The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) regrets the recent decision of the Irish Catholic Bishops, in response to a submission from the ACP, to press ahead with the implementation of the introduction of the new Mass texts as planned next November.
At a meeting in Maynooth on Monday, February 28th a delegation from the ACP met the Episcopal Commission of Worship, Pastoral Renewal and Faith Development. There were five members of the Bishop’s Conference and a number of others, including three women, present. The delegation from the ACP voiced the following concerns:
1. That the proposed texts are unsuitable and unacceptable in a number of respects:
(i) we believe that, as literal translations of the Latin, they are too complex and too cumbersome. The guidelines state that they should be ‘comprehensible even to the faithful who have received no special intellectual formation.” This is clearly not the case.
(ii) we have reservations as to their theological veracity, for example at the very heart of the Eucharistic prayers, the new text states that Christ died ‘for many’ rather than ’for all.’
(iii) we fear that their introduction will damage the present fabric of worship in our parishes, dissuade people from active participation and introduce annoyance, discontent, resentment and possibly anger into the unifying ritual of the Mass
(iv) we fear that the continued use of sexist language with its use of ‘man,’ ‘men,’ and ‘brothers’ as generic terms will alienate some women and men, and is a very unfortunate reversal in an area where some progress had been made.
2. We believe that the process by which the texts have been drawn up is seriously flawed. There was no consultation with either priests or people and this is contrary to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the Church. An instructive lesson the Church has learned in recent times is that decisions made by small groups and then visited on the Church as a whole without adequate consultation tend not to serve the good of the Church.
While the Association of Catholic Priests recognizes the need for a new and improved translation of the liturgical texts, we believe that the proposed new texts are unsuitable and inadequate. Many priests will struggle with them and many people will regard them as unnecessary and unusable. Consequently we believe it is unwise to proceed with them.
While the bishops listened to our concerns, we regret to say that, judging by their response, they failed to take on board what we said and did not furnish any reasons for not accepting the concerns that we raised with them. We do not regard this as an appropriate form of listening or dialogue.
We remain convinced that introducing the new texts next November will have serious repercussions for parishes. While some priests may welcome them, it is clear that others will resist them, while many, maybe the majority, will accept them with a sense of resignation and without enthusiasm. In such circumstances it is, we believe, unwise to introduce them.
We will convene a meeting of our members on Thursday, June 2nd , at 2.30pm, in the parish centre in Portlaoise to consider our response. In the meantime we encourage our members to continue to discuss this matter with their pastoral councils, and indeed their parishioners generally.
Brendan Hoban 086 6065055 Leadership Team
Sean McDonagh 087 2367612
P.J. Madden 087 2208882
Tony Flannery 087 6814699