  7. J Thomas – aside from arguing again about the translation and MR3, your analysis and comment hits the nail on the head. thank you.

  8. I applaud those in Ireland who are speaking out. Perhaps the same should/could happen here in the United States from concerned Priests. The U.S. Bishops won’t, because they are career minded guys who are looking for the next assignement, possibly a Cardinal assingment, and they are playing the Rome Politics instead of truly listening to the people they shepherd.

    1. “they are playing the Rome Politics instead of truly listening to the people they shepherd”

      And what “people” are they not listening to? I would venture to say that less that 10% of Catholics are even aware that there IS a new translation, so I would have to seriously doubt that there is some widespread objection to it yet… and I will qualify that with a “yet”. However, you might also consider, as unlikely as you might think it to be, that there is a substantial group, perhaps at least equal in size to those who object to the new translation, who actually support it and are enthusiastic about it. They have no need to “speak out” or make a big stink because the process is on their side. All they have to do is remain quiet and things go their way. Don’t assume that there is very little support just because you don’t see or hear it… it’s there alright, but it is satisfied and sees no reason to complain. Not everyone involved in the implementation is moving forward because they have a gun to their head! The work goes forward because there are people who wish it to go forward.

  9. Jeffrey, you’re being deliberately disputatious.

    Hoban is saying that there are far more important things to be worrying about just now than fiddling with the words which have fed people’s spirituality for the past 40 years.

    Todd is saying that if Rome were that worried about texts, they’d have put the screws on years ago, instead of producing a botched job years too late.

    The sad thing is that Rome doesn’t seem to be unduly concerned about the other things which are certainly higher priorities. Fiddling while Rome burns, etc?

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