The mystery of the leaked missal

Inside Catholic runs this story by Jeffrey Tucker, “The Mystery of the Leaked Missal.” Much of this narrative will be familiar to Pray Tell readers. The interesting thing is that Jeffrey Tucker, formerly at the New Liturgical Movement, now at Chant Café, and often at Church Music Association of America, is from the decidedly traditionalist side of the liturgical spectrum. That is to say, the Congregation for Divine Worship and Vox Clara have managed to unite Catholics across a broad spectrum like never before – in their opposition to the new missal and their disgust at the working process of the CDW and VC. Church unity: take it when you can get it, I guess.     – awr


  1. I thought this was a fine article by Jeffrey. It makes the case for action in a logical, reasoned manner. For the most part, it stands back from the ‘progressive vs conservative’ liturgy-culture-war that characterises fellow Christians whom we disagree with as ‘the enemy’ and encourages us to do things because they will ‘annoy liberals’.

    In my view the piece is severely disfigured by lapses into sarcastic language such as

    the current lame-duck Missal, which dates from the Age of Aquarius

    the comic-book rhetoric of the 1970s translation that, in many cases, is not a translation at all but a paraphrase based on the goofy theological fashions of the day

    this lame-duck translation actually has some aging fans

    The final 1974 Missal, which is surely one of the most catastrophic renderings of the Roman Rite in human history,

    that characteristic reductionist kid-talk voicing

    What could have been a magisterial summation of the situation, something that would appeal to ‘conservatives’ and ‘progressives’ alike, risks getting written off as shock-jock blogtalk, along the lines of some Internet priests we all know. Absolutely nobody is served by silly language like this. And the jibe at ‘aging fans’ is shameful.

    Whatever anyone thinks of the 1970s translation (and I will go on record as saying that Lit Auth was a dreadful mistake and that the existing translation is in many ways superior to the 2008, let alone the 2010), there can be no question that what has happened in the last few months has harmed the cause of good liturgy. Jeffrey’s article makes that point very powerfully.

    1. It’s incredible how in the last five or so years the number of people who have no time for the 1970s translation has snowballed, but before that time you could count them on the fingers of one hand.

      And still, for every ‘howler’ they can show me in the 1970s translation (and most of them can’t produce ANY), I can show them several hundred – all much worse – in what we’re now getting instead.

      And, at least even according to its critics, the 1970s ICEL had multiple excuses: newly-promulgated Latin texts were tumbling out of the Vatican at record speed, everything had to be translated quickly. Except for some preliminary work by Dom Henry Ashworth, there were no critical studies to speak of to help the translators working quickly, most of them academics, not extravagantly reimbursed as now, with precious little guidance from Rome where, even then, those in charge of the Liturgy – Consilium and Congregation – were at each others’ throats: ambition and incompetence are not a new combination.

      But the current comedy of errors comes to us after raw power plays – all for the good of Holy Mother Church, of course – slandered good names, ended careers (ecclesiastical and otherwise) and established a vast bureaucracy designed to prevent a repeat of “the old ICEL Missal.”

      So you have Liturgiam Authenticam, the Ratio Translationis, the new ICEL Statutes, a new cast of thousands, and, to filter out whatever errors (or creativity) might slip through, the vaunted experts of Vox Clara and the dininely-anointed members of the Congregation.

      And at the end of it all, what do we have? Minstranslations of the Latin still, contorted English tongue-twisters, vocabulary ranging from the colloquical to the comedic, a grammatical-suntactical disaster.

      The folks at places like Adoremus, and people like Fr Z must be privately livid – everything they wanted has all come unravelled at the hands of those whose rings (among other things) they so fervently and frequently kissed.

      As another poster on this blog has said, if the 2010 Missal cannot be stopped, at least we need to find out who did it, if only to keep their ambition and incompetence away from the coming translation of, for starters, the Liturgy of the Hours and the Pontifical.

  2. I would echo Jonathan’s comments: a good article, only marred by excessive language in some cases.

    Jeffrey states that the Order of Mass is largely untouched by what has been happening in recent times. I would suggest that he take a look at the Eucharistic Prayers and compare them with the previous texts.

  3. May I suggest that we begin the Advent Novena (9 days prior to the Solemnity of the Nativity) to Christmas Day for the intention that the 2008 missal be the one that is chosen by the Holy See over the 2010 revised one? A little bit of traditional piety might go a long way in resolving this conundrum and not repeating 1969! Just writing 1969 and liturgy together makes my stomach churn anew!

    1. But< Father, many of the changes made by Vox Clara to the 2008 translation were at the behest of (traditionalist) Bishops (at least one of them a Cardinal)!

      You'd have the Holy See overturn the will of these Hierarchs?

    2. Yes, Pope Benedict ignored a bunch of people in permitting the expanded use of the Extraordinary Rite, including the pope who approved the reformed liturgy! Although keep in mind never has there been a day since the promulgation of the new order of the Mass that the old order wasn’t celebrated. Older priests had permission. When I was in the seminary in the late 1970’s in Baltimore a priest in union with the Archdiocese celebrated it on the radio every Sunday in a congregational setting. So I suspect the Holy Father could say give them the 2008 English version, like “let them have their cake and eat it too!” I’d be in favor of it!

  4. We need a novena that the whole process be called to a halt. We need 1973 to be reconfirmed or 1998 to be tweaked a bit and then let through. We do not need anything shaped by the ignorant and unconstitutional mischief of Liturgiam supposedly Authenticam.

  5. People often advise me to cut the sharp-edged rhetoric and yet I keep yielding to temptation, and usually I end up regretting it. I certainly could have toned this material down.

    One of the reasons I don’t like slogging through history is that people have such radically different perspectives on what happened, and it ends up just causing fights. The struggle for a more beautiful future is much more inspiring.

    1. Well, you and I had two delightful experiences on Catholic Radio 2.0, and we managed to avoid most sharp edges as we both spoke of a longing for a more beautiful future.

      When I wrote for IC as a “token” progressive, they advised me to dial down my rhetoric. I was permitted a certain audacity (from the conservative view) but my editor had everyone’s best interests at heart: advancing important conversations. I’m sorry to hear they didn’t treat you as well.

  6. Fr. Allan J. McDonald :
    Yes, Pope Benedict ignored a bunch of people in permitting the expanded use of the Extraordinary Rite, including the pope who approved the reformed liturgy! Although keep in mind never has there been a day since the promulgation of the new order of the Mass that the old order wasn’t celebrated. Older priests had permission. When I was in the seminary in the late 1970’s in Baltimore a priest in union with the Archdiocese celebrated it on the radio every Sunday in a congregational setting. So I suspect the Holy Father could say give them the 2008 English version, like “let them have their cake and eat it too!” I’d be in favor of it!

    But of course you’d be just as happy to obey him if he gave you the 2010 . . . or the 1998 . . . or what you call the 1969 . . .

      1. The problem is, Father, the promise is “obedience and respect” – I suspect thqat many who find themselves stuck offering the former, long ago abandoned the latter.

      2. I don’t think there is stuch a thing as obedience to a bishop…most Priests I know work around him, trash him in meetings. They do their own thing.

    1. Father just try a little experiment. When you’re with a group of priests next time compliment your bishop on something and watch the reaction. Many years ago now a group of us laypeople tried an experiment suggested by Fr Andrew Greeley in one of his columns in the diocesan paper. He said when you’re with a priest or priests try complimenting a priest who isn’t there and watch the reaction. He said if the priest you’re talking to doesn’t actually put the priest you’re complimenting down he will at least roll his eyes or chuckle or something like that. We found it worked every time. The statistics I couldn’t give you but the experience was real.

      1. Sounds to me that doing that is creating an occasion of sin. I guess you could do the same with your spouse, children, in-laws, boss,etc. But is it spiritually wise and is it morally justified to provoke that kind of response?

      2. +JMJ+

        Is it that the priest or bishop being complimented have lost the respect of the priests in whose company the compliment is made…

        … or is it that a lot of priests (I don’t have the statistics) might just be arrogant towards their fellow clergy, regardless of whether they merit respect or not?

      3. Jeremy, what an experiment. Wow. Your story is both chilling and sad. Just like a dysfunctional family. If there is one thing the abuse crisis did for us, it did prompt some examination of the unhealthy emotional dynamics experienced by many men who serve the church.

        FWIW, however, I have not found this roll-eyes experience to be so much the case among religious priests. My experience, for the most part, is that when you praise one of their brothers, they will affirm (even if they will also tease or banter).

        Michael Papesh’s excellent book, Clerical Culture: Contradiction and Transformation (LitPress 2004) speaks about being “on your own” as part of the clerical culture; to the extent that religious communities foster actual community, this may mean there is some acknowledgement that praise of one reflects good on another.

        Fr. Allan, sure, there are other examples of this in families and organizations. It’s dysfunctional behavior. But that means it’s a problem to be addressed, not a given to be accepted. Think about it. Healthy families and organizations don’t behave this way. If someone praises my husband to me when he’s not around, and I roll my eyes or snicker, there is something wrong.

      4. Rita, I am not in disagreement with you. What I was chastising is a using the technique of complimenting someone’s bishop, spouse, boss, sibling, etc to see what their reaction will be and taking pleasure in the rolling of the eyes. The purpose of this type of compliment is a sociological experiment. The presumption is that complimenting a priest’s bishop or a brother priest will normally provoke the roll the eyes of some. The compliment given is for nefarious reasons, not to compliment someone but to get a reaction from the person to whom the compliment is shared. The person doing this kind of complimenting is doing so from a dysfunctional attitude, not to praise the person being complimented but to see others’ reactions. It’s kind of sick.

  7. Here’s a question for the people who always put down the Mass prayers we have now but say at least the peoples parts of 2010 are OK. Everyone says Credo means I believe not We believe. I get it. But the official Latin has only one Credo and 2010 adds three more. Do four I believes equal one We believe? Seems to me neither translation is accurate. Is the new one less inaccurate than the old one just because the I believe is singular even though in the actual Latin it doesn’t show up four times?

    1. Well, Jeremy, just to give one serious answer to what I suspect was a merely rhetorical question. I qualify as one who is intimately familiar with both the ordinary and all of the 1973 Sunday propers, in both Latin and the existing English. I regard Jeffrey’s remarks – those quoted by Jonathon Day above – as literally accurate in substance but admittedly purple in prose.

      Although I fervently hope that 2008 is the only one of the presently four (?) versions that survives, I am willing to say – without yet giving a carte blanche to the whole thing – that the people’s parts of 2010 that I have examined are OK.

      The Credo question you asked is trivial. Of course, “I believe” is accurate and “We believe” is not. I disagree with those probably well-meaning bishops who felt the folks in the pews would not be smart enough to remember a single implied “I believe” all the way from the beginning to the end of the Credo. But I regard the insertion of three more as more clumsy and condescending than inaccurate in substance. Not an inaccuracy that changes the meaning, merely the insertion of phrases are understood in the meaning anyway. I doubt that a competent translator can be found that regards this as real inaccuracy.

      Contrary to what many here seem to think, Liturgiam authenticam does not insist on word for word translation (which would be an utterly foolish requirement). It is a first – and not a complete or fully successful – attempt to define general standards that result in liturgical authenticity of translation. This is something deeper and more complex than mere linguistic or slavish accuracy – involving preservation and transmission of possibly multiple levels of meaning — and indeed is not necessarily achieved by merely slavish (e.g., word for word) accuracy. In any particular case, it remains a matter of judgment.

      In my personal judgment, the multiple “I believe” meets the authenticity requirement of LA, although I myself regard it as both undesirable in form and unnecessary for comprehension.

  8. From Pecklers new book on the Credo and statements such as CHE:

    Pecklers’ summarizes a quote from Jeffrey Tucker’s book, Translating Tradition, about the Creed translation having to be Credo following LA and then goes on to say:

    “LA argues that this change is imperative so as to be consistent with the tradition of the Latin Church. The only problem is this is simply NOT true. The original texts of the Nicene Creed published in Greek and Latin by the early ecumenical councils consistently began “We Believe”. Even Pope Leo the Great and early canon law collections cited “We believe.” And both before and after VII, the Spanish/Mozarabic Rite uses We Believe.”

    1. Two separate matters to be understood, Bill.

      (1) The Fathers at the Council of Nicea did, indeed, say “We believe” (in Greek) because they were agreeing jointly on a profession of faith that they had formulated.

      (2) But Liturgiam Authenticam applies to the authentic translation of Latin liturgical (rather than conciliar) texts, where the Credo reads Credo … (I believe …) rather than Credamus … (We believe … ).

      There are similar questions regarding translations of scriptural texts. Accurate translation from original Hebrew or Greek tesxts is one thing, whereas accurate translation of Latin liturgical texts is another. With the Bible one does the former; with the Roman Missal one does the latter.

      These clearcut distinctions are not so difficult to understand, are they? So why do people keep trying to give the right answer to the wrong question, or vice versa?

  9. Let me say again that you won’t easily come up with a better English version of the Roman Canon than that currently in use. The theological and literary rationale of the translation is explained line by line in a booklet published by Burns and Oates around 1970 that can be found in the British Library.

  10. Bill,

    It depends on which tradition you’re speaking about. LA has in mind the Roman liturgical tradition, which has used the singular form of Credo since the days when the Popes accepted the innovation of the Creed into the Roman liturgy. It’s not talking about the conciliar tradition or the Mozarabic tradition; thus, the conclusion drawn by the author is quite simply invalid.

    Interestingly too, not a few of the Eastern Churches also use the singular form for the Divine Liturgy. Maybe someone who is more familiar with the Eastern liturgies could tell us how prevalent and ancient this practice is.

  11. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 167:

    “I believe” (“Apostles’ Creed”) is the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer, principally during Baptism. “We believe” (“Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed”) is the faith of the Church confessed by bishops assembled in council or more generally by the liturgical assembly of believers. “I believe” is also the Church, our mother, responding to God by faith as she teaches us to say both “I believe” and ‘We believe.”

    This paragraph from the CCC is repeated in the “Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the ‘Professio Fidei’,” no. 12, as appended to Ad tuendam fidem, 29 June 1998. The commentary is signed by the then Prefect of the CDF, Card. Joseph Ratzinger, and the Secretary, Abp. Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.

    1. Liturgiam Authenticam 65 also explains what the use of the singular in the Creed means:

      The Creed is to be translated according to the precise wording that the tradition of the Latin Church has bestowed upon it, including the use of the first person singular, by which is clearly made manifest that “the confession of faith is handed down in the Creed, as it were, as coming from the person of the whole Church, united by means of the Faith.”

    2. Thus showing the way Liturgiam Authenticam makes up a justification for what it wanted. Thanks, Jeffrey P!

      1. Rita,

        You’re right. Making up justifications for what is wanted is nothing new to to the Church, nor, in fairness, is it in any way unique to the Church. It’s disappointing, but not new.

      2. Thanks, Lynn.

        In this instance, similar to the puzzlement many have expressed over the seemingly arbitrary changes to the translation of 2008, I find it puzzling to contemplate the goal of eradicating the statement “we believe” from our common discourse. Why is this the object of such fierce opposition? It seems to me compatible with all sorts of values truly cherished by our tradition and well grounded in Scripture.

        I hate to think it’s some sort of covert polemic against the idea of assembly itself (so important to the liturgical reform), but sometimes I wonder. I guess another hypothesis is Peter Jeffrey’s comment that Liturgiam Authenticam is simply an ignorant document. But even ignorant documents insist on things for a reason.

      3. +JMJ+

        [T]he goal of eradicating the statement “we believe” from our common discourse. Why is this the object of such fierce opposition?

        Sometimes a pipe is just a pipe. I don’t think the desire to translate Credo as “I believe” is some agenda against “we believe”.

      4. I read something by B16 recently, I think from the 70s or 80s, that distinguished the “we” as the formal act of the Council, while “I” is the personal expression at baptism. That makes all the difference to me. “I” is a recollection of Baptism, of personally entrusting oneself to Christ in faith. Faith comes from hearing, but it is not simply a set of propositions that one has heard, but a personal involvement in a relationship with Christ.

        I can see reasons for either form in the liturgical use of the creed, but recalling baptism tips it toward “I” fr me. Our sins are forgiven, we hear God’s Word, we personally accept the Gospel faith — these are the prerequisites for celebrating the Eucharist.

        Of course this is complicated by the fact that it was a “we” at our baptism, parents rather than the individual believer. Adult baptism is the paradigm, and the personal profession of faith in all its complexity is a better model for the recitation of the creed than joining the bishops at Nicea in their consensus statement. I like the latter, but the former is more basic, and more liturgical.

        {more simply: when in doubt, a good justification can be found.}

      5. Well Jim you’re in luck because you won’t have to say We believe any more because the new translation sort of kind of makes it like the Latin. Only instead of 1 I believe like in the Latin, the guys who said you shouldn’t add anything to what’s there in the Latin have added 3 I believes. So if you think I believe is that important you now get to say it 4 times! I’ve already suggested that maybe 4 I believes = 1 We believe. But nobody liked the idea. Any way you look at it neither the old ICEL or the 2010 Missal translates the Latin accurately. The old ICEL changed what was there and so does the 2010 just in a different way.

    3. Does the interpretation of the Creed as I (personally) believe rather than We (as a community) believe have something to do with the disappearance of the sung Credo?

      I get the impression that a lot of people, whether liberal or traditional, want to turn the Creed into some personal profession of understanding and commitment. I can understand such a person might want to say it rather than sing it.

      Personally I experience the Creed as poetry, as a hymn of the Trinitarian life of the Christian Community in response to the Good News. My intellectual and behavioral transformation is only a small part of that.

      I miss the sung Creed; I don’t miss catechism. Never really liked catechism. I do like the Creed.

      1. +JMJ+

        I see our creeds as the Christian equivalent of the Shema: informing us about God and expressing our relationship to Him. I’d love it to be sung, even starting with the word “I” instead of “we”.

        And I love catechism and the Creed.

  12. I got as far as the point where he described the new, ahem, the corrected translation as the greatest single advance of the Faith in half a century and decided I had better things to do with my time than read any further.

    1. Yes in it’s own funny way it’s a kind of porn, really. A whole lot more of an ‘occasion of sin’ than getting some priest to roll his eyes!

  13. Thanks to both Rita and John Robert Francis for author correction (my bad) and more comprehensive explanation of the I-We Believe. You both have a depth of knowledge and experience and it is always good to get those insights into both our history and how we have interpreted and implemented our tradition in all of its diversity.

  14. Paul Inwood :
    It’s credimus not credamus. This point was answered by me in another thread.

    And yet again we return to Professor Rindfleisch’s old familiar place (no, not Da Roberto in the Borgo Pio): defenders of the Latin who can’t speak, write or quote it with accuracy.

    But, by God, they’re RIGHT!

    That sound you hear is Ronnie Knox turning in his grave!

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