Association of Catholic Priests met June 2

The Association of Catholic Priests [Ireland] met to discuss the New Missal On Thursday, June 2nd in Portlaoise.

Brendan Hoban presented a paper in which he said, “We have to be realistic, I think, in our response. Everyone expects that the texts will be introduced; and everyone, I suspect, realises that there are going to be significant problems in introducing them.”

The purpose of the meeting was to seek further direction from our members, wh0 in January had requested us to meet with the bishops with a view to having the implementation of the New Missal postponed for five years.

We reported that while the meeting with the bishops had taken place, we were disappointed with the level of their engagement with us.

There was unanimity about the inadequacy of the texts, and about the way they have been developed and imposed.

A recommendation was unanimously accepted that priests and people avoid using the sexist language that pervades the New Missal

The ACP is requesting time and space for priests who have conscientious or pastoral objections to the use of some of the new texts. 

The ACP is baffled that while generous provision  has been made for the Latin Mass, no provision is being made to accommodate the far greater number of people who will have difficulty for different reasons with the New Missal.  Such derogations by a bishop’s conference are possible under the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, No.6:  “Each conference of bishops may establish additional norms for its territory to suit the traditions and character of the people, the regions and the various communities”.

It is noteworthy that the meeting was also attended by representatives of various lay groups and religious.

Source: ACP


  1. Am I missing something?

    I am against sexist language, also.
    The New Missal translation (what I have seen) seems considerably less sexist than the old one.

    We still have “was made man” and “for us men” in the Creed, but those are not new. And the more objectionable of the two (“us men”) is regularly omitted without comment in congregations that are concerned about that sort of thing.

    Beyond that….
    New ICEL gives “Brothers and Sisters” as an option to “Brethren,” and about 11,254 non-Latin based instances of “Father” in the Collects and Prefaces have been corrected to various (actually translated) things like “Almighty and Everliving God.”

    There are certainly problems with the new Missal translations, but is sexism really one of them? Particularly by comparison?

    1. Read Eucharistic Prayer IV for one example of this. Does it exist in the current translation? Yes. Did it have to appear in the new translation? No.

    2. “Am I missing something?”

      I suspect the reference to “return” to exclusive language in the paper refers to the choice to turn away from the embrace of less exclusive usage in the 1998 translation.

      As things stand as a descriptive matter, inclusive and exclusive usages coexist in English usage, in varying degrees depending on context – it’s not settled yet, but still being worked out. I think those of us who have embraced more inclusive usage for years have to realize that, if we were to have a new translation reflect where English usage currently is (rather than where we would prefer it to be), it would be a mishmash, nothing thoroughgoing, at least in this regard. Actually, I am OK with that, but I suspect many people who have a more ideological approach or who are prescriptivist style control freaks (I’ve been an editor in my time, and I know my kind*) would not welcome a mishmashed approach to style…

      * I welcome the advent of editors who understand how recent some of the “rules” of English grammar are, and that those “rules” aren’t as settled as some prescriptivists would prefer. Like certain rules concerning agreement, rules that are less than 200 years old. Those rules are already dying a quicker death than some forms of exclusive usage. Repeat before me: “Everyone…their”; “Anyone…their”. These forms of usage were part of the mishmash of English in the past, and they are reviving. It doesn’t matter that you were taught something else and are proud of your command of those rules; you don’t owe it your dead teachers to defend the less necessary rules to the last breath. English has never pretended to have as logical a grammar as other languages, and is the richer for that lack of pretense. (So long as we strive for beautiful, resonant, euphonious usage, please….)

      1. Are you saying that we’re stuck for a while with doing inclusive language by halves? I guess I’m a purist-prescriptivist since I do not agree. I teach students 1) to make their pronouns agree in number and 2) when possible, to avoid pronoun problems, which are many in the English language, especially given its over-dependence on possessive pronouns. Articles and non-gendered demonstrative and relative pronouns can often substitute for gendered possessive pronouns. What’s wrong with the correctly agreeing form “Everyone . . . his or her. . . .”? “His or her” is not much clutter. After the “or” set, subsequent pronouns agree with the last one used: “Everyone . . . his or her . . . so that she….” Or if you’d rather follow with a masculine pronoun, then use “her or his” as your first set: “Everyone will have her or his new missal by Advent so that he can fully participate” or more simply, “Everyone will have a new missal by Advent so that we can all can fully participate.” This shift of number from singular “everyone” to plural “we” is not confusing whereas “everyone” … “their” can be confusing. As for your criticisms of the English language, I share them, and could add several more!

      2. Mary

        One of the joys of the English vernacular is that there is no English version of the French or Spanish Academies to act as gatekeeper decreeing when a shift in language has been completed and accepted. It’s very messy in English. (I happen to think that’s a wonderful thing; it’s a feature, not a bug.)

        Translations of liturgical texts to English vernacular will necessarily lag shifts in usage by many years, even a generation or two, because only then will one have a sense for what has settled (for now, in the sense something longer than a single generation).

        You and I may prefer to think inclusive usage has become dominant in all relevant spheres of usage, but it hasn’t in fact; it’s just coexisting with the older usage, and not evenly and everywhere. I encounter it reguarly not only in conversational speech (not just with peers but strangers) and in media (and even places like NPR – when you have unscripted conversation, it just pops up because, well, it’s not quite as unnatural as some would prefer to be).

        And I don’t think we can use the translation process to nudge this along, because we don’t in fact know where it will finally settle.

        Understand that I’ve served years in the trenches in the past on behalf of inclusive usage. I’ve just stepped back to get something of a metaview of where the activity currently is and is not.

        But, to answer your question bluntly: this will either come in small fits and starts and gradually, or we will wait a few decades to see where it settles out. But I don’t see us decreeing in advance where it will ultimately settle out. (That’s too French, not very English.)

      3. And, as for “his or her” vs “their”:

        “his or her” is a logical construction, but the other usage has its own pedigree, and I think conversational English is moving, and fast, to embrace it. You can teach your students what you will, but you may be playing King Canute on this point. I would definitely not treat it as a major grammar offense. This is of a piece with a bunch of grammatical rules that only came into being when (1) English lexicography became more systematic and prescriptive, and (2) literacy became nearly universal. In other words, for the last 100-200 years at best.

      4. Perhaps tracking the changes in English language may not be so subjective and not take so long as it once did.

        Ben Witherington describes this process for the NIV 2011

        The committee initiated a relationship with Collins Dictionaries to use the Collins Bank of English, one of the world’s foremost English language research tools, to conduct a major new study of changes in gender language. The Bank of English is a database of more than 4.4 billion words drawn from text publications and spoken word recordings from all over the world.

        Working with some of the world’s leading experts in computational linguistics and using cutting-edge techniques developed specifically for this project, the committee gained an authoritative, and hitherto unavailable, perspective on the contemporary use of gender language — including terms for the human race and subgroups of the human race, pronoun selections following various words and phrases, the use of “man” as a singular generic and the use of “father(s)” and “forefather(s)” as compared to ancestor(s). The project tracked usage and acceptability for each word and phrase over a twenty-year period and also analyzed similarities and differences across different forms of English: for example, UK English, US English, written English, spoken English, and even the English used in a wide variety of evangelical books, sermons and internet sites.”

        His article describes the major findings, and I guess we will all have to try the NIV 2011 to see how we think it worked out.

        When we adopt digital Missals, we could update our inclusive language as often as we are willing to pay for access to the database.

      5. Jack

        Thanks for that illustration of engaging the issues in a disciplined way. It’s not the only way it could be done, but it’s a helpful example of the many issues involved. I believe proponents of inclusive language need to be thinking issues through in more rigorous methods like that. The hardest parts is coming up with a process to determine when shifts in usage should be reflected in the language, and what the process is to determine that process! Everyone wants to get pontifical in their own way (usage pun intended), but avoid the nitty-gritty.

      6. Karl,

        I am not prescriptivist about usage, only about clarity, i.e., using pronouns that agree with their antecedents and verbs that agree, etc., in order to avoid confusing one’s readers. And if clarity is the force driving change in usage as well, then we have no need to “use the translation process to nudge [adoption of inclusive words] along.” As I’ve suggested before, if man is a gender-neutral noun, then most men are women. Composition students chuckle at the reductio ad absurdum and begin to understand why such use of man is unclear. (“All men are mortal; Cleopatra is a man; therefore, Cleopatra is mortal”–at best ambiguous, at least silly-sounding, isn’t it?) So we do not need to prescribe usage per se, only clear expression.

        I recognize why we cannot, by committee fiat, change an essentially communal activity, as l’Académie Française tries to do with the French language and Vox Clara thinks it has done with the liturgy. But we can insist that translators avoid ambiguity and confusion. Following “everyone” with “their” is often confusing in written English.

        The linguists who claim that English is a dying language are probably right, and two increasingly common reasons for its demise, I believe, are the unclear shift from singular to plural pronoun and replacing gendered third-person singular pronouns with plurals. Today, writers use plural pronouns to avoid perceived problems of agreement in gender. But the gendered singular pronouns are not really problematic as I suggested earlier (June 3, 2:07), and the substitution of plural third-person pronouns is problematic. It tends to depersonalize the writing by replacing the mental image of a person with that of a crowd. Translators have alternatives. Now I must apologize for going to such length on this dry academic matter of English language pronouns! Pronouns–ugh!

      7. Mary

        But it seems you acknowledge the shift in usage that has already occurred (but I grant you that the usages co-exist, so I wouldn’t treat the usage following the rule of logical agreement as yet archaic). I believe few* are confused by the meaning of “everyone” or “none” when they are tied to verbs in the plural. Which means it’s a great example of a rule that is not terribly necessary for clarity; following it only is a shibboleth of being learned in language, rather than of true clarity of communication. It’s a latecomer as language rules go, so we shouldn’t be surprised that it’s being cast aside. I don’t think it’s talismanic of the death of English, but of its continued vibrancy.

        * This conversation would, of course, be unintelligible to Vox Clara’s staff, it seems.

  2. I don’t think comparisons with past versions are relevant to this question since it’s the sexism of the past that Christianity needs to move away from (and most of the English-speaking world already has moved on). I remember reading somewhere “He doeth not his work by halves.” A relevant comparison: I have not found sexist language in the current ECUSA Book of Common Prayer (1990). I’m glad to hear that the ACP recommends that priests and people use inclusive language outside of the liturgy.

    Also, I find an interesting trade-off in the example Sean Whelan mentions, Eucharistic Prayer IV. The present translation has “to fill your creatures with every blessing and lead all men to the joyful vision of your light,” and the new translation has “so that you might fill your creatures with blessings and bring joy to many of them by the glory of your light.” I’d like to know what the Latin for this passage is.

    1. The relevant Latin part reads as follows: “…ut creaturas tuas benedictionibus adimpleres multasque laetificares tui luminis claritate.” “Many of them” rather than “all men” seems, to me, a better rendering of “multasque”.

      (Oh no! It’s that many/all debate again…!)

    2. The Latin word is “multasque,” FEMININE. Only a Moron(ey) could take a FEMININE word and twist it to get “all men.” Disgusting. No wonder so many more women and men leave the hierarchical church every day.

      1. You seem to be mixed up in your rush to criticise–“all men” is the current translation, “many of them” is the upcoming, new translation. That’s precisely the point here: what will soon be the old translation is more “sexist” than the upcoming one!

      2. Is multasque used because of “creaturas,” which although a feminine _word_ can refer to _people_ of both genders? If that’s the case, then the complaint (full disclosure – I don’t have a complaint) would be with rendering “creaturas” as men, not multasque. I’m not particularly concerned with the “all men” translation, but in any case “creaturas” seems to be at issue, not “multasque.”

      3. These pathetic defenses of the indefensible new translation grow ever more desperate, don’t they? 🙂

        I guess it is not surprise that fruitcakes like Cardinalette Burke and Matthew Hazell are falling over each other to promote this travesty. They can see the trappings of the institutional hierarchy collapsing around them.

      4. “Fruitcake”? Excuse me? Ad hominem much? Offensive much? Would you arbitrarily call me derogatory names in real life as well?

        And I’m not mounting a defence here, merely making one small comparison between the old and new in EP IV. If, in your view, that makes me a “fruitcake”, then I think that says more about you than it does me.

  3. “A recommendation was unanimously accepted that priests and people avoid using the sexist language that pervades the New Missal”

    I’m bemused… what, exactly, are they going to do then? Use the current, just-as-sexist translation? Use the Latin? Use the ACP translation?

    “The ACP is requesting time and space for priests who have conscientious or pastoral objections to the use of some of the new texts.”

    And where are those same “pastoral” objections to the continued use of the current translation, which suffers from the same “significant problems” they see in the new translation? Or is “sexism” suddenly okay when it’s in a text everyone is familiar with?

    Perhaps I’m being too harsh, but I don’t get what it is it they are asking for. Time and space? For what?

    The ACP would do far better to expend their energies in both implementing and critiquing the new translation. Their current strategy of standing on the sidelines whinging and crying “We don’t wanna!” helps absolutely no-one.

    1. The problem of exclusive language in the current translation is solved in Ireland, in my experience, in practice. This has been the case for many years. I haven’t heard anyone saying ‘for us men,’ in the creed in the last 10 years. Those who preside at the mass change the text to remove the offending word or phrase. I suspect this will continue. Problem solved.

      I suspect by ‘time and space’ they mean, they wish to delay using the new translation, on an individual basis. This, I also suspect, will happen. In a parish where a priest has a conscientious objection to the new translation, they are signalling that they expect that he will continue to use the current translation.

      What gives you the right to tell the ACP what they should or should not do? Your emotive and denigratory language is inappropriate for this topic. The response of the ACPI is perfectly legitimate and is anything but what you describe it as.

      They have every right to express their views. The fact that those views may or may not coincide with yours is irrelevant.

      1. “In a parish where a priest has a conscientious objection to the new translation, they are signalling that they expect that he will continue to use the current translation.”

        And the faithful in that hypothetical parish, what are their rights in all this, exactly? Why should they be denied access in their parish to the new translation merely because an individual priest has “issues”? Isn’t this a manifestation of the very clericalism the ACP professes to disdain?

        “What gives you the right to tell the ACP what they should or should not do? […] The response of the ACPI is perfectly legitimate and is anything but what you describe it as.”

        I’m not telling anyone what to do, merely stating what I think the ACP would be better off doing, i.e. stating my opinion.

        And the response of the ACP may very well be legitimate. But the “I’m not going to do what the Church asks of me” attitude is, in my opinion, more than a little childish. I mean, what are the ACP actually doing that is constructive? Not a lot, it seems to me. We’ve spoken to the bishops, and we’re very disappointed with them… we’re not going to use these imposed texts (imposed! the horror!)… no provision is being made for us, unlike those people… Well, what’s their alternative? They don’t have one–delaying for five years is not an alternative; what would be the goal of such a delay, aside from the delay itself?

        I don’t understand why they can’t work to implement the new translation as the Church is asking them, as priests, to do, yet at the same time retain a critical distance from it. Both/and is possible here. This is where the new translation is good, this is where it is not so good, these are the issues we may need to work towards solving in the next translation in 30-40 years time.

        A little more visible humility and openness–coupled with a more constructive attitude–from the ACP wouldn’t hurt. That’s my opinion, anyway.

      2. “Those who preside at the mass change the text to remove the offending word or phrase. I suspect this will continue. Problem solved.”

        Or, different problem created (RS 59).

      3. No problem there at all.

        The solution is thousands of years old.

        Its called kethibh and qere.

      4. Do you think Jesus was tied to a text at the Last Supper?

        For centuries, the anaphora was recited ex tempore.

      5. Given my extended experience at witnessing priests improvise anaphorae, I can see the wisdom in how the Church developed away from that practice….

        There are lots of things that were done in the early Church that we developed away from. Like not forgiving sins committed after baptism. Like the kind of penances we imposed once we started forgiving those sins. I suspect most of my fellow liturgical progressives would blanche at what we’d witness if we were transported back to those times.

      6. “For centuries, the anaphora was recited ex tempore.”

        And your point is…?

        The development of the liturgy means that, now, it isn’t. We have texts, which the Church requires us to stick to. I don’t think you can just ignore Redemptionis Sacramentum out of a misguided archaeologism.

        Qere and Ketib are somewhat different phenomenon; I’m not sure you can make many meaningful comparisons between something that is basically early textual criticism and changing the Creed out of “sexist” concerns.

      7. Kethibh and qere is practised on a daily basis in the reading of the scriptures.

        It has nothing to do with textual criticism.

        The most common expression of its use, is the avoidance of pronouncing the Divine Name.

        I expect there will be multiple reasons, grammatical, idiomatic, gender-inclusive, euphonic, syntatical, semantic and pragmatic, when the new missal is imposed, to use it on a daily basis.

        I would have thought my point about the anaphora is self-evident. At one time we didn’t have texts. At another we did, to avoid incongruities of belief. Up to the Council of Trent, the educational requirement of a candidate for ordination was that he be able to read. Today when priests are highly educated, that is unnecessary. The need no longer exists. Ergo.

      8. “It has nothing to do with textual criticism.”

        Well, considering a lot of it is the Masoretes’ prioritisation of manuscript and textual traditions they considered more accurate, a lot of Qere/Ketib has everything to do with textual criticism.

        Even so, I don’t see what Qere/Ketib has to do with changing the Creed because of concerns about “sexism”.

        “At one time we didn’t have texts. At another we did, to avoid incongruities of belief. Up to the Council of Trent, the educational requirement of a candidate for ordination was that he be able to read. Today when priests are highly educated, that is unnecessary. The need no longer exists.”

        How do high education levels logically imply that we no longer need set liturgical texts? I don’t understand, or see why your point is “self-evident”. (Indeed, I’m not sure what your point is, other than an observation of an historical fact.)

        In any case, why would we go back to an ex tempore anaphora? You haven’t dealt with the liturgical archaeologism implicit in your position: older isn’t better or preferable merely because it is older.

    2. Matthew:

      You wrote: “The ACP would do far better to expend their energies in both implementing and critiquing the new translation.”

      Why would anyone who is an ordained and functioning priest take the risk of critiquing the new translation? Priest-Scholars Canon Alan Griffiths and Father Anthony Ruff merely raised questions about Vox Clara’s Pell-Moroney-Ward Missal (as distinct from the new translation prepared by ICEL and approved by the world’s English-speaking bishops’ conferences), Canon Griffiths about the Vox Clara Missal’s violations of LA and RT and the many grammatical errors, Father Ruff about the butchering of the Prefaces he had already set to chant – and both were summarily dismissed from their work by order of CDW.

      In a Church governed by the charity of Christ, one can indeed offer professional and respectful critique; but this Missal business is in the hands of a Regime at present. Messengers in such settings are not thanked for delivering their messages, no matter how accurate the message or how respectful the messenger.

      1. But the ACP are not in the same position that Frs Ruff and Griffiths were in. Those involved in the process of translation perhaps have less freedom that the rest of us to critique it. Maybe that’s not particularly fair, but then again, neither is life.

        Is critique a “risk” for certain people? Well, yes, in earthly terms–but, in the right spirit and attitude, I think it is also an opportunity to receive graces from God.

        However, the act of criticism is not the main issue here, as far as I see it. It is the attitude behind the criticism that is the key thing. Staying on topic, there is nothing constructive about the ACP’s criticism that I can discern, and seemingly very little willingness on the part of its priests to do what the Church asks of them and implement the new translation. Of course there are problems with the translation: there are inevitably problems with any translation of anything. That’s just how translation is.

        I am looking forward to the new translation. I genuinely consider it to be better than what we have now, and I’m not saying that because I’m a traditionalist, or conservative, or whatever other names/categories might attach themselves to me. I think it’s demonstrably better than what we currently use. But, I’m smart enough to realise that (a) it’s not perfect, (b) that the 2010 Vox Clara changes are, for the most part, not great, and (c) the 2008 pre-VC version wasn’t perfect either.

        So, I suppose to a degree I’m on the “opposing” side to the ACP on this. Only to a degree, though. I’ll still critique where the new translation fails/falls flat, even though I will enthusiastically help my priest successfully implement it in the parish. Of course, the ACP are less enthusiastic than I am about it, but they would look less childish and stubborn if they implemented and criticised at the same time.

      2. The phenomenon of Kethibh and Qere is about the transmission of a written text into an oral medium. To say that is has ‘everything to do with textual criticism,’ is about as useful as to say that the alphabet has everything to do with propaganda, because propagandists use it.

        Here’s the connection with sexist language. When, for some reason, (grammatical, euphemistic, circumlocutory etc.) the reader judged that the scriptural text was offensive, and that s/he could provide a better alternative, then that’s exactly what happened. This practice far predates the Masoretic canonisation of the text. The parallels with language in the new translation, which is offensive for sexist reasons, is self-evident. And sexism is only one of the offending domains.

        I suspect you are deliberately misreading what I said about the practice of extemporising. My position is not that we do not need liturgical texts. Of course we do. My position is against the fixation with the written text, which you appear to be recommending. Presiders at the eucharist, and at other sacraments, are sufficiently well educated to be trusted with performing the function and, where they deem appropriate, to be flexible as they transmit the text from a written medium to an oral one. The control freaks, who want to control every syllable, of course, will not be pleased.

        Most –isms, and cognate –ists, are derogatory attempts to label one’s opponents. There are some few exceptions. (I’m not sure whether Catholicism is one.) For example if I labelled your grasp of ‘Kethibh and Qere’ as a wikipediism, I wouldn’t be saying much, except scoring a cheap shot in your direction. I don’t believe that older is better. However, as the ongoing quest for the historical Jesus shows, not all developments are positive. It is necessary to judge accretions on a case by case basis. I judge this new translation as one major, unadulterated accretion

  4. Here’s a great solution to the pronoun problem from the New American Bible, Romans 14:7

    “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.”

    As found in the 1998 edition of the Lectionary, as prepared under the expert supervision of ….. guess who?:-)

      1. Rather than “rotund”, I would have eschewed adjectives altogether and gone with a noun: blivit. But I do not here use blivit in its modern, too-diffused meaning, as used in street slang (as in any online Urban dictionary), but in its classic WW II military use, for thus did I learn of the word from my late father who served in that War. Thanks to him, I know a blivit when I see one. And we’re talking blivit here!

    1. C. Michael,
      I’m not sure whether you are being humorous or making a real suggestion, but I’ll bite! Perhaps whatever changes in usage eventually “settle out,” to use Karl Liam Saur’s phrase, will be those that seem least awkward to most people. I’m uncomfortable with “oneself” after “None.” I’d rather say “None of us lives for self, nor does any die for self” or “nor do any die for themselves.” I have no problem with some words, such as “whoever” and “any,” functioning as both plural and singular antecedents. But “none” = no ONE and thus is decidedly singular, like “he” and “she.” I enjoyed your blithering about blivit!

      1. Hello Mary: Yes, I was just kidding . . . your solution is good; the NAB text is hopeless. The revisers were trying to solve their earlier translation’s “problem”: “No one lives as his own master, and no one dies as his own master . . . ” which despite the “sexism” sounds better to me!

        This 1998 Lectionary, again prepared under the supervision of someone whose name comes up quite frequently with regard to Vox Clara, gives us this gem in the Pentecost Sequence:

        Light immortal, light divine,
        Shine within these hearts of yours.

        Well, THAT took care of THINE, didn’t it?!

        The same hand (apparently) changed the opening line of verse 1, which originally read:

        Come, thou Holy Spirit, come


        Come, Holy Spirit, come.

        Even an “O” would have preserved the rhythm!

        Same problem in the second verse:

        Original: Come, thou Father of the poor,
        Come, thou Source of all our store.

        The reviser simply eliminated the “thou,” tone-deaf to any rhythm.

        Thus, I wasn’t surprised to find dangling participles, misplaced antecedents, phrases and words hopelessly transposed and interspersed where they do not belong:

        “might, to the praise of your manifold wisdom, be revealed as your Church” (Preface VIII Ordinary Time)

        “constrain them mercifully” (Saturday, Fourth Week of Lent)

        and the God-awful mess of the Postcommunion for Advent I:

        May these mysteries, O Lord,
        in which we have participated,
        profit us, we pray,
        for even now, as we walk amid passing things,
        you teach us by them to love the things of heaven
        and hold fast to what endures.
        Through Christ our Lord.

        The antecedent to “them” in the third line from the end is “these mysteries,” but you’d think it’s “passing things” – the closest noun to it.

        7,000 “scholars of the English language” – and that’s what they came up with. If the Monsignor is to be believed . . .

    2. Why should it be the case that those involved in translation have less freedom to critique it, than the rest of us? If anything, their criticism will be more pertinent. To critique is to perform a valuable function. To argue that this important function may not be engaged in by translators themselves is nonsense. You make it appear as if to critique were an act of disloyalty. If that is really what you think, it explains much of what you write here.

      You concede that not allowing translators the same freedom as the rest of us is unfair. And you pass of an injustice with the blithe ‘Life’s not fair. Let’s move on, so long as the injustice is not against me.’

      The syntax of your second paragraph is muddled. It’s not clear what the antecedent of ‘it,’ is. If you are implying, that to have one’s work subjected to peer criticism is an opportunity for grace, as an instance of ‘blessed are you when people persecute you and utter all kinds of calumnies against you,’ then you are spiritualising, and in an unhealthy way, what is a routine and necessary practice in academic circles.

      You are judging the motives of the ACPI. They are adopting a very constructive position. Their members are unhappy with this travesty of a translation. They are communicating that in a professional, pastoral and positive manner.

      When you use the phrase ‘the Church is asking them to implement it,’ you beg the question: who is the church? The members of ACPI, are as much the church as the administrative wing of a Vatican government department, which has in the process, usurped the function which was given to bishops’ conferences by a General Council of the church, by means of its highest and most authoritative medium, a Sacred Constitution. There is every reason to believe that the Instruction Liturgiam authenticam is in fact uncanonical, in this regard.


      1. To characterise the role of clergy as ‘to do what the Church asks of them,’ is to promote a passive, military-style obedience, which has no place in the Christian life. To use one’s God-given talents to critique what needs to be critiqued is a far better proposition.

        This isn’t the first time you have used an ad hominem attack on the ACPI. The irony and inconsistency is that you objected to someone else’s using that in your direction very recently. It would be churlish of someone to respond in your own terms, ‘Life’s like that.’ but I shall resist the temptation.

      2. “You concede that not allowing translators the same freedom as the rest of us is unfair. And you pass of an injustice with the blithe ‘Life’s not fair. Let’s move on, so long as the injustice is not against me.’”

        Not at all.

        What I said was that the people involved in the process of translation perhaps don’t have as much freedom as those of us totally outside the process to critique it. I never said that this was acceptable or right, merely unfair. And we all have to deal with (and, to a certain degree, accept) the fact that, sometimes, life is unfair.

        “You make it appear as if to critique were an act of disloyalty. If that is really what you think, it explains much of what you write here.”

        Done in the wrong spirit, i.e. outside of charity, yes, I think it is an act of disloyalty. Hence my insistence that the act of criticism–in whatever context!–needs to have the right spirit and attitude behind it.

        “You are judging the motives of the ACPI. They are adopting a very constructive position. Their members are unhappy with this travesty of a translation. They are communicating that in a professional, pastoral and positive manner.”

        Forgive me, but I don’t see how it is at all constructive to sit around and say “We don’t like this, we want some time and space”, without any indication of what that “time” and “space” would be used for. Yes, they may be communicating their unhappiness, but not a lot else. What is the ACP’s realistic alternative to implementation? Not implementing? Sorry, that’s not going to happen. At this stage, for better or worse, it is a done deal; the translation is coming. Are the ACP going to do what their bishops and the Church requires of them? In what they’re saying, there’s no indication that they are. That, for me, is the root problem here.

      3. “To characterise the role of clergy as ‘to do what the Church asks of them,’ is to promote a passive, military-style obedience, which has no place in the Christian life.”

        I’m not promoting a passive obedience. If you think I am, you haven’t really understood what I have said in its context of both/and.

        In any case, in the Christian life we are all required to obey. It’s not a popular idea these days, but Jesus and Paul certainly had a lot to say about obedience.

        “This isn’t the first time you have used an ad hominem attack on the ACPI.”

        No ad hominem here. I’m not calling them names, not saying that because they believe X then they are wrong about Y, etc. I’m just pointing out what I see missing from their statements.

      4. Obedience is not the issue. These priests know their people, and know how pastorally disastrous the new liturgy will be. Lay voices have already been raised saying they will be unable to attend Mass if the new translations are implemented. It seems that rejection of the new translations is going to be more violent than anyone foresaw. Soon the defenders will be telling the laity, not the clergy, to like it or lump it.

  5. Gender language is not my biggest concern here, but out of a concern for decent translation principles I welcome any possibility of a delay of this gargantuan absurdity.

  6. And if you lose the vote, what will you do?

    Some people go to church to pray; apparently others go to church to parse.

  7. Brendan Hoban’s paper, I think, raises well the pastoral and moral questions, given that the foisting of this dreadful text on us is now inevitable. Because of habits of loyalty, which in many contexts are appropriate but not here, and because the whole topic is so conflictual, we are not allowing ourselves to talk about these real issues, and therefore sleepwalking towards imposition day.It’s a pity that the preoccupation with exclusive language (where the author’s detail is not always right) was highlighted in the presentation here and in the discussion. I think it deserves a much wider circulation.

    Moreover, the account of the meeting itself deserves a read. I wonder if Angela Hanley’s piece is available.

  8. Like an iceberg, most of the problems are below the waterline at present. In these comments we only have a glimpse of what may emerge as issues in the next few months.

    It needn’t have been so if only there had been a more serious pastoral questionning of this flawed translation by Bishops’ Conferences at a much earlier stage. But, publicly, there was not.

    The international voices of caution received no backing from the Conferences as Collegiality was challenged and finally ignored.

    So we have what we’ve got, with a bagload of problems.
    Chris McDonnell UK

  9. Has anyone seen any “official” explanation from those entrusted with translating the Mass “in the most exact manner” (LA, 51) as to why homo, hominis is translated:

    “for us men and for our salvation” in the Nicene Creed


    “and on earth peace to people of good will” in the Gloria?

    Seems kind of arbitrary to me.

    1. I have seen no official explanation. I gave my own attempt at a reason for why the word would be translated in two different ways in two different contexts a few months ago here on PTB.

      The short of it was: in the Gloria, “hominibus” is on its own, whereas in the Creed, “homines” is followed soon by “homo”.

      The pairing of “homines” and “homo” expects a similar translation of those two terms. Some proposed translations don’t fit the bill: “for us people … became a person” is not accurate (the Son was already a Person), for example. I suppose “for us humans … became a human” would work, although personally I find the word “human” in this context sounds a bit more scientific than theological, but that’s my subjective take on the matter.

      LA 30 says that “When the original text, for example, employs a single term in expressing the interplay between the individual and the universality and unity of the human family or community (such as the Hebrew word ’adam, the Greek anthropos, or the Latin homo), this property of the language of the original text should be maintained in the translation.” I think this is why the translation of the Creed uses “for us men … became man.”

      But LA 30 doesn’t appear to be apropos to the use of “hominibus” in the Gloria, and “hominibus” is not linked to another use of “homo”. The pairing in the Gloria is between God (in heaven) and people (on earth).

      That’s my attempt to explain why the word would be translated differently in different contexts.

      1. Your exposé is much ado about nothing. It’s not even remotely convincing.

        The moral of the episode is: don’t expect consistency, or a rational motive behind the disaster that is this translation.

      2. Jeffrey – nice try. Go back to the historical and liturgical reasons for both the Gloria and the Creed cited and explained previously by Paul Inwood.

        These adequately explain why the Creed uses “we” in one liturgical setting and “I” in another.

        Think I will stick with that before trying to shoehorn LA or RT into this discussion.

      3. Bill – could you give me a link? I am familiar with reasons why the Creed is sometimes “we” and sometimes “I”.

        Here’s where I mentioned my explanation before: 2010/12/20 Are Paul’s comments there?

        I’d also like to know where and how my explanation falls short, if only so that I might understand the criticism better.

  10. My understanding is that less than 10% of Ireland’s priests are members of ACP. In the summer of 2007 25 of Ireland’s 26 dioceses contained 2,464 priests.
    John Henley

      1. It seems that rejection of the new translations is more violent than anyone anticipated — the bishops are really in a difficult situation.

  11. It’s simple. The Greek version of the Nicea-Constantinopolitan ‘symbol’ is plural, pisteuomen, the Latin, singular, credo.

    1. The original Greek of the NC Creed has “believe” in the plural, yes, but in liturgical use (e.g. the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom) it is singular: Πιστεύω

  12. Nicea predates Chrysostom. Of course, this is a perfect example of the constricting effect of the transmission from the oral to the written medium. It’s possible that pisteuo and pisteuomen were used simultaneously, before the former was canonised, literally. It’s one argument for encouraging some flexibility when returning the written word once again, to an oral medium, as happens at mass.

    I suspect this will be a practice, for many reasons, which I have already listed, when the deplorable travesty of a translation is imposed on the people of God.

    Having a translation done by people who are not expect in that art/science is a slap in the face to Christ’s faithful. It is nothing less than a symbolic repudiation of the Second Vatican Council.

    1. “Nicea predates Chrysostom.”

      There’s that liturgical archaeologism again! 🙂

      Just because something is older doesn’t automatically make it better. There’s little point in organic liturgical development otherwise.

    2. And Nicea predates Constantinople… so?

      It seems to me that the Creed, spoken in the plural by bishops at a council, and spoken in the singular by a catechumen at baptism, has been adopted liturgically in the singular, in both the East and West. The context makes the difference.

  13. Yes. I am sure that both singular and plural had their usage. The issue is that as soon as a version is embedded in a text, some people become fixated on confining themselves to only one. In other words, they canonise the written form over the oral.

    A strand in contemporary gospel studies examines a similar phenomenon there. that is, the transmission of what was originally an oracle into a narrative form, in order to constrict interpretation.

  14. Is the singular pisteuo used in the Greek Orthodox liturgy?

    On sexist language, seeing the mess that inclusive English has created with the NRSV, I think great prudence is requisite in the application of the principle.

    1. Fr. Joe, as far as I can tell, yes, the Greek Orthodox liturgy uses the singular. I copied the Greek word from the web site of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America; they have the Greek and English texts of the DL of SJC online.

      I would assume the Greek of the DL of SJC in the US is the same as the Greek used elsewhere… but I’d like to know if there is a contrary example.

  15. Oh, dear

    We’ve been through all this before. In simplicitate:

    (1) The profession of faith arrived in the Mass roughly in the 10th century as a “refugee” from the rites of initiation. It was therefore, of course a personal profession faith, hence Credo, I believe.


    (2) The earlier corporate profession of faith of the Council of Nicea (4th century) is what the translators of the version we currently use decided to use as their source. Hence pisteuomen, We believe.

    It’s as simple as that. In practice, in the months to come, when invited to profess their faith, some will say “We believe”, some “I believe”. Put those together and you get “Why believe?” !! Whatever the case, it will still be necessary to explain to people that the Profession of Faith is still communal and corporate, even though they are using a singular pronoun, just as it will be necessary to explain that “many” means “all” in the Institution Narrative.

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