Priests in Australia Restive About Missal

The National Council of Priests of Australia issued a press release on February 23 describing mixed reactions to the new translation of the Roman Missal among their members. Responses ranged from desiring a boycott to accepting the new texts as an improvement. The majority expressed disappointment at the lack of consultation that characterized the production of the new Missal texts.

In a news story dated February 19, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that “The chairman of the National Council of Priests of Australia, Father Ian McGinnity, said hundreds of its 1600 members were ‘pretty steamed up’ at the Vatican’s lack of consultation but most had not yet decided how to respond. At least a dozen had indicated they would not use the new English translation, he said.”


  1. I look forward to seeing a posting on here, sometime, saying “Majority of Priests welcome the new translation”. Because they clearly do. But I suppose the vocal minority make much better ” news”.

  2. Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Kenny Purdie :
    I look forward to seeing a posting on here, sometime, saying “Majority of Priests welcome the new translation”. Because they clearly do.”.

    Hi Kenny, so “the majority of priests clearly support the new translation”

    I’d be really appreciative for a reference to support this statement

    1. Hello Elias.
      So it seems. In Ireland,400 out of 4,500 have protested.
      In the Diocese of Freiburg, just under 300 out of approx 1,200 (2006 figure last available) have protested,both minorities I think you will agree.

      1. Like one sheep out of a hundred – ignore it and stick with the 99. Or in this case, maybe 10 out of 100, or 25 out of 100. Write them off. Like Jesus would have.

      2. Kenny,

        Do you really think that an absence of vocal protest is equivalent to welcoming the new missal?

        I myself have no idea what “a majority” of priests think. I suspect no one does.

      3. Well, Fritz, when I asked that question the other day, Fr. Ruff busted my chops, citing the huge number of priests who signed the What If We Just Said Wait petition. So evidently he, at least, knows that a majority oppose the new, corrected translation.

        BTW, I see the petition supporting Summorum Pontificum is now up past 10,000 in just over a week and a half.

      4. Do you really think that an absence of vocal protest is equivalent to welcoming the new missal?

        No, but being a member of a group that ‘officially” objects doesn’t constitute objecting either. And those who object do so, I suspect, for a wide variety of reasons, not all of which have to do with syntax, word choice and Latinate constructiuon. There are a similarly wide variety of reasons why many like the new translation.

        Without being provocative, I would suggest that the number of “accepters” (to various degrees) outnumbers the “rejecters” (for whatever reasons) , and probably by a margin significant enough to call the acceptance “widespread”. I haven’t seen evidence to the contrary… particularly in my local area, where there are a handful of “rejecters”, some “enthusiastic” supporters and a great number of “oh well’s” . When the books come in, they’ll use them and probably not think twice about it a year from now.

      5. Kenny – why make such comments? How do you know what is in the heart and mind of each and every priest?

  3. I guess that last line shows us what one of the biggest problems is going to be… There is a large group of people who are very annoyed about large aspects of this, and the attitude to that group cannot simply be to say ‘get over it!’

    1. Maybe more time in prayer than on blogs might help, eh Jack! Remember me from xt3 – I was treefrog! I remember the good old days.

  4. The 400 in Ireland are those who were motivated enough to form the recently established national association of R.C. priests. We have no idea how many of the others are happy or unhappy with the new translation. It is a mistake to presume that because they have not joined an association they are in favour. In this case an argument based on their silence is based on flimsy grounds.

    It is more likely that they are too demoralised to take action, in the wake of the failure of local bishops to deal with the scandal of the sexual abuse of children. Instead, the bishops preferred to defer to the Vatican on this issue. The catastrophic consequences should have warned them of the folly of this strategy. Yet they have repeated their mistake by handing over to the Vatican curia the right which SC gave to bishops’ conferences to organise their own translations. It makes sense that conferences with the same first language would cooperate, of course, but not that they would hand this right over to the Vatican for a peaceful life.

    I suppose it is to be expected that bishops see themselves accountable primarily to those who appoint them, rather than to the faithful whom they are appointed to lead. The real issue in need of reform is the appointment of bishops. It is a misnomer to say they are elected.

    Where they bishops have been found wanting the association of priests has taken a stand. Good for them! It is a tribute to them that 400 were found who were prepared to speak up and speak out in true prophetic fashion.

  5. I suspect no one does either Father. But I do have an interest in the case of Ireland, a place I called home for 25 years. I was recently speaking to a- fairly liberal-Priest friend of mine about the National association of Priests there. If I typed here what he said it, would be removed.
    Suffice to say he ended by saying,” they do not speak for me” He is very much a V2 man and indeed we often clashed in the past, so it was a bit of a surprise for me.

    1. Do you think you “fairly liberal-Priest friend” likes the new translation? If not, then do we have an example of a priest outside the national association who ‘opposes’ it, contradicting your suggestion that only the association opposes it?

      1. I never suggested that only the association opposes it, I was just quoting numbers that pointed that way. In the same way there may be some within the association that like it. This being Ireland thats quite likely.
        As for this particular Priest friend, he said it could be better, but its not all bad and he will get on with it.

  6. And now for something completely different….

    With mirth and respect for Professor Ferrone, I just enjoyed the thread title, specifically the “Priests RESTIVE…” portion. That struck me akin to a verbal Rorschach test. Howabout “Priests ______”?
    Festive, flummoxed, stymied, receptive, anxious, sequestered, deceptive, furtive, reflexive, compliant, complicit, conflicted, afflicted, affected, enamored, enabled, disabled…….(Wow, this really is like a Rorschach!)
    I submit (oops, I forgot “submissive”) that we all take a DISC personality assessment survey, print out the summary results and head to the nearest pub at the midpoint of each of our various landmasses, and raise a yard to Samuel Clemens’ wisdom regarding statistics.
    Just Saturday AM humor, not intended to lull anyone into complacency.
    And, as a serious aside, continued prayers for souls in NZ, Libya and the region, and everywhere where misery, havoc and chaos rule these days.

    1. Thank you for the Saturday morning chuckle! I did in fact discard about a dozen alternatives before settling on restive. Thanks too, Charles, for the reminder of those whose lives are in chaos and at terrible risk. It helps to keep our own small problems in perspective.

  7. One possibility for gaining more useful information on what priests’ priorities: list the new missal alongside other possible initiatives. Poll priests to select one reform of these and see where it gets us:
    1. the new missal
    2. a nation-wide initiative to keep Catholic schools flourishing
    3. bishops who listen to their priests and cultivate that fatherly relationship
    4. a national stewardship initiative
    5. other

    For a lot of guys I know, they plan to implement, but there are other items on their plate that generate more enthusiasm. And if MR3 were withdrawn tomorrow, there would be less outcry.

    The truth is that a vocal minority can be extremely vexing to authority. Priests refusing to implement is at least as newsworthy as a small minority of clergy supporting an unreformed 1962 Missal.

  8. No priest should use this translation if they do not have an honest belief that to do so will be for the greater good of the people of God. Good order and unity have a place in that judgment, but not a determinative one. It is immoral to do what is wrong ‘just because one has been told’. If I am to continue as a practising priest, I need to feel that someone, somewhere, with some pastoral competence and feeling for the good of the English-speaking churches, actually wants what appears as an outrage, foisted on us by authority on a seriously bad day. The absences of proper checks against the abuse of sacred authority is a serious weakness in the way that the Catholic church is constituted. Catholic beliefs about the Petrine ministry will be brought into a disrepute that is not properly theirs until we find ways of overcoming this obstacle.

    1. Father E—It is immoral to do what is wrong ‘just because one has been told’. —

      Father E,

      Was is it a mortal sin for priests, on our side of the Atlantic, to teach their congregations a Creed that edited out ‘et incarnatus est’? That’s what happened in America so many years ago… I think that’s a more serious infringement on Catholic belief, than any 200 word sentence with 20 commas.

      Now, it’s a mortal sin, for us to say ‘and with your spirit?'(!!)

      Father, given your reticence to defend Edmund Campion, I was beginning to wonder about your credentials as an S.J.. I am relieved to see you at least have the casuistry thing down.!!

    2. George: I said ‘immoral’, not ‘sinful’, still less ‘mortally sinful’. We can make judgments about the morality of each other’s behaviour, but not about the quality of consent and freedom implicit in the use of the word, ‘sin’.

  9. The disincentives for speaking up AGAINST a translation that has been imposed by higher authority are so great that anyone who speaks against it has to be very highly motivated indeed. No such high motivation is required to stay quiet and keep your head down. I would therefore agree with those who say that silence does not prove assent, much less enthusiastic welcome.

    1. I think Thomas More’s words at his trial were “Qui tacet, consentire videtur” or He that hold his peace appears to consent. I think then that the majority may be presumed to assent to the new translation. But then, More was a martyr and I guess most of us are not called to martyrdom. For myself, I am, as one who lived through the upheaval of Vatican II, not happy about further radical changes to the liturgy.

  10. I suppose that could be true. In the same way that Priests in my Diocese are afraid to offer the EF Mass for fear of the Bishop. A situation replicated in many UK Dioceses.

  11. Philip Endean SJ :

    No priest should use this translation if they do not have an honest belief that to do so will be for the greater good of the people of God.

    The absences of proper checks against the abuse of sacred authority is a serious weakness in the way that the Catholic church is constituted.

    I think that the VC translation process and text are very bad. However, I do not think that individual priests should be free not to use if implemented.

    I think all the objections now are a good thing and I hope they increase and the bishops find their courage to tell the Curia that the bishops will not accept a text imposed on them by a small group of bureaucrats.

    If the bishops can not stand up for their people, then priests must implement as well as possible until and only if there is a groundswell from their parishioners after repeated experience with the translation. I am opposed to pastors imposing their taste on parishioners, even when I agree with that taste. Taste imposition is different from following GIRM or VC2010.

    On the other hand, “The absences of proper checks against the abuse of sacred authority” is in need of serious work.

    With the advice and assistance of the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church [ ], the American Catholic Council [ ] is now holding listening sessions on this topic and will be meeting in Detroit in June to discuss such issues in association with…

  12. No priest should use this translation if they do not have an honest belief that to do so will be for the greater good of the people of God.

    Such statements are a bit frightening… just how far should this dictum be carried? Would your enthusiasm for such a strongly held principle hold for the Priest who says Mass in Latin, ad orientem because he cannot have an honest belief that the Mass in English, versus populum is for the “greater good of the people of God”? How about for a Bishop who “ordains” female priests because he believes THAT is for the greater good? Does the law not matter, or are you just saying that conscience ALWAYS over-rules it? I think such a position disregards the entirety of the concept of law, authority and obedience, or if you prefer… following the law.

    It’s easy to do what you’re told when you agree… much more difficult when you don’t, and even harder still when you KNOW you’re right.

    1. Jeffrey: basically yes–one’s ultimate obligation is to follow one’s conscience, having done all that is reasonably possible to form it. I wouldn’t want to set the discussion up as conflictually as your language suggests, because considerations about law themselves enter into the conscientious judgment, normally decisively (so I am certainly not disregarding the concept in its entirety). But if you ‘know’ you’re right, and are using that verb appropriately, then you are wrong not to act on that conviction–the idea that there’s any sort of virtue in setting your own judgment aside is just perverse, and it’s an abuse of religion to imagine it can somehow legitimate such lazy behaviour. Jesus’s obedience to his Father was expressed through a very complicated relationship with the religious authorities of his time.

      The fact that you put scare quotation-marks around ‘ordains’ indicates some sacramental issues that complicate the application of the ethical point I am making, but I think we should lay that aside.

      1. Whilst all this must may be true. Surely the Priest undertakes to obey his Ordiinary at his Ordination?
        We do not reside in a Church where the ministers are free to do just whatever their particular conscience dictates, at any particular time.

    2. Kenny: promises of obedience are something less than a completely blank cheque. The traditional formulation of the proviso is ‘in all that is not sinful’. The difficulty is that any application of the proviso will be, in the nature of the case, disputed.

      1. Indeed Father it never could be a blank cheque. I m sure no Priest would commit serious sin on the instructions of a Bishop.
        Whilst we all have free will, the idea of disobedience is an old and very devisive one. Once it starts, where do you draw the line?

  13. Rita – from the Australian blog, Catholica which provides a larger context for these “restive” priests:

    published in the Sydney Morning Herald – new book, Our Fathers…

    quoted from the moderator: “…..this fear of having to face the “temple police”. The “culture” of Catholicism today is that there is this massive raft of issues now that most priests, bishops, preachers and teachers simply never talk about in public. It is simply not worth the (wasted) energy they have to expend in meetings and correspondence with their bishop, their principal, their vice-chancellor, or the Catholic Education Office they become caught up in if they get “reported”. They are not “dumb and stupid”. All of them can see what a bloke like (Fr) Peter Kennedy was put through in South Brisbane. What was that expression I heard a few days ago which sums it all up: “shoot one and educate a thousand!” They view being caught up with the “temple police” as unwinnable and massively sapping of their energy. If it comes down to an ultimate showdown at a very high level — for example with Rome (as in the case of Peter Kennedy and South Brisbane) — they know they are on “a hiding to nothing” even before they start. Rome is ALWAYS going to back “the temple police”. Out of all this the culture has slowly evolved that “it’s better to ‘zip ya mouth’ and say absolutely nothing” — in your homilies preach in motherhood statements and platitudes that no one can pick you up on. It simply is not worth venturing into any public discussion because it is actually life-threatening to your job, your superannuation and your long-term, life security — even for those who are supposed to be “the shepherds of their flocks”!
    Most bishops don’t actually “teach” anything these days. They protect their backsides and try as best they can to defend the institutional reputation — their…

  14. John Drake = BTW, I see the petition supporting Summorum Pontificum is now up past 10,000 in just over a week and a half.

    But have you seen some of the signatures on this petition? I have and could hardly stop myself laughing. For example, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pott, Colonel Gadaffi, Stalin, Mussolini and a number of other infamous dictators. One wonders how many times each individual has signed this petition.

  15. I don’t know of any priest who thinks the use of the new translation will not somehow be “for the greater good of the people of God.” But that doesn’t mean priests are happy with it. I and the priests I know look upon it as a burden. If I buy a new car, at least in the State of Washington, there is a lemon law to protect me. If I discover the new car is a lemon, I can exchange it for a better one, or get my money back. No such luck with a translation.

    1. this one is seriously doubtful. The prudential question is whether or not the badness of the translation, and the collusion with immoral bullying implicit in accepting its imposition, are serious enough to justify the sacramental disruption. If the answer to that question is yes, then we should not use it (which probably means we should not say Mass in English at all, at least in public).

  16. I’ve seen some indications here that sanctions may be taken against priests who have publicly been critical of the new translation. Rita is 100% correct. What’s the point of sacrificing a career for something that is a done deal. My approach here when people ask me my opinion about the new translation is to say, “My opinion really does not matter that much. The new translation will speak for itself.” It’s a neutral, honest statement which empowers others to evaluate it for themselves.

  17. I wonder… are these the same Oz priests who are unhappy with the Church’s sexual teachings? According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald dated 26th Feb 2011, they are unhappy with the doctrinal teachings of the Church, particularly on issues of sexuality.

  18. Kenny and Mr. Burns…..more indepth response to your comments about Pell and Sydney archdiocesan seminary:

    Just published – “Catholic Parish Ministry in Australia – Facing Disaster”

    Highlights relevant to points made above:

    – “from 1989 to 2004 an average of just 7 seminarians were recruited each year and in the three largest seminaries, “you can reckon on ordaining only 1/3rd of those you recruit.”
    – report indicates that in 2010 Sydney had 25 diocesan seminarians and 21 in the Neo-Cat seminary which would not ultimately serve in Sydney.

  19. Quoting Neocats as an example of recruitment success takes the biscuit. I hear the ones in the seminary here in Japan that has caused such havoc are the leavings of of European seminaries that wanted no more of them.

  20. I am a lay Catholic living in Hereford in the UK. I have no worries about the new translation and most of the lay people I have spoken to know very little about it. What it provides is an opportunity to teach and evangelise. The Holy Eucharist is the ‘source and summit’ of Christianity and the greatest prayer we will ever have. Let’s not argue about the words and language used, but unite in the most wonderful gift that God has ever given mankind.

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