A parish council writes to its archbishop

The parish council of St. Leo Church, a Jesuit parish in Tacoma, WA, wrote to Archbishop J. Peter Sartain:

Our comments reflect not only the views of the council members but also feedback that we received from fellow St. Leo parishioners through a parish-wide process of shared prayer, reflection, discussion, and discernment. … We found that [the new translation] produced some real barriers in our celebration. Parishioners called the language “distancing,” “clunky,” “cumbersome,” and not reflective of our experience of ourselves as worshipping and welcoming community. … We also take exception with the process by which the changes are being imposed, with parishioners calling this process “a step backward, away from Vatican II,” and citing a lack of transparency in the overall process. … We ask and encourage that you consider flexibility around the implementation of the new Roman Missal.

Read the whole thing here.


  1. Parishioners can talk? Could this be the first of many letters?

    The Internet is a blessing not only for the Arab world — the connectivity that overturns dictators can surely bring some little bit of reform and democracy to our limping church.

  2. More importantly they can sign their names!

    Looks like they might have thrown away the rubber stamp.

    Years ago FutureChurch begin in this diocese with a series of resolutions by pastoral councils expressing their concerns about the declining numbers of priests.

    Perhaps its time for FutureLiturgy?

    1. Maybe the future requires getting rid of our slavish adherence to “church” and “liturgy” altogether! Jesus and the Apostles (female and male) weren’t very concerned with either one. But with welcoming and celebrating God and our fellow women and men. How have we let the hierarchs rob us of this simple truth? The incomprehensible antiEnglish of this grotesque translation are just one more transparent effort to squelch community. Pathetic.

      1. “Grotesque.” Sandi, nice job . . . so far that’s the best descriptor I have heard for the absurd VC2010. How about this: “A grotesque absurdity?”

  3. I’m confused by the letter. Is the real issue with the “clunkiness” of the text, or with the process by which the changes are being imposed? I doubt very seriously that parishoners at St. Leo Church cared about the overall process. It sounds like the parish council added that blip in there to voice their own discontent (or that of the parish priest).

    I am asking this in all sincerity: what did Vatican II say/change regarding transparency of process?

    1. I’m sure it’s both those issues, and some more as well.

      I’m not at all sure that you have any basis to speak for what the parishioners really care about. They had a long process of listening and discerning, which I gather you weren’t a part of.


      1. I’m not at all sure that you have any basis to speak

        In view of Fr. Ruff’s own certainty, I have no choice but to issue an Unintentional Irony Alert.

      2. No irony at all here. Brad wasn’t a part of the process, so he has no basis to speak for the parishioners.

      3. Brad wasn’t a part of the process, so he has no basis to speak for the parishioners.

        O.K., but you wrote: “I’m sure it’s both those issues, and some more as well.”

        If Brad Wilson doesn’t “have any basis to speak for what the parishioners really care about,” because “[t]hey had a long process of listening and discerning, which [you] gather [he wasn’t] a part of,” then you, also not having been part of their long process of listening and discerning, I gather, also have no reason to be sure of what the “real issue” was.

    2. How exactly has the parish gotten to know the texts in the context of worship? Have they been using them in advance? And when they say “our parishioners”, do they mean all of the parishioners? Or is this a select group that responded to a survey of some sort? Regardless of the conditions surrounding the letter, I will predict that if the Archbishop reads it at all, it will only be after reading about the Hoopla surrounding it in the press. Speaking from experience with “petitions” from parishes regarding such things, they more often than not simply bring grief to the parish in the form of contention with the chancery. If there were a real problem that the pastor felt was a legitimate complaint, he would bring it to the Archbishop himself. This sort of “protest” tactic is not generally greeted with open arms downtown.

      They might also get further if they began with “Your Excellency”… such things matter if you wish to be taken seriously.

      1. How sad that a letter expressing reservations/objections to a process and result automatically becomes a “protest tactic”.

        I just reread your comment, and saw the suggestion that that Parish Council address the bishop as “Your Excellency” in order to get any consideration. I believe you are correct about the situation, but my only reaction is “Jesus wept”!

      2. Chris and Brigid;

        I work closely with the Chancery of our Diocese. I’m familiar with how efforts like this are viewed as letters from individuals and parish councils are actually quite common. Most are fielded by the Secretary and never make it in front of the Bishop. Sad but true. Those that are given some weight, either signed by a Pastor or other clergy with proper form, etc. have a better chance. If the issue is something that the Bishop has been considering on his own anyway, it might even get a hearing.

        When I say “protest tactic” I’m simply voicing how such efforts are seen by most Diocesan Offices. It takes a long time and considerable effort with a lot of cooperation to enact change in a policy such as this at the Diocesan level. An appeal from a parish council without any signature from a Pastor will not likely be taken seriously. I have to wonder why the Pastor didn’t sign this.

        Incidentally, the formal closing of such a letter is “Kissing the Sacred Ring; (Your Name)”. Yes… I know, but it is what it is. Archbishops are powerful individuals and have expectations that might seem unreasonable to us. I’m just saying….

      3. “Kissing the Sacred Ring”!

        S C R E A M I N G

        Jeffrey’s been watching his DVD of “The Cardinal” again!

        “Kissing the sacred purple” was, I believe, the conclusion of letters to assorted hierarchs – during the pontificate of Pius XII.

        Newsflash to Jeffrey and other “enablers” of a clericalism not yet dead enough: most lay Catholics in this day and age have stopped kissing rings … as a sign of no longer kissing other things, if you get my drift.

        As pleasant a memory as the 1950s may be for you, Jeffrey, this year’s paschal candle is marked 2011.

      4. Reply to # 12 by Jeff – I want to reiterate that I think the situation is exactly as Jeff reports, not that Jeff necessarily supports the situation, just that that’s what we have to work with. My reaction is that we’ve gone a long way down the wrong path when the “servant of the servants” demands such sycophancy as a matter of course!

      5. Jeffrey

        “Kissing the sacred ring” has not been standard US Catholic usage in a long time. US Catholic usage in the past generation has generally become much more streamlined, but the fading of the “sacred ring” usage long antedates that.

        Even Adoremus back in 2008 did not suggest anything like it:


        Thus, if I were an archbishop, and received a communication from parishioners that concluded with “kissing the sacred ring”, my instinct would be to check my pockets.

      6. Speaking of Adoremus, Helen’s been mighty silent since the error-filled Pell-Moroney-Ward Missal, even with its seven batches of “Errata”, has come down from Mt Sinai …. It will be fun for someone to use Adoremus’ critique of the old ICEL’s inaccuracies against the Vox Clara inaccuracies. What goes around …. and all that.

      7. O, yes, the silence has been deafening in a number of quarters formerly known as very noisy. Pacifiers have been supplied, it would seem.

      8. It’s got to be driving Adoremus/Helen crazy to know that the much-vaunted Vox Clara has morphed, under its English grammar and Latin-challenged Executive Secretary into Cretins Unlimited: having berated the old ICEL for years, she surely must know (and, in fact, I can tell you it is true) that several people are preparing a commentary-compendium of 1) mistranslations from the Latin 2) violations of the translation directives (granted the Confirmatio by the very Congregation that established them, mind you!) and, most embarrassingly of all, in my opinion, 3) the indisputable errors in English grammar, syntax, style and vocabulary.

        One project is planning to present these day-by-day, Mass-by-Mass, in a handy format for priests (and, no doubt, eventually even Rome) to be able to make the necessary corrections by hand in their $500 regal editions of the Missal.

        After Adoremus, I can’t wait to see if WDTPRS finally has to break down and admit that the “new (corrected) ICEL” needs to be corrected! Could be a bit rough on the DONATE button!

      9. Jeffrey, a prelate would not be reasonable to expect the closing “kissing the sacred ring” since it was made optional by the instruction Ut sive sollicite in 1969.

      10. Having already been made ridiculous nearly 2000 years earlier by the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

      11. Brigid at 7:17…

        Thank you… you actually got the point. Yes folks… I know that one would not ordinarily use an affectation like “Kissing the Sacred Ring” … although it is still the formal closing for a FORMAL letter to an ARCHBISHOP. I assume the parish council wanted to get results rather than just make a statement, although I don’t know since the letter was then leaked (or given) to the press… a sure way to move it from the Archbishop’s Inbox to the Inbox of the Legal (damage control) Department.

        A question, and I’m serious… if you wrote to the Queen of England (OK…don’t know why you would, but let’s just say…) would you begin with “Dear Elizabeth” or even “Dear Queen Elizabeth”? No, you would, out of respect, use the proper form… beginning with “Madam” and ending with the somewhat antiquated but nonetheless proper…” ‘I have the honour to be, Madam, Your Majesty’s humble and obedient servant’. This shows respect for the individual. An Archbishop is accustomed to receiving a variety of letters addressed in a variety of ways. The closings vary (yes… I have seen the formal closing used, even if not frequently), but the opening address “Your Excellency” is still the norm. There are standards for things like this. Go into court and address the Judge as something other than “Your Honor”. Same thing…except when you write a letter, you don’t get a warning.

  4. as worshipping and welcoming community

    And what did the indefinite article ever do to them?

    1. We are church. We celebrate eucharist, and we are worshipping and welcoming community.

      Get used to it.

  5. RBR & SJH – have you both read Animal Farm recently? Would recommend it….it might prevent the waste of blog space exhibited above.

    Fr. Ruff – indicated that this letter suggested both reasons pointed out by Mr. Wilson plus others (nothing specific and a comment any reasonable person could arrive at). Did question how Mr. Wilson could make this specific judgment – “…..doubt very seriously that parishoners at St. Leo Church cared about the overall process. It sounds like the parish council added that blip in there to voice their own discontent (or that of the parish priest).”

    RBR & SJH – to compare Mr. Wilson’s judgment with Fr. Ruff’s contextual comment and response is to mix apples and oranges or to play loose with any standard of basic logic. But, then my guess is that your comments elucidate the “hermeneutic of reform within continuity”.

  6. 1) It’s currently spelled Tacoma not Tacomah. But spelling is so subjective in any case.
    2) I love the letterhead. “A Jesuit Parish”.

    I thought the letter itself fine. And there was one benefit of confronting the new translation with regard to “for many” vs. “for all” (and yes, I know the Church deemed them equivalent): they found out “What Does the Prayer Really Say?”

  7. I’m disheartened to see that much time has been spent dissecting my comments about the actual letter, but no one has the knowledge to answer my question and explain what Vatican II said about transparency of process.

    1. Here’s how I would answer:

      Just go read up on “collegiality and Vatican II” – a rich topic with a large literature. Then, see if you think the high vision of collegiality given to us by Vatican II would include, as a part of basic respect (indeed, love) for one another, transparency. I think it would.


      1. 8 year old article by Rev. Brian Glesson, CP:



        – “My motive for this presentation is to make a small contribution to public opinion in the Catholic Church, by raising consciousness about the scope and limits of power. More specifically, my aim is to contribute towards a tilting of the exercise of authority away from any lingering tendencies towards absolute monarchy, autocracy and dictatorship, and towards where it is meant to belong, and where it did once belong. This is fair and square within the communion of a collegial Church, a Church in which many persons participate or are meant to participate, in different but related roles, in the life, leadership and decision-making of the Church. This Church is just as much their Church as that of anyone else, even the pope.”

        – The Church is ruled and guided by its Risen Lord acting though his Spirit, who dwells in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful. [Lumen gentium, n.4] There can be no teaching Church without a learning Church first. Hence too the necessity of councils of discernment and cooperation at every level of church government. Effective church leadership is grounded on persuasion, not coercion, the persuasion that wins hearts and minds, and the persuasion that can happen only where there is real communion.”

  8. I realize that people find the change from “all” to “many” raises red flags, and I am sympathetic with those who would resist any attempt to limit a priori the scope of Christ’s saving work. But people who present themselves as having studied the issue must realize that 1) this is what the Latin says 2) this is what the Greek of the NT says 3) this is what the Anglicans say (folks who are generally pretty generous — some might say to a fault — in conceiving the scope of salvation) and 4) “many” excludes “few” but does not exclude “all.”

    People here know I am not a big fan of the coming translation, but good causes are not helped by bad arguments.

  9. “many” excludes “few” but does not exclude “all.”

    angels on pinheads territory, I fear.

    1. George, “for many” vs “for all” is actually a pretty important point. Not at all comparable to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

  10. Deacon – there was significant and substantial research and reasons for why the change was made in the 1960’s – this was published in Notitiae and has been linked to frequently on this blog.

    That research states:
    a) your reference to Greek is incorrect and captures only about 50% of the context;
    b) it captures in one phrase the difference between “literal” and “dynamic”…..
    c) you ignore or avoid multiple other impacts and changes – link to ecumenism and the ICET work, etc.

    We usually talk about changes in which you consider the pastoral, musical, and liturgical impact –
    – pastoral….poor choice
    – musical….n/a
    – liturgical….mixed choice at best

    1. Bill, maybe it’s just me, but I seem to be having a hard time understanding people’s responses today.

      How is my reference to the Greek incorrect? What do you mean by “50% of the context”? I know about speculation about what Jesus might have said in Aramaic etc. but that doesn’t really affect what the Greek says.

      As for ecumenism, ICET never produced a version of the institution narrative. Anglicans and Methodists use “many.” I don’t think this issue has anything to do with ecumenism.

      The many/all debate is a red herring. There are plenty of real problems to complain about in the new translation.

      1. The last time I attended a Lutheran service, “many” was employed. Saying “for all” seems to be a particularly Roman Catholic thing.

        I’m not surprised Protestants use “many” since they seem to prize fidelity to scripture.

      2. The many/all debate is a red herring.

        Not for me. I have read the discussions on this and at an intellectual level I can understand the reasoning behind the “many”. But at the gut level I can’t take it. “Christ died for all — um, no, I mean, Christ died for many“: can you imagine? If it is used in my parish I am going to wince every time I hear it. What about all the people at the margins, the gays, the divorced and remarried, who feel barely tolerated at best, how do you think that will make them feel?

        I oppose that change and I will do what I can to prevent it from happening in my parish.

      3. Red herring – don’t think so…it gets at both the process and the use of LA (which is both poor translation theory and poor liturgical law):

        We again re-do a liturgical battle that was researched and decided in 1970 (Zerwick, Notitiae urged by the pope). Here is a link to a follow up question years later about this decision and, surprisingly for me, will link to the EWTN library (say it ain’t so):


        Key phrase: “This brings us now to another question: Why therefore in our liturgical version this venerable original ‘pro multis’ should yield to the phrase ‘pro omnibus’? I respond: because of a certain accidental but true inconvenience: the phrase ‘for many’ — as it is said — in our minds (not forewarned) excludes that universality of the redemptive work which for the Semitic mind could be and certainly was connoted in that phrase because of the theological context. However, the allusion to the theology of the Servant of Yahweh, however eloquent for the ancients, among us is clear only to the experts.

        “But if on the other hand it is said that the phrase ‘for all’ also has its own inconvenience, because for some it might suggest that all will actually be saved, the danger of such an erroneous understanding is estimated to hardly exist among Catholics.

        “Besides, the change which the words of the consecration underwent was not unique nor the first. For the traditional Latin text already combines the Lucan text ‘pro vobis’ with the phrase of Mark and Matthew ‘pro multis.’ And that is not the first change. For already the liturgy of the early Church (Mark-Matthew) seems to have adjusted the saying over the chalice to the formula pronounced over the bread. For originally that formula of the chalice according to Paul (1 Corinthians 11:25) and Luke (22:20) was: ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’ — a formula which was excellent perhaps in depth, but not really in…

      4. Claire;

        Why would the individuals you speak of (gays, divorced, remarried) not be part of “the many”? When I hear comments like this, it appears that it is the commenter that is making the exclusion, not the Church, and certainly not Christ!

        Is it just that we don’t want to “exclude anyone” in the politically correct sense? We have to say “for all” to cover our bases and not offend anyone? Have to agree with the Good Deacon above. We have an historic faith, a Catechism and Sacred Texts that say “for many”. It’s not our place to change that.

        And Jack at 8:49pm – It’s not a Roman Catholic Thing… it’s a comme le prevoit translation thing. Pre-Vatican II it was “pro multis”…. for many. Still is that, incidentally. If it was supposed to be “for all” it would say “pro omnibus”. But it doesn’t, and Latin is pretty specific about such distinctions.

      5. Bill,

        Sorry, but I’m just not convinced by the “we settled this a long time ago” argument, since, by theological standards, 1970 is hardly “a long time ago.” To my knowledge, every English translation of the New Testament, whether dynamically or formally equivalent, translates ὑπὲρ πολλῶν as “for many.” And, aside from the somewhat racist overtones, the argument about the “Semitic mind” seems questionable in light of the fact that Anglicans, Methodists and (apparently) Lutherans translate it as “many” (unless, of course, they somehow have “Semitic minds” — I think there might be an Elvis song in here somewhere).

      6. Jeffrey: because they are the ones who are currently feeling that they are being pushed out. It is not I who am making that inference: it is their experience that they are being rejected.

        Here is the pattern in my parish: the bishop, once every few months, (or the Vatican, once every few years) publishes a text with hurtful comments about gays. One or another of our gay parishioners calls the parish office, all upset, saying: “That’s enough. The church doesn’t want me. I can’t take it any more. I quit.” Then there is a long discussion, after which hopefully he calms down and agrees to try to hang on.

        Our parish motto, “All are welcome”, is part of that long discussion. I think that it is essential for those of our parishioners who are at the fringe (they have one foot out of the door). Switching from saying that Christ died “for all” to “for many” goes against that.

        That’s not an intellectual argument. It’s an emotional argument: The “for many” makes me wince, and I fear how it will be heard by the most fragile of our members.

      7. Jeffrey,
        The Latin of EP II says “adstare coram te” – to STAND before you (or “in your presence” in the current translation.

        Though in the forthcoming translation, widely reported to be at the insistence of Cardinal Pell, it will be rendered “to BE” – so that people wouldn’t use an accurate (LA, 51: “exact”) translation of the Latin as justification for not kneeling at the consecration.

        What do you think of that?

        How about “overcome” for “profusis” and the other errors in the conclusion to the Easter prefaces? (cd the “Lamb of God” thread).

        Would you suggest that these errors be corrected before the $300-500 Missals are printed, bound and sold?

      8. I think Claire Mathieu in Reply #40 has discovered the reason there is a debate over the many/all. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Eucharist is used as a tool to enforce obedience. “The many/all” matters precisely because we have pushed so many people to the margins and barred them from receiving the Eucharist.

  11. What do the parish council of this parish think Archbishop Sartain is going to do?

    Do they think he is going to agree with them?

    Do they think he is going to go to Rome and give the Pope a piece of their minds?

    No way.

    What will likely happen is this: a kind letter thanking the parish council for their interest and concern for insuring that the liturgy be celebrated well and perhaps even express his sympathy for them as they make the adjustment to the new translation and pledge his prayers and best wishes to them. But, if anyone thinks that J. Peter Sartain is going to rock the boat with this silly letter, then you don’t know the man.

    1. It would be so refreshing if there happened to be a mighty cascade of letters saying ,”we’re simply not going to use this garbage” ,arising from pastors and people alike from one end of the nation to the other. Then let the bishop take it up from

      It boggles the imagination to contemplate what happens
      after that.

      1. And this is why I used the term “protest tactic” above. It is a fantasy though. Such a thing wouldn’t happen for so many reasons, not the least of which is the lack of like mind on this issue.

      2. Lack of like mind is an understatement. Lots of us are enthusiastically looking forward to 11/27/11, despite the best efforts of some to persuade us otherwise.

  12. I suspect that if enough people had written letters of dismay to their bishops about the new translation, more bishops would not have been inclined to vote their approval of the final draft. Letter-writing can be powerful. Who would argue, for example, that the letters of ultra-consevatives sent to the Roman curial offices are ineffective?

  13. As a member of said parish, I can tell you that the whole of the process was thoughtful and prayerful for the entire parish. We are a parish that works to be transparent in our dealings and consultative in our decision-making. The letter to the (new) archbishop was exercise in one of the fundamental responsibilities of laity: to tell their pastors what they think.

    Is the letter going to change anyone’s mind? I don’t know. What I do know is that the letter articulates our own LOCAL concern for how the new translation will affect our congregation as well as our part and participation in the GLOBAL church.

    1. Shannon;

      You sound very sincere, and you very well might have some valid issues to take up with the Archbishop. Meaning no derision (and I sincerely mean that) I have to agree with Earle at 10:39pm… there are lots of signals given off on your website and the letter to the Archbishop as to the liturgical vision at your parish. You and your parishioners are very obviously proud of that, so I have to assume it’s not an accident. The Church is a big tent….

      I wish you good luck in your efforts, but would suggest that you might work with someone familiar with navigating an Archbishop’s office who might guide your efforts towards getting results rather than becoming a blog discussion. Right now the effort is like going into a Divorce Court without a lawyer… easy to correct mistakes are getting in the way of any progress.

      1. What a heartless reply. “Do the things we in the bureacucray say or you won’t get a hearing.” By the time you have made the laity jump through your clerical hoops they are totally discouraged. It more and more looks as if Kafka is the analyst of modern catholicism, especially in The Trial, with its legions of smug, power-play bureaucrats.

      2. Joseph;

        Get serious. Are people’s feelings really so easily hurt that they can’t manage to conform to some accepted norms for the sake of accomplishing their goal? When you send a letter, do you leave the stamp off because “no Post office is going to tell ME how to mail a letter!”. Come on…is everything a sign of oppression? Are you really so victimized by the Church?

        And what kind of a “hoop” is it to use the proper address and some courtesy? Anyway… gotta get back to work.

  14. I am only guessing at this, and I hope Ms. O’Donnell, or someone else from St. Leo’s, will tell me wether I am right or wrong. First, from looking at their web site, I would guess that this is a liberal parish. Second, I am betting that overall they are a highly educated parish, college degrees, and thrid, low church, with minimal ritual action.

    Why is this important? Because if I am right on the above, the chancery will react accordingly. If however, some of the conservative high church parishes start to send letters, then it’s a whole new ballgame.

    1. I’m curious as to (a) what gives you the impression that they are “low church” (a term one seldom hears in reference to Catholics), and (b) that they have minimal ritual action — and what you would consider that to be.

      Looking at their website, I would suspect that they are a liturgically engaged parish, and given the arrangement of their worship space, that they have quite a bit of ritual action.

    2. This excerpt from their “history” page tells all we need to know about their orientation:

      “The 70’s began with a Vatican II renovation of the church and the founding of the Martin Luther King Ecumenical Center.”

      The photo of their worship space looks pretty low church to me.

      1. And your having a thing about “Vatican II renovation of the church and the founding of the Martin Luther King Ecumenical Center” tells us all we need to know about you, John Drake.

  15. I find wonderful that this Parish entered the national dialogue on this. Theology from Below, at its best, the principle of subsidiarity in action. This letter fills me with hope somehow. It would be wonderful if this started a trend — of discernment and dialogue.

    1. If the Church was not dysfunctionall, such discernment and dialogue would be normal.

      As it is, the letter will probably be resented.

      When counselors are called in to help dysfunctional groups, they probably begin by trying to defuse communication pathologies. The Catholic bishops have never had the humility to think that they might have a problem and might need such assistance.

  16. You’re welcome to visit, Earle. You’ll find a “liturgically engaged” parish with people of all educational and social backgrounds. Professional degrees abound, and so do food stamps, the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, the L’Arche community. On the block, a hot meal kitchen that operates 6 days a week, a food bank, a medical clinic. There’s a Catholic Worker House across the street. The parish is in a formerly troubled part of the city, but people from 65+ zip codes find it worth the time and energy to be a part of a parish where they are treated like adults.

    And lots of well done liturgy. We take our time with it and we pray well together. Come visit.

    1. And lots of idiotic self-destructive bishops and their flunkies will read this description and hiss: “Protestant!”

  17. Jeffrey Herbert :
    Incidentally, the formal closing of such a letter is “Kissing the Sacred Ring; (Your Name)”. Yes… I know, but it is what it is. Archbishops are powerful individuals and have expectations that might seem unreasonable to us. I’m just saying….


    The way you’ve capitalised certain words here (and not others) and elsewhere speaks volumes, and as if that weren’t enough, you’re trying to pass off the long-gone etiquette of another age onto us!

    I suppose this is the natural result when the Pope can invent “two forms of the one rite” – something hitherto unheard of (and that’s saying something, coming from a “hermeneutic of discontinuity” kinda guy such as himself) and tell us all that it’s not “living in the past” to celebrate a rite clearly reformed by an Ecumenical Council and abrogated in the 1960s.

    G Michael McGuire was never so right as when he wrote: As pleasant a memory as the 1950s may be for you, Jeffrey, this year’s paschal candle is marked 2011!

    1. What did I capitalize… Archbishop is a proper noun my friend, and the “Kissing the Sacred Ring”, when used, is used with the caps as indicated.

      And incidentally, I can’t possibly “remember” the 1950’s…

      1. Actually, archbishop is a common noun.

        You capitalised it when you wrote ‘negotiating an Archbishop’s office…’ Wrong.

        It is a proper noun only when naming a specific person or a specific office.

  18. As an expression of a perspective, the letter works. But, if seeks change other than by sharing a perspective (I can respect the thought that change starts by sharing perspectives; however, in my experience, American Catholics don’t typically share that thought but expect more change than merely starting change, as it were), it’s not a strong effort. A stronger effort involve more palpable evidence of engaging the perspective with which the bishop is likely to receive the letter. As written, the letter comes across as a missive from Right-Thinking People(TM) to a Less-Enlightened-But-Nominal Overlord; that kind of communication is usually doomed to be ineffective at best, counterproductive at worst.

    If the best Catholics can offer from the ground up is mirroring the condescension we experience from above, that’s not exactly the Dharasana Satyagraha, but more like the kind of passive-aggressive trench warfare that typically runs between managerial levels of a company. In the end, it’s more informed by secular habits of action than anything radically Christian.

    1. Most people would not dream of writing a letter to a bishop, because they have got the messsage that bishops do not want to be bothered.

      1. There’s only one thing that bishops will respond to. Stop contributing money. Set up an escrow account and directly pay the parish’s bills, if you’re concerned that it would put your pastor on the spot. But if you want serious attention, stopping the money the only thing that works.

    2. Karl;

      I’m multi-tasking and a bit distracted at the moment, so I’m not entirely sure that I’m agreeing with you here,
      but if I am understanding you correctly, yes I think I agree with you. And as I said in my original post before being denounced as some kind of hierarchal syncophant…
      it all depends on what you want this letter to accomplish. Our Bishop gets all kinds of letters… many supportive and many that are oppositional. You seem to have picked up on the same markers that I did when reading this letter…
      it is lecturing rather than convincing.

      I don’t know this Archbishop personally… but I would guess that he expects a certain level of respect, particularly from an official body such as a parish council. And yes…the parish council members may not consider the Pastor to be the head of the Parish Council, but the Archbishop certainly does.

      And then there is the issue of WHAT the letter concerns. They’re not inviting him to a luncheon or asking him to clarify a teaching of the Church…no, they’re asking him to grant their parish an exception to what has already been established by law… the implementation of the new translation.I’m not entirely sure that the Archbishop even has the authority to do so (I would think that he has no such authority), so at the very least, the letter should have begun with a quaeritur concerning whether such an exception is even possible.

  19. 1] From what I know of him during his years in Joliette, I seriously doubt that Archbishop Sartain would be impressed by “your excellency,” and “kissing the sacred ring”.

    2] Reading the letter in much the same way I read Roman documents, i.e. reading between the lines, I suspect that the absence of inclusive language is what probably upsets the parish the most.

    3] I don’t know why a parish council cannot send a letter to its bishop without the imprimatur of the pastor. Liturgiam authenticam was dropped on us without the Pope’s signature.

    4] I am amazed at how the Seattle province appears to have ended up three of the most moderate bishops in the U.S.: Sartain, Cupich, and Tyson.

    1. 3] I don’t know why a parish council cannot send a letter to its bishop without the imprimatur of the pastor.

      Because of Canon 536, which tells us that the pastor is the head of the pastoral council.

      Liturgiam authenticam was dropped on us without the Pope’s signature.

      That’s a highly misleading way of putting it.

      “After the preparation of this Instruction by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in virtue of the mandate of the Supreme Pontiff transmitted in a letter of the Cardinal Secretary of State dated 1 February 1997 (Prot. n. 408.304), the same Supreme Pontiff, in an audience granted to the Cardinal Secretary of State on 20 March 2001, approved this Instruction and confirmed it by his own authority, ordering that it be published, and that it enter into force on the 25th day of April of the same year.” (my emphasis)

    2. A well-know Irish bishop, now deceased, upon being asked by a lady after a confirmation, whether she could kiss his ring replied. Certainly, madam, I usually keep it in my back pocket.

  20. “If however, some of the conservative high church parishes start to send letters, then it’s a whole new ballgame.”

    The Archbishop is most likely going to look at the parish collection, diocesan assessment, etc. rather than its ideology. Money talks.

    This letter seems to be more an expression of the parish’s life, integrity and self understanding rather than a desire to have their way in the diocese or the universal church. They spend as much time describing their community and its processes as they do in expressing their views. They explicitly say their experience may not be that of others.

    Besides being aware of the grassroots nature of the Church, that every parish is in some ways unique, they also seem to be very aware of the horizontal dimension of the Church, that they are doing this as much to encourage discussion and sharing among parishes as to influence the bishop.

    Canon 212 affirms the right of Christ’s faithful not only to manifest their views to their Pastors but also to make their views known to one another.

    We Catholics need to have adult conversations among ourselves. This letter appears to be more an invitation to adult conversation about the Christian life rather than one of those perennial childish petitions asking someone else to do something to make our lives better.

    1. I agree very strongly with what Jack says here, and would like to affirm the final comment about adult conversation.

      Bishop Blaise Cupich recently told the press, with regard to the results of the John Jay study, that if we want our people to listen to us, we have to listen to them. A refreshing point of view, and if only it were more widely shared!

      I found the letter respectful, believable, and adequately detailed. Applying a hermeneutic of suspicion to what the letter said (as Brad Wilson did at the top of this thread: “I doubt very seriously that parishoners at St. Leo Church cared about the overall process”) isn’t so appropriate in this case, I think. We all know parishes that are, pardon the expression, parochial (don’t care about big issues, just our little turf), and that are, to use Jack’s term above, childish. But that’s not how this letter reads to me.

      This situation, in turn, raises the question: How does a parish become more capable of adult conversation? I’d suggest that it’s by having leadership that treats parishioners like responsible adults, and does not continually indulge childish behavior. That is a long-term project.

  21. Karl Liam Saur :
    O, yes, the silence has been deafening in a number of quarters formerly known as very noisy. Pacifiers have been supplied, it would seem.

    Someone should compile a list of the, er, groups who changed (or silenced) their tune.

  22. G. Michael McGuire :
    It’s got to be driving Adoremus/Helen crazy to know that the much-vaunted Vox Clara has morphed, under its English grammar and Latin-challenged Executive Secretary into Cretins Unlimited.

    Oh that’s unkind. I do believe you owe an apology to all Cretins.

  23. John Drake :
    enthusiastically looking forward

    Don’t you mean “looking forward enthusiastically” (as in “constrain them mercifully” – just one of the howlers in the book you’re cheerleading for!)?

      1. Coming soon to an altar near you, Karl, with John Drake and a whole bunch of his fellow-nasties cheering it on!

    1. I’m sure the Pell-Moroney-Ward Missal cheerleaders on this blog, like their colleagues on other blogs and websites, will acknowledge the multiple mistranslations and grammatical errors as the Cavalcade of Howlers is rolled out. As their Grammatical Guru himself said at that workshop: “When you have 7,000 people working on a project this big, there are bound to be some mistakes!”

      1. It makes me feel sorry for the people in the liturgical office of on local jurisdiction who are currently working on a redaction of the new English Missal. The Philippines is adopting it a year behind everyone else; the texts will be circulated for study in January 2012 for implementation in Advent–if I heard it correctly.

  24. On the ‘for all’ vs. the ‘for many’ controversy, I am surprised that no one has noted that the ‘original text’ in the Sacramentary said ‘for all men’ and that this was changed under ‘feminist influence’ — leaving out the word ‘men’ and opening up the meaning. The question looking only at the text itself is: ‘for all what’? For example, does this include ‘all creation’ or only humans? I do think the French got the nuance right “pour la multitude” — why was this not used in English too — “for the multitude”?

    1. Then “for many” what?

      Maybe they’ll publish something like: “Blessed Bloopers: Gaffes So Ghastly They Got Cut”

      e.g. “bending slightly”, “ever-living life” > that last one provides circumstantial evidence, at least, of laziness. Apparently, when it was decided to replace “everlasting” with “ever-living,” one of the 7,000 experts did a “universal search and replace” on the computer, resulting in “ever-living life.”

    2. Should have been “for the many”. Multitude is too big a word, sorta like consubstantial and incarnate.

      1. Fascinatingly, John Drake, your “for the many” argument is not with anyone on this blog, but with the Pope himself.

        Cardinal Arinze, when the entire English-speaking episcopate had voted to keep “for all” went to the Pope and asked him how “pro multis” should be translated into English, and the Pope said “for many.”

        Roma locuta est; causa finita.

        Your trouble with big words is noted.

  25. Ah, the “for men” thing. This is another area where my hunch is that the new translations violate LA norms for literal accuracy. Latin distinguishes between homo, hominis(?) and vir, viri — “men” in the generic sense, a la anthropos in Greek, and men as in male. Indirectly, this *might* be seen as merely a feminist agenda; but it is a legitimate exercise at the level of literal Latin; surely, if Christ died “propter nos homines,” one can translate the Latin more literally by making sure that the English accurately renders which “for us” more clearly; in this case, for us humans. Or, as so many have done, render it simply as “for us”; or more poetically, “for us and for all the world”. “For us men” is not as literally accurate as it could be.

  26. I have visited this parish a number of times. The welcome I received was warm and genuine. I would describe the worship style as low-church with a very protestant feel. Much of the service including the Eucharistic Prayer did not correspond to any text approved by the Catholic Church. I don’t see why the New Missal should present such a problem since they seem to use the current Sacramentary very loosely.

    1. Much of the service including the Eucharistic Prayer did not correspond to any text approved by the Catholic Church.

      This sort of comment is often met with. On closer enquiry, it normally turns out that the author is actually not familiar with the texts of all the Eucharistic Prayers currently authorized for use (13, if you count VNO with its four sets of options as four different prayers, and 14 in the UK where there is also an EP for Masses with the Deaf), and assumed that the presider was either making it up as he went along or using an unauthorized text. In fact he wasn’t.

      1. It’s often *very* easy to tell when people have confected a prayer that is not one of the authorized prayers. The language (at least in the USA) often has all the elegance of the spawn of an unholy marriage between a Hallmark greeting and a corporate mission statement, a toggling between discount sentiment and committee-speak.

      2. Karl’s right – a lot of times the people composing new prayers aren’t especially good at it. The best originally-composed EP I’ve heard is the one that went:

        “We come to you Lord to make you happy, because when you are not happy, (awkward pause) *we* are not happy (awkward pause). On the night He was betrayed…”

        I honestly don’t know if the above is part of an official EP, but I hope not.

  27. @ Paul Inwood: I actually spoke with the chair of the parish liturgy team. She informed me that the prayers used on may occasions there were freely composed by members of the liturgy team. This was about five years ago. I am not sure what materials they currently use.

  28. It would certainly seem odd for this parish to go through “a parish wide process of shared prayer, discussion, reflection and discernment” if they just make up their liturgies! Why have the pastor and staff give them background, take time to actually experience some of the prayers, and express concerns about how the New Missal relates to their present worship?

    This parish has taken the New Missal far more seriously at the parish level than most parishes have. For most of the parishes with which I am familiar the New Missal is barely on the radar screen, a few mentions in bulletins There has been little parish level instruction, discussion and reflection. I will be very surprised if there is much more at the parish level between now and the First Sunday of Advent. I expect mainly more bulletin materials, and mentions before or during Mass. I doubt if there will be many adult discussions of the changes.

    Even more surprising is the role of this pastoral council. Having served on one for four years recently, they seem to be much like the boards of nonprofit organizations which meet monthly and listen to what the staff tell them is going on. My interest is voluntarism, so pastoral council was a great place to get an overview of parish organizations and go to many meetings, listen and observe without doing much work. It was difficult to recruit people for the parish council. There were four applicants for four positions; it was not difficult to discern that the Holy Spirit knew how to do math. I cannot image our council writing the bishop about anything. I cannot imagine the council discussing the New Missal in private, let alone in public.

    Are there any parish councils out there who have discussed the New Missal? Asked for parish member input? Do any plan to discuss the New Missal before its implementation? Do any plan to conduct the equivalent of a public hearing to let parish members express their opinions?

  29. The language they complain is “cumbersome” ? That word should be up there with the other complicated ones like consubstantial, ineffable, and incarnate. Odd for people who choose to complain about language to choose that word to describe it. I think the ordinary person who can’t get all these words would just choose to say “hard”.

    1. No. “Cumbersome” is much more accurate and descriptive for their intended point. And besides, the biggest problem with the coming translation isn’t vocabulary, but screwed up syntax and wrong word order. The parishioners, in contrast, write in normal English with normal sentences. They chose the right word.

      BTW, did you mean to write, “They complain that the language is ‘cumbersome’ ?” Curious about your odd word order.


      1. Just as incarnate etc. is more accurate for the intended points. Would it have been more clear if I wrote “The language, they complain, is cumbersome? Is there something gramatically wrong with this sentence in response to the article? Or is it just a bit different way of arranging the words, though in perfect sense? My point was that “cumbersome” being a bit of an elevated word, if used and understood by parishoners, is not so far of a stretch from some of the other words that have been chosen for the new translation that are under such scrutiny and have been said to be unintelligible. I was not referring to the syntax in this post. Most of the controversy began with the attack on vocabulary, Bishop Trautman a leader, and has now, more recently moved on to the syntax. It sounds like the laities concerns were re-written to better express in a more formal tone their concerns. Looks like some of the same methods used for re-translating the new Edition of the Roman Missal. You state “parishoners, in contrast, write in normal English”. That is your assumption and if correct they would say hard, difficult, NOT cumbersome.

      2. I do not believe for one moment “cumbersome” is anything near elevated language.

  30. Mitch Powers said: >>You state “parishoners, in contrast, write in normal English”. That is your assumption and if correct they would say hard, difficult, NOT cumbersome.<<

    How little you know us, Mr. Powers. "Cumbersome" is a word that came up again and again in public gatherings and in the letter-writing. It's a fairly common word and definitely fit the circumstances.

  31. Many priests and bishops are fully capable of composing prayers that express the faith of the church. We do it all the time on numerous occasions. The proscription against “anyone–even a priest–changing anything in the official prayers of the church” seems to presume that there is a clear and present danger that in doing so the “faith of the church” would or might be compromised. It also presumes a centuries long practice by which priests had no other choice but to read the words in the missal, and to do so as accurately as possible. No one was composing prayers in Latin on the fly. This is how the expression “say Mass” originated.

    With Mass (and other sacramental rites) in English, it is quite easy to improve upon poorly or inadequately worded text. There are also places, even in the EP, where an added word or phrase in no way alters the faith of the church but clarifies or enhances it. Example: Lord, remember your Church, the priestly people you gather here at St. ****** and throughout the world.
    Or how about a simple interpolation such as “together with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict” as opposed to Benedict, our Pope.

    Especially on feasts of Martyrs, is there really something wrong with adding the words, “the martyrs” (or the name of the particular martyr) between “with the apostles and all the saints?

    Come the First Sunday of Advent there will be a large number of priests who, without the motive of disobedience, will add (or omit) a word or phrase if it is perceived as helping the assembly to receive the prayer with greater faith (rather than furrowed brows). Or do you suppose the Elders will try to revive the notion that any such changes will incur a mortal sin that could lead to eternal damnation. I can hear St. Peter now: “Sorry, but you kept saying ‘for all’ after it was changed to ‘for many’.

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