Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio speaks honestly about resistance to the new Missal translation in the “Professional Concerns” column of the latest issue of Pastoral Music, the journal of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.
The bishop writes, “One can note the mostly positive and successful reception in the 1960s of the Novus Ordo Missae – perhaps the greatest liturgical change in history – compared to the apprehension and unease today created by those who take a negative view of the new English translation of the Roman Missal.”
Bishop Blair addresses criticism that the new text uses language “not found in common parlance.” He points out that we don’t use language such as “fruit of the womb” in ordinary conversation, but we say this in the Hail Mary without objection. He believes that something similar will happen when we are accustomed to the new translation and have been formed by it.
He writes of the underlying problem with those resisting the new text:
“What then underlies negativity or hesitancy toward the new missal translation? For some it is simply a dogged belief that their views are correct and that the work of others is wrong… All of us are very tempted to be protective of our own work and our views, but in a collaborative effort not everyone can have his or her own way. We have our say, but so do other contributors who have just as much right – and perhaps even more – to shape the final product. In an ecclesial spirit of prayer and humility we work together to make things the best they can be to serve the Church’s unity and growth, even as we are aware than in this world nothing is flawless.
“Some critics of the new translation harbor the suspicion that anything that arises from the hierarchy these days must be a secret plot to undo the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. The reality is far different. Pope Benedict speaks of the ‘hermeneutic of continuity’ which is so evident in the council documents, not ‘discontinuity.’
“Those who are determined to fight old battles will not cease doing so, and a negative minority can always make life difficult…”
No doubt the readers of Pastoral Music are gratified that the bishop uses inclusive language – “in a collaborative effort not everyone can have his or her own way.” At the same time, readers are probably surprised to read that they were involved in a collaborative effort to shape the final product.