Implementation of the missal proceeds…

Some English-speaking countries are gradually introducing parts of the new Catholic Missal already. How is it going?

The letters to The Tablet are critical of the new translation, as noted in Philip Endean’s post.

What do you suppose is indicated by all these negative letters to the editor? Is this indicative of widespread discontent? Or merely representative of that slice of UK Catholicism which reads The Tablet, is well-informed about the problems with the missal project, and also left-leaning in liturgical and ecclesial matters? I don’t know.

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I had my first real-live experience (I’m not counting trial liturgies with ICEL folks) with the new translation on Sunday. I was at the very reverent and beautiful conventual Mass with my brother Benedictines at Glenstal Abbey in Ireland. (I was in Ireland to be external examiner for chant exams at the University of Limerick – we’ll see whether this coming week brings a Pray Tell post about that.)

In Ireland they’re introducing only the people’s parts, spoken and sung, at this point. Not the entire Order of Mass yet – the Eucharistic prayer, for example, is unchanged. And not yet the biggest problem in the whole thing, the proper prayers of the priest (collect, prayer over the offerings, prayer after communion).

It went very well, I’d say. The Glenstal Benedictines helpfully give everyone a leaflet with the order of worship for the day and all the people’s sung and spoken parts right in place. Any time a line of text has a changed wording, the people are helpfully (if inelegantly) alerted with a big icon in the margins, a sort of road sign with an exclamation mark.

I couldn’t hear the whole congregation in the nave since I was up in the choir stalls, and the Irish aren’t exactly known for shouting out their active participation at high volume. Near as I could tell, the people seemed to be reading their texts from the leaflet and getting it right. Maybe the mumbles in the back were otherwise, but I didn’t hear that. The missteps I heard were from the concelebrants standing around the altar without leaflets – several And also with you’s at the Sign of Peace, a few not worthy to receive you’s, that sort of thing. It’ll come.

At Glenstal the Creed is chanted in Latin alternating between small schola and everyone (which sounded very much like everyone in the sanctuary plus about 3 people in the nave). So all the Creed problems – “men,” “consubstantial,” etc. – are handily avoided.

The Benedictine hospitality was great. At scones and tea (coffee for the Ami) after Mass, the monks very much wondered what will happen when the convoluted and stilted proper texts come in – that’ll be the real test. I volunteered that perhaps the people don’t really pay attention to them so it won’t be a problem. They appreciated my optimism and seemed to agree that this thing just might work. Maybe not for the priests who have to say the weird texts, not for those whose piety is particularly liturgical or who are particularly invested in the life of their Church including its political machinations. But for the rest?

As long as the authorities in our Church know how to play the odds and who to ignore, they’ll do OK.

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A priest friend from another part of the English-speaking world with another timetable for implementation just wrote this to me:

We’re into the third week now of using this new hybrid translation and people have started to talk to me about it. The reaction, to be honest, is universally negative. Strange language, sentences that seem awkward and hard to pronounce, words no one has ever heard before (no points for guessing they mean consubstantial, but a number of people have also asked me what oblation means). I said the first Eucharistic Prayer today because it was in the weekly missalette we use and people really didn’t like it – “long and verbose” was the reaction.

Having said that, they’re soldiering on and making the responses. But no one likes it very much. In another parish, in another diocese, the priest was explaining that this was the new translation that had been provided and  someone shouted out “what for?”

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It’s a change of topic but perhaps of interest to our readers. While in Ireland I made it my business to strike up conversation with “regular people” not in church ministry – taxi drivers, hotel clerks – about the dispute between the Irish government and the Holy See. “I hear there’s some sort of row between the Prime Minister and the Vatican,” I’d begin innocently. Without exception, my conversation partners expressed agreement with the prime minister, more often than not followed by an angry rant against the Vatican. Then I’d say, “I wonder what the devout church-goers, or older people, think.” I was told that even the grandmothers with their rosaries have had it up to here with the Pope and the Vatican. No one wants to believe what the Vatican says anymore.

If wonder (and honestly don’t know) whether they take many polls in Ireland. I’d be  interested in a survey of Irish clergy and Irish church-going laity about things ecclesial, including liturgical changes. Where is sentiment really at? How can it be improved?

Say a prayer for the Irish Catholic Church. I certainly will be.



  1. I’m glad you liked my inelegant road traffic hazard sign beside the changed bits!! I’m very proud of it. 🙂

    1. Martin – we’ll be doing something similar at St. John’s Abbey, in fact – I got the idea from you! Implementation of missal is requiring all sorts of inelegant but practical things, such as rehearsals and supplement and … road signs in the margins.

  2. Do read the Thirsty Gargoyle blog on the row. The Irish PM accurately reflected the anger of the Irish: he lied and blamed the Vatican for the failures of Irish bishops and clergy and of Irish governments of which he was a member. He lied.

  3. Anger at the Vatican does seem to be universal. However, there is another aspect to this. Almost no one denies that all of Enda Kenny’s facts, so central to his case, are false. When that is poinbted out, the response has been (to me at any rate) that the facts do not matter – expressing anger is more important. A scary situation where reason has little role. The real story is how Enda Kenny got the misquote of the Pope. Apparently from the brother of a dissenting priest.
    Talking of lack of reason, Senator David Norris whose statements and actions on child sex abuse exceed those of any cleric but so long as he has Senator not Bishop as a title that seems to be OK by most Irish people. A case of selective anger, perhap

  4. Ceile De & Peter – not sure where you are getting your story from – but the Thirsty Gargolye is not credible and has an ax to grind. Enda Kenny’s facts are not all false….he focused on a part of the whole, complex events over a span of more than 20 years. You can question his over emphasis on certain parts of the story but even then, his statements are not wrong – they may be too passionate but that is another story. Peter – “he lied”…, he did not. And you need to ready his WHOLE speech – he laid blame on Irish bishops, church leaders, and the Irish government. He just didn’t stop there. Balanced folks (even in Rome – B16) admit that one issue here is the total lack of episcopal accountability within current canon law and the current Vatican management. Why – this issue has been making the headlines since 1985 and in Ireland since 1990.

    OTOH, the Vatican merely chose a couple of parts in his speech; parsed them like a legal expert; and declared this their response. Put yourself in the shoes of a victim or a parent of a victim – now, does the 11,000 word Vatican response do much for you? No mention or use of scripture; the prayer or sacraments of the church; beyond one standard opening paragraph that made a general statement about abuse being horrible, this statement failed because it did not start with the sensus fidelium in Ireland today; it did not “listen” to the people much less victims. It was again the same old, same old – legal parsing in the face of the people’s misery and pain. Not exactly supportive or pastoral.

  5. To your comments:

    Four core assertions in the Vatican response – numbers two and three are legalistic; ignore the curia and key figures and the context of the curia/key figures in 1997. It fails to mention that Rome itself was having an internal fight about how to respond; when or even if to report to civil authorities; etc.
    Number four is actually speaking about now – not the context or time period that Kenny’s anger was capturing.

    Here is a much more detailed and factual analysis than the Thirsty Gargoyle:

    – “…Both the statement by the Papal Nuncio and the Response above are false. The Motu Propio of May 2001 provided,

    Whenever an Ordinary or Hierarch had at least probable knowledge of the commission of one of the reserved grave delicts, after having carried out the preliminary investigation, he was to inform the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which, unless it called the case to itself because of special circumstances, would indicate to the Ordinary or Hierarch how to proceed.

    It follows from this that from 2001 to 2004 in the case of the Murphy Commission and from 2001 until 2009 in the case of the Coyne Inquiry, the Vatican did determine “the handling of cases of sexual abuse in Ireland.”

  6. ” I volunteered that perhaps the people don’t really pay attention to them so it won’t be a problem.”

    I find this in itself to be extraordinarily depressing, even if true.

  7. Bill de Haas, you are wrong to diss Ceile De — his report corresponds exactly to what I met with again and again when in Ireland last week. Defenders of Kenny’s inaccuracies say “not the facts but the feeling is what matters; there is no room for any arguments; the church just has to apologize again and again” etc. Your effort to undercut Thirsty Gargoyle by innuendo shows an unwillingness to consider his factual clarifications.

  8. The Catholica piece that Bill de Haas praises is a bit of a joke. The author tries to use a gimlet eye but he cannot spell either the name of the Pope or that of the diocese of Cloyne, and apparently does not know the name of its bishop either!

    As to Kenny’s justification of his statement: “anything less than full co-operation in my view is unwarranted interference”, it reeks of doublespeak.

    Invoking misprision of felony does not work; the Irish Government, including especially Kenny’s own party when in opposition — thrice blocked proposals for mandatory reportin.

  9. Joe – you dismiss the Cloyne Report in other blogs based upon your “information” that the abuser priests named and the facts of their cases were blown out of proportion. That was the angle used by Thirsty Gargoyle (sorry, no innuendo; just the facts). Again, we have confirmed abusers but you appear to dismiss their crimes because some were dead and could not defend themselves (skipping over the facts that bishops/diocese/abuser worked the situation so that statutue of limitations expired; fact that Gardai colluded with the diocese. You, as usual, try to change the subject by criticizing the Catholica commentor because of his “gimlet eye”; please – who is using innuendo here?

    The Cloyne Report focused on Magee and his administration – he and his right hand man have admitted and confirmed exactly the failures (criminal behavior – yet to be decided) outlined in the Cloyne Report which was the context for Enda Kenny’s remarks.

    Your anecdotal reports do not jive with any or most of the reports cited by experts; recognized key folks in both the church and government. Read Fr. Ruff’s anecdotal experiences in the initial post (guess we have a Fr. Joe says/Fr. Ruff says stand off).

    Doublespeak – only in your opinion.

    Your last paragraph – your opinion again.

    Again – you skip over most of my points and try to argue as if this is a court of law. That is the very point – the response was legal – how sad & discouraging.

    Here is another analysis:

  10. Bill
    Thank you for your response.
    The Irish PM made specific charges so a specific response was needed. In essence he said that the Vatican state had prevented the Irish bishops from responding appropriately to reports of abuse. He said that this was interference in the affairs of the state.
    It was appropriate for the Vatican state to respond: the Irish government had requested a response. The response only addressed points raised concerning the Vatican and not the whole of his remarks.
    In apportioning blame it seems to me to be sensible to get the facts straight so that the problems can be addressed properly. Anger is not always helpful here.
    Remember that it was Irish clergy abusing children in Ireland and subject to Irish criminal law and discipline of the Irish bishops. The Vatican could only deal with cases reported to it and only in terms of canonical sanctions. The church cannot send people to prison.

    Those abused could have taken their complaints to the police. The complaint is a criminal matter. The police are the ones to investigate, bring charges to the courts and let the courts decide on guilt. Only after the criminal case is heard should any canonical action take place: it is for the courts to determine the facts of the case and they should not be influenced by external investigations. In both the criminal and canonical hearings one hopes that the principles of “innocent until proven guilty” and “proof beyond reasonable doubt” will apply. In any such process the trial must be fair and follow correct procedure lest the accused escape justice on a technicality alone.

    When one considers the idea of mandatory reporting I hope you will remember the teacher from Calais accused of harming a child. With his career in ruins he committed suicide. The pupil recently admitted that he had made up the allegations and that the teacher was wholly innocent. But still dead.

    That does leave open the case of how to deal with cases where reasonable…

    1. Peter – never replied to you. Thanks for your analysis and gentle points. Agree with what you say coming from one stance. But, my stance was more about the sense of anger (not arguing specific points); the continued legalistic Vatican response, etc.

      One complication here is the long history in which the Irish state and the catholic institution were emmeshed. Would suggest that what you are seeing is a process of both separating; finding their own sense of direction; and hopefully leading to a hopeful future in which both act as responsible adults vs. the centuries long parent=child relationship. Like any process, we are seeing the growing pains.

      One complication that I wish the Vatican would change is the constant tension between the Vatican as a world state and the church – would love to see less legalism and more pastoral responses. I know, naive.

      1. Thank you Bill
        i think there is a point to note here. The text in question was a government to government letter, albeit an open one. The earlier Papal letter to the Irish people was in a different style.

        Yes, the Irish are angry. I am reminded of the French épuration after their liberation in 1944. As the Germans were not to hand the poor girls suspected of sleeping with Germans were targeted.
        Many serious collaboraters escaped this mob “justice”.

        Pope Benedict has tried to deal with the abuse. He has to work through the local hierarchies. Those who really care about children will support him.

  11. continued
    where reasonable suspicion remains but insufficient proof exists to establish guilt.

    Now I think that the Vatican failed on two counts.
    The first is in drafting documents. The assumptions that the reader will understand the points raised and that the document will not be published may need reconsidering. This would apply also in the case of the US priest accused of abusing deaf children. A fair media would attempt to understand the documents and points raised.
    The second failing is in terms of training and supervision of bishops. I wonder what training the bishop of Cloyne had in child protection, financial management, employee management and so on. It seems that there was no subsequent check that the diocese was dealing properly with cases reported to it.
    Consider that such a check would have been seen as interference by the Vatican and perhaps resisted as such.

    Note that the Irish PM has not apologised for presenting a quotation out of context so as to give a wholly false impression. Nor has he explained his remarks in terms of getting the date wrong. He has blustered. Non-clerical abusers can rest easily, he does not seem to have them in his sights.

  12. “you dismiss the Cloyne Report in other blogs based upon your “information” that the abuser priests named and the facts of their cases were blown out of proportion.”

    I have no information not found in the Cloyne Report, nor do I dismiss the Report itself, but rather the media and political exaggeration of what it says. It simply faults Msgr O’Callaghan for disagreeing with the church’s framework document on mandatory reporting.

    “we have confirmed abusers but you appear to dismiss their crimes because some were dead and could not defend themselves”

    People against whom a single allegation is made concerning incidents as far back as 70 years ago are not justly described as confirmed abusers.

    “bishops/diocese/abuser worked the situation so that statute of limitations expired”

    I am unaware that the Cloyne Report makes any such accusation.

    “The Cloyne Report focused on Magee and his administration – he and his right hand man have admitted and confirmed exactly the failures (criminal behavior – yet to be decided)”

    Only partly true — Magee’s apology contains a significant and justified “if” clause — Msgr O’Callaghan continues to justify on Irish radio and television and in a letter to the Irish Catholic his “pastoral” approach to the cases; the only point on which he concedes a serious error was in not resigning his responsibility for handling the allegations given his opposition to the framework document.

    “Your anecdotal reports do not jive with any or most of the reports cited by experts; recognized key folks in both the church and government.”

    The key folks such as Enda Kenny have been heavily criticized.

    You “try to argue as if this is a court of law. That is the very point – the response was legal – how sad & discouraging”

    As a lawyer yourself you should speak more warmly of law. It can be a barrier against populist nonsense.

    1. We will have to just agree to disagree. Magee was pillored for his “if” and O’Callaghan may argue that he acted on his conscience but that was irresponsible in his position and he was basically unaccountable.

      We can argue about each case in the report and yes, it is risky to name priests who have died. What you fail to take into consideration, is what we have learned about abuse and cover up in diocese after diocese and country after country.

      Statements such as – he only had one allegation reveal a dismissal of what we know about abuse, the pattern, and especially in the context of Cloyne – a very small diocese that would have worked against victims coming forward to report. You can dismiss because we have no discovered facts – just don’t ask me to give the benefit of the doubt to priests who even had only one allegation but never faced any type of scrutiny.

      BTW – am no lawyer…in Texas, lawyers are considered “road kill”.

  13. Msgr O’Callaghan is a moral theologian not a lawyer — that is exactly why he is pilloried.

    I understand his moral his opposition to the automatic application of mandatory reporting, especially in the case of historic allegations against dead or dying men.

    A high school chaplain is likely to hear allegations of all sorts all the time — in many cases these allegations should be scotched at source — to run off to the police immediately and unthinkingly with all of them is a formula for turning any frivolous remark into a poison that will work its evil widely and for a long time.

    For this reason the proposed Irish legislation about mandatory reporting contains the important loophole “without reasonable excuse” — a loophole that would amply justify Msgr O’Callaghan’s silences.

  14. So if someone asks what consubstantial means, or incarnate, tell them…End of story. Aren’t Priests supposed to be teachers of the Faith? Everyone adds to their vocabulary throughout life. And as for people being mad at the Vatican, is that really new? I think quite a few were mad at the Vatican and Paul VI for Humanae Vitae. And John Paul II for not doing enough about widespread liturgical abuses. And even Pius XII for changing the Holy Week rites. Every Pontificate has its critics and detractors. Nothing new here.

    1. Yes, many were mad about Humanae Vitae, and although birth control wasn’t the only item it dealt with, the result is that an overwhelming majority of Catholics use artificial birth control despite what Humanae Vitae says.

      So, if Catholics reject the new missal, they need to similarly reject it by either continuing to say the old words during mass, attending mass and remaining completely silent, or silent on the words that haven’t changed, and to stop their weekly donations.

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