Compassion and disappointment

From Jerry Galipeua at Gotta Sing Gotta Pray:

Today, I want to offer my sincerest Christian compassion to the people at ICEL, and those scholars who have worked with ICEL to hammer out the translation.

I do this because of comments I have received as a publisher. When I have described how we have had to go back to the drawing board, at significant cost, with many of our resources—due to the changes in the translation—people have said things to me like, “I really feel sorry for you publishers,” or “You folks have really been put through the wringer.”

I always respond by saying that we are here to serve the singing and praying Church. But the Church that we are committed to serve—at least institutionally—is operating in ways that are unlike the past. I have to be honest and say that as we move into the future, I will need to be much more cautious, much more skeptical when the institution puts a stamp of approval on a liturgical document; and perhaps this, in the end, will be the wisest move.

I think what publishers have gone through is nothing like what those who worked for years on this translation must be going through. Those priests, bishops, scholars, secretaries, translators, chant experts worked on behalf of all of us in the English-speaking world. Many of these people I hold in the deepest respect and admiration.

I, for one, will always feel a sense of gratitude for their work, which has been much more intense and much more involved than the work that a publisher does. Along with that sentiment comes a sense of disappointment with this whole process.


  1. I am solidly with you on this, Gerry! I think everyone involved in this debacle has been run over roughshod!
    But what can we do???

  2. Well, God will give each his due on the Last Day, even if the leaders of the Church didn’t. There is no need to pass premature judgement on anyone involved in the whole process at this moment.

    But surely after using the ICEL texts produced from the 1960s until 1998, people should have learnt to be cautious and skeptical about some of the things that pass as English liturgical texts?

    1. I hardly think anything in any of these discussions constitutes a moral judgement, in any way analogous to the one on the Last Day. It’s not a sin to be incompetent.

      1. No, but it can certainly be an annoyance to others who have to rely upon the result. Frustration with that can lead those others to sin, if only by the use of intemperate language…

      2. No, but it can certainly be an annoyance to others who have to rely upon the result.

        Although I have great respect for Jerry, I think that it is at least relevant to the issue to keep in mind that said publishers (WLP, OCP, GIA etc…) are not publishing houses of the Catholic Church. They choose their product line and whatever problems arise as a result of it are a part of that choice. Although it might be a “nice thing to do”, I don’t think that the Church is obligated to meet publishing company deadlines.

    1. Samuel;

      I was wondering that myself. As though the Church has never dragged it’s feet on issuing documents? Does anybody here recall the waiting game with Summorum Pontificum? Sacramentum Caritatis? The Directory on Music and the Liturgy….

  3. Does anybody here recall the waiting game with Summorum Pontificum? Sacramentum Caritatis? The Directory on Music and the Liturgy….

    Ah yes, now to await the implementation of “Anglicanorum Coetibus”. Another sign of hesitancy, timidity, and trepidation.

    Waiting to see how the world reacts may be cautious and very clever, but it may also be a sure sign of a lack of confidence, a lot of second guessing, and a definite shortage of resolve.

    1. Sorry Dylan – we set the editorial policy, not you, and we will not cease to publish comments you dislike.

    2. Dylan, you are only a baby Catholic and are blissfully oblivious of the issues that are causing such anguish here. We priests are being asked, even obliged under the threat of canonical penalties, to recite a translation of the Missal which is a travesty and an insult to the People of God — and we will bear the brunt of the faitful’s reaction, which will probably take a passive-aggressive form. Or do you really think this ghastly new translation is a heavensent renewal?

    3. Dylan,

      I appreciate your comment here. This period can be called a new springtime if we are willing to embrace renewal. Sadly, some people find change difficult. However, most of us know that to live is to change, the new missal is a “sign-of-the-times” and we need the courage to embrace the liturgical renewal. The prayers of the Vatican II missal may be a stumbling block to some as they see it translated more faithfully and when we see so many distinctive Catholic beliefs & expressions proclaimed so specifically. I for one, applaud this pastoral development and look forward to its implementation everywhere where the 1973 version is used publicly. It recognizes that the people have a right to a full translation of the RM devoid of paraphrase and blessed with biblical & patristic imagery already present in the Latin original. Having said that, it is my wish that retired priests, priests with physical limitations (the blind) or those celebrating without a congregation might be granted an indult to celebrate the earlier version of the RM (1973) in private, just as was done for their predecessors in 1969.

      1. JN writes: “Sadly, some people find change difficult.” This is so wrong, it’s insulting. Have you not been listening to what the skeptics are saying? I don’t hear any opposition to change or difficulty with change. If anything, the skeptics are people who tend to be open to more change, inculturation, flexibility. The skeptics don’t like THIS change because it’s a bad one. I’mportant difference.

      2. +JMJ+

        Fr. Anthony, I agree that it is simplistic to view the skepticism as mere difficulty with change. But there are people who do disagree about the deficiencies in the 1973 translation, who do not consider it inadequate, and who doubt it needs to be changed. There are people who think there has been so much time spent with the 1973 translation (at least as far as the people’s parts) that to alter the translation is violence to “tradition”.

  4. I’m sorry that publishers are having to retool so much of their product, but my goodness, aren’t you due for a huge windfall by having everyone buy new books and music?

    1. From reading some of Jerry’s previous posts, my impression is that the distress comes from the bishops’ conference setting an implementation date and then the texts being changed as the implementation date gets closer and closer. Jeffrey Herbert said above, “I don’t think that the Church is obligated to meet publishing company deadlines.” True enough; I doubt there’s any literal, formal, contractual ‘obligation.’ But (I assume) the publishing company deadlines are calculated based on the mandated implementation date, and if the church is going to rely on publishing companies to get the texts out by the implementation date, it behooves church leaders to respect the timeline of the publishing process.

      I’d be very interested in seeing what would happen if a publisher were to say to the USCCB, “No, it’s too late, we can’t get quality texts out by the first Sunday of Advent 2011. We’ll work as quick as we can without being unjust to our employees, but we won’t be able to get the texts out when you want them. What are your thoughts on this?”

  5. David….

    That would be a dangerous gamble for a publisher, particularly with the ease of publishing one’s own worship aids and the ready availability of resources online. It would be like 1969 in reverse…. and it would leave publishers on the defensive for years to come.

    1. Jeffrey,

      Maybe not as much of a gamble as you think. It’s easy enough to produce one’s own worship aids and such in small quantities, or for a few occasions a year, but quite another thing to do it week in and week out. For one thing, paper and ink/toner get expensive on that scale. Which, come to think, is a major argument in favor of those hard-bound books used by so many parishes. THOSE things take a certain amount of time to produce and distribute, and the process can only be accelerated to a certain point.

      Disposables take less time but not that much, and most publishers will still have to get in line at the printing house. A publisher that owns its printing plant will likely have other existing contracts to honor, as well.

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